As a continuation of the theme of my last newsletter, which was an exploration into the experiences I was having as a result of ending my 40+ year nicotine addiction, I’ll try to share more of the insights, breakthroughs and challenges that have been a part of my journey to “smobriety” (smoking sobriety). My intention is that, by “getting honest” about my experience, I’ll be able to internalize and integrate the impact this has had on me, while at the same time possibly offering you a glimpse of hope and understanding for dealing with any addiction or compulsive behaviors you (or someone you love) may be struggling with.
Beware the Smoke Screen!
One of the BIG insights I’ve had is that the ritualistic use of cigarettes was only a“smoke screen” for some deeper issues that have been a persistent cause of pain and suffering for most of my life… I had used nicotine to numb myself out to the point that I was no longer able to feel much of the background anxiety and fear that had become so seemingly overwhelming over these many years. The reason I say that these feelings had become “seemingly overwhelming” is that, by not dealing with them in a “healthy” way, I had allowed them to become not only almost “invisible”, but much more persistent and damaging than they had originally been. And, although it may sound like a good idea to “soothe myself” any way that I could, the use of any drug or compulsive behavior in an attempt to free oneself from the normal ups and downs of life challenges, ends up causing many more problems than it solves.
I have come to see that all of us have acquired many beliefs, habits and “stories” to help us not only cope with all the confusion and chaos that growing up in this world entails, but to actually help us to survive what must have seemed like a very dangerous and confusing place to any baby/child trying to make sense of the insane, and often dysfunctional, environment most of us were raised in. We’ve held and repeated these stories, behaviors and beliefs for so long that we’ve forgotten that we made them up and they’ve become our “truth”. And, worse than the fact that they’ve become unconsciously repetitive and addictive, these “patterns of salvation” actually work against our being able to attain the very things we so desperately want and desire!!
Who is “ME”, anyway?
Yes, that’s right… the “personal-self” that we each created, as a response to whatever challenges we faced as infants, not only serves to NOT get us what weare looking for, it actually blocks us from manifesting the life we want and deserve. So, for example, let’s say that, for whatever reason, we became suddenly aware that we were not getting the care we felt we needed from those “giants” (our parents) who were responsible for our survival and well-being. We conclude (with little or no evidence, and with a very limited ability to process whatever “evidence” was available) that we are defective in some way, and therefore not capable of being loved (otherwise known as being “unlovable”).
The Story Begins
From that erroneous story/belief, we start experimenting with different behaviors and actions until we find something that “works” to get us the “response” we feel will engender the best chance to feel safe and to survive. We may find that crying gets us the most attention; or, we may find acting cute elicits the desired response; or, maybe we discover that by analyzing and understanding the world around us, we can safely predict (and avoid) any and all “dangerous” situations. There are many theories on why and how these childhood dynamics contribute to each of our chosen personalities, but what is very obvious to anyone who is willing to look honestly and objectively at this “birth of self”, is that as the pattern is repeated often enough, over a long period of time, it becomes internalized and unconscious… it becomes the “truth”!
And, since you “know” at a very deep level that you are defective and unlovable, you also know that despite all your “trickery” and learned behaviors, and in spite of an occasional “victory” (someone finally “pretends” that they care for you), that these moments of “fun and affection” are not only temporary and fleeting, but also just another lie that proves you were right in the first place: “I am broken and defective… there is nothing I can do to ‘fix’ it!”
I just want to feel better!!
This is the point where each of us usually picks up some way of easing the pain and suffering… my preferred “drug” has been nicotine, but there is an endless list of escape routes that help us to numb out. And, once you choose to stop using the “drug”, you will not only be faced with the pain of withdrawal, you will now need to deal with the stuff you’ve been avoiding, but without the “crutch”. It is pretty easy to see why so many people relapse, and why having some kind of structure and support (12-step programs like AA, etc) would be so useful in quitting and staying “clean”.
So, what does this have to do with me? For one thing, it has become painfullyclear to me that this commitment to being “clean and sober” is going to take quite a bit more time and effort than I had originally thought… there seem to be many more layers to the overlooked and “hidden” pain I’ve been avoiding all these years than I had expected. Another challenge is that, even though I have been “smober” for over 6 months, I still often crave a ciggie, and it looks like that may go on for a long time. Yes, I feel much better physically, and my ability to smell and taste is continually improving (not always a good thing ;-) and it’s a nice side benefit to have stopped burning holes in my clothes, furniture and carpets, plus no longer walking around smelling like an ashtray.
To Feel, or not to Feel… that is the question!!
And, although it is not always very comfortable, the thing I’m really loving about this whole adventure is that I’m getting much better at feeling, and I’m also developing something that has been missing most of my life: a strong connection to my True, Authentic Self. This is really the “gift” of any meaningful “change work”… it is the “thing” everyone is searching for, and is the source of true happiness and fulfillment in this thing we call “life”. And, just in case you hadn’t noticed, this is the same process that I use every day to free my clients from the devastating and self-limiting effects of the thought patterns, beliefs and stories of the personality they’ve become addicted to believing is “who they are”.
A Note from the Author (and an apology)
My apologizes for taking so long to get this edition out, and for the meandering and possibly confusing content of this newsletter… each time I sat down to write this article, I was in the midst of so many changes and “shifts” that it became almost impossible to have a static and coherent thought-stream that could lend itself to actually writing this thing. As the end of the month approached, I decided to just take a “snapshot” of where I was at the time and do the best I could to express my thoughts at this time. Many thanks to my wife, Helga, for editing this and for helping me to stay focused and “sane” while trying to write it!
===== This, That and The Other Thing ====
ECAP Tip of the Month: As I said in the last newsletter, one of the safest ways to explore the realm of your “inner self”, and TRUTH that awaits you there, is to spend some time doing the Presence Breathing Technique (PBT) which is defined here. And, as you establish a more intimate relationship with your authentic Self, you will be able to use the ECAP to clean up all the “stuck energy” and “blocks” that have been keeping you “stuck in your stuff”. Of course, if you really want to explore this whole “realm”, you can always set up a free appointment with me! (See info below)
Contact Info: If you want to contact me, set up a free and confidential introsession, subscribe to my newsletter, or view an archive of past newsletters, and audio files of past teleconferences , you can visit my website at: BeyondBeliefCoaching.com. If you would like to read or comment on this, or past newsletters, or if you want to peruse my other brilliant offerings, you can visit my blog at Frankly Speaking.
Miscellaneous: One project I’m working on is to present a live online video workshop to explore and explain how to use the ECAP, and the material from Greg’s books, to get the results you are looking for. This will be a free webinar, and will be archived on YouTube as a resource for anyone who wants to know more about playing the game of “Grow A Greater You”… further details will be included in future editions of this newsletter and on Greg’s site.
Also, I am collecting input from my clients, my subscribers, and from anyone else interested in taking part in a journey to explore how we all might take this process to the next level. I will be sharing more information about this as it unfolds, but for now, please feel free to contact me about this (or any other point of interest) if you are so moved.
Quote of the Week: “What you see reflects your thinking. And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see. “ (ACIM p. 231)