I was a smoker for 17 years. The things people say to you when you smoke are fascinating. It is a free pass to be mean. “That will kill you, you know”, they offer helpfully. I would usually respond with dripping sarcasm (what can I say, I’m from Youngstown), but inside it hurt a lot to be treated like a moron, when really I was an addict. Those are two very different things.
The thing is I wanted to quit smoking. I really did. But I would try and fail, try again and fail.
Anti-smoking material would offer suggestions like plastering a picture of a charred black lung on your dashboard. Really? I already know what my lungs look like. I feel them when I cough. To me, that kind of information is not helpful. It just makes me feel worse that I can’t quit. It is like the bad advice of putting a picture of your “fat self” on the fridge. Please.
► Lie: If I really knew what it was doing to me, I could stop.
► Truth: I already know what it is doing to me. That is not enough.
I have a client who is battling her weight and she has type 2 diabetes. She went to an eye doctor recently to get her vision checked, and he brought out a chart to show her where her weight was on the chart, pointed out the obese section, then told her she was a hundred pounds overweight. Her response through tears was, “Do you really think I don’t know that?”
I know exactly how that feels. Even if it is true, it isn’t necessarily helpful.
It reminds me of when I injured my back. The first place I went specialized in something called muscle activation technique. The second place I went was an orthopedic doctor. The third place I went was physical therapy. The fourth place I went was to a massage therapist. The fifth place I went was to the chiropractor. This was over a period of 2-3 years, and I was still in terrible pain and unable to run. None of those solved the problem. They did their best, but could only offer information about my issue.
Then I met a woman who had the exact same symptoms in her back as I did. I remember the conversation well, us realizing, “ME TOO!” She lay on the floor one day and showed me this crazy three step stretch that pops the SI joint (lower back above the glute) in my back. Not just one pop, more like popopopopop. And the pain went away! And it’s still gone. It was a miracle cure.
When I finally quit smoking, it was my third week of a smoking cessation class at McConnell heart health center. I was still smoking, and had in fact had one right before class. The pack of Salems was still in the car. But they had a guest speaker that day, and he came in and talked about being a lifetime smoker. Until he quit. He mentioned everything I was struggling with! I felt like jumping up and down and saying “me too! me too!”. And I never smoked again. That pack sat in my car for two weeks, until I finally threw it out.
The client who went to see her doctor and was told she was obese? She will not heal her relationship with food and get fit because she gets information about where she is on a chart. She will heal when she is ready to stop turning to food for comfort when she is afraid or sad or angry. She will heal when she is ready.
We can get stuck in the quicksand of too much information on this journey. More information isn’t always helpful. Don’t you already know what to do? If you don’t, that knowledge is everywhere. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat plant strong whole foods. Drink water. Get good sleep. Walk. Lift. Stretch. Do it consistently. Don't quit.
The catalyst for that moment when it all comes together and it clicks, is NOT more information. It is more inspiration and faith.
Yes, I can make better choices.
Yes, I can walk almost every day in my zone.
Yes, I can quit smoking. If you can, sir, I can.
Yes, I can heal my back. Me too, me too.
Yes, by the grace of God I can change my life.
Find those who inspire you to do better. Who make you believe that you, too, can do it!
Find what inspires you to keep going. Keep that fire lit and that light shining bright.
It is the FIRE that will take you where you want to go. And it is the LIGHT that will make your path clear.