Journey Called Life – Confession
I had a dream the other night that I found a carton of cigarettes in an old backpack. 9 packs of cigarettes – 180 untouched cigarettes – stared up at me from the zippered opening. Marlboro lights – their pearly gold and white boxes covered with shiny cellophane. Pack number 9 leaning askew at the end of the opened box; the cardboard end torn away.
Many of you might say, “So?”
More of you might say, “Ew, gross!”
Some of you might say, “What is the symbolism to dream of cigarettes?”
But it wasn’t symbolism. It was a confession. I was a closet smoker. For over 20 years.
“Gasp! Shock! Horror!”
“You don’t seem like a smoker?!”
“We never knew!”
“But wait, aren’t you a life coach?”
“Aren’t you a Christian?”
Only my family and closest friends knew of my habit. I smoked almost exclusively in my own home, on long drives, or out of town. It was my guilty pleasure, my own little secret.
I knew it was unhealthy. I knew it was toxic. But I also knew I liked it.
Sure, I spent loads of time judging myself for it. Telling myself how rotten it was, how rotten I was – hiding it from the world because of my own judgment and shame.
What if, even just for a moment, we suspend judgment on “bad” habits?
What if we actually THANKED those habits for serving us?
All habits serve a purpose in our lives, or we wouldn’t have them. We hang on to the behaviors and attitudes that comfort us, that bring us peace, relief, even joy. We often need these habits just to function in day to day life.
I felt empowered by smoking. It was a decision I could make, just for me. It gave me alone time to sit and reflect. It brought me comfort.
Judging ourselves for “bad” habits brings only shame, and creates victims. It makes us feel like we aren’t good enough, we aren’t acceptable somehow, and that we are powerless or worthless when we don’t change. But that’s not truth – not even for a “bad” habit. And feeling that way definitely won’t help us foster new learning, excitement about growth, or empowerment when you are ready.
I was only able to let go of smoking when it no longer served me. Change didn’t come from feeling shameful, dirty, judged, shunned. When I learned new skills to replace old ones, and I found just as much comfort and peace in the new habits as I had in the old, then I was able to change. Only after I was able to accept myself, just as I was, just as I am.
Let’s stop judging ourselves for our habits. They are serving us in this time. Maybe we will change them, maybe we won’t. But to travel well on this journey called life, we need to be OK with who we are (smokers included!) in this moment, even if we want to change.
Submitted by Christine Morgan, Professional Life Coach, Author, Counselor, and Teacher. If you are tired of feeling anxious and afraid, and would like new skills and support on your journey, visit Christine at http://worthandwisdom.com.