Changing seems difficult at times. Eating better, beginning an exercise program, quitting smoking or refraining from technology can be difficult to change. When this happens there is ambivalence in the mind. Many times we attempt to make a change at the request of another or thinking we “should” change. This means part of the mind may think change is needed but another part of the mind may not want to change.
Having ambivalence about change creates a “must have, can’t have” tug of war between you and the behavior. A battle with a habit is not fun. It can cause anxiety and frustration. There may be a period of success at the beginning of the attempt but soon the ambivalence sets in and the battle ensues. Change is possible, but usually very difficult and less likely to last.
Changing your mind about the habit or behavior makes change easier. All change begins with a thought. For example, deciding that your health is more important than smoking will shift the balance. This is different from thinking you “should” quit or having someone tell you to quit. This is because there is no resistance in your mind when you change the way you think about the habit. The task of quitting will still take effort but the difference is you will not be fighting yourself; you will only be dealing with the addiction. After 3-5 days of not smoking and drinking lots of water to cleanse, you will be free of most of the nicotine in your body. At this point you will only be dealing with the psychological addiction. With your decision of health being more important than smoking you can use this to your advantage. Remind yourself. Cravings only last few minutes and every time you resist you gain strength. Luckily, the only ambivalence is with the addiction and not your choice to quit.
Change starts with our thoughts. Our behaviors are influenced by our emotions which are influenced by our thoughts. Think about it, and decide for yourself.
Bridgette DeBoer M.A., is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, marriage and family therapist intern. She can be reached at 450-6632.