I recently wrote an article on 8 things to quit in 2016. The first two were:-
1) Making excuses and
2) Not taking action.
It’s the start of a New Year, and now is the perfect time to delve deeper into the trough called ‘excuses’. What excuses are you giving yourself for not quitting your challenging habits or behaviours you know you would like to address in your life?
First, ask yourself the question:-
What would happen if 2016 was the year I quit making excuses, and took the action necessary to change my (insert name) habit or behaviour?
Throughout the last eight years, I have been helping people change and quit their challenging habits and behaviours. This has included helping smokers become non smokers; binge eaters and drinkers to regain control and others to replace unhelpful challenging habits with healthier alternatives. As I have personally witnessed the dire consequences of long term smoking, let’s use quitting smoking as an example. If you don’t smoke, then simply modify the following statements and comments below to suit your challenging habits (or habit) you wish to change.
Here are six of the most popular excuses I hear.
- I enjoy cigarettes
- It’s hard to quit
- I don’t have any willpower
- It helps me deal with stress
- It’s like my best friend
- I don’t know how I will cope without my cigarettes.
Consider for a moment the story that is behind these statements. What sort of feelings do you think they would conjure up – excitement, positivity, possibility or unresourceful and limiting?
Your feelings are a function of how and what you are thinking, what you are contemplating and what stories you tell yourself.
Your inner focus is either pointing firmly in the direction of what you don’t want (and what you focus on you get!) or you have associated smoking (or your challenging habits) with a perceived benefit, which create a fear of loss or giving something up, triggering your unconscious hard wiring to hang onto it even more. Resulting in your belief in your success to change your habit, becoming even harder.
When these thoughts are consistently repeated they become fixed beliefs; like invisible lenses through which we view the world. This eliminates other possibilities, and exactly like the starting gates in a horse race, prevents forward movement.
‘As a man thinketh, so he is’, is a reminder of the power hidden in our inner dialogue, and comes from as far back as the Old Testament. The first four words are also the title of a great little book by James Allen.
To move beyond the starting gates, it is vital to become aware of your stories, and then with awareness, to start changing them. Asking better questions of yourself is a great way to get started, open up possibilities, and loosen your current stories and beliefs.
Whatever you believe you will search for in your external world. You cannot see beyond your current beliefs. Your beliefs are one of your most powerful forces in your life. (If you are skeptical about the power of belief check out the amazing documentary by Derren Brown called Fear and Faith, where he uses the placebo effect in experiments with people with astounding results.)
I have taken each excuse, reframed them using questions and statements that expand possibility. They then have the potential to change the underlying story. Try them out on the habit you wish to change, modifying any words if you are not a smoker or don’t wish to quit! Determine now, a new story that will help you believe you can change and quit your challenging habits.
I ENJOY CIGARETTES
- How many cigarettes do you really enjoy? All of them, the first one of the day, or just the first few puffs?
- For just a few minutes of enjoyment is it worth the risk?
- How many other ways can you enjoy yourself without doing something that damages your health, stinks, is controlling your life and wastes your money?
- Imagine how much more you can enjoy yourself when you are finally free from this habit.
ITS HARD TO QUIT
- According to whom? Supposing it was easy to quit?
- Do you know anyone else who quit smoking and didn’t find it hard?
- What would happen if you believed it would be easy?
I DON’T HAVE ANY WILLPOWER
Yes you do. It’s just that your habit is run by your subconscious mind, which is way more powerful than your conscious mind, where your will is. This means you are not really in charge, right now. When you harness your imagination and intention towards being a non smoker, you won’t be having to use your willpower in the same way. Your imagination is way more powerful than will power so using this is the key to your success.
IT HELPS ME DEAL WITH STRESS
- How specifically does it help you deal with stress?
- Does smoking really help? What about all the toxins and poisons in the cigarette. They actually make your body more stressed.
- How much calmer might you be when you are a non smoker?
- How many other ways can you manage your stress that doesn’t involve diminishing your health, increases your stress, smells and burns a hole in your wallet?
Note: The ‘stress’ has become a trigger for a cigarette. Once you have run this trigger a few times it becomes a habit, which is then run by your subconscious mind. By its very name, it is beneath your conscious mind, and therefore not in your present control. The key here is to find new behaviours to replace the one that you have associated with stress, and interrupt the current pattern. What other behaviours can you replace your current one with?
ITS LIKE MY BEST FRIEND
- Really! How is it like one of your best friends?
- How does it benefit and support you?
- Is there anything else about this supposed best friend that you like or don’t like? How many of your other friends have the hidden ability to kill you?
- Would you want them as your friend?
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WILL DO WITHOUT MY CIGARETTES
- Imagine what will you do when you don’t have to rely on a habit that stinks, wastes your money and ultimately causes you ill health?
- How free will you feel when you no longer have to be supported by this crutch in life?
- Imagine all the exciting opportunities that await you, that are currently hidden from you because of this habit.
Lastly, ask yourself the question,
‘what other unseen possibilities are there awaiting for me once I have achieved the success I desire.’
Brainstorm this and come up with at least 20. Be sure to write them down, as it will open up unseen possibilities and is a critical key to building your belief in yourself to finally get through the starting gates and back into the game!
Here are ten that my clients have come up with:-
- Saving a deposit faster to buy a house
- Paying off a house earlier
- Taking a holiday
- Lower insurance premiums
- Freedom from being a slave to a habit
- Increased confidence and self-esteem
- Free from guilt and shame
- Free from the inner battles of doing something part of me doesn’t really want to do
- More energy to play with my children/ grand children
- I will be so much happier at last!
Are you ready to dump your reasons and excuses, and take action today towards quitting your habit? As I say to my clients, ‘When is now the right time to get started?
Mandy Napier BSc
Mind & Performance Coach