Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Changing Shame and Guilt into Hope and Optimism

What I find so common among those who smoke, is the feelings of either shame and/or guilt. Shame that there is something wrong with me that I don't want to quit smoking knowing that I "should", and/or guilt because I want to and haven't been able to quit. I am certainly familiar with both of those emotions.

I had quit for 2 months the first time I was diagnosed with BC in 1987 when I was 32. I relapsed during chemo, I just couldn't handle the stress--back then they didn't have the anti-nausea drugs they have now and every worst story you have heard about throwing up from chemo is what I went through.

Back then you could smoke anywhere and everyone I knew was on my case to quit--even other smokers would say, "VJ why are you smoking, you've had cancer?" I would just last back at them, "how do you know you don't have cancer?" My anger was just a cover up for my feelings of shame that I just couldn't quit smoking and guilt every time I relapsed. I would be able to go for a couple of months and then bam--I'd relapse. I call myself the Queen of Quitting since I've quit for at least three months--9 times.

Yet the common emotions for those who are now smoke-free is the joy and freedom we feel to have broken through and accomplished our goal of becoming smoke-free---one of the hardest things it is to do in life. Yet those who are successful have travel a journey that others are still taking.

I think of of the most important steps is changing our emotional outlook from shame and guilt to one of hope and optimism---from "I can't do this, I don't want to do this, I don't know how to do this" to: "someday I will be able to do this, I will be able to figure out my path to being smoke-free, I can do this with help and support and it will be there for me as I seek out different options".

Optimism opens doors to inner strengths that often we don't realize we have such as: resilience, creativity, persistence, problem solving, confidence, ingenuity, critical thinking, courage and self-control.

I'm not saying it is easy, I'm just saying- I know you can do it!

No comments: