Ten years ago I stopped smoking. It was one of the hardest of things I’ve ever done. For three days I suffered every physical symptom and craving possible – anxiety, sweating, insomnia, dry mouth, headache, even constipation. Everyone around me suffered too! Mentally though, I was tough. In my mind, I had already moved on from being a smoker.
I wasn’t “giving up” smoking or even quitting. That thinking underlines an attitude of lack and deprivation. I was getting rid of a bad habit. I was shedding the shackles. I was moving on to something better for me – a healthier, cleaner, free-er way of living. Because I wasn’t giving up anything, I certainly didn’t need nicotine replacement gums or patches or vapor cigarettes to fill the void left by cigarettes. There was no void.
With every craving that came and went – and they always went – I breathed, ate ice and said “I’m getting rid of a bad habit” then smiled and celebrated inwardly. I have never smoked since and can’t imagine ever smoking again.
Very often we only change when it’s more painful to not change. Even then, the old way is familiar and comfortable. It will whine, entice and manipulate you to try and keep you where you are.
And that’s when it helps to know, not what you’re running from, but what you’re running to.
Turn your back on what you’re leaving behind. Cut the cord on what was. Don’t be nostalgic and glamourize the past. Understand why you’re changing and what you want for your future and then look forward. See the new way of being and you in it, doing it, living it, reaping the rewards. And then just keep moving forward.
A few years ago, I was desperately unhappy with my life. I felt stuck, not knowing what exactly was wrong or what to do. Within months, I was depressed and having panic attacks. As I tried to figure out what to do, or if anything could be done, my panic mounted and my frantic mind scrabbled at the seams of my life like a cornered rat. I felt hopeless and trapped.
My sister told me about an exercise she did when she was feeling similarly stuck and unhappy. She wrote down all the things in her life that were in her power to change. She suggested I try the exercise myself, assuring me that the results would be surprising.
She was right. There’s precious little that you cannot change. All these things (and more) are yours to choose:
Your eye and hair colour
Your spouse, your friends, your pastimes
Even your gender.
They’re all open to change.
In fact, the only things you can’t change are your past and your age.
Reinvention, transformation, opportunities and fresh starts are available pretty much every minute of the day. Now that’s hopeFULL knowledge!
… It only changes it. And that holds true whether you believe in life after death or not.
Obviously you’re not going to have the same sorts of interactions with the deceased that you had with them when they were alive.
But the feelings you had for a person in life will not magically vanish just because that person is no longer physically present.
If you had a positive and loving relationship, you will still have those feelings. Things you see and do will remind you of the deceased and make you smile. You may still talk to them either in your mind or even aloud. You might even get a response.
Conversely, if you have a difficult or negative relationship with someone while they are alive, the strife isn’t over when that person dies, as many people seem to think or perhaps hope.
The changes that death brings to these relationships may cause frustration or open a door to forgiveness.
If you have unfinished business with a person who has died, you might be frustrated that you can’t get an explanation or receive an apology.
However, death can also level the playing field.
My father’s death finally gave me a chance to say many of the things I wanted to say to him without being rebuffed, denied or interrupted. It also allowed me to love my father without fear. I could see him as human – mortal, vulnerable, flawed, a child of God – just like me.
I feel closer and more loving to him now than I ever could when he was alive. That is the transformative power of death. What changes it brings for you are your choice.