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Letting go and Creating a new

How do we let go of things that are not working for us and establish new healthier habits

and patterns? This is a challenge we all face and, I must admit, I face it too. The hardest

one I faced was to quit smoking. It was my coping mechanism for dealing with stress,

anxiety, insomnia, kept me from emotional eating, it was basically a panacea for just

about any negative emotional state in which I found myself.


The first step was to choose. Letting go of the negative is a choice, first and foremost. I

chose to quit smoking for me. Other times I tried to quit for other people and did not

succeed. You have to be self motivated. If your motivation is extrinsic, you are not going

to be as successful because it is not as meaningful as something you want to do for

you.





Does willpower play a role? To a certain extent. But it is not the only thing that you need

I would be lying if I did not say that a healthy dose of stubbornness got me over the first

hump, which was the first three days. Those were the hardest. However, force of will will

not get you very far when breaking a behavior pattern that is deeply entrenched if you

want to succeed long term. You need to look for alternative healthier coping

mechanisms to deal with the issues you are trying to avoid with your negative coping

mechanism. You then replace the negative behavior with the healthier coping

mechanism.


Examples of some healthier ways I have found to deal with stressors, rather than

smoking out my frustrations have been chewing gum, crunching popcorn (no butter),

writing out what I am feeling, and talking it out with the cat while scratching her under

the chin. She is an excellent listener. Phone calls with friends can also be a resource as

well.





It also helps to have people around you who either take part in or embrace whatever the

healthy lifestyle changes you are trying to engage in. A support system and a sense of

community can be invaluable in making changes.


So, if you want to let go of an entrenched behavior pattern, be sure you are motivated to

do it for you and not for someone else. Plan what healthier behaviors you are going to

put in place of the behavior you want to let go of, and seek support from others who are

part of a healthier mindframe.


By Julie Morse

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