SOUL TV EPISODE 92: Avoid replacing one addiction with another.
Airing Monday May 11th
Avoid replacing one addiction with another. Jai has just quit smoking and wants to avoid replacing this addiction with eating. Our experts help to identify what is at the core of her addiction and the steps she can take to get her health on track. Watch 8pm Mon 11th May www.soultv.com.au
Why is that when someone gives up smoking it is really easy to replace it with another addiction especially eating? And what do we need to do so that we don’t replace one addiction with another.
Firstly it is the hand to mouth strategy taken up when beginning smoking that needs to be addressed at the same time as giving up, to avoid over eating. Why? Putting something in our mouths, even drugs, comes from the fact that as babies the breast or the bottle was our moment of comfort. The sucking action, the food association and the comfort have become entangled and entwined in our unconscious minds until it is a real challenge to separate them out. In fact stopping smoking can be seen as the final act in being weaned and now we have to grow up and face the big world out there. The tendency to overeat can also be boosted by the fact that our taste buds are no longer numbed by the heat and nicotine from the cigarettes and finally we can find out what good and not so good food, really tastes like.
Addictions can also begin because of peer group pressure and our need to “fit in”, find our tribe and to belong. We could also be “following in the footsteps” of someone we admired, a role model for us or we were simply going through a rebellious stage that never ended because of our attachment to those teenage years and doing something naughty. We just don’t want the responsibility of being grown up.
Of course there are much deeper issues that need to be addressed as well, such as why smoking was taken up in the first place. In our medicine smoking is connected with the lungs and the lungs are connected to grief or lack of expression of grief. They are also connected to breathing life in deeply and smoking can be taken up when we become afraid of living after a trauma or event. So the person does not necessarily have an addictive personality per se but they are definitely hiding from life for some reason. With something in our mouths we cannot speak. With our lungs full of smoke and heat, we cannot breath. And doing these things comfort us and prevent us from going to that place that may be fearful and too challenging to face at that point in time.
So where to from here? You have given up and are fighting hard to not overeat or overdo whatever you have taken up orally to replace the smoking. Because each one of us is an individual and as such our models of the world are unique, as unique as our fingerprints, there is not a “one size fits all” approach to solving this challenge. The one thing that is generic is that when we take something out of our lives it is important to be aware that there is now a gap in our lives that needs to be filled with something. What you fill it with is the key to success. In our clinic that is what we do. We set people up for success by giving them a healthy option/alternative, i.e. exercise which uses the lungs. Every time you want to smoke or eat, go out for a walk, have a big drink of water, chat to a supportive friend instead. This is what we call a pattern interrupt. You are now creating new response patterns and new neural pathways in the brain and rubbing out the old ways.
We always say to people that you don’t have to change anything. It is always a choice, even when it is life threatening, there is still the choice to change or not. When we take the have to and the try, out of the equation what is left is choice. If you are happy with where you are, choose to change nothing. If not ask yourself what better choices can I make, would I like to make and then begin to implement some or one of those choices. Use positive motivation to move yourself towards what it is you want. Don’t tell us you can’t find a way because I bet if you and I were standing on the edge of a cliff and I told you would have to jump or exercise and lose weight, give up smoking, get healthy…whatever your challenge is…..you would find a way! Right?
As always in the words of Cinderella…..”Have courage and be kind” especially to yourself because this is where success and great change resides.
Remember to always follow your heart and live your dreams.
Paul and Phoebe Hoogendyk. Ancient Pathways.