Carla Golden: ‘What 16 Years of Smoking Taught Me About Playing Small’

Carla Golden: ‘What 16 Years of Smoking Taught Me About Playing Small’

Jan 06

Girl-smoking

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WHAT 16 YEARS OF SMOKING TAUGHT ME ABOUT PLAYING SMALL
By Carla Golden
Carla Golden Wellness
January 6, 2013

Original Link

I learned how to smoke cigarettes in the Appalachian State University girl’s dorm bathroom at Field Hockey Camp one summer in high school. Apparently my teacher was really good because I smoked on and off (mostly on) for the next 16 years until the month before I got pregnant with my daughter.

My champion (sarcasm) breakfast in high school was coffee, cigarettes and Vivarin caffeine pills in the car on the way to school. Fast forward, I remember sitting on the front porch steps of my very first house in my mid-20′s loving my coffee with Irish Creamer and cigarettes for breakfast. Lunch breaks at work meant chain-smoking and drinking sweet tea driving to and from the lunch destination.

I started waking up to my cigarette addiction when I was 30 and working at Barnes & Noble. I observed how I would smoke on the way to work. After work, I couldn’t get in the car fast enough to light up. But in between — available smoke breaks and lunch at work — I had no desire to smoke and wouldn’t for a full 8 hour shift. Still I managed to go through a pack a day.

Why was I so “hooked” before and after work, but not during work? I started thinking deeply about this.

What was I feeling right before I was urged from within to light up?  What was swirling in my mind — consciously or subconsciously — that created the urge? I was determined to get to the root of this so I started conducting experiments on myself.

After work I’d get in the car to drive home. The familiar and habitual urge would arrive. Rather than light up I sat with myself, went deep within and tried to pinpoint my feelings.

This is what I found: anxiety.

I was anxious about the drive home, what I would do once I got there and how the evening would play out. Would I be happy, challenged, bored, secure? Once I was aware of my anxiety I started to break it down. I told myself that there was nothing over which to be anxious. I was not 100% subject to fate. I could help create the experience I would have during my car ride and when I got home.

I started investing in books on tape to entertain and inspire myself while driving. I thought about what I really, really, really wanted to do once I got home: what I wanted to eat for dinner, what I wanted to do (read, bathe, create, watch a movie) and how I wanted to feel by bedtime. I would be proactive, not reactive. I began to look forward to my drive home and all the great activities I had in store for myself once I was there. I indulged myself in acute self-care for probably the first time in my life.

Guess what?

After working through this process for several weeks, my cigarette cravings disappeared. Effortlessly. I was not addicted to tobacco, I was addicted to hiding behind a crutch that kept me small. I felt empowered at work — earning one’s own money — hence why I didn’t have the urge to smoke while on shift. I now felt empowered all day long.

Coming out from behind this crutch helped me to take more control over my life experience. It’s still hard for me to believe I was a smoker for 16 years. Meeting me now and my passionate commitment to healthful living, many people find this absolutely incredulous.

I wish it weren’t true, but it is. I believe my lungs have cleansed and repaired themselves by now. My ultra-clean diet helps to undo damage from the past.

Now here’s the BIG LIGHTBULB: when I know what I want, like, and desire in life, in big and small ways, and I have the sense of self-worth to create these experiences in my life, I feel less likely to play small and self-soothe with an addiction or self-abusive behavior.

I believe this to be true for most people whether their addiction be to food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex or exercise. These crutches help us endure our “sad place” but in the long run do immense damage to ourselves and those around us.

Going deep and understanding what’s really at play — anxiety, fear, grief, guilt — is difficult at first, but ultimately liberating. Knowing how to create peace & balance in your own life is the first step to living a life without addiction.

Have you ever overcome an addiction? Do you have one you’d like to overcome? Share your story in the comment section below. I know your story will inspire and together we’ll find help for those who desire it.

Carla Golden specializes in aromatherapeutic massage at her private massage studio Golden Touch Massage Therapy on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, USA. She also lives, writes and teaches about Golden Eighty20™ nutrition and is the creator of Wellness Destinations Central, an online holistic healthcare directory that promotes practitioners in 71 different healing modalities all across America. 

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