Thought Starters

That Inner Voice is calling. Can you help yourself?

This entry is generated by three things.

    1. A book I recently read called The Flinch by Julien Smith (it’s free and you can get it here).
    2. A link from Julien’s blog inoveryourhead to Leo Babauta who has a site called Zenhabits
    3. What happened to me when I tried to quit smoking (a long, long time ago) and how that affects me today.

The primary reason for writing this is really about tying the effort it took me to quit smoking to the inner forces we face that challenge us when we try to do difficult things. The reference to The Flinch is important because it challenges you to push your personal boundaries and Leo has something interesting going with respect to the same thing. His site is stripped down, very minimal. It forces you to concentrate on the content; content that makes you consider how you live your life.

Quitting smoking was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I was 29 years old when I quit for the 3rd and final time (17 years ago, yikes). I started smoking when I was 16 and like any other young kid in the early 1980’s I thought I was cool and a little dangerous. Smoking was part of that persona. When I think back about it now I know that I was simply an idiot but hey, none of us is perfect, least of all me. I am fully willing to admit THAT.

It’s funny that I can remember these attempts so clearly when other memories of that part of my life are so very fuzzy (age and other stuff certainly contributing).

The first time I tried to quit I didn’t want to so it didn’t work, at all. I lasted a few weeks, suffered through the first stages of withdrawal and was a total shitty asshole to everyone around me especially my friends who still smoked. I fell back into it very easily and hated myself for it for about a second. It passed.

My friends were happy again.

The second time was a few years later when I was in Europe where I started feeling like crap every morning and decided that I had enough. I stopped cold turkey. Loser f**king move. I got this fitness thing in my head and started running; everywhere, all the time. I thought it would help me to fight the urges. It worked for a while and over time (3 months or so) I started to ease up, lose a little of the extreme tension and started to relax a bit. I just remembered being so damn serious about everything, so much so, it hurt. By that point I had lost a ton of weight but I was back to being an asshole. People generally hated me because i generally hated myself. Damn it.

Are you getting the message?

After I came back home to Canada I got back into the routine with my old friends and over a short period of time it was all over. I kept telling myself it was ok to have a cigarette now and then. I am not going to go back to smoking, nah, not me. I had this sucker licked. That inner voice was convincing.

That bulls**t inner voice.

I let it get the best of me and before long that was it. Back in the habit (and I’m not talking about some weird religious cross-dressing thing). The amazing thing was it was like I never quit. I was right back to the exact same consistency as before. It must be muscle memory or something. It was years before I tried again.

The third time it stuck.

Why? I wanted it to. It was hard as hell. It hurt, a lot. I used a smoking cessation aid but don’t let anyone tell you that it makes it easier because it doesn’t. It’s painful and generally a joyless time. At the same time I took up fitness again and found the world of mountain biking. I dove in. Deep. Ride, ride, ride. It seemed to help me keep focus. The difference this time was that I actually enjoyed being healthy and didn’t listen to that voice telling me I was missing something in my life. That little f**ker that sits there, all sanctimonious, lying out his ass telling you it’s ok to give in once in a while.

“You don’t have to push yourself so hard, do you? I mean, c’mon, ease up. You’ve done this before and look where it got you? Asshole that you are. Ok then, have it your way, I’ll just sit and wait. You know I’ll find an opening and I WILL wedge my way in. No worries. I have PATIENCE and all the time in the world. Go on, asshole, do your thing.”

I didn’t let it in.

You have to admit that with any difficult thing in your life that it is really easy to give in. Why make the effort when it’s just so much more work? Geez Louise.

  • Making a difference.
  • Doing the difficult work.
  • Being a good person.
  • Putting in the extra effort.
  • Spending the time.
  • Really listening.

It all seems like so much more than we really NEED to do, doesn’t it? My inner voice will tell me that every damn time. It’s always there; goading away but you know what, that bastard is pretty lonely these days and I don’t feel bad for it. AT ALL.

 What’s yours telling you? How did you kick its ass?

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About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self

Discussion

5 thoughts on “That Inner Voice is calling. Can you help yourself?

  1. Interesting! I wonder how many times that little inner voice actually tells us something positive “yes you can, stretch yourself, do something that will make others lives better”. Maybe we have to train and get the muscle memory of the little inner voice to change – or, we can be each others cheerleading inner voice until our own isn’t so loud.

    Posted by jgrossmann | January 15, 2012, 09:22
    • Janine, that’s it! “Yes you can” is what is the challenge really is, at least for me. To not letting that inner voice allow you to take the easy way out instead of making the difficult decisions and sticking to the plan no matter how hard it is would be the goal. The how and why is the variable that makes it a different game each time. You make an interesting point, seeking help to quiet that inner voice is a good option. Thanks.

      Posted by rdopping | January 16, 2012, 07:07
  2. Ralph, I had this conversation with myself today…another serendipitous event, as I did not yet read your post. This stuck out for me: “I just remembered being so damn serious about everything, so much so, it hurt.” This is true…kind of what I’m living. My Dad once told me that I needed to get a life. Ouch! And now that he’s passed on, I kid you not, he has found ways to still communicate that to me. I think the great paradox is wanting to be free; but yet we want to belong to something that identifies us. I agree that smoking is not healthy, but I recognize that it met a need you had. In other situations I have told myself that if you have to give up something you love because you think it is not good for you, that’s not really living. We can be caught up the “seriousness” of striving for a perfect life, but when you look back, are you going to say to yourself, “I’m glad I did it THIS way”..OR….”I’m just glad I did it?”. I will read Julien Smith’s book (another ironic twist I’ll have to comment on later!)

    Posted by Karen | January 16, 2012, 02:46
    • Thanks, as always, Karen.
      Why don’t you write for the blog? You seem to be one of those like-minded individuals and seem to enjoy the discourse. I enjoyed your point of view but I do want to point out that it is the easy way out that challenges us most. I agree that making choices and enjoying life is paramount. It’s always a hrudle when you have to make a difficult decision. I look forward to your thoughts on The Flinch.

      Posted by rdopping | January 16, 2012, 06:56

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