How we (don’t) stop smoking, drinking, sugar…

The other day, I received this email from subscriber Kim Thomas:

Growing up, my best friend’s older brother always took care of us.
Adam was two years older, a tennis star, and seemingly indestructible.
The cigarette tucked behind his ear was his trademark. We had no idea
it would end up being his downfall.

Last week, Adam was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. I can hardly
believe that the guy I’ve looked up to my entire life could die
because of something that had seemed so minor at the time.

To honor my “big brother,” I want to inspire smokers to find the
strength to quit. I put together a collection of resources in the
hopes of promoting the facts about smoking and ways to end the
dangerous habit. Would you be so kind as to share it with your
audience, maybe here:

I hope those in need will arm themselves with this knowledge and begin
a healthy, new path.


Unfortunately, the knowledge that things are “bad” for us is rarely enough to get most of us to stop doing those things. How do you feel when you think of not having those things you like to eat and drink and smoke that you “shouldn’t?”

Similarly, the knowledge that things are “good” for us is rarely enough to get many of us to do them. How easy is it for you to get yourself to daily stretch, exercise, eat your vegetables, drive the speed limit, love and forgive yourself and others, meditate, keep your attention on peace and abundance in the present moment, floss your teeth, and be in bed with lights out at 10pm?

Being in the business of giving advice, I’ve often seen that even a person who is paying for advice isn’t necessarily ready to follow it when it feels like deprivation or too much work. Even when the desire to change behavior comes from the patient, the person’s own desire to NOT change it can still win.

In some cases, information of danger–especially when it comes from someone giving us unwanted advice–only makes us feel angry and want to rebel and indulge more in the behavior in question. Or, we just wind up feeling guilty and bad about ourselves as we continue the behavior.

What I’ve found to be most useful is to truly listen and validate the part of us that fears and resists change, the part that’s ashamed, that believes she’s powerless, that wants to rebel, stay in denial, pretend her actions don’t matter. In most of us is a part that at least sometimes feels hopeless about ever getting what we really want, so we might as well live it up in the moment with no regard for the consequences of our actions.

For those of us in relationships with addicted partners, friends and family members, the key is to take responsibility for our own happiness, and no one else’s, which is often the opposite of what social pressure–and our own co-dependent tendencies–demand.

However, just in case you are feeling curious about how you might adjust your own behavior, you might find some of Kim’s resources helpful. I did, even though I’ve never been a smoker. I felt inspired and grateful to those who’ve been brave enough to change, and then tell their stories and reach out to help others.

Here are the links she sent:

Smoking Cessation: The Guide to Treating the Mental Side of Nicotine Addiction

101 Things to Do Besides Smoking

10 Foods & Drinks That Can Help You Quit Smoking

Exercise Away the Urge to Smoke

How to Handle Withdrawal Symptoms & Triggers When You Decide to Quit Smoking

The Dangers of Smoking

Smoker? Former smoker? Foods to Clean Up Your Lungs

15 Mind-Blowing Ways Your Body Heals After You Quit Smoking

May you find inspiration!

Dr. Alexandra Gayek

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