In this episode, I share:
I Avoided Putting Out This Podcast For Over A Year
Y’all this is not the way I wanted to start off this podcast. However, I have made a commitment to myself, to stand in my truth for this podcast and to be vulnerable in a way that I haven’t been vulnerable in the past.
And to really honor, what’s currently happening to me, what happened to me, and just essentially honoring my truth. I have attempted to start this podcast so many times and I would get in my way and say that it wasn’t good enough. It didn’t sound the way I wanted it to sound. I was just swimming and perfectionism then. And today I just decided I’m just gonna press record and whatever comes out comes out and we’re just gonna let it be because there is no perfection. I can’t control what other people think or how they receive this. All I can do is honor myself and honor my truth.
Death In The Rebirthing Process
This morning as I was getting ready for the day and going to get caffeine and breakfast, the words of rebirth just kept coming to me. The Phoenix kept coming to me as symbolism. The phrase there is death in the rebirthing process (there’s death in rebirthing).
What that means for me is as I continue to do my work to heal, there is a level of grief that comes along with that. I spend a considerable amount of time and energy trying to run away from the grieving process. It’s like, I just want the healing, but I don’t want the grieving. And a lot of that comes from thinking I had too much grief in life and I don’t wanna do it anymore. I’m trying to negotiate, which is part of grief. I’m trying to negotiate with the universe to be like, can I just get to the next level without grieving?
The thing is that I realized this morning is that you can’t evolve to the next version of yourself. You can’t go to the next level without a death, right? Whether that’s a death of identity, a death of what you thought was going to happen, what could have been, what should have been. All of that has to go away in order to go to the next level, the very act of doing something new or starting something new means to end or a part to die off. Right. So when I’m speaking about death, I’m talking about…let me think of an example.
I’m A Smoker
I am someone, in the spirit of transparency, I smoke. It is something I don’t talk a lot about. I started smoking Black and Milds during my Ph.D. process. It’s a combination of trying to find a way to self-soothe, trying to deal with all the things that were happening in that process, which I’m sure we will get into in this podcast. It’s also started from being in a relationship with a smoker. We are impacted heavily by those we hang out with or interact with the most, I started smoking. I started in 2015, maybe 2014. I stopped cold turkey in 2018.
Then the pandemic happened in 2020 and I started back. I have been having the goal ever since then to quit, but I was trying to quit from a place of shame. I was trying to quit from being like, well, you shouldn’t do this. You know how dangerous it is. You’re just killing yourself. Thinking that if I talk to myself like that long enough, I’d eventually be like, yeah, “Brain you’re right. Let’s stop.”
But all that has done is reinforced more and more, this identity of me being a smoker, right? Because I started smoking to deal with stress and shame. And then, I was trying to use those very things of anxiety, stress, and shame to quit. Only is it not helping me to quit, it’s just reinforcing the habit, the behavior of smoking. Whenever we wanna make a change like this, it comes down to being willing to change our identity.
Changing Your Identity
I am someone currently who is continuing to identify as a smoker, the moment that I allow myself to shift, to let go of that identity of being a smoker, to let that part pass on and adopt this new identity as a non-smoker, then I will truly get to a place where I quit.
If you are a non-smoker, you don’t smoke. You’re not thinking about it. You’re not someone wrestling with it. You’re not someone saying like, oh, I just have the urge. You’re like, no, it’s just not who I am.
If you’re someone who identifies as I don’t do cocaine, right? It’s not something that’s coming up in your everyday life that you have to navigate and you have to plan for yourself, you just don’t even think about it.
My work has been to shift from this place of I’m a smoker, or I’m gonna be someone who always has to deal with urges or who has to deal with being tempted or what am I supposed to do with my anxiety. Even if that’s what I’m doing while I’m trying to quit, that is still me identifying as a smoker. However, if I can get to a place where I’m willing to let the identity of being a smoker die off, then I can truly step into this next level of really being a non-smoker.
When I quit cold turkey in 2018, it wasn’t from this conscious place of I, well, now I identify as a non-smoker. No, truthfully it was some, lil raggedy dude that I wanted to be with. And he said he didn’t like smokers. And so I just quit because I was more invested in having the identity of a girlfriend than I was in being a smoker.
I was willing to let it die temporarily. If that meant I got to be one’s girlfriend, but we know how this story is going. I did not end up being his girlfriend and it was trash, but that’s a whole nother conversation. The identity of being a smoker was still present and I didn’t intentionally choose to let it go. Therefore, when another high stress situation came up, like a pandemic, deciding to get a new puppy, being far away from home, and lonely in isolation, my brain was like, but we are a smoker. Let’s go do that. I hadn’t practiced telling myself that I am no longer a smoker, that’s no longer my identity. It was easy to get back into the habit. It was like muscle memory.
Sitting With Your Emotions
This time around, it’s been me asking myself, “How do I learn how to sit with the emotions?” How do I learn how to sit with the shame of, “Yep. I smoke. Yep. I do it every day.”
At one point, I was probably smoking almost two packs of Black and Milds a day. And for many of you, you didn’t even know they came in packs, but that’s neither here nor there. Now I’m doing the work of letting that identity die off. I’m allowing myself to sit in the shame and feel the emotions and increase my awareness of when do I smoke. I think about the environmental cues that indicate it’s time to smoke. What are the biological cues, right?
Because it is an addiction. Nicotine is real. The goal is to increase awareness of what I am doing and what I am thinking about while smoking. When I allow myself to practice courage and sit there and be in awareness, even though I’m still smoking, what that does is allow me to have a more accurate picture, not one rooted in shame about me being a bad person.
If I’m willing to practice courage and willingness to drop the shame about being a smoker, then I realized that you know, I really don’t even like how it tastes. I really don’t even like how it smells. I don’t like how it clings to my hair or my skin, or that you can smell it throughout my house, or you could smell it in my car. I don’t like the amount of money it requires to do on a daily basis. And the more that I can practice sitting in the things that I don’t like about it, not from a place of just stopping it but more of accepting it’s a part of me. That also requires me to be real with myself and be honest with myself about that smoking is also doing something good for me.
Vices Are Also Good And Giving
If I wasn’t getting anything beneficial from smoking, or what I perceived to be beneficial, I wouldn’t keep doing it. Smoking gives me something to do. I feel like I have something to do with my anxiety that I don’t have to just sit there with it. Smoking also requires you to breathe, in a rhythm. It’s a habitual inhale-exhale. That, that brings calm. Then, nicotine as a chemical goes to the part of the brain that sends up dopamine, which makes you feel good. This chemical reaction creates this very strong connection to the reward that you get from having nicotine go through your body. It’s a stimulant, which, you know, could be dangerous either way. It’s a There is a little bit of a push in terms of energy and it’s also an appetite suppressor, which if you ever heard, supermodels use smoking for weight management.
How To Change Your Identity
Maybe your identity you want to change isn’t smoking. Maybe you wanna lose weight. Maybe you want to stop compulsively shopping.
Step 1: Increase Your Awareness
Whenever it comes to something that we are so used to doing that we want to stop it, first begins with increasing your level of awareness around your behavior. I know that I’m smoking. I know I go to the store and buy the Black And Milds. I know that. But what I did not know was the extent of it.
I didn’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t know what was causing me to want to go to the store in the first place. I wasn’t as aware of the actual thoughts or triggers that were leading me to choose to deal with my emotions with smoking. First, I had to just be aware, which is a part of that process of paying attention and writing down and keeping track of how often I smoked. I didn’t even know that I was smoking almost two packs. Yeah, I was going to the store, but I was not consciously aware of that. I was not consciously aware of just how much money I was spending on a weekly basis. I was not aware of how many times smoking throughout the day or how long each session was.
Step 2: Interrogate The Why Behind Your Behaviors
Once awareness is established, then you can begin to peel the onion back. Ask yourself,
When it comes to addiction or any other deeply habitual pattern, 80% of the time, it’s gonna go back to something in childhood. The pattern is touching a wound in you, it’s not about so much the act. It’s not so much about smoking in the moment as much as it’s about what smoking is connected to. That childhood wound(s) could have definitely been triggered by something in my present, but really smoking is only influenced 20% by the present.
If I was to sit with it smoking is rooted in never really knowing how to fully process emotion, never really having opportunities where I felt safe enough to process into, or not like being taught how to even name an emotion. How do you recognize it in the body? How do you let it process?
I unconsciously found a way to process emotion by smoking. It was my way of bypassing feeling shame or feeling deep emotion. My brain has now associated those emotions with the action of smoking. I now understand that connection. I can take my awareness to the next level and really start to get at, “Okay, what is really coming up? What is happening?”
Since 2020, my business has grown. I’m a life coach. I went from not being able to make a thousand dollars in a 12 month period to generating multiple six-figures in one year. My brain just did not know how to deal with that. I was someone who was far away from home in the middle of a pandemic in a new place and I didn’t really know anyone and isolation is a childhood trigger for me. I also put in my notice to leave my nine to five to pursue business full time.
I spent a lot of time alone as a little kid feeling like I never fit in. I did not like the feeling of having too much attention on me, like with my business. My brain makes it means that something bad is going to happen. If I’m able to hold empathy for myself, the best way, I knew how to process all of what was happening in the moment was to smoke and I’ve been doing it.
That is the stage I’ve been sitting in, looking at core childhood wounds, for the past nine months or so now.
Step 3: Let Go Of The Old Identity And Step Into The New Identity
I’m moving towards the third stage where I am stepping more into the identity of a non-smoker and, and telling myself, helping myself to realize that it is okay. It is safe to let the identity of a smoker go or die off. There is a death happening and it doesn’t mean that I have to think that the old version of me was bad or feel shame about who I was.
Being willing to let that part of me die-off means also grieving my routine. Grieving you won’t be waking up every morning, sitting in your car, and smoking for three, four hours. When you feel stressed, reaching for a Black and Mild to help me process that stress, has to change. I actually have to process that stress and those emotions. Or that means changing my morning routine of going to the gas station and buying a new pack. And this may sound a little bit silly on the surface, but we are habitual creatures. We love our routines. And when our routine shifts, it forces our brain to work harder to remember, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore. We do this now.” I’m giving up those things.
But what I am gaining is
I’m gaining a whole new identity because this is different from what I did in 2018. When I quit the first time, I’m not doing it for another person, I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it because I’ve gotten to the place where I’m ready to step into this new identity.
In Summary – Death In Rebirth
I did not even plan to talk about this, but it served as a really good example of there is death in rebirthing. So maybe your thing isn’t smoking, maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with addiction. Maybe it just truly has everything to do with like, you want more for yourself? Maybe you wanna start your own business. Maybe you wanna go back to school. Maybe you wanna have a family. Maybe you wanna pursue dating. Maybe you want to start a new hobby.
Anytime you wanna do anything new, we first have to make peace with there’s a part of us that will die off that will grieve. And just because that piece of us is dying off or that identity is dying off doesn’t mean it was a bad thing.
Death doesn’t always mean something negative or bad. Death is a necessary part of life. And in order to be a new version or evolve version of yourself, there is a death process, a grief process that you have to go through.
I know that’s probably pretty heavy as episode one of a podcast, but I just wanted to be real about what we gonna be are talking about on Happy, Free, and Paid. And I’m hoping that me standing in my truth, me telling you something that I am working on currently, not after I have completed it, hopefully, gives you some support, some encouragement, some inspiration to keep going on your journey.
We’re not gonna get to a place and then everything’s gonna be Gucci. We are constantly beings who will learn and who will keep evolving. And that can go many ways, but we are constantly evolving and changing. And so, so we don’t always have examples of what that looks like. I’m hoping that this podcast will serve as that.