addition > subtraction — focusing on developing new habits (instead of breaking old ones)

i’m struggling to write, and i’m trying to parse out why. i think in part, because i’m not coming to the page with a willingness to be fully honest and open, which seems to be a prerequisite for writing for me.

i don’t know how to write without bearing it all, without putting all my shit on the table for me (and any other observer) to look at.

i’m having an internal struggle, trying to rationalize a decision i made last night, which was to smoke despite being in a 21-day “reset.”

i’m sure part of my response to the decision is guilt and shame (because there’s always some element of guilt and shame when it comes to smoking), but i’m also trying to honestly assess its impact (like feeling more foggy this morning, my thoughts being less clear, harder to form).

i’d gone a week without smoking, and there have definitely been shifts in its absence, such as an increase in anxiety.
i think this is in part because of withdrawal from a substance that helped me enter a restful, chill, pleasurable-focused state. and also because i’ve put a decent amount of pressure on myself to work out my life in this three-week period.

so between those two elements, i’ve been feeling a substantial increase in anxiety and overwhelm, both emotional and existential.

i did some research yesterday on how to be successful writing on the internet, and if i’m being real, i got exhausted just reading the freaking list.

beyond it being a lot, which as a capricorn, i can ultimately handle, the harder thing to grapple with was my willingness — not to work hard, but to do the type of work it called for.
my general sense is that it would require me to do things i am pretty adamantly not into, such as self-promotion and social media. i came to a place of clarity that it’d mean committing to building community online, which i am very uncertain about.

since leaving a 12-step program, i’ve become acutely aware of my need for community, and i’ve been in search of filling that void ever since. but the idea of doing that in a virtual sphere does just not turn me on. (no shade to anyone who’s found community online — i’d be happy to do it if it felt right for me.)

so inevitably, when i feel an influx of stress, it’s often paired with the desire to smoke. because this is the knee jerk reaction of a habit:
cue – stress/overwhelm
craving – desire to smoke
response – smoking
reward – feeling less stressed

i’m not going to deny the habitual nature of smoking as a factor for why i reached for it yesterday, because it clearly is. but honestly, the reason i chose to smoke was to get perspective, which is often what brings me back to smoking — the ritual of it is where i turn when i feel like i need to take a pause, shift my perspective, and create space for contemplation.

in taking a break from smoking, i realize i don’t really have practices to fill this void. there is, of course, writing. which i started to do yesterday and lost momentum.
there’s venting, which i also sometimes reach for but is dependent on the other person’s capacity or willingness to receive me.

i was able to recognize that i probably need a meditation practice — something that would offer me the space to shift perspective in order to allow for contemplation.

but feck, meditating when i’m anxious feels nearly impossible (and maybe isn’t really the vibe). i mean, my mind is racing, so the idea of telling it to stop, or to practice not engaging with it feels like a tall order.

the other option is physical activity, which probably makes more sense with anxiety, because it allows me to release excess energy.

i can recognize that i don’t want smoking to be the only tool i reach for when i feel overwhelmed, need a shift in perspective, or want to enter a contemplative state.

and i’m reminded for the umpteenth time to focus on addition instead of subtraction. that instead of obsessing over not smoking, to dedicate that energy to finding what i want to add in its place. this is the general crux of habit replacement anyway — you don’t just focus on removing the “bad” habit, you find something that you can sub in that serves a similar purpose (that offers you that same reward).

so, here’s to practicing something different.
now to determine what to reach for instead.. i’ve definitely been going on more walks over the past week, so that’s an option. i could also jog, call someone, write..

that’s the best i got at the moment. if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to lmk.

i honestly don’t have many tools around anxiety, so i’m learning how to expend that influx of energy.

and hey, maybe i’ll get super fit in the process (lolol).

anyways, i’m running out of steam.

i hope y’all have had a pleasant start to the week. or at least not a shit one.

may we remember that life is a process, that everyday and moment is an opportunity to learn and grow. and that sometimes, we’re simply surviving. and that’s okay too.

love y’all

❤ ❤ ❤

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