So, you have given up your bad habit, you no longer eat sugar, drink alcohol, smoke, use drugs etc, you have given up and got on with your life, you have lost weight, you feel fitter, healthier, you feel good about yourself and how you are living your life. But, why do you still keep thinking about chocolate cake, wine, cigarettes? You don’t want to indulge in these activities anymore, you have decided to move on, so why won’t the thoughts go away.
In all probability, you have spent many years indulging in your habit of choice, maybe from a very young age and you have created years of memories of good times and maybe even bad times that you associate with your habits. All these memories are still stored in your unconscious mind, waiting to be released.
What are our thoughts? Thoughts are about our past, our present or our future. So, every time you are thinking about the past then you will be presented with images and thoughts associated with your old habit. It was part of who you were at that time.
But what is so bad about this? So, many people see this as a failure, after giving up alcohol for 6 months they can have thoughts peppered throughout the day of drinking. Mostly at times or in situations that in the past they would have had a drink. But, if it is just a thought, it cannot harm you, it cannot make you have a drink, so just acknowledge it and let it go. If you dream of smoking a cigarette years after giving up, laugh at the fact your mind still has stored memories of when you used to smoke.
- Learn to laugh at thoughts of your habit, notice when they happen and don’t take them seriously. Your mind can only present the picture of the alcohol, a box of chocolates, a cigarette, it is up to you what you do with it. Just because you see yourself in your mind’s eye eating chocolate chip ice cream does not mean you have to go the freezer and have some.
- Imagine the thought floating by, watch it and see it float off into the distance. Thoughts cannot sustain themselves if you move, get up and do something else, even changing the channel on the TV will allow your mind will drift off and bring new thoughts.
- Don’t add fuel to the fire by grabbing hold of the thought and interpretating it as some kind of message that you still have an issue with your old habit. It doesn’t mean this at all, if you have moved on then you have moved on. The thoughts are only memories of what you did in the past. Don’t try and deny them, don’t push them down, let them come and recognise them for what they are. A memory of the life you used to life. Recognise the thoughts of the past for what they are, a stale memory or a time gone.
You find an old loaf of bread at the back of the cupboard covered in mould. What do you do? Take it out and spend hours examining it, or quickly recognise that it is old, out of date, of no use to you and you quickly throw it in the bin?
The past is gone, it is dead. Mourn it if you wish, but then move on, and enjoy the new life you have created for yourself. If ghosts of your previous life come back to visit you today, just say hello, and tell them you have moved on, let them see how you are enjoying life, living now, in this moment.
Above all remember it is normal, there is nothing wrong with you thinking this way. It would be strange if you didn’t remember the past.
Don’t try and analyse why you are still having these thoughts; you can analyse for years and never find the solution but all the time you are analysing you are reinforcing these thoughts. So, don’t dwell on them in any way. Just accept that they are a part of life, unimportant and meaningless.
As you move forward creating more and more memories of your new life then these are the things you will remember when you think back. It is rare that thoughts of your habit will disappear completely, so accept it, become aware of it, laugh at it, say hello, and then move on.