Just like many smokers, one of mine is when I get told over and over how smoking is bad for you. After smoking for 9 years, I am obviously well aware of the risks.
My girlfriend has asked me to quit but I am not planning on fulling quitting as of right now. I just want to reduce it and am doing efforts towards that goal.
Yet a few months back after the 10th conversation about this, she asked me once more a question I had heard a thousand times:
“What do you even like in smoking?”
I had had a long day and this triggered me into closing up all of a sudden. I bluntly replied that we had already talked about this and didn’t want to discuss it anymore. It created a very awkward silence.
Having started to meditate 10–15 minutes every day since last September, I thought I had learned to control my feelings so this abrupt response surprised me.
While time has passed I am still disappointed in myself for this reaction.
However, it did allow me to notice this trigger.
Indeed, the most efficient way to learn to control your temper is to be aware of your triggers.
Triggers are deep installed feelings, either bottled up resentments due to past experiences or things that we know to be true but do not want to accept.
In the case of smoking, I reckon it is the second case for most people.
Being aware of those gives you the opportunity to preemptively control your feelings. Whenever you see a conversation turning towards a trigger you can start preparing to handle it well.
In this way, when the time comes, you can react in a calmer way.
Which brings us to the second point: handling your feelings.
One of the goals of meditation is to be in peace with your feelings, control them better by leaving them be.
Mindfulness teaches you to be more in touch with the present, feeling your body, mind evolve as they are doing it.
After a long practice, you can learn to notice when your mind is starting to turn towards anger and thus prevent it from turning into a full-blown overdrive.
Losing one’s temper is not an action we can fully get rid of. There will always be times when you won’t notice it creep in and it will simply burst out of the blue.
For those times, mindfulness will allow you to bring this energy back down. For other cases, knowing what triggers you may be the best time you could spend on yourself.