From my old office window, I could see the employees-only entrance to the business next door. Periodically, throughout the day, the same woman came out to talk on her cellphone and smoke cigarettes. Sitting at my desk, she was smack-dab in front of me during her entire break, smoking, smoking, smoking. Dying, dying, dying. It’s really sad. She’s a beautiful woman, she looks to be about 40 years old, in decent physical shape, other than her likely diminished lung capacity and poor cardiovascular health, and, she must have a lot of friends, family, or colleagues, because she’s always on her cellphone.
I find it really hard to just watch people die – slowly killing themselves with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, anger, dangerous driving habits, malnutrition, and other self-destructive behaviors. But what choice do I have? What choice do you have when your loved ones are dying in front of your face?
The only things you really can do are as follows:
1. Lead by example, as best you can
2. Express your love, caring, and concern as tenderly as possible
3. Offer to assist if they ever want to make positive changes
4. Notice, praise, and reward any efforts they make, no matter how small
5. Do not lose track of their good qualities and behaviors for the sake of their bad ones
6. Keep good boundaries so you do not join them, facilitate, or enable their unhealthy behaviors
8. Repeat as necessary
To revisit the lady outside, I lead by example by continuing to abstain from my own cigarette addiction that I practiced for 17 years before I was able to quit. I offered to help that woman quit if she ever wanted to by stating that specifically and giving her my card without saying anything further or arguing with her or criticizing her, and today, I will pray for her.