The One Thing I Had To Give Up

By Nick Polizzi

Sometimes the one thing that is slowly sabotaging our lives is right under our noses.

When we feel “out of whack”, our monkey minds tend to blame someone or something outside of ourselves – the over demanding boss, the guy who cut you off in traffic, the child who refuses to listen, the unexpected tax bill… but in reality, it all comes down to us.

Ready to hear something personal?

A few months ago, I began to notice that I was becoming anxious throughout the day, unable to maintain a calm and tranquil state of mind in certain scenarios. At first, I engaged in the above monkey mind protocol – well, the day was going fine until x or y happened…

But one afternoon I noticed that even though everything was going my way (I had no responsibilities but a fun day of hiking with my family) I still found myself becoming impatient and scattered. It was then that it dawned on me – this feeling of unease was all being created by me.

It was time to do an internal scan, so I turned to my handy list of medicine questions, and came across one that reached out to me. (The way that a favorite shirt might beckon to you from the closet.)

The words read:

“What have you introduced to your life in the past two months that might be affecting the way you feel right now?”

Hmm… good question. At first my mind came up blank. Nothing new had changed or been brought into my li–

OH… That.

Grumble. But I can’t do without that. I NEED that. (If you ever hear yourself speaking these words, you know you’ve found an area that is ripe for self-compassion and spirit work.)

I was about to give up my one thing – coffee. Let me explain.

While on a film set this past summer, I was offered a cup and found myself happily accepting the invitation. Now this might seem like an ordinary transaction, being that 60% of adults in the Western world drink some form of caffeine in the morning, but for me, this was crossing into a no-fly-zone.

I had given up coffee about five years prior, after realizing that it was slowly and subtly altering my perspective and behavior. As a father of young kids, the morning energy boost from a steaming cup of joe is welcome, and for the first few weeks of usage there is never any detectable behavioral side effects. But slowly and sneakily, coffee always leads me down a road that ends in decreased body awareness, a tendency to overthink even the smallest things, and an overall lack of patience for small inconveniences.

Everyone’s body is different, and some folks experience no problems with coffee whatsoever. But for me, it’s a high-octane energy boost that is wonderful in the moment, but slowly blows out my adrenals and sabotages my peace of mind in the long run.

Yet somehow, I had found myself back on the train again. That first innocent cup while filming had turned into another cup the following morning and a cup or two each morning after that. It had given me energy and power when I needed it, and from there the need for more had begun – all the way up to my moment of realization.

So, I quit coffee. Again. Right then and there. Knowing it was going to be a hard few weeks without my deliciously roasted and frothy morning friend.

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And it was painful. I hadn’t realized how dependent my body had become on this substance. For the first five days, I experienced flu-like symptoms – heavy head, weakness throughout my entire body, fatigue and not surprisingly, a bit of depression.

But underneath all those withdrawal symptoms, the deeper me knew I was on the right path. I made a joke out of it to friends and co-workers who noticed that I was under the weather, saying things like “This is what day 6 with no caffeine looks like – wanna join me?”

Without the crutch of caffeine, I found myself beginning to navigate the landscape of my day more carefully. I couldn’t afford to waste the energy I did have on negative thoughts that depleted me, so any of those were avoided entirely. I began to sense and rely upon the other natural sources of energy that come through human interaction – the giggle of my 3-month-old son Rowan, warm rays from the morning sun, a heartfelt conversation with my wife, you get the picture 🙂 The things that matter.

On day seven, I realized that there was something else I used to do in the morning, in place of coffee. I used to take a multivitamin, a vitamin b-complex supplement, and a probiotic. How did that stop?

I pulled those out of the cabinet and started the regiment once again. It only took one day for their affects to start bringing my body back online – with new sustainable energy finding its way to starving cells and organs.

Without the hard push of coffee inside of me, I began to detect other subtle aspects of my life that were “off”. Ways I was interacting with myself and others that were draining me of life-force rather than feeding a more harmonious existence.

As I’ve mended these imbalances, I’ve found myself laughing more, reveling in simple intimacies with those around me, and walking through the world with an unshakable patience and calm.

To be clear, this isn’t a condemnation of coffee. Many folks swear by java and for their unique biology, it may be extremely beneficial.

Rather, what I am driving at is the importance of being aware of how your habits and patterns (whether internal or external) can either support or inhibit you. There are plenty of culturally accepted activities we engage in that seem harmless on the outside, but upon closer introspection may be derailing us right where we stand.

These practices are often so “everyday” that they’re difficult to spot – food, drugs, technology, word-choices, ways of relating to one another, sleeping habits…the list could go on for pages.

My question to you – “what is your one thing right now?”

Find that, and you have a clear next step on your own spirit path. Are you willing to take it?

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Founder, The Sacred Science


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38 Responses

  1. Do you think tea would have the same effect as i do not tend to drink coffee on a regular bases but I am a bit of a tea pot. I have also gone back onto B complex vitamins, mainly as as one gets older you tend not to metabolise food in the same way as the youngsters, having a thyroid condition does add to the problem too.

    1. Katherine, it depends on you as an individual, but generally tea doesn’t have quite the same effect as coffee. The theanine in it tends to mitigate the effect of the caffeine, so that it’s a smoother and calmer feeling. Tea (like coffee) has so many helpful substances in it that you will do well to keep drinking it, unless you don’t tolerate it for some reason. Green is generally best, and if you’re drinking a lot of it, try to get tea that has relatively little fluoride content.

        1. If you can find ‘Guayusa’ tea, it is so fantastic. Was readily available in Ecuador when I was living there. I could drink it all day & night and notice no negative reaction, quite the opposite! awareness is increased so much. The indigenous people drink it at 4AM and sit in a circle and share their dreams. Drinking coffee causes arthritic pain in my right hand, but with Guayusa no pain, no strain. Guayusa also contains some kind of caffeine but it has a totally different effect from coffee.

          1. Yerba Mate by Guayaki is Fair Trade tea and oh, so good! Mental clarity and positive feelings are had by drinking a couple of cupfuls. I like the loose leaf and I use my French Press teapot. Yum. By buying Guayaki Yerba Mate, you’re not only helping yourself, but also the indigenous farmers who grow it with caring and safe practices to benefit the earth.

  2. I absolutely love my bulletproof coffee in the morning. I add goat whey, coconut oil and coconut sugar. However, part of one sentence in your article has made me rethinking how much i consume in the mornings. It was this segment about the impacts you have noticed in yourself when you drink coffee:

    “decreased body awareness, a tendency to overthink even the smallest things, and an overall lack of patience for small inconveniences.”

    I’m not sure I have decreased body awareness (would love to hear more about how that presented itself and what that means to you) but the second two symptoms, wow. Yes.

    Thanks for giving me something to contemplate in the days to come.

  3. Boy, did this hit home. And how timely! I have been feeling the exact same strangely anxious feelings.
    I too have the same biological issue with coffee. I have been in denial and just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I could have such a huge issue with such a common, seemingly benign beverage. To make things worse, my neighbor turned me on to the beauty of a real, properly made cappuccino. I have been addicted, not just to the caffeine, but to the quest to seek out the few places that can make the perfect cappuccino. It’s like heaven to me, at least going down… until the effects begin. I even have issues with tea and chocolate so I guess I’m an extreme case. But I sure didn’t want to believe it.
    Until reading this it just didn’t sink in. I’m on it now… life is too short to waste one more minute being anxious. Gratitude.

  4. Coffee is so healthy it should be called a superfood. If caffeine is an issue for some, brew decaf that is steam processed, not chemically. I enjoy both as well as being an avid hot green tea lover. The L-Theanine supplies a calming boost and the EGCG is brain booster. There are a number of ways to enhance a cup of joe or a two bag mug of green tea. My kitchen list includes grass feed butter, raw eggs, (these two reserved for the coffee) and any combination of mucuna prurienes, raw cocoa, stevia, raw honey, pure maple syrup, lemon juice and other good stuff. No sugar or milk, ever. Personally, caffeine is my friend as long as we don’t spend the entire day together. Email, on the other hand, has become a real frienemy.

  5. Thank you Nick. When we know our body it’s often easy to find the triggers. We all know it’s our choice as to how good we want to feel. And as for me, I know my body can’t handle more than 12oz of coffee in the morning. If I choose to have more than that, just like you said, the off feeling gradually creeps back.

  6. After over 40 years of drinking only 2 or 3 cups a day, I watched Ari Whitten’s Blueprint podcast and gave up coffee. And I love coffee! A few months later, I tried a cup and was wired the rest of the day. It also threw me into a fibromyalgia flare. I tried green tea and decaffeinated coffee, but even they have too much caffeine. It wasn’t as hard as I expected to give up, and I find myself no more fuzzy headed without coffee than with it, but I miss it much as I would miss a lover who was not good for me. I still have herbal teas and, happily, life goes on.

  7. Thank you for this reminder. I have also noticed that i feel better without coffee. During the periods of time in my life when I cut coffee out I noticed a difference in the way that I felt. I hate the addiction that I feel for Coffee. I wake up and crave it. I try to replace it with tea when I can. I know that I have to commit to giving it up . Your Sharing your story today inspired me to try a little harder. Thank you!
    Sherry Ho

  8. Excellent article Nick. You thoughtfully covered a number patterns that could be pulling us from our desired path.

  9. My ‘thing’ right now and for as long as I remember is ‘sweets’. The sugar drug.
    Harder to quit than smoking, coffee or whatever, ..for me. I know I use it for consolation, as a friend in lonely times etc. I know I know…
    Thank you for your candid writing. I find myself thinking up the excuse that my situation is soooo much harder than yours. I’m so fed up with that kind of thinking and I long for the connection within myself that is not there while I’m on this drug.
    It is a slowly but steadily growing awareness. It guides me to the place that makes me want to listen to my soul that wants me to be true to myself, to be free.
    So again, thank you for writing this blog. You are an inspiration!

  10. Nick,
    You may consider that your negative effects could be a result of the toxins that are sprayed on the coffee beans, pesticides, or additives by the coffeeshop. I have a friend who works at the big Starbucks coffee processing plant. She reports that they spray chemicals on the beans while they roast them, and often mislabel them as to country of origin, to fill orders. Coffee is actually an amazing plant, very nutritious, and a fermented food to boot!
    Its great to check in with oneself, and never become reliant on any substance. Our physiology is always changing, and the way any food affects us can change as well. If one is healthy, one´s tastebuds tell you if a particular food is beneficial or not. For example, my first cup tastes great, but any subsequent cups less so. Also, when I have a cold or virus, my body really is repulsed by coffee. Our sensitivities develop as we eat organic, natural foods, and meditate daily. The intelligence of the body surfaces.

  11. It is funny to read your journey with coffee because i experimented the same many years ago. I am now very careful with my morning breakfast as food has an impact on my energy and soul as well from the beginning to the end of the day. Light chai green tea after a nourishing and balanced (no sugar) meal. I also observed that eating red meat had a negative impact on my thoughts: impatience, resistance, lack of resilience…i am a teacher and i need those fonctions working properly or else my day can be draining and depleting. I eat meat but mainly free range chicken and organic when available. Knowing about meat industry led me to select and limit. What i observed is that Red meat is powerful on me: it is like coffee! Delicious ,tasty, satisfaying and whoops a drop : feeling tired , cloudy mind impatient, resisting, losing my hability to bounce off…The power of what comes in my mouth is grandiose. Being present and informed helps me to find my balance.

  12. Your article definitely hit a raw nerve for me. An awe ha moment. My intuition has been
    opened to the morning coffee as to why I don’t feel ” smoother” later in the day…..over thinking, on
    edge, lack of a natural stoke.
    I have lots of excuses for continuing my long drawn out morning ritual of bulletproof coffee
    and guess I will continue until my reasons for quitting
    become more important. I AM open to positive change! Thank you for your honestly in sharing your personal reflections and willingness to go through the uncomfortable phases for a better life,
    it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

  13. nick, I gave up coffee last month, the epiphany came when i talked over someone and that person just stopped dead still in mid sentence, without a word this person held a mirror, i was terribly embarrassed and humbled and realized this is an on-going habit i’ve developed over the years, talking “over someone” not letting them finish a complete sentence. as if what i had to say was more important…when i grew up in NYC that seemed to be the norm, “speed” but now its an ugly form of poor communication that no doubt alienates people..and without coffee i feel so much better, much more attentive to the moments and not so impatient with othersI

  14. Excellent reading, thank you. I too used to have issues with coffee. It really is a drug. It ruled my life. Giving up 7 years ago I have never been more calmer and centred. Giving up caffeine in all forms for me gave me freedom from chasing the drug no matter where I went, and it saves you money too. I never used to eat fruit but now I seek a bowl a fruit every morning for good lasting energy instead of coffee. Feed the body feeds the mind and soul.

  15. I love your messages. You are so human! and gentle on us humans.
    We are all here to resolve whatever it is that is preventing us from being our authentic loving selves.
    Thank you for informing us of teachers you meet on the way, and so many different paths of expressing our own spirit connection, the one that resonates with us personally.
    Regarding coffee, I watch as people either struggle with coffee, or appreciate the caffeine that helps get through the day. I figured out early in life that I did not need coffee to keep me going. Saves a lot of money too!
    Many blessings to you and your family.

  16. Dear Heart: you mention a list of medicine questions – is there a list available? For me, I love the smell of coffee – stems from childhood being around freshly ground coffee beans. But I find when I have organic coffee with almond butter and raw honey, its so much better than mainstream – but yes, I find I do have to stop drinking it – too burned out….

    Thank you for sharing this – much to ponder.

    All Love

  17. For me, coffee is medicinal. But like any other strong herb, it needs to be used by the right person at the right time.
    I often mix coffee with Teeccino, a roasted concoction of non-caffeine plants like chicory and nuts that can go in the coffee maker and gives a lot of the esthetics of coffee. For those who like coffee but need to cut down its effects somewhat, that’s a good option.
    (By the way, it’s “regimen,” not “regiment.”)

  18. I totally Get it! Coffee was my “thing” as well. In January I started the Auto Immune Protocol and got off coffee. I so wanted to keep just coffee. But I finally said – ok. let’s prove that everyone is wrong and coffee isn’t that much of a stimulant…Well I proved myself wrong. What a great experience! I realized that I am less ancy, less annoyed, more in the moment, and now, as much as I miss that flavor I think of being ancy and say no way. I feel so much better without the stimulant. I’m so glad you shared this! I hear ya!

  19. I too am always curious Nick, and that is what I like best about this blog. I never drank coffee until I was 30 and in Hawaii, it smelled so good, long story short. I stopped the addiction back and forth, but finally this past June, I said to a friend of mine, I will NOT have coffee with you, I will support you. With that by day 5 I had clearer thinking, more time in my morning routine, and slept better. I still have my Chemex and really good coffee beans in the freezer. However, I see no reason to have a coffee. I do know genetically I am a slow metabolizer of caffeine, that’s interesting and curious as well!

  20. it occurred to me that I didn’t have enough time to read your blog this am because I had taken on too many tasks.
    My tasks were easily accomplished before 3:00 p.m. after which time, my body was drained, impatient and asking for that third cup of double expresso.
    Instead of seeing my doctor to try to discover what was wrong with me, you, Nick Polizzi gave me a clue in this entry to your blog today. I’d lost myself to coffee.
    I love my double expresso coffee. Although coffee has been in my life for only 6 months and intuitively I know 100% that it is the culprit.
    My body is already grieving the loss of 3 double expresso coffee drinks.
    However, I will prevail.

  21. Thank you for sharing. I am a morning coffee drinker and very aware of my body signs and you have pointed out what I have been experiencing lately.
    Thank you for this insight !!! I live in Chile and follow you…..

  22. I so understand and relate to how your body responds to coffee. I have been off and on coffee a number of times and the subtle awareness and well being that I experience when I am off coffee cannot be denied. I do find I forget after a time and let the taste and extra energy entice me again. I have done the bulletproof coffee with butter and special coffee beans ( no mold) that is supposed to assimilate the caffeine differently without creating the jitters etc; but even the bulleproof coffee creeps up on me and I find myself out of balance and not myself. I just have to accept my body and nervous system just can’t handle it; even decaf. I am off it again for 3 months now and feel fabulous!!

  23. Wanted to say how grateful I am to Nick polizzi and Sacred science … always such amazing wisdom and articles ! Thank you is not enough for all that you are doing but with much gratitude and love,

  24. Thank you for this story as a way of reflecting on how we may be living.

    I appreciate your sharing and it does have relevance to me.

  25. I also had to stop caffeine . I thought I was having a breakdown everything upset me & caused worry to over take my life. My doctor suggested getting rid of caffeine. It worked ! Feeling better & more in control of my life. No pills needed.

  26. Thank you Nick for your coffee share.
    I completely get your reaction to coffee.
    For me, coffee will generate a sort of stomach nervousness which affects my moment to moment state of mind.

    I am now having no coffee during the week. Only weekends.
    Will check in to see if that is sufficient to return to a calm state.

    Best to you


  27. go to amazona end heal your self or with ibogaine or try specialty coffie direktly from plantages and dont trust doctors especialy you or slosed your blog and your words

  28. Thank you for the “coffee pearl of wisdom” Nick.
    I went thru that a few months ago. Nice to know
    I was not imagining things. I have not touched it since.
    Love your blog!

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