How many times have you said to yourself that you need to quit!? “I need to quit eating the whole bar of chocolate, drinking more than I had thought I was going to, going for seconds or thirds at the open buffet, eating that dessert after the doctor made me aware (months ago) that it was affecting my health, being a jerk to my family, being late for work, sleeping with my friend’s sibling”, and on and on.. “I need to quit smoking”.
Yes, I’ve had a few of these and then some in my past dialogues. As an ex-smoker, I felt like the biggest loser on the planet with the amount of times that I would crush a pack up and throw it out, only to dig back in the garbage to salvage the hundreds of combustible chemicals that my body longed for me to light up and inhale. No matter how much I coughed, hacked, had dry mouth, was scorned by family and friends, there was no out.
I was a chronic smoker for two different episodes in my life. The first period I smoked cigarettes for seven years. I didn’t know of any resulting nicotine withdrawal symptoms since they were masked by additional substance use. My “quitting” was aided by the fact that I replaced it with smoking more marijuana than I already was. I had also started drinking more frequently, having that “shift drink” (or three) at the end of my cafe shift. My afternoons got under way nicely.
Ironically, it was shortly after the smoking ban in NYC that I once again resumed smoking cigarettes for another 7 years. The progression was phenomenal. I went from not smoking cigarettes to reaching two packs a day a few days per week. This was on top of my daily marijuana regimen as well. When cigarettes went up to $6 per pack, I started smoking rollies. I can’t even imagine what I put my lungs and the rest of the body systems through. I do know that I had daily headaches, bouts of coughing, dry mouth, dry heaving, anxiety, depression and at times paranoia, all washed down with a pot of coffee in the AM, bottle of wine in the afternoon and a few pints of “spirits” in the evenings.
The point of this post isn’t actually smoking. I will further address smoking not too long from now. When I began my journey into recovery, I was being overly courageous in trying to “quit it all at once” at the time, which was by no means an easy feat and no, it didn’t happen that way. I was told by a peer, that if I needed to do something, to “have a smoke”. This was golden advice for me as smoking was the only thing I had left that provided some sort of relief in my fragile state.
With my head starting to clear up and my physical health slowly improving, I was getting way too tired of all of the coughing, hacking, wheezing fun that smoking provided when I came across a magical spell in the form of a book titled, The Easy Way to STOP Smoking brought to me (and us all) by an English gentleman by the name of Allen Carr.
Allen’s book provided me with a perspective on tobacco cessation that went like this: If you have a mindset of “quitting”, then that implies that you’ll be losing something. Think about it. “I quit my job” or you “quit the team” or you “quit school”. All of these imply that you have lost something when in reality, ceasing to smoke cigarettes will bring you more health, more money, more pleasant body odor, stronger sense of smell, taste and nicer teeth! All to make you smile the better.
Whatever your dilemma, you want to STOP. Not quit. Think about what you’re gaining as opposed to what you’re losing. You can make a simple exercise of it to help you. This was originated by Ben Franklin and now called a decision/ balance tool. You’ll write the pros and cons of making a change, i.e. smoking, as well as the pros and cons of not making that change, i.e. STOP smoking. This will help you look at both sides of all possible outcomes.
This is a small piece of information that can revolutionize your whole being. I related it to smoking since that’s what I learned it in relation to. Whether you want to STOP buying stuff you don’t need, STOP eating stuff you know is hurting you, STOP speeding to work, STOP staying up too late, STOP buying from the dealer who rips you off, or STOP using altogether, I would encourage you to apply it where you see fit. It might just help facilitate the results you seek.
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