The absolute best time to quit smoking is when you have come to the conclusion that you really want to quit. There is no point in determining that you should quit just because it’s bad for your health or because it’s expensive, or because people around you want you to quit, or in fact any other reason other than the fact that you have decided the time is right. The time is right when you have got your head around the fact that you would prefer to live your life as a non-smoker. I don’t believe in setting quit dates and I don’t believe in people white-knuckling their way through quitting.
If you’re convinced that you want to live a smoke-free life before you go to bed, and wake up the next morning dreading the thought of quitting, then don’t quit. Instead, think about why your train of thought in the morning is so different than it was the night before. You wanted to quit, but now you’re scared… What are you scared of?
With the help of some of the concepts in my upcoming book and some self-reflection you will be able to overcome those fears and start on your smoke-free journey. I firmly believe in helping people get themselves into the right frame of mind before they attempt to quit smoking, to provide them with tools to cope through the initial stages of quitting, and to deliver some thought-provoking ideas preventing them from falling back into the smoking trap.
Quitting may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be overly difficult. The detail is in the mental preparation, in a non-intrusive and non-preaching kind of way.
I often hear from people who are quitting and who try to hide away from anything related to smoking. From one day to the next they cannot stand the sight or smell of cigarettes, ashtrays, or of other people who smoke. They avoid places where smoking might happen. Cancel any outings where they might feel compelled to smoke. Decline party invitations. No more trips to the pub, coffee mornings with smoking friends are verboten, and even a walk down the street might cause an unexpected encounter with someone lighting up. Nowhere is safe. It’s better to stay locked up at home!
Suddenly the whole world has changed. Or has it? Not really. What has changed is that the person who is quitting has a changed their perception of the world. Cigarettes and ashtrays smell just like they did yesterday, people are still smoking, parties, pub outings and coffee mornings are still happening. The world will march on relentlessly, regardless of whether you smoke or not.
It is quite normal to feel anxious at first, and to avoid situations in which you might encounter smoking activity, particularly during the first few days of your quit. At some point, however, you need to come to the realization that the only thing different in the world is you. You have decided not to smoke, which is a great achievement and one that deserves recognition. Slowly but surely you need to accept that smoking is not going away anytime soon and that it is better to deal with the situation rather than trying to hide away from it. It will make quitting a whole lot easier.
It would be quite easy for me to write out a list of reasons, such as expense, health and so forth, but in reality it’s simply because I no longer have a need to smoke. Been there, done that!
Sure, I occasionally reminisce about my smoking days and how enjoyable it was to light up after a meal, with friends, or when I had to concentrate on something. There were cigarettes I “enjoyed”, but did I really need to smoke a few hundred thousand of them over 25+ years? Yes, I once calculated that I had smoked approximately 365,000 in my life!
Nowadays I look back without any regret at what I’ve done, but with the firm knowledge that I don’t need to perpetuate that pattern of excessive smoking to enjoy life. In fact, I don’t even have any desire to smoke. The reminiscence is merely a fleeting memory, which can easily translate into a building a new memory of how good it is to be free from smoking and all that it entailed.
It’s strange, isn’t it? You want to stop smoking, but each time you see all your friends or colleagues smoking and having a good time, you feel that you can’t quite enjoy the fun unless you’re smoking too. You’re reminded of how great it felt back then before you quit. This is part of what I call romancing the cigarette. There is no good reason for this, other than your psyche making an association between the two: having fun and having a cigarette.
Think for a moment how a non-smoker feels when having fun with friends who smoke. They probably feel much the same joy as you, except that the smoking part doesn’t even register. It’s irrelevant. There is no connection between having fun and smoking, other than inside your mind.
It may seem like a great idea to tell all your friends that you’re quitting, because it encourages you to stay quit and it opens the door for them to support you. However, you need to be very careful about your objective in doing so, and also consider how you would feel if you failed.
Firstly, you should not be looking at your friends to ensure your success. Only you can do that. Secondly, don’t be surprised if your non-smoking friends have little sympathy for you because they don’t understand the big deal about quitting. Thirdly, don’t be surprised if your smoking friends are secretly jealous that you quit and rather delighted if you fail, because you’re back to being one of them. Lastly, if you get into the habit of telling everyone you’re going to quit and then you subsequently fail, be prepared for your friends to be mumbling to themselves, “Oh, here we go again!”
I look back on my life and wonder what benefits I got from smoking? Could I post an achievement award for my efforts? Most puffed in a day? Most money spent on tobacco in a lifetime? Something related to a Nobel prize would be great. Any ideas? I’m at a loss…