I recently read an article from a fellow WordPress blogger about his struggles with giving up smoking and how there is an unbridgeable gap between someone who is going through the process of quitting and someone who has already transformed themselves into a non-smoker. He correctly stated that someone who has already achieved the goal of quitting can only offer support and advice to someone who is still in the process of quitting, or share their own experience in the hope that it will help. The ex-smoker is standing on one side of the gap with all their struggles behind them, whereas the person engaged in the process of quitting is still fighting a battle on the other side.
The WP blogger’s article got me thinking about my role in helping other people to quit smoking. For sure, I’ve been through the quitting process, twice in fact. I quit smoking for five years in the 1990’s and now again for over four years, the difference being that this time around I know it will be forever, because I have made that decision. When I quit for the first time, I didn’t spend too much time thinking about it in terms of helping others. I was too busy managing my own quit-smoking situation, climbing the career ladder and building a family. The second time around, however, I spent a lot more time thinking about what quitting smoking meant to me, and I became a lot more aware of what it means to others too, by talking to people, joining and participating in quit smoking forums, and gathering information from the internet.
I now have an arsenal of thoughts and ideas as I stand here on the other side of the gap, trying to help people who are going through the struggles of quitting. But, wait a minute! I’m struggling too. My battle may be a different one now than it was previously, and I don’t even want to compare quitting smoking to helping others to quit (apples and pears?), but it is a struggle nonetheless, and I’m not about to give up fighting. In fact, I want to try to bridge that unbridgeable gap, not just by offering friendly advice and a shoulder to lean on, but by helping people to think differently about quitting smoking, for themselves. I firmly believe that empowering people to develop their own strategies and come to their own conclusions is a far better methodology than giving them some prescriptive advice or a plan, and expecting them to follow it.
It may only be a metaphorical bridge, but if I can manage to help just a small percentage of people to quit, it will be well worth the effort in the long run.