A snappy sound of the lighter makes your heart flutter with anticipation. The familiar fragrant fulfills your nostrils and you inhale your first puff for the day. As the relief overwhelms you while the poisonous smoke expands your lungs, you can’t help but think: “How am I ever going to stop?”
So, how do you stop?
When you Google “how to stop smoking,” you’ll find as many tips, testimonials and advice on the topic as one could hope for. The glut of support and all the products that take the ouch out of ripping the bandaid will make you believe it’s easy to give up smoking.
So, you pick the stack of tips to follow, decide on a date and smoke yourself to death until it comes.
Next step: go cold turkey. Soon, you swirl like an earthworm in the hot sun and swearabout the day you made the stupid decision.
But, you stick to it. Days go by and your urge to light one more cigarette loosens its grip and squeezes your nerves less frequently.
Until you believe you made it.
Until you let your guard down.
And then, one-out-of-two types of sneaky inner voices grabs you by the throat and sticks you back in the cuffs of the old habit.
Either the: “I’m having so much fun (and I’m tipsy). I’m not a smoker anymore so one cigarette won’t hurt,” or,
“I’m under so much stress, nobody can blame me (including myself) for lighting this one up. And it’s only one. Cross my heart and hope to die.”
But it’s never just one.
So how do you stop smoking?
When so many tips and advice on how to shake off smoking overwhelm you, it’s easy to lose the most important ones out of sight. And there are only three. But if you understand them well and do your homework, the chances of escaping the despicable habit for good, dramatically increase.
To know your enemy is to become your enemy - Sun Tzu
If you’re serious about quitting cigarettes, the first thing you need to do is put them to their rightful place. Give them the respect they deserve.
Staring at the pictures of the black lungs due to the detrimental effects of tobacco is not enough. As is not reading: “Smoking can cause heart disease.” on your tobacco package.
Because you’ll simply turn your head away and tell yourself this won’t happen to you. You don’t smoke all that much.
The habit is not an annoying nuisance you can shake off with nothing but your willpower. Don’t fall into the trap of underestimating the power of nicotine addiction.
Face the cruel reality instead.
Smoking is like a parasite sucking the life, your money and your health out of you.
It is your enemy. And you need to find a chink in its armor if you want to defeat it.
So. What is your enemy’s greatest weakness?
Well, it’s you.
The greatest weakness of your addiction is that YOU desire cigarettes. You love smoking. You love the way cigarettes keep your hands busy and they smooth the conversations you have with your friends and colleagues.
They “give” you a moment just to yourself. You enjoy your life more when you smoke.
And leaving something you love is hard as hell.
But the good news (and the habit’s weakest spot) is that you can change.
You will conquer your enemy when you UNLOVE smoking.
Turn that desire to ashes!
That’s what the two most important pieces of advice on getting rid of cigarettes are for:
- Deepen the relationship with your WHY (you wish to stop) and
- Resolve the WHY (you wish to continue smoking).
Your WHYs are the key to winning this war
In the meantime, don’t let your enemy suspect. Continue to smoke and don’t deprive yourself until you feel you have already beaten it.
First, as most blog posts recommend, list the reasons why you want to quit smoking.
- Cigarettes are expensive;
- I can get lung cancer;
- I don’t want to age too quickly;
- My kids (will) look up to me;
But this list won’t haunt you late at night. The simple letters on paper won’t constantly nag as if they were a matter of life and death. Which they are.
You gotta go dive into every item.
This is what I mean:
Cigarettes are expensive
Calculate how much you spend on your cigarettes. Write down: “I spend $ xxx in a month. And that makes $ xxx in a year. I could buy (make the list of things you could buy for all that money).”
And instead, I’m paying for…
Read at least one article a day about the damage cigarettes cause. And then complete the above sentence.
Normally, when you read this type of content, it makes you wish to stop smoking. But soon, you forget about it. However, if you want articles like that to have a more long-term effect, commit to reading such content on a daily basis. Despite the fact it is a torture.
I can get lung cancer
Visit the oncology department and meet lung cancer patients. This may seem radical, but no name - no face smokers’ lungs won’t affect you as much as getting to know the real person suffering a lung disease. And listening to the troubling sounds they make while trying to breathe.
I don’t want to age too quickly
If you’re young, the little experiment I have in mind, may not be the best idea. Because young people can rarely relate to getting old, for real.
Yet, if middle age is near, maybe go through reports like this one. And if you can spare a little time, you can benefit more from taking pictures of smokers’ and nonsmokers’ of the same age, as yourself.
And then compare them.
Compare their wrinkles, bags under their eyes and the color of their skin.
My kids (will) look up to me
Last but not least, children follow the examples of their parents.
The longer you smoke, the bigger the probability your children will smoke too.
This one will be difficult, but it is reality: imagine your precious, innocent 12 or 13-year-old kid smoking cigarettes in a filthy toilet. They want to be as cool as the boy/girl they have a crush on and deep down they don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
After all, their parent (s) smoke too!
Do you like what you see?
Well, the good news is now you’re intimately connected to the reasons you want to ditch this nasty habit.
Your desire to smoke is now contaminated with real, influential emotions of contempt towards what smoking does to your loved ones and you.
And you’re two more strikes away from putting your enemy down.
Dissolve the WHY you love smoking
Much the same as you did with numbering (and familiarizing with) the reasons to stop smoking, you need to anticipate and water down the causes that keep you addicted.
Here are a few examples:
Smoking relieves stress
Or so it appears. And there’s no point of claiming how nicotine actually raises your blood pressure and how the addiction is causing you to suffer even more stress.
But finding healthy, useful ways to cope with stress instead of cigarettes can go a long way. The trick is to experiment with other “stress relievers” before you stop smoking and find the ones that work best for you.
So you are ready when you need them to step in and highjack the job from tobacco.
Most quit smoking experts recommend:
- Exercising or doing long walks,
- Warm baths,
- Talking to friends,
- Pampering yourself,
- Enough sleep,
- Deep breathing,
Smoking makes me fit & slim
It’s true. Your appetite will increase and your metabolism will slow down when you give up the smokes. But again, if you go into it ready, you've won half the battle.
All you have to do is make sure you intake enough water, vitamins and minerals and get in the habit of preparing healthy meals.
Before you quit.
Oh and don’t forget the snacks. Pick healthy and sugar-free foods to chew on.
Socializing is easier over the cigarettes
If you’re the last smoking dinosaur in your crowd, this case won’t cause you any trouble. In fact, the opposite. Your friends will welcome your decision with encouragement and support.
But if your friends are mostly smokers, this one could be the trickiest setback of all. It’s not like you can replace your smoker-friends with the new, non-smoker set.
However, it may be a good idea to seek a new non-smoking friend to hang with for a while. Even before you've stopped smoking. Or maybe you can try to shake off the habit together with a smoker-friend. Because you’ll need all the help you can get.
Anyhow, when you finally put down your last cigarette, avoiding friends who smoke FOR a WHILE, may be a good idea. Because one way or another, they can easily trigger the forceful urge in you to light one up too.
One final blow
The last, most important tip sounds almost too stupid to give to someone.
But if you don’t listen, everything you did until that moment will crash like a house of cards.
This advice is so innocent and obvious, it’ll make you laugh. But people don’t smoke for years, disobey, and before they know it, they’re right back in the claws of their enemy.
Seriously. Once you’re ready; when you’ve said goodbye to your last cigarette,
NEVER give in again.
No matter what anybody says, it won’t be easy. And the craving will be there. Both during the withdrawal period and after. And your own mind will pull many tricks on you:
“Just one more, I swear. You know you need it.”
“I’ll smoke just while I’m on this trip. As soon as I get back home, it’s over.”
“I’m so upset and shaken right now because of... I can’t fight this stupid craving too.”
“Look at this gorgeous woman/man. And he/she smokes. Well, I can’t stop now, I’ll never be able to pull it off if we hook up.”
And so on.
But don’t smoke.
The ferocious grip will only last 5 to 10 minutes and then it’ll let go. Focus all your strengths on holding on that much. Until the next time.
One strain at a time - don’t smoke. And remember, if you deal with your WHYs before you throw away that last pack, you will significantly wear it out.
And that’s how you beat the beast.
Because they will make the pillars of your victory.