What will It take for you to quit smoking?
Most people do not succeed at quitting smoking the first time they try. Mark Twain was known to say, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." I know how he felt. I was one of those who had to quit over and over again before it finally worked.
If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking, chances are you know how hard it can be. You quit and relapse and quit and relapse and some days it can be difficult to imagine that you will ever be free from this insidious addiction.
The first few days and weeks after quitting, the new ex-smoker can feel anxious, irritable, tired, and restless. Any external stress becomes blown out of proportion and the temptation to fall back upon the known comforts of smoking can feel overwhelming.
But know that these feelings always pass. The physical withdrawal goes away within days and the restlessness and cravings generally go away within a few weeks. The emotional cravings can last much longer and may require an extraordinary effort to overcome.
So if you’ve tried and tried to quit smoking, you’re probably wondering what it will take to finally make you quit for good. Sometimes a serious illness can wake us up – or it’s someone else’s serious illness that does the trick.
But sometimes even becoming sick from smoking is not enough to make us do the right thing. Watching a loved one die from a smoking-related illness might make us quit, or it might just make us feel more guilt about smoking. And as we light up yet again, we wonder about the crazy person inside of us that compels us to keep at it even though intellectually we know it’s the wrong thing to do.
This is because smoking is not an intellectual decision. If it were, then the first time we learned how bad it was for us, we probably would have quit. Most of us have heard all the health reasons smoking is bad for us and we either believe it won’t happen to us or that we will quit before any serious damage is done.
This is what I like to call “lottery thinking." We all believe we have a chance at winning the lottery – that’s why we buy tickets, right? But we tend to think it’s the other guy who will get lung cancer or heart disease. The truth is that most people who smoke will eventually suffer from a smoking-related illness. Very few smokers end up living a long life untainted by illness. So yes, you might be one of those lucky few, but the odds are against you.
Sometimes we just get so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired that we walk away from smoking in disgust. If you find that you have reached that point, then the critical thing to do is to not lose that feeling. If you can just give yourself time to get through the inevitable cravings, you will make it through to the other side.
We only become non-smokers by choosing not to smoke – and successfully making that choice over and over again. Use whatever tools are at your disposal to help you through the inevitable rough spots. Eventually those desires will go away and the thought of smoking again will truly feel disgusting. And breathing deeply of fresh air will feel fantastic. You will know that you have what it takes.