No pretty pictures, no filler, just the straight up truth. Quitting is good!
When I was 17 I had a boyfriend that I thought was super cool and…he smoked. All his friends smoked too. Then came the drinking then came the pot. I couldn’t figure out what the big draw was and I really didn’t want to go in the direction we were going in, so I broke off our nearly two-year relationship (two years is a long time in 80s teenager time). Shortly thereafter he fell off a car urban surfing also known as car surfing and entered a coma that he would never wake from and eventually died years later. He was 17 at the time of the accident. I went a little nuts, I wanted to know what was so damn cool that he would have rather died partying than keep his girl and tone it down. So I did my fair share of partying over the next year. This was when I started smoking. I was 18 years old. Traumatized.
Fast forward about 22 years later. Like many smokers, I’ve been thinking of quitting for a long time and had tried and failed at least once. I also remember the day when I’d finally had enough. I vividly remember frantically racing to the ladies room and out for a smoke during a five-minute meeting break and thinking to myself how absurd it was that this little inanimate bunch of leaves wrapped in paper was running my life. Everybody who seriously and successfully quits has some kind of epiphany, followed by a motivational concept that is deep and true for them. For me with smoking, it wasn’t the obvious health issues, the smelly invisible fog that followed me everywhere and permeated every fiber of my car and my home, the cost that was swiftly rising toward outrageous or even the death of a family member or friend. Nope. For me it was the fact that I was sick and tired of letting that little butthead run my life. I don’t take kindly to people, or in this case things, that try to control me. I was tired of planning my whole world around my next cigarette. If you smoke and you don’t think you do this, you’re in serious denial. Epiphany! Duh! I had never looked at cigarettes as something that “controlled” me. This became my motivation. So I set out on a research campaign, determined to make a plan to quit. Here’s what I came up with.
- Find out why you want to quit…really and truly. Your reason for quitting has to be strong enough for you that you can hold onto it like the Rock of Gibraltar and it will not fail you. I was sick of cigarettes ruling my life. Another motivation for me was that I’d never have to make cigarettes again as we had started making our own because of the rising prices.
- Figure out what your triggers are. What makes you want to smoke? When are your cravings at their worst? My triggers were waking up, eating, talking on the phone, waiting, work breaks, bars, clubs and casinos, and driving.
- Figure out how you’re going to combat your cravings and triggers. For me the answer was an electronic cigarette. The one I got looked more like a pen than a cigarette, I bought it that way on purpose to clearly mark in my mind with a visual that I was not smoking cigarettes anymore. The e-cig took care of both my cravings for nicotine and my triggers and I stepped down the nicotine in the cartridges until there was none. I also used meditation. Now I use the e-cig on rare occasions where I know I will trigger (like Vegas or a bar). Truth be told, I don’t crave cigarettes when I encounter a trigger, I crave my e-cig. I can live with that. Other people use something to keep their hands busy, some take up chewing gum or toothpicks, some try on a healthy habit like getting more exercise or eating more veggies. Still others invoke prayer and meditation. You have to find the mix that truly works for you.
- Gather your tools and your allies. Your tools are going to be the things you’ve discovered to help you overcome cravings and triggers. Your allies are your trusted friends and coworkers with whom you are going to share your goal of quitting with so that you can be accountable for your actions. Plus, you get your own private cheering section! Woohoo! Sis-boom-bah!
- Set a date or Realistic Goal. I set my date for the day my e-cig arrived. Once it did I put down my partial pack of cigarettes and never looked back, but it’s okay to stumble too. If you give in to temptation, figure out why and where your plan was weak and keep trying. One time I was at a bar with some friends and had forgotten my e-cig (obviously where my fine little plan fell apart) I finally caved and bummed a cigarette from one of my friends. Yuck! Nasty! Yep, I smoked the whole thing. I don’t forget my e-cig anymore. Hey, maybe rather than setting a date to quit you sign up for a walk or run for charity that is a few months out. The point is to set a realistic, attainable goal. Which brings me to…
- Try, try again and stop making it so big in your head. Eventually, if you really want it, you will succeed. Take those baby steps and work your plan. Some people told me that I made it look so easy even though I smoked over a pack a day for over 20 years. Some said they admired my extreme determination and willpower. To this I say “bull$#!%”! It’s not like I trained for and won my first decathlon or successfully climbed Mt. Everest. All I “did” was let something go. Something that was going to make my life better by not being there. I didn’t really have to “do” anything beyond a little research and self-exploration.
Come to think of it, you can apply these simple steps to a lot of things you might need to let go of or “quit”. Say, drinking, a bad relationship, the past, that weight that has been creeping up on you for a couple of years now, to stop road raging, getting healthy, or that job that makes you want to crash your car on the way to work so you don’t have to go there, to name a few.
These days I find myself surprised at how grateful and free I feel when my hubby has to stop for a cigarette or can’t have one when he needs one, and I realize I have no need for it, nor do I feel it’s draw. Freedom feels good. Give the negative things in your life the boot and see what shines through the opening you’ve created.