The other day I was thinking about the time when I gave up smoking. I was wondering to myself how I managed to give up. Did it take will power? I know that I have next to no will power so it couldn’t have been, just denying myself something for long enough that I would just give in and not want to smoke. There is no way I could just deny myself from something that I wanted especially something that I had done all my adult life.
So what was it that I did to ensure I would never want a cigarette again. In fact the thought of smoking now makes me physically ill. The smell of cigarette smoke and stale tobacco disgusts me. And yet less than 2 years ago, the mere thought of not having cigarettes would bring me out in a cold sweat. I would go as far as saying that I was terrified of not being able to smoke. I knew I needed to stop smoking for financial as well as physical reasons. Over time the reasons for stopping smoking got greater than the reasons to keep smoking. I started to plan how I would stop. The point was that I wanted to give up on my terms for my reasons. For that reason I didn’t tell anyone until I was ready.
I had stopped smoking several times in the past, none of them were properly planned, and every time it was down not wanting to give up but thinking I should. I failed unsurprisingly, sometimes within hours. This time was different, I didn’t want a future with smoking in it. I aknowledged that smoking had been an important part of my life, but most of the reasons why I thought smoking was important was bogus and based on a psychological dependency to nicotine. When I examined my life, smoking did not decrease my stress, in fact it increased my stress, due to cost and having to try to hide my habit. So why after something stressful happened did I reach for my fags? Because the nicotine was telling my brain that. Smoking did not set me up for the day, in fact it slowed me down by reducing my oxygen levels, dehydrating me and giving me a headache and chest pain. Why would this be good for me!? When I looked at what it was doing it was a no brainer to stop. That is when it clicked, I was not going to deny myself anything, in fact I was setting myself free, smoking was denying me a life.
Saying that, nicotine still had a hold on me, and stopping completely terrified me. I mean truly terrified me, I still remember that visceral terror I felt when thinking about the day I was stopping. So I bought myself some nicotine gum. The gum was someone to hold my hand whilst I stepped off into the abyss of the non smoking world. That is exactly what it felt like, it felt like stepping into a terrifying unpredictable world. Clearly the reality was nothing like that at all. Nothing happened! For a few weeks I dutifully took the gum 3 times a day. Then one day I just decided that it was just too much trouble chewing the disgusting gum, so I just stopped.
The key to stopping anything that is destructive or bad for you is to give yourself a reason to choose a life without it. Denying yourself something as a long term plan is likely to end in failure. You must see a compelling future without whatever it is you want to stop. Changing how you look at your life can have a profound effect on your life.
We are amazing never tell yourself you cannot do something, based on the type of person you think you are. I never thought that I could give up smoking.
If you are struggling to change something in your life, get in touch.