This is not a post encouraging you to quit! This post explains how to stop smoking for good for those who truly want to. It’s what finally worked for me. If you’ve tried before but been unsuccessful, this maybe just the ticket?
How many do you smoke in an average day?
It’s a question doctors have asked me before. I’ve always found it strange because whether the answer is 5 or 50, the medical world considers us all the same, we’re smokers, right? How many, really isn’t the point.
If we have high blood-pressure, vascular or respiratory problems, first stock question is “Do you smoke?”
Let’s cut to the chase _ we have 4 choices, don’t we? (1) smoke (2) cut-back (3) replace it or (4) stop & that’s it!
This was my mindset in 2006. I had smoked filtered cigarettes of different brands for well over 20 years and my honest daily average was around 30. I was a strongly addicted, long-term, heavy smoker.
Now if that’s less than you, more than you or about the same, the only reason I share this is just so you realise I was a ‘proper’ smoker, truly addicted like any other. I was pretty sure in my mind that I could never stop and deep down, honestly, not convinced I actually wanted too.
I enjoyed smoking! – Spike
So why the desire to stop smoking?
I want to say that when I lost family members to lung cancer, I turned a corner and quit on the spot, but I didn’t. I smoked regardless. This shames me now but certainly illustrates just how gripped by the smoking I was.
Actually what led me to stop smoking was the smell, it’s anti-social nature and a birthday. Let me explain..
As much as I was hooked I really didn’t like the smell on my clothes. That heavy burnt smoke smell I carried around with me. The aroma that marked ‘my territory‘ – that being my smoking areas. My car, the kitchen extractor I hid under when it was raining and the rear of my house where my wall-mounted ashtray lived.
Socially having to excuse myself to get my fix, interrupted me. It felt like I was the naughty kid being put outside on the step until I said sorry. The cool kids (that smelt nice) weren’t outside puffing with me, they were inside, over there.. laughing and smiling with their white teeth and fresh minty breath.
Finally, the big 4•0! I knew it was approaching and I knew it marked a turning point. Instead of seeing my birthday as a deadline to quit, I conversely saw it as a red-line. It was no longer a pressure, this was a threat!
I became totally convinced. If I smoked when I hit 40 then I’d accept I would be a lifer!
I became totally convinced & that scared me. – Spike
The weeks passed and the seed began to sprout. I became even more aware of things I disliked about my smoking status. At this time I even began to imagine how different life would be if I was shhh… “a non-smoker”!
The month before my 40th was stressful due to a bully boss, the sad yet amicable end of a long-term relationship and in short regular reminders that I was unfit and about to hit 40.
Stopping smoking was still regularly on my mind but it’s fair to say, it was not my number one priority.
Then it arrived! Night before the BIG 4•0 . .
It was party night & I hit it hard! Over ate, over drank, smoked without a care & altogether had a great time.
I waddled home alone and just before midnight poured a coffee, picked up my smokes and went to my naughty step (with en-suite wall mounted stainless steel ashtray).
I began to question myself as I realised there were literally just minutes left on the clock.
It’s the following questions I asked myself that truly motivated me to stop.
Due to the red-line threat I unwittingly gave myself, my question changed. Instead of “Do I want to stop smoking now?” it became “Do I want to be a smoker for the rest of my days?“. The answer was ironically the same; “NO!” I absolutely didn’t want to stop but I also didn’t want to be the naughty, smelly kid for the rest of time either.
I noticed even the threat itself had changed subtly, instead of “If I didn’t stop by the time I hit 40 then I’d accept I was a smoker.” it became “If I smoked after midnight then I’d have to accept a lifetime as a smoker.“
That was it! Blowing plumes of smoke and frosty bad breath into that clear winters sky. I took stock!
Next morning, before I poured coffee I took a screwdriver and detached the (full) wall mounted ashtray outside. I replaced the kitchen extractor filter and everything smoking related went in the bin.
One hour at a time, one day at a time soon turns into one week, one month. As I write this it’s over 10 years since that night and I never touched another cigarette, not one!
What occurs to me is it’s not our intentions that make the difference, it’s the questions we ask that count.
The fear of being a lifer was far greater than the cravings and withdrawal. – Spike
Was it easy? No! Cravings can be strong at first, it’s all you can think about. What helped defuse the cravings were distractions, keeping busy and this single thought…
Give in to the craving just once and I make a
decision to be a smoker for life!
If you want to know how long the cravings lasted? Let me answer like this.. Looking back I think several weeks of managing cravings is far less difficult than managing a lifetime on the naughty step or any health consequences.
I truly believe it boils down not to what we want, but how we ask our questions.
I’m not trying to sell quitting to you, I’m not suggesting you even should – It’s a decision we must make alone.
I would like to just share what some of the real world benefits have been for me though, not a chart of time to show the ongoing stepped benefits, but what I’ve noticed myself and what is on offer to you.
Today, I cycle over 100 miles a week (something I could only dream of as a smoker). I’ve regained my taste and smell completely and as a result enjoy a richer, healthier diet. Despite lingering hypertension all my blood works are in normal ranges and I can breath again! I didn’t realise how much I had missed a full deep breath!
Of all the ongoing benefits that stopping smoking brings with reductions in risk and improvements to x, y or z. The statistic I value most is that based on a 2001 study, I apparently now have the same statistical chance of developing diabetes as a ‘never-smoker’.
Will I ever smoke again? Maybe now’s the time, not to stop smoking! but to start changing your questions? Rather than asking “Will I ever smoke again?” let’s try “Why would I ever start smoking again?”.
If you’ve read this far, you obviously have real ambition to stop! Here’s a summary of steps to follow…
- Pick a distant future personal event, special occasion or anniversary as your own red-line “threat”!
- Now smoke! Don’t feel guilt, its a choice you make.. Smoking is fine!
- Over weeks, regularly consider what the benefits of a smoke free life might mean to you?
- Smoke! Don’t question it, its your right to smoke.. Smoking is OK!
- Honestly, introduce thoughts of your future. Do you accept being a smoker for life and any consequences?
- Smoke! DO NOT stop! You chose this path, stay on it.. Smoking is not such fun now, right?
- As your red-line approaches ask better quality questions! You’re about to make a decision.
- Smoke! You may not want to but now more than ever, it’s necessary.
- Boom! Times up! It’s your life, your choice & your decision.
- Please share this post with others using the social links below.
If this works for you or merely helps, please feel free to post a comment.
There’s no magic cure and we all live such different lives, just keep faith! I am the last person who you would expect to stop and moreover stop on a dime! Cheesy I know but honestly, if I can do it, you really can too!
So, if you dream to be smoke free.. remember just one thing..
Change your questions, change your outcome! – Spike
Wishing you all the very best! Here’s a complimentary post you may also like Top 5 Life Saving Hacks