How can you Quit Smoking even when you really enjoy it?
Ask any smoker why they haven’t quit yet. They will almost always include this reason in their list of excuses:
“Because I enjoy smoking.”
This little mind trick is part of what kept me hooked for so long. Smoking was my reward–something I savored as a personal escape that could comfort me when I was having a hectic day. My mind would reason, “well, at least I can relax with a cigarette.” Smoking was something to look forward to through the chaos of a bad day.
Smoking became my little reprieve. My coping mechanism for life in general. And I always rationalized my smoking by saying that I actually enjoyed the act of smoking–the ritual involved with it, the taste of the cigarettes, the visuals you get when exhaling, the little head rush, and so on. I told myself and others that this was pure enjoyment for me.
Somehow I knew that this perspective was wrong, but I didn’t know exactly how until I managed to quit successfully. Looking back now, I can see that I did not really “enjoy” smoking–what I enjoyed was avoiding the onset of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. I would get bored and I would remember that pretty soon I would need to smoke another cigarette, so why not just smoke it right now and top off that old nicotine tank in my brain? I thought that I “enjoyed” the comfortable ritual of smoking yet another cigarette. Instead, I was simply keeping my body fed with nicotine so that it wouldn’t go into withdrawal. My little list of reasons for smoking enjoyment were nothing but rationalizations to support my physical addiction. The physical craving and dependence was what I was really defending.
When I was still smoking, I wondered about all of these people who had successfully quit already. Did they walk around feeling miserable because they weren’t smoking? I genuinely thought this might be the case if I were to quit for good. Of course, this is not the case. After the initial withdrawal and adjustment period after you quit, you will return to the same baseline of happiness that you had as a smoker–just without the cigarettes. I had thought that smoking 20 cigarettes throughout my day added 20 little packets of “happiness” into my life, and that if I quit smoking, I would not be as happy. How silly this thinking was! Look at your own mental processes and see if you might be playing this mind trick on yourself. Obviously, you will be just as happy–probably a lot more happy–once you successfully quit smoking.
So you want to quit smoking, but at the same time, your mind tells you that you truly enjoy it. Further, your mind probably tells you that you deserve to smoke. So how can you overcome this mental twist and start working towards a quit date? Here is a powerful technique to shatter the idea that you actually enjoy the act of smoking:
Go purchase some Nicotine-Free Cigarettes (The brand name is Quest). Make sure you get Quest Level 3. Those are Nicotine-Free. Smoke a pack of those for the next day and see if you actually like “smoking.” They have all the tar and carcinogens, just no Nicotine, and the effect is like smoking air through a straw. If you try this, you will quickly realize that the actual smoking–the ritual, the taste of the cigarette, watching the smoke, the social aspect–it’s all a bunch of stupid rationalizations. You don’t enjoy any of that. You enjoy putting Nicotine into your body. That’s it. Smoking cigarettes = Using the Drug Nicotine. Nothing more. Don’t romanticize the idea of smoking. You’re just using a drug called Nicotine. If you don’t believe this, go buy a carton of Quest 3 cigarettes. You will quickly come to the realization that you want your old cigarettes back, because the Nicotine-free cigarettes will do nothing for you.
This is of critical importance when it comes time to quit smoking, because you need every defense that you can get against lighting up another cigarette. Train your mind to thoroughly understand that your body is addicted to the drug Nicotine, but you do NOT enjoy the act of smoking.