June 6, 2015

The only thing you need to know to truly quit smoking

The casual acceptance of smoking was common place when the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout became nationwide more than 30 years ago. The first national Great American Smokeout was in November 1977. This quarter century has brought about dramatic changes in the way society views tobacco use. Approximately 46 million adults in the United States currently smoke, an estimated half will die prematurely from diseases considered smoking related.  November is also Tobacco Awareness Month.  Ramstein Air Force base’s Health and Wellness Center hosts many ways for Airman and their family’s to kick the habit, to include Smoking Speciation classes, Behavioral Classes and tobacco free nicotine substitutes to assist with cravings that may otherwise sabotage a smoker’s attempt to quit. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Perry)

I used to be a smoker.

Luckily quite a few people can say that today. Smoking seems to have become a lot less cool. Which is good news for millions of people who will be able to enjoy their lungs beyond their 20s and 30s.

I haven’t “really” smoked since 2009. As in I would have a cigarette or two (or 10) on an occasion. Pick up smoking for a week or two if I had a smoking guest staying at my place. Smoke while away from home (“doesn’t count”). And, most of all, I would think from time to time that it would be a good idea to go to a shop and by a pack of cigarettes right now…

I was talking about quitting smoking to a friend of a friend I met at a party. “I haven’t smoked for 10 years” he said.

“Do you miss smoking?” I asked.

“Every single day”, he said. “And I often dream that I smoke, too”.

Now, there’s a person who doesn’t smoke. But has he really quit smoking if cigarettes have such power over him?

Yet one month ago I woke up.

It suddenly struck me that cigarettes are nothing more than bad habit.

Nicotine is a neurostimulator which gives our neural networks a good kick up the backside (ever tried playing a reaction based computer game straight after a cigarette? you’ll be surprised to find out you are as good as paralyzed).

But that’s all it does, create a neural boost for 5 minutes and make us crave a smoke. The rest is all in our head. The rest is our mind trying to rationalize why we need a smoke.

You are joining smoking friends because you don’t want to make them feel bad by not smoking with them? Trust me, they won’t care. Just hang out with them while they smoke and nobody gets hurt. Anything more than that is your mind feeding you bullshit.

You think you deserve a cigarette because you are happy/sad/tired/frustrated? You want to smoke to spite your wife who keeps nagging you about quitting? Can’t enjoy a cup of coffee unless you light up? All in your head!

Once I truly realised that I did not want to smoke anymore. Every time I think about cigarettes now I repeat to myself “just a bad habit”.

Our minds have a wonderful get out of jail free card. We will believe anything our conscious mind is telling us to justify what the unconscious mind wants. But only until someone explains and we accept and see what is really going on. After that the magic is gone.

Realising that cigarettes are nothing more than a bad habit helped me release myself from the nicotine curse. And I hope that after reading this article you are released too…

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