Starting Out: You Want to Want To Start "Not-Smoking"
I've encountered very few smokers who want to keep smoking. Most of us want to "quit" but are reluctant for some reason. Keep reading; we're in this together and you're not alone. We have yet to be completely sold on the idea and the often painful process of "quitting". Wow. That sounds like a break-up, like trying to leave an abusive partner; we know the relationship is killing us, but can't see living without that partner who used to be a friend, but is now slowly killing us. We want to quit, but don't even know how to start. First, we have to Want to Want the freedom. Maybe that person is You. Let's start by changing a scary word into a pro-active phrase.
"Quitting". We're all taught from a young age that quitting is not good. Quitting is what we do when we can't do it anymore. Quitting implies failure. Let's change those words "quit smoking" to something we really want; to "Start Not-Smoking."
"I want to start not-smoking." That's a huge step, right there. Now we're not giving up a behavior and hoping everything will be okay. Now we're deciding that we want a different behavior altogether. That's empowering. Now we're not "leaving" an abusive relationship, we're "starting to live our own lives". Nice.
Now, like the abused individual, we take inventory of the damage we're doing to ourselves by keeping this relationship going. Here's a few simple modifications to our habit that will help us see…really SEE…what smoking is doing to us.
1) Get ashtrays and keep them where we smoke. Don't dump them for a week straight. In our vehicle, keep an old Altoids tin. In our garage, use a big glass ashtray, at the "smoker's quarantine area" at work keep another Altoids tin. Keep an Altoids tin in our pocket. Store our butts and then after a week…look at them. Really look at them. They're all that's left of nothing but satisfying a craving.
2) Keep the empty packs for a month. After a month, open the bag, dump them out on the table and take a long, hard look at them. That moment of packing down the pack, zipping off the cellophane, pulling out that foiled-paper and pulling out that first cigarette is long gone. All that's left is trash. Count them.
3) The old Money Tracker. It's easy if we do suggestion #2 above; number of packs x cost of packs = money gone up in smoke. Cash instantly converted to self-abuse. Are we smoking a boat payment? A motorcycle payment? A deposit into our kids' tuition-fund?
4) Time-tracking. This one is trickier, but just as relevant. How much time do we waste smoking? Got kids? We don't smoke around them, right? How long does it take to smoke one of our cigarettes? Time it. How many "breaks" do we take away from our kids? Time-per-cigarette x breaks per day = time away from our kids so we can abuse ourselves. Kids grow up quickly; we don't want to waste any of that precious time. No kids? What else could we have done with that time?
When are we ready to Want to Want to Start Not-Smoking? Are we ready for starting to live our own lives?