As you must know by now, smoking is not only an addiction, but also a habit, and very often habits are harder to break than addictions. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to break all habits associated with smoking without developing new ones. What you must make sure of is that you are the one in charge of developing these new habits, and that they are not forced upon you by chance or situations.
Whether you’ve arrived at this conclusion yourself or not yet, you will, so let me give you a shortcut. Cigarettes are nasty, filthy things. They are – literally – little fires that you hold in your hand, giving off smoke and ash and creating smelly butts that must somehow be disposed of. They are gross, and if you smoke for a long time, their grossness will leach on to you, the smoker. No surprise here, right?
The fact is that you can take advantage of this knowledge to create a new habit. Dress sharp and feel sharp. Smell good. You’ll feel like a million bucks! It is a well known fact that your physical appearance influences the way you feel. If you look slovenly and dishevelled, your mind will similarly. Is this what you want?
After quitting smoking, make an effort to work on your appearance. Your new, sharp look will have a more lasting effect than impressing your co-workers: it will give you confidence that you are on the right track. Your new look will influence your mind – I look sharp, I feel sharp, I look clean, I feel clean. As a result, your confidence level will go up, and soon imagining the new you with its snazzy suit holding a cigarette in your hand will feel completely alien and disgusting, which was the point of the whole exercise!
Smoking was a great pleasure for me for many years. As an extremely shy person, the act of smoking allowed me to actively engage with others while sharing a common pass-time. In school, it provided a necessary break from the stress of achieving while being able to bond with my classmates. At the office, I had my smoking buddies, and each day around the same time we would meet outside and catch up.
While smoking cigarettes does not necessarily alter your reality like alcohol or drugs, it does change the chemical composition of your brain. Some may argue that it was the joint social activity that decreases social anxiety and fights depression, for me it felt like it was really the chemical agents and deep breath that kept me sane. Or so I thought.
After quitting, I realised that sanity was possible without nicotine. Yes people, it is possible to live a healthy and happy life without your crutch: cigarettes. In fact, once the withdrawal symptoms subsided it was actually much less stressful without nicotine addiction. While I my daily work-family stress did not change, I had one less thing to worry. As a non-smoker, I no longer had to tailor my schedule around my addiction. Wow, freedom. Without the crutch, I was able to focus on the anxiety and depression and deal with it instead of hiding behind something else. Smoking was in fact only adding to the problem. Why didn’t I listen before now? Wow, what freedom. Although, it can be painful at first, to truly feel life, it was and is worth it. Quit smoking and regain control of your life.
And, what you will realise after a while of being smoke-free is that your altered smokers brain chemistry eventually goes back to your true state. It just takes time. So don’t give up, hang in there and persist in your efforts. Smoking is like a wizard putting a veil over your eyes. Persist in being a non-smoker and you will begin to wonder how you ever were so foolish.