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Your lifestyle, your quirk
I think smoking is one of those habits that sneak up on you. It’s often a habit born of not-so-great situations, like a breakup, losing a job, or failing a test (for students, anyway). You say, “Oh I’m just going to try it.” And then that turns into “It’s only a few a week,” and then you suddenly find yourself justifying everything else about the habit.
One thing I’d like to point out straightaway about this article is that I’m not attempting to point fingers at anyone. I can’t judge a smoker, because for several months, I was one myself! I’m not theoretically opposed to smoking; this isn’t about morals. It’s just about cold hard facts. Smoking is bad for you. Lighting up doesn’t make you a bad person, it can just hurt you.
You have probably heard all of the things that smoking can do to you medically speaking. It can cause cancer, ruin your teeth, yellow your eyes, and give you acne. Actually, that’s one of the biggest reasons I stopped smoking. I am very sensitive about my skin, and having just two cigarettes made my cheeks break out.
But what about the other negative things that come along with smoking? Because they’re not all medical, you know. There are certain mental habits you can fall into by smoking cigarettes. One of the easiest states of mind to fall into is that “quick fix” mentality. It’s easy to think that you’re fixing your problems by getting a cigarette buzz. After all, you seem to feel better, right? Well, in the short term, yes. That buzz makes your head feel good and it can be nice. But in the long term, thinking that smoking makes you feel better leads to a lot of complacency. “Well, I feel better, so things must be better. Therefore, I am not going to try and fix my actual problems. The symptoms are gone. So it’s okay!”
But that’s not true! It’s just like taking an antihistamine for allergies. You stop the body’s natural defense system: a runny nose. That’s attacking the symptoms, not the cause. Feeling like everything is okay because you have a cigarette buzz is the same concept. And obviously, your problems (allergies and whatever prompted you to pick up the cigarette) are resolved. You should be actively working on improving your life rather than your mood for a few moments.
Another, more clichéd reason people start to smoke is the precise reason I did – that “coolness” factor. Now, nobody sits around saying “Hey, I’m smoking a cigarette because I’m cool.” So when you hear an antismoking ad or someone saying that, it seems ridiculous. However, think about the reasons you smoke. How do you feel when you get a buzz? I felt relaxed, laid-back, and seemed to enjoy my favorite music more.
Those ideas play into the “cool” mentality. You may not be consciously saying, “I’m so hip” (or whatever the popular lingo is these days), but you feel like a better person when you smoke. Well, again, that isn’t true. You’re still the same person as you were a few seconds ago, only now you have smoke in your lungs. People won’t perceive you any differently in the grand scheme of things. The honest truth is the public pays little attention to what you’re wearing, what you’re doing…we’re too wrapped up in our own problems. We don’t notice if you smoke a cigarette, and we certainly aren’t going to go out of our way to give you cool points. You’re going to have to earn those another way.
Now that I’ve talked a bit about some of the common misconceptions about smoking, let’s talk about how to quit. To be honest, I didn’t really have a hard time quitting because I was noticing a change in my skin. And nothing comes in the way of good skincare to me. So, really, it wasn’t a question for me.
But for others, it’s hard to stop. You could have been addicted for years, or maybe you’re a “casual smoker.” Casual smokers often don’t feel the need to quit altogether because they think having a cigarette now and then is okay. And true, it isn’t nearly as bad for you as smoking a pack a day, but in the long run, it’s still harmful to your body.
One of the things you need to tackle to be able to quit is the mentality issue. You know smoking causes cancer, but that’s long term, so it hasn’t stopped you yet. But if you focus on the real reasons you’re smoking, you’re likely to be able to heal yourself in other areas, and not be so dependent on cigarettes.
Let’s take the quick-fix mentality. Yeah, it helps you in the short term. So you repeatedly get a cigarette buzz. But instead, focus on improving your communication. Focus on improving your relationships, get a new hobby, or even start attending therapy. It may seem costly and time-consuming, but you need to heal the underlying reasons you’re smoking. Five-step programs aren’t going to help you with that. You need to fix your heart, you soul, your mind…whatever is truly hurting, and then you won’t need to smoke anymore.
Another quick way to put down the pack is by asking yourself a simple question. Think of someone you love dearly. The person you cherish most in this world. For me, it’s a close race between my four-year-old brother and my boyfriend, Tye. Just think of the one person you’d do anything for, someone you could never stand to see hurt.
Now ask yourself how many cigarettes you want that person to smoke in a week, or in a day. The number you choose for them is the number you can have.
I wouldn’t EVER let my brother smoke, if it were up to me! So since he can have zero, I can have zero. You see? You’re doing to yourself what you wouldn’t allow to happen to a loved one. But shouldn’t you love yourself that much, too? You should take care of your body the way you would someone else’s who is important to you.
Of course, there are other programs to stop smoking. You can try Nicotine patches, electronic cigarettes, and those however-many-stop-programs. But I firmly, firmly believe that if you cure the mental reasons you’re smoking, you can stop. Anyone can stop. Anyone. But you have to truly want it and to truly care about yourself.
If you need more help, visit this list of ways to stop. But notice how a majority of them deal with mental issues?
I promise that you can throw your last pack of cigarettes in the garbage and walk away. To be honest, since I did that, I haven’t really missed them! Yes, the smell of a cigarette can still be pretty tempting – I love the way they smell. But I promise that a little bit of longing in the short term will lead to a lot a pride in the long term. It’ll pay you back tenfold, something keeping the habit won’t.