"But I enjoyed smoking!"
I hear that again and again from folks struggling to quit. (I've heard my own inner addict's voice whisper it a thousand times.) And so I ask this question:
Was smoking ever REALLY enjoyable?
One of the keys to my success this time around has been to remind myself that smoking was never really something I enjoyed. Not really. Remember that very first cigarette--the burning sensation in your throat, the acrid smell of the smoke, the cough following that first hit? I still remember it. Why did I continue to smoke? It wasn't because I enjoyed it. It was because the nicotine receptors in my brain woke up after my FIRST puff and immediately began screaming for more. I was hooked from the get-go.
Smoking wasn't something I enjoyed. When I really think about it, smoking was something I hated. I hated the guilt and shame. I hated sneaking around whilst trying to hide my habit from my disappointed loved ones. I hated the dirty looks I got from non-smokers when I lit up in public. I hated the smell that permeated my clothes, my skin, my hair, my car. I hated cleaning foul, dirty ashtrays. I hated spending money only to watch it burn up. I hated huddling on the porch in the cold and rain, trying to stay warm and dry while puffing away like some kind of fiend. I hated coughing every time I laughed. I hated wheezing every time I climbed even a short flight of stairs. I hated the ulcers in my nose that wouldn't heal. And I hated the fear that each cigarette brought me a little bit closer to death.
So where does that sense of "enjoyment" come from? Because I thought for years that smoking was something I liked doing. That's why I threw away quits in the past--I thought I was missing out on something. But the more I learned about nicotine addiction, the more I began to realize the truth: smoking was something I did to fulfill a craving. That's it. That sense of enjoyment was actually my inner addict's sense of relief at getting another fix. Even that first cigarette of the day, which was always my "favorite," was not an enjoyable experience. It was simply providing a rush of nicotine after 8 hours of withdrawal. (Yes, even in sleep my body was always begging for another hit.)
Ok, so maybe I enjoyed the lovely quiet mornings spent on my porch with a cup of coffee. Guess what? I can still enjoy those. And I can breathe in lots of fresh, clean air while I enjoy them. Because now I'm truly enjoying them. I'm not simply satisfying a need. A need I created when I took that very first puff. (Isn't that sad?)
I didn't enjoy smoking. I do, however, enjoy being smoke free.
Attitude is everything in a successful quit. Change your thoughts about the habit itself, and it will save you down the road. Trust me.