If you’re a smoker, and people around you know it, you’re probably barraged by demands to stop. Some are caring and kindly. Others abrasive, even disgusted. Do the people you love quote scary facts and figures at you? Does it make you want to stop? No? Thought so.
Or maybe you yourself want to stop smoking or stop smoking naturally. You may even be heard to say that you desperately want to stop smoking. Uh-oh. Desperation may make it harder to stop.
So is there no way out? Nothing you can do? There is something. And it’s startlingly simple. Here it is: Let smoking cessation be a desire for you. Something you want—and choose—to do.
Even if your doctor, your spouse, and your best buddies say “You absolutely must stop smoking!” make it that you want to stop smoking. It’s a desire. Desires are more compelling than orders, aren’t they? That’s because orders make you angry and you want to ignore them.
What if you were ordered to eat your favorite cake? Maybe you’d eat it. Maybe not. But most certainly it wouldn’t be as fun as choosing to eat your favorite cake.
Desires, rather than orders, threats, or commands, are alluring. Desirable. Seductive.
They invite you to do something, and let you know it’s what you’ve wanted to do all along. So invite yourself to be a nonsmoker, the way you’d invite someone special to a lovely dinner party. How to do that?
First, think of what it would be like to be a nonsmoker. Might your hair smell fresher? What about your breath and clothes? Might your teeth look whiter without nicotine to stain them yellow and, eventually, brown? Would you prefer to keep your teeth as you get older instead of succumbing to gum disease and tooth loss, as many smokers eventually do?
How about fewer trips to the dry cleaners to keep your clothes odor-free? What would you do with the savings? After some years, they could be substantial. And would you enjoy having fewer age lines, and fresher, clearer skin as you age? Does improved breathing sound good to you? It should because it can mean appearing younger, walking and running easily, and having more stamina for most activities, including sex.
Here’s another benefit you might enjoy: lower insurance costs. Extra money to put toward a vacation or your next shiny, new car. Why lower insurance costs? That’s because many insurance companies penalize smokers because they’re statistically likely to run up higher health-care bills. And if we’re talking about life insurance, nonsmokers tend to live longer and healthier.
But if you’re considering just lying about being a nonsmoker, beware. Yes, beware. Because if your insurance company were to discover that your illness was caused or exacerbated by your smoking, and their records show you claimed to be a nonsmoker, they might choose to fight against paying health care costs. Is it really worth all that just to put a white stick between your lips and inhale tar and other poisons?
But that white stick seemed to do something for you that we haven’t taken into account yet. Fair is fair, so let’s make a list.
It gave you something to do.
It made you look like you were doing something so you didn’t seem lonely.
It helped you avoid snacking, so you think it kept your weight down.
It let you disconnect from others when you wanted to.
It helped you connect with others. Other smokers. You hung out together outside once
no-smoking laws forbade you to smoking indoors.
The important question is: do you prefer to avoid early aging, smelly hair, yellow, brown or missing teeth, not to mention the serious illnesses caused or made worse by smoking— or do you prefer to smoke?
Another good question is: Can you get something to do, look like you’re doing something, choose healthier, low calorie snacking to stay lean, and find other ways to connect and disconnect from others as you choose? If you can, you simply don’t need to smoke.
But smokers like to smoke because when they were young, they learned to connect it with independence. The Marlboro Man looked pretty independent, didn’t he? Maybe, but not as much when he was hooked up to oxygen so he could breathe.
So if you love independence and doing what you want to do instead of being told, the answer is simple. You can choose independence from cigarette companies, restaurants that ban smoking, friends who urge you to smoke with them and friends who nag you to stop smoking. You can just choose to quit smoking. Simply because you—and nobody else—said so. And that’s that. Feels pretty powerful, independent, and freeing—doesn’t it?
Copyright 2007 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.