You’ve already heard plenty of reasons why you “should” stop smoking
And no doubt your loved ones have pleaded with you to quit for their sakes – and because they’re worried about your health. But there’s really only one way to any big behavioral change, especially one that involves multifaceted addiction and having it stick.
That’s to do it for yourself
Here are four questions to ask yourself if you’re sincerely ready to give up smoking. Answering these four questions will help clarify and affirm your decision for yourself – to get started and stay on track if the going gets tough.
Four questions to ask yourself if you’re reading to give up smoking
“Why do I smoke?”
If you’re like most people who smoke, you probably started at a young age, influenced by peer pressure and a desire to fit in or look “cool”. Or perhaps you were part of a cultural group or live in a region of the country where it seems like everyone smokes. But knowing why you began isn’t the same as figuring out why you still continue.
One obvious answer (which you may or may not want to believe) is that you’re addicted. Nicotine is one of the most highly addictive substances in the world, up there with drugs like heroin. Kicking any addiction habit is certainly not easy. However, it is possible. Smoking is definitely an addiction that can be overcome.
No one would blame you for saying that you haven’t quit yet because it’s a daunting process. Or because you’re worried about condemning yourself if your attempt is not successful. But let’s look deeper…
Chances are that you experience genuine benefits from smoking. It does something for you. Maybe it provides you with welcome breaks from a tedious or stressful job. Or it’s a pleasurable part of group gatherings with friends. You might feel like smoking is an indispensable element of your persona, and you can’t even imagine yourself as a non-smoker.
Whatever your reasons are, write them down. Then you can go back to them as you continue the self-examination process. Your “whys” – all of the positives you get from smoking – are an essential part of the decision process.
“What Does Smoking Take Away From Me?”
This is the other side of the coin. Smoking can get in the way of all sorts of things, like time with family, or productivity at work. You may be noticing health limitations like a persistent cough, difficulty climbing stairs, getting out of breath quickly, discoloration of your teeth, and so on.
Or it could be all the things you would spend money on if you weren’t buying cigarettes. These can be small, like going to the movies more often, or big, like vacations or buying a better car or house. Over the course of ten years, the cost of a pack-a day-habit adds up to between $40,000 and $50,000. If you’re a two-pack-a-day-er, you’re looking at up to $100,000. That’s a sizable chunk of change going up in smoke.
If you’ve lost a loved one who smoked to lung cancer or heart disease, perhaps smoking is robbing you of peace of mind. You might worry about how long you’ll manage to stay healthy, and whether your family members will have to survive without you. Whatever it is, be honest with yourself and write it down.
“What’s Important to Me?”
Now take a big step back, and assess your priorities in life. Rank them in order. Be as specific as you can. Here are a few suggestions:
- Realizing my highest potential
- Being in a close, long-lasting intimate relationship
- Raising a loving and successful family
- Having a beautiful home
- Sending my children to college
- Serving my community
- Working for a better world
- Professional/career success
- Being in good health
- Financial security
- Being a good provider for my loved ones
Now rank them in order of importance. Look especially hard at the top three. These are your core values, and define you as a person. You’ll probably feel a sense of pride. You strive for noble goals. You really do want the best for yourself!
“Am I Walking the Talk?"
The final question is where the rubber meets the road. Compare your three lists accumulated from the previous questions. Are you living in harmony with what’s most important to you? Are you getting a decent trade-off for smoking? How do the pros and cons of smoking help (or hinder) you from becoming the person you want to be?
You may notice some patterns as you analyze the three lists. Perhaps unexamined life stressors are contributing to your smoking habit, and it’s time to make some modifications. Maybe you’ve outgrown the parts of your personality that led you to smoke in the first place. Or you now view yourself in a different way that no longer includes being a person who needs (or likes) to smoke.
Affirm that you’re worth it, and act like you’re worth it because you are!
A sea change occurs when we look at habits in terms of larger goals and dreams. We realize that we can take charge of our lives, and take actions that increase our alignment with personal ideals. This provides the ultimate motivation for behavioral change – increased self-love and self-esteem.