Freedom Friday- How Do I Quit Smoking

man sitting in a car smoking a cigarette

So…in last week’s Freedom Friday post, I said that I would start including other habits and addictions in these weekly posts.  I decided that since I worked as a Respiratory Therapist and I used to smoke I would start with smoking.  People start smoking for a variety of reasons.  I think you might find my story quite interesting, so I will share it. 

I already shared in another post that my dad had always smoked.  With the traumatic experience I had when I was seven, I was not all that interested in smoking.  Sure, I experimented when I was young when a couple of my friends stole cigarettes from their parents—but it never was anything serious.  That is until I was 14. 

collapsing building

One of my friends had started smoking.  Her mom smoked and she was okay with my friend smoking.  My friend tried to get me to ask my mom if I could smoke.  I was too scared to ask my mom—and besides, I really wasn’t all that into it.  She told me she would have her mom ask my mom for me.  I was nervous but I agreed to let her do this.  I just knew my mom would freak out and say no way.  SHE SAID YES! 

I was shocked.  What kind of mother just calmly agrees to such a thing?!?!  I was kind of in a daze because I just could not believe it was that easy to get her to say yes. I smoked off and on for several years.  It still wasn’t anything all that serious.  I could start and stop at will.  I never felt like I was addicted—it was more like a hobby than anything else.  Then it happened—my dad died when I was 19.  I was done.  I threw the cigarettes away and never started again.

little girl lying on a table in a laundromat

I always tell people it’s easy to quit smoking—you just put them down and say you aren’t smoking anymore.  The hard part is to keep from starting again.  I say this not because I had this problem but because I get the concept of addiction.  Just because I never was addicted to or that serious about smoking doesn’t mean that no one else has that problem.

I did notice something interesting after I quit smoking though.  I would find myself holding things between my first and middle fingers—pens, silverware, carrots.  At first, I thought it was just a habit—but then one day I realized it was a security thing.  It was kind of like Linus with his security blanket.  I would catch myself with some object between my fingers chewing on it. 

dying tulips

My point is that many times our habits or addictions can be very wrapped up in our mental or emotional status.  It is extremely important to work to become tuned in to every aspect of whatever harmful tendencies we may have.  It will be virtually impossible to break free of any bad habits we have if we are not aware of the various facets of those behaviors.  This takes time.  It can be like peeling an onion in order to find the hidden aspects that might be hiding in the dark crevices of our minds.  It takes a lot of time and patience.

One thing that can help an individual to sort things out is to keep a journal.  If you don’t like to write, get a recorder and talk out your thoughts and feelings.  It is helpful if you have a friend or family member who can just listen, but if you don’t feel comfortable sharing certain things with another person a recorder can be a great resource.  With a recorder you can be totally open and honest, and you may be able to peel back another layer and examine what’s underneath.

ocean waves

If you are trying to quit smoking—or vaping—it would be good to keep track of when you smoke.  Write down what activities you are doing.  Document who you were with and the emotions you were experiencing.  Be observant of the time of day or other notable events that are going on—no matter how insignificant they might seem.  This will help you to determine what your triggers are.  Is it your mood?  Is it during stressful occasions or happy occasions?  Is it typically when you go out to eat or are at a party?  Figuring all of this out can help you to determine how to combat the urge to smoke or vape.

Once you have made the decision to quit smoking you have to come up with a game plan.  The first step is deciding on a launch day—but before you can start you have to get some things in place.  There are some very important aspects that have to be included in the endeavors.  It is good to have supportive friends and relatives.  You will have to surround yourself with people who are going to help you to accomplish your goal of quitting.  You may also have to avoid people who smoke or trigger you to smoke—at least for a while.

sign with arrows pointing different directions

You have to decide how you are going to reach your goal.  Personally, I feel going “cold turkey” is the best way to quit smoking, but not everyone can do that.  There are a lot of tools out there to help people stop smoking—patches, gums, and other similar tools.  Each person has to determine which is the best method to choose.  The important thing is to get started and have a completion date.  Without a final cessation date, “quitting” could go on for years.

You will also need an exit strategy in place so you will be able to reroute and escape a potential trigger.  If you end up in a negative situation or a specific location that causes you to feel like smoking, you will need to have a plan for how you will react.  One thing that will help you to be successful in your efforts is to not carry cigarettes with you.  This way, if you end up in a situation that triggers you to smoke, you will have some time to decompress and get control of your thoughts and emotions.  This practice may very well keep you from lighting up again.

snowy mountain and river

Counseling or a support group may be a necessary tool as well.  Having a trained professional or a group of other people who are fighting the same battle as you are to rely upon can help you to cross the finish line.  It is just as important to celebrate your successes.  A counselor or support group can help you to do this.  They might even point out achievements that you miss.  And be sure to reward yourself for your successes.  Decide on what you will deserve rewards for and what those rewards will be.  This habit will boost your odds at success.

One other thing that will help you to stay on track is to participate in activities you enjoy.  I like to write and take pictures.  I gain a lot of joy and comfort from reading the Bible.  Walking always helps me to destress and sort things out in my head.  Something else that I thoroughly enjoy is strenuous yardwork.  Lately, I have been shoveling snow pretty frequently and I love it.  I have always been a little off LOL.

sun shining through trees

I was having a text discussion earlier today and all of a sudden it occurred to me why I have been enjoying these types of vigorous activities so much.  It has to do with the abuse I endured between 1999 and 2014.  I was constantly told that I could not do “that”—I didn’t know how to use a hammer, couldn’t hang a picture, wasn’t able to barbecue.  I spent years being told that I was incompetent and incapable.  I nearly became an invalid.  I truly thought that I was physically unable to do many of the things that I love—things that I used to do on a regular basis.  
As I have recovered from the abuse, I have found myself doing more and more of these things—sometimes just because I can.

If you plan activities that you enjoy, you may have some of these little “revelations” yourself.  They come occasionally—quite often at unexpected times.  They help you to figure out why you do some of the things you do and allow you to work out a way to work through them.  They are the key to your ongoing success.  I know they help me to figure out the next steps.  Once you get past the hardest part, you will find that little discoveries like this will bring you great joy and keep you going.

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