Growing up, smoking wasn’t really something I ever considered having an interest in. Like most people, I was told it was extremely unhealthy for you and those around you. Even through high school, it wasn’t something I necessarily had an interest in trying. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I eventually decided to try it. This ended up reatheing one of the biggest things that I’ve ever tried to keep from the people around me. It was never something I was proud of; it just kind of happened…
So here’s the cliche story that I’ll get to tell. I had just gone through a breakup with someone I had been dating for a couple of years, and if you’ve ever been in that situation, you know there’s a lot of pain associated with that for a while. When I tried that first cigarette, though, a lot of that pain went away. I felt so much less anxious, sad, and felt a little rebellious, which was something I enjoyed. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t enjoy the sensation I had when I smoked. Just like most other people, it was something I enjoyed. I also started dating someone who smoked, which didn’t necessarily help the situation any.
From July 2015 until January 2016, I smoked – quite a bit at times. It started out with a couple here and there and grew over time. At it’s worst peak, I had 22 in a day. That, however, was one of the worst days that I can remember having in a long time. I’ll get into that in another article.
Anyway, I used it as an escape from extreme feelings of anxiety, loneliness and sadness. Ironically, though, I wasn’t alone. I was blind. I had people around me who cared about me more than anything, and one day I really started noticing the affects it was having on my body. A simple task of running upstairs to grab my phone ended up with me being out of breathe. I’m not necessarily in great shape to begin with, but running up the stairs should never be a task where I end up with a shortness of breathe.
Then, the trip to Orlando happened. I told myself that I would be fine without cigarettes for a week. Oh boy was I in for a shock! I was flying to Orlando from Atlanta, and I didn’t necessarily want to take cigarettes on a flight, even though you are allowed to in the US. So I left them at home and assumed I would be fine. It’s funny, because you don’t really know that you’re addicted to something until you go without it – by choice or force. I made it 3 days in Orlando without a cigarette, and I was fine for the most part. I had random headaches here and there when I had a huge urge to smoke, but it wasn’t anything unbearable. I was expecting it, so I was okay. One morning, though, after an event that I attended, I was exhausted from three hours of sleep and a large consumption of alcohol. My head was about to implode, so I took an Uber to the nearest gas station and bought pack. I felt absolutely defeated.
After we returned home from Orlando, things changed quickly. Certain events happened that added massive amounts of stress to my life right before Christmas, and I ended up getting to my worst point with smoking – 22 in a day. At that point, I realized it was time to stop, and I started cutting down little by little.
One day in January, I decided I was done, and I haven’t had one since. Let’s break down the how and the why.
People say that trying to stop smoking is one of the most difficult things the stop. After all, it’s an addiction. To be completely honest, it’s going to be harder for someone who has smoked for 20 years than it is for someone who smoked for 7 months. That’s just a given; however, the same principles apply.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that makes quitting so much easier. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s a lot better to know this than to try quitting without this information. In order to quit, you have to be done with your need for it. Sure, if you want to quit, you may be able to for a while, but odds are, you’re going to go back to it. After a while, cigarettes become something your brain tells your body you need more of, and that’s complete bullshit. From my experience, 80% of this addition was mental. It was all in my head that I needed a cigarette, even if I didn’t. With that, though, remember that a part of your body is still addicted to this, and there can/will be withdrawal-like symptoms.
Chances are, you’re going to have a headache for a while. You’ll probably also be really moody, but at the end of it, you have to remember that it’s temporary. It will go away, and the best way to get it to go away is to do something productive/creative. It will help tremendously because, as I stated before, 80% of this is all in your head.
Back to my biggest point, though. This is something you have will have to overcome as a person. This “addiction” is something that you’re going to have to not need anymore. If you started because you were stressed out, you have to remove a lot of those stressors from your life. For me, that’s pretty easy. I cut out the people who were causing me to harm myself in that way. I cut out the tasks with work that were not helping me grow as a person or growing my business. For others, that might not be so easy, but it’s still very possible.
Like any other addiction, it takes willpower – more than most people have to have on a regular basis. Luckily, having willpower isn’t something I struggle with too often. With the path I’ve chosen in life, I have to have the willpower to make something of myself. I don’t have a boss telling me when to work, when I will get paid, and how much I am guaranteed to be paid. If I don’t do A, I don’t get result B. I have to be able to manage myself as a person and entrepreneur to get what I want. So, for me, going into it with the mindset of knowing I could stop was everything.
Summary of The How: You have to be at a point where you no longer need cigarettes. If you no longer “want” them, it’s probably going to end briefly. When you no longer need them, though, that’s when your true success with quitting starts. It’s all in your head, and (as with everything) your mindset will determine your results.
This is going to be the part that most people who smoke will hate, because when you tell someone that something they are doing is bad, it quite frankly pisses them off. To be completely honest, it did the same for me. I remember looking for reasons to rationalize why I smoked when I would read facts about the health risks and skin aging. I found that the human brain is capable of rationalizing risking cancer, lung disease, heart disease, awful skin, terrible breathe, yellow teeth, hairy tongue, emphysema, awful spending habits, and so much more all for the sake of momentarily feeling relaxed. By the way, that’s just the risks it puts the smoker with. That does not include the risks it puts children, your family, and the environment at.
I was already starting to notice the affects of what I was doing to my body. Running up the stairs became a task. Carrying heavy boxes became a struggle, and having yellow teeth, awful smelling clothes, and an ash tray for a car was beginning to become unbearable.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Smoking is not glamorous, sexy, appealing, fun, cool, or anything positive. Explain to me what’s sexy about smelling dirty, yellow teeth, brown marks on your hands, bad spending habits, and bad skin. Explain to me what’s cool about a cigarette. The problem here is that nobody has ever been able to logically explain those things to me, and there’s a very good reason for that. Those explanations don’t exist.
Along with the health reasons, I simply didn’t need it anymore. Cigarettes didn’t do what they once did for me, and at that point, I knew I was ready to stop smoking. It was one of the most freeing moments that I’ve had. Along with realizing that your past no longer controls you, realizing that you’re ready to end something that should have never started is a very unique feeling.
Summary of The Why: Smoking cigarettes was starting to take a huge turn in my life. I wasn’t happy, healthy, energetic, or motivated. Believe it or not, as soon as I stopped, it all came back. I was immediately happier, felt healthier, filled with more energy, and much more motivated to hustle with everything I was working on. The negative health affects were taking their toll on me, and I was so unhappy with smelling dirty, having a dirty car, and feeling like shit. I never want to get back to a point where I feel like I depend on something to calm me down. I am in control of myself, just as you are in control of yourself.
All in all, though, this was one of the few times where quitting was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I no longer feel that I need a cigarette to calm down. I no longer am insecure about bad breathe, yellow teeth, degrading skin, lung disease, or other negative things. I’m free from something that was bringing me down, and it was all in my head. I had the power to stop with a simple mindset change, and you do too. Sure, it might not be easy, but the best things in life aren’t. You just have to no longer need what bringing you down, and quitting will be easy.
Please note that none of the above text is medical advice. This article was composed as a way to share a secret and my experience with ending a bad habit in my life. Quitting smoking will help decrease your likelihood of cancer, disease, etc., but it will not bring you back to 100% health. Consult your doctor with any medical questions/concerns.