"First thing every morning before you arise say out loud,
"I believe," three times." - Norman Vincent Peale
I got in trouble when I listened to should statements such as "You should quit smoking" even when my gut was telling me the same thing. I (and my Nico-demon self) kept saying, "It's my life! I have a 'right' to smoke!" Yet I was being untrue to myself who deep down knew that I was killing myself one puff at a time!. I lost respect for myself which I covered up by smoking that much more determinedly! "Nobody is going to tell me what I 'should' do!" When I was untrue to myself, I incrementally lowered my self esteem. It can happen gradually. Almost imperceptibly, but can have a far reaching and long lasting impact. I'm still re-claiming myself more than 4 years down this quit journey road!
The first step in freeing myself from social restrictions was the realization that there is no such thing as a "safe" code of conduct - one that would earn everyone's approval. My actions can always be condemned by someone - for being too bold or too apathetic, for being too conformist or too nonconformist, for being too liberal or too conservative, from my nonsmoking family and friends when I was smoking and from my smoking friends and coworkers when I quit. So it was necessary to decide whose approval was important to me.
"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
- William Shakespeare
I had to pay attention to my own needs and wants. I had to listen to what my body, my mind, and my heart were telling me. For instance, if my body was telling me that I have been short of breath for too long, coughing for years not months, feeling tired and anxious, stressed and unconnected to my health, I had to learn to listen past the Nico-noise and hear that Freedom-loving voice that was screaming in the background for attention. If my heart was telling me that I was abusing my God-given gift of LIFE then I had to tune into that message and ponder it with self-love, not run away from it with yet another smoke cloud of denial.
I learned to honor the person I am. I learned to accept myself as human and therefore, imperfect. I had to forgive my mistakes and focus on the prize. i had to learn that I could achieve my goal one day at a time, keeping in mind that smoking cessation is a journey - not an event. I learn to give myself rewards for the large and small Victories!
I learned to be true to myself and thus be truly me to my Family, Friends and Coworkers. Once they saw this transformation, the "shoulds" stopped both from them and most importantly within ME!