When we quit smoking we lose something. A lot of people never really talk about this aspect of stopping smoking, but it's true nonetheless. Everybody keeps talking about the dangers of smoking and the need to quit, but they almost never talk about what we lose when we stop smoking. When we stop smoking we lose one of our most comfortable, reliable, and familiar ways of relating to ourselves and to the world around us.
We may have been smoking for many years and over time it becomes part of our identity. It's an easy way for us to say, "Hey, this is me. I know it's bad for me and all that stuff, but it's still me and I can handle this." And whenever we needed to give ourselves a break or to cope with something difficult or for whatever reason, we knew we could always light up and we'd feel more ourselves again.
So, yes, in a way we do lose some pretty personal things when we stop smoking. But we also gain something when we stop - we gain opportunity…the opportunity to redefine ourselves to ourselves and to others around us. When we stop smoking we can begin the process of learning how to live each day on our own terms without being chained to smoking or being defined by it. It sounds almost too obvious to comment about, but it's the truth and until we recognize this truth we will keep sliding back into being resentful that we quit or that we "had to" quit. Hey, we're doing ourselves a favor here! Moving past something that has demanded our attention for years and that will eventually put us into a premature grave is a good thing, not a bad thing. It's an opportunity. Ever think about stopping that way before? To learn more about the free EX quit plan and how to begin to re-learn your life without cigarettes, visit BecomeAnEX.org.
Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org.