If you want to quit smoking, it does not matter how long you have been smoking other than the increasing risk to your health given a longer period of time since your habit began. However, marvelous machine that it is, the human body continues to demonstrate its ability to recover if long-term damage has not been too severe. It is important that your decision to quit becomes a commitment to endure.
To expect to quit entirely on your own, without having a support team in your corner to offer encouragement and moral support -- and even an occasional, figurative swift kick to the backside or a whack up the side of the head should your falter – is to court the consequence made famous by Mark Twain: “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”
Who knows if Mark Twain had a support team? But we’re talking about your commitment, not his lack of one. It may be important, however, to choose a mentor as part of your support team; someone of your acquaintance who has already succeeded in the commitment to quit smoking. Having a living, breathing, accessible example who can relate to your circumstance, and yours to his/hers, is invaluable.
With that said, there are others you should consider to ask for help. Why not go at it alone? Quite simply put, because no man or woman is an island. There are people around you who care about you and who would deeply regret your departure too soon because you let a harmful habit get out of control and did not ask for help to conquer it. Others ought to be engaged because it is a fact of human culture that service to others is satisfying for both. Then let them serve.
If you are married or have a significant other, and whether or not your life partner is also a smoker, that partner should be the first choice for your quit-smoking team. If you are both smokers wanting to quit, who better to help one another than your first, best friend? While we’re at it, if you have a family, don’t forget to include others in that group. Even children can participate, and often will want to help. Their purity, their innocence will often make remarks to you that an older person may be restrained to say. The truth hurts, but from a child, who should complain? You know they have no hidden agenda; theirs is an honest concern. They want you around.
A trusted friend outside of the family is another obvious choice. You are friends for a reason; you have similar hobbies, hopes and dreams. There is a palpable bond between you that you do not share with casual acquaintances.
If you are religiously inclined, ask your priest or pastor to take part in your support team. Their encouragement will naturally invite higher powers to assist the effort. If you are religious, you most likely already had experience with these unseen powers that boost your faith and offer assurance that things that seem to be outside of your control are still within the control of deity to manage. Believe in yourself and in others to be able to assist you.
Your doctor should certainly be part of your team. Sometimes, they tell you just what you want to hear, but a good doctor dedicated to his/her craft and to your good health may be just the shot in the arm (not to be taken too literally!) you need to stay on the path to your goal of being tobacco-free.
However, if your doctor is also a smoker, it might be prudent to choose another doctor, at least during your trial to quit smoking. “Physician, health thyself” is particularly applicable here. There is enough knowledge about the harmful effects of tobacco smoking to convince any doctor that its personal use is contrary to their professional competency.
One support team member may not even be human. If you have a pet, specifically dogs – they are called our best friend for a reason – take advantage of their unconditional love and desire to please. No, they often do not understand a word you are saying, but there is valuable therapy in vocalizing your joys and sorrows to someone who will listen, and may even respond, even if they do not understand. Pour out your heart and your fears to your dog; it will be returned whole and intact to you.
Another team member, also not human, may be the choice you have made as an alternative to smoking. Humans are creatures of habit, it is said. Those habits may be good or bad, but regardless, to eliminate a habit courts disaster if it is not replaced by something else, typically, a different habit.
It makes no sense to replace a bad habit like smoking with another bad habit, such as excessive drinking, although the two seem to go hand in hand and you may need to consider curtailing the frequent use of your elbow as well. A bad habit’s replacement with something else will avoid the void. We are creatures of habit; if we leave a void, it will be filled. This was Mark Twain’s predicament.
If that choice is medication of some kind, either oral pills or a patch, know that the medication is hopefully temporary, and then another activity is going to have to be engaged to prevent falling back into smoking. Acquire a hobby, spend more time with family and friends, but be careful that these activities do not invite you to light up.
Your commitment to quit smoking will yield dividends more valuable than money in the bank, although it can result in a profitable outcome. How much does your smoking habit cost each month? What if that expense were redirected to investment?
When you decide to quit smoking, make it a great commitment with help from your quit-smoking team.