Case 1: Case 2: "How do you expect me to quit smoking? All of my family, friends, and work associates smoke. Whenever I try to quit they all try to sabotage my efforts. With support like that, I can't quit smoking!" "I know I will quit. Nobody wants me to smoke. My kids beg me to stop, my husband hates it when I smoke, and we're not allowed to smoke at work. I feel like a social outcast wherever I go. With all those people on my back, I know I won't fail in quitting!"
In both of the above cases, the smoker is wrong in their assessment of whether or not they can actually quit smoking. Success in quitting smoking is not primarily determined by significant others. It is based on the strength of the smoker's own desire to quit.
In case one, the smoker is blaming his failure on lack of support and actual sabotage attempts by others. But not one of these people physically forced a lit cigarette into his mouth and made him inhale. Considering that the only way he could reinforce his nicotine addiction is by inhaling a cigarette, none of his smoking associates had the final say on his success or failure.
Case two, on the other hand, was working under the false assumption that quitting smoking would be a breeze since everybody would support her because they hated her smoking. Not once, though, did she say that she actually wanted to stop for herself. She was stopping because everyone else wanted her to. In essence, she was depriving herself of her cigarettes to make everybody else happy. While she may not have lit up when surrounded by others, sooner or later she would be alone. With no one around, what personal reason does she have to strengthen her resolve not to take a cigarette?
When you joined our clinic, you may have initially blamed others for your failure or erroneously credited the clinic and others with your success. No one failed or succeeded for you. You did it. While significant others can influence how easy or difficult quitting will be, your own personal resolve is the major determinant of success or failure.
If you failed when you tried in the past, stop blaming others. Realize that your personal desire to stop was not strong enough to overcome the powerful grip cigarettes exerted on you. Rather than making one half-hearted attempt after another, make a personal assessment of why you smoke and why you wish to stop. If your personal reasons are good enough, then try to stop. As long as your ammunition is strong, no one will be able to make you smoke.
On the other hand, if you succeed, don't feel that the clinic or anyone else made you do it. You broke free from a powerful addiction. You did it by making up your own mind, throwing out your cigarettes, and refusing to take another one no matter how much temptation you faced. For this you should be proud. And to maintain that pride for the rest of your life - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!Joel
© Joel Spitzer 1986
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