Dealing with people who try to undercut your quit
Video discusses how there may be times when you encounter family members or friends who actually try to undercut your quit. Often they are smokers who feel threatened by your quit, but there are times where non-smokers may encourage you to relapse too.
Offers for cigarettes
If ever you have a family member, friend, co-worker or any other acquaintance offer you a cigarette it is best to politely say no and just let the person know that you do not smoke any more nor do you even want to smoke any more. Basically say you have no interest or desire for one. That should be the end of the offers if it is from any person who was just making what he or she thought was a friendly gesture.
If the person pursues asking you about how you quit and why you feel as you do, you may want to take the opportunity to share some of what you learned here about how important quitting smoking is and how much better you feel about yourself since you have quit smoking.
If on the other hand the person continues to offer you a cigarette or is obviously actually pushing you to take one it is best to give it one or two more tries to politely say no and ask the person not to offer any more for you truly have no intention of smoking one. If this doesn't end the pressure being put on you to take a cigarette it is time to change your tactics. Look at the person, maybe even with a little bit of sadness and defeat in your eyes, and say to him or her that you can't take the pressure anymore and sure give me a cigarette if you must. When he or she hands you the cigarette, walk over to the nearest garbage can, crumble it up and throw it out.
Now you have an option of how you want to proceed. You can either wait for the next offer to come or you can say, "Thank you, that felt great. Would you like to give me another one." If the person is gullible enough to offer you another take that one too and repeat the destruction and disposal. Keep it up for as long as the person keeps offering. At some point you may want to say that this could go a whole lot faster if you would like to give me your pack. You can destroy all of the cigarettes that way in one fell swoop.
I can assure you that if you stick to this game plan the person is eventually going to stop offering you cigarettes. Cigarettes are just to expensive to keep up this kind of routine over a long time period. By the way, you should not feel any guilt for destroying the cigarettes of another person. Once a person is offering you a cigarette he or she should not be expecting to get it back. If you smoke the cigarette it is no longer available for the person or if you destroy the cigarette it is no longer available either. If the person is indeed making the offer to somehow give you some sort of pleasure the odds are you will get some sort of pleasure out of destroying them. If not pleasure you should get a little amusement out of the reaction from the person as they see their hard fought efforts to get you to smoke get instantly trashed.
This action will likely result in the other person feeling a whole lot more irritated by the altercation than you will. More importantly though, you will by example be proving to the person and to yourself that your quit is strong and your resolve is totally intact to stick to your personal commitment to never take another puff.
Negative Support from Others
I actually wrote the below post to a member of Freedom a number of months ago because of someone making the comment to her that because she was such a basket case from not smoking, she should just give up. Sometimes such comments come from people near and dear to you and can become quite emotionally shattering. I'm attaching the original letter below in hopes of preparing all who read it, in the event something like this ever is said by others to you. No comment, look or stare from another person can undercut your quit. Only you can do that. The way is by simply disregarding the fact that you can NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
The comment you received is very common, at times, almost universal, where a dear family member or friend blurts out, "If this is what you are like not smoking, then for God's sake, go back." Most of the time the person making the comment is not really considering the implications of the statement. It is comparable to you telling someone on chemotherapy and who is in a really bad mood due to hair loss, nausea, and some other possible negative side effects, and hence, in a less than happy mood, that he or she should get off that stuff because he or she is so irritable that he or she is ruining your day.
Of course, if analyzed by any real thinking person, the comment won't be made, because most people recognize that chemotherapy is a possible last-ditch effort to save the other person's life. The decision to stop the treatment is a decision to die. So we put up with the bad times to help support the patient's effort to save his or her life.
What family members and friends often overlook is that quitting smoking, too, is an effort to save the quitter's life. While others may not immediately appreciate that fact, the person quitting has to know it for him or herself. Others may never really appreciate the concept, but the person quitting has to.
One thing I did notice over the years was that, while the comment is often made, it is usually from a spouse, a child of the smoker, a friend, a co-worker or just an acquaintance. It is much more uncommon that the person expressing it is a parent or even a grandparent. I think that says something. Parents are often used to their kids' outbursts and moods, having experienced them since they were infants. The natural parental instinct is not to hurt them when they are in distress and lash out, but to try to protect them. I think it often carries over into adulthood and is a very positive statement about parenthood.
A tragic situation is often experienced when a person does actually encourage a family member or friend to smoke and then, months, years or decades later, the person dies from a smoking induced illness. Sometimes the family member then feels great guilt and remorse for thinking that he caused his loved one to relapse to smoking way back when he or she remembers making the remark. But you know what, they didn't do it. The smoker did it to him or herself. Because in reality, no matter what any person said, the smoker had to quit for him or herself and stay off for him or herself. How many times did a family member ask you to quit while you were still smoking and you didn't listen? Well if you don't quit for them, you don't relapse for them either. You quit for yourself and you stay off for yourself.
I am going to touch on the comment from one more angle. Sometimes when you were a smoker and someone did something inconsiderate or wrong that angered you, and you were about to take the issue on, you experienced an immediate and almost uncontrollable urge to smoke. That urge, induced by the urine acidity, all of a sudden took precedence over dealing with the person and issue at hand, and sent you off in pursuit of a cigarette. This momentary venture gave you a cooling off period and at times, you may have even let the whole event slide, feeling it was now not worth even mentioning. Consider this behavior from the other person's perspective. He or she may not even know that he or she did something offensive, and even if it is recognized, they paid no penalty for the infraction.
As an ex-smoker, you may not take that kind of behavior from another person, being wronged and accepting it without challenge. Well to the other person, now having you stand up for yourself may make you seem to be a bad or terrible person. But you know what, if they were wronging you to start with, they are the instigators of the reaction. You just may not take being walked over any more and they will just have to get used to that fact. But the odds are if this is the case, they will no longer take advantage of your "good" nature and will not repeat the offending practice. So in some ways, you are educating them to be easier to live with people too.
Whatever the situation, keep focused on the fact that you are quitting for yourself and whether or not any specific person supports your effort, you are behind it. We are behind you too. You will not find a single sole here at Freedom who will tell you to go back to smoking. We all recognize the significance of the effort. You are fighting for your health and your life. To win that fight, no matter what, NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
© Joel Spitzer 1988
- How to deal with people offering you cigarettes after you have quit
- Quitting for others
- "My support group is responsible"
- The importance of quitting for yourself
- "Please don't quit using"
- Finding cigarettes
- Watching others smoke