Don’t Give Up Smoking (There’s Nothing to Give Up!)

Two friends discuss giving up smoking over a cup of coffee.Give up smoking!? I’ve tried to give up many times and failed every time, so there’s no way you could make me!” These were the first words out of the mouth of Derek, a man I was recently introduced to at a party. The host had just presented me to his friend with the ill-advised proclamation “This is Benjamin, you should really speak to him, he makes people give up smoking”.

Don’t get me wrong, I encourage anyone who will listen, that stopping smoking is a really good idea, and I certainly do help people with that goal. But I don’t use the term “giving up” (there’s nothing to give up), and I certainly don’t “make people give up smoking”!

These words out of Derek’s mouth spoke volumes about his perceived reality. He genuinely believed that there are benefits from smoking, and that if he were to ‘give up smoking’ he would also have to ‘give up’ these benefits. This is utter nonsense.

Illusions and Lies

It is my firm assertion that every perceived benefit of smoking is an illusion, and every reason continue is a lie.

The perceived benefits are all based on erroneous thinking, backward logic, and outright self-deception. The only valid arguments for continuing to smoke must concede that the ‘reason’ for continuing has absolutely nothing to do with the cigarette. It’s always about something else. For instance, smokers get a better return on some annuity investments because they aren’t expected to live as long. Derek told me this as one of his ‘very good reasons to continue’.

That’s right. One of Derek’s best reasons to continue was that he was going to die sooner. Just think about that for a moment.

Derek is not an idiot, he’s actually a very intelligent guy (he does something in finance that I didn’t quite understand when he subsequently explained it to me). However, Derek is thinking and acting like a fool, as are all the other people who believe that by stopping smoking you’re giving something up. As are all the people still clinging to these illusions after stopping, sometimes many years after.

In all the years I’ve been doing this I have never been presented with a genuine reason for continuing. Every single one was based on flawed thinking. You may also be pleased to know that I have also never been presented with an obstacle so problematic that a change in attitude didn’t render it inert.

It’s Gains All The Way!

Take a moment now to consider all that you will be gaining by stopping. I get my clients to write a list of all the benefits of stopping smoking and reasons to stop.

Typical examples include

  • Living a longer healthier life
  • Having more money
  • Having more energy
  • Not smelling like an old ashtray
  • Setting a better example for children and grandchildren
  • Freedom from the slavery of addiction.
  • Reduced risk of many diseases
  • Breathing more easily
  • Not having to go outside in terrible weather
  • Food tasting better
  • Not having to make sure they always have their cigarettes
  • Not worrying about running out
  • No morning chest pains
  • Less severe colds and quicker recovery

There are dozens more, and it is a great exercise to spend the next few days thinking about what you will gain by stopping. Maybe even make your own list, so you can review just how many benefits there are.

What You Lose When You ‘Give Up’ Smoking

So let’s look at what you’ll lose by  ‘giving up’.

  • Nothing.
  • Literally nothing.

Most of the perceived benefits of smoking are actually about relieving withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can make dealing with stress, boredom, concentration, relaxation and many other circumstances much harder. Dealing with the withdrawal symptoms makes the poor smoker feel a little better. Over time the bain begins to believe that the cigarette helped. It didn’t. It just relieved the extra issue of the withdrawal symptoms that every smoker feels pretty much all the time.

Non-smokers don’t get withdrawal symptoms, so with all of these examples what you’re actually giving up is withdrawal symptoms.

Ask yourself this question, do withdrawal symptoms (of the relief of them) bring some kind of benefit? Of course not!

Most of the rest of the perceived benefits are either about covering up the awful taste* or they’re just about habit.

* your brain goes to great lengths to hide the taste from you, but that’s not what this article is about. I’m happy to talk at length with you about this at another time though.

Don’t Give Up, STOP!

Non-smokers don’t have to worry about any of these things and hanging onto them as though there is something to give up is the backward logic of a smoker.

Whichever method you choose by which to stop smoking, you are doing a great thing – getting rid of something that has blighted your life for too long and gaining your freedom.

So before you stop smoking, stop thinking you’re giving something up. You’re not.

As for Derek, once we got back on the right foot he was only too happy to talk about his concerns and to hear how he had been making things more difficult for himself. I don’t know if or when he will stop, but I know he’s no longer thinking about it as ‘giving up’. Before the end of our conversation, he assured me that he’s already adopted the much clearer perspective of every non-smoker, and that makes his chance of success much, much higher.