The Last Cigarette

Studies show around 70% of smokers want to quit, but only few are successful 

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I photographed my last cigarette to keep reminding myself how i overcome it

 Are you a smoker? Was quit smoking on your new year’s resolutions list this year? Have you ever thought of quitting, but found it intimidating? My 12 years of smoking had helped me evaluate a smoker’s psychology more closely and the unique way of getting rid of this utterly tempting habit.

My Story as smoker and the lesson: Our biggest failures could be our deepest motivations

It was a nice and serene winter at a beach resort (Hua Hin) in Thailand just before the new year countdown begun. Hopelessly, I was gazing at the sky, inhaling smoke from the cigarette in my right hand while regretting on yet another failure on previous new year resolution to quit smoking. On my bed that night, I fell desperately tired, with shortened breathe. I traveled back all the way through times in my thoughts when I smoked my first cigarette at my university. I decided to transform these intense feelings into some meaningful energy.

For further reading about it click here

If you want to quit it, you must know why you started it

Dozens of people in my friend circle agreed that one of the most compelling reasons behind starting to smoke is social pressure from new friends. This is one way of beating our inner introvert and start expressing our self. I had a strange reason to begin smoking as when I started my university at age 17, I looked too young and felt excluded especially from the dominant and expressive student groups. So, it was an easy way to get attention and share a common habit with them. The problem is we adopt one bad habit and eventually fall into a whole new lifestyle. There are others who start smoking after an emotional tragedy i.e break up or hiding a failure. Our brain soon adopts to a habit loop of smoking, relating it with getting attention, revealing dominance and expressing emotions eventually energizing our bond with cigarette. We all have psychological challenges in life. Some just got prey to it. Even for non-smokers if they have ever tried/hold a cigarette for fun there is every reason they can be hunt by a smoker’s psychology.

For further reading about it click here

My Romance with Cigarette: Benefits of smoking   

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In a smoker’s psychology, bounded rationality leads to self destruction

The photo above was donated by an Instagram friend for this blog: Click here for viewing his other artistic photos

When a friend saw me smoking he remarked that I am so into it that I act as if there is nothing around me. Yes, I had a strong emotional bond with cigarette and to respect smoking norm, I don’t smoke while I am commuting, travelling, using toilet or even engaged in something that is distracting me from my cigarette. Smoking at a Railway station in a foggy winter night was the best emotional remedy whenever I felt broken.
I have been long arguing with my non-smoker friends that Cigarette helps me concentrate especially when I have to work on my laptop for longer times. I am writing this blog for already  two hours without any cigarette and I notice I am more focused and critical.

For further reading about it click here

When a smoker usually defends smoking, basically he is accepting to be a failure in getting rid of it. In my opinion, a smoker as early as 3 years of continuous smoking usually realize that he has opted for something bad as a habit, but now they are not in control. Some smokers claim their digestion is related with cigarette or it relieve them from some tough relationship decisions but all these are their false conclusions. These myths of smoking are just our behavioral ascription to generate short term happiness while heading towards an addiction.

Psychology of a smoker

I can bet most of the smokers had tried more than once to quit smoking but they failed to do it. Eventually they start making arguments how smoking is crucial to their lifestyle and justifiable.

For further reading about it click here

A smoker’s psychology is very related to the psychology of fear which is stop doing effort in disappointment. When I was a child,  I was afraid for ghosts. One evening on my way back to home while it got dark, with plenty of distance from home, I was absolutely prey to the Goddess of fear. Nothing happened as there were no ghosts. But, cigarette is not a ghost it had already killed millions of people. In a very similar way a smoker in helplessness submit itself to smoking and gets a deception as nothing happened to him/her as long as years have passed.

The animation was donated by my sister (Samreen Ramzan) for this blog

My Confession as a smoker

One of my core confession as a smoker is that during early years of smoking nothing physically appeared to be disturbing. This Lead to strengthened the deception, but as we move into 8 to 10 years of smoking, it literally start taking away your physical activity and an alarm start ringing out loud. This is the time most of the smokers once again think about quitting, partially because they actualize the proxy pleasure generated by smoking. This happens when they have something genuine achieved in life to and do not need proxy pleasures. That doesn’t mean one should continue smoking until 8 years rather earlier the better.

My 6 step quit smoking process?
While it’s ’ hard to quit smoking, it’s not impossible at all even, least external aid. Quitting is a process and not an event, most smokers after short spell of quitting get to smoking again. The reason is they don’t harness the brain process and just make a decision without realizing the repercussions. Here are my self revealed 6 lessons for every quitting aspirant;

1- Self Actualization
Quitting smoking is a self actualization process that starts and sustained with a decision to quit one day. The key is get out of the fool’s’ paradise and keep reminding yourself that you have to quit it quite sooner. This self reminder gives you energy to sync your day to day events with your realization of quitting. In my case, I was a sportsman and after realizing I am loosing stamina for any potential game my thirst for quitting was escalated. I was also able to relate my shortening of breath while moving on stairs with my smoking.

2-Make a Time frame for quitting
Once quitting makes sense to smoker, it’s good news that he/she is able to get out of brain’s deception  and now is the time to make a probable timeframe. In my case I relate it with the new year but did not started after the new year. I quit a month before new year and started the process even before. But it’s not probably necessary to wait for the next new year you can make any timeframe that suits you i.e it could be your birthday or anniversary that matters.

3- Announce publicly  
A smoker need not to share the quitting decision until completing the self actualization and a time frame stage but once the decision is made start announcing your decision among your friends and family that you are thinking about quitting and they will boost your motivation for it. Psychologists believe public announcement of a social decision keeps a check on us to follow what we have committed publicly. The people who are concerned with us will keep reminding us about our intention. In my case I announce it to my wife first and after quitting to everyone. Public announcement is also important so as to get strength in weak moments to not smoke.

4- Start quitting
As I discussed earlier quitting is a process that starts with a realization. Once we have actualize to quit, made time frame to declare and start sharing our intention with our close friends meanwhile we have to beat the physical heat of smoking by reducing the no of cigarette per day keep monitoring that you are reducing it (Don’t worry occasionally you still might be smoking more than targeted reduction). Once your average smoking reaches between 2-3 cigarette a day it’s high time to prepare yourself for a big decision. Get motivation for it and keep yourself reminding you have been thinking long about it and how important it is for you.

5- Quitting declaration:
Put all your efforts and will to reduce the no. of cigarette to 2-3 per day (at least in my case it was easy to quit after this average), Plan an event then, involve important people around you and at the end of event declare your quitting decision by throwing your last cigarette in front of them. In my case, I planned for a trekking & camping trip with my wife and friends. After a wonderful trip while we sit beside to go our homes, I surprisingly announce throwing away the last cigarette in front of them that I quit smoking right at the moment. It was a pleasant surprise for everyone they were happy on my decision and welcomed it as if I have done something so great.

6- The difficult phase, consolidation:
While it was difficult to declare quitting, more difficult was to keep that decision entact. All of my reputation was at stake, after all it was my third quitting attempt and I wanted to reveal to my family & friends that I am not a failure and eventually my self-confidence was at stake. It was really difficult for one week, the cravings were stronger than I expected and especially when someone was smoking around you. I survived that phase and continued challenging myself by going to run for a while or playing some sports. At this difficult stage it is important to ask for empathy to your friends as you might have changed behavior, get frustrated quickly and respond negatively. So, if your friends know you are through this phase they will understand you and try to help you into it. Once you survived the first week, it is really easy at least physically to avoid cigarette but it’s still Important to keep reminding yourself that you don’t need to get back to smoking. From my previous attempts I remember once your physical quit time exceed three months the taste of cigarette looks equally bad like a non-smoker. So, with each passing day more and more reasons for staying away from cigarette will embrace you.

I am proud It’s already three months, i threw my last cigarette and for the year 2017, my new year shelf of imagination was missing ever present quit smoking resolution. I didn’t disappoint my imagination and give it a blog writer and photographer me as another new year resolution. Finally, I had successfully quit smoking and overcome every reason that may took me back into it.

Note: Most of the arguments in this blog are male centered, as I have least interaction with women who smoke and their ways of thinking.

Acknowledgement: I am thankful to my wife who inspired me to quit smoking and than to share my quitting experience and all the friends who supported and encouraged me towards it. Heartiest thanks to my Belgian friend Wendy who edited this blog for good. 

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4 thoughts on “The Last Cigarette

  1. “most compelling reasons behind starting to smoke is social pressure from new friends” Totally agree with the statement. But it would be nice if you give some tips in future how to resist this presure

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Faisal for agreeing with the argument and sure how to overcome social pressure is a subject that owes a full post. I will share my opinion about it may be in a new post shortly. Do subscribe to my blog so i can share my new posts

      Like

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