now been over twenty-eight years since I stopped being a smoker. The date
and time are 1/2/79 at 10:00 p.m. The details of how I got there are not
what this article is about. It's about the difference between how I
perceived myself when I smoked versus how I perceive myself since I ended
my relationship with cigarettes.
Here's just one aspect of my
experience of the difference. First and foremost, the increase in my
self-respect. I know I have beaten the most physically and psychologically
addictive product man has ever seen. I'm proud of that feat. It is one of
great accomplishments of my life.
But my self-respect doesn't just stem solely from that. Any smoker who is
honest with himself or herself will have to admit that when they first
started smoking, they felt guilty. Deep inside they knew it was the wrong
thing to be doing. For other reasons, other perceived "benefits", they,
WE, decided to overpower that feeling, suppress that guilt, ignore the
thoughts that this isn't "right".
But after smoking a while, the guilt doesn't just "go away", it just goes
deep into the subconscious, and we get so used to it that, ultimately, we
don't "feel" it anymore. Still, it's there. Still, it affects everything
we do, every day of our lives. Every decision we make is based upon a
self-image that is created by the measure of our internal values. I
personally believe that the station in life that we feel most comfortable
with is the one that is decided by taking a measure of our value, and
subtracting from that the measure of our guilt.
Should we rise above that station, we will find ways to erode it, destroy
it, reject it. Witness James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, John
Belushi, Elvis, Chris Farley, and on and on. As of this writing (1999), we
can count Robert Downey, Jr., Christian Slater and Bill Clinton. Why are
they destroying brilliant, wonderful careers? Because they don't feel
worthy of them. And why not? Because they feel guilty. (I don't know if
all these folks smoke or did smoke, but...)
I'm not saying that just because they smoke, they feel so guilty that they
must self-destruct. I'm only saying that, for those who do or did, it
plays a part.
It's said that "reformed" smokers seem smug and superior to those still
smoking. I think perhaps we may seem that way to the smokers, but what I
believe the smokers are actually perceiving in us is the newfound
self-respect we non-smokers have discovered. This is abrasive to the
smoker, because it forces the smoker toward feeling, perhaps just a tiny
bit, that old repressed guilt. The pain of feeling "wrong", of doing
something they know they should not. They may instinctively feel something
in us that they desire so much to feel themselves. It's the pride of
knowing we don't feel guilty about smoking any longer!
There are many other differences, benefits, rewards to being a non-smoker
that I have realized, but this post is probably way longer than any will
read anyway. So I'll leave it at this.
Those of you striving to end your relationship with cigarettes are on the
right path. Never doubt it, never falter. Never beat yourself up because
you've backslid. Know that you are in the process of healing your mind as
well as your body. It may be perceived as a hard fight you've taken on,
perhaps the hardest of your life. However, if you use my system, it
need not be! You may not know this until it's over, but IT IS
DEFINITELY WORTH IT!!!