It’s a common problem: You are trying your best to quit smoking but everyone around you still smokes. If you have a spouse or other family member who smokes, you are exposed to smoking every day. If your co-workers smoke, you probably have smokers around you at least five days per week. If your friends smoke, you’ll be exposed to smoking whenever you get together to have some fun.
So how do you maintain your resolve to quit when everywhere you look you see someone lighting up? How do you deal with the personal conflicts that can develop when you quit but your family, friends and co-workers don’t?
First, you must acknowledge the fact that you may be all alone in your efforts to quit smoking. This solitude may be frustrating and counter-productive but you must accept the fact that the people around you are not going to quit smoking just because you are. In fact, they may try to coerce or encourage you to start smoking again. When you quit you may be placing pressure to quit smoking, however unintentional, on the people in your life . They may resent it or be frightened by your quitting. Their natural, perhaps unconscious, response may be to make quitting more difficult for you.
So prepare yourself for the loneliness you may feel when you quit. Prepare yourself for the backlash that you may receive from the smokers around you. Be prepared to forgive and forget.
Next, take time to talk to the smokers in your life. Ask them for a few minutes to discuss the fact that you are quitting smoking. Sit down and let them know how very important quitting is to you. Tell them that you need their support and ask them to be considerate whenever they want to smoke. Make sure they understand that you are quitting for you, not for anyone else. Make sure they understand that you do not expect them to quit because you are quitting. Invite them to quit with you but make it clear that quitting must be their own decision.
Lay out some ground rules that everyone can live with, regarding where and when they will smoke. Make it clear that you don’t expect them to totally change their smoking habits, but that you need cooperation to help you quit. Set clear times and locations for them to smoke, or make sure you have someplace you can comfortably retreat to, should the smoker in your life need to light up. Make sure you have something to distract your attention, in another room, if someone is smoking near you. Start a new hobby or have a book on-hand, whenever you have to get away from the smoke.
When you get together with friends, you may find that the activities you participate in naturally involve smoking. Try going to a bar or bowling alley without having smoke all around you (unless you live in an area where smoking is banned indoors)! You may find it necessary to adjust the types of things you do with your friends, to help you avoid being placed in a smoking situation. Try activities that are outdoors, or that involve exercise. Go places where smoking isn’t allowed. If your friends are truly your friends, they’ll understand and want to accommodate your needs.
Avoiding smoke at work may be difficult if your workplace allows smoking indoors. If necessary, request that your work area be moved to a non-smoking portion of your office. You may also ask to have your entire office declared “smoke-free.” Consider getting an air filter to help remove the smell of smoke where you work.
If you have grown accustomed to your smoking breaks and the smoking buddies at your workplace, you face another type of withdrawal besides nicotine withdrawal: friendship withdrawal. Chances are, if you’ve worked someplace with a designated smoking area for any length of time, that you have made quite a number of friends or smoking buddies. If you’re going to quit smoking successfully, you’re going to have remove yourself from the smoking area. Naturally, this means removing yourself from the friends you’ve made. Realize, however, that just because you don’t smoke with these people, you don’t have to stop being friendly. Let your smoking buddies know that you are quitting, and that you won’t be joining them any longer. But also let them know you wish to continue your friendship. Exchange phone numbers if necessary, and try to get together for lunch or other times convenient to both of you.
Quitting smoking even when other people around you are smoking doesn’t have to be difficult and a strain on interpersonal relations. Take some time to create an atmosphere where everyone knows that you are quitting and that you need their cooperation to succeed. At the same time, be considerate of the other smokers, giving them their own freedom to smoke when they so choose. Working together with family, friends and co-workers, you can quit!
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