What Are You Afraid Of? —By Fred H. Kelley


Fear is a part of everyone’s life. Fear is both good and bad depending on the situation. Fear can help keep you alive if you must flee from a dangerous situation. Fear can keep you from doing things that would endanger your safety or wellbeing, such as driving too fast or robbing a bank.

But fear is mostly a limiting factor in most people’s lives. Are you afraid of trying out for the school play or baseball team? Are you afraid of going to the job interview? Are you afraid of meeting new people? I could go on forever listing common fears that keep people from achieving their dreams and goals. Fear is so common, so limiting and so devastating that it’s important to determine what your own fears are when it comes to quitting smoking.

At first glance you may be thinking, “I’m not afraid of anything related to quitting.” Let’s examine the many fears smokers have and what you can do about them.

“Quitting is like losing a friend,” many smokers will say. Who’s not afraid to lose a friend? If you’ve smoked for any period of time, you probably have an emotional attachment to your cigarettes. They’re a comfort—a constant—that you can always count on to be there when you need them. As strange as it may sound, it’s true: Cigarettes are your friend (but this friend is the kind that will stab you in the back!).

Next, you may be afraid of losing the friendship of the “smoking buddies” you have at the designated smoking areas where you work. Many smokers spend an extraordinary amount of time (more than most realize) each day smoking with other smokers in designated smoking areas. Naturally, friendships develop. The socializing becomes part of the attraction for smokers. Here are people with a common bond—people who won’t judge or make negative comments about your smoking. If you’re going to quit smoking you can’t expect to “hang out” in smoking areas and not be tempted. Quitting often means making a clean break from your smoking buddies and their friendship.

Even more frightening than losing friendships is losing a spouse or losing the love of family members. If you are married to a smoker and you are trying to quit, you may be afraid that your relationship with your spouse may change drastically or even end. Depending on your situation, you may be afraid that other members of your family may “abandon” you or ostracize you for quitting.

Another common fear about quitting is that you will gain weight. This fear is not without merit. Most smokers do gain some weight at first, but with proper diet and exercise you can control your weight (and get healthier in the process).

Perhaps the biggest fear among smokers when it comes to quitting is the fear of failure. No one likes to fail. If you try to quit and don’t, you may feel like a failure and that you can’t quit. If you have tried several times to quit and haven’t been able to, you may find your self-esteem suffering. You may think thoughts like “I can’t do anything” or “I’m a failure” or “I’ll never be able to quit.”

Strangely enough, some smokers may even fear successfully quitting. If you quit, you quit for life. Does that lifetime commitment scare you? The hidden fear is “what if I start smoking again? I’m not sure I can handle it.”

So what do you do about all your fears? How do you overcome them?

First, recognize that everyone has fears and that it’s ok to be afraid. Then recognize that you CAN HANDLE IT! That’s perhaps the overall fear: “I’m just afraid I can’t handle it.” You CAN handle it!

Next, begin to examine each fear for what it really is. Is it an excuse or delay tactic by your own mind? Does it really have merit? Will your feared outcome really come to pass? What if it does come to pass? Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen? So what? You’ll survive!

Next, take some action on behalf of your fear. In other words, investigate what will happen if you quit. Talk to family and friends and smoking buddies about your desire to quit. Let them know you have concerns about what THEY will do if YOU quit. Get commitment from the people in question to support YOUR decision to quit.

If you are afraid of gaining weight, get busy on your exercise and healthy diet campaign! Take action!

If you are afraid of failure, you must understand that you HAVE NOT FAILED until you quit quitting! If you resume smoking after quitting, you still have the opportunity to quit again! No one said life was perfect. You don’t have to be perfect. Just work toward that goal on a daily basis, and don’t beat yourself up when you discover that you aren’t perfect (pssst! here’s a secret: NO ONE IS PERFECT!)

If you are afraid of success, just refer to the previous paragraph. If you quit, you quit for life. If you falter, and begin smoking again—well, just quit again! You did it before. Besides, you quit smoking everyday, every time you put out your cigarette. The only question is “how long is it before you light up again?”

Finally, let fear be a motivator. Fear is good if you use it properly. Never forget the downside of smoking:

your health suffers you may experience pain associated with diseases caused by smoking you waste lots of money on “death sticks” your life will be shortened second-hand smoke will harm those around you your risk of having a house fire is much higher your breath, clothes, car, hair and house stink Yes, these are the brutally honest truths, but they can help motivate you in the right direction to quit.

Acknowledge your fears, examine your fears, then go about your business, and get busy quitting! Don’t be afraid anymore!

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