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What's the Difference?

It's 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 the 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!!!

Since 12/11/07
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