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5 Life Lessons You Only Learn Through Quitting Smoking

#2. Everything is Temporary, Even if It Doesn't Feel Like It

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Applies To:

First-week soreness of getting in shape. Heartbreak of being dumped. Depression. That fucking LMFAO song.

The Problem:

Quitting smoking fucking hurts. The pain is bad enough that it's actually the number one reason people give for not quitting (70 to 90 percent).

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Quit or not, that dude is dead out of sheer Darwinism.

I'm going to be honest here, I can't say I blame them. It's one thing to experience a little pain, knowing that it's going to ease up in a few minutes. But the type you feel from nicotine withdrawal lasts for hours at a time. It gets to the point that everything you do is in response to it or in an attempt to prevent it. It rules you, and you have to be one tough motherfucker to get through it.

Where it really starts to fuck with your head, though, is when you get legitimate pain that has nothing at all to do with quitting smoking. Since you're already feeling the effects of withdrawal, your mind just lumps it all together, and suddenly your perfectly common stomachache is attributed to nicotine deprivation and not the six boxes of Valentine's Day candy you just gang-ate.

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"HE'S DEAD!"

This is one more trick of the mind -- that obvious lie that if you don't scratch this itch, you will stay itchy forever and ever and ever.

Why Remembering is Vital:

If this were actually true -- that this constant pain is your new existence -- it actually seems pretty rational to say, "No. Fuck this. I'd rather die of cancer in 25 years than spend the next 50 living with this pain." That sounds reasonable to us when we're in the throes of withdrawal.

However, that whole "being in pain for hours at a time" claim I made earlier? It turns out that it only seems like that long because when you're in the middle of an episode, your perception of time gets all fucked up. Some people call it "time distortion" because they're most likely sci-fi fans, and they don't think that people want to punch them when they say that phrase. Regardless of that, they're right. The average nicotine fit only lasts three to five minutes, and knowing that makes it a whole lot easier to just grit our teeth and fight through it. It gives us hope and, at the very least, a finish line to shoot for.

The solution to that distortion that turns minutes into hours? Carry a clock.

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It doesn't have to be that, obviously. Your cellphone would work just fine. It not only helps keep you grounded when things start going to shit, but it lets you know that you're almost through the worst of it. That little bit of information can mean the difference between getting through the hardest part of detoxing and just giving up completely. And again, apply it however you want -- if you diet long enough, your stomach shrinks and your hunger pangs quiet down. Restrain your fist, and your urge to punch motherfuckers eventually passes.

Your body will say, "This lasts forever, so you might as well give in!" But it's a lie, maybe the biggest lie your body will tell you. But the only way to find that out is to push through it. One way or another.

#1. Controlling Your Moods is Your Responsibility

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Applies To:

Had a huge argument with your spouse/parents before work. Financial stress. Did I mention that fucking LMFAO song? Doesn't matter, I'm saying it again: That fucking LMFAO song.

The Problem:

Right now, as you fight your way through your first day without a cigarette, there is an entire world of people out there who have no idea that you exist. They don't know your name, your problems, your goals and dreams. To many of the people you'll encounter today, you are just a face behind a windshield on the way to work. Another humanesque form, handing the cashier a pile of metal circles in exchange for a cup of hot black liquid.

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"I hope Satan makes you eat a thousand dicks in hell."

Nicotine withdrawal, however, has a tendency to make us stick out from the crowd by turning us into aggressive, inconsiderate assholes. Our actions can, in seconds, reduce someone else's day to a pile of smoldering ashes, and we can't let that happen. Yes, the pain makes it easy to slip into those moods and just unleash it on the poor woman who accidentally shorted us a quarter when handing back our change. But it's up to us to recognize that it's about to happen and stop ourselves before flying into a rage and calling the woman a dumb cunt.

Sometimes the dam just breaks, and before we even understand what's happening, we're yelling at some mortified server about their restaurant's conspiracy to skimp on mashed potatoes. Even though we know for a goddamn fact that the next thing we order is going to be seasoned with urine. So we stop ourselves and come clean. "Oh, man, I'm so sorry. I just quit smoking this morning -- I'm not normally like this."

The server will smile and tell you politely that he understands -- then head back toward the kitchen and whip out his cock.

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OK, sir, here's your "food."

Why Remembering is Vital:

Society does not owe you the courtesy of walking on eggshells while you detox.

For your own mental safety, you cannot let yourself get used to people adjusting their actions to soothe your irritability. That's how egomaniacs are born. If everyone you know is appeasing your bullshit, you come to expect it, even after the withdrawal-related mood swings are long gone.

Sooner or later, we have to realize that some of the anger that is coming out of us isn't completely tied to nicotine. And regardless of that anger's source, it has to be dealt with in a way that doesn't involve a relapse back into that slow, painful suicide. This is something that has to be confronted on an emotional level, and if you don't have the capacity to tackle that on your own (most people do not), it's a good idea to see about tracking down a counselor. Or at the very least, a friend who's willing to put up with your stupid shit until you get past this.

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Leave the cat alone, man. Get some goddamn human friends.

Remembering that the rest of society is not required to help you through your recovery keeps the most important message fresh in your mind: This is your fight, not theirs. And that will go for every struggle or bad mood or physical sickness you'll have to muddle through for the rest of your life. Because once that rough spot passes, there'll be another one behind it. Figure out how not to be a dick due to circumstances. Because pretty soon you'll figure out that there are always circumstances.

For more Cheese, check out 9 YouTube Videos That Prove Anyone Can Get Sober and 7 Things You Don't Realize About Addiction (Until You Quit).

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John Cheese

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