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Quit Smoking IndexIt Pays To Know In Advance

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, in her 1969 book, "On Death and Dying",  identified five distinct phases which a dying person encounters.  These stages are:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

For a proper understanding of these stages let us take a look at a person who has just been made aware of the fact that he has approximately 6 months more as he is suffering from lung cancer.

Denial can be recognized as the state of disbelief: "This isn't really happening to me," or "This must be somebody else's' scan report" or  "The doctor doesn't know what he is talking about." The same feelings are often expressed by family members and friends.

Once denial ceases and the realization of impending death is acknowledged anger develops.  "Why me?" or "Why them?" in the case of the significant others.  Anger may be felt toward the doctors, toward God, toward family and friends.  Anger, though, doesn't change the person's fate.  They are still in the process of dying.  So next comes bargaining.

In bargaining, the person may become religious, trying to repent for all the sins that may be bringing about their early demise.  "If you let me live, I will never smoke again, I will be a better person, I will help mankind.  Please let me live, and I will make it worth your while."  This stage, too, will come to an end.

Now the patient, becoming aware he is helpless to prevent his impending fate, enters depression.  The patient begins to isolate himself from his surroundings.  He relinquishes his responsibilities and begins a period of self mourning.  He becomes preoccupied with the fact that his life is coming to an end.  Symptoms of depression are obvious to anyone having contact with the patient in this stage.  When the patient finally overcomes this depression he will enter the last stage, acceptance.

The patient now reaches what can be seen as an emotionally neutral stage.  He almost seems devoid of feelings.  Instead of death being viewed as a terrifying or horrible experience, he now peacefully accepts his fate.

These stages are not only seen in the dying person but likewise in the family members mourning the loss of a loved one.  However, on careful observation we can see these same stages in people who lose anything.  It doesn't have to be the loss of a loved one.  It could be the loss of a pet, the loss of a job, and even the loss of an inanimate object.  Yes, even when a person loses a call letter for an interview, she may go through the five stages of dying.

First, she denies the loss of the letter.  "Oh, I know it is around here somewhere."  She patiently looks in her files and folders knowing any minute she will find it.  But soon, she begins to realize she has searched out all of the logical locations.  Now you begin to see anger.  Slamming the drawers, throwing away unnecessary files of her desk, swearing at the darned letter for disappearing.  Then comes bargaining: "If I ever find the letter I will not misplace it again."  It is almost like she is asking the letter to come out and assuring it that she will give it its due importance.  Soon, she realizes the letter is gone.  She is depressed.  How will she ever forget the loss of an opportunity which could have transformed her life for ever?  Then, she finally accepts the fact that the letter is gone and so is the opportunity. Life goes on.  A week later the letter is forgotten as she sits down again with the news paper scanning the appointments classified section.

What does all this have to do with why people don't quit smoking?  People who attempt to give up smoking go through these five stages.  They must successfully overcome each specific phase to deal with the next.  Some people have particular difficulty conquering a specific phase, causing them to relapse back to smoking.  Let's analyze these specific phases as encountered by the abstaining smoker.

When you read The Honest Confession "How many of you felt that you will never smoke again?" I will consider it remarkable, if even one or two people out of the hundreds who have consulted this section of Twilight felt  affirmative.  Most of the readers are in a state of denial - they will not quit smoking.  Other prevalent manifestations of denial are: "I don't want to quit smoking," or "I am perfectly healthy while smoking, so why should I stop," or "I am different, I can control my smoking at one or two a day."  These people, through their denial, set up obstacles to even attempt quitting and hence have very little chance of success.

Those who successfully overcome denial progress to anger.  We hear so many stories of how difficult it is to live with a recovering smoker.  Your friends avoid you, your employer sends you home, sometimes permanently, and you are generally no fun to be with.  Most smokers do successfully beat this stage.

Bargaining is probably the most dangerous stage in the effort to stop smoking.  "Oh boy, I could sneak this one and nobody will ever know it."  "Things are really tough today, I will just have one to help me over this problem, no more after that."  "Maybe I'll just smoke today, and quit again tomorrow."  It may be months before these people even attempt to quit again.

Depression usually follows once you successfully overcome bargaining without taking that first drag.  For the first time you start to believe you may actually quit smoking.  But instead of being overjoyed, you start to feel like you are giving up your best friend.  You remember the good times with cigarettes and disregard the detrimental effects of this dangerous and dirty habit and addiction.  At this point more than ever "one day at a time" becomes a life saver.  Because tomorrow may bring acceptance.

Once you reach the stage of acceptance, you get a true perspective of what smoking was doing to you and what not smoking can do for you.  Within two weeks the addiction is broken and, hopefully, the stages are successfully overcome and, finally, life goes on.

Life becomes much simpler, happier and more manageable as an ex-smoker.  Your self esteem is greatly boosted.  Your physical state is much better than it would ever have been if you continued to smoke.  It is a marvelous state of freedom.  Anyone can break the addiction and beat the stages.  It is upto you to decide when, where and how you want to pass through the five stages?

  • As a lung cancer patient with hardly 6 months to live
  • As a determined person ready to face the tumult of withdrawal followed by a life that will be health, wealth and wise.

We presume you have obviously chosen the latter. Now that you will be able to theorize and anticipate what lies in store for you, overcoming the obstacles of quitting and overriding the occasional craving will be easier.


You can make the difference | The Final Countdown

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