From denying smoking to giving up smoking without trying

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From denying smoking to giving up smoking without trying

Why do people smoke? It’s a question that I asked, but never understood the answer to as a child. As an adult, I smoked, while denying that I smoked, until I came to learn the truth about smoking cigarettes and ended up giving up smoking without trying.

In my family, my Dad would smoke cigars – he always said it was better than cigarettes as he did not inhale. As a child I felt the smell was revolting and regardless of what was or was not better or worse, I vowed never to smoke.

Looking back, this was one of many promises and commitments I made to myself that I later broke; I would go on to make choices in my adult life that as a child I never would have made. In line with the experiences of many of my friends, I was far wiser in my childhood than in my late teens and early twenties. To me this shows that age and wisdom don’t always go hand in hand and that our children are actually far wiser than we give them credit for.

My first real experience of smoking was around the age of 15; by this stage many of my friends smoked and my way into smoking was through getting involved in smoking cannabis. I would often be heard saying: “I don’t smoke, I just do cannabis”.

The reality was that I was smoking, be it drugs, tobacco and then eventually cigarettes. By the age of 16 I would often travel abroad on holiday and regularly brought friends back dozens of mega packs of my favourite brand. This passing around of cigarettes was normal; it was endorsed by my family, friends and no one was too concerned – despite the resultant huge increase in lung cancer and the ongoing damage to one’s health that was written about in the press. A ‘rite of passage’ was a term often used.

Once I turned 17, my life became about partying, nightclubs, drinking and whenever I would drink alcohol (which was multiple times per week) I would smoke. I can’t quite recall how many, how often, be it 3-4 a night or sometimes 10-12, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that I fitted in with the cool kids.

In line with my version of truth at the time I would hardly ever admit I smoked, in fact I would often say; “I don’t smoke, I’ve not smoked”, even though come night time I would light up after a few shots of vodka.

At the time I felt cool, I felt like I fitted in and all around me the girls and women were smoking; the cool kids smoked and the ones who had girlfriends smoked. During the days I would feel empty, that I didn’t belong in life, that I didn’t know what to do and I was constantly running from myself.

Looking back, now in my mid 30’s, and having changed the way I live beyond recognition, I can see that the smoking I took part in at night was all about ‘filling up’ that empty feeling. It was doing whatever I could to stop feeling that my life was empty of purpose, empty of love and no matter what I tried to do to make myself feel content, nothing resolved my relentless feeling of emptiness.

I know that without the changes I have made in my life – to deepen the care I take with how I dress, cook, walk and talk to name but a few areas – I would not be here today and I would not have been able to quit smoking without trying. I was completely out of control and on the inside deeply depressed – despite looking like I had my life together.

So what changed and what has this got to do with quitting smoking?

In simple terms, I said to myself that there had to be more to life, that my extreme behaviours had to stop, that the restlessness and emptiness I was feeling had to change. And it was then that I met Serge Benhayon and took part in my first Universal Medicine course.

The workshop challenged everything about the way I was living, but in myself I already knew that the way I was living was not ‘it’. I therefore slowly started to look at all the areas of abuse in my life. This started with drinking, smoking and doing drugs. I challenged Serge on these topics as they were my escape from – and a big part of – my life, although I still denied I ever smoked.

Step by step I cleaned up my act; not through discipline, as I was rubbish at that, but through developing self-love and self-care, which in simple terms meant taking more care of myself and following what I felt deep inside was true for me. This was by no means easy, but the truth of it was simple, as long as I was willing to listen to and follow the messages from my body.

And this is where the reality hit me – for my entire life I had denied the fact that I smoked, yet I would smoke every weekend for a period of 4-6 years. When Serge presented on the topic of convenient truth, even though I squirmed in my seat, I knew that’s how I had been living my life.

My denial of smoking was a reflection of many other areas of my life that I would deny if it did not suit me; I would live in a way that was: “If I don’t admit it, it’s not a reality”.

Whilst my experience of smoking was initially one of denial, it has slowly but surely changed to one of building a feeling of warmth and contentment in my body that means I will never consider polluting my lungs again.

It shows me that no matter what we can tell ourselves about the reason we do something, we have to first be honest with ourselves about the way we are living if we are to come back to a truthful way of life, for only then can we truly heal. When I did this, I ended up quitting smoking without trying by healing the root cause of why I turned to smoking, because I deeply missed feeling connected to me.

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    Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.