It’s been my experience that people don’t describe things very well.
Karsten has mentioned this phenomenon, too. When he was getting ready to use a jackhammer for the first time, he asked several people who said they’d used a jackhammer what the experience was like. Consistently, they were unable to give very compelling descriptions beyond single-word statements like “powerful” or they might say it was indescribable.
But after the first day Karsten used one, he could describe it concisely: “It has the force to break ground and move downwards all by itself. But you have to use your whole body to pull it back up and reposition it to let it go down again.”
In the same way, I find that when I read accounts of people attempting to quit smoking, there is a similar shortage of precision and specificity about what to expect. I smoked. I started when I was very young and quit when I was in my early 20s. It was difficult to quit, and it took several attempts before I could do it.
My friend Beth just celebrated a year of being smoke-free. I’ve seen folks comment on her Facebook wall that she’s inspired them to try to quit. So for the sake of anyone who might be thinking about quitting, I would like to share my explanation of how quitting works: very simply, you make a plan not to smoke. And then you encounter some situation — your commute, after sex, when you’re stressed, whatever — where you would normally smoke that you weren’t prepared to handle. So maybe you go ahead and light one up. But you think about alternatives. You make another plan, only this time you’ve accounted for the situation you encountered. Maybe you carry carrot sticks. Maybe you have a stress ball to squeeze. Maybe you have a friend on speed dial. And maybe you encounter another context, and you smoke another one, and you make another plan. And you do this until you don’t encounter any more situations you aren’t prepared for.
And when that happens, you’re a non-smoker.
Let me know in the comments if your experience differs. I’d love to hear alternative approaches that have worked.