Negative support from others

Negative support from others

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

15 Feb 2001, 20:24 #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library


Negative Support from Others

I actually wrote the below post to a member of Freedom a number of months ago because of someone making the comment to her that because she was such a basket case from not smoking, she should just give up. Sometimes such comments come from people near and dear to you and can become quite emotionally shattering. I'm attaching the original letter below in hopes of preparing all who read it, in the event something like this ever is said by others to you. No comment, look or stare from another person can undercut your quit. Only you can do that. The way is by simply disregarding the fact that you can NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF! Joel

The comment you received is very common, at times, almost universal, where a dear family member or friend blurts out, "If this is what you are like not smoking, then for God's sake, go back." Most of the time the person making the comment is not really considering the implications of the statement. It is comparable to you telling someone on chemotherapy and who is in a really bad mood due to hair loss, nausea, and some other possible negative side effects, and hence, in a less than happy mood, that he or she should get off that stuff because he or she is so irritable that he or she is ruining your day. Of course, if analyzed by any real thinking person, the comment won't be made, because most people recognize that chemotherapy is a possible last-ditch effort to save the other person's life. The decision to stop the treatment is a decision to die. So we put up with the bad times to help support the patient's effort to save his or her life.

What family members and friends often overlook is that quitting smoking, too, is an effort to save the quitter's life. While others may not immediately appreciate that fact, the person quitting has to know it for him or herself. Others may never really appreciate the concept, but the person quitting has to.

One thing I did notice over the years was that, while the comment is made often, it is usually from a spouse, a child of the smoker, a friend, a co-worker or just an acquaintance. It is much more uncommon that the person expressing it is a parent or even a grandparent. I think that says something. Parents are often used to their kids' outbursts and moods, having experienced them since they were infants. The natural parental instinct is not to hurt them when they are in distress and lash out, but to try to protect them. I think it often carries over into adulthood and is a very positive statement about parenthood.

A tragic situation is often experienced when a person does actually encourage a family member or friend to smoke and then, months, years or decades later, the person dies from a smoking induced illness. Sometimes the family member then feels great guilt and remorse for thinking that he caused his loved one to relapse to smoking way back when he or she remembers making the remark. But you know what, they didn't do it. The smoker did it to him or herself. Because in reality, no matter what any person said, the smoker had to quit for him or herself and stay off for him or herself. How many times did a family member ask you to quit while you were still smoking and you didn't listen? Well if you don't quit for them, you don't relapse for them either. You quit for yourself and you stay off for yourself.

I am going to touch on the comment from one more angle. Sometimes when you were a smoker and someone did something inconsiderate or wrong that angered you, and you were about to take the issue on, you experienced an immediate and almost uncontrollable urge to smoke. That urge, induced by the urine acidity, all of a sudden took precedence over dealing with the person and issue at hand, and sent you off in pursuit of a cigarette. This momentary venture gave you a cooling off period and at times, you may have even let the whole event slide, feeling it was now not worth even mentioning. Consider this behavior from the other person's perspective. He or she may not even know that he or she did something offensive, and even if it is recognized, they paid no penalty for the infraction.

As an ex-smoker, you may not take that kind of behavior from another person, being wronged and accepting it without challenge. Well to the other person, now having you stand up for yourself may make you seem to be a bad or terrible person. But you know what, if they were wronging you to start with, they are the instigators of the reaction. You just may not take being walked over any more and they will just have to get used to that fact. But the odds are if this is the case, they will no longer take advantage of your "good" nature and will not repeat the offending practice. So in some ways, you are educating them to be easier to live with people too.

Whatever the situation, keep focused on the fact that you are quitting for yourself and whether or not any specific person supports your effort, you are behind it. We are behind you too. You will not find a single soul here at Freedom who will tell you to go back to smoking. We all recognize the significance of the effort. You are fighting for your health and your life. To win that fight, no matter what, NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!


© Joel Spitzer 1988, 2003
Page last updated by Joel Spitzer on August 17, 2003

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Last edited by Joel on 05 Mar 2014, 00:29, edited 3 times in total.

Hilary (silver)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

15 Feb 2001, 20:50 #2

Image Thanks for the timely post, Joel. I've often stated that it is unfair to expect anything from our loved ones because whatever they do will be wrong because 'nicodemon' wants to find a reason to fail. Therefore, there can be too much support that is smothering; or too little, that shows no one cares etc. etc. It's basically a no win situation. That said, I was talking with my mother last night and she started whining about the 8-10 pounds I've gained. "But you looked so nice at Christmas." "Ohhhhh, what a shame." I had to ask her to keep her remarks unstated until after we had disconnected -- even knowing that the nicodemon wants me to be weak, THE WORDS STILL HURT. (Of course, she quit cold turkey 36 years ago with no problems or weight gain -- that's just an excuse!) Just thought I'd share what a great sense of timing you have. Image

One month, one week, three days, 14 hours, 5 minutes and 57 seconds. 748 cigarettes not smoked, saving $112.28. Life saved: 2 days, 14 hours, 20 minutes.

mirigirl (silver)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

15 Feb 2001, 21:18 #3

Yes - I have to comment on this one too Joel, because exactly this happened to me. It was from my sister - of all people - the one I am closest too in the family. I think I was in my first 72 hours and still doing it really tough - and i said something about being distressed - and she said angrily "oh..why don't you go back to smoking then!!"

I was really shocked...and heartbroken.

I couldn't believe my sister would say something like that to me...even though she is a smoker herself! Then somehow our phone got cut off!..which only made it worse. I felt VERY alone in the world..and actually did have a cry! (which I was probably due for anyway!)

Then when we finally did get to talk about it .... she said it wasn't actually that she wanted to see me smoke .... she just didn't want to see me upset!! And I guess when we're still smoking we can't understand why ANYONE would want to be distressed when they can simply have a cigarette and bingo end of problem!! (I'm glad I don't think that way anymore!)

Anyway we got it sorted out..and I think it's actually a lot easier for her to accept now that I'm not going through those full-on withdrawals and hopefully seem more like my old self -yes well AINT THAT AMAZING!! Image


Today I understand there is no-one responsible for my Quit. No-one is responsible for my addiction - for whether I pick up or whether I stay Quit - although of course all the support I get here makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in my acceptance of myself as a NICOTINE ADDICT which all goes to help me to

Three weeks, five days, 17 minutes and 10 seconds NICOTINE FREE!!
650 cigarettes not smoked, saving $208.09. Life saved: 2 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes.

happycamper 67
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

15 Feb 2001, 21:38 #4

AMEN! I have found that on this quit, unlike other attempts, I feel more willing to try to communicate instead of assuming the other person was trying to be hurtful & then not wanting them to think badly of me, etc.

I suppose the cooling off period w/a cig allowed me to **** my feelings down with the smoke, whereas a cooling off period w/out smoking gives perspective to deal with whatever it is in a proactive way (vs. just ignoring it). I am sure that I have ruined a number of my attempts with this exact issue. I didn't want to deal with it, so I felt the need to smoke -- then it would all "go away."

During this quit, it feels good to deal with issues in a positive manner. ****, it feels good to deal with issues period (!) instead of just sucking them down with the smoke.

Man, does it feel great to finally get over a hurdle I haven't been able to clear for years! thanks for the timely post!

day 7

Joanne Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

15 Feb 2001, 22:07 #5

Hi Joel, great article. I need to comment, too, because my spouse was upset with me (actually at my short temper and negative behavior) during my early quit. He wanted me to go back to smoking, he couldn't take another minute. I am sure he didn't think it was worth it, he had seen me do this so many times, only to go right back to my deadly regiment of smoking. It hurt a lot, but this time around I was desperate to succeed, my future was at stake, my life. With strong determination and finding on line support, my prayers had been answered. Being around others who were walking the same walk made a big difference. I participated heavily and found my way. Quitting smoking turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have learned about my addiction, never again will I take my life and the lives of those around me, lightly.

I had to give my two cents. lol Still, until this day, my husband doesn't want me to mention my quitting smoking....even with my work here at Freedom...he doesn't quite understand what all the hoopla is about. How could he, he quit cold turkey (3 pack a day smoker) many years ago and never gave it another thought. (not all of us are so blessed)Image

Here is an old post that was written about family support. It was during my early quit, it meant a lot to me, so I saved it. As long as we are on the subject of family support.

Thanks again, Joel, and to those who gave their input on this.

Free at last!


Family Support…Or Not

The arrival of Quit Day is a momentous occasion, not only for the smoker, but for his/her non-smoking circle of friends and family as well. While the smoker usually awaits this day with a varying degree of anxiety, non-smoking spouses and children lean more toward excitement and happiness. This change in your life strongly affects them as well. From this day forth they won't have to put up with something they loathe. No more kissing someone who tastes like an ash tray, no more stench in the house or the car, no more burn holes in clothing or upholstery…of course they're thrilled. More often than not, they will do whatever they can to support your quit.

The first days and weeks are filled with concern as well as joy for you, the ex-smoker. The passage of time not smoking is tracked in days, sometimes even hours or minutes; one day, one week, two weeks, etc. are often celebrated as if you had won the Nobel prize. Your non-smoking family becomes your cheerleading squad that fills you with pride for your accomplishment and propels you to make it just one more day… They will usually understand that you get crabby and angry and they generally put up with a lot of **** as you go through withdrawal. It is very important to have your family's support early on, and the more involved they are, the better your chances are for success.

At some point after the one-month anniversary has been celebrated, you will most likely see a change in family support. Their enthusiasm for your quit can fizzle to the point where you may tend to wonder if they even care any more. When I stopped smoking, that change started in the third month of my quit and came to a head when nobody remembered my three-month anniversary. I couldn't believe that the people who only weeks before celebrated me as their "hero" would forget to honor me for this big milestone. Talk about a roller-coaster ride of feelings….anger, despair, loneliness, doubt and more all came to surface during that time.

There I was, in the throes of fighting my addiction, and to my family it was already over and done with, a closed book, a seemingly forgotten memory of the past. Fortunately, I turned to several online support groups and quickly found that other ex-smokers were experiencing a similar loss of enthusiasm by family members. By comparing notes, we were able to determine that the most distinct loss of interest is found in families where the spouse of the addict is a non-smoker. This apparent phenomenon led to a search for an explanation, because a behavioral pattern that transcends race, religion and socioeconomic backgrounds and affects a quit so strongly needed to be understood, so that newer ex-smokers joining the group could effectively cope with its arrival.

I came to the conclusion that we cannot and actually must not expect our non-smoker relatives to be continually supportive. Seeing as though they do not have the addictive personality that we have there is just no way they can possibly understand what we are experiencing. To them, the addiction is over once we physically stop smoking. They do not and cannot comprehend the battle that we fight every day to control the addiction and keep from picking up. They just don't know. Once we, as addicts, understand that the ebbing of their enthusiasm after one or two months is brought on by an inability to understand rather than a lack of interest, the importance of support given by fellow ex-smokers becomes all the more apparent.

Only the addict can fully appreciate, understand and help another addict. We know what it means to go through the lunacy of physical withdrawal. We know what it means to crave, to "need" that cigarette at two in the morning. We know what it means to desperately want "just one." We know what it means to still be fighting after months of not smoking. We know…they don't…plain and simple. Whether you join a Nicotine Anonymous group in your local area or an online support group, the best support you can possibly find will always come from a fellow ex-smoker.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Mar 2001, 22:28 #6

I just came across this thread and realized it was a good response to the post yesterday about comments and observations of others. Hope this helps people affected by these situations. Comments can make you feel bad, for the moment. But comments and actions of others can't hurt you the way you can hurt yourself. Others can temporarily sadden you or anger you, but they can't cause you to relapse. Only you letting down your guard can do that. Relapsing does more than make you feel sad or hurt. Relapsing can make you feel sick, and be sick, and if left to its ultimate conclusion, cigarettes will cripple you and eventually kill you. You are quitting for yourself and the victory and benefits are yours in spite of what anyone else feels. To keep feeling good, because you are keeping yourself well always remember to never take another puff!


John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Apr 2001, 02:55 #7

Last edited by John (Gold) on 01 Apr 2009, 11:38, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

19 May 2001, 02:11 #8

Oh my God!!!

Thanks Joanne and Joel. What incredible truths. It feels good to know that I am not the ONLY one experiencing these feelings. This is NORMAL. I am normal. Thank you for making me realize. I guess, as we grow and experience new feelings it is almost humbling and at the same time exciting to know that we are not alone in our experiences and feelings.


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Aug 2001, 19:54 #9

Image You would be surprised where negative support can come from. Over twenty years ago I had a cardiologist tell one of my clinic graduates that she was gaining too much weight after quitting. He actually told her to just smoke after meals to help. She immediately shot up to her three pack per day addiction and the cardiologist blew up at her and said he didn't want to be her doctor anymore if she was going to smoke so much. The man did not even recognize he prescribed the relapse to her. Needless to say, I found out about it when she came in to quit again and was under the care of another cardiologist.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

28 Sep 2001, 23:59 #10

Others sometimes can throw of a quit off track. Negative comments can real test your resolve. I found many times the neg coments were given by other smokers e.g. You'll smoke again someday , Why don't you just cut down or If you quit Then you'll have to figure out a way to lose weight. Even though many of these comments are not given maliciously some are given out of jealousy, which everybody has a little of. Just human nature a think. Just focus how the message here at and not others neg comments.

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