A man standing, arms wide, at the top of a mountain

I have a positive mind

Colin

In his role as both trainer and business owner of ALTTA Group, Colin has become a passionate mental health advocate. Colin’s mental health support skills are often used to help people with their anxieties and stress.

I have a positive mind, a strong will, and determination – but I am proud to say I am a quitter.

 

Around 16 years ago I had my last cigarette and I have not looked back since.

The back story

I am 43, born in era when smoking was seen as cool and the done thing.

 

In my immediate family I believe there was only 2 couples where neither of them smoked. Other than that, they either they both smoked or at least one did.

 

My dad smoked, my mum smoked, my brother still smokes and therefore I smoked.

I probably had my first cigarette at around 9 years old, sneaking a puff of a cigarette left on an ashtray. From that moment on I would sneak little puffs here and there but when I got to around 10 or 11, I found some cigarettes in my brother’s room.

 

My brain kicked in to action and I thought, mum and dad do not know he smokes, if I nick a fag off him, he can’t say anything. At worst, he will give me a dead arm, dead leg, or a Chinese burn (ouch, do you remember them?).

 

From that point on, I probably had a smoke once every week, with friends as they would take their parents cigarettes. We would meet for a sneaky puff in the garages as it made our heads dizzy.

 

By the time I got to 16 I was a full-time smoker. It was silly really, as I was massively into sport, but it’s just what we did back then.

 

As time went by I smoked more and more, and I would say at my peak I would smoke 15 to 20 cigarettes a day. But at the weekends when beer was involved, this went up to 40 to 60 a day.

 

I loved smoking, the feeling it gave me if I had a bad day, the feeling it gave me if I had a good day, the companionship it gave me if on my own in a pub waiting for someone.

 

So why and how did I stop smoking?

I tried on several occasions to stop but my heart just wasn’t really in it. I was young, I was fit and I was healthy, so I didn’t see the point in stopping and was just going through the motions.

 

I had a very manual job as a tyre fitter on HGV vehicles and it was a smoker’s paradise. Giving up was not going to be easy. So I quit quitting and went back to the fags.

 

It was a few years after I gave up manual labour, I realised that I wasn’t fit anymore. I was out of breath when walking and a change was needed. The price of a packet of fags was rocketing and I couldn’t afford them anymore.

 

I went to the pub on New Year’s Day around 16 years ago and I smoked all day and drank beer. I finished my first pack and bought another 20 of my favourite brand (Embassy Number 1 –  I’m not sure if there was a number 2 or 3 etc).

 

I smoked 3 more cigarettes, had some more beer and then headed home. As I walked back, I lit another smoke and within 2 puffs I felt physically sick.

 

It was at that moment I threw the cigarette away and I decided enough was enough and I stopped smoking that day.

 

I carried the remaining 16 cigarettes with me for a while but never used them.

How did I quit smoking?

I have always been bought up with the saying “You control your mind; your mind doesn’t control you”

 

I quit by going to war with my mind and going full cold turkey.

 

I originally substituted cigarettes for mini cigars when in the pub, but soon found I was on 10 a day, which obviously was just as bad.

 

I changed nothing about my life other than I stopped smoking. I still went to the pub, I still went in the smoking areas with my friends at work, I still took the extra tea breaks that smokers get, I just didn’t smoke.

 

It was hard to start with, and you always get the person who wants to try and make you smoke.

 

When this happened, I went to war mentally with them too, in my head I would say “How dare you try to get me to smoke. I am stronger than you, you cannot break my will.”

 

I made it a personal battle between me and them. I also did this if somebody stressed me out and I needed to smoke.

 

I found a good tip right from the start was to say to everybody who offered you a smoke.

 

“No thanks I don’t smoke”.

 

What I didn’t say was,

 

“No thanks I am giving up”

 

From day one I said, I don’t smoke.

 

This really helps strengthen your mind and eventually you believe you do not smoke.

 

I am now cigarette and cigar free for 16 years.

Do I miss smoking?

I would be lying if I said I never fancy a quick smoke, but I would never go back.

 

Maybe a handful of times a year that stinky, grey smoke monster will rear its head and the craving will rush through my body, but it leaves as suddenly as it arrives.

 

It mainly happens when I am fishing and the stars are out. Or it’s a warm summers night and I’m having a beer.

 

I know I will get that for life, but I also know I will never smoke again.

 

I used to say “I have not stopped smoking I have pressed pause and will take it up again when I retire.” But I know deep down that was all part of my mind set to get through the cravings.

 

This method worked for me, as shortly after I stopped, without saying a word to anyone my dad just stopped smoking in exactly the same way after 55 years of enjoying a cigarette.

 

If you’re looking for advice I would say, don’t even try and stop if the decision is not yours.

 

You quit because you want to, not because somebody has asked you to.

 

If you feel coerced or badgered into quitting then you will end up a secret smoker.

 

To quit you need to want to quit. Don’t make a big song and dance about it either, just stop and let people find out over time.

 

If you tell everyone then they all keep talking about smoking and it makes you crave more.

 

It’s a change in your life, nobody needs to know other than you.

 

Whatever your addiction, if you want to give up you can.

 

You have the strength and with the Hub you have the support you need to stop.

 

Good luck all…

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