Becoming a Non-Smoker and overcoming other addictions.

Becoming a Non-Smoker and overcoming other addictions.

Well, welcome to the first real blog I’ve written in a couple of years!

I’ve patched up some old ones in that time, and dug out one or two that I’d written a while back…

But this is the first genuine ‘fresh’ blog since probably 2020.

As always, I’ve had a lot to say but just didn’t feel right saying it. You see I lost my way as I’ve eluded to in the past and didn’t feel I had the right to be advising others on how to best live their lives.

That’s why I needed to take time out, and I thank you for allowing me to do so.

I, like you, am a powerful individual when focused and had full rights to be the community leader I was both under the guise of ‘Archie’, and as myself between 2014 and 2019.

But for the past few years I lost my way.

I’ve touched on this in previous newsletters, so won’t go into it again, but rather focus on the positives…

Today I celebrate my 1-year anniversary of becoming a non-smoker. No cigarettes and no marijuana!

The misery of the pandemic, having to let my small team go (due to lockdowns), and a few other issues also saw me hitting the booze every day.

I’ve had a drink most nights in fact for the past 20 years… But I’m also celebrating cutting down to just two nights a week.

It’s been that way for a while and I’m feeling very much better as a result.

Alcohol has been the hardest battle of them all, but by putting four very basic strategies in place I was able to do it quite easily whereas so many times in the past ‘just ‘quitting’ saw me fail.  

And that brings me on to my first (100% new) blog post since I can remember!

And these four strategies are relevant for any addiction… Porn, gambling, chocolate!

So, I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps if you need a hand up from a dark place.


Strategy One. You HAVE NOT ‘Quit’ – You’ve Become a NON-SMOKER!

Your language, both internally and externally is EVERYTHING, and the reason I believe most people don’t last when they ‘quit’.

You see, when we say we’ve ‘quit’ something, the word itself implies suffering.

What did we ever quit that was fun and didn’t involve suffering?

We quit alcohol – well that sucks.

Chocolate – quitting that sucks too.

Porn – that sucks (no pun intended).

Smoking – that sucks real bad when you are stressed.

And so it goes on. 

Quitting in general sucks.

Why? Because to quit something means to leave it – and with us only quitting the stuff we’ve generally come to love or rely upon – we are inflicting mental heartache and suffering upon ourselves.

When we tell ourselves (and others) we’ve ‘quit’ something – with every day that passes – the suffering increases.

‘How many days have you quit smoking?’

‘Three now!’ (I could use a cigarette!)

‘How many days have you quit now?’

‘Today’s 7!’ (Oh boy this really sucks now)

And so it goes on… The suffering grows and the urge to light up or fall off the wagon gets stronger with every passing day.

It’s the language – and specifically that word ‘quit’ – that makes every passing day harder and harder. You’re prolonging and amplifying the suffering when you say ‘quit’.

What turned my world 180 degrees was refusing to say quit, and instead I told myself I was now a ‘non-smoker’.

You see, as a ‘non-smoker’, there is no suffering. There isn’t anything to miss. You’re not a smoker who’s not had a cigarette for 7 days – you’re a non-smoker period.

And with every passing day – instead of focusing on how long it had been – I focused on how much cleaner my lungs must be.

When quitting and suffering – every single day the cravings got worse.

As a non-smoker – every single day I felt better and better. I didn’t need to smoke as I wasn’t a smoker that had quit – I WAS NOW A NON-SMOKER and it was no longer even a thing in my life.

With every passing day I stepped toward the light and I implore you to use the same positive self talk when leaving behind anything dark that is no longer serving you.

REMEMBER – You haven’t not had a drink for 9 days (Ouch!) – you’ve been a non-drinker for 9 days and it feels amazing right?

They say the tongue can bring life or death – and I’d say the same of that internal voice – our inner critic… Watch your language and self talk as that internal voice can fast derail you.

Don’t give up smoking and be a smoker who’s not had a cigarette for 9 days – and instead become a non-smoker and look forward to how much fitter, stronger, and healthier you’re going to be on day 9!

Strategy Two. Find a new ‘Church’.

When I was alcohol dependant, the bar (or ‘pub’ as it is called in the UK) was my church.

Not only was it a direct link to my ‘God’ (alcohol), but I knew a lot of the congregation (locals), the choir had great tunes (the jukebox), and the Pastor (barman) was always on hand to listen when I needed to go to confession.

The traditional British pub is so much more than just a place to buy alcohol. It offers a whole host of other necessities that we as humans need.

There’s friendships and companionship, music and atmosphere, an escape from the 9 to 5 or unhappy home life, and a sanctuary for us to be with ourselves and forget our problems and woes.

A big issue drinkers find when they try to get sober is that not only do they miss the booze and all that comes with it, but they miss the social aspect of going to the bar.

And even if they didn’t go to the bar but instead went to a liquor store each night to make their purchase, they nearly always fail to appreciate what that ritual does for their wellbeing…

The simple ritual of getting your coat, keys, and wallet, leaving the home (which may be a source of unhappiness), taking a walk to the store (the first stretch or exercise you’ve done all day), the fresh air/warmth of the sun/evening sky, the smile or conversation with the familiar face of the cashier or store owner, the spending of money (a very therapeutic thing to many of us) and anticipation of the fun night ahead as we load the booze into the basket – it all makes for an experience we truly miss when we go sober and swap all that out for a cup of tea whilst sat in the kitchen.

Now knowing this, we need to find a replacement… We need to find a new church.

If alcohol is your poison of choice I’d hazard a guess that you are at least one of these two things:

1. Concerned about your health

2. Out of shape and wanting to improve your health.

For that reason, a suitable new church would likely be the gym.

Swapping the bar for the gym has many similarities after all:

Need or WantBarGym
Substance to ‘get off’ onAlcohol (Dopamine)Exercise (Dopamine)
Music or atmosphereHas itHas it
People/Social aspectHas itHas it
Escape from homeOffers itOffers it
Sanctuary to relax/self healHas itHas it
 Healthy way to genuinely heal NO x Absolutely!

Even as a smoker, there is a church.

When I was in the corporate world as a smoker the ritual of going for a cigarette offered many of my basic human needs – far beyond just the nicotine hit I felt I was craving.

  1. I’d usually go with a friend – ‘You coming out for smoke?’
  2. I’d usually make friends. You only need see the same guy from the IT department two or three days in a row on your 10:30am break before you start chatting away.
  3. I’d get to flirt. I had to walk past and say hi to Samantha the gorgeous receptionist on the walk to the outside smoking area 🙂
  4. I’d feel instant stress relief getting away from my desk, heading outside into the fresh air, and taking a few long, slow deep inhalations… Albeit on a cigarette.
  5. I even had my favorite ‘pew’… A little bench by the apple tree.

So you see, whatever the addiction, rituals come with it and failing to replace those can trip you up and put an end to your best intentions of breaking free.

For many, the lack of replacing the ‘church’ can cause more heartbreak than letting go of the substance, and can often be the reason you derail from your efforts to break the addiction – so never overlook this.

Find a new church and you may find your new life as a non-smoker, non-drinker, non-drug addict much easier. 

And if you can’t think of a new church – well there’s always THE church!


Strategy Three. Don’t Save The Money – SPEND IT!

Going to the bar was a treat. Drinking the weekend away was a treat. Gorging on a box of chocolates was a treat…

So stopping these things and then telling yourself ‘Think how much money I’ll save’ is a sure way to fail on day one. Instead replace the treat.

OK. So let me break this down.

Stopping an addiction is a tough thing to do and puts you into a very vulnerable place – at least initially.

My belief is that you do whatever it takes (for at least the first 4 weeks) to make you happy during this time.

Too many people go cold-turkey, focusing on the money they’ll save, without realising that saving money doesn’t really tick any boxes for them, and the result is that they have a few more dollars in the bank – but are utterly miserable.

Now of course, there are instances where saving money can be a huge motivator when freeing yourself of addictions.

Go check out the price of a packet of cigarettes and just how much you burn through a year and tell me you’d not like that cash in your hand right now…

But my point is that to many, money is not a motivator. If it was you’d never have started smoking in the first place – or at least would have become a non-smoker long before reading this article.

And you can always save money next year once the addiction and subsequent cravings are a thing of the past and long forgotten.

For now – go look after your mental health during that initial stage of ‘suffering’ and use the money to treat yourself.

The reason you have the addiction in the first place is because it smashes the Dopamine button – so make sure to replace it with something else that equally does.

A weeks supply of cigarettes could be replaced with:

  1. A relaxing massage or day at a cheap Spa
  2. Therapy or counselling where you get to talk about your problems, and that hour is dedicated just to you
  3. Learn a new skill. So many people wished they had taken up guitar or a martial art but ‘never had the money or time’. Now you’re not standing outside for 5 minutes smoking 20 times a day you actually have both!
  4. Put the money into the house or the garden, using the weekly savings to buy a new bunch of plants every Sunday to add to your growing outdoor sanctuary.
  5. Treat yourself to a maid or housecleaning service once a week. I used to have a lady come to mine on a Friday for 2 hours and make the place spotless ready for a weekend of relaxation. It was cheaper than a weekends supply of booze and meant I never had to worry about the weekly dusting and hoovering again.

If your going to cut out of your life something you’ve come to see as a pleasure for you, make sure you replace it initially with something equally pleasurable – albeit more healthy.

In a few months time when you’re well past the cravings, then perhaps start cutting back and tucking the savings away for a rainy day…

But don’t make it a priority on day one unless part of your motivation is to genuinely put that money to better use.

Strategy Four. Create a strong mental vision of how the future will look – and possibly beyond yourself.

I was training a fat woman once when I was a personal trainer. I’ve been fat myself numerous times in my life and it’s miserable.

Anyone who tells you they are happy fat has either never been the correct weight for their height – or has a lot of work to do with a therapist due to underlying psychological issues.

The client I was training – Amanda – had always been fat.

Her parents had been fat since she was born and their poor eating habits and lack of exercise had been imprinted on Amanda’s young brain.

She only knew herself as big.

Amanda came to me one day saying she felt things between her and her husband had dwindled.

And she was sadly blaming herself for his lack of sexual interest in her.

Not a bad motivator to lose weight – but not necessarily a good one either.

It’s OK if she wanted to get in better shape as she loved him, their sex life, and simply wanted more of it for herself… But not good if she was simply doing it for him to make him happy.

So Amanda wanted personal training sessions and we started.

I’ll be honest in saying two things – Amanda was my largest client and yet she was also the hardest working.

She absolutely kicked ass and I could tell she wanted this… Just sadly not enough.

She’d do 3 sessions a week with me – pretty impressive for a newcomer to fitness – but equally we must remember that there are 168 hours in a week – and even 3 x 1-hour personal training sessions only equate to 1.78% of the total time you have in those 7 days…

She still needed to do more.

Through our conversations and her language I could tell three very clear things:

1. The spark had actually definitely gone from her relationship and from her side too – and I felt it couldn’t be reignited.

2. She wasn’t doing much toward her fitness goal outside of our PT sessions together.

3. She had a little girl who she loved more than anything.

I’d told her endlessly she needed to be out jogging ideally, or at least walking every night for at least the first month or two to get some real momentum going.

Amanda needed to become a student of nutrition, to learn how to read food labels, and cut out all the snacks and bad habits she’d picked up from her parents, that she needed to start cooking meals instead of ordering processed takeaways.

She also needed to lay off the booze which she’d started to rely on due to the mundaneness of her marriage.

She failed on all counts.

And so I surmised that if I was to get the result for her, I needed to shift her mindset so she could not just lose the fat now – but keep it off and make ongoing healthier lifestyle choices – then I’d need to do the following:

  1. Take her attention off doing this for her husband – if she’d truly have cared she’d had taken action long ago
  2. Put her focus on doing this for her little girl.

The next session rolled around and I asked her to forget the training and just join me in front of the mirror we had in the gym.

She couldn’t look up and when I asked her to she’d glance up but then straight back down to her hips as if that was what we needed to address.

Her gaze would go anywhere but to her own beautiful face. I knew it was time to use some very powerful language – and I did.

‘Amanda… I want you to do me a favor. I want you to stand up straight as you would if you were to be the best mother to your daughter. No slouching, no signs of fear, just adopt the same posture you would if you were to be a strong mother figure to your little girl.

‘Now I want you to reach out your hand from your side as if you were holding her hand.’

I want you to imagine her holding your hand and looking up at you.

And I know want you to imagine her saying the following…

‘Mum, I’m so proud of you. You’ve lost so much weight and look so good’.

And I want you to see her there now by your side as if she were, and then I want you to look back at yourself but imagine all that weight gone.

Imagine yourself stood there tall and proud, but half the size you are now – and I want you to really focus on that.

Cut off the hips, narrow the legs, imagine your face thinner and those chins you hate gone for good. Notice how good you look, focus on how attractive you are to yourself and other people, and imagine how much your daughter wants to be just like you when she grows up.

Amanda stood there. Her left hand was by her side, her right hand was outstretched slightly as if her daughters hand was in hers… And she suddenly burst into tears.

The breakthrough had been made in just a minute or so and for the first time ever she could see through who she believed she was and always would be, and got a glimpse of the person she actually could be.

Suffice to say Amanda kicked ass.

There were one or two wobbly moments, but ultimately she had transformed herself in a matter of months.

She had found her motivation and it wasn’t the attention of her husband. Nor was it the love – or lack of it – for herself.

It was to be the very best version of herself she could be for her daughter.

Sometimes in life we think about making huge changes for ourselves – and we give it a good go – but often times we don’t care enough about ourselves to stick with it.

Becoming a non-smoker or overcoming other addictions can often be easier if we give a little thought to not just our lives – but to the lives of those we supposedly love.

Think about the impact on their lives – every single decision you make about yours – has.

For you may just find your true motivation lies a little further than from yourself.

I hope this was helpful and I wish you all the best on your journey to truly become independent from whatever has taken your freedom away.

Mark. x

Mark Madison
Founder of Project Noo You 

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