choose your pain
one of the strongest motivators for human beings (actually, for all conscious beings) is the avoidance of pain. if you think about it, you'll probably come to the conclusion that this one factor, above all others, was the primary reason we continued to smoke for as long as we did, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that by doing so, we were doing incredible damage to ourselves; we didn't continue to smoke because we had a death wish (at least, most of us didn't), we continued to smoke to avoid the pain of withdrawal from our addiction to nicotine.
if we’re not willing to endure the pain of change now, we’ll almost certainly have to endure the pain of regret later. and it will affect not only us, but all those people whose lives we touch in one way or another.
but pain can also be a good thing: in certain circumstances, it's our body's only way of letting us know that something's wrong; in others, it's a sign that our body is doing its job of healing itself. the severity of the pain can tell us, in the first case, how urgent the problem is, and, in the second, how bad the damage was that's being repaired. pain is also inevitable; nobody goes through life without experiencing pain of some kind.
as it relates to our struggle to quit smoking, there are basically two kinds of pain, and we get to choose which one we'd rather endure; the pain of change or the pain of regret. yes, the pain of change (the pain of withdrawal from our addiction to nicotine) is intense; for many of us, it will be the most intense pain we've ever experienced. but it's also temporary; in a few days or weeks, it'll be pretty much over, and as long as we never feed our addiction again, we'll never have to endure the pain of withdrawal again.
but if we're not willing to endure the pain of change now, we'll almost certainly have to endure the pain of regret later. and it will affect not only us, but all those people whose lives we touch in one way or another.
because in our case, the pain of regret may be encountered when our doctor tells us that we have lung cancer and that we'll have to endure invasive medical procedures such as the removal of part of a lung or worse. in our case, the pain of regret may be encountered while we're undergoing chemotherapy. or it may be encountered when we finally find ourselves on our deathbed.
and when we encounter the pain of regret, we'll probably wish that we had gone through the pain of change back when we had the chance to do so voluntarily: "if only i'd quit when i found out about the emphysema...", "if only i'd stuck with that program...", "if only i'd resisted the urge to smoke that one cigarette...", "if only..."
these two words may be the saddest words in the entire english language (or in any language, for that matter) - "if only..."
and the saddest thing about them is, that by the time we say them, it's almost always already too late. and how are you going to explain to your son or your daughter that mommy or daddy just didn't have the strength to face the pain of change back when it could have made a difference?
how are you going to explain to your mother or father that, because you couldn't face the pain of change, they'll now have to face the pain of attending their own child's funeral?
how are you going to explain to your family, friends and loved ones who are watching you die a slow, horrifying, painful death why you chose to leave them with such a gruesome set of memories of you to carry with them the rest of their lives?
how are you going to explain that?
personally, i never want to have to try.
that's why i choose the pain of change.