Forgive Yourself for Smoking

March 5, 2012 in BottomPage

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By Fred Kelley

“We cling to our bad feelings and beat ourselves with the past when what we should do is let go of it, like Peter did. Once your let go of guilt, then you go out and change the world.”
– James Carroll

Carroll is referring to Peter, a disciple of Jesus who, when faced with questions about his relationship to Jesus, three times denied any connection. Later, Peter went on to help spread Christianity throughout the world.

While this article isn’t about religion, the example of Peter’s great guilt over his denials of Christ, and his overcoming of his shame and guilt, exemplify the importance of self-forgiveness.

Forgiving yourself leads to great things!

Whether you’ve smoked for a year or a lifetime, you probably have experienced guilt or shame about smoking. Many smokers feel shame over their own failure to control themselves. Others feel guilt over the perceived “sin” of smoking. Still others hide their smoking from society’s persecution of “obnoxious, weak, unconcerned, polluting, smelly” smokers, due to feeling ashamed.

Guilt and shame paralyze and polarize. The sad thing about guilt and shame is that it is often the result of incorrect perceptions of a situation. Have you ever wronged another person, then felt guilty for it? Did you avoid that person for a long time? When you finally got back together with that person you may have found that they had forgiven you long ago, and they wished that you were in their life again. How much time did you waste feeling guilty?

Many smokers, in an effort to make themselves feel better, tell themselves “I’ve smoked this long. It’s too late now for me to quit. I might as well keep on smoking.” They may think they are forgiving themselves, but the reality is they are only making excuses. There’s a big difference between making excuses and truly forgiving. An excuse denies the reality of a problem. Forgiveness acknowledges a problem, yet moves beyond the problem.

To forgive your own smoking, you must admit to yourself that you have a problem that began in the past. Acknowledge the past, but also acknowledge that the past is over and can never be changed. What’s done is done, now you must move on. Forgive yourself for starting to smoke. Did you smoke to be disobedient to your parents or other authority figure? Acknowledge that this happened and that it may have been wrong, but what’s done is done. Are you ashamed that you have become dependent on a drug? There are many reasons why this has happened, many of which you were probably unaware of at the time. Forgive yourself for falling into the trap. Millions of people are right there with you. You are not alone, so don’t beat yourself up for it.

The goal of forgiveness is renewal. On the other side of guilt is a new freedom. By freeing yourself from feeling inadequate over old shortcomings, you empower yourself to achieve great results. When you are no longer trapped in self-doubt and self-pity you can overcome any obstacle. You can look at smoking objectively and turn away from it at last. Change what you can change; don’t worry about the rest.

If you ask yourself who’s to blame for your smoking habit, you could probably come up with three or four answers: yourself, the tobacco companies, your parents, your friends. Whoever or whatever the cause for your habit, forgive. It really doesn’t matter anymore. What you want to concern yourself with now is moving past smoking. You’ll never do that until you let go of the guilt and shame and blame, and simply let go of all of it. What matters is that you quit.

It’s odd how the things we desire the least can control us the most. Instead of focusing on the negative past, draw your attention to your positive future. Forgive your past and get excited about today, because today you can do something amazing!

** Article © Copyright Fred Kelley of Visit the web site at
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