The fear of success may keep more people from starting a quit than the fear of failure. The reason people are so afraid of success is that they are often working with a false perception of what life will be without smoking. No matter how how many people tell them what life can be like without smoking, the perception an active smoker has is going to persist until the person quits smoking and sees for him or herself that life really does go on without smoking.
In clinic settings I always explain to the participants that the real goal of the clinic is to help the participants to get off for two weeks. Two weeks—that’s it. In two weeks each clinic graduate will start to get a true sense of what it is like not to smoke. If the person decides that he or she hates not smoking, that life is unbearable, that he or she can no longer work, no longer carry on normal rational thoughts, no longer maintain a normal family existence, no longer have any fun or no longer able to meet life’s ongoing demands—he or she will be fully capable of just going back to smoking. A person should never be afraid to quit because of the feeling that if he or she quits, he or she will not be able to get him or herself back to smoking again if the so chooses. The choice should always be based on whether the person wants to go back to full-fledged smoking or smoke nothing—but the choice for full fledged smoking exists for all ex-smokers.
On the other hand, if in the two weeks the person decides that he or she likes not smoking—maybe not smoking isn’t perfect—but he or she is starting to get a flavor of where life is heading, how he or she is starting to face up to life demands and handling them reasonably well, maybe even a little better than he or she was just a few weeks earlier while still an active smoker, he or she has the choice of staying smoke free for another day.
People giving themselves the opportunity to see what not smoking is really like will overcome all these fears and generally truly appreciate the gift that they give themselves by being nicotine free. There are very few people who have ever left a clinic graduation went out and bought a carton or a case because they gave it the two weeks and decide that they really now want to become a full-fledged smoker again. Yes some people will throw away their quits days or weeks later, but it is not because they choose to relapse and are making a conscious decision to smoke until it kills them—it is because they get complacent and start to believe that they can somehow now control their quantity or duration of smoking. They almost inevitably regret this mistake and many will end up paying for it with their lives.
For as scary as quitting may be up front, the reality of what smoking can lead if understood is terrifying. A drag on a cigarette can end up costing a person tens of thousands of dollars, his or her independence, health and life. The reality of smoking does not improve with time, the fears intensify as symptoms develop and life gets a little more limited and the control nicotine exerts gets stronger and stronger.
You must quit smoking to see what life is really like as an ex-smoker and to some degree really recognize what life was like as a smoker. The longer you go without smoking and the more you understand, the less scary life will be and the more resolute you will continue to be to never take another puff!