Have you ever quit smoking cigarettes?

It’s not that difficult, actually.

Breaking a habit takes the same willpower and consistency as forming one does, they just happen in the opposite direction.

Building a habit = sensation you are gaining something.
Breaking a habit = sensation you are losing something.

So when you quit smoking, you are operating under the perception you have lost something. Is there a solution? Sure. You can distract yourself, or even fill the void with another meaningless vice.

More-so, I think this habit situation may be the same reason buying new things is easier than throwing things away. We have attachment issues, but we don’t have a lot of space for everything.

Why am I saying this? Who knows, but let’s consider that it is a well-known fact one of the main goals of human existence is to consume. (Citation needed, but you know I’m right.)

We consume food to generate energy so we can…make more food to consume. But once we figured out how to do that with efficiency – and when I say this I mean, of course, exclusively for the people who have money to pay for food…survival IS a business after all- we got bored. So we started making other stuff. Making stuff is cool. Making stuff is equivalent to the sensation you are gaining something.

Anyway, to quit smoking is easy. Unfortunately, so is the relapse.

Imagine you’ve been clean for two weeks, and then you meet with a friend who smokes. It’s very likely that when they light a cigarette, you’ll follow suit.

Not because they are pressuring you, but because the habit is being normalized.

Don’t worry too much about it, you’re dying anyway. If you want to die from lung cancer, that’s your prerogative.

I’m not really talking about cigarettes here, I’m talking about identity issues. Particularly the ones that arise as a direct result from knowing other people. I think we can agree that we’re all a little uncertain about what it is we’re doing here. We’re on a giant rock, hurtling through space, and we still can’t find anything in common.

N. Korea wants to be taken seriously. Donald Trump wants to be taken seriously. Taylor Swift wants to be taken seriously. And the more attention we pay to these tyrants – (yes Taylor, I mean you) – the closer they become to being taken seriously.

But hold on, I was talking about identity issues. Today when I was taking a shower, I began to wonder, “what is the point of having a friend?” I believe we are prone to befriending people who we see ourselves in, but that is partially because we are very narcissistic (thx evolution). Basically, we need to maintain a general positive association about our identities – and this requires external reinforcement.

Think about your friends – what do you do together? Probably things you both enjoy, and this, in fact, is an ego-stroke. It is self-validating to enjoy the same things as other people. It means you have interesting interests. It means you are not a weirdo.

Sometimes, I bet you do things with friends that you are not violently passionate about, rather vaguely accepting of. This is because you are making a compromise. This is because being around other people is a lot less lonely than being alone. And did you notice, how when we’re alone, we tend to fill our alone time with the consumption* (vocab word) of content and characters who are, you guessed it, relatable? Then, there is the added bonus, that later on, we can relate to other people about our very interesting interests, a fantastic reflection of the self.

Which of your friends do you like the best? I bet it’s the ones who make you feel the most like you. But what are you like, in reality? Because you are constantly being influenced. By your friends. And your friends’ likes’. And your friends’ ideas’ of who you are. You look to your friends to help build your identity. You look to all of the people around you – your employers, your parents and in some cases, your cat.

This is not a problem. I am not anti-friend. I love my friends, and in most cases, they help me to be a better version of myself. They hold me accountable for my bullshit. They give me necessary advice, and, on occasion, decent music recommendations.

The real problem is not: knowing people, having friends, watching T.V., consuming things, or being alive. The real problem is habit. Did you know that a victim of childhood abuse is 3-5 times more likely to experience victimization as an adult? That there is an 80 percent chance children of abuse will develop at least one psychological disorder later in life? Why are victims of trauma more likely to have a repeat experience? Habit.

What we know – that is, what we have become exposed to, influences our identity. Abuse becomes normalized to those who experience it, meaning they are more likely to gravitate towards similar psychopathic behaviors in relationships, friendships and work situations. This evidence is not only important for people who have experienced childhood trauma. It’s important to anyone who has been in an unhealthy friendship or relationship. Sometimes, I think we are attracted to bad and negative things because we perceive them as being more honest.

I think this information is also relevant to anyone who is in the process of forming an identity. I heard they take a lifetime to create. The point is, you are not your friends. You are not your mother. You are not your childhood trauma. You are not your cigarette. You are both completely, only yourself, and exactly everything you allow yourself to be influenced by. You, in the end, are a collection of habits.

If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking cigarettes, you know it isn’t hard.

It takes willpower and consistency.

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