Why You Abuse Weed (And How To Stop)
I recently finished Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck. This article was inspired by some of the concepts he discusses. I highly recommend it to everyone except my grandmother, as she disapproves of vulgar language and is also dead.
Our Actions Are Based On Our Values
Something made you click on this link and start reading this article.
What was it?
Maybe you’re trying to quit weed and you thought reading this article would help you. Maybe you have a friend who is trying to quit weed and you thought reading this might help you understand them.
Whatever the case, there’s an underlying value driving your decision. If you’re trying to quit, that value might be constant self-improvement. If you’re trying to help your friend, the value might be compassion for others.
This article will help you pull out the values driving your weed addiction, change them, and stop smoking weed.
We Abuse Weed Because Our Values Suck
Let’s look at the actions of two imaginary people I just made up, Chris and Jebediah.
Chris and Jebediah both enjoy weed.
Chris smokes a joint once a week with his buddies. He has a great time, and doesn’t feel the need to smoke after his high goes away. He’s content with a sober reality, and getting high is pretty low on his list of priorities.
Jebediah smokes every night by himself. He doesn’t have a great time, and MUST smoke after his high goes away. He’s not content with a sober reality, and getting high is number one on his list of priorities.
So what’s the difference between Chris and Jebediah? Why can Chris smoke responsibly while Jebediah hotboxes his lungs every night?
Chris and Jebediah have different values driving their actions.
Chris values immediate pain. Any time he is confronted with pain, he looks to deal with that pain responsibly instead of hiding from it in the superficial, temporary pleasure of weed.
Jebediah values immediate pleasure. Any time he is confronted with pain, he hides from it in a blunt instead of dealing with it in a responsible manner
Let’s dive into a scenario to make this a bit clearer.
Chris and Jebediah have an exam coming up next week. They both know they need to study a few hours every night in order to pass the exam.
I don’t consider studying to be a fun activity. It’s hard and boring and painful, especially if it involves numbers and doing things to them. And because Chris and Jebediah are figments of my imagination, they also feel this way.
Chris embraces the pain. He studies hard and passes the exam. Passing the exam makes him feel good. It turns out achieving your goals feels pretty fucking awesome. Chris likes feeling pretty fucking awesome, so he decides to prioritize studying over getting high.
Jebediah rejects the pain. Reading a textbook and taking notes for 10 hours sounds like a really shitty use of time. Why should he endure that pain when he can feel great right fucking now? So he lights up. He feels pretty good while he’s high, but a wave of anxiety-inducing thoughts hits him once he comes down…
Why the fuck did I smoke? I needed to study. Fucking idiot. Now I’m going to fail. There’s no point in trying to study now, I need to get an A and I’ll barely be able to pull a C. I don’t like feeling like this. I should smoke…
Jebediah was already stressed about the test. Instead of actually studying for the test to alleviate that stress, he got high. Now he’s anxious about the fact that he smoked to avoid a necessary responsibility in addition to the exam stress.
Jebediah hates the anxiety that permeates his sober reality. So he gets high to avoid the anxiety, which makes him even more anxious. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m sure many of you are quite familiar with it.
The key takeaway is each person’s reaction to pain. Chris deals with it when it’s presented to him, and while it kind of sucks in the moment, he is ultimately much better off. Jebediah, who avoids the pain by getting high, turns into a stoned and anxious wreck, and gets a shitty exam grade to boot.
If you‘re more of a Jebediah than a Chris, then you value immediate pleasure over immediate pain. And if you’re going to stop smoking, you must learn to flip that value on its head.
Changing Your Values
We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons. — Jim Rohn
“Okay Steve, I understand I need to get my shit together and stop getting high instead of doing stuff that actually matters. But how can I do that?”
You need to associate activities that are initially painful with the growth and long-term pleasure they eventually bring. Likewise, you need to associate activities that are initially pleasurable with the stagnation and pain they eventually bring.
“Okay! Great! Now how do I do THAT?!”
Change your values. Instead of valuing the avoidance of pain in favor of immediate pleasure, value embracing pain in favor of long-term happiness.
Just fucking do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t analyze it to death. Just change your values, change your actions to reflect those values, and you’re done.
Whatever your situation, whatever painful challenges you’re facing… you need to take responsibility for those challenges. Accept that it will be fucking painful, and then take it on anyway.
Once you start doing this, you’re going to notice something funny. Even if you fail and life kicks you in the teeth, you’ll find you’re ultimately better off for it.
Let’s take another look at Jebediah. If Jebediah stops smoking blunts for a week, genuinely puts in the effort to study, and bombs his test anyway… he’s no worse off than before. Sure, it sucks to put effort into something and still fail, but you’ve got to fail before you can succeed. Jebediah might realize he needs to put in more than 10 hours of studying to pass his next exam. He’s learned from his initial failure, and now he’s more likely to succeed the next time around.
Everything in life is like this. Once you start failing regularly… you’ll realize that failing is fine. It’s perfectly normal. Everyone who has ever been successful at anything has failed a fuck-ton of times. Take it from me. I can write pretty well, but I went through years of shitty essays and embarrassing proof-reading sessions to get here. All it takes is time.
I know this seems like some bullshit cliche self-help advice. But doesn’t it make sense? Repeated actions form habits. Actions derive themselves from values. If we change our values, we change our actions. If we change our actions, we change our habits… habits like smoking weed all day.
Every action you take comes from some value. I didn’t decide to quit my job and write full-time for the fuck of it. I did so because I value my independence, and I acted in accordance with that value. Even an action as simple as tying your shoes comes from valuing your health and well-being. Tripping down some stairs because your shoes were untied doesn’t really align with that value.
If you need a reminder, try writing your new value down and keeping it in your wallet. Read it a few times a day. Instill into your brain that this new value will be the one your actions will be based on.
Don’t be afraid to fail. If you smoke, just try again. Try until you succeed. And you will succeed.
If you’d like a more detail-oriented approach to supplement this brand new change in values, you can read my guide on How To Stop Smoking Weed And Get Your Life Together.