There are two main ways for smokers to feel the urge to smoke – either their body tells them it needs nicotine, or their mind thinks about it and convinces them they want to have a cigarette.
There are numerous ways to manage with the physical aspects of smoking cessation, from medication to NRT options such as nicotine patches, but it is often the mental addiction that causes smokers to fail in their attempts to stay quit.
That is why people who think that all they have to do is to chew some nicotine gum to give up smoking tend to be unsuccessful.
For most smokers, the physical effects experienced during the first 2 weeks are the biggest worry as it can be very uncomfortable. As such, a disproportionate amount of attention is focused on dealing with the physical withdrawal symptoms, and not enough effort is placed on addressing the psychological side of things.
There’s a common misconception that smoking is only physically addictive, due to the nicotine but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If that were true, most smokers who get pass the first month of smoking (after the physical dependency on nicotine is over) would be able to resist the temptation to light up again.
But the number of people who fall back into their old ways during the months and even years after not physically needing to smoke are staggering. And this is because their mental addiction is not dealt with, and in most cases, not even acknowledged in the first place.
Before a problem can be solved, it is necessary to accept that it exists, namely that you’re addicted to tobacco. Unfortunately, a lot of smokers live in denial of this fact, and hence, even when they half-heartedly try to give up, this most vital issue still hasn’t been addressed.
How many times have we heard smokers say that they’re not addicted and can give up any time they want? This might have been true at one time, but after years of doing the same thing day in and day out, tobacco is an extremely difficult habit to overcome, mentally as well as physically.
The difference is that while the physical discomfort only lasts a few weeks at most, the psychological element remains for months and years. That is why it is critically important to manage the mental addiction effectively in order to quit smoking for good.
- Be Really Honest and Self Critical with Yourself
- List Down Personal Reasons of Why You Want to Quit
- Remember How and Why You Started to Smoke
- Think of Whether Any of Those Reasons are Still Relevant
- Write Down the List of Reasons Why You Smoke Now
- Identify the Times when you Need to Smoke Most
- Consider the Best Way to Stop Smoking for Each Event
- Make a List of Reasons Why Smoking is Stupid in your Life
- Have a High Regard for Yourself and Don’t be Stubborn
1. Be Really Honest and Self Critical with Yourself
The first thing to do is to get into the right frame of mind. You’re not justifying your actions to anyone, and don’t have to be defensive in any way. You need to get real, be completely honest with yourself, and be able to poke holes at your own imperfections.
Don’t worry, as no one will know if you don’t want them to, you’re just going to have a heart to heart conversation with yourself. In all likelihood, it has been some time since you’ve done this, and it may possibly even be the first time, so tread carefully and get used to looking at yourself from the outside in.
2. List Down Personal Reasons of Why You Want to Quit
A smoker’s reasons to quit are the underlying motivation necessary to fuel the determination needed to resist the temptation to smoke. They need to be personalized in as much detail as possible so that they resonate deeply with you as you battle the urge to light up during the particularly trying moments.
By having really good reasons not to smoke, you will automatically be mentally prepared for the challenges ahead. Instead of merely wanting to quit and know that tobacco is bad for you, identify why smoking is a nasty habit that’s only for losers, and how you want to disassociate yourself from it.
In short, smoking needs to have a really bad image in your mind, – something that’s filthy, costly, unnecessary and outright ridiculous to be compulsively addicted to.
3. Remember How and Why You Started to Smoke
A large majority of smokers picked up the habit when they were in their teens and early twenties, during the highly impressionable period of their lives. A time when they were trying to establish their identities and figure out who they were.
You probably started smoking with a group of friends who you’re no longer close to, didn’t end up being a heavy smoker like you, or may have given it up already.
Back then, you smoked to be socially accepted, because it was cool, and it was relatively harmless when you’re young and healthy.
4. Think of Whether Any of Those Reasons are Still Relevant
Whatever the reasons, note them down and reflect on each of them relative to your life today.
You’ll find that most of them are not relevant any more. Your body has suffered years of damage from it already, it’s not cool at all to smoke now where it is rapidly becoming socially unacceptable to do so.
The times have changed, and you should too. There are no good reasons to remain a smoker. Your friends have moved on, society has moved on, and you’re still stuck with the habit because you got addicted to it.
5. Write Down the List of Reasons Why You Smoke Now
Next, think about why you smoke now. If you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll conclude that it’s because you’ve got a dependency on nicotine and can’t imagine living a day without it.
Otherwise, you’ll have reasons like ‘because I enjoy or like it’, ‘it’s just the way I am’, ‘I’ve always been a smoker’, ‘it gives me pleasure’ and so on. All weak excuses that deny the fact you’ve got an addiction to something that is gradually killing you.
6. Identify the Times when you Need to Smoke Most
A great way to address your urge to smoke at various times throughout the day is to predict the times when you feel the greatest need to light up and adjust your lifestyle.
Whether it’s after meals, with a cup of coffee, when you’re stressed out, while watching television, or during a long phone call, just write it all down and dig deep to really know yourself and your habit.
Most of the time, you’re not craving for the nicotine, but it is just habitual for you to spark up a cigarette, and it is this psychological attachment that you need to identify and break away from.
7. Consider the Best Way to Stop Smoking for Each Event
To make it easier to quit, you should have a solution for each of the times when you feel like smoking most.
The urge to smoke usually only lasts a while, especially if your mind is occupied and you don’t think about it. It’s important not to dwell on the subject, and to have a strategy of misdirecting yourself to focus on other options.
So, be prepared and do your homework to figure out the best way to deal with each of these moments when you’re tempted to smoke.
Where possible, devise strategies to avoid them (like eating less, switch from coffee to tea, munch on healthy snacks while watching TV and so on), but if you can’t dodge them completely, then find alternatives and substitutes to prevent yourself from craving for a cigarette.
8. Make a List of Reasons Why Smoking is Stupid in your Life
To break the psychological addiction to smoking, you should mentally disassociate yourself with the habit.
Just as you created a positive association with it when you were younger, thinking that it’s cool to smoke, you now need to establish a strong negative impression of it, such as acknowledging that smoking will kill you or cause a life threatening critical illness eventually.
In addition, to strengthen and reinforce the thought of why it’s stupid for you to smoke, think about all the good things in your life you could lose by continuing with this nonsensical habit.
Also think about how the quality of your life can improve once you give it up, from having more time and money, to being fitter and being more energized.
Only you will know what is meaningful to you in your life, what you would like to achieve, and what you really want. Make sure you know that smoking may be threatening what you love and preventing you from becoming the person who you want to be.
9. Have a High Regard for Yourself and Don’t be Stubborn
The only thing that lies in between you and giving up smoking forever is you. The only person who can cause you to fail in quitting is you.
You are all that matters in this challenge, and it is important for you to have a positive outlook and a winning mindset in order to succeed.
This starts with truly loving yourself. This does not mean gloating about how awesome you think you are. Instead, you need to want the best for you body, for the ones who you love and in everything you do.
Know that you can change for the better, and be confident that you can quit smoking for good if you set your mind to it.