Difficulties in Giving Up
Although it is well known that smoking is harmful, anti- social and expensive, most smokers within their lifetime will try to quit and fail.
For some quitting becomes a war of many years, for others the decision to quit “some day” tends to remain the best option. Most of us need more than one attempt in order to succeed. So the question remains: Why is giving up smoking so difficult?
Addiction in its simplest explanatory form means “something we need and can not be without” this can be a substance, such as smoking or drinking or it can take the form of behaviours, such as gambling or nail biting.
Regardless of the addiction, it is filling a void within a person. When considering smoking, we need to look at addiction not just as the physical, but the psychological.
So an important step in making sure you quit for good, is to think carefully what got you smoking in the first pace? This may have been an adolescent experimental stage, feeling inadequate, wanting to prove something to someone, wanting to be like someone, self- hate and many others.
The reason why going back to the beginning is important is because it allows you to ask the question: does this reason still ring true for me? If it does and you still feel inadequate, self hating or insecure than miraculously smoking becomes a secondary side effect of these feelings.
These need to be dealt with if success is to be had. At the same time the attention from the battle to stop smoking is directed else where, making quitting easier. If the original reason does not ring true any longer, understanding the addiction gives the tools to make quitting easier and more enjoyable. You realise that this is something no longer needed to fill the void. In affect, this “tool has been made redundant”.
Dealing with the Void
More often than not however, smoking in some way will be our dulling of emotions. This is why smokers light up when under stress. A non-smoker would feel stressed and would need to deal with those feelings accordingly. A smoker will light up and try to block the feelings. The cigarette provides temporary resolve of the feelings in question, by providing a mild feeling of relaxation. This is also why the most difficult cigarettes to give up are not the “happy, social ones,” but the ones we smoke when under stress.
This is not to say that it is easy to refrain at social situations. On some psychological level when we quit, at first we associate social occasions with smoking. However mostly this is because we see “every one else smoking” and momentarily want to be like them. Despite having consciously decided that we do not want to be like them!
All in all, it seems quite insane. Going back to the void however, a good way to consider our feelings when giving up smoking is to pay attention to what is coming up emotionally. Yes, you might be feeling angrier than ever before, but what is the feeling behind the anger? Through approaching stopping smoking in this way, it takes secondary place in our struggle to resolve aspects about how we are living and what we are feeling.
If we address these issues, the dangers of a re-lapse subside significantly. In addition, we not only give up smoking, but we give up negative ideas or perceptions that got us smoking in the first place!
When uncovering “the void” it might be helpful to seek the help of a therapist, life coach or counsellor, who can help with dealing with your feelings. Often these may stem from way back, and you may have relied on smoking for far too many years to be able to cope with your feelings without it. Hypnosis can be a big help in dealing with any deep rooted feelings that smoking may have been covering up.
Remember to give your self a break; this is a big shift in your life, feeling down is natural. Make sure you have support from friends and family and remember to breathe!
If you find the physical symptoms too much to deal with, there is help at hand in the form of nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy works for many people, in its many shapes and forms. We can choose from patches, gum, inhalers, tablets and most recently electronic cigarettes.
All of the above work on the basis of weaning your body of nicotine gradually, so that the withdrawal symptoms are easier to cope with. The idea also works on the basis that, during your time on nicotine replacement therapy, you will get used to not doing the physical act of smoking.
If gradual quitting sounds good for you, have a look at some of these different methods. You doctor or pharmacist should be able to discuss the options further.
However, don’t forget to deal with the void! Nicotine replacement therapy facilitates a smoother experience, but if you deal with the reasons of why you smoke and why you want to quit, you chances of remaining a non-smoker are a lot stronger!
Think of these carefully and allow them to surface through your experience. Have your objective clear in your mind. Remember to deal with the void!
How you decide to stop is up to you. However, replacement does not need to include the drug you are aiming to wean yourself of. It is indeed possible to replace nicotine with something healthy.
This can be anything; exercise, knitting, walking the dog, cleaning. My personal favourite is carrot sticks with humus. This is an option that fulfils the “oral gratification” and gives me some time off from the empty feeling in my belly, or “the void”.It is low in fat, tasty and very good for you! In fact carrots are rich in vitamin B, which many smokers and recovering smokers lack in.
Although this way can be more challenging for the first 2 weeks, it assures the nicotine has left the body, and leaves you to deal with the psychological aspects of smoking. You are free to address the void, without worrying about nicotine.
My Quitting Experience
Quitting smoking is a big challenge. It is a legal substance, and to some extent is still socially accepted (by smokers of course). Having been one of them until 9 days ago, I still feel like a “recovering smoker”. Not a smoker, not really a non smoker.
For me, dealing with the void with the help of a therapist and eating many a carrot stick is the best tool. I have also been doing a lot more exercise. I am definitely missing smoking less each day; in fact I don't really miss it.
I am still dealing with the void. Meaning that yes, I do get angry, feel down and have ups and downs. But I promise it is getting easier every day! Understanding consciously why you used to smoke and why it no longer benefits your life, will bring forward a new understanding. Take each day as it comes, give your- self a pat on the back for deciding on life and remember to give your self a break during those tough moments!
Nancy Owens from USA on December 21, 2011:
I like that you addressed dealing with the void. I think this advice could apply to weight loss as well. Thanks for your insightfull hub.
jambo87 on September 12, 2010:
It's interesting that you brought up the idea of focusing on the causes of why we begin to smoke and push smoking itself into the secondary factor. I've smoked for five years and have tried to quit a few times. I think the point you make it essential.
paul_gibsons from Gibsons, BC, Canada on February 16, 2010:
I know the feeling... :) actually a friend of mine, age 70-odd, was advised by his doctor to give up smoking. "Don't worry about the damage" he said, "that is already done. But it makes dying a so much more pleasant experience.." He quit...