Facing Sabotage When Quitting Smoking

Don't let anything (or anyone) ruin your goals

Woman breaking cigarette in two
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Early smoking cessation is a mine-field of smoking triggers that can often come from a variety of sources. We must learn to hear the false thoughts these triggers prompt and stop them before they have a chance to sabotage our quit programs and lead us back to smoking.

Don't Sabotage Yourself

When we quit smoking, we are fragile for a period of time. Nicotine addiction has taught us to relate just about every activity in our lives to smoking, and because of that, most of us will feel a void seemingly at every turn.

Because of this we can expect one of the biggest sources of smoking triggers to come from our own thoughts initially, as we react to the lack of nicotine and the comfort we used to find in the act of smoking. 

Learn to listen in on your own thoughts and reject those that are untrue or harmful to your quit program. Replace negative thoughts with something helpful, and move on.

For instance, when you're thinking that you miss smoking, remind yourself that you only miss the nicotine you were addicted to. Once you've recovered, that longing will disappear.

Train yourself to hear your self-defeating inner talk and redirect it. It will become easier with time to do, and will go a long way toward keeping your quit program safe.

Most cravings to smoke are three to five minutes long. Get up and grab a glass of water or take a quick walk. Distraction is a great way to help you get out of your head and beat down the urge to smoke.

Don't Let Others Sabotage Your Quit, Either

It is only natural to expect friends and loved ones to share in the excitement of what we are working to accomplish. We want them to understand just how important and how difficult the challenge of leaving nicotine behind is for us. We expect them to understand.

However, that is not always the way it works out.

While friends and family members are usually quick to encourage us to quit and are happy and proud of us when we do, the support from people who have never smoked often wanes in a short amount of time. They pat us on the back every day for a week or two, but after that, it's all but forgotten. We quit, right? Time to move on, then.

They're not callous or uncaring, they just don't get it.

Those who have never known the intense pull of nicotine addiction don't understand that every single smoke-free day is a huge victory when we quit and that this goes on well beyond the first week, month, or even series of months.

It can be discouraging to come up against this lack of understanding, but don't take it personally. Don't let it discourage you or undermine your success.

Smoking Buddies—Friends or Foes?

A lack of enthusiasm from nonsmoking friends and family members can be hard to take, but the negative attention our smoking friends sometimes direct at us can be downright destructive and hurtful.

The great majority of people who smoke desperately want to quit. They hate the enslavement that comes with nicotine addiction and whether voiced or not, they worry about the diseases associated with tobacco use.

Most active smokers won't admit this—they'll tell you (and themselves) that they enjoy smoking, but the reality is they're stuck and they don't know how to get unstuck.They feel powerless to kick tobacco to the curb.

When we quit, our smoking buddies are forced to look head-on at the fear and worry that they keep under wraps most of the time. And while they may be genuinely happy for us, they are almost certainly struggling with an unspoken level of jealousy because we've done something they may want to do too.

Keep this in mind when someone offers you a cigarette or a drag off of theirs, saying they won't tell if you cheat. Or when they say things like "one cigarette won't hurt" or "you're bound to relapse eventually."

Don't be hurt and don't let it tempt you to smoke. The reasons they cannot be supportive are always about their own issues, not yours. 

The Value of Support

While we might not find the encouragement we need from friends and loved ones, support is an integral part of a successful quit program. Online support offers ex-smokers a couple of important advantages:

  • The ability to connect with people at various stages of cessation, from the newly quit to those with years smoke-free.
  • Support when you need it. Regardless of the time of day or night, someone is usually online and available to help.

Find an online community for smoking cessation and stop in to do some reading. Chances are you'll quickly see just how much of a help it can be.

Own It!

Whether we're trying to lose a few extra pounds, get our finances in order, or quit smoking, success depends on our commitment to the task. 

We cannot hope to have long-lasting results in transforming our lives if we're doing it for someone else. 

It is only when the change we're after is solidly rooted in our own inner desire that we are in a position to succeed for the long term. Don't let anyone shake your confidence as you move through the recovery process. 

Quit smoking for yourself, and the rest will fall into place. 

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