How to Develop a Mindset to Help You Quit Smoking

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As of Dec. 20, 2019, the new legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco products in the U.S.

Any type of change can be difficult, but quitting an addiction such as smoking or other forms of tobacco use (chewing, snuff, e-cigarettes) is particularly demanding. When facing this challenge, developing the right kind of mindset can help you stick to your goals and overcome obstacles.

For some people, everything seems to fall into place before or just after quitting, but for many others, reshaping your attitude into a winning mindset may happen much more gradually, one day at a time.

This article discusses how mindset can affect addiction. It also covers some of the things that you can do to develop a mindset that will assist you in quitting smoking successfully.

What Is an Addiction Mindset?

A mindset refers to whether a person believes that certain attributes are either innate or malleable. There are two basic types of mindsets: fixed and growth.

With regards to addiction:

  • A fixed mindset would mean that a person believes that addiction is a permanent attribute that cannot be changed. People who have a fixed mindset about addiction tend to believe that addiction is something that is inborn and that cannot be overcome through individual resolve or effort.
  • A growth mindset, on the other hand, would mean believing that addiction is not permanent. People who see addiction as changeable are more likely to believe in their own ability to successfully give up smoking.

Research has found that there is a relationship between the belief in the permanence of addiction and the psychological aspects of smoking cessation. In one study, people who see addiction as changeable had a stronger motivation to quit, were more committed to their quit smoking goals, and had greater self-efficacy when it came to abstaining from smoking.


Your beliefs about addiction can impact your ability to successfully quit smoking. If you think that change is possible, you are more likely to believe in your abilities and feel more motivated and committed to your goals.

How to Develop a Quit Smoking Mindset

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help foster a mindset that will help you successfully quit smoking. It may take time and practice, but eventually, you can shift your thinking into a more positive, supportive, and motivational outlook.

Learn About Addiction and Recovery

Education is a powerful tool that can help you change how you think about smoking. Start reading everything you can find about nicotine addiction, withdrawal, and the recovery process.

When you know what to expect and have a plan in place to manage the bumps in the road, those bumps are less likely to trip you up. Education takes you out of the role of being a helpless victim of addiction and puts you in the driver’s seat of your quit program.

Learning more about your own mindset and resolving to develop a more positive approach to recovery can also help.

What Type of Mindset Do You Have?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel like a person's addiction will never fully leave them?
  • Do you feel like people cannot change how addicted they are?
  • Are some people simply not able to overcome their addictions?

If you answered yes to the questions above, you probably have a fixed mindset. Shifting to a growth mindset may help you quit smoking more successfully.

Remember That Practice Makes Perfect

Make up your mind to settle in and apply yourself to the task of breaking the links in the chains that bind you to nicotine addiction, one at a time, however long that might take.

Feed your quit program with daily doses of education and support, making a point to end every day on a note of gratitude.

Incorporating these things into your life until they become a natural part of your daily routine takes work, but they are stepping stones to the mindset you're trying to develop—one that will permanently take you away from smoking.

Change Your Relationship to Smoking

Facing nicotine addiction head-on has another significant benefit. By looking closely at the scope of the damage and death smoking causes, you can begin to think differently about cigarettes. Instead of viewing them as a source of comfort, you can start to see them as something that is actively harming your health.

Once you do this, you can start to change your relationship with smoking. How can something that kills so many so ruthlessly be a friend? Education will help you take the blinders off, and that is a very good thing.

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can also be a powerful tool when giving up smoking. Mindfulness is defined as becoming completely aware of the present moment without judgment. It is often utilized as a tool for decreasing stress and improving self-awareness.

Mindfulness may be helpful when you are dealing with things such as cravings, stress, anxiety, and depression. It may also help you practice healthier habits and develop a more positive attitude toward quitting. Research has found that mindfulness-based treatments may be helpful for supporting smoking cessation.

Your power to affect change in your life always lies in the present. What you do today has great influence over your tomorrow—an important thing to remember in this process. Keep your eye on the prize and stay firmly planted in the present.


Recovery from nicotine addiction is a process, not an event. It takes education, patience, and support. Learning more about your mindset and shifting your attitudes toward changing your addiction are great places to start.

Other Ways to Shift Your Mindset

Some other strategies that can help shift your mindset toward quitting smoking include:

  • Watching your language: If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, look for ways to shift into a more positive approach. Instead of saying, "I'll never be able to quit," try saying "Quitting is a process and I can keep trying to reach my goals."
  • Learning from mistakes: Instead of feeling defeated by your slip-ups, consider what you can learn from them. How might you be able to respond differently in the future to support your goals?
  • Finding social support: Seek out supportive people who can offer encouragement and act as cheerleaders. Smoking cessation support groups can also be a great place to find people who understand what you are going through and who want to you succeed.
  • Seeking motivation and inspiration: Look for role models who have quit smoking successfully and let their achievements inspire you to stick to your goals. Motivational books, quit smoking podcasts, and other smoking cessation resources can also help you stay positive about your own ability to succeed.

When to Seek Professional Help

There are many self-help resources that can help you quit smoking, but it is important to remember that you don't have to go it alone. If you feel like your mindset is holding you back from quitting, talking to a therapist may be helpful.

A therapist may utilize a number of different strategies to help you identify negative thinking patterns that make it hard to quit. In one type of therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapist helps you learn to recognize these thought patterns and replace them with more positive and helpful ones. Restructuring the way you think can help you approach quitting smoking with a most positive mindset.

A therapist can also help by addressing underlying problems such as anxiety or depression that might be holding you back. They can also help you learn new coping strategies that can help reduce stress and combat cravings.


Psychotherapy can be helpful when you are working to change your mindset about addiction. A therapist can help you change your negative thinking patterns and develop new coping skills that will support your efforts to quit smoking.

A Word From Verywell

Yes, quitting tobacco is hard work at times, especially early on, but dig your feet in and take it on. Remind yourself daily about why you want to quit smoking, and picture yourself contented and smoke-free.

It’s not a far-fetched concept—it’s hard but it's doable, and you have the ability to make it happen, right now. Believe it and believe in yourself. The rewards far outweigh the work it takes to achieve freedom from nicotine addiction.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sridharan V, Shoda Y, Heffner JL, Bricker J. Addiction mindsets and psychological processes of quitting smokingSubst Use Misuse. 2019;54(7):1086-1095. doi:10.1080/10826084.2018.1555259

  2. Practice mindfulness.

  3. Vidrine JI, Spears CA, Heppner WL, Reitzel LR, Marcus MT, Cinciripini PM, et al. Efficacy of mindfulness-based addiction treatment (MBAT) for smoking cessation and lapse recovery: A randomized clinical trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2016;84(9):824-838. doi:10.1037/ccp0000117

By Terry Martin
Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction.

Edited by
Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry

Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.

Learn about our editorial process