Quitting Smoking Successfully: Recognizing the Positive Intentions behind Your Habit
If you are planning on eradicating your smoking habit, consider what kinds of needs this ritual was meeting for you. Often we feel guilt or shame for engaging in unhealthy habits, yet if we look deeper within, we can recognize that the reasons why we do the things we do are primarily positive. Negative behaviors are born from positive intentions.
Would you believe me if I suggested that at one point you began smoking to take care of yourself? If that sounds outrageous, especially in light of research indicating it is a major cause of heart disease and lung cancer, consider the following:
- Needing to take some time out after stressful news
- Needing to decompress in the middle of a busy, intense day
- Needing some time alone to think
- Needing to feel calm while driving
- Needing something to hold on to or hide behind when feeling shy
- Needing to know that there is a break on the horizon
- Needing to connect with people and feel a sense of belonging
Do any of the above-mentioned sound negative or ill-intentioned? Hardly. They are basic human urges, and many of them meet important needs we have. For many people physically addicted to smoking, these rituals of safety, self-calming and social connection (i.e. having a cigarette with others outside or running into familiar faces on a smoke break) are part in parcel of the drive to continue smoking, and may have even been the initial starting point into the habit.
Because the habit of smoking involves not only behavior, but also a physiological addiction, it’s important to approach quitting smoking from a number of angles. The motivation behind your smoking is one angle you will have to consider, and it is multi-faceted.
If you are about to or are in the process of quitting, take inventory of all of your smoking rituals. Consider where and when, and in response to which type of situations. For each, ask yourself the following questions without judgment: “What need am I trying to get met here? What do I need in this situation? What be some other ways I can get these needs met?”
If you are a heavy smoker, it could be wise to review these questions with a therapist, in order to create an effective new system of rituals for getting your needs met in healthy ways. If you’re willing to get curious with your behavior, you can make the process of quitting smoking comfortable success.