If you’re reading this then you probably are a smoker and you’re wondering why you can’t quit smoking. The answer to this question lies in the smoker’s mind, your mind. The reason a smoker can’t stop smoking happens to be very simple: it’s an addiction. No more, no less, that’s it. If you’re trying to rationalize reasons to quit smoking or why you smoke, stop. There is only one reason and it was just mentioned above. In order to stop smoking, you need to understand the way a smoker thinks and that is what this post is all about.
So, let’s start at the beginning. Do you remember a time before you smoked, when you were comfortable and weren’t thinking about smoking? Think about it, what changed? Well the answer is obvious: you started smoking. Now, there is probably something evident you haven’t realized in the previous answer, but that won’t be mentioned yet. So, besides the fact that you started smoking, something changed in your mind, both physically and psychologically.
Physiologically, your brain changed. How did it change? Well, the brain, along with your whole body, has something called receptors. Think of them as a lock and key mechanism. The key in this case is nicotine and the lock is a receptor in the brain. What happens is the number of receptors increases with time, making you want to smoke more, not less. So that’s one of the reasons you feel like smoking, because the brain, its receptors, need to be filled. This you can’t control, it just happens and it happens with many other drugs.
However, the physical changes in your body have led your mind, the psychological part, to believe you need to smoke. Now you associate many activities with smoking. Think of all the times of the day you feel like smoking and realize that there is also an activity or feeling involved. Some examples are: after eating, when you wake up, if you drink, if you’re driving or before going to sleep.
Therefore, there are two triggers that make you smoke: a physical need and a psychological need that developed upon association. Both these needs are what keep you smoking and in this case that need is called an addiction. Right here is where a new concept you haven’t thought of is introduced. At the beginning a question was asked. Do you remember a time before you smoked? So, what changed? You started smoking. Still, haven’t realized what this means? What this means is that before you smoked you didn’t need to smoke. The need happened after. So, smoking doesn’t take away the need to smoke, it created and provokes it. Why is this significant? No matter how many cigarettes you smoke, the need will always come back.
Your mind has rationalized that when you need to smoke, you have a cigarette and the need goes away. That is not accurate at all. Why? Because the need always comes back. Why? Because the receptors in your brain and the association your mind made let you to believe smoking a cigarette removes the need to smoke. This is how you think, but it’s entirely wrong.
Again, before you smoked the receptors in your brain were normal in quantity and after you started smoking, they increased and thus making you smoke more. Before you smoked you didn’t use smoking as a crutch to control stress or prepare yourself for several activities. The cigarette has caused you more problems, not the other way around.
Understanding this can help you quit smoking. If you can differentiate the physiological need from the psychological need, then quitting smoking is fairly easy. If you understand the need is just a reaction and not a true need, then when you feel like smoking you don’t have to smoke. That’s right, you don’t have to smoke, nor need to because the cigarette is what caused the feelings you get, called withdrawal, when you can’t smoke.
When do you need a cigarette or want a cigarette more? When you can’t smoke. When you smoke, you wish you didn’t or feel a relief that’s only feeding those receptors that make you want to smoke again later. There will be another post next week that describes how to quit smoking, but for now, think and be aware of how you feel when you can’t smoke. Does it hurt or does it make you feel uncomfortable?
Smoking doesn’t remove the need to smoke, it causes it. The more you smoke, the more those receptors in your brain will multiply and ask you for more. It’s like an impossible task that can’t be fulfilled. Smoking when you need or feel to, only prolongs the cycle and you will still want to smoke later. So if smoking when you “need” to doesn’t remove the cravings, why bother to smoke at all?