It’s alright to talk to yourself. In fact, we often encourage it. Sometimes people find themselves in a dialogue with themselves about “should I smoke or not smoke?” This is normal. This struggle, especially when a person first stops smoking, is the addiction talking, and can be overcome. Your mind may say “one won’t hurt”, or “My health isn’t that bad”, or “Smoking is one of my few enjoyments in life.”
You can counter these with some strong ‘self talk’. For example, “One will hurt, and I will have more than one!” or “I will guarantee bad health if I keep smoking!” or “there are other enjoyments in life, and the consequences are not worth this enjoyment anyway!”
Other deceptions of tobacco dependence can entice our emotional desires. For example, “I smoke with friends, and I like their company”, or “Smoking calms me down”. Some self talk here could be: “I like sharing time with friends but this does not require smoking!” or, “I can control my mood without smoking. After all, I have done that many times when I was not able to smoke!”
The difficulty of course, is that we react impulsively to the physical and mental cues or triggers of our usual smoking situations, and don’t slow down to try the ‘self talk’. Self control over an addictive behavior takes some practice, but it does improve and strengthen with practice.
There’s an old phrase: “Some people have good luck, if they work really hard at it.”
Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated more than 50,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org