Several theories of psychotherapy have emphasized the idea that each of us has control over our thoughts and our behaviors - how we choose to think and respond to life situations – and it is in these two ways that we shape our personal reality. These theories seek to empower people by reinforcing the notion that by becoming more conscious of our thoughts and behaviors, we can start creating a more positive life for ourselves; this process is referred to as “reality management”.
Our personal reality is influenced by two components, our internal world and our external world. Our internal world refers to our thoughts and feelings, values, beliefs, expectations, and how we talk to ourselves. Just as addiction can harm our physical body, it also impacts our internal self. The positive self-messages that lead us to achieve goals, build friendships, and feel positive can become polluted with self-doubt, hopelessness, and fear.
Our external world refers to our bodies, our work and home environment, and our support system among many others. Being in poor health, spending time around other smokers, or living with chronically high stress can have an impact on our ability to achieve our goals.
Reclaiming your personal reality, or your life, and living tobacco-free starts by assessing the health of your internal and external worlds. Do you find yourself feeling hopeless about managing urges to smoke? Do you find yourself reminiscing about the comforts of using tobacco? Catch yourself in these moments and challenge them with a positive counter-thought such as “each craving that passes is a step closer to being smoke-free,” or “I’m glad I don’t have to worry about ____ because I don’t smoke anymore.”
Consider what changes in your physical environment will support your goal. Is it easier to manage cravings when you’ve had enough sleep, been physically active, or limited your time around other smokers?
Remember, while you may be confronted with triggers or urges to smoke, by thinking and choosing not to light up, your reality will remain that of a non-smoker. Continuing to shape an internal and external world that supports your tobacco-free life will come easier with ongoing practice and effort.