Stopping smoking is tough and it often takes multiple attempts for a person to quit for good. The frustration and disappointment of returning to smoking after trying to stop can sometimes come with self-defeating thoughts such as “I can’t cope with all the stress in my life without a cigarette” or “I’ll never be able to do this.”
Those thoughts – even though we might see them as “just thoughts”, can be very powerful in how we view our smoking and our confidence to quit in the future. They become problematic if we give them room in our mind as they can become “automatic” and we no longer question their accuracy. Unhealthy thoughts like these can contribute to the amount of stress we perceive in our life and may hinder future stop smoking efforts.
However, countering or challenging these thoughts with positive messages can really enhance our focus and ability to different life goals – such as stopping smoking. Through positive self-talk, we can catch and change negative thoughts and replace them with more flexible or healthy ones.
Here are two examples of negative smoking related thoughts and positive thoughts we can use to challenge them:
1. Negative Thought: “I can’t cope with all the stress in my life without a cigarette.”
Positive Counter Thought: “I know that there are other ways to deal with stress, such as relaxation exercises; and I could choose to avoid some of the stressful situations in my life.”
2. Negative Thought: “I will never be able to enjoy anything anymore once I stop smoking. Everything that I do that is fun involves smoking."
Positive Counter Thought: “I can control what I find to be fun and enjoyable. I know I enjoyed things when I was a non-smoker, and I can learn to enjoy things again without smoking.”
How we choose to think about certain situations can greatly impact how we deal with then. I encourage you to try this activity out for yourself! It might feel difficult to do at first, but the more you practice catching and challenging unhelpful or negative thoughts, the easier it can become. You may just surprise yourself with how your entire outlook on life can change!