Hopping Off the Fence: Overcoming Ambivalence

Blog Post created by dr_hays on Jul 6, 2016

What we know about most folks who smoke is that nearly 7 in 10 want to quit each year, yet only 4 out of 10 will take the action to make a quit attempt.  One common hurdle I hear from patients when they are contemplating stopping smoking is that they feel pulled in two opposite directions – the desire to quit and the fear of stopping.


Fear around quitting comes up in different ways for people.  Some may worry about the fear of failure and the discomfort of withdrawal.  Others may question how they will cope with the habits and feelings associated with smoking such as boredom, stress, arguing with a partner, etc.  While these fears are valid and should be considered when contemplating a quit attempt, they can also be a hindrance if given too much power.  Worries about the negatives of quitting can keep people stuck on the fence about the “if and when” of stop smoking.


On the other hand, people who focus on and give more power to their positive reasons for change are more likely to achieve their goals.  Ambivalence- feeling two ways about a situation – can be a normal part of change, yet concentrating on the benefits of quitting keeps us moving forward.  I’d like to share a few questions below our counselors pose to their patients to help them think more about the positives of change.  Consider what answers stick out to you as you go through the list:


*         What makes you think it’s time for change?


*         If you stopped smoking, what would your new life be like in one year?  Five years?


*         What things are most important to you in life and how would stopping smoking support them?


*         What do you look forward to about being smoke-free?


If you are on the fence about quitting – try this.  When you find yourself thinking about why you shouldn’t’ quit smoking, consciously make yourself turn those thoughts to the benefits of stopping.  Remind yourself of the answers you came up with to the questions above.  Oftentimes, this can be one of the first steps to hopping off that fence and starting on your smoke-free journey to becoming an EX!