I have had many conversations lately with patients about how powerful their addiction is to nicotine. The conversations have made me think about all of you that are struggling to quit tobacco and the reasons I enjoy being a part of the journey. I always feel privileged to be a part of someone’s quit attempt and walking beside them working through lapses, relapses, and celebrating triumphs. Many people feel that you should just be able give up tobacco and it is no big deal to quit. However, most often that is not the case, because nicotine alters the brain and you crave it. This judgmental attitude often can lead to pointing fingers and shaming the individual who is trying to quit. As many of you have experienced the blaming only makes this worse and you may give up. I encourage you to keep trying because with each quit attempt important insight is gained. You learn what works and what doesn’t work for you and this information puts you in a better place the next time you try to stop.
When thinking about quitting, consider all of the tools that you will need to help you be successful. Do you need medications to help with withdrawals and cravings, behavior therapy to help deal with habit, or support from places like BecomeAnEX.org?
During your journey, it is important to treat yourself with love and kindness, you owe it to yourself. Dealing with others can be hard enough; don’t let self-doubt or shame contribute. Quitting is difficult and we are often our own worst critics.
One exercise to try is when you are feeling down on yourself during this quit is ask yourself, “What is it that I want out of this?” and focus on your answer. I often use a mantra with many of my patients and maybe it can become one that works for you too, “Whatever follows I am is going to come looking for you.” For example, you can tell yourself, “I am not a smoker or I am going to overcome this” and before long it will become your new way of thinking. The positive thinking will add to your beliefs and help with success.
One final thought, give yourself time to process this big change, it is definitely something worth taking the time for. Take a moment, listen to your body – what is it needing? Food, a friend, a good cry, distraction, or someone to listen? Practicing good self-care by getting your body what it needs is important so you can be successful and get to TOBACCO FREE LIVING.