Clear the Tobacco Smoke and Quit Fooling Yourself

Your brain is as tricky as they come. It’s hard to think of it as you sometimes because of all the sneaky stuff it does behind your back (so to speak). Your brain wants things you know aren’t so great for you. But the simple fact of something being bad for you is, for your brain, little more than an inconvenient obstacle to pleasure.

It’s got tricks up its stem and plenty of them. Here are a few of the popular ones to watch out for. Is your brain pulling any of these over on you?

#1 “I have to smoke a cigarette!” 

Nope. Too emotional. Change this thought to something more detached, and add a healthy dose of new perspective. Something like, I feel a tension that I used to experience as a nicotine craving. Just imagine you’re an emotionless robot who is simply observing the feeling like it belongs to an irrational human. You may find that analyzing this feeling leads to the observation that you are not actually in real pain. It’s just a feeling.

#2 “Maybe Just One” 

Yeah, and maybe you could win the lottery too. Want to talk maybes? How this: I could become a smoker again. If you’re having another cigarette—a “maybe-just-one” cigarette—then this is easily the most likely outcome. Maybe just one = many more cigarettes.

Don’t ever doubt that a single cigarette will inhale you right back into the nicotine game.

Many seemingly successful quitters have gone for one more cigarette and wound up right back where they were even years previous: consuming nicotine regularly. 

#3 “Everything was so great with nicotine – when I got to smoke cigarettes” 

You mean when you had to smoke cigarettes? No, everything was not great. This is a particularly clever trick your brain likes to play. It colors your memories of smoking with the warm rain of beautiful longing for earlier days.

It’s an illusion.

Ever noticed how you look back on certain periods of your life and feel like those times were the best times? In the future, you’ll look back on right now in a similar way. We often forget about old problems and romanticize what we liked. This is especially true when thinking of our old addictions. Ask yourself this much: If smoking was so great, why’d you quit in the first place?

Chimney and smoke

#4 “That one time felt so good”

This is similar to the above point. If you remember smoking cigarettes or vaping by digging up your fondest memories of it, that’s not a very broad picture of what the nicotine life was like. Think about the worst times too – when you smoked too much nicotine too fast and got sick, or when you noticed how quickly out of breath you got thanks to cigarettes. Ever smoke a particularly nasty-tasting cigarette?

If you catch yourself using the best possible memories to entice yourself back into smoking, then you dig up the bad memories too. Fight back.

#5 “I’ll never enjoy nicotine again!”

If you dwell on how you’ll never be able to smoke again, well, it’s a scary thought! It could lead you to the closest nicotine fix real quick if you’re not careful. You might feel like you need one last nicotine fix to somehow balance all that horrible emptiness out in front of you—a future devoid of nicotine.

Instead of visualizing some endless desert of a future, take things one step at a time.

You’re not quitting forever – you’re just not smoking today. Can you go a full day without smoking? The next day, ask yourself the same question. It’s not even possible to “quit forever.” Imagine someone telling you, I just quit forever today.” How do you do something “forever”? You can only declare what you’ve done in hindsight, not foresight.

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