Have you ever wondered, why you actually light up that cigarette?
If we truly wish to change ourselves and change unwanted habits, we have to understand what is actually going on.
The first step can be to become mindful about yourself and what is happening. To stop just in that moment when we are about to indulge the habit, and feel. Spend a few seconds or half a minute to feel, sense and discover.
What is it I feel right now?
How am I feeling?
How is my body feeling?
How is my mind doing?
What is the status of my heart and emotions?
Get all the way around and sense. Notice all the physical sensations, as well as all the emotions you contain right in this moment. Observe without analyzing or judging. If you’re sad, then that’s what you are. The reason why you are sad is of no consequence in this situation.
When I stopped smoking the second time, I spent several days, each time analyzing the reason for every smoke I wanted. What I learned about myself and my smoking habits was very interesting.
I lit smokes for many different reasons, depending on my situation and how I was feeling in that moment.
Physically (and mentally) it was typically things like:
- I need a break
- I need to clear my mind a bit while considering a problem or looking for a solution
- I need a reward
- I am tired
- I am hungry
- I am thirsty
- I feel stressed
- Pure habit, such as the smoke after a meal
As well as a lot of similar reasons.
It became more interesting when I started to examine my emotions and needs:
- I need a hug
- I feel lonely
- I am sad
- I miss intimacy
- I feel down
- I miss someone
- I am nervous
- I am scared
- I miss sex
- I feel alone in the world
- I feel worthless
- I feel unwanted
As well as many more very personal and painful insights into myself.
Why do you light your cigarette?
When we gain insight into why we light each smoke it suddenly becomes a lot easier not to light it. Because we can find other ways and methods to cover that need we experience.
If you feel lonely, is there someone you can spend time with?
If you are hungry, can you grab yourself something healthy to eat?
If you need a break, is it possible to go for a walk, get into the garden or perhaps take a quick shower?
If you need a reward, can you find discover a way to give that to yourself? A piece of chocolate? 10 minutes reading a favourite magazine? A cup of your favourite tea? Sitting in the sun and enjoying birdsong for 10 minutes? And so on.
Sometimes we experience the pure physical addiction from the drug and fortunately there are methods to handle that. Both through nicotine replacement products, but also mental techniques which I will cover in a later article.
So, give yourself the task to examine and sense yourself. Discover precisely what is your motivation to smoke. Make notes, write it down, keep a diary. Make sure there is space to make notes on what you can do instead of letting the cigarette cover your need.
What is it that cigarettes give you?
What is it that the smoke, the ritual, the ceremony, to inhale the smoke into your lungs lets you feel or avoid feeling?
What are the needs that smoking covers right in that moment?
What else is there, apart from the physical sating of an addiction?