We know that most smokers want to quit. Ii’s nothing new. The same goes for other bad habits. But why is it so difficult to do? Why do people hurt themselves, at times their own friendships, and other relationships, for the sake of addictive and damaging chemical substances?
The truth is, bad habits are hard to break. Okay, so I’m preaching to the choir. But why are they so much work to get rid of? First, we need to understand how we create them. Exchanging them for healthy habits is what we need.
Repetition is typically the way habits are built. We don’t need to get a reward to create routine toward our other daily habits, such as showering or brushing our teeth. However, the bad habits often require an incentive to break them. Why else would we want to?
Remember hearing the word ‘dopamine’ in biology classes in high school? Remember how your health ed teacher used to say that this is why we get hooked on drugs? It’s the same thing for any pleasurable habit, which makes the bad ones hard to get rid of. Dopamine is a naturally addictive substance that our body makes to tell us that what we are doing is fun, and when the feeling stops, our body starts asking for it again, up to the point of craving it. This is why we sometimes crave something, like drugs or food, even if the feeling of hunger or the initial buzz is no longer there.
The most common cure for this sort of dependance, called cravings, is simple. It's called willpower. Yes, this is the main ingredient in your how-to-quit recipe. And, for those who have already tried to quit smoking and lacked this essential part, hope is not lost.
You see, this is a part of our inbred mechanism that needs exercise. If you feel like you currently lack willpower, start small. Self-control, like any other aspect of human psychology, is good only if it’s trained. We all have it–some of us just need to develop it, the same way we can develop self-esteem and courage.
The trick is to start small. If smoking is still much to large task to take on, try reducing the number of cookies you eat after every dinner. Work on that for a few days. Then add to it: get five minutes more exercise tomorrow; eat more vegetables the day after; smoke one cigarette less per day.
Now, some people suggest that you break your nasty habits by trying to replace them with something else. This can work for some people, but psychologists warn to stay away from any nasty habits, such as replacing smoking with sucking on a lollipop. The reason is simple: now you have another bad habit that you need to break. Instead, why not immediately replace it with something healthy, thus avoiding the need to repeat another entire process of reducing your dependancies? Instead of reaching for a candy, pick up a celery stick. Go for a long walk outside, away from any smokers (especially those you know well).
And one more tip: stay away from anyone who tried to tempt you back in, at least for the time it takes you to officially quit and feel like you are over your bad habit. You need twice the resolve to fight against both those individuals, and the tricks your own mind tries to play on you. You might as well not let yourself get sucked in by someone who does not have the same level of will power you do.
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