What is the smoking trap? How does it work?
We all remember our smoking career start. Experiments with classmates after school, or occasional puffs at a pub on Friday night. First ciggies were disgusting most probably, but social environment were forcing us to continue. Until we convince ourselves we actually like it. It was like an adult game at first. Until we felt a strong craving for tobacco for the first time. The doors were shut and we were trapped. So what is the smoking trap, and how does it work?
Smoking trap mechanism is simple. You smoke, receive nicotine to your body- you feel satisfied and relaxed. Nicotine starts evaporate from your body, you start feel anxiety and discomfort. You smoke another one to get back to satisfaction mode. The process goes round and round.
Your body builds tolerance to nicotine, so you need more and more poison to get yourself back to the state you want to be. Soon you smoke not to feel pleasure, but to avoid discomfort.
The greatest secret of this trap is, that all the cravings and necessity to get another hit is in your head. The circle of a trap puts smoker in the position, the person convinces himself in many lies about smoking. Despite person knows dozens of reasons not to smoke cigarettes, he is not stopping anymore. That is called the smoking trap.
Smokers little lies
I like the taste. That is the first lie. Smoker likes the taste of the first puff. Like smell of fresh ciggie smoke. He thinks that life would be rather empty without those experiences. Oh really? Just try to remember your first cigarette. Did you like the taste? Did you like the smell? I bet you didn’t. You got used to it, just like anyone can get used to some certain food. You feel terrified, you will not taste cig you like so much anymore, but the truth is you do not liked it initially, and you can easily come back to that state. Did you do some break in your so called smoking career? Three days at least, maybe a week. Do you remember the taste of your first cigarette after the break? It’s not tasty. It’s so- so at best, and disgusting at worst. But we light another one out of a habit and the second is already OK, the third is nice and we are back on track. We have memories of a tasty cigs, because we spent more time as smokers, smoking OK or tasty cigs, compared to disgusting ones.
The truth is, we do not like taste. Ex smokers say, they like cigarette smoke after years of quitting. That is nothing but nostalgia. They quit without convincing themselves, that they do not like. I don’t like cigarette smoke for example, and I’m truly shocked how I could like it years before.
smoking relieves and calms down. That is the second lie smokers convinces themselves. Oh really? In that case all smokes should be way more relaxed than non-smokers, shouldn’t they? Friday pub binge smokers should be relaxed more than Rastafarians in Jamaica, but they aren’t. In reality, it is just the opposite. Smoker always has to monitor not to run out of smokes. It is more and more complicated to find a spot for a smoke. Sometimes that spot is around the corner under the rain near a busy road. After all those numerous anti smoking campaigns, smoking has anti social stigma in all western world at least. Do those situations relaxes? Hell no, smoking causes endless stress.
Myth that smoking relaxes is brought by the smoker himself. He created a smoking ritual, he performs at a specific time of a day before some routine activities. Morning coffee, before entering the office, hard meeting etc. The ritual he created, relaxes the smoker, not smoking itself. Smoking causes stress all the time. The Simplest thing smoker has to do first is to change his relaxing ritual. Listen to a song, walk 10 minutes, play online game you name it, every activity is relaxing, then it is a part of relaxing ritual. You may grab some ideas in my article natural ways how to quit smoking, if you want.
Smoking is a social prop. This myth is so outdated nowadays. I remember then many friendships and deals were made in the office smoking areas. Well, wake up, it was 15 years from now. Nowadays your smoking habit is a direct way to the underlines of your career often. That is why many people pretend they don’t smoke during the office hours. The only reason they are sneaking out the building and rushing two blocks away from their working place so nobody from co-worker see them with a cigarette, is they are trapped, and can’t get out.
You never decided to become a smoker, but you find yourself smoking more and more. You do not know yet what is the smoking trap, but you are already inside. We don’t realize we are hooked until we try to get free. We do smoke not because we choose to, but because we are trapped. If you ever made an attempt to quit and you continue to smoke, it means you are smoking not by your choice, but that the attempt to quit have failed.
Reset your mind
According to Daniel Gilbert of Harvard, who wrote “stumbling on happiness” 46,9% of a day we are on autopilot. You got 2 modes in which your brain works. A default mode and the direct mode. The default is so called autopilot. It’s then you go through your day without even thinking. This mode is necessary for us to perform routine tasks- brew morning coffee, have showered, drive car. We would go insane, if each time brushing our teeth we think how to do it right and what are the quality metrics of a task. We need a brain default mode for that. Problem is, that default mode is responsible for smoking either. Certain activity of a day comes, brain in default mode gives us a signal in a form of craving, that it is time to light one up.
The direct mode is the mode where you are present, or you are at the moment, where you are controlling what you think about. You deliberately choose what you are going to think about. Your major task, while resetting your mind is, to put smoking activity from default to current brain mode. You have to think about each cigarette, you have to be present every puff you make.
Reset your mindset. I believe the way you think is a choice. You either going to repeat the thinking patterns you’ve always had, or you can evolve them, and have no lust for tobacco whatsoever. Then you change how you think, you change your life in general, and it’s not only about quitting smoking, it’s way more complexed. This mindset reset technique you’ll be able to apply to other features of your life you want to improve- losing weight, having better finance, making a career boost, you name it, you can do it. You can look to quitting smoking as to a lifetime opportunity. Everything is up to the point of view.
After you start smoking in a present brain mode, you start evaluating the reality of smoking. Smell, taste, relaxing effect, social stigma, you will evaluate objectively, not according to the false impressions you have formed to yourself years ago. Now you know what is a smoking trap, and you can start looking for the way to get out.
Just to remember- quitting smoking is a process, not an event. Process changes the patterns in your mind. You can not expect to reset your mind overnight. It takes weeks and months. My quitting journey from the day I thought first time that it would be nice not to smoke, till the day I totally quit no sorrows behind, took me 10 years. If you are a quitter with 10 or more years under your belt, welcome to the club. If you’re quitting less than a decade, I dare you, you are not qualified enough to put your arms down. You’re not defeated, it’s not even a halfway yet.