The Thing About Smoking

The Thing About Smoking

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
Smoking is about more than just the cigarettes. Smoking often carries with it many associations and good feelings, of belonging to a special group, the times shared, feeling part of a connection with others. Letting go of all of those associations can be a difficult wrench to get over.
Some people argue that cigarette smoking is not an addiction. They say that if someone was going to go and have a cigarette, the telephone rang and an important client was on the line wanting to discuss a valuable order the likelihood is that the thought and desire for a cigarette would disappear completely. Dealing with the phone call would take precedence and override any other thoughts that they may have had. A heroin addict would be unlikely to be able to respond in that way. They would probably have to go and have their fix first.
One thing that prompted me to write this article was talking with a client, someone who had stopped smoking with relative ease and who now felt like he had never been a smoker. Our session revolved around confidence and coping with new or unexpected situations without a cigarette. He recounted an example. After a stressful weekend with house guests, he had driven many miles to visit friends. He had only a short amount of time to visit them so time was precious. They had already been drinking before he arrived and he was surprised at how edgy and tense he felt when he met up with them all.
Smoking often allows a person to settle into an old familiar pattern and routine. It creates an automatic bond, connection and feeling of belonging. For him, meeting up with a crowd of friends who were already settled into their group, chatting and a little tipsy, he felt like an outsider, not knowing how to fit in. He became self-conscious. He felt that cigarettes in the past would have helped him to feel more confident and relaxed.
At these times we have to ask ourselves, 'what would a non-smoker do right now?' Rather than going into the ritual of lighting a cigarette and busying ourselves with it, a non-smoker is able to relax, smile, use humour and gradually join in with the ongoing conversations that are already in place. Non-smokers do all the things that smokers do, without a cigarette. Learning to be comfortable and relax in situations, without the security, ritual and distraction of a cigarette is often the biggest part of moving into becoming a comfortable non-smoker.
Another of my clients was concerned at the impact stopping smoking would have on his relationship with his wife. Every evening they would sit together in the kitchen and chat about their day. They regarded it as 'our' time, sitting smoking cigarettes and chatting about anything and everything. It was a significant and valued part of their relationship. They both decided to stop smoking and for a time they floundered as to how they would retrieve their special together time. It was a little stressful at first, the kitchen was heavily associated with smoking cigarettes. Now they sit in the lounge, listen to music and talk. They have found a more comfortable place to enjoy each others company.
Moving on from being a smoker can require a little help and support. My clients use counselling and hypnotherapy to help them. But acknowledging what cigarettes mean to you and finding other ways of supporting those needs can be a valuable step along the way to achieving that important result.

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