By Dr. Daniel Seidman
January 01, 2006
"I need cigarettes because I am stressed. I need this to cope with stress."
Many smokers share this common belief. You may really believe this and, like so many smokers, this is how you explain your smoking behavior to yourself. But what if it's just a belief, not a fact?
What if smoking is just an overrated activity...a bad habit...rote, negative behavior having nothing to do with stress management? Perhaps it distracts you when you're upset. But can smoking solve real-life problems? No, it is a real-life problem itself. This is the classic false belief of addicted smokers, and it must be challenged and debunked to learn to live smoke-free.
When did smoking a cigarette ever solve a real-life problem?
Smoking because of stress is what is called a rationalization. This is something you tell yourself to try to make yourself feel good about something you really feel bad about. We all do it, but smokers are especially prone to rationalize about stress and smoking.
The truth is that an addicted smoker doesn't need a reason to smoke. The momentum of smoking, its automatic quality, is a three-headed monster. It comes from:
the effect that smoking cigarettes has on your brain and body
the repetitive, habitual nature of smoking
the role of the smoker's social environment—primarily exposure to other smokers and smoke, which are contagious
Smoking is an uncreative and repetitive response to life stress. It actually weakens the opportunity to develop healthy and flexible coping responses by relying on a fixed and rote way of responding to living.
Talk about living inside a box...only this one is a cigarette box!