Does Stopping Smoking Really Take Willpower?

With 2011 well under way, millions of smokers will once again have made stopping smoking their New Year resolution. Their decision will have been taken for a number of reasons including health, money and pressure from their family and friends. Whatever the reason though, it is clear that by making an attempt, they have already decided they would rather spend the rest of their life as a non-smoker. This article is designed to help smokers make 2011 the year when they finally start to understand the real reason why so many smokers who make an attempt to quit – usually fail when using traditional methods.

Any smoker will know that just thinking about stopping smoking can fill them with a feeling of fear, panic and dread as they very quickly start to consider what life might be like as a non-smoker. Thoughts turn to whether they will ever enjoy social occasions again, cope with stress and enjoy holidays or other special occasions without their cigarettes. They worry about being left out of their social circles and facing a lifetime of being miserable at no longer being able to smoke. At the same time though, they still enjoy smoking and believe that there are some benefits and pleasures to be had from smoking. This causes them to start their attempt with a feeling of doom, gloom, misery and deprivation.. Unfortunately when smokers feel this way there is usually only one thing they want to do…smoke!

This is the reality of what is referred to as using willpower. Using willpower is depriving yourself of something that you either still enjoy, would still like to do or believe that there is some form of genuine pleasure in having. Using willpower to stop smoking is the very reason why the vast majority of smokers who try to quit eventually cave-in and blame stress or the wrong time for their failure. The real reason is that when they put their last cigarette out, they do so still believing there was a genuine pleasure in smoking. This belief doesn’t change once the last cigarette has been smoked and slowly but surely absence makes the heart grow fonder and the cigarette now becomes the most important rather than the least important thing on the planet.

As an ex smoker myself who watched my father die from lung cancer at the age of just 54, I know that feeling all too well. I went through it almost on a weekly basis for the 14 years following my father’s death until I eventually succeeded in stopping smoking in August 2005. As I said before though, stopping smoking takes no willpower whatsoever once you understand the true facts about nicotine addiction and smoking. If a smoker relies on employing willpower and fails – the smoker generally accepts that it must have been down to the fact that he or she did not “have enough willpower” or didn’t have enough desire to quit.

A lack of willpower is not the reason smokers find it difficult to succeed; it’s a conflict of will – on one hand smokers know that it’s unhealthy, expensive and dangerous but on the other hand they believe it helps concentration and relaxation, cures their boredom and relieves their stress. So for every reason to quit there are more reasons to keep smoking. This tug of war in a smokers head is the real problem and not physical withdrawal from nicotine which the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe.Nicotine withdrawal is just that slight empty feeling of hunger that smokers get 1st thing in the morning and roughly every hour when its “time for a cigarette”. Nicotine replacement companies strike fear into smokers by using advertising campaigns that tell the smoker how much trauma they will have to go through unless they take nicotine in other forms to control the apparent terrible cravings. They use phrases like “24 hour craving protection” but this is so untrue as smokers do not need 24 hour nicotine. Most can actually go 8 or 9 hours every night without a cigarette and the apparent trauma not smoking should cause, is not even bad enough to waken them from their sleep.

Using willpower to quit smoking is just like dieting. If you stop eating food that you love, you feel deprived and this food then becomes more precious not less precious. It’s the same with smoking – If you believe there is some genuine pleasure in smoking – when you quit you will feel deprived. However when you understand the true nature of nicotine addiction and realise that smoking actually impedes relaxation and concentration and increases boredom and stress, then the decision to stop smoking becomes a very easy one and requires no willpower.

When you have decided you no longer wish to do something, it takes no willpower not to do it!