Of all the New Year resolutions, giving up smoking has to be one of the hardest, but probably one that has the most health benefits. So why do smokers find it so difficult to convince themselves to stop the dreaded habit?
One former smoker and doctor thinks he has the answer, and is so certain that his methods work, he has written a book.
Stop Smoking With CBT
Stop Smoking With CBT, by Dr Max Pemberton, will be available on January 1 2015 and uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to aid smokers quit the habit for good.
CBT works by examining the smoker’s relationship with smoking, and challenges the way they look at this relationship to help them change the way they view it.
The book contains a series of exercises the smoker has to think about which then gradually build on each other to gradually persuade you to change your thinking about smoking.
For instance, in exercise one you are asked to write down what is it that you love about smoking and cigarettes.
Then in exercise two you have to write down what things are preventing you from giving up.
These two exercises are harder than they seem as smoking is something we tend to do without thinking about.
In exercise three you should go back to your first list that you made in exercise one and write down all the things that NOT smoking would give you. What would the benefits of stopping smoking be? Why should you stop smoking? This is your ‘Quit list’.
Dr Pemberton states in his book that your reasons for smoking are not real and once you realise this you are on the first step to quitting:
“It might not seem like it now, but everything you wrote down in Exercise 1 is an illusion. These ‘reasons you smoke’ might seem very real, but they are not. Instead, everything on this list is your mind’s attempt to justify something that doesn’t make sense.”
Despite this we continue to smoke, even knowing that there is a very real chance of an increased risk of contracting cancer, we ignore the risks and carry on. We know smoking is bad for us but we continue to do it.
Dr Pemberton says that in psychological terms this is called ‘cognitive dissonance’ – or ‘when our thoughts are in conflict with one another’. The way our mind can resolve this dissonance is to find ways or arguments that allow us to keep smoking.
For you to be able to give up smoking you have to start to pick apart these arguments and see how your mind is using them to justify you smoking. Once you see that every single reason given is based on a false logic, you can start to release yourself from the habit.
For instance, if you have been saying that smoking relieves stress, actually nicotine doesn’t relieve stress. The compound of nicotine is only in the body for a short time so smokers are always in a mild state of withdrawal, therefore, the feeling of relief that smokers get is actually from the next cigarette providing a hit of nicotine. So all smoking does is address the withdrawal symptoms bought on by smoking in the first place.
Giving up something that has become a habit is never easy, but as Dr Pemberton says:
“Quitting smoking has given me new self-confidence. And you can have that feeling as well. All you have to do is stop smoking. Trust me, it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.”
Stop Smoking With CBT, by Dr Max Pemberton, will be published on January 1 by Vermilion, priced £9.99.
You can pre-order your copy, by visiting www.eburypublishing.co.uk.