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If you push it to the back of your mind.... It will find it's way back out eventually

If you push it to the back of your mind.... It will find it's way back out eventually

When stopping smoking and during the early days of quitting, some people may say to you "try not to think about it" or "put it to the back of your mind". However, by doing this could lessen your chances of staying smokefree.

In my own (personal) opinion This doesn't go against advice that encourages you to try and keep busy. I would see that it merely suggests that you focus on 'the act' of smoking and think about how smoking would be for you should you put yourself through it. The feeling will pass just as soon as it would if you don't think about it or try and push it to the back of your mind. The feeling will also pass should you give in and actually have a cigarette! - This option will only make you feel worse though.

You could keep busy by doing something (such as the dishes - you can't smoke with wet hands!) whilst you actually think through how you are feeling.

Think about how it is for you. It might be worth asking yourself the following questions;

Where is this feeling?

Is it in your mind?

Does it feel physical?

Do you believe that smoking will take this feeling away?

How will it?

Anyway, they are my thoughts. Please find below the research that has been conducted and has come up with the evidence;

How Not to Stop Smoking

New research finds suppressing thoughts of smoking just increases the likelihood you’ll light up later on.

Researchers provide evidence that thought suppression can sabotage attempts to quit smoking. (Raul Lieberwirth/Flickr)

July 28, 2010 • By Tom Jacobs • No Comments and 0 Reactions

Over the past 25 years, a series of studies have found suppressing unwanted thoughts is not only ineffective, but counterproductive. Try to not think of a white bear, and chances are the creature will come roaring into your mind.

In 2007, British psychologist James Erskine applied this dynamic to diet. He reported women instructed not to think about chocolate consumed more of the high-calorie treat when offered it, and suggested this rebound effect may explain the failure of so many dieters to lose weight over the long term.

Now, in a paper just published in the journal Psychological Science, he and two colleagues provides evidence that thought suppression can also sabotage attempts to quit smoking.

Their study featured 85 regular cigarette smokers (42 men and 43 women). While 70 percent of them had attempted to quit smoking at some point, none were actively attempting to do so at the time of the experiment.

Each day for three weeks, participants recorded the number of cigarettes they smoked that day, as well as their stress level. One week into the experiment, one-third of the smokers were asked to “try not to think about smoking. If you do happen to have thoughts about smoking this week, please try to suppress them.” Another third were instructed to think about smoking as frequently as possible during the week. The final third received neither instruction.

During that second week, “the suppression group smoked considerably less than both the expression group (those encouraged to think about smoking) and the control group,” the researchers reported. But the situation reversed itself in Week Three, as those in the suppressed-thoughts group smoked considerably more than those in the other two categories.

“This suggests that in the short term, suppression may be effective in reducing unwanted behavior,” Erskine and his colleagues write. “This may explain a troublesome aspect of thought suppression — that individuals perceive the strategy as beneficial.”

Which it is — but only until the rebound hits.

Those in the suppression group reported higher stress levels in Week Two than those in the other two groups, but the researchers found this effect was not responsible for the increase in Week Three smoking. Rather, the results appear to reflect a pure bounce-back effect: The white bear returns, carrying a carton of Pall Malls.

In the researchers’ view, these results “suggest that thought suppression may be more harmful than previously believed,” especially for struggling addicts. So if you’re craving a cigarette, let the image of that glowing cylinder linger in your mind until it fades away on its own. Pushing it aside only makes it more likely you’ll light up later.

2 Replies

What a brilliant piece of information , I must agree that trying to not think about smoking, makes you worse. Its like if for any reason as a smoker e,g. going into hospital, and someone says you cant smoke , your brain automatically wants a cigarette. I found that when I first started to quit I found it a challenge and everyday I would look in the mirror and say to myself I dont need a cigarette as the days and weeks went on I thought how silly it would be to start again. Now even after reaching 5 months I still think about smoking and how I am conquering the addiction. mainly due to quit support.


That's probably why I won the fight when I stared down the barrel of the gun and actually said okay, I could sit here and smoke this cig in my hand- noone would know but me, and thought through the pros and cons. I didn't smoke the cig because even though it would've felt great for a whole 10 seconds it wouldn't have been worth it in the long run. I also tell my family and friends who smoke to not sneak off to smoke, don't hide it from me because it makes it harder and to be fair it's patronising and annoying. If I crave a smoke, and I do sometimes on a daily basis, it doesn't matter so much anymore because I know that one drag of a cig will cost me £90 quid a week, £400 a month, etc. One drag isn't worth it.


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