Psychology Behind Stopping Smoking

There are a lot of #articles and studies about what happens to your #body when you stop smoking, but I never found a step-by-step change that happens when a person transitions from a smoker to a nonsmoker’s life.

The Decision

Just because you decide to do something doesn’t mean that you will do it. We are in a constant process of making decisions: New Year resolutions, vacations, picking a school, we maybe liked some piece of clothes, we decide to move a hand, to type the message, to say or keep silent… and we equally execute these decisions or not. 

The key factor is our judgment in moments of making the decision is this important to me or not? And this is happening all the time, half of you who read this article have decided that this is worth reading and the other half is not. This happens #subconsciously and most of the time we are not even aware that the decision process is executed in our minds.

A different thing happens when you are confronted with making a decision, someone has or it came to your conscious mind a choice to do or not to do something.

One of these things is #smoking, and #stoppingsmoking

 How the decision to stop smoking is made? 

 What is important?

The person faced with all the bad things that smoking brings has a deep struggle on a subconscious level: smoking had secondary benefits! Nobody gets up from bad in the morning with the idea to hit his thumb on the table, we all keep making decisions during the day to make each moment a little better than the one before. In essence to feel better. 

Even doing a job we don’t like and completing it creates a feeling of joy. During his life as a smoker, a person experiences different feelings of calmness, temporary stress relief, reward, etc, and our brain has learned that whenever it orders the mind to execute an act of taking cigarettes that the supply of dopamine will happen. 

The decision to stop smoking will cause the brain to start creating strategies to change the mind of the person to stop smoking and get back to taking cigarettes, nicotine, patches, vapes, etc.

The person who is deciding to finally stop smoking is deciding on what will his life as a non-smoker look like without cigarettes and what he will achieve that will create all the rewards that he had with smoking. 

Getting yourself #mentally in that life happens in a few seconds, and the person mentally starts to live in that future without cigarettes, imagines, the life sees the things, feels them hearing conversations he thinks he could be present too, even feels the temperature of the air in that place, all of that creates the feeling that brain likes, and it is ready to start to pursue and facing the challenges that smoking cause starts to seem less challenging.

This is manifested sometimes with statements “I am in charge, not cigarettes!”

“I am buying them it is not another way around!” 

 For whom am I doing this?

The person who starts doing this becomes self-supporting, and incredibly person starts to show a huge amount of self-love, the statements I heard people say: ‘’My #children started criticizing me, I was afraid I will lose authority as a parent, how could I guide them through life and advise them when i can’t guide myself” ‘’If this can make me live little longer to see my grandchildren I don’t mind feeling little discomfort.” ‘’I survived that accident as my thanks to God, I will sacrifice this vice to show my gratitude” ‘’I will exercise’’ 

Practicing self-love gives more boost to your motivation to stay in the decision and on the path of life of a #nonsmokers

Eliminating pain

  How to deal with withdrawals?

The person who decided to stop smoking knows all the challenges that he will face, including friends who smoke, and people who will offer them cigarettes, in cultures where is common for people to smoke there will be open provocations, simply because people who have insecurities can not stand that someone succeeds in crushing the addiction that they can’t. Everything is possible! 

The person who is aware of these challenges knows that seeing cigarettes will trigger the memories of all ‘’good’’ feelings of reward he experienced when smoking, but has decided to be aware of them and let them go. Everything that the brain tells in favor of smoking is a lie! The good feeling that is created in favor of making the decision as created before can not be unseen. Like a person who experienced the high on psychedelics, the brain starts to search for the source of that high made in the process of decision.


For some people avoiding people who smoke or chasing them away from their work good. The author finds that facing the challenges of searching for them and asking for cravings creates opposite effects. Cravings tend to disappear once you welcome them or look forward to them. 

Why is this effective? 

Cravings are actually a form of anxiety, and common therapy for anxiety is facing the fear the patient fears. And the more you are faced with something it becomes less uncomfortable. 

At some point person can become numb to cravings: Why? Numbing is a human’s ability to defend itself from pain. In Viktor Frankl’s book “Men Search for Meaning”, people trapped in concentration camps realized that their life can end at any minute simply by someone’s decision. And yet,  even in these conditions, people survived simply because they made a decision to live. The same process is applied in the decision to stop smoking. 

Numbness eventually passes, and the person realizes that there is no real danger, and continues to live their life, still aware of potential challenges.


 Is it worth it?

Life brings you what it brings you, you have to find a way to deal with it. We cannot influence events that happen around us.  Sometimes people are unsupportive, and mean, some people we love disappear from our life, the love of our life turns out not to be that catastrophes, etc. can become a trigger to an addicted brain to start sanding messages like ‘’Look it is all worthless take the damn cigarette! Nothing changes’’ 

It is common that some people cave and slip because of these messages, but they tend to return to their life of non-smokers. 

A well-trained person is already used to these thoughts, and as usual, he just notices them and continues to live the life of a nonsmoker, and allows himself to experience the grief that is caused because of unfortunate events. 


Down the road, a year or two into the life of non-smokers, people realize that the desire to smoke never really disappears it is always there, this can look discouraging but when you put it in perspective, for example when you learn how to drive a bicycle even if you never ride it again, you will always know how to ride it! You are an expert at it but that doesn’t mean that they will drive it. It is the same whit smoking. The author talked with people who haven’t smoked for 20+ years and will probably stay that way until the end of life, and they all say the same thing: ‘’ I could take a cigarette now and continue to smoke like I never stopped’’ The #difference is they choose not to!

In the end, our person who stopped smoking decided to walk with one shoe that represents the life that he lived as a smoker with all that memory carried with it and the other shoe that represents the life he lives now and continues to pursue to the life he wants to live.

Share your experience in the comments