3 Ways to Deal With Negative Thoughts when Quitting


By Lynn A.

Ready to Quit Smoking?

Maybe these thoughts sound familiar: “I can't do this, it's too hard.” or “What is wrong with me?”

Maybe you've even stopped smoking but you find yourself wondering if you can keep it up for the rest of your life.

All-or-nothing thinking is a pitfall for many of us, especially when we are trying to stop doing something. It can happen when we mess up. It can derail our efforts by making us throw our hands up in defeat. It can even make us unwilling to get started, by distorting the task at hand and making it seem impossible.

The next time you find yourself using words like “never”, “always”, or “failure”, you might ask yourself, “is this thought helping me? Is it constructive and bringing me closer to my goals?”

If not, here are three quick tips for when these thoughts happen.

1. Acknowledge the thought

It’s okay to have these thoughts! But it’s also important to remember that it is just a collection of words that you do not have to buy into. You can put it in context: “I’m having the thought that ....” Just because you have a thought, it does not make it true.

2. Imagine sending your thought off

Take a moment to picture a gentle stream passing by. Imagine placing your unhelpful thought on a leaf and watching it float down the stream, away from you. If it comes back, that is ok... just send it off again.

3. Get in touch with the present moment

Instead of thinking (worrying) about the past or future, focus on what is happening right now. Bring yourself into the present moment by focusing on what your senses are telling you: what you see, hear, smell, touch. Try taking a few slow breaths. Tuning into your senses can make your experience of the present moment richer.

Notice how those tips don’t try to change your thought, they just offer a different response to it. This is an important part of the ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, approach.

Want to learn more? 2Morrow’s SmartQuit smoking cessation app uses an ACT-based approach to teach you different ways to deal with your urges to smoke and help you formulate a plan for quitting. Instead of talking yourself out of it, imagine getting started on a journey—right now—to become smoke free!