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The emotional side of quitting
Research has proved that big life changes trigger grief. We grieve for what we've lost (or given up) so that we can make room for something new. Quitting smoking is no different. There's a grief cycle to go through, and understanding it is crucial to your success in quitting. If you're ready to quit, be prepared for these stages – and understand that help is available to get you through them.
There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and then acceptance.
The stage of denial is all about psychological protection – a defense mechanism to shield you from the shock of a sudden change. As a tobacco user, you understand why quitting is important, but you may not necessarily have an easy time believing the facts.
Beginning to accept a loss can lead to anger. You may feel angry about the fact that you need to quit, the fact quitting is hard or any number of things. That anger is natural. Accept it instead of resisting, and recognize that you don’t need a reason to feel the way you do. It won’t last forever.
Acknowledgment of a loss (in this case, the cigarette) can lead to sadness, most often when it’s a loss you’re experiencing on your own. Generally, the loss manifests as either a deep sense of sadness or deprivation. If you’ve quit smoking and you feel like you’ve lost your best friend, you’re not alone. Feel free to vent and fully experience the emotions, and then remember why you made the choice to quit.
During the bargaining stage, people want to make deals to put off the difficult decision. “I’ll just have one cigarette,” or “I’ll only smoke on vacation” are common remarks. Remind yourself that you’re in control – making a bargain gives that power to the cigarette. Nothing controls you but you.
Once you reach acceptance, you understand that your life as a tobacco user is over. You’ve grieved the loss and come to terms with it. Now it’s time to go on with your new, healthier lifestyle.
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