[Psychology: Smoking Personality
Our view towards smoking has changed drastically during the last two decades. This habit wasn’t always considered dirty or dangerous. Quite the contrary, it was reserved for the cool and classy. Today we know that there’s not much cool about this nasty habit that can kill you and affect your loved ones.
There are as many variations of smokers as there are color classifications. Some admit to being addicted to nicotine, others are closet smokers, still some claim they are occasional smokers, only picking up the stick when they are in the company of others or when feeling incredibly stressed.
Regardless of the type of smoker you are, one fact can’t be denied and that is that nicotine addiction is as powerful as any other addictive substance that damages our health and well being. This is because it causes physical withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. Moreover, the body builds up a tolerance to it therefore the more we smoke, the more the doses need to be increased to achieve the same desired effects.
Some psychologists believe that an influencing factor of whether we become smokers later in life is related to the age we had our first puff. The higher the pleasure, and/or peer pressure and the lower the negative consequences such as getting caught/ punished or feeling sick, is likely to pave the path towards ashtrays and tons of money wasted on intentionally damaging our health. At todays prices, if you smoke about 1 pack of cigarettes per day for the next 10 years, you’ll end up spending more than $36,000.00; enough to buy a brand new car, essentials for the family or a salubrious donation to a deserving charity. Not to mention that smoking reduces life expectancy by 7 – 8 years. That means, each cigarette shortens the life of the smoker by around 8 minutes.
Other variables related to why people begin smoking includes personality traits such as impulsivity (acting without thinking about the consequences) and neuroticism (being emotionally negative and anxious, most of the time)‘The data indicate that for some young adults smoking is impulsive,’ said Andrew Littlefield, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Science. ‘That means that 18-year-olds are acting without a lot of forethought and favor immediate rewards over long term negative consequences. They might say, ‘I know smoking is bad for me, but I’m going to do it anyway.’ However, we find individuals who show the most decreases in impulsivity also are more likely quit smoking. If we can target anti-smoking efforts at that impulsivity, it may help the young people stop smoking.’
An interesting question therefore is how do we control the impulsivity related to smoking which starts with a particular switch going off in our brain, signaling us to reach for a cigarette, while prohibiting the activation of another signal stopping us or being able to control that initial impulse? What happens to the second deterrent signal and how can we develop and strengthen that restraint?
Failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others could be an indication of a deeper psychological problem therefore impulsivity needs to be managed and controlled so other facets of our life is not affected by giving into dangerous desires.
Here are a few steps you could try to begin the process of managing impulsivity:
• Postpone the impulse or desire
• Negotiate with the impulse by rationally assessing the costs and benefits
• Replace the desire to grab a cigarette with another more healthy and
• pleasurable substitute
• Distract yourself with another task
• Reward yourself for fighting those compulsions
• Drink a few glasses of water instead
• Tell other people that you have quit, this holds you accountable to your announcement
• Print a small picture of a smoker’s lungs and keep it in your wallet. Look at it every time you feel the urge to smoke
• Avoid complementary habits that are likely to trigger the impulse
• Don’t fool yourself into saying ‘I’ll just have one’ – IMPOSSIBLE
People start smoking for a variety of reasons however they continue for just one – they become addicted to the nicotine. The good news is that only hours after quitting, you will feel the physical changes and the restoration that can help heal all that has been damaged as a result of succumbing to our impulsiveness. Interestingly urges are like a well developed muscle but once you stop using the muscle by conquering your craving, it will eventually lose strength and fade away.
Therefore don’t consider quitting just to improve your physical condition, but also as a way to strengthen your personality and character so that you are the master of your mind and cravings, not the other way around.[/justify][/left]