Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

man smoking to manage stress - How anger can sap your will power to give up smoking

Making The Same New Year’s Resolution

Jim made a new years resolution to give up smoking for the umpteenth time. Last year it had worked for 3 months , until a bitter row with his best friend weakened his resolve. The familiar comfort of smoking saw him through many a lonely moment. Painful memories that were played over and over in his mind were dulled as he inhaled and let out sighs of smoke filled hurt and disappointment.

Water Tight Procedure – It Will Work

This time he was more determined to conquer the habit. This time he made contingency plans for dealing with temptations and ensuring that his iron will overcame any emotional calamity, no matter how dire. He joined a support group, devised rewards for not smoking, and extracted promises from his colleagues and friends to come down hard on him if they noticed any signs of lapsing. He got the nicotine gum and the patch to get his through the worst cravings. He would call his sponsor if he had a desire to smoke, go out for walks, go to the gym, meet with friends or start a new project that would distract him from thinking of smoking. Notes to himself were stuck all over his apartment, desk, and car. A recording of his own voice reminding him to be strong with lots of good affirming statements from his cell phone recorder greeted him each morning and repeated every couple of hours.

jumping hurdles - How anger can sap your will power to give up smoking

So Far So Good

He was good to go. The foolproof structure he had constructed supported him admirably. He glowed with success as he saved money, found new flavors exploding on his tongue, and jogged for a mile without getting out of breath. He was proud of himself, and so were his cheerleaders. He no longer had to worry whether a date would be put off by his smoky breath! In fact Jim found a great girl who joined him in sampling new cuisines, and walking off their hearty meals.

The Bombshell Drops

He celebrated his seventh month without smoking by booking a vacation with all the money he had saved. Then came the bombshell. He saw his girlfriend in a close embrace with another man at a café while he was out walking.

Life Came To a Halt

For a split second Jim’s life came to a complete halt. His breath ceased, dizziness made him unsteady and there was a strange sound in his ears. The next thing he knew he was inhaling smoke from a cigarette held in his shaking hand. The smoke filled his lungs, and jolted his heart beat into frantic action. The tinny sound in his ears grew louder as he tried to deal with the scene he had stumbled upon.

The Resolute Jim Gets Wiped Out

The Jim of the last seven months had just been obliterated by the savage betrayal he had just witnessed. He felt as if she had been propelled into another world with no land legs, and no compass to find his way to safety. Some automatic part of him had rushed to the nearest store and bought a pack of cigarettes. Grasping the familiar white tube, lighting it, and inhaling it was like finding his way home. The rush of nicotine mobilized his survival instincts, uncorking his rage to fuel his fighting spirit.

Jim Plucks Up Courage To Figure Out Why It Failed

Jim was horrified that he had fallen off the wagon so easily. He realized that something more than just a lack of will was at play. He got up the courage to address his deeper issue in therapy with me.

Discovering The Hard Wiring

Smoking had brought a smile to his mother’s face after long nights waiting for her husband who never came home. When his mother smoked she wasn’t absent like his dad, but right there with her kids, being a loving parent.

Jim learned that smoking was an effective pick-me-up. He used it as his comfort food when his first girlfriend dumped him. Eventually it became his indispensable pacifier. The rhythmic actions of inhaling and exhaling let out all the tension. His brain and body recognized the nicotine and smoke as dollops of reassurance. They responded by reducing the unbearable emotions that betrayal created inside him. Support groups and sponsors helped with minor let downs, but were useless when the big betrayal hit. He was hard wired to use cigarettes to manage the tsunamis.

hanging by a thread - How anger can sap your will power to give up smoking

Jim Disconnects the Old Wiring and Kicks the Habit

Jim disconnected the wire from nicotine to relief. He made new connections allowing love and care to take the place of nicotine. It was hard work but he did it. The therapeutic dialogue created fresh new neural pathways in his brain. He got relief and comfort from people who were reliable, trustworthy and loving. Now hid chances of successfully sticking to his new year’s resolution are excellent.