When I quit smoking why do I get angry? If you’re one of those people that finds yourself asking the question, “Every time I quit smoking why am I always beating up on everybody in my life? Why am I always so angry?” then this post is for you. If you read to the end of this post I’m going to give you eight tips, tricks, and hacks that you can use to deal with those feelings of anger.
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We’re going to hop right into the eight tips, tricks, and hacks you can use if you are one of those people that every time you quit smoking you get angry and upset with the people around you.
Why do I get angry whenever I quit smoking? Where are these feelings coming from? You’re going to have to just bear with me. I’ll get through this really quickly. Just don’t go because we’re going to go through the eight things you can actually do. We just have to get through this answer. So here’s the neuroscience behind why we actually get angry when we quit smoking. Bear with me really quickly.
One is called dopamegenic activity.When we smoke the nicotine stimulates our brain sensor for pleasure, and it releases dopamine. So, the reason why we get angry has to do with this biochemical reaction in our brain. In a little bit more detail, it has nicotine receptor changes or polypeptides. When we ingest nicotine our brain has to release something to go grab the nicotine and pull it into the system.
It’s a polypeptide. It has a receptor, and it changes its shape to the nicotine. Then, because we do it all the time, the polypeptide doesn’t want to change its shape for any other chemical that may come and induce a dopamine release.
Three is adrenocorticotropic, or known as “ACTH”. Bear with this. A cortisol ACTH leads to high trained anger and an associated greater increase in state anger. This leads to maladaptive behavior responses, blah, blah, blah.
Here’s my point. When you ask the question, “Why do I get angry?” who cares? It’s the wrong question!
Now you know why you get angry. I could do a two-hour video on the neuroscience behind why you get angry and explain it to you in very minute detail so that you get it, and guess what? It won’t do anything for you! It won’t help you.
You’re asking the wrong question.
There’s why. Did any of what I said matter? Did it mean anything? Is it going to help you quit smoking? No. It’s the wrong question to ask. We’re going to get to the right question soon so don’t go anywhere. There’s one thing for you to just think about.
Here’s the core issue. The real problem is you let smoking become the solution. This is one of the ways we keep ourselves stuck. We think to ourselves, “Every time I quit smoking I get really upset and really angry. I take it out on everyone else in my life, and so I need to smoke the thing that is causing me ill health and robbing 14 years of my life.”
It is no solution. We are making smoking the solution to the problem of getting angry when we quit smoking. That’s a mistake. That’s the key.
So, to solve this we have to understand how to deal with it. What is the right question? It’s not, ‘why do I get angry’. It’s ‘what can be done about it’. That’s the right question, and that’s the key to dealing with the anger.
Now we’re going to go into the eight things that you can actually do, but I just need to lay a little groundwork first for you to understand about feeling angry when quitting smoking.
What’s going on here? Number one is you have to realize that these feelings of anger are real feelings. They’re not fake feelings. They’re very real. They’re not feelings that are coming from outside of you because of the addiction or the nicotine. They’re real feelings, and they’re authentic feelings.
The second thing is it really is temporary. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you’re in the throngs of it. It feels like, “Uh. Am I going to be angry forever? Am I just really an angry person, and I need cigarettes to not be an angry person?”
No. That is thinking designed to keep you stuck. It’s purely biochemical. What’s happening is our brain is adjusting to no longer having the nicotine so those polypeptides I talked about need their receptors to readjust. That way you get dopamine from other sources, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It could take a month it could take months, but they will adjust. It is a temporary state.
It can last for months. In science we have found that it’s lasted up to as far as nine and a half months, but it will end. So, here’s the key question to ask yourself now that we understand the feelings are natural and authentic. We know it’s temporary. We know that will go on for a while, but it will disappear.
The question is to ask yourself is, ‘do you want to not go through the feelings the anger and keep smoking (If you want to not go through the feelings and just keep smoking stop reading.), or are you prepared to deal with the feelings and the issues for a few months and in return get the 14 years of life that you’re giving up by being a smoker?’.
You need to decide.
Clearly a good choice is to choose to just go through the feelings and deal with it. So, that’s the choice.
How do we deal with the feelings? That is the key question and the last thing you need to know before I go into the eight tips.
First, remember it’s a phase. Don’t avoid or pretend that the feelings aren’t there. Here’s why. How much we ever feel about something, however angry we are, it takes the same amount of energy or more to resist the feeling.
It’s a very inefficient way of dealing with it. This is why often people feel very tired when they quit smoking. Why? It’s because when you start to get upset or angry you resist those feelings.
It’s a waste of our energy. You’re better off feeling the feelings and letting the energy move. What one resists persists. So if you resist the feelings they don’t go away.
Let’s learn how to not resist it and what to do with the energy.
The last really key point to keep in your mind all the time is feeling angry is fine, but taking it out on someone else is not okay.
These are the premises you have to remember when we go into these eight tips, tricks, and hacks that you can do.
Now, here are the tips, tricks, and hacks you’ve been waiting for.
I have eight tips here, but they’re color coded. Six are red. Two are not. The reason why two or not red is those two really aren’t methods. They’re really what we call presuppositions or things that are important to believe or do in order to make these things work.
If you do these two things and understand them it will help the methods work super well.
The first thing to understand is you need to deal with the anger. Anger is what’s called the secondary emotion, meaning if you stop and think about why you’re angry it’s usually not anger. It usually is because you feel hurt, upset, or something else. It’s over top of a primary emotion, and that primary emotion, the feeling upset or hurt, you don’t want to deal with that. It’s easier to get angry.
Just remember when you’re feeling angry as you do these methods that anger is a secondary emotion. The more you can drive yourself down to figure out what the primary thing is the more problems you’ll solve in your life. You’ll be a lot happier and a lot less angry.
The second thing is whenever you quit smoking pick a quit date and tell everybody.
If you read my eBook How to Prepare Your Mind for Quitting Smoking which you can download for free off my website it has more helpful tips for you.
Remember to ask the people in your life for space ahead of time. Say, “Look I’m quitting smoking. I could be a little on edge or quick to temper for the next month or nine months. I don’t really know. We’re going to discover together, but I want you to understand and make sure that you cut me a bit of a wide berth for a while. Have a little bit of grace for me while I go through this process.”
Tell people that are in your life on a daily basis this and watch how much more successful you’ll be at quitting smoking. It’s a great tip, trick, and hack.
So, let’s go through these other six methods. These are all methods we cover in my quit smoking program. I’m not going to go into all the detail on all of them. I’m going to give you a summary.
What you want to do is whichever one feels like it has a pull for you. That’s the one you want to look at and do. You can google these methods, send me an email or a text, and ask me questions. I’m always happy to be helpful and answer.
The grounding method is first. This one has gained popularity. What this is really about is just sort of grounding yourself. What do I mean by that? Well, what I mean by grounding yourself is taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and asking yourself what is really going on here.
So, separate yourself. Stop. Breathe right because if you stay in the situation, or you stay in what’s upsetting you, you start to do what in neuroscience we call catastrophizing. We’re angry, we’re getting upset, and we’re spiraling down, down, down, down.
You have to break the spiral. You have to stop yourself before you get past the point of no return.
How do you do that?
Separate yourself. Say, “I need a 10-minute break.” Stop, breathe, and ask yourself, “What am I really angry about?”
Try to figure out what the primary emotion is, because you know anger is only the secondary emotion.
The next one is the movement method. This is very popular. A lot of people use this. You have to be careful that you’re not using this to avoid feelings, but you don’t always have to deal with feelings. We know this from psychiatry. You don’t always have to deal with feelings and emotions head-on. You can attack them from other ways. You don’t always have to deal with things. That’s what the movement method’s about. It’s about dealing with the anger, not head on or by drilling down into what’s the underlying primary emotion. Not everyone likes to do that kind of thing. It’s not for everybody. So, head on is not for you. Then this is a really great one.
Remember, I said however angry we are it takes the same amount of energy or more to resist it. What this is about is not resisting it. That doesn’t mean blowing up. What that means is letting the energy move in any way. That could be working out, going for a run, going for a bike ride, or taking a dog for a walk. It means physically moving your body.
Dance to music. That’s movement! Just use the energy move your body in some way. Go play tennis! Go play a sport! Find some way to move the energy.
What you resist persists. So when you feel upset or angry because you quit smoking don’t resist the feeling. You don’t necessarily have to deal with it head-on but go move your body. Go do something. Get up, and remove yourself from the situation. That’s the movement method.
The trigger avoidance method is next. This one is a little bit more complex and often takes a lot more explaining. There’s a lot of detail here. This is where we rely heavily on in my program.
I’ll tell you a little bit about it. Really it’s about avoiding the trigger because what happens when we quit smoking and we no longer get that dopamine rush every 30 minutes or hour (whenever we usually smoke) is we start to get upset and angry or feel depressed.
What’s happening is our brain thinks of a cigarette (You can watch my YouTube video on this, Why Can’t I Stop Thinking about Cigarettes. It explains it really well.), but it’s actually having a trigger. When we say trigger we really mean association. We learn in neuroscience that we have an association between smoking and waking up, smoking and having a coffee, smoking and having a drink, smoking and eating a meal, or smoking and getting in your car and driving. Because we have that association we think of a cigarette.
Avoidance means, well, don’t do that. So maybe you don’t drink for the next month. You don’t go to the bar with your friends. That’s avoidance.
You can’t avoid every trigger because the average person has 30 triggers, but what you can do? In the trigger avoidance method you can alter or change triggers that will help diminish the association and will help diminish the cravings and withdrawal. This will help you diminish the anger.
How do you do that? Well, for example, if you have an association with coffee and smoking and you always have your coffee at 7:30 in the morning have it at 7:45 or at 7:15. If you always have two creams and two sugars in your coffee have one cream and one sugar. It’s a great way to cut down on the sugar in your diet or on the amount of cream you have as well.
It will change something about the triggering event or the association.
If you always sit at the same place when you have your morning coffee sit somewhere else for a few months, and once your brain has re-established itself you can go back to your old routine. You’ll be fine.
So, if you can’t actually not do the trigger you can alter it in some meaningful way and that will help.
Number six is the distraction method. So this is a little bit like the movement method, but it doesn’t have to be about moving the physical energy. It’s really about catching that downward spiral of anger and distracting ourselves before we get too far.
So, if you’re outside in your garage and you’re upset go inside and watch TV. If you’re inside watching TV and you’re starting to get angry at the news get up and go mow your lawn. Go distract yourself with something else. It will help dissipate the feeling of anger. That’s the distraction method.
The breathing method is next. This could be a lot of things, but the premise behind the breathing method is that when we get upset or angry and we become agitated we know that breathing deeply calms us down. We can use breathing to calm ourselves down.
Some people really love this method so they’ll learn to meditate. They’ll download a course on how to meditate. They’ll do guided journeys or guided meditations.
It could simply be learning something called box breathing. We teach breathing techniques in our course. These tricks cause your heart rate to slow down and your physiology to become more relaxed.
Now you get tip number eight. I put this last because this is one of the most under-utilized methods. It’s because we’re adults, and we don’t think of ourselves as children. This is the counting method or “time-out”.
This is something we do to children, and this works really well for adults that get upset. When you get angry, or you get upset give yourself a time-out.
When you’re spiraling down, you’re starting to get angry, maybe you’re being unreasonable and you’re taking it on someone else just go, “Wait a minute. I need a timeout. We’ll come back and talk about this in 15 minutes.” Just go and do something else. Go sit down on the stairs for 15 minutes and just calm down. Slow your breathing down and just allow the energy to dissipate. You will calm down.
The reason it works so well with kids is because it changes our physiology, our brain chemistry, when we remove ourselves from a stressful or intense situation where we’re getting angry or upset. When we sit and we start to slow our breathing down and calm down it helps us deal with the anger.
It not only works for kids, it works super well for adults as well.
This is a very under-utilized one.
Set a timer on your watch for 15 minutes, and say, “I’m not going to deal with this issue for 15 minutes. I’m giving myself an adult timeout.” Watch how well that works for diminishing your feelings of anger and getting through it.
It’s also a really great method for dealing with cravings. If you have a craving just wait, put a timer on, and say I’m not going to do anything for 15 minutes. I’m going to wait 15 minutes and see where the cravings are at.
Watch that craving disappear!
This is a really great tip, trick, and hack. If you like this post please follow my content, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and hit the notification button. Take advantage of the free 30 minute free phone consultation. I will get you headed in the right direction for quitting smoking for the rest of your life. If you just have questions email me and ask me. Connect me on my Facebook page and my YouTube channel. You can go onto my website and send me an email, or you can call me. I’m available to help in any way I can.
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