Good morning fellow Applied Social Psychologists in the making…
For my initial blog I couldn’t think of a better starting point then where I find myself mentally and physically – craving a cigarette at 6 am. “I’m not having coffee” because habitually I would have one with the other. I want to keep busy but refrain from being outdoors other than having to go from coordinate to coordinate. And I don’t even want to be near one. I actually bought a pack and never buy packs and gave it away.
What brought on this needs assessment in a preventative manner was when I started feeling health-compromising effects and the toxins at work. You have probably read all about the disastrous side effects, and not just to one’s self but, in retrospect, its an applied course of action by a participant, done almost second nature. It’s also a disregard to everyone directly around while he engaging/indulging in that behavior.
This entry is not an excuse to state the obvious; I wanted to capture a chronological approach – a self-report to monitor my progress. Yesterday was Day 1 and this morning is usually when people usually relapse.
While attempting to focus on successfully creating a decent blog and sharing an example of how I applied what we have been learning I decided to use my life as guinea pig to display what I believe are some theories working in conjunction. I started noticing a number of symptoms that I haven’t ever paid attention to until I started taking not only this course but also Health Psychology and combined to the two courses, absorbing so much new information and processing it, and applying it to myself in areas that are indeed applicable to better understanding how they function and we could be guided by them.
“According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.” – Festinger, L. (1957)
How could I exercise and see results but not be as satisfied? Smoking affects muscle growth. How could I feel so tired or unmotivated, drink a coffee or energy drink for energy and have a cigarette that is proven to cause fatigue? How could I go for “air” and use my 15 minute break at work to wait for an elevator and rush outside to have just enough time to have at least one cigarette? Sounds unnecessary, doesn’t it? How about being hungry and needing energy, and choosing a cigarette over food because it’ll curb your appetite? Oh that developing smoker’s cough, hacking away and making you sound older than what you are? Smoking too.
Looking at the inconsistencies between attitudes and behavior, there are certain people I won’t have a cigarette around – I don’t need to, don’t think of it, or anything. If I’m home I don’t smoke around my Munchkin, she never sees me smoking or even smells it on me. But why would someone willingly want to hold a “cancer-stick”, appropriately nicknamed, as an agent of death. Why would anyone invite such harmful products into their lives? Or share it?
In the past when trying to quit, I’d battle between what I knew was wreaking havoc on my lungs and stamina, emotionally and mentally causing all kinds of dependencies, etc. but I’d say “I don’t smoke a lot at all”. I look at my brother buying a pack every other day, and see how strong he looks and how normal and happy he seems, and would pull up right next to him and join him.
I started seeing the skin on my pointer and middle finger looking a little discolored, slightly different than the other fingers on my right hand. It made me paid attention a little more when my inner middle finger, where the filter and its residue build up, and poisons accumulate, holding the back end – was starting to crack. I thought it was the cold last winter, but hardening and bleeding only on that one finger? Right, pretty normal. Due to the weather and not me smoking, right. Wrong.
This summer the crack was back. Skin was hardening again and I even felt the superficial layers of skin desensitized. So guess what I did? Yes, I switched hands. This was the beginning of the end for smoking. I knew my smoking days were numbered because it took away the “enjoyment” for me – the recklessness or careless, nonchalant motion of feeling free or “cool”. I didn’t feel like I looked cool smoking with my left hand, never mind me thinking “I’ll keep all 10 fingers a little longer”. Now I was outside worrying about my health and all my fingers. But it was not until I decided to “switch hands” that I decided to look into implementing my assessments and seek proven evaluations for interventions that as I’m writing here now, setting my goals for Day 2, I’m working to quit for good.
You can’t factor in all these variables and see a direct correlation and ignore that data. Even proven methods show track records of relapsing, but only combining the psychological to the behavioral and applying it cognitively has lasting effects. “Once you know better, you do better.” And I know myself well enough to know that it would not be “just one cigarette” with my coffee in the morning. I’d use my work break and stress and an excuse to gauge levels of physical stress I’m willingly to apply to myself and choosing that as a “lesser poison” than dealing with stress at work in a productive manner? I’m choosing health-enhancing thinking now to match my attitudes and behaviors. I’ll keep you posted.
Schneider, F., Gruman, J., Coutts, L. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.
McLeod, S. A. (2008). Cognitive Dissonance. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html
Brannon, L. & Fiest, J. (2007). Health Psychology. Belmont, MA: Wadsworth Publishing