The steps taken to get to a destination are, in our society, often called mundane, simple, childish, stupid, ineffective, ridiculous and so on. We have a self defeating perspective on success and therefore we undermine our own abilities and achievements in life. We often tell ourselves, "This will never work!" or, "I'm no good!" These thoughts hurt us from making any progress at all and set us back before we even begin.
The truth is, any little step in the right direction is powerful. Many people don't realize that just thinking about their goal continuously day in and day out is enough for them to eventually and finally take that little step. We are creatures of habit and it has been proven we cannot take large psychological jumps from one situation to the next. That is why it is so tough for many people to quit addictions like smoking.
On top of that, with neuro-marketing, we are being bombarded in every media outlet, on a daily basis with images and situations that expose our brains to things like smoking. Not only the images of smoking, but also that it is cool, needed, relaxing, and many other things we positively identify with. So if you are working hard to quit, but constantly being subjected to say, a TV show you watch everyday where one of the characters chain smokes, remember News Radio and one of its funniest episodes on smoking? Its good to laugh about these things too. Anyway, if you are watching smoking day in and day out it will train your brain on those thoughts and actions making it harder to quit.
So you have all these negatives working against you when you are wanting to quit an addiction. It really makes it tough to quit, unless you have the sheer determination to quit cold turkey. This is possible and many people have done it, but most people have to go at it slowly. It makes sense though, any success is usually backed up by hundreds of failures. This is because you are having to retrain your brain's neurological pathways to a new action when faced with old patterns of stress and other circumstances that caused you to smoke in the first place, as well as your body has this toxin in it that is now trained to crave in order to function. So you are literally trying to battle the emotional, cognitive and chemical addictions of smoking, while constantly subjugated to your environmental triggers in life. That is tough! Why don't we have support groups for ex-smokers?
Well, here are some tips that might help you on your journey, or someone you know, to quit smoking.
- Cognitive training - Start focusing your brain on thoughts of not smoking. Think of running and not feeling your lungs burn, or how your clothes and home would smell if there were no smoke. Imagine having something you could buy with the money you saved. Just dream about it. Maybe even make up a mantra that helps you connect with not smoking. Don't worry about quitting tomorrow or next week, unless that goal is a positive feeling for you. If it is a negative feeling and makes you feel worse, then chuck the goal and just focus on these thoughts, even while you smoke, if you have to. The idea is to just keep your brain flooded with the goal whenever possible. It may take up to a year, but don't worry about that too much. Its better to quit in a year, then never at all because you've continually set yourself up to fail with goals that felt negative to you. So make this a positive experience. If other people make you feel bad, stop sharing information that could harm your progress. Tell them, right now, you smoke for their health, so you don't end up strangling their little well intentioned necks! Also, try to distract or avoid the influence of smoking from media and other people in your life. If you can't avoid a person or situation, interrupt your brain with other thoughts until you can leave. Again, don't make it negative, but just distract your mind like you would if a child was about to witness something they shouldn't. You would lovingly talk their mind away from the event until you could get them some place safe.
- Chemical cleansing - Smoking doesn't just affect the lungs. It affects your brain and entire body. It sits in your cells just like any other toxin would. The problem with this, is you have chemical cravings along with your mental "cravings." This is true with all addictions involving food or substances. So while you are trying to quit, detoxing your body along the way is going to help you succeed. If you are low on money you can detox using simple things like apples and water. If you have more cash to spare, you can try something a little more fancy from a natural grocer. Its best to use non GMO products since GMOs only put more toxins in your body, but do what you can. The longer you cleanse and the healthier you eat, the easier it gets to quit. Also, switch to a different kind of cigarettes. Most mainstream cigarettes are not just tobacco. Recently they added a fire-retardant chemical to the filters that you now inhale as well. There have also been endless claims to the actual ingredients of tobaccos from Marlboro, Camel, and others. If you've ever noticed the smell of organic tobacco, it is entirely different than conventional tobacco. However, even organic cigarettes are required by law to add the fire-retardant to their filters. This kind of defeats the purpose of smoking organic cigarettes. So, try a new system if you can. Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco can be organic and filterless. Also, you are reducing waste considerable by needing less single pack packaging, but also no filters if you can stand it. They do have filters for RYO, but it seems an unnecessary waste. The other benefit of rolling your own, is it deliberately makes it harder to smoke. Rolling each one will slow down how many you smoke a day. Not only that, but if you don't want to smoke a whole cigarette, you can roll a half size, or cut a whole one in half. This is a really good technique to quitting because you can start to reduce how much you smoke on a daily basis, where and when. Maybe even try making it more special instead of just impulsive. Like a little alone time before bed, outside staring at the beautiful night sky. You get the idea, but puts all the managing in your control.
- Environmental changes - Earlier I spoke about avoiding certain situations or people to reduce the influence on your brain. To maximize these sorts of changes in your life, you also want to add something very positive to create a stronger draw towards your ultimate desire of quitting. Consider what sorts of things you would like to be doing in place of smoking. Keeping your body and mind busy will create less time to be thinking about smoking. When your time is filled up with things you love to do and people you like being around, you are less likely to participate in self-destructive behaviors. So you can pick up any activity that makes you feel good. Most areas have Meet-Ups where you can join with other people that are trying to quit, or find a fun sport like dodge ball to get involved in. You could start up with photography or a spiritual group. You could go back to church or even start your own club. Try to pick groups where the other members are also trying to be healthy. A hiking group for instance. Even if none of them smoke, make that a time to smoke less as part of your goal. The point is to find activities that engage your full attention even over smoking. And to start doing those more as a distraction but also as a fulfillment to your deeper inner needs that have been possibly ignored through addiction and other tough aspects of life. The point is to always moving in this direction, but never to beat up on yourself. Again, unless you have sheer determination, which many of us don't, you must be okay with falling down a lot, just like you were as a kid falling off your bike as you learned how to ride it. Right now you are learning how to "ride" not smoking. Stack up the benefits of how this will be better for your mentally, financially and for your health. Remember how this will benefit those around you, but also others that are trying to quit, as well as our environment. You will get there eventually!
Sometimes you need extra support. Someone to keep you accountable for your goals, that won't make you feel negatively about them when you slip up. Having a sort of vent and confession in a non-judgmental space can go a long way in helping you achieve your goals. If you need somebody like this, consider looking around in your community for a trusted friend or family member than can help you. If you are not able to find someone, consider a church or hotline that can help you quit. If you would like someone to work with you one on one, consider a life coach or addictions counselor. I offer coaching, which will help you reduce negatives and increase positives by giving you tools to keep yourself moving forward, while also allowing you to blow off steam along the way. It can be very frustrating at times. You can check out my coaching page for more information. I can work with people from anywhere via phone, skype or email.