Why is it hard to stop smoking? How can those little sticks of leaves cause such hardship and have so much power?
The majority of people who smoke began in their teens because it was a cool thing to do, smoking helped you to be one of the "gang," everybody else did it so you didn't want to be left out, it was glamorous, helped you to look older, and so on. You probably also believed that you would only do it for a while and when you were ready to stop, you would.
So what happened?
'Fear' of going without it the top reason people give in the decision to be free. I know - I used to smoke. Every night when I went to bed I told myself, "No more. Tomorrow I won't smoke. I am stopping now."
In the morning I would 'need' a cigarette. I would then comfort myself by saying, "Oh well, now I've had one so I may as well smoke today.
But, tomorrow… definitely!"
And this went on for years.
We can all kid ourselves that we only have one vice, or that the bad things will happen to someone else or we can't manage without them. Well, here is some good news for you:
Make the decision - carry on being a smoker or change it.
If you decide you've puffed enough you can be free a lot easier than you might think.
First, you have to change your mind-set. You are not losing anything or suffering because you have to go without.
You are becoming free and this freedom creates good health, happiness and depths of relaxation that you can never experience while you smoke.
The smoking habit is stored in your subconscious mind along with all your other habits plus good and bad memories and everything within us that is automatic. The subconscious is a storage facility full of programmes that keep us safe and enable us to carry out whatever we desire with the skills necessary.
It has no concept of right or wrong. It acts on the programmes that are put in.
Do you drive? Can you remember when you first started to learn? You had to remember many different things all at once and practice until you could do it automatically. Think of how you reverse park. I expect you can just do it without having to think about how. It is programmed in and is now automatic.
What about crossing a road? You can no doubt manage that automatically as well.
And, brushing your teeth… is it automatic?
Everything we do, see, learn, experience and practice is stored subconsciously so it therefore follows that the habit to smoke is stored in exactly the same way as the driving habit.
When you first started to smoke it was probably hard to do because the subconscious cannot make that distinction of good or bad, but all the reasons were useful so you practiced until you got good at it and it became automatic. I can remember my eyes streaming while I coughed and hurt but I put in the work and persevered until I could inhale without choking.
However, I never for one moment thought I wouldn't just stop when I wanted to.
Think how hard it would be to forget how to drive or to stop remembering how to cross the road.
Also the subconscious mind tends to act on negative thoughts. If you tell yourself you mustn't do something or that you don't want to do something you get driven by an invisible force to do exactly the opposite. The mind needs to have a comparison and inside we all behave like children.
So, in order to not do something it has to first do it. If you say to a child, "Don't touch the fire." You can bet your life the child will touch it. You can test this with anything. Tell yourself to not think of something, i.e a rabbit playing a guitar and you will find it hard to not imagine it.
Are you ready to be free from cigarettes? If you are, now is your time for total success.
Spend some time thinking about the benefits of life without them.
Here are a few to get you started:
Think about your reasons for starting originally and the reasons why you do it now.
E.g, then: peer group and wanting to look grown-up.
And now: stress management, comfort, habit, reward and triggers.
Do you have any fears about not smoking? Are you afraid of weight gain? It is true that when some people stop they temporarily gain a few pounds, but this should be minimal and because you will be so fit and energetic it will soon go.
Although the mouth and nose become very excited about being able to smell and taste, any increase while your metabolism adjusts accordingly is slight. And, if any of the smoking and weight theories were correct there wouldn't be any fat smokers!
As you think through your fears ask yourself if they are real or have they become useful excuses?
Now, spend a few days being a mindful smoker. A what?
A mindful smoker is someone who is aware of every cigarette that is lit. Every time you notice the smoking urge, question why you are having it. Whatever your reasons are, decide whether to smoke it. If you decide not to have it, put it back in the packet or put the tobacco in the pouch, and put them away in a cupboard so that you have to physically collect them if you want one.
If you are going to smoke it, extinguish it as soon as you are sated. In a very short while you will know exactly why you smoke, what your triggers are, and it will become even clearer why you want to be free.
It might be fun to put a few sentences of encouragement on post-its or notes to yourself in your diary or calendar about how clever you are and how good health is heading your way.
Thinking back to how our minds work, it is now time to practice 'seeing' yourself as a non-smoker. Imagine yourself smoking. It might help if you actually look at yourself in a mirror until you can imagine the picture in your mind's eye. When you can create the image in your mind change it into a pencil drawing (it doesn't have to be a work of art - just a representation) and simply erase the cigarette and the smoke from the picture.
When you have done that let it become a real image again, only this time you are a non-smoker. Do this a few times, and each time it will feel more normal and exciting.
Imagine now that you can access the smoking programme in your mind. You may think of it as a folder or a picture on your own inner desktop. When you have located it you can change the name or the icon to something that is fitting with your new image.
And lastly carry out a meditation or self-hypnosis session and use some affirmations or suggestions that are relevant to you.
For example say in your mind,:
Make your statements positive and in the now and your mind will behave as if.
As you relax, create in your mind's eye the image of yourself sometime in the near future looking and feeling well and happy.
Hear yourself say, "No thanks. I am a non-smoker."
And love it.
If you need a helping hand please consider my free ABC 123 Breathing Technique mini-lesson at Barb School ~ the link will open in a new tab.
If extra help is needed my Non-smoker Maker Hypnotic Meditation is for sale through the same link.
Fairy drawing by Inge