From my own personal experience and my work helping hundreds of smokers to find freedom from cigarettes, I know that quitting smoking the traditional way is not easy. What I have also learned is a way in which it can be done much much easier.
One element of that easier way is to not set a quit date for yourself to stop smoking by.
When you set a date to start something…be it weight loss, a life without smoking or anything else you dream of achieving. The next thing most people do, (straight after setting that date) is announce their positive intentions to the world. In our minds we feel that this is a good thing to do, as sharing it with others will make us more accountable and committed, giving us (hopefully) more incentive to follow through. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way.
In our minds we feel that this is a good thing to do, as sharing it with others will make us more accountable and committed, giving us (hopefully) more incentive to follow through. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way.
Psychological tests from as far back as 1933 have been carried out in this area and they show that when someone publicly announces that they have found a solution to a problem, and they are publicly acknowledged for it, their brain interprets this ‘solution’ as being a reality….even though it hasn’t actually been achieved yet. Meaning that person will be far less likely to make it happen than someone who keeps quiet about their goals.
You see our own self-image is located within our brains, and this image is created from hundreds of identity symbols that we have about ourselves. We can create an identity symbol through talk or action. If you talk enough about a new identity symbol the brain can interpret this symbol as being complete, which means it won’t push you into any further action to achieve it.
Let your actions play a louder part than your words! It won’t be long till people see the new non-smoking you!
The second reason why setting a stop smoking day can be detrimental is because it causes fear. Smokers associate stopping smoking with many elements of fear; Fear of putting on weight, feeling deprived, not having anything to do with their hands, suffering from withdrawal. They fear all these things happening and more! And when a smoker is frightened guess what that makes them want to do more? Yep, smoke!
So when a smoker looks daily at that big red circle on the calendar taunting them with all the dreadful things that will come on that day they reach for a cigarette. They will smoke even more to make themselves feel better and calmer. They try to cram in as much as possible before they have to say goodbye forever. Which only serves to make their situation a worse one to escape.
Making smokers frightened is the worst thing you can do. This is why it drives me mad that the government and medical industry still insist on sharing horrific images of what will happen to you if you continue to smoke.
Research in the field of Neuropsychology has shown us that when a smoker is shown a picture of a diseased lung their brain becomes stimulated in what they call the craving spot. The same spot that is stimulated when a person craves a cigarette. These pictures do not work, and in fact, only amplifies the smokers need to light up!
Then take a look at our National Stop Smoking Day. The day they promote as one that will compel smokers to try and stop. Do you know what feeling this actually creates in smokers? It makes smokers feel threatened, guilty and like they’re being told what to do!
Of all the smokers I have known and loved I can count on one hand how many of them like being told what to do! So in response to stop smoking day these smokers will metaphorically stick two fingers up at the establishment and smoke more.
Lastly, research presented in the British Medical Journal show that smokers who do not set a date to stop smoking and ‘just do it’ are proven to have a far greater chance of succeeding than those who set and plan for a specific date.
Now, the facts behind this are that those people who did not set a specific day, stopped smoking because something just happened in their mind, they woke up one day and just decided to not smoke. Some of them got a cold and felt so rubbish from it that they decided they couldn’t smoke and then….. never did again! Or something similar.
I’m sure you have all heard of these people. They find it hard to explain to you why or how it happened other than by saying something just changed in their mind and thinking and that was it. They then stop smoking without withdrawal or ever having any urge to smoke again! They walk away from it so easily that all us smokers can do is gape in disbelief…and admittedly, a little bit of jealousy!
They didn’t try to stop smoking, plan a day for their last one or go through agonizing weeks of withdrawal. They avoided all the ‘normal’ stop smoking agony because something just changed in their mind.
So what does all this prove? For me, it shows that if someone you love is a smoker please do not try and frighten them, bully them or make them feel guilty about their smoking. You will only perpetuate the problem. Don’t give them a deadline or day they need to quit by because research shows us it will do no good at all.
If you are a smoker, then take from this that the most successful non-smokers are created by a change in their mind that just happens and leaves them free of fear, withdrawal and most importantly, cigarettes. They find themselves able to just walk away from it with no pressure.
So look for a method to stop smoking that will provide you with a supportive change of mind instead of trying to scare you away from your cigarettes. A method that will let you take your time. Allowing you to stop when you are ready instead of pressuring you to commit to a day before your mind is prepared to let go.