How “Positive Thinking” Ruins Your Quit Smoking Attempts
Studies show that we’re two times more driven by fear/loss motivators than by gain/benefit ones. Basically it comes from a deep ancestral need for security, to make sure we stay away from danger, so that we live and procreate. Rewards are good and we want them, but we can live and procreate with or without them. Indeed, pains of any kind or size, physical or emotional, could move our asses faster than any of the positive motivators.
When it comes to smoking, you’d expect that just few of the bad things would be enough to help us quit twice faster than booking the holiday we promised to ourselves to have on the saved money, next winter. But it doesn’t. Neither do the promised holiday. In the video at the end of the article, I explain, in short, why.
So if you scroll down the page to watch it now, you’ll have a little fun, especially that I managed to make an under four minutes one (!), but you’d lose a good point I’m going to help you with in this article. And the video will be there anyway when you finish reading. So, really, keep on reading and you’ll have ’em all.
Okay, now why is that, what makes it so that the fear and the hope alike are useless? It is understandable that negativity makes us want to look somewhere else, nobody likes being threatened. But positivity?! How is it possible that the positive look we try to take at quitting smoking stays in our way to achieving our goal?
It is, once more, because of the conflicts that are generated in our minds, as smokers. A nonsmoker could hardly understand them, but for the smoker it is even harder.
Here is why the hope for benefits can’t help us give up smoking.
What we see as benefits of quitting smoking (the health, the money etc), as opposed to the hardship of smoking, we actually perceive as being just normal to nonsmokers, so they are not really “beneficial” anymore, just neutral, and we subconsciously dismiss them as incentives to quit.
Here is why all the fears can’t help us give up smoking.
Losing more of the health and money and self-esteem by smoking is bad bad, but we’ve heard that quitting is hard and after quitting is even harder. And while we know that continuing smoking will harm us more, we also fear even the thought of living without our little helpful friend. We’re scared by the pains we’ve heard a former smoker suffers: the never-ending cravings, the irritability, the weight gain and so on.
So far it is obvious that the result is being stuck in the current condition, trying to avoid a new situation with those pains, convincing ourselves that we can have some kind of control over our smoking. At least, we think to ourselves, we are familiarised with smoking anyway and we do hope it will be better, soon, somehow.
But this belief is harmful in itself, because we logically know that things are getting worse actually and we’re just trying to close our eyes to it, or to excuse ourselves for not stopping yet or for falling back after we’ve stopped for a while. It is a cycle of avoidance and hope and blame and repression, which will only prevent our real, beautiful self from shining…
So how can you escape this loop?
Preferably in a way that also prepare you for quitting without fear and also making it possible for you to prevent the future cravings, instead of having to learn how to deal with them? Well, by starting doing something different than what we normally do. I mean, if you do want a different result than what you already have!
On topic. It makes all the sense that when we are attached to something, the simple fear of losing it will generate gut-level bad feelings. That is just one expression of the fearful cravings (boo!) you think you’d have if you quit smoking. It simply follows that, if there is no attachment, nothing to lose, than there is no fear, then there can’t possibly be any cravings. Still, it’s a long way for you to get there, but, for now, I want you to HAVE something.
You will soon (like in 20 minutes!) see for yourself that we don’t lose anything when we stop smoking. That’s a simple truth, yet you don’t belive it. Yet.
Let’s do some hand written fun work here. Make a list of what you now think you’ll lose by quitting. Don’t over do it, just relax – it’s for your own use and you’ll change it anyway – and write.
Make also a list of what you now think you’ll gain by stopping smoking.
Please write them by hand, it’s important, not on your tablet or computer.
And please do it now, before reading to the end.
Ok, I’ll wait…
Now please go over them randomly and eliminate from the first list everything that, if you’d have never smoked, you wouldn’t care about having, anyway. Then remove from the second list all the things that you wouldn’t have lost if you wouldn’t have been smoking in the first place.
Whether there is anything left on any of these lists, or not, keep them and repeat the process, adding other and other items and eliminate any of them, just like before. Keep them anyway, I’ll ask you to read them again, someday soon maybe.
I must make it clear at this point that this is not a pill you take and stop craving cigarettes, but an exercise meant to strengthen your ability to confront your own beliefs, then letting them go, which is something that, for the sake of staying comfortable, we forgot to use. But that ability is fun to make use of and it will help you tremendously to not only to eliminate any cravings (yes, for foods also), but even to prevent them from occurring.
My guess is that, as you practice this exercise (while smoking, of course!) you’ll start to feel how you really want more and more to re-become the non smoker that you were once, long ago, but in a more conscious way, with less excitement, but with more and “mature” power.
I’ll soon open a free quit-smoking class online, for all my email subscribers.
So join my email campaign if you didn’t already and I’ll invite you in.
P.S. The real gain from quitting smoking is the mental agility that you acquire in the process of quitting.
At least with my method.