There’s no doubt that quitting smoking can be one of the most daunting challenges you’ll ever face, but you may be surprised to know that it doesn’t exactly have to be torturous, either. There are plenty of aids that can help you quit smoking with less discomfort, like nicotine replacement products, hypnosis and more.
But one of the most powerful techniques is already in your possession, whether you know it or not! This technique is one that you already use every single day of your life. You use it when you’re sick, when you’re feeling great, and when you’re working through challenges. It can make all the difference between success and failure, no matter what you’re doing at the time.
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What is this technique? Self-talk.
Don’t dismiss it – when you really think about it, self-talk is truly powerful.
Have you ever accidentally talked yourself into being sick? Perhaps you woke up with a slight headache, and then spent the morning telling everyone that you didn’t feel good and by the end of the day you were not only suffering from a much worse headache but also body aches and other symptoms? On the other hand, perhaps you can remember experiences where you talked yourself into being well too.
Using self-talk to help yourself through the stages of quitting smoking is not only simple, it works! Your thoughts have immense power to shape your perception of everything that happens to you.
What do you think would happen if you quit smoking and then complained mentally about it the whole time? “This sucks. I want to smoke, but I can’t. It’s not fair that other people can smoke but I can’t. I’m so sick of these cravings already, how am I going to make it through a few more weeks like this? I can’t do this. Maybe I should wait until I’m less stressed…” On and on it goes – and before you know it, you’ve talked yourself into smoking again!
On the other hand, you can use this same type of self-talk to HELP yourself through your quit.
Here’s how to do it:
When you wake up on your first day as a non-smoker, you’re likely to experience some feelings of anxiety. You might have thoughts like, “Oh, that’s right, I’ve quit smoking. Man, I really want to smoke. Maybe I should quit tomorrow instead… As soon as you become aware that you are thinking thoughts like this, immediately turn it around. Say with confidence, “Today is going to be a GREAT day! I have officially quit smoking and I feel better already. (Take a deep breath) It’s so good to be able to breathe again, and it’s going to get even better as I go along!” Throughout the day, periodically say things like this to yourself: “I’m doing really GOOD at this! Not smoking is easier than I thought it was going to be. I’ve had a few cravings, but nothing that I can’t handle. I can handle anything if I really set my mind to it. I’m so proud of myself.” When you do experience cravings, simply talk yourself through them. “Okay, I’m having a craving. It’s just a feeling and it will pass. Having a craving doesn’t mean I have to do anything about it. If I just ignore it, it will go away on its own. I’m okay. This is manageable, I can handle it.” These are just examples of some positive self-talk that you can use, but feel free to improvise. You could also be a little more aggressive, like this: “I refuse to give in to your call, nicotine! You will not beat me. I’m stronger than you are, and I’m proving it every time I refuse to smoke.” The important thing is to avoid using negative self-talk because it will simply push you back toward the desire to smoke again. If you catch yourself thinking or speaking negatively, turn it right around and affirm how great you feel, how strong you are, and so on. In no time at all, you’ll really start to believe it. As the old saying goes, “You are what you think.”