Smoking is the single biggest avoidable risk a person can take in one's entire lifetime. And yet, millions of intelligent people choose to take that risk every single day of their lives.
Why? Because of the false beliefs that smokers have about cigarettes that force them to continue smoking against their better judgment.
Myths and illusions
There are several myths and illusions about smoking, but here are some of the most common:
•Smokers do not have sufficient willpower and that's why it's hard for them to quit.
•Smokers have addictive personalities which make them different from non-smokers.
•Smokers have a self-destructive streak in them.
All of the above are false. Smokers will walk miles in the middle of the night if they run out of cigarettes, proving that they can be strong-willed people. Secondly, it is not the personality that's addictive; it's not even the drug (nicotine); it's the belief that you are dependent on the drug that's the problem. Thirdly, I say to smokers who think they have a self-destructive streak, “Let's test it out. Before you light your next cigarette, try jumping off the roof.”
Facts about smoking
Knowing the facts will help smokers to quit easily and permanently.
Fact #1: Contrary to their perception, smokers do not receive a boost from smoking a cigarette. Smoking only relieves the withdrawal symptoms from the previous cigarette, which in turn creates more withdrawal symptoms once the new cigarette is finished. In this way, the drug addiction creates a vicious cycle.
Fact #2: The “relief” smokers feel on lighting a cigarette, the feeling of being “back to normal,” is the feeling experienced by non-smokers all the time.
Fact #3: Contrary to popular belief, willpower is not required to quit smoking. This is because it takes no willpower to stop doing something that an individual has no desire to do, which is the realisation smokers come to once their doubt and fear about stopping have been removed (using cognitive therapy).
Tips to be
• Set your date and time to stop and carry on smoking as usual right up to that time. Don't try to cut down beforehand, because that just makes cigarettes seem more precious rather than less precious.
• Look forward to stopping. Rather than assume you are going to feel deprived and miserable, just look forward to finally being free.
• Remember, you are not “giving up” or “quitting.” These terms are negative. Who wants to be labelled a quitter? Instead decide that you are going to stop. You are going to be a non-smoker, not an ex-smoker!
• Never be fooled into thinking you could have “just one cigarette.” You will either return to smoking at your old level immediately or gradually build up to it over a period of time. Never think in terms of one cigarette, always think of 100,000.
• Avoid any form of substitution. If you replace cigarettes with chocolate — you'll gain weight and be miserable. Even the use of seemingly innocent substitutes such as carrots and apples creates a feeling of deprivation. Remember you are not giving up anything — you are getting rid of smoking. Looking for a replacement would be like getting rid of a terrible cold and wanting to replace it with the flu!
(The writer is a certified Allen Carr therapist and a practising doctor at Uforia Centre for Integrated Medicine in Bangalore.
He can be reached at email@example.com)