Positive Reinforcement

There are two times in your quit that it’s really important to be positive: while you’re preparing to quit and after you actually do quit.

While you’re preparing to quit, it’s really important to couch yours reasons to quit in positive terms. For instance, if one of your reasons for quitting is that you hate the way your breath stinks from smoking, express that as something like, “As a non-smoker, my breath will be clean and fresh,” rather than, “When I quit smoking, my breath won’t stink any more.”

The Little Things Mean A Lot

It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one: if you think of your reasons for quitting in terms of what you don’t want, you’re associating quitting with things you don’t want. Thinking of your reasons for quitting in positive terms associates your quit with things you do want. I think you get the concept.

Once you have quit, you always want to be giving yourself positive reinforcement, and there are a number of ways you can do that; here are two:

  1. Every night, just before you go to bed, congratulate yourself on living up to your commitment to stay free, just for today. It will make you feel good about yourself in the best way; because it’s based on celebrating something real that you’ve actually done.
  2. Set up regular reward systems to celebrate the milestones of your freedom. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or extravagant; take yourself to lunch at your favorite restaurant to celebrate being free for a week, take your husband, wife, or significant other out to dinner and a show to celebrate being free for a month, plan a trip to some exotic locale to celebrate being free for a year.

Just Use Your Imagination

Use your imagination, and you can come up with tons more ideas than this; the idea is to always have something to look forward to. It’s hard to overstate how powerful this can be in keeping you motivated and moving forward.

Remember: the only one who can make you feel good about quitting smoking is you. That’s what rewarding yourself with these little presents and indulgences for your various milestones is all about.

I congratulated myself every night for nearly 3 years for having stuck by my choice not to feed my addiction that day (I also got up every morning and reminded myself that I was a nicotine addict, that I couldn’t afford to feed that addiction a single puff, and chose not to smoke that day).

Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. And make sure you always get it by giving it to yourself.

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