Do you really believe you can stop smoking? If not, why not? In an earlier post, I encouraged you to think about the “escape hatches” you’ve used in the past to give yourself an out when the quit got too tough, and to tell yourself that you can stop smoking in spite of them.
For instance, if one of your escape hatches was, “I’ll stay quit as long as I don’t gain weight,” I suggested that you tell yourself, “I can quit smoking and maintain my weight,” or even, “I can quit smoking and lose weight at the same time.”
The Voice of the Junkie
If you took my suggestion and actually started telling yourself that you could stop smoking in spite of a given escape hatch, chances are very good that your inner junkie had something to say about it, like, “Who do you think you’re fooling? You know you’ll pack on the pounds when you quit and you’ll just start puffing again. What’s the point of even starting?”
Unfortunately, even if they do start trying to close their escape hatches as I suggest, a lot of smokers will just accept the negative counter-thoughts that come up without even questioning them. And that’s why they’re still smokers.
You have to understand that the inner junkie will say anything to get you to put off quitting. It knows your deepest secret fears, and it will use them against you. If you simply accept these negative counter-thoughts, they will derail your quit (often before it even begins).
Learn to Talk Back
Don’t allow the inner junkie’s negative counter-thoughts to go unchallenged. If you tell yourself, “I can quit smoking and maintain my weight,” and your inner junkie says, “Oh, yeah? It’s never happened before,” tell it that you’ve never been this determined to make it happen before. When it comes up with something to counter that, counter it again.
Never Let It Go Unchallenged
There are a couple of things that will happen when you start talking back to the inner junkie this way: one is that the junkie will dig deeper and deeper into your fears and insecurities to come up with better ammunition. This is a good thing, because the more of this stuff you get out into the light of day and deal with now, the less there is to sneak up on you and surprise you after you quit.
The other thing that will happen is that you’ll actually start to believe you can quit, in spite of your deepest secret fears, because you’ll start to see that that’s all they are: they’re just fears; they don’t have to come true.
You Know You Can Do This
You already know you can stop smoking: if you’re a pack a day smoker, you stop smoking 20 times a day. The problem is, you start smoking again 20 times a day, too. What you have to learn is that you don’t ever have to start smoking again once you stop.
And confronting your fears — taking them out, looking at them in the light of day and seeing them for what they really are — is essential to this process: as long as they stay hidden, there’s a chance that they’ll trip you up. When you see them clearly for what they are, they lose their power over you.