How to Give Up Smoking – Or Anything Else You’re Ready to Quit
When guiding people through the detox process as I do, the human condition of addiction is impossible not to encounter.
Through all my work, it still astonishes me how the physiological and psychological addiction to both caffeine and sugar can be entirely eradicated in just 7 days. And yet, there are more dynamic and deeper layers to our addictions and I spend a significant amount of time teasing out these threads with my individual clients, as they arise and I started to educate myself on addiction psychology and soon came across a powerful framework with which to both understand and overcome addiction.
Intuitively, I already knew that it made sense to “make friends” with addiction and that this would ultimately be a more beneficial, empowering model than blocking out. My work with my clients only furthered this belief. Ultimately, where the attention goes, the energy flows and so pushing against the unwanted always and only ever makes it stronger.
What it is, what it’s not, how to “deal” with it, how to support loved ones dealing with it…
It is a popular topic and rightly so when it is relevant to so many of us: 1 in 4 Britons have a mental health illness or an addiction problem and 1 in 7 Americans over the age of 12 are currently addicted to alcohol and/or other substances. And it’s not simply the numbers — the truth is that the journey towards a mindful and conscious detoxification of the body often comes from having been addicted, at one point or another, to something. For some, this is cupcakes to caffeine or bed-time wine to video games. For others, it’s smoking.
What Addiction Really Is
Addiction is an unconscious signal of not being in control. This is neither good nor bad so there’s no use demonizing it. It just is. Understood from this perspective, then, addiction “recovery” is really a question of learning to recover one’s free will. And will is consciously exercised. So, you want to give up smoking? Embrace smoking and make it a conscious choice. Sounds a little kooky-reverse-psychology? Maybe. But stick with me here and give this a try: this powerful technique comes from one of my tried-and-true wellness bibles, Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation, by Andreas Moritz.
His technique to stop smoking comes from choosing to smoke less and ending the addiction. “Smoking” — or the “which one” of addiction here is not relevant. The addictive behaviour and the loss of choice or control is. What Moritz has seen in his work with thousands of people is that addressing and ending the addiction is the key to detoxification.
The Three-Step Technique to Stop Smoking. (Or any other addiction)
1. Don’t Avoid It — Bring Your Attention To It
Instead of running away from the sensation of craving a cigarette, covering it up (with a patch, through vaping, having a snack, or anything else) or constraining how many you can have, focus your mind on what is actually happening.
When hit with the urge, verbalize it by saying, “I want to smoke now”. Instead of a hijacking of your senses by this craving and the subsequent unconscious relenting, your attention upon it acknowledges and articulates your desire. This is more powerful than it sounds.
What does this do? Instead of demonizing it, you’re calling it out. Addictive behaviour is called from the subconscious and made a part of the conscious mind. You’ve managed to buy yourself some time to name and then make the mindful decision of whether you want to smoke — or not.
(Neat hack: drinking half a glass of water also brings this desire into your conscious mind. The point is to try to focus your attention and call out the behaviour — no judgment)
Instead of “Mind Over Matter”, Mind With Choice
Once you call out the behaviour, the next step is to acknowledge your choice in the matter. You can say to yourself, “I have the free choice to smoke now”. “I can choose to smoke, and I can also choose to do something else”. Again, addiction is really about the loss of one’s control and regaining one’s will. Here, you are highlighting to your subconscious mind that your inherent freedom of choice remains. There is no edict telling you “cannot” or “must not”. You simply feel this way. And you have the choice to act on it. In essence, your embrace of that freedom ends the addictive behaviour without the withdrawal symptoms. There is nothing “bad” about having the free choice to smoke, so any temptation you may have to demonize this is replaced instead by agency and empowerment. Since the choice rests with you, the responsibility of the choice made is entirely your own.
2. Make The Choice
Your need to smoke is not a “wrong” choice. If, after highlighting your choice, your decision is to smoke anyway, do so and say, “I choose to begin smoking again”. But, before you reach for your cigarette, slow down and give pause one last time. Check in and ask if this is truly what you want. If so, proceed. If not, Moritz offers this: repeat to yourself, “For the moment I accept that I want to smoke but I chose not to this time”. Within this technique, there is no “forever and ever” – all we ever truly have is “NOW”.
If you decide not to, end this technique on a positive note by thinking about how you would feel if you stopped smoking altogether And, again, because all we really have is now, your decision to not smoke now does not mean you may not choose it again next time or down the road. But that decision is not for now.
3. Make It A Practice
Humans are creatures of habits. And this is not because we’re “programmable” and lack free will. It is precisely the opposite. This technique shows that choice is a conscious, mindful matter. In order to regain control over one’s will, all aspects should be brought from the subconscious to the conscious mind. Make sure to follow this technique every time you have the desire to smoke. Its simplicity and effectiveness lie in the fact that, no matter which choice you make, you cannot be “wrong”. The point is to be aware and by deciding, every time, whether to smoke or not, you are beginning to become “aware” — a prerequisite to consciously taking charge of your life. Using this technique, the majority of people end their smoking addiction within one week, others take a little longer. How long it takes to quit is not as important as experiencing a major positive shift in your thinking and in your attitude towards yourself and others. For anything in your life that currently feels out of control, this mindset and technique says;
“Don’t Quit!” but, rather, “Start doing something better”.
Research studies that prove that smoking is hazardous to health have a point — but not much more than that. None of these studies gives a sound method that is not based on denial and punishment when it comes to addressing the addiction. This method works as well as it does because, instead of condemning ourselves for not already “being there”, we are bringing ourselves, continuously, to a present moment conscious decision which makes this path not just far easier, but more empowering on all levels.