Lawrence E. Kincade, Ph.D., LCSW > Steps To Becoming a Non-Smoker


List the Positives

Make a thorough list of all the positive things you get from smoking.  Remember, smoking like all habits we may want to change has functioned as a "solution" before it became a problem.  Every "positive" function smoking provides should be acknowledged and understood, so that alternatives can be developed.  Some examples include:  it relaxes you, it gives you a break from work, it gets you outside, etc.

 Develop a Compelling, Positive Motivating Image

Develop a vivid, coherent and compelling image of what life will be like as a non-smoker.  The second law of hypnosis states, "When will and imagination are in conflict, imagination always wins."  If you are trying to use willpower to stop smoking, but your imagination is full of vivid images of how good it would feel to smoke, success is unlikely.  If, rather, your imagination is full of compelling images of what your life would feel like as a non-smoker, it's a fair fight and will is in service of imagination, not in conflict with it.  The idea is to develop a set of positive images that "pull" you into healthy living, not fear-based or guilt-inducing reasons to not behave in unhealthy ways, which doesn't work.  Some examples:  walking comfortably, climbing stairs without becoming "winded," enjoying the taste of food, having more energy, purchases to be made with the money saved, being a more positive role-model for your children, etc.

 Develop a List of Suggestions

Make a list of positive suggestions you would like to receive deeply in your mind that: 

1) automatically reorganize your identity as a non-smoker, and 2) allow you to resist the occasional urge to resume this old habit, whether it is due to a physical craving for the nicotine or the psychological familiarity of the smoking ritual, itself.  For example:  "Whenever I feel stressed or tense what will really relax and satisfy me is a deep and comfortable breath of fresh air.  Even now......I can breathe in.....slowly....and hold by breath for a few seconds...then as I exhale I can let go of tension and let go of cravings as I initiate new plans for better health."

 Replace Previously "Positive" Functions with New Behaviors

Develop specific plans for the replacement of every "positive" function of smoking is essential to your success.  Sometime, the development of replacement rituals is helpful.  For example, for some smokers a cigarette (or other forms of tobacco use) represents a ritualized form of mental or physical break from the routine.  Your subconscious mind has become accustomed to this brief diversion - the momentary relief or break from work.  Therefore, it is important that you continue to implement these breaks or diversions, but with a healthy substitute; such as, taking a walk or breathing deeply.

 Say Goodbye Gratefully

Enjoy your last few smoking experiences, appreciating the "value" smoking has provided and preparing to say goodbye to this "old friend."  Smoking mindfully and appreciatively (rather than ambivalently or guility) changes the relationship to smoking and prepares one for the transition to becoming a non-smoker.

 Schedule for Success

Two or more sessions may be helpful to get your plan organized before deciding upon a ending date, followed by a few sessions near the ending date for further support and addressing of any unanticipated difficulties.  Thereafter, sessions can be scheduled, as indicated, for reinforcement and the measuring of success.