Use Imagination, Desire Against Smoking

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

People who have unsuccessfully tried to give up smoking often tell me, "I just don't have the will power to quit smoking." 

I think that people apply their will power where it need not be applied, and as a result, they don't get the results they expect. This gives birth to another negative self limiting belief, "I don't have the will power." You can't will smoking out of your life just as you can't will a headache to disappear. On the subject of using will power against smoking, James Van Fleet, a renowned speaker and peak performance expert, was once told by his friend to "try using your will power next time you have diarrhea."

To give up smoking, you need desire and imagination far more than you need will power. Out of the three, desire is what you need most. You have to r-e-a-l-l-y w-a-n-t to give up smoking. This sounds really strange and you might be wanting to scream at the top of your lungs, "What do you mean desire? I would give anything to give up smoking." 

A statement of "I would give anything," always warrants a closer scrutiny. For example, a lot of times, in admiration of an excellent performer, such as an Olympic gymnast, an accomplished dancer, a piano player, etc., we take a deep sigh, and say to ourselves, "I wish I could be (like that), or I wish I could do (such and such). Then we get busy with whatever is on hand without giving a second thought to what we just wished. Such a desire is only skin deep and in reality we are not ready to give it all the hours of practice, patience, and persistence that are necessary to have an outstanding success in any field.

When your desire to give up smoking is stronger than your desire for all the pleasures you can get out of smoking, then you are truly ready to give up smoking. Among the Romans, "addict" was a person who was designated to speak in favor of a particular subject or person (ad=in favor of, diction=speech). When we are "addicted" to nicotine, we "speak" more for smoking than against smoking in our mind, so our efforts to quit fail. When people ask for my help to quit smoking, I ask them to write down all the reasons for "Why I want to smoke?" and "Why I want to quit?" If a person can give ten more reasons, off the top of his or her head, for wanting to quit than for wanting to smoke, he or she is ready to quit. You then know that desire to quit is stronger than the desire to smoke.

You will get better results if you desire for positive ends. For example, in desiring to lose weight or desiring to stop smoking, your mind is still on a negative goal, that is, what you don't want to have, rather than what you really want to have. 

Therefore, I advise people that instead of "losing weight," desire to become slim. Instead of "quitting smoking," desire clean lungs and clean breath. Desire stronger stamina, brighter teeth, spotless fingers, better taste in the mouth, food tasting better, extra money you will have for buying things you love to have, etc. Spell out the positive goals that you most care about. Those have to be the goals for which you will truly give anything. Then hold that desire in your mind, all the time. It will be a strong deterrent against smoking.

A lady who was having a lot of trouble motivating herself to quit smoking had a horse she

loved dearly. I asked her to imagine going to a store to buy food for her horse, and the label on fodder bag read, "This food has proven to be dangerous for the heart, lungs, and other vital organs, and chances are that it will kill your horse." I then asked her if she would still buy that fodder bag to feed her horse. She was horrified by the thought of it. So I asked her if she didn't deserve the same compassion and consideration that her horse did.

To sum it all up, constantly hold a positive desire in your heart for clean lungs, fresh breath, better health, greater stamina, better taste in mouth, etc., and imagine that you have stopped smoking, your lungs and heart are becoming cleaner and stronger, you are richer, more robust and energetic, etc. Keep on desiring and imagining such outcomes, several times, on a daily basis, just as you would take medication every day, morning, afternoon, and evening. In the beginning, reward yourself every hour that you can keep your body free of nicotine. 

If you have a relapse, take it merely as a "slip," get up, and get on with your "desire and imagination" program. If you use a nicotine patch, or any other program to quit smoking, you can still use these ideas for additional help. Good luck!

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


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