Quit Smoking with Creative Visualization

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Quit Smoking with Creative Visualization

My brother was  a pack a day smoker for over two decades before he quit cold turkey. He quit because his "why" was big, but I'm sure that one of the things that helped him was creative visualization. If you’ve tried to quit smoking and failed once or a hundred times, creative visualization can be your key to lasting success.

Scientists believe creative visualization works in the same way that repeated thinking about an actual memory does – by wearing what amounts to a groove in the long-term-memory storage part of your brain. Athletes use the technique to imagine themselves in a game making all the right moves, as if they’re practicing their sport. Smokers who want to quit can “practice” in the same way to become non-smokers.

The first step in the process is to find out if you’re ready to quit smoking. Your desire to quit must be genuine and internal. This was what I called my brother's "why."

The truth is, you began smoking for some amazingly foolish reasons. Peer pressure. Fear. Insecurity. You must face the uncomfortable fact that you made a life-changing decision based on how cool you looked.

First, find a comfortable spot. Block out all interruptions. Relax by breathing deeply, slowly and steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and clear your mind.

Visualize all the elements of smoking that disgust, distress, inconvenience and alienate you. Think in detail and use all your senses. Write them all down.

During each half-hour visualization session, dwell on one aspect. Use all your senses. Imagine what you must smell like to other people. How your phlegmy wheeze sounds. How your mouth tastes. Immerse yourself in the revolting images until you can’t stand it anymore. Stay with this series of visualizations until you are convinced that smoking is disgusting.

Next picture yourself in an enjoyable social situation, one where you would normally smoke. The crucial point of the visualization is you’re not smoking, but you’re still having a wonderful time. Chances are, the first few times you try this, cigarettes will sneak back into the picture because smokers smoke even in their daydreams.

Next, picture yourself at an event where smoking is not allowed. Imagine you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not distracted by thoughts of when you get to leave and have a smoke. Play out these visualizations for as long and with as many variations as you like, as long as it’s pleasant and doesn’t include you smoking.

If you have physical withdrawal symptoms, see your doctor about any of the excellent smoking-cessation aids available. Given enough time and practice, your mind can achieve great things for you.

Most important of all, just like anything else, is to never give up. This is a tough battle to fight and most people will tell you that it is a battle that they fight everyday.