Was that one of your resolutions for 2016? And 2015? And 2014? And, will it be on your wish list for 2017? You long to stop smoking, but you just can’t seem to quit.
We easily become disheartened when we consistently fail to achieve our goals – our hopes are shattered and we are tempted to give up all together. “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around” – Proverbs 13:12 – The Message.
I’m not a smoker but I recently heard Allen Carr’s story and thought I’d share it with you. Allen started smoking during his national service in Britain, age 18. Following numerous attempts to quit, he finally stopped in 1983, aged 48. Carr had two realisations which enabled him to quit: Firstly, he realised that he was an addict – he was addicted to nicotine and, secondly he realised that the physical withdrawal from nicotine left him with an “empty, insecure feeling”. This is what he was trying to get rid of, and why he kept lighting up. Once he stopped smoking, he had an overwhelming desire to explain his method to as many smokers as possible. Allan Carr was on a mission to rid the world of smoking.
23 years after he stopped smoking and after he’d helped many hundreds of people quit, Allan Carr was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 71. He died aged 72.
On being told the news of his terminal cancer Carr said: “Since I smoked my final cigarette, 23 years ago, I have been the happiest man in the world. I still feel the same way today.”
Don’t give up on your dream to walk away from smoking for good. You can do this!
One step at a time
Here are Allan Carr’s top ten tips to stop smoking:
- Set your date and time to stop. Carry on smoking as usual right up to that time – don’t try to cut down beforehand, that just makes cigarettes seem more precious than they are.
- Remember – you’re not giving up anything because cigarettes do absolutely nothing for you at all. They provide you with no genuine pleasure or crutch, they simply keep you addicted – a slave to nicotine. Get it clearly into your mind: you are losing nothing and you are making marvellous positive gains not only in health, energy and money but also in confidence, self-respect, freedom and, most important of all, in the length and quality of your future life. You’re going to enjoy being a non-smoker right from the moment you put out your last cigarette.
- Light your final cigarette and commit to never puff on another one or take nicotine in any form again, regardless of what highs or lows may come your way in the future. This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make because the length and quality of your future life critically depend on it. Having made what you know to be the correct decision never question or to doubt that decision.
- Your body will continue to withdraw from nicotine for a few days but that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. The physical withdrawal is very slight – there is no pain – and it passes quickly. What’s more, it’s what smokers suffer all their smoking lives. Non-smokers do not suffer it. You are a non-smoker and so you’ll soon be free of it forever. If you associate a cigarette with a coffee, tea, drink or break, have your coffee, tea, drink or break and at that moment, instead of thinking: “I can’t have a cigarette now”, simply think: “Isn’t it great: I can enjoy this moment without having to choke myself to death”.
- Do not try to avoid smoking situations or opt out of life. Go out and enjoy social occasions right from the start and do not envy smokers, pity them. Realise that they will be envying you because every single one of them will be wishing they could be like you: free from the whole filthy nightmare. No smoker wants to see their children start smoking which means they wish they hadn’t started themselves. Remember it’s not you who are being deprived but those poor smokers. They’re being deprived of their health, energy, money, peace of mind, confidence, courage, self-respect and freedom. If you’re offered a cigarette, just say: “No thanks – I don’t smoke”, rather than start a long conversation about how long it has been since you stopped.
- Don’t try not to think about smoking – it doesn’t work. If I say: “Don’t think about a brick wall, what are you thinking about? Just make sure that whenever you are thinking about it, you’re not thinking: “I want a cigarette but I can’t have one” but instead: “Isn’t is marvellous: I don’t need to smoke anymore and I don’t want to smoke anymore. Yippee, I’m a non-smoker!” Then you can think about it all you like and you’ll still be happy.
- Never be fooled into thinking you can have the odd cigarette just to be sociable or just to get over a difficult moment. If you do, you’ll find yourself back in the trap in no time at all. Never think in terms of one cigarette, always think of the whole filthy lifetime’s chain. Remember: there is no such thing as just one cigarette.
- Do not use any substitutes. They all make it more difficult to stop because they perpetuate the illusion that you’re making a sacrifice. Substitutes that contain nicotine, i.e. so-called Nicotine Replacement Therapy – patches, gums, nasal sprays and inhalators – are particularly unhelpful as they simply keep the addiction to nicotine alive. It’s like advising a heroin addict who’s smoking the drug off foil, to start injecting it instead.
- Do not keep cigarettes on you or anywhere else in case of an emergency. If you do, it means you’re doubting your decision. Non-smokers do not need cigarettes. You are already a non-smoker the moment you put out your final cigarette. In fact one of the many joys of being free is not having to worry about having cigarettes and a light on you.
- Life will soon go back to normal as a non-smoker but be on your guard not to fall back into the trap. If your brain ever starts playing tricks on you by thinking “Just one cigarette”, remember there is no such thing, so the question you need to ask yourself is not: “Shall I have a cigarette now” but “Do I want to become a smoker again, all day, every day sticking those things into my mouth, setting light to them, never being allowed to stop?” The answer “No”. Why not? “Because I didn’t like being a smoker – that’s why I decided to become a non-smoker”. That way those moments can become pleasurable as you congratulate yourself that you’re free and that way you can enjoy remaining a non-smoker for the rest of your life.
I trust that as your mind-set changes, you will begin to celebrate life and enjoy true and lasting freedom from smoking.