After 12 years of smoking and quitting the habit for 5 months (my longest streak and counting), it began to dawn on me that quitting smoking - like cutting a bad habit requires a sequence of corrective thoughts and action. The key in my opinion, is the discipline to exceed personal limits. From the first phase of correcting the mindset to believing, execution and maintaining the habit, it all revolves around discipline. The will to forge a new positive habit and break the old degenerate one. The good news is, this sequence of thoughts and action is not rocket science. Allow me to explain.
1) Changing the mindset to believe Every single great move in history started from a brilliant thought. Much like quitting smoking, we need to start with the intent, which translate to thoughts and thoughts to successive structured actions.
2) Setting goals and making progressive changes Cutting down your daily intake of cigarettes from 10 to 1 a day is a huge stride for most people. What I suggest is to set high but realistic goals. I suggest a 50% reduction for a start.
3) Mastering the "Placebo Smoking" technique (Smoking without a cigarette) When you realise you are smoking 5 sticks a day instead of 10 and you are totally not smoking (or smoking less than 5 sticks a day) on the weekend, this is where we can move on to develop greater control over our thoughts and actions. I call this the "Placebo Smoking " technique or smoking without a cigarette. This is interesting because nobody really talk about it or practice it. The idea behind smoking without a cigarette lies in one thing - breathing correctly relaxes us and not the nicotine itself. We all know the key to meditation, yoga and other activities that promote relaxation revolves around better breathing techniques. The great similarity between yoga/meditation and smoking lies in taking deep inhaling breaths; an action that is key to relaxation. Since taking deep inhaling breaths relaxes us, the medium - which is the cigarette itself, is of secondary importance. However, smokers are just like everyone else. We always find it hard to change our habits and leave our comfort zone. This is where the second phase of "Placebo Smoking" takes place. Remembering that breathing deeply is key, we can focus on next steps which revolves around the idea of a placebo. A placebo is a substance/treatment containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect. This is how the placebo effect is implemented to my quit-smoking methodology. Now do this - pretend you are holding a cigarette, lift the cigarette to the mouth and inhale deeply. Yes, inhale deeply and exhale, pretending to breathe out the "cigarette smoke". Visualise the whole action - imagining taking out that pack of cigarette, taking out one cigarette, lighting it, deeply inhaling it and exhale out slowly. The power of visualisation is highly underrated but used very effectively by the most powerful, influential and richest people in the world.
Ask yourself this question - which is more relaxing? Holding the cigarette or inhaling/exhaling the cigarette? Nicotine on the contrary, is not significantly addictive. It is the habit that is and the deep inhale/exhale that takes our mind away from work or relaxes us.View Thread
There are several techniques to quit smoking. Cold turkey, nicotine patches/gum, hypnosis, electronic cigarettes (this concept is debatable) and other medical treatment are common methods to kick the habit. What I would like to introduce is a fresh but practical concept called "Placebo Smoking ". As the name suggests, "Placebo Smoking" is a discipline to guide the mind and body to believe the body is relaxed by apparently "smoking"; when it does not involve a physical cigarette. I can imagine some objections at this moment - "I will probably need a real cigarette after a while", "I can't pretend to be relaxed without the actual cigarette/nicotine", "I am deceiving myself!". So how will this technique really help quit smoking? The guiding principle behind this is our breathing technique. The inhaling/exhaling of cigarette smoke is what truly creates the lasting relaxing effect, not the cigarette's burning taste or nicotine's chemical effects. Studies mentioned that nicotine is a stimulant/relaxant and can transmit signals to the brain to release chemicals that alter mood, emotion and behaviour. However, such effects are short-term and last for minutes only. On the other hand, proper breathing techniques can produce the same benefits - without the foul smell cigarette smoke leaves on our breath and fingers. Not to mention reducing the risk of lung cancer, pregnancy complications and other health hazards tar and other chemicals can do to our body. I am sure we have seen smokers who lived till the age of 90 but why should we take that chance that we can live for the next 60 years without the risk of smoking-related diseases ? This is a gamble I personally do not wish to take. Now, if you are committed to quit smoking, here are the next steps. Step 1 The first step is always to cut down the daily intake. Start by one cigarette after each meal, one on the way to the office and one on the way back home. That is about 5 cigarettes a day from your usual. If you are smoking less than 5 a day, you are very close to quitting smoking entirely. Then stick to 1 a day and smoke that one cigarette after a long day work. Cutting down takes away a lot of psychological pressure that quitting takes so take baby steps.
Step 2 When you are consistently smoking 5 or less cigarettes a day, you are very close to being less reliant on smoking and moving away from the vicious habit. This is now the game changer - when you finish the last pack, do not think of buying. Think about something else - you could save that up, go have a coffee and start practicing "Placebo Smoking". Do this - imagine yourself taking a pack of cigarettes from your pocket, take out a stick and put it in your mouth. Imagine lighting it and go through that whole motion. Now, take a deep breath and inhale the imaginary cigarette. Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly and imagine releasing the cigarette smoke from your mouth and nostrils. Take another imaginary puff and reenact the whole motion. Feel your lungs expand as you take in the air and your body relaxing as you exhale. Take your mind away from the smoking intent and continue with another activity.
Step 3 The next time you feel an urge to smoke (after watching someone smoke or decide to take a breather), practice Step 2 again. Move your fingers to your mouth while pretending to hold a cigarette between your fingers and inhale the imaginary cigarette again. Remember, take that temptation away by practicing "Placebo Smoking". Remind yourself to fight that urge by not focusing on the medium - which is the cigarette but focusing on proper breathing techniques.
Through these 3 easy steps, it is possible to condition our mind and body to replace actual smoking with "Placebo Smoking". When we learn to form new positive habits and ditch old degenerate ones, we can step out of comfort zones and do the seemingly impossible. Do the "impossible" today.