As with all things in life; practice makes perfect. Now I don’t want to advocate becoming a serial quitter, but research has shown that the more attempts a person has made to stop in the past, the greater their chances of stopping for good in the future are. I had a friend who used to say that he had no trouble in stopping smoking, but that he couldn’t stop starting again.
Amusing as his statement is, the truth is he was never prepared to stop successfully. He failed to plan and use his previous experiences to help him succeed. To rehash a couple of clichés; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and if you carry on doing what you’ve always done, don’t expect any different results. So in order to have success to quit smoking you need three things; the desire to stop, a proper plan and a change in behaviour. Simple, no?
Success from failure comes when you use the experience you had and learn enough to turn the situation around. If you’ve tried to stop smoking before then you will be able to recognise when situations arise to conspire to make you start again. You should have a better understanding of what it is that triggers you to want to have a cigarette. Think back; not only to when you failed in the past and what made you light up again, but to when you were smoking as a habit and what points in the day made you reach for a cigarette.
Knowledge of these triggers will help you to either avoid them or employ coping mechanisms to get through them. If smoking was as a result of stressful situations, plan to avoid those things that will give you stress. Planning well in advance with alternatives to support you should they be unavoidable will greatly improve your chances of success.
Never believe that you can have just one cigarette and that you can continue on your way. Smoking just one cigarette is a relapse and you will have to start all over again and chalk up another failure. Smoking a cigarette to cope with a stressful situation does not solve that situation; it is simply a rationalisation to excuse the relapse.
Plan to have alternative coping mechanisms and make sure that you don’t have access to any cigarettes. If you stop smoking, but still have a stash, you are telling yourself that you are going to fail again from the start. If possible, choose to stop smoking with a friend or a spouse and be available for each other if a relapse is looking likely.
Ask your friends who smoke, not to supply you with cigarettes no matter how much you beg and plead, well before a stressful situation arises. Better still; try not to be around acquaintances who smoke whilst you are trying to stop. Most of all, try to think of yourself as a non-smoker rather than a smoker trying to stop. If you see yourself as a non-smoker and try to adopt a non-smoker’s attitude, then you will not reach for the panacea of a cigarette in any situation.
You have chosen to stop, and so continue to make the right choices. If you do relapse, remember that it has been your choice to do so. No more excuses, you have to learn from your own personal history to forge your own successful non-smoking future. Keep repeating to yourself the mantra that you choose not to smoke.