How to Quit Smoking Using Creative Visualization

What is creative visualization?

That power described above is creative visualization, and it can give you an edge over quitters relying on willpower and anti-smoking medication alone. This powerful tool addresses the psychological component of your addiction by enabling you to determine if you’re ready to quit and helping you relearn how to react to smoking trigger situations and tasks. If you’ve tried to quit smoking and failed once or a hundred times, creative visualization can be your key to lasting success.

Are you ready?

The first step in the process is to find out if you’re ready to quit smoking. Begin by examining your motivation. If you are quitting for any reason other than your own, (your doctor told you to, your spouse/family wants you to) you will fail. Why? External motivation is not motivation at all, and your subconscious will rebel. Your desire to quit must be genuine and internal. Be honest with yourself. If you’re not ready, don’t bother just to appease others.

How can you get ready to quit if you’re not? You can start by examining why you started smoking in the first place. Some people will say stress reduction. Now, that may be why you continued, once your body figured out how to utilize nicotine, but when you started inhaling smoke was about as relaxing as a Stephen King novel. You have to face the fact that you began smoking for some amazingly foolish reasons. Peer pressure. Fear. Insecurity. You must face the uncomfortable fact you made a life-changing decision based on how cool you looked.

If you honestly confront that reality, you can realize you don’t need to look cool anymore. (Let’s face it — you don’t look cool with a cigarette hanging out of your face. You never did.) You don’t need to be accepted by your peers based on how self-destructive and devil-may-care you act. You don’t need to hide behind that cloud of smoke, because I’ve got news for you: people can still see you. Make a conscious decision to stop thinking that cigarette smoking defines you and makes you who you are. Think about these things and you will come to the conclusion you don’t need to smoke anymore.

How do you do it?

Now what? Well, this is where the creative visualization comes in. If you’ve ever daydreamed or spent time thinking about future or imaginary events in a positive light, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what we’re shooting for. Only this time, we’re going to use those positive images in a productive fashion.

Find a comfortable spot, like a favorite chair or your bed. Block out all interruptions: unplug the phone and make sure the family is asleep or out of the house. Dim the lights. Relax by breathing deeply, slowly and steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and clear your mind of the grocery list, the chores and tomorrow’s meeting.

First, take time to visualize all the elements of smoking that disgust, distress, inconvenience and alienate you. Think in detail and use all your senses. Some of the universal things are bad breath; smelly clothes and home; inability to laugh without coughing; burns; brown teeth; charred lungs; yellow-streaked heart; cold hands and feet; ashes on everything; being ostracized by non-smokers; breathlessness. Think up more of your own — the list is endless. 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 dull your hair looks. 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, yes, smoking is as disgusting as everyone says it is.

The next series of visualizations are more pleasant. Picture yourself in an enjoyable social situation, one where you would normally smoke. Use all your senses to create the picture — the sound of the music, the smell and taste of party food, the physical sensation of dancing or laughing. 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 creep back into the picture because smokers smoke even in their daydreams. It’s a habit that can be broken with practice.

Make time each day to do this exercise using different happy social occasions. 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.

Once you’ve got the hang of visualization, and you’ve played out social situations until smoking doesn’t creep into the picture anymore, it’s time to list all the things in your life associated with smoking. Some of the most common are after a meal; with coffee or an alcoholic drink; while on the phone; driving in the car; during a confrontation; after a stressful situation. Write down every association, no matter how slight it seems. You’ll want to choose one of these scenarios per visualization session. Repeat each instance for as many sessions as necessary until the mind-movie is smoke-free.

How does it work?

How does creative visualization work? Scientists believe it works in the same way 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.

Does it work?

Can creative visualization alone turn you into a non-smoker? Only you can answer that question. If you have physical withdrawal symptoms, see your doctor about any of the excellent smoking-cessation drugs and aids available. Find out what herbal supplements and vitamins are helpful. You’ll need all the help you can get.

During this time, cut yourself some slack. Let the housework go. Go out to eat. Tell those closest to you what you are doing so they can support you. Put on some music and dance in your living room or go for walks to relieve stress and stave off weight gain. And don’t forget to relax and do things you enjoy. Given enough time and practice, your mind can achieve great things for you.

Good luck.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.