How I stopped smoking
About 16 of us were shepherded into a tiny, tired room on the first floor. The ceiling had that yellowy tinge that comes from years of being occupied by smokers. The stench was almost oppressive. In fact, the first thought that passed through my mind was, if the stink of this room wasn't enough to make me quit smoking, nothing would be. We were presented with binfuls of cigarettes and lighters, which our therapist told us to help ourselves to throughout the day.
This was my initiation to Allen Carr's Easy Way Clinic in Rayne's Park, London. They are so confident that they can stop you smoking, they offer a money-back guarantee; apparently only around 6% of customers ever take them up on the offer, which points to a success rate of over 90%.
For me it's been an impactful way of 'curing myself of the smoking disease' in the words of Allen Carr. For that reason, I would like to run through the main points of the Easy Way method as I see them. This article is by no means meant to offer an alternative to therapy or reading Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Be a Happy Non-smoker for the Rest of Your Life, merely an introduction.
The Easy Way is about the state of mind you need to achieve to be a happy non-smoker; focus on changing the way you think about cigarettes so that when you prepare to give up you are certain of success.
- Get it completely clear in your mind; there is absolutely nothing to give up! This doesn't mean that you'll be better-off as a non-smoker. Every smoker knows this all of their smoking lives. It doesn't take a genius to know what a pros and cons list of smoking would look like (extremely imbalanced). It means that it has no positives at all.
- The feeling of emptiness and insecurity you know as 'I want a cigarette' is not relieved by the cigarette, but caused by it. Every time you replace the nicotine in your body your build up resistance to what is essentially a drug, meaning that your body needs more of it to counteract the withdrawal pangs. It is a never-ending chain, unless you break it. The whole business of smoking is like walking around with a pebble in your shoe, just so you can experience the relief of taking it out! Pretty pointless, don't you think?
- The very notion of 'giving up' implies you will have to make some sort of sacrifice. This simply isn't true. In fact, the opposite is more accurate. Rather than focusing on the reasons you shouldn't smoke (which are abundantly obvious - smokers have become experts at blocking them out though), think of everything you have to gain from stopping smoking. The gains include increased health, wealth, and energy, no bad-smelling clothes, breath or hair, self-respect, and confidence.
- Nicotine is a trap. How marvelous will it feel to escape that trap? Think of it as being released from a prison. There are no two ways about it, if you are a smoker you are a drug addict.
- When you stop smoking don't try not to think about it or worry that it is always on your mind. This is completely natural and normal. It's the way you think about it that is vital. Don't mope about it. Instead think 'Hooray! Isn't it fantastic that I no longer need to kill myself! I'm free!'
- Never use any form of substitute. If you chew gum, or use nicotine patches, or eat when you would have smoked, you are reinforcing the feeling of some sort of sacrifice. If something needs to be substituted, we are implying that there is some sort of loss or that we are giving up something that is genuinely advantageous.
- Don't keep cigarettes or a lighter on your person or around the house. Why put temptation in your way? In a weak moment, you are far more likely to go for the cigarettes if they are readily available. To actually leave the house and buy a packet requires thought and planning, in which time you can remind yourself why you wanted to stop in the first place.
- Don't avoid other smokers. Instead of envying other smokers and wishing you could join them, pity them. They are still trapped, but you are free!
- Don't change your lifestyle. There is no need. Everything else can continue as normal. Stopping smoking should not affect any other part of your life.
- When you commit to stopping smoking for good, make yourself a solemn promise that you will never, ever smoke another cigarette again and stick to it. Perhaps you are worried that you have made this promise to yourself before. Don't focus on the negatives, concentrate in the positives. There is no willpower involved in the Easy Way so there is no need to torture yourself. Why doubt what you know is the right decision?