Why is it so Hard to Quit?

The reason why most people fail in their attempts to stop smoking is that they treat the smoking and not the attitude that forms the habit.

There are a number of factors that can make quitting smoking difficult. However, once you understand these you will see that quitting is really quite simple and can be achieved easily and without withdrawal symptoms or weight gain.

  1. Addiction

    Smoking can make you feel good. You get a rush to your brain of nicotine - it takes about 8 seconds from the first drag - seeming to give you heightened awareness, enhanced judgement, mood improvement and an adrenaline rush. No wonder it is so hard to give up! It is the reason why so many smokers who quit eventually return to smoking.

    The problem is that nicotine is a narcotic and it is addictive - some researchers say it is more addictive than heroin and cocaine! Once you are hooked there seems no easy way out, although only roughly a third of smokers become dependent upon nicotine.

    This dependence and apparent feeling of wellbeing can lead to devastating withdrawal symptoms when a smoker goes without their regular 'fix'. For this reason it is a good idea to see your doctor before you start on a quitting program, even this one. A doctor may prescribe medication, patches or other aids that may give you more confidence to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

    Cigarette manufacturers want to get you hooked and keep you there - even though they know that it will kill more than 18,000 Australians this year. Smoking is still the greatest single preventable cause of death in Australia. But that fact won't make you quit.

    However, help is at hand! The good news is that your addiction to nicotine is not the main reason you find it hard to quit. Your psychological dependence is greater and when you fix that the nicotine dependence will disappear - guaranteed! Once you commit yourself to quitting you will find that the BANS Program is the best way to overcome withdrawal symptoms because on this program you never try to give up smoking. No matter what method you use to quit you must do what this program does for you - change your attitude toward smoking and help you to become a non-smoker because only non-smokers don't smoke.          
  2. Social Influences

    Many smokers who are trying to quit find things get hardest when they are in company of others who smoke. Many would-be non-smokers tell me that they are OK until they go to a party or have a drink or two with mates. The conflict caused by that trying to quit in these situations is impossible to overcome, so you smoke more. You can try to avoid these situations, but how boring would that be? Better to use a method that allows you to smoke whenever you want to - yes, on the BANS Program you must never stop yourself from lighting up if you want to. This is the only way to avoid the conflict and the battle you cannot win.

    Psychologists refer to the little rituals we perform in company as 'displacement activities'. When we are with others, especially people we don't know well, we engage in activities that are very familiar so that we feel secure. The first thing you are offered at a party will be a drink, followed by some food. These represent activities that we can carry out without thinking and with confidence. Smoking is another displacement activity. It is a ritual. The way you smoke is as important as the smoking itself. If you watch smokers smoking you will notice that each has their own way of taking the cigarette out, holding it and lighting it. It is all part of a practised ritual. The way they draw on the cigarette, the way they inhale, blow the smoke, flick the ash and even how they stub out the cigarette are all individual characteristics. They form the ritual - both public and private.
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  3. Habits and Self Image

    None of us was born a smoker: we had to learn the habit!

    Psychologists tell us that our whole lives are made up of habits. The way we act or react in any situation is governed by our habits of thought or our attitudes. We are not born with any habits, we form them as we react to our environment which conditions us to a way of thinking and creates in us all a pattern of responses known as habits.

    It is possible, we are told, to form any habit we choose simply be applying the right conditioning.

    All of our habits of thought go together to make up our self image – a picture of ourselves that we hold in memory. It is as if we have a huge blackboard in our subconscious mind that has written on it everything that we believe about our self. Whether we can remember names or are good at arithmetic or like Holdens or are smokers is all written on the blackboard. This self image makes it easy for us to know how to interact to the world. We don't have to think about whether or not to buy a packet of cigarettes: if we are a smoker, we will but it, if we are a non-smoker it is not an issue we need to debate. Each of us has a habit with respect to smoking: for some that habit is to smoke; for others the habit is to not smoke. It's that simple. Our self-image makes the decision automatic. The habit makes it easy.

    Now here is the vital part. Quite simply, we cannot do anything that is not consistent with our self image – what we believe about ourselves. So if we believe we are a smoker it is impossible for us not to smoke.

    In fact, only non-smokers don’t smoke!

  4. Habits and Will Power

    So how do we change a habit? The one thing we cannot use is will power. By definition, a habit will defeat any effort we bring to bear on it by force. Trying to stop smoking causes stress and conflict that only makes the problem worse. This is because when a smoker tries not to smoke their self image fights to prevent change. It resists all change by force. It creates what I call 'The Green Monkey Syndrome'.

    If I tell you that I will give you a million dollars if you don't think about a green monkey in the next ten minutes my money is as safe as a house. Why? Because you cannot avoid thinking about what you are trying to avoid thinking about. It is psychologically impossible - just like dieting. Try to tell yourself you don't need a cream cake (if that's what you crave) and you will think about nothing else until you get one. Similarly, smokers need to smoke and their trying not to smoke creates the green monkey.

    So if we were not born with any habits, smokers must have acquired the habit along the way. How did this happen? The answer is conditioning.         Top of Page

  5. Habits and Conditioning

    If we can't change habits by will power, how can it be done? The answer is simple - all habits are formed by conditioning and that is how they must be changed. You can't just break a habit - you must replace it with the alternative attitude. Remember, it an attitude of thought that supports the habit, so you need to change your attitude toward smoking by using the right conditioning. Yes, it is that simple!

    A famous American psychologist, Dr Knight Dunlap, wrote,

    "We can choose any habits we wish, by conscious selection
                    of (the right) conditioning."*

    Our habits were not formed overnight, so we must take time to change them. By applying the right conditioning we can gradually recondition our self image to a new attitude of thought that will bring about a change of habit. In short, by conditioning we can become non-smokers - simply, easily and without stress.

    This program provides the conditioning you require to bring about the change you desire. It takes no effort except to use the exercises and without worrying about stopping smoking (to keep the green monkey off your back) it will slowly condition you to a new habit - that of not smoking. You do not ever have to try to stop. You will become a non-smoker automatically and you will no longer be able to smoke. And best of all, you will remain a non-smoker for the rest of your life, which will then be much longer and hopefully free of some horrible diseases.

If you are serious about quitting, give it a go - the cost is a little as a dozen packs of cigarettes. The savings you will make are thousands of times this amount for the rest of your life, and your life may be the most important thing that you save.

Check it out now.

* Dunlap, K; "Habits: Their Making and Unmaking", 1949, Liveright Publishing Corporation,

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