Your brain is extremely powerful. We often underestimate its power. The good news is that you can direct the way that you feel about anything. You get to choose how you experience any situation. You can train your brain to enjoy tasks like exercise, healthy food and work. You can also train your brain to gravitate away from unhealthy habits like drinking or smoking.
The power of imagination
A single thought can cause a chain of biological effects on the body within a matter of minutes. If you think about eating a delicious meal, for example, your mouth may begin to salivate and your digestive system will start preparing for food. If you think about a loved one, dopamine and serotonin will cause you to feel good, pain resistance will improve and stress levels will fall. Thinking in a positive light will increase the amount of time that you can do a certain activity (like watching a TV series that you enjoy), while thinking about something in a negative light will do the opposite (5 minutes of a show that I don’t enjoy feels like forever and a day).
The conscious vs subconscious mind
The trains of thought that we can use for our own benefit can be divided into two parts, the conscious and the subconscious part of our minds. These two parts are very much interconnected. Your conscious mind refers to the immediate thoughts, emotions or impulses that you feel right now. If you see a food that you really want to eat and desire to buy it from the store, it is your conscious mind that is lighting up and causing you to desire taking action. Your subconscious mind plays a role in this impulse as well. Foods that you enjoyed as a child or that have the same colors of textures may cause your subconscious brain to recognize that item as desirable food.
The conscious is short-term. The subconscious is long-term. Both of them take a lot of mental training to work differently. You can change your conscious mind with distraction to take your focus away from an activity like smoking. Without the right mental training, however, this solution will be short-lived because your subconscious may bring your focus back to your desire to smoke. Your subconscious can be seen as a collection of all your conscious thoughts. Repetition impacts your subconscious. Habits are hard to break because they get stuck in the subconscious.
The negative way to quit smoking
I have seen many people use this method with success. To use the negative method to quit smoking, start to build up a negative connotation with smoking. Do not focus on its negative health impacts, because this may have the opposite effect. If you focus on how costly something is, your mind will think that it has great value since you are still doing the activity. That is why the more you give into a relationship, the more in love you are likely to feel about the person.
Instead, focus on how bad smoking makes you feel. Tell yourself that you don’t like doing it. Imagine that smoking is worse than eating your least favorite food. At first, you will feel like you are pretending because you first need to overcome the idea that you enjoy smoking. Even if you don’t believe yourself, continue to think about how disgusting smoking feels to you. After some time and with enough repetition, your subconscious mind will start to regard the repeated thoughts as fact. When this happens, you will notice that your thoughts on how bad smoking feels will start to materialize. You won’t enjoy smoking anymore. It will start to seem like a chore. After some time, your desire to smoke will go away completely.
This method is effective, but it takes a lot time to come to fruition. You are basically using your conscious thoughts to change your subconscious reality. I know many people who have quit smoking successfully with this method. Personally, I don’t like this method as much as the positive method because you will need to create negative emotions about your current actions.
The positive method
The positive method also involves tricking the brain into wanting to avoid cigarettes. In this method, you don’t focus on what you don’t like about smoking, but focus instead about what you do like about avoiding it. This method also involves pretending to feel a certain emotion until it becomes a reality in your mind.
The reason why many people don’t quit smoking is because of fear of the withdrawal period. This period can have a significant impact on your body, your mental performance and your emotions. When using the positive method, you can teach yourself to crave nicotine withdrawal. Feel good about the fact that your body is short of nicotine. Use the power of your mind to enjoy the withdrawal process. This might sound ludicrous, but it is entirely possible. Think about how some people enjoy pain and how you learned to enjoy an activity that you didn’t like right away.
When I tried to quit smoking my biggest withdrawal symptoms were cravings, anger, inability to concentrate, depression, a feeling of emptiness in my gut and the sense that something was always missing. I used the positivity method to quit by taking my focus away from my actions and focusing on forming my mind to think whatever I wanted it to think. I lied to myself and repeated certain phrases over and over until they started to work. I trained my brain to enjoy nicotine withdrawal.
When I had a nicotine craving, I stopped to revel in how good it made me feel. When I really wanted to smoke, I was so glad that my brain was in the process of deleting my unwanted desire. I pretended that cigarettes cravings were mood boosters – and it actually started to feel that way over time. Every time I had a craving, I stopped to enjoy it and tried to make the craving get bigger so that I could enjoy it some more. Unfortunately, the cravings didn’t last very long anymore and I had to wait until the next one to enjoy myself again.
When I felt angry or frustrated, I told myself that I am so happy that I am free and that the tension was because my brain didn’t know how to respond to all the happiness I felt. I would smile and say to myself, ‘Yes! I love feeling like this! I feel so alive!’ The fact that I couldn’t concentrate took a little more work. I had to repeat certain sentences like, ‘I can’t stop concentrating’, ‘I can feel my brain absorbing energy from my every breath’, ‘what I am doing is so interesting’ and so forth until my brain decided to follow suit. Since I was enjoying my withdrawal process, I didn’t go through any depression at all. In fact, I was happier than usual. I imagined that the empty feeling in my gut was not an uncomfortable thing, but rather a feeling that I enjoy because my body was releasing little healers into my gut and they were busy cleaning me up. I focused on how much energy and health I was getting – not in a few weeks’ time after the withdrawal process, but in this very moment.
All that you need to do to quit smoking (or any negative habit) is a have more fun without it than what you do with it. As soon as you start to feel deprived, you will enter into a negative cycle that brings misery until you either smoke again or endure it long enough for it to pass. If you can enjoy the withdrawal process, you can quit smoking without much effort. The battle is not in your actions, but in your mind.