January 29, 2008

The Other Side Of Quitting

As I said in last week's article, any real change in our habits requires a change within ourselves. Quitting smoking, then, isn't about smoking -- it's about ourselves.

The Trouble With Negative Goals
Your ability to visualize the completion of a goal has a powerful effect on your ability to actually succeed at that goal. The theory is that if you can picture something in your mind with great clarity, you are already more than halfway there. It's like the difference between driving to Seattle with a map in your hand and a red line drawn on the roads you will be using versus simply hopping in the car, driving west and hoping for the best.

But what about negative goals? What about those goals where the aim is to not do something, like not wasting money, not eating too much or not smoking?

Negative goals create a unique problem, because they cannot be visualized. Negation is too abstract to visualize. We are engineered to imagine what is and what can be, not what isn't and cannot be. We can imagine light, but what about the absence of light? When we imagine the absence of light, are we not really visualizing darkness? When we visualize a person who is not kind, don't we really just see somebody who is mean?

How then are you to succeed in your goal to quit smoking, if it is impossible to visualize not smoking?

Visualizing Negative Goals
Because of the nature of negative goals, the necessity to change who we are becomes even more evident. In every case, our goal is not actually what we want to give up or end (the negative goal), but is actually what we want to receive or gain as the result of success (a positive goal). We don't want to lose, we want to gain.

This is a subtle difference, but a profound one. A negative goal, in essence, is merely a reflection of the true goal. When we seek to lose weight (a negative goal), we are actually trying to increase our health or improve our appearance (positive goals). When we seek to avoid slouching in business meetings, we are actually trying to improve our professional image and poise.

The Reflection of "Not Smoking"
So, what about smoking? When we seek to quit smoking, we are actually looking to improve our health. I would not have believed it when I was going through the process, but I now know it is surely true. The easiest way to observe this is this: when you visualize healthy living, smoking (among other things) never enters the picture!

As you can imagine, the whole process becomes easier once the negative goal of quitting smoking transforms into its true goal of creating a healthy lifestyle. You then have an easily visualized picture of what "not smoking" looks like: being healthy.

The Road Ahead
In my previous article, I showed how to crack the psychological desire to smoke. That first method, believe me, is effective in and of itself. However, you will notice that it does not do anything to address the true goal of quitting smoking: the goal to develop healthy habits. Because of this, if you do not seek to develop positive habits to replace your negative one, you will find a dull anxiety gnawing at you...and it feels a lot like cravings for a cigarette!

Most people smoke as a means of combating stress. Now that your healthy lifestyle does not include smoking, what will you do? If you do not make plans to build a healthy alternative into your lifestyle, you will surely fall into an unhealthy one!

Visualizing A Positive Future
How do you set the foundation for a brighter, healthier future? The process is much like the one you used to shatter your desire to smoke. But the emotional process is the exact opposite from before, because you will feel fantastic by the end.

This time, though, you will build your own future. As you are visualizing a happier, healthier you, consider these questions:
  • In what healthy way will you now handle stress?
  • How will your loved ones benefit from your healthy lifestyle?
  • How will your energy levels change, and what activities will you now be able to do?
  • How will taking an interest in your health impact your self-esteem?
  • You've given up smoking...what have you gained?
By the time you are done with this exercise, you will feel like you haven't smoked in ten years, and would never consider doing so again.

Enjoy the new you.

Also At Babblermouth:
You've Come A Long Way, Baby!
A Mentor For The Hopelessly Introverted
Financial Freedom Series 1 -- Cause and Effect

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