Will power is like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets. Will power over an addiction is an incredibly difficult thing to obtain. You can use a simple NLP technique called an Anchor to help make this process smoother.
You might be asking, what exactly is an anchor? For this we need a little bit of a history lesson. In the 1890s a Russian Scientist named Ivan Pavlov was performing experiments on the salivary gland of dogs. He would ring a bell (or give some other stimulus) and the dogs would then be presented with food. He found that after a while the dogs would start to salivate before the food arrived, simply because they heard the bell. This is now known as a conditioned reflex. In NLP we use the idea of a conditioned response to try an elicit a psychological response.
There are of course some problems with using anchors. Let’s say you anchor the ability to be confident in the face of a phobia, how do you know you’re not also anchoring the anxiety associated with that phobia? What you have to rely on is regular repetition. As you repeat the anchor and use it whenever it is possible you will start to contrast the experience before the anchor and after. After enough repetitions this contrast will start to become more prominent.
So how can you use this to help you quit smoking? Well it’s easy! Fighting addiction is often about the small victories. For example, not smoking with your coffee, not smoking when waiting for a bus or stuck in traffic, not taking a smoke break at work, not smoking on a night out, not smoking for a day, a week, a month. These small victories build up to you being able to say “I don’t smoke any more”.
Your first step is to decide you want to quit. You cannot quit for someone else, you can only quit for yourself. If your doctor tells you that you need to quit smoking if you want to live and you still want to quit smoking, that’s a serious problem. You have to work out what your motivations are for smoking and what the benefits are of quitting and see if the benefits outweigh your motivations.
Once you have the desire to quit it’s time to break the addiction. Look at a packet of cigarettes, open it, take a cigarette out and get your lighter ready. Now it’s time to give yourself an anchor, it can be taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 2, cracking your knuckles, tapping yourself twice on the shoulder or it could be clapping your hands together. Any physical action.
Now every time you are offered a cigarette or you look longing at your packet of cigarettes, take a moment to exercise your will power. Do the anchor and then decide for just this moment to not smoke. Don’t forget to celebrate your small victories. Now you might also be anchoring the anxiety associated with not fulfilling your addiction. That’s why I say try and find something to do straight away to distract yourself. Force yourself to do a trivial task like get a glass of water. You want the anchor linked to the exercising of your willpower over smoking.
Just keep doing it, keep celebrating the small victories and eventually you’ll be able to stop completely.