What is the most effective way to give up an addiction like smoking?
There is a technique that some psychologists and doctors use called motivational interviewing. Research has shown this technique to be as effective as hypnosis.
The psychologist or doctor helps the client clarify the reasons she smokes and why she wants to give it up. In effect, the technique is about enhancing the smoker’s motivation to change.
Most people who give up smoking will instinctively use similar techniques without realising they are utilising a proven method for quitting.
A key principle of motivational interviewing is that the individual is totally responsible for their behaviour. It is not for the professional to tell the smoker what to do. The smoker is an adult and will wear the consequences of his or her behaviour. The process enables the smoker to clearly understand the consequences of his or her behaviour and then choose whether to change or not.
It is helpful to go through this process with a professional or a friend but you can also do it yourself.
Get a pen and paper to answer the following questions.
What are the good things about smoking? Write down all the positives you experience from smoking. Don’t rush this. You might want to take the time to imagine having a cigarette while noticing how it feels. Remember you are not stupid. If you are smoking there are going to be good reasons why. Take this step seriously.
What are the not so good things about smoking? List these.
Take a moment now to reflect on your two lists. Don’t bother with what other people think. Notice what, for you, are the key benefits of smoking and what, for you, are the key concerns?
What would be good things about changing and giving up smoking? List these.
What would be the not so good things about changing? List these.
At this stage, it is useful to have someone help you brainstorm the good things and then the not so good things about changing. You don’t want to miss any. Often there are unforeseen consequences of change and some of these will be positive.
Now, look at the two lists. What do you think about all of this? do you have any inclination to change?
If you want to change, list all the ways you could go about it. Think about the pros and cons of each idea. What is practical and will work? What is important to you? What else do you need to change to make it work?
If you are ready, you can choose some of your ideas and try them out.
At this point, it is important to take a moment and think back to times in the past when you have successfully made a significant change. Often we forget that we have made many changes in our lives. We are much more powerful than we realize.
Remember you are on a learning curve here. There is no failure. Whatever happens, you are gathering more information that you can use as you keep getting closer to changing in the way you want.