LESSON 3: Take the High Road
You've come to the fork in the road!
Let's do some guided imagery. This exercise is called Take the High Road. In the first part of the exercise, you will imagine what life will be like if you keep smoking for another year, another 5 years and another 10 years. This might feel uncomfortable at times. Even though it is an exercise in your imagination, it is important because it helps make your motivations for quitting a lot more clear. It will remind you of the dangers of continuing to smoke. Some of my clients have told me they didn't think they would even be alive at the 10-year point.
In the second part of the exercise, you will mentally explore what life is like when you have successfully quit - a year from now, 5 years from now and 10 years from now. Wow! This allows you to rehearse being successful. Your subconscious mind does not distinguish between reality and imagined reality, so you can tap into those good, positive feelings associated with stopping smoking and be proud of your future self.
Click on the link below to listen:
Take the High Road (26 minutes)
Once you have listened to the recording, write down what you experienced on the low road on the left at each time point (1 year, 5 years and 10 years). Do the same for the High Road. Did your future self send you a message? What was it?
If you continued to smoke, what would be worst consequences be in your life? Now you should have a clearer idea of what is motivating you to want to quit at this particular time in your life. You will know what you like about smoking and what you don't like, which becomes your motivation for quitting.
Did anything from this or the previous two lessons surprise you?
What patterns did you notice?
Think about what you learned from keeping track of your smoking habit for one whole day. What patterns did you become aware of? For example, you might have noticed whether you smoke when you're emotionally upset, or smoke after meals, or smoke when you are on the phone, or that you don't smoke during the working day at all. What was the longest period of time you went without a cigarette during the day?
What's your number now?
When you set your Quit Date you decide that on that day your life as a non-smoker begins. Remember the number you came up with at the very beginning of this program? Ask yourself again where you are on that 10-point scale. 10 means "I am ready to quit right now!", an 8 or 9 means you are almost ready but still have a little concern or anxiety, and 7 or less means you are not there yet.
If you are a 10
Congratulations!! Today is your Quit Day! Go to Lesson 4, and listen to the Guided Imagery recording. Remember to drink plenty of water, use the stress-reduction techniques you have learned, listen to whichever guided imagery recordings you find helpful, write in your journal, and keep busy. Take it one day at a time - reaching the 24-hour smoke-free milestone is important. If you can go 24 hours without smoking, then you can do it again the next day, and the next.
If you are an 8 or 9
Almost there! Listen to the Guided Imagery recording below, then ask yourself again where you are on the 10-point scale
If you are still at an 8 or a 9 after listening, then take some time to go back to the beginning of the program and re-read all the materials up to the end of Lesson 3. Don't rush yourself. If you try to quit when you are less than a 10, it will be much harder to stick to it.
I also recommend that you do the following:
Write in your journal about what is holding you back, and listen to the mp3 recordings as often as you can. If you are feeling anxious or stressed at the thought of quitting, practice the stress-reduction techniques in the Introduction.
Disrupt your daily smoking routines and make as many changes as possible e.g. if you always have a cigarette with morning coffee, have your cigarette after the coffee, or switch to tea, or a flavored coffee, or a different mug, or sit in a different place. If you usually smoke in the car then chew gum instead, drink water, or play with a squeezy stress ball while driving. You can also put an air freshener in your car to change the way it smells.
Think about additional ways of supporting yourself as you go quit - do you need to talk to your doctor about medication to help you? Nicotine replacement? Do you need more social support from friends, spouse or family members?
Set a Quit Date and work towards it but be realistic. It could be tomorrow, or next week, or perhaps the first of the month, or some other significant date like a birthday or anniversary. Give yourself time to get up to a 10.
Write all the reasons you have for wanting to stop smoking on an index card and carry it with you.
Is smoking your friend?
This is an interesting question, but about half of the smokers I work with answer "yes" to this question.
Ask yourself, if your friend offered you a drink containing hundreds of poisonous chemicals, would you drink it? Smoking is not your friend. Don't drink the kool-aid!
BUT... if you did answer that smoking is your friend, be aware that quitting smoking might come with a grief reaction. You are getting rid of your friend and that might feel uncomfortable, upsetting, or even as though you are "killing" your friend.
If you feel at all anxious about giving up the smoking habit, then practice the stress calming techniques you have learned in this course, like 4-7 breathing, using your "anchor", and listening to guided imagery self-hypnosis tracks. These techniques are all in the Introduction. Explore what the anxiety is really about.
If you are using cigarettes to manage uncomfortable feelings like sadness or anger, and you feel that a little extra support is in order, please contact me. If smoking is the only thing preventing you from sinking into a depression, then talk to your doctor before you quit!
"I'd think of two balloons as my lungs: Every time you take a drag of that cigarette the balloons get filled up. Well, that smoke is poison, and your lungs are fragile." ~Irene Marg, Facebook
If you are a 7 or lower
If you are at a 7 or less, be patient with yourself. You still need some time to work through the materials, write in your journal, and practice all the stress reduction techniques. Keep listening to the Pre-Quit tracks (in the Introduction). When you reach the end of Lesson 3 next time, check in with yourself and see where you are on the 10-point scale. If you are still stuck at a 7 or lower after doing that, then please get in touch with me and let me know.
"My 3rd grade daughter and I were watching TV, and a PSA came on about the damage done to non-smokers, especially children, living with someone who smokes. She immediately looked up at me with her gorgeous, sad, emerald eyes and asked, "Is it too late for me, Mommy?" I jumped up and threw away every ash tray and cigarette. The first few weeks were hellish, but every time I pictured her sweet face, my resolve came back with gusto! I was a two-pack-a-day smoker. That was 22 years ago." ~youngjlude