I am not a smoker but volunteer at the Veterans hospital near my home. One program the hospital offers wounded veterans is the change to quit smoking. Recovery is hard and the pressure of losing a limb is harder. Working with and helping young veterans recover is rewarding seeing them stop smoking and learn to walk again. The hospital I volunteer at has a unique approach to help veterans stop smoking and overcome their handicaps. I have worked with some of these young men and seen the success the hospital has carried out. I would like to share the steps to recovery with you.
Quitting smoking is a personal goal that one reaches at some point in their life. Deciding to kick the habit is for personal reasons. If you decide to quit it has to be your idea to achieve your goal. Looking back what started you smoking, why did you light the first cigarette? Like so many smokers peer pressures in school. To fit in with the "in crowd" you needed to be like them.
Quitting smoking is not going to be easy we know this. This is a habit and habits are hard to break. Habits form overtime nobody's born with them. For some reason you developed this habit and other ones as you grew older. Now your minds programmed and the first step is changing this program. Like a computer the program carries out commands to run the program. The programmer writes machine language code that tells the CPU what to do. You write your own code telling your brain what to do.
The first step in reprogramming behavior habits identifies the habits. Before anyone can reprogram old habits you have to identify them. Habits come natural to you and performed daily. Identifying these habits and reprogramming them is the first step to achieving your goal. Have you ever stopped smoking only to start again? If you answered yes you did not identify your behavior habits first.
Step 1 identifying your behavior habits
The first step in achieving your goals deals with understanding automatic behavior habits. Each day the routine starts when you wake up. What do you do first? This routine is automatic and comes natural to you. Your pack of cigarettes sites on the nightstand table next to your bed. Wake up and reach for a cigarette, light your cigarette, find the ashtray, go to the kitchen, make coffee, and wake up the children. You have performed this routine for the last fifteen years. The routine is automatic and needs no thinking on your part.
Identifying your behavior habits is the first step in changing them. Each day keep a log of habits performed as a routine. Start with waking up in the morning, coffee, breakfast, work, lunch, and evening routines. Keep the logs for two weeks noting down the time of day and what you did. Note each time you light up a cigarette and what you were doing that caused you to smoke. Be attentive to what you doing during the day. By the end of the week you can start to see a routine forming. By the end of the second week the routine is the same.
The routine programmed into your brain like a set of instructions programmed into a computer. You no longer think about your routine it becomes natural to do this each day. Behavior change is hard and breaking the old routines is harder. To achieve your goals of stop smoking you have to break the pattern. You have to reprogram your way of thinking and redesign your routine.
When writing a program or designing a house the plan is the first stage. Gathering information to form your ideas and thoughts is the first stage. You have thought about quitting for years but each time you try you fail. The addiction and the preprogrammed daily routine stop you from reaching your goals. Programs that aid in helping smokers quit suggest that you write a list of reasons you want to quit. Personally this is good but will not help to solve the problem. To succeed changing the routine that comes natural to you is the first step.
Tonight before going to bed put a notebook and pen beside your bed next to your cigarettes. When you wake up and light your cigarette note down the date and time in the notebook. Continue your log during the day noting down each time you light up a cigarette. Before going to bed create a spreadsheet and enter this information. This can help in tracking and seeing a pattern. As the days follow and the information gathered look at the times you smoked a cigarette. You should start to see patters forming and see that you have to have a cigarette with coffee.
Stage one is the fact gathering stage. Gather facts and analyzed the facts to see the patters they form. Once we understand the patters formed and identified only then change happens. It is hard to change habits programmed into your brain that you have been doing for years. To move to stage two identifying your behavioral habits is first.
The second stage will follow. Each new entry will add one step to the program. I am composing a series of posts in stages to help people stop smoking.