How to Quit Smoking

By Life Coach, Tim Brownson

As a certified hypnotherapist people sometimes call me for help with quitting smoking. The first question I ask them is why they want to stop? That usually generates a look of horror akin to if I’d asked them if they could marry their 13-year-old daughter have a goat as the Maid of Honor and Michael Jackson as my best man.

However, there is a positive intention behind every action you commit even if sometimes it isn’t immediately apparent. That applies to smoking too.

Until you accept that there is an upside to the habit that you’d like to break then you will struggle with breaking it because you are in conflict with your unconscious mind (and your unconscious mind will always win that particular battle). After all, if there really were no upside you wouldn’t do it.

Firstly, you have to want to change. By that I mean it’s not usually enough to want to want to, you need to actually want to. Make sense? What do you mean “Not really sure?” Ok, seeing as it’s you and you’re having a tough day I’ll explain in a bit more detail.

You may well want to give up because you know it’s healthier not to smoke, it’s expensive and makes you feel like a social pariah. That is wanting to want to. A real desire to stop is a different proposition altogether and most people know it when they feel it. You don’t have to justify it to yourself with you just know you want to quit.

Most ex-smokers will tell you that they positively knew when they had made the decision to quit for good. They’ll also often tell you that it felt great and they just knew they would never smoke again,

When you know you want to definitely quit, you then need to look at the ecology of quitting. Will you have to avoid certain places for the short-term? Are there other family members or close friends that smoke that need to understand you’re quitting? If they’re not supportive and will try and tempt you to the dark side, can you actually just avoid them completely?

Don’t underestimate the importance of being aware of the ecology. This is something that people frequently fail to take into account. As a result they fail and don’t really know why.

Now look for the REAL reason you want to quit. Good health isn’t enough. Why do you want that good health? Dig deep with this one. We’re into the realms of values now and we want to get to the core of who you are as a person and what really motivates and drives you.

The greater the motivation, the better the chance of success, so really tap into what you want to achieve in your life and keep this in the forefront of your mind because it’s why you’re going through this.

Now you’re ready to set a date between 2 and 4 weeks away for your new behavior to start. Times of year that you may associate with smoking like New Years and vacations (unless you’re off on a Buddhist retreat) are usually less than ideal. Write the date down in your planner and stick to it.

Tell everybody and anybody that means anything o you what you are planning to do. If you have kids of an age that can understand, make a promise to them too. Then tell the rest of the world too. When I did something similar with all sorts of stuff from alcohol to red meat, I blogged about it.

Start using positive language. You’re not trying to quit, you have quit. Dump the word try because it implies failure.

Make a list of what you have to gain from quitting and post it where you see it everyday. Look past the obvious things like health and money. Do you want an improved sense of taste and smell and more energy? How about being able to relax after a great meal rather than huddling outside in the rain just so you can have a cigarette? What others can you think of?

Now make a list of what you have to lose if you fail. Promise that you will read it whenever you feel the urge to backslide. Again, don’t limit this to death and poverty because there’s a lot more to go at than that.

The really crucial part of all this is to move yourself to a state where you no longer see yourself as a smoker. You remove it from your identity completely.

Visualize yourself every night and first thing in the morning as the person that you want to be. Do this before you even start the change process. See what you will look like. Hear what you will sound like and feel what you will feel like. Really take time to savoir the new you! Play about with the picture and sounds in your head and make them as appealing as possible to you.

Importantly with the visualization, see yourself dealing with and overcoming temptation with ease and confidence and know that is a behavior available to you.

Optional extra. If you have the stomach for this, a really powerful thing to do is research the effects of smoking on health. With the Internet it’s not difficult to do and you can be looking at pictures of the gruesome effects smoking can have on the human body in no time at all.

If you succumb, use it as a learning experience and not an excuse to beat yourself up. Look at what caused the brief set back and start again even more determined to be the person you want to be!

The above strategy can undoubtedly help you quit smoking. However, if you can use it conjunction with hypnotherapy and you are committed to quitting, then I think the odds are stacked heavily in your favor. You may also want to check out the NLP technique developed by Richard Bandler called ‘The Swish Pattern’ which can be very powerful.

Tim Brownson is a life coach and the author of the fabulous little book of questions “Don’t ask Stupid Questions”.

Feel free to subscribe to his newsletter, grab a copy of his book, or check in for more life coaching tips at

To learn more about Tim and his life coaching techniques you may also read an interview at the kitchen table “What is a Life Coach?”. If you are a health professional and would like to be interviewed at the kitchen table, simply contact us.

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©, LLC ™

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


25 Responses to “How to Quit Smoking”

  1. dosox on October 9th, 2008 3:35 pm

    Make a list of what you have to gain from quitting and post it where you see it everyday

    Well written Post.

  2. Heather on October 9th, 2008 4:00 pm

    I quit smoking the last time I got sick. It was actually really easy compared to the other multiple failed attempts with chantix and zyban in the past. I had strep throat so bad that smoking just sounded disgusting. Haven’t smoked since.

    Great post, this should help a lot of people. I remember I had that “defining moment” I felt so sick, and my throat burned and I craved a cigarette and then the thought of smoking one made me so disgusted that I just never wanted to smoke again. Honestly, I miss it a little bit when I am out with friends. But not that much. I remind myself of that burning pain of the sore throat and the smell of cigarette butts and it turns me off to the point I don’t want to ever smoke again.

  3. Miss Matchmaker on October 9th, 2008 6:42 pm

    Such great advice!

  4. astrorainfall on October 10th, 2008 1:02 am

    That’s definitely tricky. I’m an ex-smoker who tried to quit many times. But I think I knew when my struggle was over when I just didn’t like the smell of it, nor did i miss the way it feels as it passes through my throat. I could sit with a group of smokers and not be tempted. It took me five years to completely quit smoking — ’twas a long, winding road.

  5. Preston on October 10th, 2008 9:31 am

    I quit smoking in June and fortunately have stuck with it. My only problem is I have gained almost 15 pounds since quitting. I’ve seen millions of articles on how to quit smoking but very little on how to avoid gaining weight when you do quit. Now that I’ve gained the weight, I need help in identifying what I’ve done to gain the weight and how to change so I lose it. Does this make sense?

  6. earthmother on October 10th, 2008 5:10 pm

    Wonderful article with some great tips! I started smoking as a kid of twelve (yikes!) and continued for another 23 years. I don’t know how many times I quit. It wasn’t until my desire to become a non-smoker exceeded my desire to smoke, that I was successful. I chose July 4, 1997 as my day of freedom from smoking.

    I incorporated many of the tools Tim talks about here, including making a list of why I was choosing to become a non-smoker. I also wrote a letter to myself to help me remember what it was like being a smoker ~ …remember what it was like waking up first thing in the morning and having a coughing fit before getting out of bed? remember what it was like walking up a flight of stairs and becoming out of breath?… ~ and I pulled that letter out on more than a few occasions when I was tempted to light up.

    A book that really helped me was “Hooked But Not Helpless.” I’m happy to be smoke-free eleven years now.

  7. Gopinath Mavinkurve on October 10th, 2008 10:22 pm

    I have subscribed to your blogposts for the last couple of months and find that your blog has been very informative and focussed. Keep up the good work, I have blogrolled you. Do visit my blog for some laughs (the first of the must dos in your list in your last post)

  8. Vered - MomGrind on October 12th, 2008 9:30 pm

    Thank you for this article. I recently blogged about my frustration at a loved one who refuses to quit smoking. This has given me a lot of insight and a few new ideas.

  9. Feriebolig Malaga on October 13th, 2008 3:01 am

    thanks for a good blog… I really struggle with quitting, and this gave me a new way of looking at it!

    Feriebolig Malaga’s last blog post..Feriehus costa del sol

  10. Cath Lawson on October 13th, 2008 3:59 pm

    Hi Tim – this is typical – I read the headline not knowing it was you. Now I’ve got no excuse. This is the second smoking post of yours I’ve been drawn to. I am going to do as you say though and try to look at the real reasons – not just death and poverty.

    A big one that helped me stop for a few months before was the fact that I was paying extra cash to this bloody useless government we have. Ok, so I did spend most of it on sweets but better in the sweet shop ladies pocket than theirs.

  11. Dr. Nicole Sundene on October 14th, 2008 4:05 pm

    Hi Preston- That makes perfect sense. When we switch to eating instead of smoking we aren’t addressing the underlying causes of our compulsions. I would recommend reading Mary O’malleys book “The Gift of Our Compulsions” to understand the underlying reasons for the weight gain. But, that is also a great topic for a future blog article, so do stay tuned.

  12. Dr. Nicole Sundene on October 14th, 2008 4:06 pm

    Hi Vered- Thanks for sharing this article, and supporting Tim’s fabulous advice and writing. In my opinion this is exactly what people need to know in order to wrap their brains around a successful smoking cessation plan.

  13. Dr. Nicole Sundene on October 14th, 2008 4:07 pm

    Hi Gopinath! Thanks for leaving a comment and for reading. I appreciate the kind words and can always use a laugh so will definitely take a look at your website!

  14. Dr. Nicole Sundene on October 14th, 2008 4:08 pm

    Hi Heather! Congratulations for finally quitting. I have heard of other people finally being able to quit when they are sick. It seems like if you are already feeling miserable you don’t even notice the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Thanks for sharing your story, I hope it will be helpful for other people. Take care!

  15. Dr. Nicole Sundene on October 14th, 2008 4:10 pm

    Hi Astrorainfall- You know you are finally an ex-smoker when the thought or smell of it never even tempts you. Congratulations for quitting! Five years out means that your body no longer likely is sustaining any damages inflicted from smoking, so your health has been restored to it’s original condition. Hooray!

  16. Dr. Nicole Sundene on October 14th, 2008 4:13 pm

    Hi Earth Mother! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and helpful tips. I hope that other readers may benefit from that book, and you are welcome to write a guest post book review on it if you happen to have the time. It sounds like useful information to share. Take care!

  17. Erin Happycamper on October 15th, 2008 10:50 am

    I’m digging it!

  18. Tim Brownson on October 16th, 2008 12:18 pm

    Agghhh, I’m appalled at myself for not dropping back to respond to the comments. I have reprimanded myself severely ;-)

    I’m glad some of you have found this somewhat useful and also thanks for sharing your own personal stories.

    @ Preston It is a common problem I’m afraid and Doc Nicole nailed it. I have known people that have substituted carrots or celery for cigarettes successfully. Apparently they are a bugger to light, but not carcinogenic or fattening ;-)

  19. Total Lifetime Fitness on October 19th, 2008 1:24 pm

    Tim – Thanks for a great, encouraging post filled with much valuable guidance. I was a smoker for 11 years and quit a long time ago. Had been thinking of quitting for some time, and woke up one morning with a sore throat and thought, “that’s it, I’m quitting today”. I never had another puff, but DID have a very rough six months or more. Chewed gum. Drank coffee. Dreamed at night that I was smoking, and in my dream I’d think, “oh, no, all that time and effort down the drain”. Big relief when I woke up the next morning. :-)

    In all the years since, I’ve never had a puff. That’s not to say I don’t want to. I do – fortunately not all the time. Most of the time I don’t think about it, but there are some situations . . . My sister-in-law and I joke that if we ever lived in Europe, we’d be smoking in a second.

    So, just like recovering alcoholics, ex-smokers are recovering smokers. I don’t really like cigarette smoke anymore, but I understand about being a smoker.

    To quit, you have to really, really want to. You’ll never be able to quit if you think you SHOULD. If it’s your CHOICE, then you’ve got a good shot.

  20. Pete Howells on October 31st, 2008 3:34 am

    this is good advice. I’ll agree with all of that.i read it && i really like the content of this blog, so do keep posting and keep the good work up.
    enjoy blogging, thanks.

  21. Gardasil Vaccine: Just Say NO | Kitchen Table Medicine on November 3rd, 2008 4:37 pm

    [...] Frankly, there is absolutely no case for the benefits of the Garadil vaccine unless you are a chain smoking, sex worker living in a third world county. But those people that desperately need this vaccine are [...]

  22. Gardasil Vaccine: Just Say NO | Alternative News Sources on November 4th, 2008 1:46 am

    [...] Frankly, there is absolutely no case for the benefits of the Garadil vaccine unless you are a chain smoking, sex worker living in a third world county. But those people that desperately need this vaccine are [...]

  23. 10 Self Coaching Fundamentals | Kitchen Table Medicine on November 24th, 2008 4:54 pm

    [...] is a Life Coach? How to Quit Smoking How to Transform Fear Today’s Hottest Health Deals Whole Food Multis 2 for 1 Special Sale! Sale! [...]

  24. Kamagra UK on December 15th, 2008 11:11 pm

    Kamagra UK…

    Help is only ever a click away……

  25. Sarinkumar on February 26th, 2012 4:47 pm

    Avoiding the habit of smoking is a great step to better healthy living. We all should encourage it. thanks for your article.

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

CommentLuv Enabled