written at the beginning of my third month of freedom from smoking and originally posted on january 24, 2002; in this tale, i reveal the secret of how to turn a normally destructive behavior into something positive that can actually help you quit smoking.

worry

2009 January 31

worry can be your worst enemy in this process; you decide one day that you'd like to quit, but there's a little thought in the back of your mind: "this is going to be so hard; maybe i'll fail".

start off with a thought like, "maybe i can quit smoking"

by chance, or because someone cared enough to send you a link, you end up here; you start the program, and you see a lot of posts from people with different numbers after their names. these people say, "you can do it, too", but there's a little thought in the back of your mind: "yeah, maybe they can do it; but what about me?"

as quit day approaches, those little thoughts may be gone, because you've done your homework. you know exactly why you're doing this for yourself, and you realize that those people with the numbers after their names aren't superman or wonder woman; just ordinary people - just like you - who did an extraordinary thing: they believed in themselves and set off down that path and didn't look back.

but maybe those little thoughts have become full-blown worries: as quit day approaches, you're almost certain you'll fail; that it'll be too hard; that you won't be able to do it.

how did this happen? where did the motivation go? why do you feel this way at the eleventh hour?

you feel that way because you worried.

you started with these nagging little thoughts, but they were just remote possibilities: maybe it'll be too hard; maybe i'll fail. they weren't cast in stone. yet. but you "worried" on them; you took them out, at first maybe once or twice a day, but then more often. as time went by, you brought them out many times a day, and the more you brought them out and looked at them, the more real they seemed to you, until now, at the eleventh hour, with quit day bearing down on you, they seem virtually certain.

you can do the same thing with positive thoughts, too, you know.

it's true. start off with a little thought, like, "maybe i can quit smoking". it doesn't have to be that strong; all it has to be is a remote possibility. all you have to admit is that it could be true.

then take it out and look at it once or twice a day. toy with the idea that it's possible for you to quit, and stay quit for good. at first, it won't seem very real, but the more you take it out and look at it, and say, "maybe...", the more real it will become, just like the negative result you worried about in the first example.

thoughts like to live with other thoughts just like themselves. if the thoughts you entertain as possibilities early on are thoughts of failure, they'll go out and attract other thoughts of failure: they'll look for examples of why you will fail, and bring them to your attention. "look!", they'll say, "there's another reason why you'll probably fail at this!"

but if the thoughts you entertain as possibilities early on are thoughts of success, they'll go out looking to attract other thoughts of success. they'll bring you back examples of why you can succeed. "look!", they'll say, "there's somebody else that succeeded at this! hey, if they can do this, you can do it, too!"

funny thing is; in both cases, they'll be right.

why not "worry" that you'll succeed instead?

kevin - day 66

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3 responses leave one →
  1. 2003 October 1
    Brenda permalink

    This is very true with me. I think negative thoughts continually. Getting online support for giving up smoking was especially helpful for me. Seeing other people succeed enabled me to have positive thoughts about quitting. I may try this positive thinking in this new relationship I am getting into. Reading this essay made me realize that I am already thinking negatively about the relationship even though all the time I have spent with this person has been very positive. Must stop this. Thanks again, Kevin.

  2. 2004 March 29
    Ron Cullin permalink

    Dear Kevin, I used to worry all the time. Name any subject, and I would worry about it! Then I learned that the origin of the word "worry" is an AngloSaxon derivative mean "to strangle". Thus in all my worrying years, I was, in a very real sense, strangling myself. So I don't do it any more...

    - Ron

  3. 2009 January 31

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

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