How to Quit Smoking and Other Imagination Exercises

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

“Any thought that is passed on to the subconscious
often enough and convincingly enough
is finally accepted.”
Robert Collier

Remember when you first learned to ride a bicycle? You may have ridden on the street in front of your house and saw a pothole or a rock in the road. Let’s say it was a rock.

You wanted to avoid the rock, but you focused so hard on avoiding the rock, what happened?

You hit the rock! Why?

Because that’s where your attention was. In order to avoid the rock, you learned that you focused, not on the rock, but going around the rock.

This illustrates a fundamental principle of consciousness:

Don’t focus on what you want to avoid.
Focus on where you want to go.

I used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day.

I wanted to quit. It’s hard to quit, even though research shows that the physical addiction is gone after several days of non-smoking.

Why do so many smokers go back to smoking after quitting?

Because even though they have given up smoking, they still hold the image of themselves as smokers.

I quit smoking by
becoming a non-smoker first.

I spent months visualizing myself without cigarettes, even though I still smoked. I pictured my life without smoke, without dirty ashtrays, without a cigarette between my fingers, even while I was smoking.

And I adopted the attitudes of a non-smoker. Smoking is awful, it pollutes the air, kissing smokers is like licking an ashtray. The usual stuff.

The problem with most people who quit and still crave cigarettes is that they are still smokers who aren’t smoking. The outer picture may have changed, but they still hold onto the subconscious picture of themselves as smokers. And so they still crave cigarettes.

Notice the key point here: I didn’t focus on giving up smoking. Instead, I became a non-smoker.

It doesn’t matter what you want in life;
what matters is what you picture.

Remember: You have a Conscious mind that perceives something and connects it to past experience. Then it evaluates and decides what to do. But it’s too much for you to constantly evaluate and decide about every perception.

Thus, the Subconscious Repository steps in and stores anything you repeat to make it a habit, a part of your reality. That’s all it does. Store it and make it automatic so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

Then there is the spin doctor, the Adaptive Unconscious, the part of your mind that makes sure you act like you, that reality stays the way you expect it to be. It works with pictures. Pictures you have of yourself and reality.

At first when I quit smoking, the Adaptive Unconscious tried to resolve the conflicting inner and outer pictures by creating the craving for a cigarette. It worked to get me back to acting like the stored subconscious picture I had stored of a smoker.

When I finally quit, I didn’t crave cigarettes because non-smokers don’t crave cigarettes. I had changed the subconscious picture to that of a non-smoker And I was already a non-smoker.

I have never craved a cigarette since.

I worked daily to create a new inner picture, one that ended up being so strong that the outer Reality had to change.

What kind of person are you?

What ways do you picture yourself that hold you back from what you want to be?

There is rarely an easy way to change, and not everything will submit to your efforts.

I know this sounds simplistic. But you have nothing to lose by becoming aware of the processes involved. And trying a few experiments. You might be surprised at how you begin creating your life.

If you have the discipline
and are willing to do the daily work.

Now the fact is, quitting smoking took longer than it needed to, because back then (in my twenties) I didn’t know all the techniques I know now.

So let me describe for you the Self-Talk triangle and the nature of Imagination Exercises.

Self-Talk and Self-Image

“The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination”
Emily Dickinson

The subconscious repository functions somewhat like a computer. It accepts programming, lines of code, in the form of Self-Talk.

Self-Talk is what we say to ourselves about ourselves in our own mind. It’s our Inner Dialogue.

Your Self-Talk programs your Subconscious
like a programmer programs a computer.

Your Self-Talk creates your Self-Image, the deep picture that is stored in your subconscious and filters your reality about yourself. Therefore, your Self-Image strongly influences How You Act in the World. And How You Act in the World reinforces your Self-Talk.

This is the Self-Talk Triangle that drives your sense of self and reality.

— Self-Talk creates Self-Image.

— Self-Image strongly influences How I Act in the World.

— How I Act in the World reinforces Self-Talk.

This Self-Talk Triangle operates mostly without people being aware of it. But when you are able to acquire enough detachment and begin observing the Self-Talk Triangle within yourself, especially your automatic Self-Talk, you can begin breaking the Self-Talk Triangle.

You become the driver of your Self-Talk,
 rather than your Self-Talk driving you.

But this can happen only if you recognize several important things:

  1. You are not a victim of anyone or anything.
  2. You can begin recreating yourself and your reality.
  3. You can continually enlarge your perception of Truth by overcoming your externally implanted and self-created blind spots.
  4. There are plenty of people and institutions around you that do not want you to recognize any of this.

In a very real way, we are talking about your imagination, your primary creative picture-making and feeling-making faculty, your ability to create and feel a Vision about you and the world.

Look at your life and relationships.

Who and what is it around you that wants you to believe you are a victim?

That you should feel guilt or fear?

That you cannot help who or what you are?

That making your own way in the world is useless and pointless?

That you are helpless?

Who wants you to believe that you were born with a negative stamp on you?

Religious guilt or racial deprivation?

Some other thing that means you started out with a deficit that you cannot help? That you cannot overcome?

Who wants you to believe that you were born with limitations or grievances when compared to other babies born the same day?

Who wants you to believe that you are a victim?

Imagination Exercises

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Albert Einstein

Despite its positive tone, this post doesn’t have any final answers for you.

Answers often don’t come from others. In many ways, we can’t teach others. Sometimes others may catch something from us, but they often teach themselves.

Perhaps you might catch one or two pieces of truth in this post. And that’s really the point, isn’t it?

I know that my wife, and others, are always suggesting various traditional and non-traditional remedies for what ails me. I’m sure most of it works some of the time for some people.

But it has to be the right remedy at the right time for the right person.

The same with advice.

There are no catch-alls—no sugared affirmations—that are guaranteed to work. But there are some things that perhaps you will discover for yourself. Here’s what I know, for me.

— I have a mind, but I am not my mind.

— My mind is a good slave, but a poor master.

— There are hamster wheels in my mind that can run me ragged, round and round with thoughts that can drag me down.

— My mind’s hamster wheels can drive me into melancholy, anger, and despair.

— The hamster is my own thinking and feeling, my own inner dialogue. What I think, picture, and say about myself—how I feel, how I should feel, how I believe I am, how much of a loser I am—creates that reality for me.

— What I think and talk about, in relation to others and the world, often creates that reality for me as well.

— My mind holds pictures about me and the world that eventually manifest the longer I hold those pictures in my mind.

— When I hold negative pictures about myself, I become those pictures.

— When I hold negative pictures about the world, the world reflects back those pictures.

— My mind operates automatically when I don’t direct it; it will run off with those negative pictures, as if the default setting in the mind is Negative.

I become what I dwell on.
I move toward what I picture.

Remember, your thoughts are like lines of code in the computer program of your life.

The 15 Times Imagination Exercise

The way to break the Self-Talk Triangle is to reprogram your mind’s autopilot. Take hold of your inner dialogue and work hard every day, every hour, every minute, to release the negative pictures and negative talk.

But not by resisting them.

The mind seems to work by the Law of Reversed Effort. The more you try to resist negative thoughts, the more you give them life. (Like focusing on the rock when riding a bicycle.)

The trick is not focusing on getting rid of those thoughts and pictures. The trick is replacing them with positive pictures. Focus on the positive.

Easily said.

One technique is the 15 Times Exercise. You take a positive statement and write it 15 times each day.

Many people write positive statements every day. But that in itself is not enough to change the mind. What seems to work more often for some people is the Change Formula, a kind of imagination exercise:


Imagining Vividly with Feeling results in Change (to the subconscious repository)

You write it. You mentally say it. You vividly picture it, investing it with as much emotional feeling as possible. That combination gradually begins to change the pictures in the mind.

Words = Limited effectiveness

Words and Pictures = good effectiveness

Words, Pictures, and Feelings = great effectiveness

Remember, the mind is a creature of habit. Left to itself, it will run negative programming automatically (unless you were raised in a profoundly positive family and with friends who actively reinforced a positive outlook on life).

The mind’s habits will continue, you will experience those hamster wheels, as long as you don’t do something about it.

You can see why other people might be interested in making sure you never get clued in to this fact:

You can direct your own mind,
your own imagination,
your own reality.

Many people, including scientists and politicians, may tell you that you can’t take charge.

Don’t buy into that. You can take charge by using imaginative exercises that vividly affirm the change with feeling.

It’s difficult to break mind habits, to break the melancholy and despair, but it can be done.

One way is to moderate your intake of toxic thoughts, toxic environments, toxic people—thoughts, environments, and people who tear you down. Especially family members like my friend Ted’s brother in Chapter 8.

People who say, “You don’t have the ability to live that dream.”

People who say, “You are cold, heartless, weak, cowardly, stupid, and bad.”

People who say, “The tests show you should try something else.”

You’re better than you think you are,
 and you can create a better self
than you know.

When writing a positive, powerful statement in the 15 Times Exercise, remember to write it in the present tense. Assume it’s happening now. Assume it’s already true.

Imagine it. Exercise it daily.

Don’t write: I will write my Imagination Exercises every morning.

Write instead: I love writing my Imagination Exercises every morning.

Add some emotion to it. Feel it. Visualize it.

Imagine vividly
with feeling.

The subconscious repository loves emotion and pictures. It stores ideas more quickly when emotions and pictures attach to the ideas. It responds to Imaginative Exercises.

Now it’s Humor Time!

These are Eddie Izzard jokes. If you don’t know Eddie, try DuckDuckGo. He’s a smart, funny British guy who likes to dress up like a woman.

There must’ve been a cafeteria downstairs, in between battles, where Darth Vader could just chill and go down: “I will have the penne all’arrabbiata.“You’ll need a tray.“Do you know who I am?” “Do you know who I am?” “This is not a game of who the heck are you. For I am Vader, Darth Vader, Lord Vader. I can kill you with a single thought.” “Well, you’ll still need a tray.” “No, I will not need a tray. I do not need a tray to kill you. I can kill you without a tray, with the power of the Force, which is strong within me. Even though I could kill you with a tray if I so wished, for I would hack at your neck with the thin bit until the blood flowed across the canteen floor.” “No, the food is hot. You’ll need a tray to put the food on.” “Oh, I see, the food is hot. I’m sorry, I did not realize.

Very funny, if you know Eddie. He has an idiosyncratic sense of humor. I like him. Here’s a video of this joke.

If you’re like me, at times you feel like a caged bird. That life is not working out your way.

As a believer in karma, I know that sometimes karma has to play out and there is little or no way to influence the outcome.  (Like those years working at 7-Eleven.)

But often I can influence an outcome, by using imagination exercises. I’ve used them for decades and my life has improved every five years. I say five years, because sometimes there is a Dark Night of Soul, a rough patch to go through in order to mentally cough up the gunk that is subconsciously stored and experience it directly until it ejects, and the new picture takes hold.

There’s no longer a need for me
to be a caged bird all the time.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

6 thoughts on “How to Quit Smoking and Other Imagination Exercises

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