One man's story

Found the attached elsewhere on the interweb. Relates to the 'baby steps' often spoken of on this forum, but nicely summed up from this person's experience. Worth a read, see what you think!

"No lectures, for sure. I quit a hundred times. But about thirty years ago I decided to try a new approach, based on AA. Addictive behavior is addictive behavior, after all. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it.

Instead of quitting -- the very thought of it made me desperate for a cigarette -- I asked myself "can I go sixty seconds without a cigarette if I know that at the end of sixty seconds I can chain a whole pack if I decide to?" I dug out an old wind-up timer and tried it. Answer was yes.

At the end of one minute, I asked myself the same question again. Answer was yes again. After a while, I upped the time to two minutes, but always said "but don't forget: at the end of two minutes I may decide to smoke one or fifty cigarettes. I'll decide in two minutes."

Then I went to three minutes, then four, then five. Then it was time for bed. My question now became: "Can I go to sleep without a cigarette?" Answer was yes, provided I promised myself that whenever I woke up, whether an hour or six hours or eight hours later, I would make a decision then about whether or not to smoke.

Upon awakening, I started back at one minute, then two, etc.

I never committed myself to anything. I told myself over and over that after a minute, or five, or an hour, I could easily decide to smoke as much as I wanted. For me, the lack of any commitment, or resolution, or promise to myself, was the crucial factor. If you don't resolve to do anything, you can't fail.

Over a period of several days, I got up to an hour. Always there was the promise that at the end of the hour I could make any choice I wanted, without any guilt. (That's an important part).

Going one hour at a time, or one minute at a time with triggers like the telephone or after a meal, I found myself a few weeks later going several hours at a time and thinking about smoking less and less.

Eventually, it was a day at a time, then two, etc. The interesting part was that after a while I found myself not thinking about smoking for longer and longer periods. Then, when the urge was triggered, I'd say to myself, "one minute and then decide." An hour later, I might remember that the minute had been over for a long time. If thinking that made me want to smoke, I'd say,"Of course I can have a cigarette right now. But can I wait one minute?" Then I'd get distracted and an hour, several hours, or a day, would go by without my thinking about it.

I'm still a heavy smoker. I just haven't had a cigarette in thirty years. Right now, I'm reminding myself that I didn't quit; I'm just not smoking at the moment. I may decide in a few minutes to run down to the corner to buy a carton and start puffing -- or maybe I won't. No promises, no commitments.

I think it's been weeks or months since I thought about smoking. I'm only thinking about it now because the subject came up. After all these years, you'd think I could call myself a non-smoker. But the very term could turn me into a smoker again, so I don't even like a term like "recovering." I'll avoid any expression that smacks of permanence.

I'm wondering if a technique like this would work on controlling carbs? "I really want an English muffin and a glass of milk right now. Can I wait five minutes and then decide?" Etc. etc.

I guess the psychology of this approach for the addictive personality (I'm definitely a food addict) has to do with finality. If I knew I'd never again be able to eat a huge baked, ice cream dessert at 100 carbs, I'd be looking for the car keys right now. But can I go a minute, or ten minutes, or an hour before making that decision? Of course I can. And I won't feel deprived if I know I can always do it whenever I decide to. It's words like "forever" and "never" that will push me into immediate bingeing.


4 Replies

Wow. Thanks for posting that Egg. :)


Brilliant..... That could work for me ;) really really like that....


thats good

am doing it like that , only giving up until tomorrow, think am 3 months not even having a drag , and got to say don't need one or want one, don't think about them all day , but i no i will have one if i wanted to, so in a way am quiting every day .if you no what i mean , until i have not had a cig for a year then the quit still on X


Well worth the read, thanks for sharing.

Love your choice of user name by the way :D


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