Monday, June 2, 2008

I Can't Quit Smoking is Usually I Don't Want to Quit

“I can’t quit smoking, it’s too stressful.”
“I can’t quit because I can’t use any medications.”
“It’s hopeless.”
“It’s impossible for me to quit.”

In one of my workshops, Dorothy commented on some of the homework assignments: Increase intake of fruits and vegetables, get more exercise and drink more water.

“I can’t eat oranges because they give me hives, I can’t eat carrots because I don’t like them, I can’t exercise because I don’t have the time and I can’t drink more water because I don’t get bathroom breaks at work.”

“What do you want from me?” I asked.

“I want you to tell me I can’t quit.” Dorothy said.

I didn’t argue with her but said, “You’re right, you can’t quit.” But if you look at Dorothy's reasons, what she was really saying is “I don’t want to quit.” Saying “I Can’t” implies that whatever being asked is impossible to do. None of the homework assignments were impossible to do. There are very few things in life we CAN’T do, but "can't" means being unable to do it which lets us off the hook for our smoking. Saying, "I can't" is just an excuse because we don’t WANT to.
It's easier to say, “I can't quit,” because that implies that we are not responsible for our behavior. Once the smoker says “I can quit,” this implies that they are now taking responsibility for their actions.

In a different class, Jack said almost the same thing as Dorothy,

“I can’t eat more fruits and vegetables.”

This time I wanted to fall through the floor because Jack had lost his lower jaw to bone cancer due to smoking. He had no bottom teeth to eat with and was on a totally liquid diet. It was impossible for him to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“But I’m not going to let that stop me. I can do everything else because I want to quit.”

If you believe that you can’t quit, you can’t but mostly this means you don’t want to do what it takes to be successful. The motivation to quit is not strong enough or is non-existent. Instead of looking at what you can’t or won’t do, focus on what you can do. Work on building motivation with either focusing on the benefits of quitting or the consequences of continuing to smoke.

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