Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Myth of Will Power When Quitting Smoking

"I have no will power. After a few days (hours, weeks, whatever) without a cigarette, I cave in and I feel like such a loser."

Sound like you? Please, PLEASE don't beat yourself up! It's not your fault.

We hypnotists spend a lot of time talking about your conscious and your subconscious mind. Your conscious mind is not able to process very much at any time. According to research on information processing, your conscious mind is only able to process approximately 50 bits of information per second. Your subconscious mind, on the other hand, processes approximately 11 million bits per second.1 You use your conscious mind for important things: You make decisions in your conscious mind. You choose a different driving route when you see traffic on the road in front of you or you weigh the pros and cons of making a job change in your conscious mind - the part of your mind that is rational, analytical and objective.

Your will power is in this part of your mind. Will power is a wonderful thing given to us by Mother Nature. If you are starving, weak and tired, instead of just falling over and caving in, you marshal your forces, so to speak, get up and find food. Or if you are at a party, but you are tired, you can also marshal your forces and get a second wind so that you can party for a few more hours. You made a conscious decision. The problem with will power is that it doesn't last very long. If you don't find food, you are going to fall over and die; or, after a few hours of partying, you are going to have to go home and sleep, no matter how strong your will power is.

Your subconscious is immense. You have stored everything you've ever learned in your subconscious: the multiplication tables; how to drive a car; the lyrics to your favorite songs; how to put on your pants or tie your shoes; throw a ball. These are all "programs" that you stored in your subconscious. Your subconscious mind processes information about 220 times better and more effectively than your conscious mind - you can now turn the key of your car, turn on the turn indicator and turn to your left to check for drivers behind you, all at the same time -- without having to think about it. The process is automatic. You have stored all of your habits - your programs - in your subconscious, the good ones and the bad ones. And smoking is one nasty habit.

How many cigarettes do you smoke a day? Ten? Twenty? Forty? And how long have you been smoking? Ten? Twenty? Forty years? You stored your smoking habit in your subconscious a long time ago and you have practiced being a smoker over and over again so that this program is deep in your subconscious.

Your conscious mind knows perfectly well that smoking is a really stupid thing to do. And your subconscious just goes blythely along doing what you programmed it to do all those years ago: I drink coffee, I automatically reach for a cigarette. My boss pissed me off, I automatically reach for a cigarette.
I'm in the car and I don't have anything else to do, I reach for my cigarettes. Habit. A deeply-rooted habit.

If you are having a hard time quitting smoking by using your will power, give yourself some slack. There is nothing wrong with your will power and you are not a loser. You are looking in the wrong place for help.

1. Zimmerman, M. (1989). In R. F. Schmidt & G. Thews (eds.), Human Physiology, pp. 166-173. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
2. Lovitch, Michael, The Will Power Myth., Jan. 6, 2009.

Next post: "I Can Quit Any Time I Want"


  1. Electric Cigarette being the best alternatives to smoking are also able to go on and provide some great sensations as well. The reason why a smoker easily gets adopted in using these Electronic devices is the fact these Electric Cigarettes look and taste almost like a tobacco cigarette but dont contain any mixture of chemical and tars.....

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  2. Actually the will power will help you quit easily as for any thing to do properly you need a strong self determination and will power to be in it. Use of vaporizer device will help you cut the smoke and help you stay healthy.

  3. Will power and detremination is very important for quiting smoking habit but also the alternative smoking device like the portable vaporizer is must in quiting smoke.

  4. me i was quit when i start using e cigar the good this is e cigar is safe.

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  5. This written piece gives fastidious understanding yet.