One of the reasons people fail when trying to change a habit is because of their inability to overcome self doubt in achieving that change. One dictionary defines doubt as ‘hesitate to believe’, or ‘call into question’, or ‘suspect’. In other words, it’s questioning your own ability to do something.
For example you are a smoker trying to give up cigarettes or vaping, then you’re questioning your ability to quit smoking, or a lack of trust in your capacity to quit.
I produced a video course to help people quit smoking without the need for nicotine substitutes, and therefore I will frame this article around quitting smoking.
You can find out more about that product here.
The same principles would apply to trying to quit alcohol, stop binge eating, or maybe lose weight. Whatever the habit is that you are trying to change, must of the time people fail to work out how to overcome self doubt.
When you read this article, simply replace smoking with the habit that you are trying to change, and see how it changes your mindset to overcome self doubt.
The moment you doubt yourself in any quest to change, the odds are stacked against you…
You Must Have Total Belief In Your Ability To Overcome Self Doubt
Just like changing any habit, when smokers attempt to quit smoking, but they instinctively believe they are giving up something. This is not true. They’re not giving up anything.
In fact, they’re gaining many positive things, such as better health, more money in their pocket, more social acceptance – to name but a few of the benefits.
Let’s see at it as if this was you…
If you continue to believe that you are ‘giving up’, you begin to doubt if you can cope without cigarettes, therefore you experience ‘self-doubt. This is a very destructive trait in your quest to quit smoking.
Human action is based on the ability to perform a task. If you begin to doubt your faith, then the body will not comply.
If you were to doubt that your legs could move correctly to carry your body up a set of stairs for instance, the hesitancy would ruin the natural continuity of the action. Then you might start thinking about how you walk up a flight of stairs.
As doubt eats away at the fabric of faith, then the different elements of behaviour deteriorate. You then start to panic that you can’t see it through. You start to think that you’ll never be a non-smoker. You begin to experience self-doubt, so you start to find excuses to have just one draw of somebody else’s cigarette.
Incidentally those smokers from whom you have just taken a draw from their cigarette will be absolutely delighted that you’ve failed. They’ve probably been silently urging you to ask for a smoke or even offered you a cigarette.
You see, you’re now back in their world of slavery to nicotine. They don’t feel so alone anymore. This is the type of behaviour that smoking, and nicotine can bring out in people. Don’t give these people the opportunity to drag you down.
So, you’ve taken one draw on a cigarette. Then you hate yourself for doing it. But the hate doesn’t last for more than a few hours. So, the damage has been done. Your attitude now is ‘Well I’ve cheated myself once, and it didn’t seem too bad, so I will do it again’.
You then become a smoker again. All of the hard work has been wasted. You are now back to square one. You have experienced self-doubt. You have doubted your ability to quit smoking by being weak at critical moments during the withdrawal period.
You must have complete faith in yourself and your ability to overcome self doubt.
To overcome self-doubt, we need to practise something called positive self-talk. Now I don’t want you to confuse this with positive thinking. They are not the same things.
Now, this is a very good thing to do, but there is a step to put in before this. The crucial first step is to ask yourself ‘can I do this?’ The research suggests this is much more powerful and I will explain why
I believe that asking yourself ‘if’ you can do it is more powerful than telling yourself that you can.
When you tell yourself you can do it, the only way of your mind responding is to say ‘ok, I can, or no I can’t’. Well this could an internal battle that simply drives anxiety about the situation. Whereas asking yourself ‘if’ you can do something, you need to answer that question with some facts. Here’s an example, whereby I use positive self-talk before doing a presentation in front of lots of people. Something I do quite regularly.
“Can I do it?”
“Well, I have done it before”
“I have practiced my content and actually if there was no pressure I could probably talk away for hours without a plan. I know this topic really well”
“I know that I have prepared properly”
“I have my printed my notes, I have my presentation ready, and I have tested the technology on the room”
You see, I need to answer the question. Can I do it?
By doing this, I have asked my mind to think about whether I can. In this scenario I know that I can, therefore I start to feel much more positive about the situation.
What I then do is visualise myself doing the presentation and doing it well. I take a few minutes, relax, and imagine myself starting the presentation nice and calm. I then imagine me covering off my topics and delivering them calmly and with confidence. I then imagine people looking interested in what I am talking about. I imagine them smiling. I imagine them asking questions. I imagine people clapping at the end.
Guess how often I get nervous before a presentation now? Hardly ever. Yet I used to panic and go in to start sweating. Guess often I feel like I really deliver what I set out to? Neary every time! Yet before learning these techniques, I used to always get myself in a muddle and mess things up.
So, let’s transfer this to quitting smoking…
Can you quit smoking?
Do other people quit smoking?
Well, many people quit smoking, people who are young or old. People that have smoked for 30 years or more quit smoking. My nan and grandad both quit after 50 years of smoking. They grew up where smoking was the norm, and advertising made it look cool to quit. My grandparents were not special. They followed this course and they both quit. They practised everything in this book, and they quit.
Teenagers have quit smoking. I know friends that quit while they were teenagers despite the peer pressure of me and my friend all trying to get them to keep smoking. Teenagers can quit despite these pressures.
Have you succeeded in anything before?
Have you lost weight before?
Have you eaten more healthily before?
Succeeded in any New Year’s resolution?
Given up a bad habit?
Have you passed an exam before?
Got a new job?
Learnt something new? Maybe a language, an instrument or any other new hobby?
Did you learn to ride a bike, learn to read or write?
OK, so we have established that you have achieved something in your life before now. You have the ability to tackle something new and achieve it. How powerful your mind can be in helping you to a achieve something when you put your mind to it.
Can you quit smoking?
Absolutely you can quit smoking. Maybe you did before, but you went back to smoking after a period of time. Don’t focus on this failure. Focus on the fact that for however long, you did manage to quit smoking. Even if it was for several hours. This time, you will quit for good, and you can do it.
You can quit smoking, can’t you? You have achieved something before, right?
OK, now that we have established that you can quit. Now you can think positively and tell yourself that you can.
Say it over and over again so that you believe it, and it’s your only way of thinking
Now that you have told yourself that you can quit. Visualise yourself not smoking cigarettes or vapes anymore.
Think about waking up in the morning and not wanting to smoke. Not even thinking about smoking. Think instead about enjoying your morning coffee and breakfast without smoking.
Imagine going to work nice and calm without the need to stop outside n the rain to smoke.
Imagine, enjoying your extra time at lunchtimes to do something really productive. If you like to go outside, then still do that. Go for a nice walk and enjoy it without the need to smoke.
Imagine yourself having an alcoholic drink without smoking. Enjoying the company of friends without thinking about smoking. Being so present with your friends that you don’t even think about smoking.
Imagine going to bed at night as a non-smoker. Something you have wanted for a long time.
You are not going to stop smoking soon. Soon you will be a non-smoker.
You Must Always Think You Can Achieve your Goal
Can you see how this change in mindset and ability to overcome self doubt can make you feel differently about changing a habit?
It’s all about getting your mindset right and adapting our way of thinkig. Changing your way of thinking to set yourself up for ultimate success.
Hopefully you were able to apply this to any habit you are trying to change and you could see how powerful it can be for any situation.
If you or somebody else you know wants to quit cigarettes or vapes, then you can obtain a copy of my eBook completely FREE here.
Remember, you must always think you can overcome self doubt, and any moment that you don’t, please practice the above techniques over and over.
Let me know how you get on in your quest to overcome self doubt