The narrator on the self-help cassette tape instructed listeners to sit comfortably in a chair and close their eyes. I followed the “auto-hypnosis” directions his soothing voice presented. The voice said to visualize myself as a non-smoker, enjoying the fresh, clean air of a beautiful, idylic valley.
At the end of the taped program, the voice recommended repeated sessions each day, for two weeks and I soon would manifest my new identity as a non-smoker. The only thing I needed to do was to let the Universe know what I wanted.
That powerful sounding, “magical” word, manifest, was stressed throughout the taped presentation. I was already familiar with the new age buzzword from similar tapes, self-help magazines, and best-seller new age books. The tape was marketed as the easy way to eliminate the smoking habit. I believed that it really would work. I listened to the tape for two weeks, but my behavior remained the same. The tape became a sleep aid, too. I played it each day to relax into sleep. The affirmations were beautifully reassuring and positive, but the cigarette habit remained firmly lodged in place.
Yet, I sincerely believed that the combination of positive thinking, visualization techniques, self-analysis, and the use of auto-hypnosis and meditation tapes would manifest my desire to become a non-smoker. I just “knew” the Universe would soon manifest my new self identity.
The trouble was, the non-smoker in me didn’t manifest soon. The word “soon” is non-specific. The tape promised manifestation soon, but I began to wonder “how soon”. I bought more tapes and books about visualization and manifesting. Finally, I concluded that the only thing I was doing was postponing and procrastinating. I decided to use a pragmatic approach. The wishful thinking didn’t work.
The time had come to get out pen and paper to apply careful, rational planning. I made a tangible list of what I needed to do in order to quit smoking. I set aside the ocean wave sound effects and tinkling background music that had lulled me into passivity. The self-help books were also shelved. Instead, it was time to focus on what was achievable and realistic. What common sense approach would actually bring about an actual solution and success?
My list included the obstacles I had encountered and may face again. What fears did I have about what I wanted to accomplish? I wrote down exactly what I actually had to do to quit cigarettes. I decided to visit my physician and obtain a medically sound plan. I would follow that plan to the letter. I decided to smoke my last cigarette in one month, on February 9, 1988. (The date is accurate, because I found it written in the old notebook I had used.)
I followed through on my written plan. I obeyed the doctor’s recommended regime to the letter. It took a lot of concerted effort and will power. I have not smoked any cigarettes nor had the desire to do so since then.
I’ve often wondered if it was my desire to quit smoking or did the “auto-hypnosis” tapes convince my subconscious mind to finally follow through. My experience was purely subjective. All I know for sure was that writing down a concrete plan of action and following through caused my new identity as a non-smoker to manifest.