Louise's Story

 

I'm so glad to have this chance to tell you about my experience with Steve's Cognitivequitting Program. I found it to be a very different way to quit smoking. It worked for me. Over 35 years of smoking, I tried to quit many times. Tried everything. I tried Smoke Enders, The American Lung Association Group as well as a smoking cessation program through my medical insurance. I tried acupuncture and hypnosis (twice). None of the "scare" methods worked for me either. I failed over and over because all I could focus on then was the awful deprivation I felt and the heroic struggle I was having, fighting off my ever-returning urges to smoke.

Now, you'd think I'd be more skillful in my own efforts to quit smoking because I'm a psychologist, in practice for over three decades. I know how to help others make positive changes in their own lives. But then, of course, we all know about addiction. Right? Well, maybe not. I think Steve has a really new and more accurate take on what addiction and quitting smoking are really all about. It's not just about being a nicotine addict.

So, what's different about Steve's way to quit? First of all, he has an expert understanding of the process of quitting. He met me where I was while I was still a smoker. He guided me very carefully; and so very importantly, he saved me from feeling overwhelmed by the towering goal of quitting. He did this very systematically by having me focus on simple and manageable tasks. Steve puts a spot light on the physical realities of the smoking habit. I really needed his coaching when I first started tuning into my body cues which I had always interpreted as time to light up again. Cognitivequitting also involves the skill of discovering alternative ways to find actual relief from any nagging withdrawal symptoms. Instead of fighting or depriving myself, I was in a whole different mode of paying attention to my body signals and finding a non-automatic way to respond to any physical or emotional discomfort.

Another difference is that Steve puts first things first with his well-carved-out and crucial Foundation Statements. I found these to be the bedrock of beliefs about my decision to quit and the necessary commitment it takes to actually do it. From the start, he was preparing me for the future, for those especially vulnerable moments when I might be at higher risk of erroneously believing that relief meant choosing to smoke again.

The absolutely essential piece in this process is doing the Timer Exercise which Steve calls the amazing eye opener! He’s right. The Exercise increased and deepened my awareness of what body sensations I was experiencing in various situations at different times of the day. I learned to become an observer. I observed any discomfort I was feeling; I observed my old automatic response of wanting to reach for a cigarette. Eventually, I began to find a new, nonsmoking response to manage my discomfort.

I know I couldn’t have quit by myself. I chatted with Steve on line almost daily. He will tell you that he has no counseling credentials; he isn’t a therapist or a personal coach; however, in my experience, he is absolutely brilliant when it comes to his offering support, clarifying irrational thinking, asking his searching questions, discerning what to focus on next. He was very patient with me and nonjudgmental, too. He was very quick to affirm good work. He was such a keen listener. He frequently understood both what I was saying and what I was not saying. I felt so genuinely understood. I felt his presence. I didn’t feel alone during the whole quit process. And then there is, last but not least, Steve's incorrigible (and sometimes life-saving) sense of humor, to boot.

I have been able to apply the skills I honed through Cognitivequitting to other areas of my life. For the first time, I am actually motivated to eat more intentionally and to exercise regularly. You can’t begin to appreciate what an amazing change this is for the likes of sedentary me! So in the end, it’s not just about nicotine. For me, it’s been about learning a whole different way to respond to life stress.

Louise Hiniker, M.A., L.P.


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