I hate smoking, so why do I still smoke?
Now it occurs to me that I generally motivate myself to quit in the following manner:
(i) Make a demand to myself to quit.
(ii) Fail to quit.
(iii) Punish myself for continuing to smoke by nagging myself about it (I call it “worry”).
(iv) Make an offer to myself – I will stop the nagging, but only as a reward for quitting smoking.
(v) Fail to quit again.
(vi) Go back to Step (i) and repeat….
It’s been an unconscious process up until recently, because I’ve been nagging myself for so long that it’s become second nature to me. My operative motivation, then, for quitting smoking is to relieve myself from the nagging that I impose upon myself. It’s actually designed to work like this:
1. Punish myself for continuing to smoke by nagging myself about it.
2. Make an offer to stop the nagging as a reward for quitting smoking.
3. Quit smoking in order to collect the reward.
4. Bestow the reward (stop nagging at myself).
But hey, since I’m offering myself only the cessation of something (nagging) that I don’t have to do in the first place, why not just skip Step 3 and go directly to Step 4? And that’s always what ends up happening after a few go-rounds of (i) through (vi).
The cessation of self-imposed nagging is what’s called an “imaginary motivation”. It’s a game I can’t win, and deep down inside I know it. And when an imaginary motivation fails to produce real results, I judge and blame myself for failing to be motivated by it, thus starting the whole cycle all over again.
Roses are red
Violates are blue
And so am I
There’s GOT to be a better way…