Monthly Archives: April 2008

Quit Smoking Perspectives – “The System” Analogy

I discovered how to quit smoking three years ago and when I did quit it was as easy as falling off a log. One of the things that struck me so much when I did discover the secret, was the importance of your perspective on smoking. The importance of your relationship with smoking.

I am not going to be able to tell you how to quit smoking in this article – I haven’t enough time to so what I want to do is give you an analogy to explain how your perspective is so important on how you can deal with smoking. This is a cornerstone of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and it works differently to other quit smoking methods because it relies so much on getting your view of the world fixed.

To explain the importance of perspective, I want to tell you about a program I watched on TV a few months ago. Its topic was intriguing and what the program promised to deliver was incredible. The program was called “Derren Brown: The System” and it was advertised explaining “Derren has a system for winning at the horses and in this one-off special he tells a single mum from London which horses are going to win, again and again!”

“The System” started with her receiving an email telling her to look out for another email in which an anonymous tipster would tell her which horse would win a particular horse race. It stated that she should not bet on the tipped horse but just watch for the result. Sure enough, a few hours before the race in question, she received an email and it stated which race and which horse and sure enough, the horse won. Impressive!

A few days later she received another email saying she would be given another tip but again, that she should not bet on it. Sure enough, a few hours before the race, she received her email and sure enough the horse won! Great.

The process continued and she was told to bet $10 on the third tip, rather than not betting at all. She won about $50 back.

The next race she was told to bet $50 and sure enough, she won again. This poor, hard working, devoted single mum on a seriously limited income was getting a break. As a viewer, you couldn’t help but think this couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving person. I was genuinely impressed and happy for her as no doubt were many other viewers.

For the fifth race, she was again contacted by email and told to bet the winnings from he previous race on the next race. She did. She won. Brilliant!

Then for the sixth race she was told to go to a specific racecourse and that she would meet the anonymous person who had been providing the tips. She was also told to gather as much money as she could and bring it with her because once she had met the tipster, he would make this his last ever tip. He would explain how he had developed The System and that she could then go on and use The System as much as she wanted.

Sure enough, having seen 5 consecutive winning tips, our single mum borrowed money from her dad and from friends and emptied her account and raised all the cash she could. In total she had about $8,000 to bring and place on this final bet. It was her entire worth in life and it was all about to be laid down on this last final bet approved by the anonymous tipster.

On arrival at the racecourse, she met the tipster – Derren Brown, a TV illusionist who is well known in the UK for his ability to achieve the seemingly impossible. Upon realizing her tipster was Derren Brown, our single mum exclaimed how she wished she had sold her house and all her possessions and gone to a loan shark to get even more money, so certain was she that The System was failsafe.

Not only was her expectation heightened by the previous 5 flawless tips, upon realizing it was Derren Brown providing the tips, any underlying doubts she had were wiped out as she thought she had a rock solid, 100% guaranteed foundation for winning.

She handed over her life’s worth and Derren went off and placed a bet on Horse “X”. To add to the excitement, the program then showed the expressions on our single mum’s face as she watched Horse “X” come in last. The look of utter despair made for great TV.

Luckily, Derren hadn’t bet on Horse “X”, he bet on the winning horse instead! Our single Mum had just won several thousand dollars. This was great TV! The System worked! Or did it?

On the face of it, Derren had given her 6 consecutive winners in 6 consecutive races but that is only because of the way that we watched the program. Our single mum was actually one of 6 guests at the racecourse that day. The other 5 lost (and were given their money back).

On the fifth race, there had been 36 people involved in the filming and all but 6 of them won. The other 30 went home losers.

On the fourth race, there had been 216 people involved in the program, 180 of them lost that race and were no longer part of the program. There had been 1296 people at the third race but 5/6ths dropped out as losers afterwards. In the second and first races, there had been a total of 7776 and 46656 involved in the experiment. Every time, 5/6ths of the experiment didn’t win their race because of the way that The System worked.

Each race had only 6 horses in it and from the initial 46,656 people, they were divided into 6 groups of 7,776 and told to look out for horse 1 or horse 2 or horse 3 etc. Those that lost were dropped from The System and the remainder were then divided up into six groups and told to look out for horse 1 or horse 2 or horse 3 etc. in the next race and so on.

All this good TV was the result of perspective. Your perspective or my perspective as a viewer to be precise. Because we followed our single mum, we saw The System the way she saw The System; as a successful betting plan. In reality, she was the inevitable result of a carefully executed scheme.

Our single mum was the inevitable result of this experiment. She happened to be the lucky person who happened to be assigned each and every winning horse in each and every race. From her perspective and our perspective; Derren had an infallible system.

But what has this got to do with how to quit smoking? Well, everything when it comes to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) because CBT turns your view of smoking on its head.

Just because you hold a specific point of view or because you see life through a particular perspective, it doesn’t mean it is the truth. It is just your version of the truth and it is often completely wrong!

You have a perspective about smoking which includes your ideas about why you do it, how much you enjoy it and how difficult it can be to quit. The way you feel about these things is all a product of your perspective. It is your version of the truth.

CBT reviews and analyses all your perspectives about smoking. The big reveal at the end of the program which destroyed our perspecive of The System is what CBT does to your views about smoking.