Can fear of failure or success cause me a problem with quitting smoking?

How you go about mentally preparing to quit smoking counts.

John C. Dicey
6 min readJan 6, 2022

For more than 35 years we’ve received requests for advice by letter, email, and postcard from all over the world. We’ve answered every single one of them, and continue to do so with pleasure. I’ve undertaken to publish as many replies as I can in the hope that it will help even more people to freedom. Real-life questions from struggling smokers.

Dear John,

Why does fear of success cause me a problem? Allen Carr has talked about fear of failure and fear of success — but what is fear of success and how does it cause a problem?” Osman, Karachi, Pakistan

Hi Osman,

I remember fear of success very well (I was an 80 a day smoker myself). I had tried to quit so many times, each time not only failing spectacularly — but going through what felt like torture and hell in the process. In the lead up to each attempt to quit it felt like waiting to be sent to prison. I assumed it was going to be diabolical and the thought of actually succeeding in quitting terrified me even more than either failing to quit or even carrying on smoking. I expected to have a miserable life as a non-smoker deprived of something I genuinely believed that I really, really enjoyed.

In fact, I thought I loved smoking!

The anticipation of the misery of attempting to quit or, even worse, succeeding in quitting — was based on several factors.

Firstly, I’d watched plenty of smokers descend into misery during attempts to stop smoking and I also knew plenty of ex-smokers who seemed to revel in not only telling me how incredibly hard it was for them to stop, but also how they still fancied a cigarette years after quitting! As someone who, on previous attempts to quit, couldn’t even last 24 hours — the thought of having to control urges to smoke for a week — let alone years — made me feel completely helpless & hopeless.

I’d often put off an attempt to quit for that reason alone, “Why even bother trying to quit — I’ll never make it?”

Secondly, as I’ve alluded to, my own experiences of quitting were terrible. I’d struggle to last a few hours before caving in and returning to smoking. As a chain-smoker those were miserable moments…marching up to the shop counter and asking for 4 packs of ‘Rothmans’ which would only get me through the next 24 hours .

At the best of times I was embarrassed by how much I smoked — in fact I’d always go to a different shop each day — buying 4 packs a day in the same store would have been humiliating.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the fear of success was further fuelled by my belief that I loved smoking. That it aided me in any number of ways. I genuinely believed that it helped me to relax, to handle stress, to socialise, to pick me up when I felt down, to calm me down when I might be upset or angry, to enjoy alcohol, to enjoy meals out, actually — to enjoy meals per se!

In spite of being overweight I was even convinced that smoking helped me control my weight and that quitting smoking would make me even more so. After all, I’d seen that happen to plenty of smokers when they quit.

My thinking was, “what’s the point in living if I can’t smoke anymore?”. That in a nutshell, is fear of success.

Before I even tried to quit I was anticipating misery, feeling deprived, feeling gloomy, and feeling like I was about to lose a friend. That’s the way I always felt before every single attempt to stop smoking. No wonder I was doomed to fail — I was beaten before I even started.

Then I was fortunate enough to stumble across Allen Carr’s Easyway, and in spite of the method’s bold claims, I took some convincing that not only would I succeed in stopping smoking — but that as a happy non-smoker I’d feel as if I’d been released from prison, like I’d got rid of an enemy rather than a friend, that I’d enjoy life more, enjoy social occasions more, handle stress better, feel more relaxed, AND even lose weight rather than gain weight!

Thankfully, and most unlike me, I followed Allen’s instructions, adopted an open frame of mind, and accepted that this way, Allen Carr’s Easyway, things would be different.

Having failed to quit with his book it took just 5 hours at a Live Group Seminar to understand how & why previous attempts to quit had been so tortuous and unsuccessful, and how & why this time was going to be different.

To me it was like a miracle — but it was no such thing.

Allen Carr’s Easyway simply unpicked the belief system that nicotine addiction had installed in me. The sense of freedom and release when I finally understood that the addiction & brainwashing is what fooled me into thinking that smoking provided so many pleasures & benefits was enormous. Huge.

It really was like the unmasking of a monster that I’d previously considered my friend. Suddenly I wasn’t worried about a future without cigarettes, I was genuinely excited, optimistic, and overwhelmingly relieved & overjoyed to be getting free.

One of the saddest things in the world is that fear of success — it’s one of the fears that keeps tens of millions of smokers hooked, prevents them from even attempting to quit, and condemns them to failure in the event that they try. Allen Carr’s Easyway removes all the fears that keep smokers trapped.

I hope that all makes sense Osman . In summary, accept that Allen Carr’s Easyway is different, allow yourself to anticipate wonderful freedom, and if, like me, you failed to quit with the book — do take me up on the celebratory offer below. You have so much to gain and absolutely nothing to lose!

Best wishes

John at Allen Carr

SPECIAL OFFER: Unbelievably, it’s 25 years since I attended Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Group Seminar and to celebrate I’d love you to pass on the following 10% discount code to anyone you know who might want to do the same (or of course use it yourself if you’re a smoker).

The offer is valid at any UK/ROI/USA/CANADA/AUS/NZ Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Seminar (not valid in conjunction with any other promotion or offer). Contact your nearest centre via or email us on for details of your nearest centre and on how to obtain the special discount

The above offer includes an interactive Q & A with a senior Allen Carr’s Easyway Therapist/Facilitator (as part of the seminar), free of charge back up sessions & telephone/email support for the few that require it, and our famous money back guarantee (if you complete the programme without success — your fee is refunded in full).

Support Link: Anyone reading this piece, experiencing similar (or entirely different) issues with stopping smoking can obtain free of charge advice from us via this link. To obtain that guidance click the link and select SUPPORT. You’ll then get to fill out a short questionnaire about your experience with the method — and based on that — a senior Allen Carr’s Easyway Therapist will provide you with bespoke, detailed, free of charge advice on how to get the method to gel for you.

From the desk John C. Dicey, Global CEO & Senior Therapist, Allen Carr’s Easyway, London, England.

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John C. Dicey

Former 80-a-day smoker who was freed by Allen Carr. Now Global CEO & Senior Therapist at Allen Carr’s Easyway (since 1998) & co-author of Allen Carr books.