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WHAT I HAVE LEARNED...My 300+ Day Ramble
(** Warning** really long post)
There are many veterans here who probably know what I'm about to share having experienced these truths themselves, but you never know when something said a little differently resonates. We are all each others teachers~!~ And so I begin...
I quit once before - the 1 1/2 year dirty quit - cold turkey but I cheated every month or so. Presumably I was 'testing' how much stronger I was than the cigarette. I told myself that one day I would light up and not like it. That never happened.
What I learned: A drug is a drug is a drug! They all affect the brain in terms of thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. Believing that you can smoke casually and not be affected by it is delusional.
If someone would have asked me to describe myself in a sentence, it would have been something like: 'Female, 5'4", blue-eyed smoker'. I saw smoking every bit a part of me as eye colour, gender or height! It wasn't something I did; to me it literally WAS me! That is what makes this addiction in particular stand out.
A few years ago, smoking was acceptable & commonplace. Yes, there were potential physical consequences when you were much older, but you were healthy & unaffected by your insignificant habit - or so we thought. Heroin addicts were depicted as emaciated, scrungy, amoral people shooting up in back alleys. Smokers were having fun, laughing, enjoying cocktails & cigarettes at parties. Night vs Day - or so we thought. Those images & belief systems were hard for me to shake, they were so ingrained!
What I learned: I built my entire narrative around smoking. I had to be willing to let go of the past & create a new, healthy self-identity as a non-smoker to be a successful quitter.
At 300 days in, I now have solid blocks of time each day where I don't even think about smoking. It seems like it takes forever to undo but the truth is most smokers were having 20 to 30 cigarettes a day at an average of 10 drags each. That is 200 to 300 doses of a drug each & every day times every year times every decade!
What I learned: A key ingredient to a successful quit is time & patience. Accept where you are at and don't have a time-table agenda. It also really helps if you see the process of quitting smoking as a gift, an opportunity to heal and that every step forward, every day smoke free no matter the struggle is truly healing.
I had a 40+ year smoking career and there are most definitely times where I miss those carefree, ignorance-is-bliss days! I got away with it for years. I allow those thoughts, which really are only memories, to surface and then reframe them. Why? Because whenever you are romancing the cigarette, the smoking days you are remembering are being filtered through a foggy lens and the only result will be making yourself miserable. It is also in fact, not even truth!
Try an experiment (prior to quit of course!). Try vaping zero nicotine or a non-nicotine cigarette. You will be smoking. You should be happy but you will not be. It will not satisfy you in the slightest! It is not the cigarette that you are craving - it is the drug. It is the nicotine you are physically & psychologically dependent on. Sear this into your brain and remember it every time you think it would be nice to have "just one". Nicotine is a powerful, toxic substance and I guarantee there are receptors all ready to go inside your body in a matter of seconds no matter how far you think you've come.
What I learned: A quit becomes much easier when you realize you're healing from a chemical addiction as opposed to quitting smoking aka depriving yourself of smoking.
Additional learning: A belief is only a thought that you tell yourself over & over & over. You have already done that to establish smoking. Now you not only need to unravel those erroneous beliefs, but also create new ones that empower.
I am sure my learning will continue as time passes. I hope to never stop learning, growing & evolving! I am so very grateful for the support on this site and certainly for your patience in reading my lengthy ramble!
Three month milestone smoke free!!! Feels really good to celebrate this accomplishment 👍
Good morning and thank you guys for your kind words! 300 is nothing to sneeze at and a ramble is forthcoming:)
Busy these days just getting Christmas stuff happening including a Zoom party - something which is FAR out of my comfort zone, but it is in keeping with 2020. Far out or uncomfortable or both! It would be so nice to practice my not smoking with real people and real parties, but it is what it is.
NOPE for me today and for you?
Seventy pounds. Some years back my sister-in-law stepped up to a quit and gained that much weight. She went back to smoking and would not even think of trying to quit again. Any thoughts on weight gain?
Repost: It Isn't Enough
Great repost; Quitting is work, but quitting is doable and the freedom is oh so worth it!
Date: 2014-05-11 15:14:15
"It isn't enough to pick a 'quit' date.....it isn't enough to run out and stock up on hard candies, or celery sticks, or apple wedges......it isn't enough to tell everyone about the 'great quit date'.....it isn't enough to go through the ritual of the smoking the last cigarette, of cleaning out the ash trays, of throwing away the lighters.......it isn't enough to walk away from those cigarettes.....
You have to want that quit, heart and soul, you have to want that quit just as much as you want your next breath, you have to take care of that quit as if it were a sick child....with tender loving arms, you have to decide each day that your life is worth so much more than a tobacco filled tube. You have to FEEL that quit, starting from your toes, all the way up to the top of your head. You have to cherish each milestone, big and small...and build on them, like a sand castle. Each day adding granules of sand, to make that beautiful sculpture that you are so proud of.
At the end of each day, you have to smile and KNOW in your HEART that you did what was best for you, for your quit, because if you don't feel it as strong as life itself, then it will eventually slip away out to sea.
I realized today that I want this quit, there is NOTHING that I will give it up for. NOTHING!!!!!"
It is SO good to be alive...It is so amazing to be from nicotine addiction. It is SO doable. Xo
Happy Thursday to All! Not One Puff for me today.
Happy Hump Day! One week behind me. Very tired yesterday as the day progressed - a first. However, a five year old grandchild kept me from going to bed until 5:00pm! Lol!
Hump Day Pledge
Good morning all
Happy Hump Day!!!!!
Today is a running about day. Starting in the NW and heading out to the far reaches of the NE dropping materials off to my Educational assistants. This afternoon my plan is to learn Google classrooms. Going to check out You Tube - you can find everything there. We are going to use Google to meet with our Educational Assistants so this old dog needs to learn new technology tricks..... sigh. Anyways smoking will not be part of my day today or any day. No matter what life brings my way I will be saying NO to smoking today. I extend my hand in friendship and support to the next winner coming along on the Freedom Road and kicking ash to the curb today.
Have a good one
Repost: I Really Want to Quit Smoking, But I Want to Smoke?
I Really Want to Quit Smoking, But I Want to Smoke?
From Eric7704 on 12/2/2009 12:51:01 PM
“I really, really want to quit smoking, but I really want to smoke a cigarette! What’s wrong with me?”
These thoughts aren’t all that uncommon when we first quit smoking. As we get through the first few days or longer of not smoking and start to take our first steps towards freedom.
But these thoughts can leave us wondering sometimes. Why do we have this split personality? Are we missing something within us? Are we just too weak to quit smoking?
We really want to quit smoking. We really want to remove this addiction from our life, but at the same time all we can think about is smoking a cigarette. Confusing? Not really.
Your logical mind really wants to quit smoking. Your logical mind really wants to remove this absurd deadly addiction from your life. You really want to be free.
There is an obstacle though… physical withdrawal or thoughts and urges to smoke.
Your mind and body are amazing machines. Don’t look at yourself as weak, but really understand just how strong you are. Imagine, for decades you put a poison into your body day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out. Cigarette after cigarette after cigarette after cigarette did you smoke to simply relieve the anxiety that the previous cigarette kept creating.
You ingested a poison that was almost 2x as deadly as the Diamondback’s rattlesnake’s poison. A poison that was 3x as deadly as arsenic, not to mention the thousand’s of chemicals that went with it.
Think about how amazing it is that your body was still able to function even after being subjected to all those poisons for all those years! Why? Because the body is amazing! It is resilient! But being able to adapt to this poison created a problem. Your body had to absorb this poison and make it a part of normal everyday function, which created a psychological addiction through this physical need.
Now you’re going through withdrawal. You’re removing something that your body thinks now is part of normal everyday function. You’re feeling uncomfortable. Withdrawal causes a subtle fight or flight feeling. It causes an empty ,antsy uncomfortable feeling. Now another part of your mind, the subconscious mind is going to work.
After years of smoking, your subconscious mind has been conditioned by the cigarette, this chemical trick. It doesn’t know right from wrong. It doesn’t know logical from illogical.
Just as if you were in some kind of real danger as if there was something wrong, the subconscious takes out it’s notes from all the previous experiences from decades of smoking and goes down the list.
“ What is going to help with this situation?” It says. “What is going to get rid of this “danger”, this uncomfortable feeling that is being experienced?” It thinks.
After all those years of smoking and conditioning, it remembers that a cigarette will remove this empty, antsy, insecure feeling. So it sends you a signal. “Smoke a cigarette and you’ll feel better.”
It’s not doing this because it is simply some junkie mind, but it is actually looking out for your best interests. It is there to help keep you safe and comfortable. The problem is, that nicotine has fooled your subconscious into thinking that nicotine makes you safe and without it, something is wrong. Like there is some real outside danger, that it is trying to flee.
And this is where you get your split personality. This is where the contradiction lies. This is where the “Nicodemon” comes from.
There is nothing wrong with you. It is nicotine that created the flaw. It is nicotine that created the problem. Nicotine created the void, the incompleteness. You are removing the flaw. You are on your way to becoming complete again.
Just as your subconscious will send you signals when you are hungry as a reminder to eat. You are starving the addiction right now and your subconscious is sending you signals to smoke, because it thinks that nicotine is a normal part of everyday function.
But the problem can happen when we take those thoughts and validate them with the belief in the cigarette. We then latch onto them and hold them and fixate on them. This will cause the fixation on smoking. Which can then cause us to focus on smoking "one" cigarette and forget about the tens of thousands of cigarettes that will follow.
When this happens. This is when we tend to turn towards our willpower to get us out of this situation. This is when we turn towards willpower to help us fight off these thoughts. Now this often talked about technique has become a reaction to the crave and not a response to it, for it is a result from an indecision of the mind.
But what is willpower? In this situation, it is resisting NOT doing something that you feel you are compelled to do.
Withdrawal causes the body to activate the fight or flight response. So what happens when you try and resist this and use willpower and fight off a crave?
You activate the fight or flight response. You cannot make a crave diminish, by feeding it the very feeling that it thrives on. It will only grow and will cause you to have to use more willpower and this vicious cycle will repeat itself and everything may end up feeling so overwhelming, that we give up the quit.
What you resist, persists.
So how about surrendering? Not surrendering as in “ I give up.” But surrendering is in letting what is, be.
You’re craving a cigarette. It is what it is. This reality is already happening. Does fighting that thought change that thought or is it making that thought become THE ONLY THOUGHT? You cannot beat your enemy when you let it set up post in your mind.
Have you ever tried to remember something really hard, only to have a harder time trying to remember it?
When you keep trying not to think of something by pushing it ouot of your mind, what usually happens is that’s ALL you end up thinking about. This is because thoughts do not leave their source, the mind. But they can be transcended.
When you have a crave, try to simply acknowledge and surrender to it. "OK, I'm having a crave within this moment. I may not like this feeling, but it is only a feeling and it is only temporary and will pass." We don't ave to like craves to accept them, but when we accept them we can then be pro-active and not simply re-active Try not to let yourself become an automatic reation to the thought.
For when this happens, the mind will tend to wander into the past and future while overlooking the only moment that is real. The present moment. The mind will look to past failed quit attempts to validate it's fear now. "What about that time and that other time". and on and on. It will also look to endless future possibilities since they haven't happened yet and are only through the imagination. "Is this what quitting will be like forever? Will I crave forever? Can I quit forever? What will happen when or if this happens?" and on and on it goes. The mind is a powerful machine and that power can either be used for us or against us.
I know this is easier said than done, but try not to automatically become the reaction to the thought. Accept that what is, is what is and by trying to fight it off or trying not to think about it, will probably work in reverse.
You don’t have to like having a crave, but if you accept it, you can disconnect from “being the crave” to seeing that it is only something that is happening at the moment. This can create space and peace within the moment of discomfort.
Remember, deep breathing. Please do not write this off. It is the cornerstone of every single relaxation technique out there. It also helps to keep the mind present and not wander off into the past or future. It really does help when you do it. When done correctly.
Also, don’t fixate on smoking a cigarette. This will quickly cause you to lose focus that you’re not depriving yourself from a cigarette, but are actually freeing yourself from the tens of thousands of cigarettes that you would HAVE to smoke.
Remember, you’re removing your guilt, by removing smoking. You’re removing the self loathing by removing smoking. You’re removing the complexity in your life by removing smoking. You’re not giving up anything. You removing an absurd useless addiction.
Don’t be hard on yourself for having thoughts to smoke when first quitting. It is normal! The trick is to change HOW you deal with those thoughts.
When we first quit smoking. Keep in mind, THIS IS NOT WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE AN EX SMOKER!!
It is simply a smoker going through withdrawal and removing the flaw that smoking caused, that is creating this TEMPORARY discomfort.
THIS IS SMOKING’S FAULT! Not quittings.
Quitting smoking isn’t about being stronger than our addiction. For if this were true, non of us would even be addicts and we wouldn’t even be on this board. It is about being smarter.
I can tell you now, that if smoking relied solely on strength to quit. I wouldn’t be here writing this post. I would be smoking right now.
YOU CAN QUIT!! Stop believing in the cigarette and believe in yourself!!
One last note: In this post. I mentioned the term Nicodemon and put that term in quotations. This is something that has been said on quit smoking boards for some time to describe the contradictory thoughts that people have when they quit smoking. While it may be a catchy phrase and I'm not knocking anyone for using the phrase. I just want to point out something about nicotine.
Nicotine is a chemical. An alkaloid. It is neither good nor evil. It just simply is. It has an I.Q. of zero. It cannot think, plot, plan, conspire or trick you into relapse. The fact that nicotine has absolutely zero intelligence is in fact your greatest weapon against this addiction.
But when we start calling our own thoughts from within, the Nicodemon. This turns this inanimate chemical with zero intelligence into an outside entity that you must battle to win. This makes nicotine seem to have the ability to think, conspire and outsmart you into relapsing. When in reality it is only your own thoughts doing this. It is only YOU.
But if the Nicodemon were real. I think that there is a movie that came out some years back, that is the perfect analogy for this.
It is called “Jacob’s Ladder,” with Timothy Robbins.
If you haven’t seen it. In the movie it’s starts off in a war. His platoon gets ambushed and he gets stabbed and it looks like he is dying.. Fast forward to the next scene and we next see him working as a postman.
What starts to happen next is that he starts to see demons wherever he goes. He becomes terrified of everything. He feels like he is losing his mind. He has a chiropractor that he asks for advice throughout the movie about the things that he has seen. The chiropractor seems to just listen patiently and gives him soothing advice when needed.
To make a long story short. It turns out that the character was supposed to die back in the first scene of the movie when he was stabbed, but he didn’t. He cling ed onto his life, when he should have let go.
When he finally realizes this. He finds out that his chiropractor is actually indeed his guardian angel, that was there to look over him.
His guardian angel then tells him that all the suffering he experienced and all the demons that he kept seeing were because of what he held onto. It was only after realizing the truth and surrendering to it and letting go, did he realize that the demons that he constantly saw and were tormenting his life, were actually angels that had come to take him away from the suffering.
The death you are experiencing is the death of addiction. Surrender to it. Embrace it. It is the beginning of the end of suffering.
I Freed myself on 7/7/04
30 hours cigarette free with no nicotine replacement. Feeling extremely emotional and pretty rough if I’m honest... Praying for strength and support to not give up or give in