Be Prepared for Holiday Triggers

Subconscious use cue extinguishment
Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

31 May 2004, 19:14 #21

From: Joel Sent: 5/23/2003 4:43 PM
Image For people celebrating the four day Memorial Day Weekend

Not all days lend themselves to such predictability, but when they do occur it is best to be ready for them. By their expected nature they afford us the opportunity to take a little extra precaution. If you initially made a list of why you wanted to quit, the day of such events is a good time to pull it out and reread it. If you made posts the first few days here at Freedom, it would be a good time to review your early thoughts and the responses too. You will quickly see how strong of a grip cigarettes had, the importance you put on getting off of cigarettes, and realize that even though the day had its bad moments, in all likelihood it was easier than it was at the beginning and you never want to go through that state again.

I hope you all have a good holiday weekend one way or another. But even if it is not a great get together, it will still be the first such occasion that you prove to yourself that you can survive it without a cigarette. That will make it a banner day. As awkward as it may or may not be, it will help prepare you for future such holidays. As with any other day, if you wake up the next morning still smoke free, the preceding day was a great day, at least in not smoking terms.

Since not smoking is a gift you give to yourself to help sustain your health and improve your life, whether it was hard or not now is not important. What is important is that it was possible to survive as an ex-smoker and have now proved to yourself that your life has gone on. This is the mark of a great day.

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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

20 Jun 2004, 19:06 #22

Image For those who have family gatherings for Father's Day.

Not all days lend themselves to such predictability, but when they do occur it is best to be ready for them. By their expected nature they afford us the opportunity to take a little extra precaution. If you initially made a list of why you wanted to quit, the day of such events is a good time to pull it out and reread it. If you made posts the first few days here at Freedom, it would be a good time to review your early thoughts and the responses too. You will quickly see how strong of a grip cigarettes had, the importance you put on getting off of cigarettes, and realize that even though the day had its bad moments, in all likelihood it was easier than it was at the beginning and you never want to go through that state again.

I hope you all have a good day one way or another. But even if it is not a great get together, it will still be the first such occasion that you prove to yourself that you can survive it without a cigarette. That will make it a banner day. As awkward as it may or may not be, it will help prepare you for future such occasions. As with any other day, if you wake up the next morning still smoke free, the preceding day was a great day, at least in not smoking terms.

Since not smoking is a gift you give to yourself to help sustain your health and improve your life, whether it was hard or not now is not important. What is important is that it was possible to survive as an ex-smoker and have now proved to yourself that your life has gone on. This is the mark of a great day.
Also be aware that the day after a holiday can be awkward. Sometimes when contemplating an event is going to be rough you bring up a high level of resolve and focus to survive the situation. Once it passes then, you may go to bed relieved that it is finally over, confident that now it will be a breeze. As soon as you feel this sense of relief, you are a prime candidate for the following though process. "Boy, I am glad that is over. That was really tough, but I made it and now on the other side where it will now be easy. I did a great job. Boy do I deserve a cigarette for that!"
It really can happen this way. As soon as you feel it should be easy you can drop your guard. Do appreciate the fact that you did get through a time period, but always understand that moments can still occur and be prepared for them. And no matter what you do, you never deserve a cigarette for anything. A cigarette is not reward but rather a punishment of suicidal proportions.


When the next holiday comes, prepare yourself again. Come and read all the same posts, I will have them up again. As long as your guard is up AND your resolve is reinforced you will survive the first time triggers, but you really do need both safe guards in force. Some times are not as easy to predict, when triggers will occur, but others are somewhat foreseeable. At least take extra precautions for those times. For the unexpected triggers, just keep saying to yourself on a daily basis that you will not smoke today, spend a little time reminding yourself why you quit and why you don't want to go back, and always keep in practice to never take another puff!

Joel
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kattatonic1 gold4
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Jul 2004, 21:39 #23



Happy Nicotine-free Holidays!
This is the thread to read (or re-read) when you're preparing for a holiday you haven't yet encountered in your new life. Thanks for thinking of everything, Joel!

Happy Canada Day today to my Canadian Freedom friends, and Happy Independence Day to my American Freedome friends on the 4th.

Nicotine is not a reward. Why would we ruin a wonderful picnic, a day with the family, or an evening under the stars watching fireworks by inhaling the toxic fumes of a burning weed? That sounds like punishment to me! (Smells like it too.)
Consider me there in spirit for any parading over the next several days. I'm on my way to breathe the fresh air at the cottage! It will do my new cilia some good (among other things)!
~ Kay ~
Celebrating 6 Months, 8 Days, 4 Hours and 8 Minutes of Freedom.
Forsaking 3823 doses of poison has liberated $1,233.17 and 13 Days and 6 Hours of my life.
Last edited by kattatonic1 gold4 on 04 Jul 2009, 11:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

24 Jul 2004, 00:41 #24

Image For people nervous about upcoming travel. Such traveling is similar to holidays because mental preparation can be done in advance to keep your motivation strong and your resolve reinforced to never take another puff! Joel
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John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Aug 2004, 20:20 #25



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For Marion and other UK members enjoying Britain's bank holiday


Marion
I've been quit for 5 months, 21 days and 9 hours (173 days).
I've not smoked 2601 death sticks, and saved £589.42.
I've saved 9 day(s), 1 hour(s) of my life.

Image
Last edited by John (Gold) on 04 Jul 2009, 11:39, edited 1 time in total.
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kattatonic1 gold4
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

17 Nov 2004, 03:46 #26

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Reading my American friends talk about their own Thanksgiving coming up...
~ Kay ~
Enjoy turkey cold for over 10 months of Freedom~!
Last edited by kattatonic1 gold4 on 04 Jul 2009, 11:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

24 Nov 2004, 22:06 #27

Image For people nervous about or about to partake in upcoming travel. Reading here and reinforcing your resolve can help to mentally prepare you in advance and help to keep your motivation strong and your resolve reinforced to never take another puff! Joel
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John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

18 Dec 2004, 21:38 #28

Remembered Decembers

Nikki is experiencing some December triggers smf Joel has pulled-up three trigger threads including Should I avoid triggers or confront them? for our newer members.

There's likely multiple factors at work here and you hit on most of them in your post. At six months or even a year complacency can set in. Once vivid memories of daily life as an endlessly feeding addict are becoming distant and vague. The healing you've experienced is tremendous but the junkie mind can use it as fuel for such rationalizations as "I can do it again" (which may or may not be true) or "all the hype about health risks was overblown" when mortality risk reversal is still many years from square one and an even keel.

You may also be confronted with holiday triggers for which Joel today pulled-up this thread - Be Prepared for Holiday Triggers. Many of our most vivid and powerful memories, both good and bad, are likely from December and with most, nicotine use was likely there too. Trees, lights, gifts, traffic, parties, dinners, special or tragic moments, finances, great gifts, a new year coming, weight gain, weight loss, it's packed with times, places, locations, people, emotions and events that lasted longer than the 20-30 minutes between nicotine feedings, and a stolen dopamine aaaah sensation (keeping the onset of early withdrawal at bay until that next feeding) became part of a very vivid and very powerful experience that may have played out for a number of holiday seasons.

The subconscious mind recorded those annual seasonal happenings and they may be playing back now. The good part is that your subconscious does not plan, plot or conspire and most of the links will be broken with a single encounter during which the subconscious mind does not receive the expected result ... one puff, followed by full and complete relapse back to your old level of intake or higher. But other forces are at work too!


Whether you realize it or not the tobacco industry turns-up the marketing heat every holiday season. They know it can be highly stressful and is a great month to foster relapse. You're likely getting hammered with quick but very real visuals at many turns (grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, convenience stores, magazines, and newspaper grocery store inserts). Most will tell you that you're missing-out on "pleasure" (that will be followed by anxiety and hurt if you don't quickly go for pleasure again and again and again and again), that you need to "stir your senses" (permanently, until you either burn them out or death at last allows them to relax), that Marlboro is celebrating "50 years of flavor" (when it knows that there isn't a single tastebud inside any human lung, and that 90% of adult smokers do not smoke for flavor but because they must, because it hurts when they don't).

Aside from having to deal with tobacco industry marketing, the pharmaceutical industry's marketing is ever so slowly moving more and more from a message of cessation to maintenance and a safer way to remain enslaved. This holiday season you'll be flooded with the message that "at last the gum really tastes like gum" and, regardless of when you quit, "all that stands between you and that cigarette is" NRT. It's getting rather crazy out there. The problem is that smoking or actually free-basing nicotine is the quickest and most powerful hit of all and gives the addict a high degree of control, as within just 8 to 10 seconds they know if they need to take another puff or not to get to that magic fully tanked-up moment.


Smoking's tremendous control of delivery is in sharp contrast to chewing a piece of nicotine gum too long (or trying to not inhale cigar smoke) and waiting for minutes as the nicotine every so slowly penetrates the lining of the mouth, enters the bloodstream and arrives at the brain where we sense that we either chewed (or held pipe or cigar smoke) for far too long (the feelings of nicotine overdose that range from nausea, increased salivation, weakness, heartburn, vomiting, hiccups, stomach pain, diarrhea, severe headache, cold sweats, severe dizziness, hearing and vision disturbances, confusion, weakness, breathing difficulty, heartbeat irregularities, seizures, and loss of consciousness)or that we didn't get enough nicotine and need to wait even longer (something not easily done for a mind conditioned to expect replenishment feedback within seconds).


In Caring for Your Quit you're doing exactly what needs to be done, turning to your cessation roots before turning to the addictive insanity of allowing 1 external chemical to permanently control the flow of more than 200 of your body's neurochemicals. The beauty of getting off nicotine's two-hour chemical half-life endless roller-coaster rides of endless highs and lows, and feeling what it's again like to be neurochemically level and calm for hours on end is amazing. As you said Nikki, the time between thoughts of wanting has generally grown longer and longer, while the challenges generally get shorter in duration and far less intense than those hurricane force winds of early recovery -- just a nice stiff breeze now and then that's quickly overcome unless we intentionally allow it to sweep us into defeat.


Be proud of you for caring enough about your freedom, healing, health and life expectancy to return to your cessation roots and recharge your batteries. I encourage you to feel Kelly's pain before leaving and to ponder what it must have been like for Kim. I'm confident that you'll find your next 2nd nicotine-free December a cake-walk if you'll continue to follow one guiding principle (the law of addiction condensed into four simple words) ... no nicotine today ... Never Take Another Puff (Dip, Patch, **** or Chew)!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John (Gold x5)
Last edited by John (Gold) on 04 Jul 2009, 13:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Mar 2005, 23:47 #29

For people who are observing Good Friday and Easter this weekend. I want people who got "rid of smoking" during Lent to be especially careful now. There are people who ritually "give up" things for Lent with the full expectation that as soon as the holiday passes than can go back to the food or activity again. That is why it is crucial for all people who may have quit during the season of Lent to acknowledge that quitting smoking was not an activity that they "gave up" for Lent but rather "got rid of " at a time that just happened to be during the Lent season. You will be able to stay free from smoking during all holiday and non-holiday seasons by always remembering to stick to your commitment to never take another puff!

Joel
"I got through Lent smoke free...Boy do I deserve a cigarette for that!
This is a kind of strange logic that ex-smokers often feel when getting through a specific event that they had worried would be difficult without a cigarette. Often actually facing such events is no big deal, thoughts for cigarettes are marginal at best. But when the event is over, all of a sudden the ex-smoker drops his or her guard and thinks that vigilance is no longer an issue. Then when a thought is triggered the person can really get caught off guard and the thought and subsequent can become much more exaggerated than the person is expecting or ready for. Getting though a special holiday, gathering, meeting, test, wedding, funeral, flight, movie or a host of other non day to day events can be tricky for a person who has not kept himself or herself mentally prepared. That is the key to keep the risk of relapse minimized when facing new situations--being mentally prepared by keeping ones reasons for quitting strong and reasons for wanting to stay smoke free reinforced.

The mindset that should be used to get through holidays is kind of the same mindset that a person should use when getting through quit milestones. Getting through a week or a month, or a year or a decade is great. But getting though today, whether it is your first day or you thousandth day is the greatest accomplishment of all when it comes to addiction. For if you have a friend who had been totally smoke free for the previous few decades, but happened to have blown his or her quit last night--today is really a lousy day for him or her in regards to nicotine addiction. For all practical purposes, you are much further along and secure in your quit than this person is--even if today is only your second or third day being nicotine free.

So congratulations on getting through your first Lent season smoke free. More important now though is staying resolute in your resolve to get through today. To be able to keep celebrating all holidays smoke free, as well as all weekdays and weekends for the rest of your life is as simple now as just remembering to never take another puff!

Joel

P.S. In case this looks familiar, I used the same concept at New Years, Christmas and at Thanksgiving. I meant to use it on St. Valentines Day but I forgot. I will likely have it up again at Memorial Day and if anyone is experiencing another holiday that they had somehow associated with smoking feel free to copy and paste this post and just exchange the holiday name. Sure it seems redundant but the same principle applies to all holidays and events and you can never say it enough that to stay free during all holidays and non-holidays is as simple as remembering to stick to your commitment to never take another puff!

Joel



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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 May 2005, 19:32 #30

For our members and readers still experiencing their first three day holiday weekend.
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