If you're "giving up" smoking. There is a chance that you might be miserable quitting.
For "giving up" smoking entails that you're depriving yourself of the "pleasure" of smoking by giving it up. That you are making a real sacrifice. Or at least that can be the perception created from these three simple words "giving up smoking."
But perception is not truth. At best it can either point to the truth or at worst point to illusion.
"Giving up" smoking can cause an underlying gnawing feeling when we quit that we might not even be fully aware of or unable to quite put our finger on it. It is the fear of success.
This fear may seem paradoxical because of our desire to quit smoking and when we think of fear, we usually don't think about the fear of succeeding, but think more about the fear of failing. But don't underestimate the fear of success. For it is this fear that actually helps create the fear of failure.
The fear of failure usually stems from our own past failed quit attempts and/or hearing how hard it is to quit smoking, but it also comes from something else. The certain situations or scenarios where we fear that we will relapse back to smoking.
There are many examples of this. It could be the ritual of getting together with your smoking friends on every Friday night. It could be the stress of work and the cigarette breaks that you used to take to "relax". It could be a number of things, but the point is, that the fear of success causes us to think that if we quit smoking. That there will be times in our lives such as these examples when we will be depriving ourselves from those "special" cigarettes that we feel that we need.
If you look at the fear of relapsing, often times you will see that those moments that you fear are the very same moments that may feel deprived of smoking when you quit.
We feel that if we actually succeed at quitting smoking that during those occasional times, we will no longer "get" to smoke.
This contradictory thinking can seem quite odd, yet quite common for the person quitting smoking or on the fence to quit, because as soon as they quit or think about quitting, they believe that they will no longer "get" to smoke if they actually "give up" cigarettes. When the truth is, they don't "get" to smoke now.
THEY HAVE TO SMOKE!
A smoker HAS to smoke 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. Only to relieve the anxieties that the previous cigarette keeps creating.
But without this realization, they truly believe that they are giving up something dearly special to them. Something that helped them live their life for so many years.
This can cause the person to look back on every celebration, every joyous moment, every happy day of their lives and think that the cigarette was right there for them.
Also every tragedy, and sad event to the most mundane moments that they had to trudge through, the cigarette was right there to help get them through it.
The smoker feels that cigarettes are a part of them and without the cigarette. Life just won't be as good and they will be incomplete as a person.
It can be hard to see that smoking is an illusion. Covered with a veil of lies and deceit.
Especially if the person is still in the grip of addiction or if the person has just recently quit smoking.
The person can feel that by "giving up" smoking, that they are giving up part of their identity. Nothing is farther from the truth. Smoking is NOT a part of who you are. It, unfortunately is something you simply HAVE or HAD to do.
You were a complete person before you started smoking. It was nicotine that made you incomplete by creating a void and then tricking you by making you think you felt better by administering the very poison that created the void. For the smoker, they are not the problem and nicotine is the cure. Nicotine is the problem that they think is the cure.
Smoking doesn't make up your character one bit. It doesn't make you a more caring person. It doesn't make you a more compassionate person. It doesn't make you a more complete person. All smoking does is simply relieve withdrawal.
Every celebration and joyous moment that you enjoyed as a smoker and every tragedy and mundane moment that you got through as a smoker, you did so DESPITE SMOKING and NOT because of it.
All smoking did was relieve that underlying tension of anxiety that withdrawal was creating so that you could get on with enjoying your special moments or deal with life's harsher ones. Smoking is only an added heavy burden to life.
The cigarette was never there for you. You were there for the cigarette.
Many great teachers throughout history have said that if you cling to illusions, that you will indeed suffer.
And I think this is what happens to a lot of people when quitting smoking. I can say for myself that all of my past quits were horrible due to clinging to the illusion of smoking. I still held onto the belief in the cigarette and it made every single one of my past quits absolutely miserable.
I used to believe that I was a hopeless addict. I used to believe that I didn't have it in me to quit smoking and that I didn't have enough willpower. I used to believe that my mind wasn't strong enough to quit.
Little did I realize that I couldn't quit smoking not because my mind wasn't strong enough, but because my mind was extremely strong!!!
Smoking is a prison! But it is our mind clinging to the illusion that it is a pleasure that reinforces these very walls of this prison that seem impenetrable to us. It is the belief in the cigarette that we hold onto so dearly that creates the never ending maze of imprisonment, that we as smokers can't seem to find our way out of.
Don't ever think your mind as weak!! It is the most powerful machine ever created! The problem is, that this most powerful machine is being used against you and not for you. It is not so much you using your mind, but your mind using you.
These impenetrable walls of this prison of addiction are only your mind clinging to the illusion of smoking.
Look at willpower. What is it? If you really take a close look at it, you will see that it is actually a contradiction within you.
You're fighting yourself, because one part of you wants to quit smoking and the other part of you wants to smoke. BUT are you really two people or is there a "NICO demon" out there ready to snatch your quit from you or is that just part of you is still clinging to the illusion of smoking, that is creating this effect of giving you a split personality?
Are you holding onto this illusion because you are afraid? Be honest with yourself. There is no shame in being afraid and facing the fear is the only way to transcend it. Because you bring it into your full awareness and see it for what it is.
A wise woman said many years ago perfectly what fear is. She said that fear is only misguided faith.
And this is what we must do to quit. Take the faith that we have put in cigarettes for so many years and bring that faith back to ourselves.
Are you afraid to let go of this horrible relationship, because a horrible relationship is better than no relationship? Are you afraid that even though smoking is nothing but misery, that the unknown is even more terrifying?
Don't be afraid to let go of illusions. There is nothing in them for you. You will never find truth in what is not real. You will never find peace in the illusion of smoking, no matter how hard you try, because addiction is a lie that can never be satisfied and what cannot be satisfied, will never have peace. Clinging to illusions only causes suffering. Accepting whole heartedly that the illusion is in fact just that..an illusion will release you from it.
But do not mistake that by accepting smoking as an illusion, that all thoughts to smoke will suddenly vanish when we first quit.
You cannot rewrite decades of smoking in just a few short days, weeks or months. It will take time for the hard drive of your mind to remove this data (association triggers).
I think that a lot of times people feel that after they quit and still have thoughts to smoke, that there must be something wrong with them.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU
What acceptance of this illusion does do, is change how you deal with these thoughts when they do arise. You no longer give power to those thoughts by validating them with the belief in the cigarette. You no longer cling to the lie of smoking, but see it for what it is. A left over conditioned memory triggered by a certain place, event, situation or scenario.
Remember, resistance will always create a need for willpower. Acceptance will create space within a moment of discomfort that can give you the peace you're looking for.
And yes, when we first quit smoking, there is a temporary adjustment. There may or may not be discomfort from withdrawal. There maybe be a feeling of confusion from this temporary unfamiliar adjustment. There maybe days of life feeling surreal, almost like you're in a dream. But the key word to all of this is
Craves do not last forever! The only people that have craves forever are people that do not quit smoking.
Again, don't be afraid to let go of this illusion. Don't think that it will be easier to remain in the familiar prison of illusions. Especially after you have experienced the freedom from that prison. Because once you have experienced freedom, the perception of the illusion of smoking will never be fully intact. You will see the lies behind the veil that it created.
You are sacrificing nothing by quitting smoking. You are giving up nothing, but you are really ridding yourself of an absurd useless addiction and taking back what is rightfully yours and has been waiting for you
There maybe times after you quit that you have thoughts of smoking, but always keep in mind that an occasional thought to smoke in a certain situation is infinitely better that the constant NEED to smoke in any situation.
You are freeing yourself from HAVING to smoke by quitting smoking!! Accept it!! Embrace it!!! It is the beginning of the end of suffering!
I freed myself on 7/7/04
This is such a good post. Take a moment right now to read the lead post above from Eric-Gold. Hope it can help someone else see their way to the comfort of true freedom.
The Fear of success is indeed a self-limiting rationalization we seemingly all must work our way through to find lasting and true freedom from nicotine.
Thanks to Eric for writing this all down.
Joe J free for nearly 5 years and thankful to have learned the truth of my addiciton dependency to nicotine.