The Monster Under the Bed

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

The Monster Under the Bed

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

17 Apr 2002, 07:38 #1

The Monster Under the Bed
One of the things we face as quitters is the transition from being smokers to ex-smokers. Early in your quit, you're a smoker in withdrawal. Eventually, you're a smoker who's not using. At some point, you do actually become an EX-smoker.

It's a scary transition for anyone to undergo mentally. Years upon years of memories are associated with smoking. A mountain of stressful situations that we dulled (and in doing so, partially avoided dealing with) by administering nicotine. The belief that we NEED that drug to get through these situations in the future.

In a sense, we're newborns, facing a new world, and not sure what to expect. We're children, and children are often frightened by the unknown. As our conscious decision to reach out to this new world and embrace it becomes more and more real and tangible, the fear within us makes us want to run back, grab the security blanket, and hide under the covers. It's like the monster under the bed.

And, like the monster under the bed when we're small, the best way to deal with the unknown is to face it, to understand it. As long as we hide under the blankets, the monster under the bed grows bigger, scarier, more menacing. Once we finally get the courage to lean over the mattress, and stare under the box-spring... only then do we understand there's nothing to be frightened of. If we avoid looking under the bed, seeing the "monster" for what it is, we risk letting that "monster" dominate our conscience, and drive our actions.

Right now, you're dealing with your monster. There's the fear of failure (you've been down this road before). There's the fear of success (oh my God, what am I going to do now that I won't have cigarettes to help me?). And there is the voice in your ear telling you things: You want a cigarette, you can handle JUST one, you NEED just this one, this crave is going to last forever, this crave is unbearable, quitting is just TOO HARD, I wasn't meant to quit, I'm not strong enough.

It's time to look the monster in the eye. It's time to confront the voice. There are non-scary answers to the things it's telling you.

Fear of failure: Yes, I've been down this road before, but I didn't understand that I'm an addict, and that for the addict, one puff is the same as a million. I will never be able to take another puff without recommitting to a life of dependency. I've learned this the hard way in the past, even though I might not have understood the lesson at the time. Now that I know, I know that I won't take that puff.

Fear of success: Millions of people have moved from smoking to a life without smoking. Some have had more difficult situations to deal with than I have. All have discovered that the nicotine fix doesn't really help; it just masks. I belong to a group of hundreds of people who have travelled this road, and the fact that they're making it through family tragedy, poor health, good health, work stress, celebrations, raising kids, divorces, day-to-day life of all sorts, good times and bad times, without nicotine tells me that I can too. I'm an individual, and as such, I'm not 100% like anybody else, but I share little bits in common with many of these people, and from these similarities comes my understanding that I too can live my life in the absence of nicotine.

You want a cigarette: Do I? What do I want? Specifically? What about the cigarette do I crave? Okay, fine. Maybe I want the "ahhh" feeling. But, wait, I'm through withdrawal. The first cigarette won't even give me the "ahhh" feeling anymore, because the "ahhh" feeling came from nicotine's ability to stave off the early withdrawal I felt after not smoking for 30 minutes or an hour. Now that I'm no longer in withdrawal, I'll only get dizzy and sickly from the first one, and that first one will be followed by the next one and the next one as I search for the "ahhh" feeling, and long before I ever get the "ahh" feeling, I'll realize I'm hooked again. Heck, I'll realize it after the first one.

You can handle just one: Can I? Why is it that in the past when I said that to myself, it didn't work out like I planned? If I could get by on just one, why didn't I smoke just one every now and again when I smoked, instead of smoking all of those other ones I didn't want? No. There is no such thing as just one for me, or the other greater than 90% of the smokers out there who smoke whenever their addiction demands that they smoke.

You NEED just this one:
Do I really believe that I NEED to inhale hundreds of toxic chemicals into my lungs to get through this given situation? Do I really believe that I need to recommit to my addiction so that I can dull the feelings associated with this situation.

This crave is going to last forever, this crave is unbearable, quitting is just TOO  HARD:
Okay, what does this crave really feel like? How long is it lasting? Is it really lasting all day long? Or, is my fear of the crave, and my fear of failure, or my fear of success, making me THINK about it all day long? For how many seconds have I actually WANTED to put a cigarette in my mouth, light it and inhale, as opposed to just being anxious about my lifestyle change, and all of the things associated with it. Am I feeling anxiety? Or am I really wanting a cigarette? Will smoking a cigarette make me feel better or worse than I do? Furthermore, I KNOW from talking to all the former smokers around me that this isn't what being an ex-smoker feels like! I'm in the latter stages of withdrawal, and the early stages of reconditioning my life to NOT revolve around my addiction. Soon, I will be feeling a lot better, and I'll have a hard time remembering how hard this has been. It's only hard for a while.

You weren't meant to quit, You're not strong enough:
I wasn't meant to SMOKE. Smoking is not a natural thing. Ingesting deadly chemicals to satisfy a never-ending cycle of withdrawal and replenishing of nicotine supplies is NOT the way I was meant to live. I was MEANT to breathe freely. I was meant to taste my food. I was meant to have good breath. I was meant to be free. And I'm strong enough to realize that nicotine is stronger than me; that if I try just one, nicotine will win, and I'll be trapped. I'm strong enough to make it through this temporary difficulty, in order to live the life I was meant to live on the other side.

Confront the fear, and confront the voice. Our junky side doesn't fight fair, and uses confusing logic. It plays upon the parts of us that feel most vulnerable. The parts of us that want to hide and wish things away. You can eliminate the fear, and silence the voice by always looking it in the eye, seeing it for what it is, and never letting it get away without shedding the light of truth upon it.

Keep taking it one day at a time. One minute at a time if you need.... You'll get there. This is eminently doable.Image
Last edited by OBob Gold on 28 Aug 2017, 00:03, edited 3 times in total.

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

17 Apr 2002, 07:39 #2

I wrote this for a friend earlier. I thought other people might benefit as well.


Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:33

17 Apr 2002, 09:27 #3

Thank you for posting that, OBob. Definitely helps keep things in perspective.

3 Months 2 Weeks 5 Days 21 Hours 27 Minutes 4 Seconds. Cigarettes not smoked: 2527. Money saved: $631.89.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:44

17 Apr 2002, 09:32 #4

Thank you --how did you know exactly what I needed to hear?. It is very scary out here--not every minute but enough that I have to stay alert and do a lot of positive self-talk. When does a person quit being a person in withdrawal and become a non-smoker and conquer the monster under the bed? Thank you for your words of wisdom today and everyday since I have joined.

3 weeks, 4 days (almost green and totally amazed at that fact)

Roger (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

17 Apr 2002, 10:21 #5

Good insite Bob, I can relate to a few theings there for sure. Image


murphying (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

17 Apr 2002, 16:37 #6

Good post Bob! I still have moments when I have this thought that I'd like a cigarette - by no means a 'crave', just a thought. The triggers are still there....but I'm gradually working my way through them - trouble is I smoked around 50 (sometimes 60) a day and so there wasn't a lot I did without a smoke in one hand! At one stage absolutely everything I did was a triggerImage - not so anymore thank goodnessImage
Once I truly understood that I could never again have 'just one' it became a whole lot easier - I no longer have to WORK at convincing myself that just one won't equal all the others. I'm getting better at dealing with my own monster!
Last edited by murphying (Gold) on 18 Mar 2009, 13:47, edited 1 time in total.

marty (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

17 Apr 2002, 18:49 #7

Brilliant, Bob, just a great, great post

Should be required reading for everybody from Day 4 onward Image . That's as good an anti-relapse summary as I've seen. Your "fear of success" chapter is an interesting new slant which maybe doesn't get the attention it should.


John Kenyon(Gold)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:44

17 Apr 2002, 19:01 #8

Bob your widom give me more perspective.
Great post!

2 Weeks 10 Hours 28 Minutes 40 Seconds. Cigarettes not smoked: 288. Money saved: $54.86.

Eener (Greenx2)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:44

17 Apr 2002, 19:53 #9

Thanks Bob- that was a wonderful post. Just what I needed to hear first thing in the morning to keep me strong throughout the day. Image


I have chosen not to smoke for 3 Weeks 3 Days 16 Hours 2 Minutes 29 Seconds. Cigarettes not smoked: 493. Money saved: $53.04.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

17 Apr 2002, 20:18 #10

Hello Bob:

Very good post. You actually bring up points I talk about my very first thing in clinics that I don't think I ever wrote about in the letters-the fear of success in quitting. I've always felt that this fear keeps more people from starting a quit than the fear of failure.

I explain it to my clinic participants like this. They are working with a false perception of what life will be without smoking. But no matter what I say or no matter what anyone says, that perception is going to persist until the person quits smoking and sees for him or herself that life really does go on without smoking. Since I am working on a set time frame in the clinic setting, I explain the real purpose of the clinic is to help the person get off for two weeks. Two weeks-that's it. In two weeks he or she will start to get a true sense of what it is like not to smoke. If the person decides that he or she hates not smoking, that life is unbearable, that he or she can no longer work, no longer carry on normal rational thoughts, no longer maintain a normal family existence, no longer have any fun or no longer able to meet life's ongoing demands-he or she will be fully capable of just going back to smoking. A person should never be afraid to quit because of the feeling that if he or she quits, he or she will not be able to get him or herself back to smoking again if the so chooses. The choice should always be based on whether the person wants to go back to full-fledged smoking or smoke nothing-but the choice for full fledged smoking exists for all ex-smokers.

On the other hand, if in the two weeks the person decides that he or she likes not smoking-maybe not smoking isn't perfect-but he or she is starting to get a flavor of where life is heading, how he or she is starting to face up to life demands and handling them reasonably well, maybe even a little better than he or she was just a few weeks earlier while still an active smoker, he or she has the choice of staying smoke free for another day.

People giving themselves the opportunity to see what not smoking is really like will overcome all these fears and generally truly appreciate the gift that they give themselves by being nicotine free. There are very few people who have ever left a clinic graduation went out and bought a carton or a case because they gave it the two weeks and decide that they really now want to become a full-fledged smoker again. Yes some people will throw away their quits days or weeks later, but it is not because they choose to relapse and are making a conscious decision to smoke until it kills them-it is because they get complacent and start to believe that they can somehow now control their quantity or duration of smoking. They almost inevitably regret this mistake and many will end up paying for it with their lives.

For as scary as quitting may be up front, the reality of what smoking can lead if understood is terrifying. A drag on a cigarette can end up costing a person tens of thousands of dollars, his or her independence, health and life. The reality of smoking does not improve with time, the fears intensify as symptoms develop and life gets a little more limited and the control nicotine exerts gets stronger and stronger.

You must quit smoking to see what life is really like as an ex-smoker and to some degree really recognize what life was like as a smoker. The longer you go without smoking and the more you understand the less scary life will be and the more resolute you will continue to be to never take another puff!