Using Attitude to Reduce Anxiety

Using Attitude to Reduce Anxiety

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

17 Aug 2003, 19:34 #1

Using Attitude to
Reduce Anxiety
  Have you previously tried breaking nicotine's grip? Have you ever stopped to consider that each recovery attempt has been different? It might surprise you to learn that those investing the time to educate themselves often experience far less challenging recoveries than ever before. Those who learn to handle possible wild blood sugar swings that often accompany nicotine cessation, who learn why it may take only half as much caffeine in order for their blood serum caffeine level to be identical to what it was while still actively smoking nicotine, and who take the time to understand and appreciate the different phases associated with the sense of emotional loss are using their intellect to help avoid many of the symptoms they might otherwise have experienced. This article focuses on yet another important area, diminishing anxiety by embracing recovery.

Can we make ourselves miserable on purpose? No doubt about it. Throughout our lives we've experienced worry, fear, anger and irritability, only to find out later that our worries, fears and anxieties were either totally unnecessary or were over little or nothing at all. Most often they resulted from procrastination as we failed to take those first baby steps and instead fled into the dependability of our addiction or addictions.

Addiction isn't about intoxication but about feeling normal, safe and temporarily free of stress. For the nicotine addict its about tanking up early and often so as to avoid our brain's right insula from sensing low nicotine reserves,  sounding the alarm and generating urge and crave anxieties commanding us to bring more nicotine into our body.  It's about endlessly bouncing back and forth between punishment and reward in our chemical world of "nicotine normal,"  A strange mix, where a new supply of nicotine stimulates brain dopamine pathways and  provides an "aaah" sensation, and where nicotine elevated adrenaline levels yet again prepare the body's defenses for fight or flight. But when it comes to recovery, what was once the mind's conditioned subconscious defense to real or imagined harm, now becomes the greatest obstacle to recovery.

Nicotine's two-hour chemical half-life inside the human body creates a constant struggle to remain in that energized zone of comfort. It's a lifetime battle to avoid the inevitable letdown associated with constantly declining nicotine reserves and the corresponding decline in dopamine pathway stimulation.  It's constantly seeing the dopamine "aaah" sensed within 10 seconds of that first puff  slowly begin to evaporate.

This never-ending cycle of nicotine induced adrenaline releases whips every neuron in the body's central nervous system like some tired horse badly in need of a rest.  It's an endless struggle to avoid feeling tired and drained as adrenaline output eventually declines, to avoid losing the instant energy and alertness that arrived as stored fats were released into our blood and our heart was made to pound up to 20 beats per minute faster.  

Welcome to the addict's world of "nicotine normal," no longer an adventure but a lifetime job. Although staying addicted is work, the inner mind has been conditioned to believe that chemical withdrawal and recovery -- that temporary period of adjustment needed to again become 100% comfortable engaging life as "us" -- is a threat to survival. Even though the logical, reasoning and dreaming conscious mind sees recovery as the only possible way out, the subconscious "nicotine normal" mind has been heavily conditioned by years of feeling the immediate effects of elevated dopamine and adrenaline levels. It sees nicotine cessation as quitting you, not recovering you. Incapable of reason or logic, it sees recovery as a threat and will employ fear, anger, anxiety, depression, and pre-conditioned crave episodes in its struggle to get the conscious mind to comply, relapse, and bring new nicotine back into the body.

Instead of reassuring the subconscious mind not to fear returning to the "real" you, many do just the opposite and add needless self-induced tensions and anxieties to the recovery experience, that at times can make recovery seem overwhelming. We can make them escalate to the point where we lash out against loved ones and friends, where we want to hit a tree with our bare hand or where we put our head under a pillow and scream at the top of our lungs. Our crave episodes and thoughts don't cause us to relapse. If they did then few of earth's hundreds of millons of comfortable ex-users would ever have become ex-users. What causes relapse is the layers and layers of anxiety icing that we intentionally cakes upon recovery.

Remember when we were first learning to swim and found ourselves in water over our head. Did you panic? I did. If I had been a skilled swimmer would I have panicked? Of course not. Here at WhyQuit and Freedom we teach smokers to swim and then lead them into deep water. Once there, the smoker can panic and risk relapse or remain calm, enjoy the swim, and fully embrace this most amazing experience. Recovery doesn't need to be nearly as difficult as our instincts are inclined to make it. In fact, it can be a proud, reassuring and glorious adventure in physical and psychological healing.

Sadly, almost half of all current smokers will never learn how to swim and the toxic feedings associated with their chemical world of "nicotine normal" will end up costing them their lives. Many genuinely believe that time is running out and disaster is about strike. For far too many this gut instinct is correct and bad news is just around the corner. Others think that plenty of time remains but after repeated failed attempts they still remain a slave to nicotine's subconscious chemical conditioning. Don't panic. Instead, invest the time needed to become an excellent swimmer. The more knowledgeable and skilled we become the greater our chances of breaking free and remaining afloat. Yes, there may be a few big waves along the way but that doesn't mean we should fear their arrival or that we can't relax and do the backstroke until encountered.

As part of our recovery, why not work on reducing self-inflicted stress, worry, anxiety and panic. In evaluating your thoughts try to be as objective and honest as possible with yourself.. If we repeatedly tell ourselves that this temporary period of adjustment called "recovery" is hard, frightening and painful, won't our anxieties only escalate further as we fuel our subconscious mind's survival instinct to see "nicotine normal" again prevail? Seeing truth after living a lifetime of denial isn't easy. Let's look at one quick example shared with me by Professor Phil Michaels at U.S.C. School of Medicine.

"Did you "like" destroying your body, "like" the taste of 4,000 burning chemicals stinging your tissues, "like" being a chemical slave, or "like" interrupting life's special moments in order to go feed your addiction? The "like" example of addiction denial is grounded in each of us using honest reason to reach a faulty conclusion that often flows like this: "I do not do things I do not like to do," "I smoke lots and lots of cigarettes, " "therefore I must really like smoking." An honest alternative would be "therefore I must really be addicted to smoking." Denial comes in many forms including recovery denial.

We can deny that the Law of Addiction  applies to us and make believe we somehow have the ability handle one powerful puff of nicotine and not experience full blown relapse. We can also feed ourselves the big big bite theory that says that the only way to measure success is in terms of staying nicotine-free "forever," instead of focusing on the only time frame that really matters -- complete victory over the next few minutes. If we keep feeding ourselves massive doses of dishonest or destructive thinking, how long will our conscious rational mind last before abandoning its quest for freedom and joining our emotional subconscious in demanding relapse? But let's turn back to subject of self-inflicted anxiety that can grow so intense we begin to fixate and dwell denial lies while seriously pondering relapse.

Picture a plugged-in lamp but without a bulb and the switch turned off. Picture yourself intentionally sticking your finger into the bulb socket and leaving it there. Now picture all of your nicotine feeding cues (triggers) -- the times, places, emotions and events during which you customarily smoked nicotine and thereby conditioned your subconscious to expect the arrival of new nicotine -- being wired directly into the lamp's switch.

We know from detailed studies the "average" number of crave episodes experienced during recovery. Power to the crave lamp will be briefly turned-on a specific number of times each day, with the average being less than 18 minutes on their most challenging day -- recovery day three with 6 craves, each less than three minutes in duration. Be sure and look at a clock as a recent study found that time distortion is a very real recovery symptom that can make a 2 to 3 minute crave episode feel much longer. I've prepared the below crave chart from crave coping data presented in a 1998 study published in Research in Nursing and Health.

With the above chart, please keep in mind that these are just averages and every recovery is different. Some experience no craves at all while others can have twice as many as show above. Even so, if you were in the extreme with double the average, that's still only 36 minutes of crave episode anxiety on your most challenging day - 36 minutes to freedom, each minute entirely doable!

If you know that you are going to be encountering your crave triggers and cues but you don't know when, what will having your finger in an electrical lamp socket all day do to your nerves? Will it keep you on edge? Will the constant sense of anticipation breed anxiety that has you lashing-out against anyone walking into the room? Will you feel like crying? Will worry and concern deprive you of concentrating on other things? Will it wear you down and drain your spirit?

But what if you knew for certain that the shock itself would always be tolerable, that no crave episode would ever harm you, cut you, make you bleed, break bones, make you ill, or kill you, and that the episode itself would not last longer than three minutes? What if you actually began to believe that meeting, greeting and moving beyond each crave episode was a critical and welcome step toward full, complete and permanent recovery? Can honesty, certainty, confidence, understanding, planning and attitude make the time and distance between crave episodes more relaxed and their eventual arrival a welcomed event?

Instead of focusing on any minor anxiety discomfort you may experience during the short period of time a crave episode is actually occurring and the recovery light switch is on, why not work on learning to relax more during the massive amount of time that the switch is actually off? If we keep feeding ourselves the thought that recovery is hard then we should fully expect our subconscious mind to issue forth the emotions needed to cause the rational you to abandon your quest for freedom. If we keep telling ourselves this is hard, we should expect it to be hard.

Why feed ourselves failure? Why fear the swim and worry needlessly when some of us are not even in the water yet? Why assist our inner conditioned mind in breeding negative and powerful anxieties? Why allow such thoughts to fester until they begin oozing anxiety's destructive relapse puss? Instead, chase all negativism from your mind. Replace it with calmness, safety, joy and the knowledge that no three minute crave episode can force you to ever again **** nicotine into your body. Replace it with the reassurance that most subconscious crave triggers are re-conditioned or broken after a single encounter. Fight back with your reason, logic, and dreams that look forward with confidence while knowing that nothing is being left behind, and that nicotine addiction does not define who you are, your life or command your remaining time on earth.

Embrace recovery as your wonderful journey home to experience the rich, deep, and tranquil inner calmness that resided inside your mind before climbing aboard the endless nicotine/dopamine/adrenaline lifetime roller-coaster ride of cycling highs and lows. See encountering and reconditioning each crave trigger cue for what it truly is - a highly visible sign of true healing and recovery. Sense the emerging glory that is you and the abundance of oxygen arriving at every living cell in your body. In times of challenge fill your cup with truth, desire and the reasons that caused you to embark upon this quest for freedom . See all thoughts of smoking nicotine, that at times may seem to flood the mind, as golden opportunities to shed honest light on each, while sorting through years of conscious denial in which you made excuses for your chemical addiction that built a safe-house based on lies.

How full is your cup? Do you feel like you've lost a close friend (half empty) or do realize that friends don't slowly kill friends (half full)? Did you QUIT smoking (half empty) or is this where you really START living (half full)? Do you fear the arrival of your next crave (half empty) or are you excited by knowing that its arrival brings you one step closer to once again comfortably engaging every aspect of life as "you?" Will your next crave last forever (falsehood) or three minutes at most (the truth)? Will chemical withdrawal never end (falsehood) or will its intensity peak within 72 hours and then begin to gradually subside (the truth)? Do you expect to continue to experience daily "thoughts" of "wanting" to smoke nicotine forever (falsehood) or will your recovery amazingly evolve to a point where you awake each day "expecting" to go your entire day without ever once "wanting" to smoke nicotine? (the truth)?

Do you truly find joy in being addicted to one of the most powerful substances on planet earth or is that just something you convinced yourself of in order to justify your addiction, your next fix, and to avoid the challenge of withdrawal? Will 5, 10 or even 20 temporary extra pounds actually kill you (if they even happen at all) or have you already read that it takes 100 extra pounds to equal the health risk associated with just one pack a cigarettes a day?

Did you sell yourself on believing that smoking nicotine calmed or relieved stress when in fact it never once solved a single stressful event in your entire addicted life, other than relieving its own absence? Instead, you simply took flight or escape into your addiction in order to replenish rapidly falling blood-serum levels of the alkaloid nicotine that were being neutralized by stress generated body acids. How much of life went unaddressed by healthy reactions because of endlessly fleeing into our chemical world of nicotine normal? Name one stressful event that nicotine solved? Life as an addict is far more difficult than being "you" as the acid-alkaloid interaction adds the anxieties of early chemical withdrawal to every stressful challenge life throws your way.

Are you selling yourself relapse by telling yourself that you're growing weaker by the hour and won't be able to handle the next crave episode (if any), or do you know for certain that the next brief encounter will be less than three minutes, that you can handle each minute, that a crave cannot harm you, and that they are growing fewer and further apart with each passing day? Are you fueling the subconscious mind's belief that returning to the "real" you is a frightening and fearful thing to do? Are you breeding and fueling needless anxiety while having little or no memory or recall of the wonderful sense of calmness and lack of addiction chatter that occupied your mind prior to becoming nicotine's slave?

Do you miss destroying more air sacs with each and every puff or are you celebrating the freshness that now kisses healing lungs? Do you feed your mind romantic visions of purchasing or bumming the nicotine needed for relapse, or the truthful message of just one puff producing defeat, decay, destruction, disease and 50/50 chance of losing roughly 5,000 sunrises? Do you miss handing-over your hard earned money in order to remain chemically captive, or smile upon discovering the extra funds that your pockets somehow seem to produce?

If a smoker, do you miss the lingering cloud of toxic smoke containing 44 known carcinogens, more than 500 gases, and 3,500 + chemical particles or do you delight in the fact that oils upon your face again belong to you? Is your world saddened by not being able to crush an endless chain of hot chemically laden cigarette butts and pour mountains of butts from carcinogen rich ashtrays, or are you marveling in your new ash-free world that's clean, bright and refreshing? Is your cup half empty or is it half full? Our subconscious is listening and we are what we think - attitude is everything.

None of us are stronger than nicotine but then we don't have to be as nicotine is just a chemical and has an intelligence quotient (IQ) of zero. Knowledge is power! Don't be afraid of turning on the light. Embracing recovery is embracing "you!" Baby steps. The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely doable! There are lots of lessons to learn here at WhyQuit and Freedom but only one passing grade - no nicotine today - Never Take Another Puff!

"TRYING to quit" is a declaration of something left behind.
See recovery as HARD and unless we're lying it will be.
Believe craves to be INTENSE and intense will be the ride.
Ponder excuses for a FIX and we may eventually get to use them.
If we think we might RELAPSE, then relapse we just might.
Keep telling ourself we will FAIL, then chances are we will.
If we WANT to be a ex-smoker, our mind has yet to heal.

Allow honest DREAMS to fuel recovery and freedom we shall find.
View this challenge as WONDERFUL and fulfillment will arrive.
See the GLORY of today, then glory it will be!
Praise the HEALING of your body and set your spirit free.
Inhale the JOYS of today, feel the spender of the journey.
Yet be TRUTHFUL of the past, to protect the here and now.
BELIEVE yourself an ex-user, an ex-user you shall see.
NEVER take another puff and freedom it will be!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on 02 May 2010, 15:41, edited 8 times in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

17 Aug 2003, 21:45 #2

Hi john
I totally believe that attitude is a powerful tool and mixed with freedoms education it works wonders,before i came here i had been studying nlp[neuro linguistic programming].I have learned that most of what we see is down to perception,anthony robbins said if you are being barraged with stressful events don,t go into a panic,say to yourself i am underwhelmed and by describing it different you eventually feel as if you are underwhelmed,this is called minimising,it might sound a bit whacky but we do the opposite when we have triggers and craves,we maximise them and feel worse and thats where the panic comes from.i use minimisation but i also use direct positive focus,for instance witness a dog owner with his well trained animal,he shouts sit or heel or fetch and the dog does it despite the fact that the dog could kill a man,this is because the dog knows who the master is,i treat junkie mind this way,junkie mind knows that i am the master so i say go away or i minimise by saying this crave is,nt all that bad.nlp goes heavily into association and this quit is full of this phenomena.If you come home from work and moan at your spouse for about 3 days as you enter your home then you create an association of arrival at home equals argument with spouse,if you arrive at work and start your day by saying this place really **** then you will create an association of arrival at work equals feeling grouchy.As active addicts we created so many of these associations,if you smoked twenty a day you will have a formula that says smoking equals a time,a place,the person you are with,the season a smell and also several emotions,i had a crave a few weeks ago when i had,nt shaved for 3 days,when i was an active addict i had a goatee beard and i was just experiencing an association,i made myself aware of this and knowing what it was really helped,if i did,nt have this knowledge i could have entered an explosion of cascading thoughts leading to a panic attack and a false conclusion of i need a cigarette.i find that worrying increases pressure,for instance you make a mistake at work and before you know it you start thinking i,m going to lose my job my home my wife etc,that is the sort of thinking that leads to a panic trigger.Our brains are very much like computers,if i was to type relapse into google search it would bring up many sites about the word relapse,if you type relapse into your brain then it will indeed do a search and bring up many answers like[have an argument with wife so she will tell me to start smoking] or create a bad day at work in order to think i need a cigarette,i believe you can produce an environment or indeed an emotion to justify the junkie thought of i need a cigarette.anthony robbins also said if you want to change a behaviour don,t use the word that describes the behaviour for instance instaed of i am a non smoker say actually i,m a bit of a health nut,words are very powerful and how we describe things usually turn out that way as a self fullfilling prophecy,i had an amusing incident last night,i had a cigarette in my hand and i can hear you saying don,t do it dabler you will relapse,i grabbed it from the mouth of a friend before he could light up,i said i will give you this back but let me tell you what you will experience when you smoke it,i explained about cigarettes only relieving withdrawal,i then said you are intoxicated and your body is producing utheric acid which is rapidly depleting your nicotine supply,you think you are smoking more for added enjoyment whereas you are merely playing catch up and chasing your tail.He was amazed and could,nt put a hole in my argument,thats why this site is so great,there are no holes in this education.the more you do of what you have always done the more you get of what you always got,i,m so glad that 5 months 1 week and 10hrs and 40 mins ago i changed what i was doing.Image

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

19 Aug 2003, 18:44 #3

Hello Elaine, the rational thinking you really has it all together, you've figured this out. For the recovering nicotine addict encountering an unreconditioned crave trigger really should be seen as a welcomed event as it means one less feeding cue to deal with and there is absolutely nothing you need to do to break it except to not put nicotine back into your body.

Thoughts of wanting and fixating are a bit different. When they enter our mind it's an opportunity to take them to truth school for a quick lesson.

Thought: "I want one"

Truth: "There's no such thing as one"

Thought: "I need a cigarette to cope with my stress"

Truth: "Smoking nicotine never solved one stressful even in my entire life." "Nicotine is an alkaloid and stress produces acid." "Stress neutralized nicotine reserves and added early withdrawal to every stressful situation." "Nicotine relapse would not help me cope with stress but would only add withdrawal anxiety to every future stressful event."

Thought: "I'm not me without my smokes"

Truth: "It just seems that way because I've been away from the real nicotine-free me for so long I've forgotten what it was like being me." "I never thought I needed to inhale the fumes from 4,000+ burning chemicals when I was me." "That wasn't the real me who lived life as nicotine's slave." "The real me is emerging a bit more with passing day."

Thought: "I miss smoking"

Truth: "My adjustment to the absence of living with years and years of nicotine induced adrenaline and dopamine releases truly is recovery of natural production levels of adrenaline and dopamine." "I've missed being me for so long that I've forgotten what it's like not to take flight into my addiction at the drop of pin." "I don't miss chemical bondage, I'm missing out on knowing, experiencing and being me!"
You're doing fantastic, Elaine, but being at Day 41 can present it's own form of junkie thinking as you've invested much but are still sorting through piles and piles of smoking memories. I encourage you to see each thought about smoking that enters your mind as an opportunity to set the record straight. Conscious denial was very real and fed ourselves mountains of rubbish that could use a bit of honesty. Don't try to change the underlying memories but instead see each group of them for what they really represent, years and years of built-up excuses to buy that next pack.

Patience Elaine, you've worked through piles and piles of thoughts already and although you can't see how many remain the pickings are getting slim and the time between their arrival is beginning to lengthen. Like trying to watch a rose blossom open it can be hard to see but we promise you, it's opening! Only one rule, no nicotine today! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on 08 Mar 2009, 02:01, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

12 Sep 2003, 20:26 #4

Lots and lots of words but they all boil down to one simple rule ...
One day at a time ...
Never Take Another Puff!

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

09 Oct 2004, 21:26 #5

Caring for Our Recovery
The recovered alcoholic, the heroin addict, the nicotine addict, deep down each knows the "Law of Addiction." They've heard it over and over again. Just one sip, one tiny fix, or one little puff of nicotine, just once, that's all it takes and the addict is back! They know that either immediately or in a short period of time they'll once again be slaves to their old level of drug use or greater. We know the Law of Addiction so why do we break it?

There are three primary factors associated with relapse: (1) rewriting the law of addiction; (2) an excuse; and (3) a vague memory. It doesn't matter if it happens within two hours, two days, two weeks, two months, two years, or twenty, the factors remain the same and apply to all of us. Rewriting the law of addiction is easy and you don't need a pencil, paper or computer to do it.
Amending the Law of Addition

"Just one puff" and then "do not pass go, do not collect $200, but go directly to the addict's prison and surrender your freedom for good." It isn't that the recovering nicotine addict doesn't know or believe the law of addiction because we do. It's just that we begin to believe that we're the exception. We convince ourselves that we're stronger and smarter than those who discovered the law, and wiser than all addicts who came before us. We amend the law. We put ourselves above it. "Just one, it'll be ok, I can handle it, I'm stronger than the others, a little reward, it's been a while, I've earned it."

I'm sorry. As soon as such thoughts begin infecting the mind they tend to start feeding on themselves and in all likelihood your body's period of healing and freedom is over. Your dreams and hard work are all being thrown into a dirty toilet that one puff of nicotine is about to flush.

Instead of saying that you can handle" just one ," a truthful statement would have been "I can handle them all, give them all back to me, my entire addiction, all the ashtrays, the coughs, the stink, the endless stream of 4,000 plus deadly chemicals that come with each puff (including 43 known cancer causing agents), the constant gradual destruction of every cell in my lungs and the gradual clogging and hardening of every blood vessel in my body, the 50/50 chance of killing myself at least 14 years early, all the money it will cost me to stay enslaved for years and years to come (together with massive future price increases designed to get me to quit), the growing social pressures that will make me feel even more like an outcast, I want it all back, all of it!"

It's far easier for the junkie mind to create a one puff or one cigarette exception to the "law" than admit the truth. A one pack a day addiction is 7,300 cigarettes a year. Don't picture smoking just one. Instead, picture yourself sticking at least a year's supply into your mouth all at once. Try fitting them all into your mouth because in truth that's exactly where they'll be going, year after year after year. "To thine own self be true." You deserve the truth - you paid the price - you earned it.
The Perfect Excuse

The excuse can be anything. Usually the addict waits for that great excuse to come along, but some get tired of waiting and any old excuse will do. Even joy! A reunion with an old smoking buddy, a few drinks with friends, a wedding, a graduation, or even a baby's birth and a free nicotine laden cigar, or trying a harmless looking new nicotine delivery device like the 27 flavors of suckers, the straw, lozenges, candy or even nicotine water or soda, why not! But joyful or even stupid nicotine relapse is harder to explain to yourself and to those you love.

The smart nicotine addict waits for the great excuse, the one that we know we can sell to ourselves and others. As sick as it may sound, the easiest to sell and the best of all is the death of a loved one. Although everyone we love is destined to die and it will happen sooner or later, for the reformed addict it's the perfect excuse for relapse. I mean, who can blame us for ingesting highly addictive drugs into our bodies upon our mother's death. Anyone who does would have to be extremely insensitive or totally heartless! Right? Losing a job, the end of a relationship, serious illness, disease or financial problems are all great excuses too - it's drug time again! The addict is back!
Lost Memories

But an excuse doesn't work alone. It needs help. Failing memories of "why" we were willing to put ourselves through the anxieties and emotion of physical withdrawal, and weeks and weeks of psychological adjustment in order to break free, breathe fatal life into any excuse. Most of us failed to keep a detailed record of why we commenced recovery or what it was like. Instead, we are forced to rely upon our memory to accurately and vividly preserve the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But now, the memory in which we placed all our trust has failed us.

It isn't that your memory is bad, faulty or doing anything wrong. In fact, it's working as it should to preserve in as much detail as possible the joyful events of life, while forgetting, as quickly as possible, all the pain and anguish that we've felt, including our disdain for the addict's life we lived. To have our brains do otherwise would make life inside our minds unbearable. If women were forced to remember the true agony and intense pain of childbirth, most would have just one. We are each blessed with the gift to forget.

So how does the reformed nicotine addict who failed to keep accurate records of their journey revive their passion for freedom and recall liberty's price? If we forget the past, are we destined to repeat it? Not necessarily. It doesn't have to be. But just as any loving relationship needs nourishment to flourish, we can never take our recovery for granted or the flame will eventually die and the fire will go out. We have to want to protect this glory until the day we die. We have to turn that "want" into action. If we do, we win. If not, our fate may be up in the air with serious risk of relapse followed by crippling disease or even a very early grave.

Whether it's daily, weekly or monthly, our recovery needs care. If you don't have a detailed log to regularly review when faced with adversity, upon each anniversary of your quit or at each birthday, do your best to create one now. Talk to those still smoking and ask for help in revitalizing your memories. Encourage them to be as truthful as possible. Although they may look like they're enjoying their addiction to smoking nicotine, the primary joy they get is in keeping their body's blood serum nicotine level within the comfort zone, so as to avoid the onset of the anxieties and craves of early withdrawal. Show them your pen and paper and invite them to help you create your list. You may even cause a spark in them. Be kind and sincere. It wasn't long ago that those were our shoes.

Also, try envisioning the first week. What was it like? Can you still feel the powerful craves as your body begged and cried to be fed? Can you still feel the pain? Do you see yourself not being able to concentrate, having difficulty sleeping, feeling depressed, angry, irritable, frustrated, restless, with tremendous anxiety, a foggy mind, sweating palms, rapidly cycling emotions, irrational thinking, emotional outbursts or even the shakes? Do you remember these things? Do you remember the price you paid for freedom? Do you remember why you were willing to pay it?

If you have access to a computer, you won't need a smoker's help or even to recall the early days of your own journey. You can go on-line to scores of smoking cessation support groups and find thousands of battles being fought, hear tons of cries and watch hundreds struggling for survival as they cling to the promise of the rich sense of inner calmness, quiet and comfort that lies beyond. Visit as often as possible. Make a few posts to those in need. The most important thing you can tell them is the truth about why you are there. Tell them how comfortable and complacent you've become. It's what they yearn to hear! Many smoked their entire adult life and have a difficult time believing that withdrawal isn't permanent. Fear of the unknown is frightening. Help them and in doing so help yourself.

If you find yourself attempting to rewrite the law of addiction, stop, think, remember, read, revisit, revive and give to others, but most important, be honest with you. Terrible and emotional events will happen in each of our lives - such is life. Adding full-blown nicotine relapse to any situation won't fix, correct or undo your underlying concern. In your mind, plan for disaster today. How will you cope and keep your healing alive should the person you love most in this world suddenly die? What will you do?

Remember, we've only traded places with our chemical dependency and the key to the cell is one puff of nicotine. As long as we stay on this side of the bars, we are the jailors and our dependency the prisoner. We only have two choices. We can complete this temporary period of adjustment and enjoy comfortable probation for life or we can smoke nicotine, relapse, and intentionally inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon these innocent bodies for the remainder of their life, together with inviting a 50/50 chance that you'll be putting yourself to death. If the first choice sounds better - comfortable lifetime probation - then we each need only follow one simple rule - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long!

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

09 Oct 2004, 21:50 #6

Hi, John. I really enjoy reading the articles you write and post; they are thoughtful and thought-provoking (and they're well-written). You have been a huge help over the last few difficult days. One thing I have difficulty coping with is the "help" some people provide--"If you don't use hypnotherapy, you're sure to relapse," says one. "Don't worry if you slip; we'll still love you" says another. "Nobody quits the first time around" says yet another. I appreciate the fact that they are trying to help and they care--I also appreciate that they are all ex-smokers. Relapse is not a threat, though. It is, I think, a choice, a choice for which there is no reason. What's working for me is the NTAP approach and just working on today. So far, it's added up to 27 days. Thanks for reminding us to be joyous in the journey.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:01

20 Jan 2006, 11:56 #7

Man! This is a long post but when it's got stuff like this in it......
"Remember when we were first learning to swim and found ourselves in water over our head. Did you panic? I did. If I had been a skilled swimmer would I have panicked? Of course not. Here at WhyQuit and Freedom we teach smokers to swim and then lead them into deep water. Once there, the smoker can panic and risk relapse or remain calm, enjoy the swim, and fully embrace this most amazing experience."'s sure worth the read. Just another of the many treasures here and at . Dive into the waters folks. Steve 1Y,8M.
C'mon in. The water's fine.
Last edited by ZZRSteve GOLD on 08 Apr 2009, 22:51, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Feb 2006, 10:06 #8

Thanks. I read hundreds of posts in my first couple of days....but IF I could only have read one thread...or could only choose one thread to share with a newbie, this one would be the one.
It was the information here that gave me the courage to even begin.
For years, I was afraid to even try to quit...believing all the horror stories that my friends told about their attempts.
Then I read about the three minute craves, and the 72 hours to freedom....and I knew in my heart that I could handle things like that, no matter how tough those three minutes or three days might be.
And then I read about the sugar levels and ways to help control that.
Geesh...those 72 hours were so easy compared to what I'd expected, that I could hardly believe it.
As for the attitude...well, I didn't give up smoking, I gave up burning money.
I don't miss smoking, but I almost missed the things that I used to do while I smoked. Once I realized that I could still do those things and not smoke, I discovered that they were even more enjoyable now that I could smell and taste.
I don't care about that person who needed a cigarette to do stuff....rather I can't wait to get to know the new person who simply enjoys life and freedom.
And all of these things because some wonderful people wanted me to learn to swim before I dived into the pool! Hey, do you folks realize that makes you lifesavers????? Thanks for saving mine......15days and 2 hours ago.

Sal GOLD.ffn
Joined: 16 Jan 2003, 08:00

11 Jan 2007, 08:32 #9

ImageFrom John's post:

Instead of focusing on any minor anxiety discomfort you may experience during the short period of time a crave episode is actually occurring and the recovery light switch is on, why not work on learning to relax more during the massive amount of time that the switch is actually off?
If we keep feeding ourselves the thought that recovery is hard then we should fully expect our subconscious mind to issue forth the emotions needed to cause the rational you to abandon your quest for freedom. If we keep telling ourselves this is hard, we should expect it to be hard.

Why feed ourselves failure? Why fear the swim and worry needlessly when some of us are not even in the water yet? Why assist our inner conditioned mind in breeding negative and powerful anxieties? Why allow such thoughts to fester until they begin oozing anxiety's destructive relapse puss?

Instead, chase all negativism from your mind. Replace it with calmness, safety, joy and the knowledge that no three minute crave episode can force you to ever again **** nicotine into your body.

Replace it with the reassurance that most subconscious crave triggers are re-conditioned or broken after a single encounter.

Fight back with your reason, logic, and dreams that look forward with confidence while knowing that nothing is being left behind, and that nicotine addiction does not define who you are, your life or command your remaining time on earth.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Feb 2007, 04:56 #10

Thanks for bumping this - a great piece - and a great reminder. I am still staying strong and this quit of mine, with you wonderful friends, is without doubt my easiest so far - and my only nicotine free one so far - everything on this site is 100%.


I have been quit for 1 Month, 4 Weeks, 1 Day, 14 hours, 2 minutes and 5 seconds (60 days). I have saved £181.75 by not smoking 908 cigarettes. I have saved 3 Days, 3 hours and 40 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 04/12/2006 07:54