Retraining the conscious mind


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

16 Oct 2001, 21:15 #1

Thinking vs. Wanting
Image Image
Question: Five seconds ago were you experiencing an urge to find and smoke a cigarette? Ten seconds ago did you want some nicotine? Unless you're a newbie then probably not, yet you're here at Freedom, a site exclusively devoted to the topic of smoking cessation, and you're focusing 100% of your attention on the issue of quitting. Don't you find it amazing that you can be here and constantly THINK about smoking without WANTING to smoke! I do!

It's the same when we venture out into the world and walk among the actively addicted as they publicly feed. Yes, after years of bondage ourselves and after developing an in-depth understanding of why we remained captive, it's very normal to notice others as their addiction forces them to elevate their falling blood serum nicotine level so as to avoid the onset of early withdrawal. NOTICING them and THINKING about their endless cycle nicotine/dopamine highs and lows is entirely different from WANTING a nico-fix yourself. It's very normal!

Our former relationship with tobacco was extremely intense and produced millions of tiny independent memories of needing, craving, finding, opening, holding, striking, lighting, sucking, tasting, inhaling, feeling, ahhhhing, exhaling, ashing, butting, dumping, cleaning, brushing, buying, trying, failing, decaying, lying, hiding and crying.

How could we possibly expect ourselves not to NOTICE others still captive to tobacco or THINK about what they're doing as we encounter them throughout our day? We can't and we shouldn't! It's very normal!

It's almost like getting a divorce on grounds of physical abuse and mental cruelty and six months later seeing your ex-spouse in a store and pretending not to notice them. Even thought the marriage was terrible, after years of being together would it be normal to see them yet not THINK about them?

But what if you saw them often? What if you saw your former abusive spouse multiple times each day? Would it soon condition you to be more relaxed around them and accept their presence? If you did stop to THINK about them, every now and then, would it necessarily mean that you WANTED them back?

We have a wonderful thread here at Freedom entitled "Tell a newbie how many seconds a day you still want a cigarette." I'd like to focus your attention on the word WANT in the thread title as we continue to play with the concept of THINKING about smoking versus WANTING to smoke. Triin made a wonderful post this morning, that inspired this post, and this is what she said -

"I have to say that the number of seconds I still want a cigarette in a day is usually zero. It doesn't cross my mind, I don't remember to remember it anymore, if that makes sence. When I think about smoking, it is usually because somebody reminds me of that, for example by smoking. But thinking about smoking does necessarily mean wanting to smoke." Triin

Listen to the WANTING vs. THINKING comments of a few others within the thread:

"I have absolutely no DESIRE to ever take another puff and it's been that way since the beginning of my quit." Linda

"I am quit 3 months (pack a day plus)and some days don't even THINK about smoking." Teeisfree

"I have had THOUGHTS about cigarettes, though not many - when I find myself staring at someone with a cig, or paying more attention to the person on TV smoking rather than the TV show itself, I've been able to tell myself "Look at them, killing themselves." Curly

"I think I still think about it, but I can't say it's the same as WANTING ONE....mostly the smell possibly makes me remember that ahhhhh feeling that I know now I cannot have...but again it's not exactly WANTING ONE...see how difficult it is to separate the two..." Cathym

"I have very few actual thoughts of WANTING a smoke." Amcanuck

There are scores of others who made similar comments. I think the distinction is fairly important for those Newbies still in the serious WANTING phase of their recovery. It's important because you're here with us - some for hours each day - and recognizing the fine distinction between THINKING about your recovery (and the fact that you are not smoking) vs. experiencing an URGE, CRAVE or WANT to put nicotine inside your body, is, in a very real sense, victory in itself!

Even brief periods of wanting new nicotine or a cigarette won't harm us at all. It's only when a quitter acts upon their WANT that they destroy their freedom, healing and glory! Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights Triin!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long!

John : ) (Zep)
Last edited by John (Gold) on 20 Mar 2009, 16:04, edited 1 time in total.

improud (golder)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

16 Oct 2001, 23:41 #2

John (Zep) you are so right. I thought that in the beginning of my quit that if I came here all of the time it would make me WANT a cigarette it was the complete opposite, I learned so much and was encouraged by everything that was said in the posts. Now I no longer want a cigarette although at times I do think of them. I still have little triggers that I completely ignore as soon as they come. The other thing is that I can NOT stand the smell anymore and that really bothers me because I have loved ones that still smoke and I try not to harp but there are times that I can't stand the smell of THEM (do you know what I mean). Just thinking of that I will NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF. Thanks for being here John :)) I have been Quit for: 9M 1W 4D 13h 10m 55s. I have NOT smoked 8566, for a savings of $1,284.97. Life Saved: 4W 1D 17h 50m.

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

17 Oct 2001, 00:02 #3

Thanks Cathy! I think that my biggest concern about the "Wanting vs. Thinking" issue is my worry that sincere quitters can easily confuse the two to the detriment and destruction of their quit and possibly their life. Normal healthy thoughts (THINKING) about staying free and reclaiming total control of our life are beautiful and should be welcomed by our minds! They are not signs that our quit is in trouble, that we WHAT our drug back, that it's hard to quit or that we're doing something wrong! They're signs that we're doing things right! They're signs that we care about ourselves! With time even "THOUGHTS" will grow less frequent but they really only show that we care about the person having them Image

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

20 Dec 2001, 01:08 #4

Watching an nicotine addict publicly
deepens my sense of comfort.
Last edited by John (Gold) on 20 Mar 2009, 18:16, edited 1 time in total.

AMD33 (gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:10

20 Dec 2001, 01:33 #5

I don't think I've seen this article before, and it's very interesting to me. Sometimes I've felt as though I had "thoughts" that were not "wants" but were challenging to me nonetheless because in the past I always responded to those thoughts as if they were wants.

Also, my mother has been talking about coming to visit. She is still smoking and has for all her adult life. Last time she came was during a traumatic period for me (job layoff), exaserbated by big fights I was having with my husband. I used this excuse (mom is nice and smokes, spouse is evil and is a non-smoker) to relapse. So I am afraid of going to visit her, or having her come to visit me. It's a giant trigger and I've been putting it off, hoping to gain more strength before I have to face it. No visit is scheduled. Maybe in the spring.

Celebrating freedom for Three weeks, six days, 19 hours, 4 minutes and 33 seconds. 277 cigarettes not smoked, saving $74.35. Life saved: 23 hours, 5 minutes.

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

03 Jan 2002, 03:22 #6


When Wanting, Thinking, a Crave Episode
Emotions and Withdrawal All Combine

During the first few days of recovery it may at times seem impossible to divorce our mind from thinking about wanting to smoke. It doesn't matter if we're talking about actual physical nicotine withdrawal, a less than three minute subconscious cue triggered crave anxiety attack, or memory generated conscious thoughts racing around in our head, the anxiety generated from any of the three events is very real. When all three occur at the same time the challenge may briefly seem larger than life.

It's then when the recovering addict's mind begins to doubt. It's then that the challenge can seem Imagetoo great to continue. So how did earth's hundreds of millions of now comfortable ex-users get beyond the big bumps on freedom's highway so that their healing and glory were able to continue on? The answer is the same for all. They found a way to be patient for just few longer than normal moments and during that brief period of time their mind's weather changed. The feeling that they couldn't possibly continue on was replaced with a feeling that the worst had passed. It's called keeping your glory alive!

Withdrawal and recovery are the temporary stepping stone from a life of actively feeding a never ending need for a new supply of nicotine, to that of a calm, comfortable and content ex-user. There will likely be bumps along the way but if you'll only remain patient for a few moments the worst will pass and victory will again be yours!

You know what it's like to be a never ending up and down feeder. Isn't it time to give permanent comfort a try? It's awesome!!!!!!

Baby steps to glory! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on 20 Mar 2009, 18:29, edited 1 time in total.

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

01 Feb 2002, 09:12 #7

ImageNoticing that you're not using nicotine is a normal part of this temporary period of transition. Early in recovery you'll notice lots and lots of small details and changes. Don't confuse noticing or thinking about the changes brought about by ending nicotine use with a "thought" of "wanting" to to use, a cue triggered crave anxiety eposide or actual physical withdrawal. Noticing change is normal, healthy and it doesn't hurt one bit!

This is a big transition period and once your sniffer heals it's very normal to begin smelling cigarette smoke from 20 or more freet away, while seeing smokers at almost every turn as they feed their addiction in public. Don't let your mind tell you that there is anything wrong with noticing others feed their need. It's Imagenormal. It doesn't necessarily mean that you WANT a nico-fix yourself or that it will trigger a brief yet possibly intense crave anxiety attack. It simply means that you're noticing details associated with ending years and years of nicotine dependency.

IImaget's easy for the junkie mind to tell itself that a simple "thought" or noticing some change in your life means that recovery is too hard, or you're doing something wrong, that you're not recovering quickly enough, that recovery never ends or that you're somehow different and weaker than the millions who came before you. It's garbage! Don't buy into it! Like someone dating a longtime old companion of yours, you may always notice cigarettes being smoking in movies but it won't hurt a bit!

If you went out bought a new car, you'd likey start noticing that lots of other folks went out and bought the exact same car. And what about the car you traded-in or sold? Yes, you'll probably continue to notice others like it for many years to come. It doesn't hurt a bit and it surely doesn't mean that you want your old car back.

After the first two weeks, the journey from user to ex-user isn't nearly as difficult as our minds can tend to try and make it. There will be enough legitimate bumps in the road without us adding more to it. It was work feeding our addiction all those years and when complete comfort arrives, as long as we remember where we came from we'll never want to go back. Go the distance! Freedom is your birthright. Meet the real you!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

Last edited by John (Gold) on 20 Mar 2009, 19:02, edited 1 time in total.

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

08 May 2002, 21:20 #8

Sadly, for many of us, smoking became the most intense relationship that we'd ever established and a destructive one Imageat that! Although I ended up sucking down three packs-a-day, even as far back at one pack, I was puckering up to the end of a filter 160 times each and every day of my life (8 puffs x 20 cigs). Although all human relationships were vastly more important, none received the constant stream of endless care and attention that I gave to maintaining my blood serum nicotine level in the comfort zone, so as to avoid sensing the onset of early withdrawal anxieties. In fact, my dependency quickly evolved to the point that I'd sacrifice time with humans in order to feed my chemical need.

It's so easy to confuse our thoughts while watching others use nicotine with a false belief that it means that our recovery is not progressing as it should. If we'll only be patient with our healing then someday soon, if it isn't happening already, we'll begin seeing our still captive brothers and sisters in a whole new light. More than one billion humans remain slaves to nicotine. To not see them and their empty nicotine holders (butts) all around us would be like not noticing cars or even people themselves.

It's ok to think about and relate to them! We wouldn't be normal if we didn't! Our freedom isn't dependent upon anyone but us! With time, they'll become less and less an object of immediate focus. As long as we want to remain in control of our lives then all we need do is live by one guiding principle - no nioctine today, none!

Last edited by John (Gold) on 20 Mar 2009, 19:10, edited 1 time in total.

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

30 Jun 2002, 06:32 #9

Wanting never killed anyone and
Thinking is even less dangerous!
Today is entirely doable!

misha (Gold )
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

30 Jun 2002, 22:02 #10

Image Wanting versus thinking was one of the first lessons I learned courtesy of my 8 year old daughter, and it was the most valuable. It was the one thing that kept making me go back to smoking in the past. I truly believed back then that because I thought about cigarettes all the time, that it was just too painful to keep trying to not smoke.

But this quit, I knew that even though I craved, I didn't really want nicotine. I just wanted to alleviate the feeling I had at that moment. The analogy that was used about the ex spouse really hit home. I see mine all the time, and **** no I don't want him back!!!!!

I am so pleased with myself since I have stopped feeding on nicotine. I feel like a new person, being given a new life. I love how this feels.