Retraining the conscious mind
WANTING vs. THINKING
Thinking vs. Wanting
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 March 20th, 2009, 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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.
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
Watching an nicotine addict publicly
feed deepens my sense of comfort.
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 20th, 2009, 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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.
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 too 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 March 20th, 2009, 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Noticing 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 normal. 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.
It'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 March 20th, 2009, 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sadly, for many of us, smoking became the most intense relationship that we'd ever established and a destructive one at 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 March 20th, 2009, 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Wanting never killed anyone and
Thinking is even less dangerous!
Today is entirely doable!
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.
The next few minutes are doable for all !
Patience and Delay are our friends
If a newbie and still mastering the lessons here at Freedom you too can begin reaping the immediate benefits that flow
into the subconscious mind from offering simple words of encouragement to other new members or from celebrating in as many of Freedom's parades as time allows. Celebration embraces recovery while destroying fears. Positive thinking is a powerful force for personal change, while constant negative thinking and endless fixation can elevate risk of relapse. Look for the good and savor it! This is your life and you're taking it back! Yes, you may find yourself bargaining, angry or at times, down and out but so did most of us. This is an adjustment period and you're doing fantastic! Go the distance. The next few minutes are doable by all!
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 20th, 2009, 7:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Have you ever looked closely at a flower bud and wished you could watch its beauty unfold right there before your eyes? At times this temporary journey of re-adjustment will almost seem to stand as still as that flower's bud but just like the bud its growing and unfolding a bit more with each passing hour.
Take a slow deep deep breath, smell your fingers, feel their warmth, feel the oil on the skin on your forehead, sense the evolving tastes in your mouth, and relish in the fact that every cell in your body is being fed more oxygen than it may have known in years. Unless the damage we've done is permanent, within just 90 days we could experience up to a 30% increase in overall lung function. As you spend time thinking about this journey today, I encourage you to devote some of it to the wonderful transformation that's happening right before your very eyes as the real you is gradually unfolding. Let go of the past and embrace coming home!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 20th, 2009, 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
How many messages about smoking did you read in the past hour?
Be honest, how many times did you want to smoke?
Don't you find your answer amazing !
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 20th, 2009, 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Wanting never killed anyone and
Thinking is even less dangerous!
Today is entirely doable!"
-- His Zepness, John
It is interesting that this thread was brought up today. I do not think I have ever seen it, which of course surprises me, as I've been over this site a million times, it seems.
I was just thinking about this topic a few nights ago. I know that I often find myself stopping an activity and thinking - when I smoked I'd have a cigarette after this…. Or when I smoked I sat outside and saw my neighbor more… Or when I smoked I stayed up later talking on the phone… You know the drill. But what is sometimes annoying is that sometimes I do pause…and reminisce back to the smoking life. I think about how things were when I was doing that… And for a minute (IF that) I have to admit that I think fondly of smoking (*gasp* ~ big admission…). But then, like a good, dedicated little green Freedomite, I talk myself through why I quit smoking, what I have learned about my addiction, and why I like my life so much better now than I did then.
But I do THINK about it a fair amount of time. This does not IN ANY way, shape, or form mean that I am considering smoking in those moments, nor does it mean that I am fighting with all my might to withstand a crave. It's just that these thoughts come into my head…and I DO pause to acknowledge them…and I do reminisce…and I just wonder when I'll stop doing that. Because looking back at smoking…FONDLY, NO LESS… is not at all a pleasant feeling - if you can make any sense of that.
Don't know what I'm looking for here…Guess I just wanted to share how/why I can relate to the post. My quit is not in jeopardy, in fact, I am in love with my quit (truly), but hey, thoughts happen -- not too often, but they do happen.. It's not the greastest feeling but I'm assuming this too shall pass….
1 month, 3 weeks, 6 days
I understand what you're saying CF. It took me almost until my bronzing until I didn't think about smoking anymore. Then suddenly it was like I woke up one day and the thoughts were gone. But I'm kind of glad I had those thoughts longer than maybe someone else did because I got a lot more practice at defeating my inner jun
kie. I really learned the difference between thinking about smoking and wanting to smoke.
I'm also using this gif that John used earlier in the thread because it's so darned cute and it reminds me of the "Prouder than Anything" look my dog used to have whenever she got into the trash again. heheheheh
6 Months 1 Week 6 Days
Last edited by smokefreeJD Gold on March 20th, 2009, 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thanks for making the recovery process come alive so graphically. This makes me look forward to observing the changes with interest. During the day I am already finding myself spontaneously wanting to breathe in deeply and fill my lungs to capacity. It makes you feel as if you're getting taller, or maybe rising above the cloud layer in a plane ... I like the thought that change is occurring continuously.
Stephanie (quit for 2 weeks 2 days)
It was about where you are now, Stephanie, where I really started thinking that I could actually pull this off. If you're not there already, there will soon come a time where you'll really begin to believe that no disaster, crisis or circumstance could ever again compel you to put nicotine back into your body. You have every right to be very proud of you. You've come far and the best is yet to come - that relaxed sense of normal that was once "you!"
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 20th, 2009, 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
First time I've seen this one. Like to bring it up for the other newbies.
I still think about smoking a lot but there are very few times that I want to smoke. - and becoming fewer by the day
I have been quit for 1 Month, 2 Days, 12 hours and 29 minutes (33 days). I have saved $100.55 by not smoking 1,676 cigarettes. I have saved 5 Days, 19 hours and 40 minutes of my life.
Thanks Mike, for bringing this one to the top! What a great read!
I have chosen not to smoke for 2 Weeks, 3 Days, 11 Seconds. Cigarettes not smoked: 255.
|From: NicotineFreeJon (Original Message) ||Sent: 2/27/2004 10:00 AM |
| Hello Freedom Friends, |
I haven't been here much recently, but I thought I would post an update.
Firstly, congratulations to all the newbies that have joined. You have made a great decision in giving up smoking, you will be amazed at just how quickly things get comfortable. Just stick with it through hard times and believe what all the older members say in that it really does become easier.
Personally, I have never particularly found this quit difficult and I am sure that it mainly due to keeping a positive frame of mind. I refused to let myself feel as though I was missing out on smoking in the early stages, and instead concentrated on all of the positive aspects of quitting. If I felt myself slipping I would simply come straight here and read some more to strengthen my resolve, at times visiting the site for several hours a day (becoming slightly obsessive!). As time has passed, I have become less and less dependant upon the site, and more and more in control of my own life again (this is not to say that I have become complacent, I think I will probably always come here for reinforcement, just less often). It's hard to believe that I could be this comfortable after just 2 months (in a couple of days, officially!), but I really am. I can honestly say that it's not often that I think about smoking each day, and even when I do, it will be a thought ABOUT smoking, not a thought about WANTING to smoke. The last couple of months have also brought some v. stressful times - car accident, illness, virus outbreaks @ work, etc. Through all of these occasions I haven't thought about smoking until I realised I didn't think about it after the event had occurred! I have also, completely conquered my major trigger of going to the pub, which prior to quitting I would have thought IMPOSSIBLE!
The thing that strikes me the most is that I am actually in control of living my life now, and can do what I want to do, when I want to do it, without worrying when I will be able to take my next fix.
Anyway, enough for now. I hope everyone is loving this as much as I am, and to all the new quitters..... no matter how difficult you think it is right now, stick with it, it WILL get better. Remember how long you smoked for. Probably a long time, so there will be no miracle cure. You may get it easy, you may get it hard. No matter how your quit goes, it will DEFINATELY succeed if you never take another puff.
Best wishes to you all
How is being here with us and talking about recovery any different than studying smokers around you as they feed a mandatory need? It is healthy to think about the process of recovery. But it is also necessary that we each gradually tear down the wall of rationalizations, minimizations and blame transferece we built in order to protect and insulate us from what truly felt like an inability to stop our own senseless self-destruction. Embrace recovery, don't fight it! Remember what life as an active addict was like, don't forget it! You're going home and today's victory is all that matters. The next few minutes are doable. Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John
It's a miracle! This article is just what I needed. Or else, JoeJ, you bumped this thread up to the top just for me. Either way, I feel "special".
Carol, nicotine-free for 18 days and 16 hours. Breathing deeply and laughing hard.
An excerpt from NicotineFreeJon's post above -
"The thing that strikes me the most is that I am actually in control of living my life now, and can do what I want to do, when I want to do it, without worrying when I will be able to take my next fix.
Anyway, enough for now. I hope everyone is loving this as much as I am, and to all the new quitters..... no matter how difficult you think it is right now, stick with it, it WILL get better. Remember how long you smoked for. Probably a long time, so there will be no miracle cure. You may get it easy, you may get it hard. No matter how your quit goes, it will DEFINATELY succeed if you never take another puff."