Misery Love Company
Freedom is not the best site for this particular adage. For when it really comes down to it, most people here at Freedom are not that miserable. Yes, many of our members may relate to some miserable moments, or memories from early days of their quits where the first few days may have seemed pretty bad. Those days don't last long though and once a person has overcome them it is more important to share the message of hope, comfort and happiness that they have likely gained by quitting more than feeling the need to share the misery.
It is important for longer-term members to share the message that you may have been bad before but that most of the time that you are not feeling bad anymore. Yes misery loves company, but miserable people can make for some pretty miserable company. While on the board work with sharing the attitude that successful people love to see other successful people. Also, when you are in your real world, recognize that smoke free people love spending time with other smoke free people, where their air and lungs are not being assaulted by smoke.
In the past you likely lived with the feeling misery loves company whenever you were in a smoking room or any smoked filled area of any public place. You likely felt and witnessed lot a misery and yet didn't feel alone in those kind of places. While you may not have felt alone in such company, you likely didn't love the circumstances you were forced to live in at the time. Now you no longer have to face such situations and never will again as long as you always remember the importance of knowing to never take another puff!
There are times when a member is having a bad day or more accurately a bad moment who come over to read and participate at Freedom. We would hope that the reason a person stops by when encountering difficulty is so that he or she can read to refocus and reinforce his or her thoughts on how much he or she wanted to quit, how important it is for him or her to stay off, and to seek out motivational and inspirational posts to help him or her secure the quit that he or she has worked so hard at attaining.
But sometimes it is quite evident that this is not what a person is doing when he or she arrives. In fact, the person often goes to look for the strings with the most negative titles and brings them up to the top, or goes to look up the strings from a person who is also in the midst of a rough time period. So what is a person having smoking thoughts hoping to get out of finding others who are having rough thoughts?
Well, he or she is either looking to establish some sort of camaraderie with the person, working on the basis of misery loves company or, maybe he or she is looking to see if the person relapsed, which would help justify his or her own reason for relapsing. Well Freedom is not the best place to be for either of these two goals. Our general membership is not here because they are working on the theory that misery loves company, and as far as one person relapsing justifying another person's relapse, they can pretty much forget about using the board for this effect too.
You are responsible for your own success or your own failure. The fact is if every one of our Managers relapsed, if I took up smoking and if every other member relapsed too, it would not justify your going back to smoking. It would not give you a legitimate reason to take a cigarette.
I have written this often but when it comes down to it there are only two legitimate reasons to take a cigarette.
One, you want to go back to smoking until it cripples and kills you,
two, you enjoyed the physical withdrawals you never want them to end. If this is the case take one drag every three days--withdrawals will last forever.
Every member should start to think out what his or her motivation is for participating at Freedom. If you are coming in to support your decision to quit, to strengthen your resolve and thus secure your quit, then you should either read every single post on the board no matter how negative or positive it sounds so you can see a balanced message, or, just focus on the positive posts and work on tapping into the positive attitude that the vast majority of our members have about quitting.
If you are coming primarily to help others, which is fine if you are personally feeling relatively strong and secure and totally committed to staying free, then you may spend a little more time reading the posts of people in distress so that you may help write posts to reinforce them. Although if you do this enough, it wouldn't hurt for you to spend some time on the positive posts too so that you do not get sucked into a dismal abyss by spending so much time in negative territory.
But if you are looking to rationalize smoking you are going to find more success elsewhere. Go talk to your smoking friends, they will often help you in your quest to rationalize failure. If you believe all of the lies that people tell themselves and will often be glad to share with you as to why they keep on smoking, you likely won't feel to bad about relapsing. Unfortunately whether you feel bad about it or not, your cigarettes are still going to control you and slowly cripple and kill you. Your mind may believe the lies but your body knows the truth, and the truth is that if you are going to stay free saving your health and your life is by you knowing to never take another puff!
I fear that people looking here at Freedom for the first time may be getting the impression that quitting is a whole lot harder and staying free is a whole lot more difficult than it really turns out being for most people.
Does quitting have the potential of causing some discomfort and can the adjustments to life without smoking cause some difficult times? Sure it can. But when contrasted to the pain, agony and disruption that smoking can cause, the effects experienced from quitting are minor in comparison. Smoking will cost you a fortune and can cause pain, agony, suffering and DEATH. To some degree it does the first three effects to most smokers at one time or another, and as far as the last effect-killing the individual, it ends up doing this to one out of every two smokers. To avoid the pain, agony and total loss of everything that can be caused by smoking always stay resolute in your resolve to never take another puff!
From the string "Bringing negative posts to the top"
There were two instances today where a certain kind of negative post was raised to the top. One was from a person who was having a tough time a couple of days ago, and the other was from a person who was a member for a short time, put up a post saying he was thinking he wanted to go back to smoking. I want to use this thread to address these two types of incidents and to have it available to bring up in the future when such events occur.
Again, in the first example the person was having a bad time a few days back. When she put up the original post, a few people responded back with a few well thought out and supportive posts. The person who put up the original post wrote back in another string saying that she was now better and that time of the crisis had passed. This was a good example of how a few quick and well thought out replies can really do the trick of helping a person get through a bad time. It is not the quantity of responses that is going to get a person through a moment--it is the quality of the information and support that he or she will get.
When a person cries out for help, gets it, comes back and responds that they have ridden out the moment and our now better, and then maybe one or two people respond quickly that they are glad to hear that the person got through the bad times--then it is time to let the post drop. Bringing it up over and over with comments like I am glad you are better is just making a person looking in for a quick look at the board think that the person is still in distress and in need of help--maybe hours and then days after the real problem existed.
The second example from today is where a member wrote that he was thinking of going back to smoking, that quitting just didn't seem worth it. Again, there were numerous members who wrote a response back to him and suggested articles for him to read. Actually, the articles I had suggested for him to read were the following:
"I made a conscious decision to smoke."
"I think I have decided to go back to smoking"
Smoking IS an Option
The Smoker's Vow
The man never replied back, and this was from well over a week ago. Then today a member brought back the post today asking how he was doing and telling him to hang in there and post.
The member who made the first post has either relapsed and can't post or has not taken the time to read the replies and acknowledge that he is okay or to let the people know who have tried to help him that their efforts were helpful and appreciated. We honestly don't know which situation is involved here. Either way, there are reasons why this post should not have been raised to the top today. There are a few already existing strings that address why we feel this way. They are:
Misery Love Company (If you have not already read this one today please do and pay special attention to post 8 in that string.)
"Please don't smoke."
[/size] [size=100][font=ARIAL]Acknowle ... e positive [/font]
Each of these string address issues that are likely explaining some of the possible reasons that this post did get raised today. There was no real reason for this man's post to be singled out.
If you go back over the board for the almost three years since Freedom has existed, there are hundreds of people whose posts like this could be brought up every day if we wanted to. Why pick out one and forget the others? Why are we not working at dragging all these people into posting and maybe quitting?
The reason is we are not here to force anyone into quitting and we are not here to enforce personal resolve. We are here to help people who have already decided to quit and are sticking with that commitment. (See Our Mission Statement) We want people who are in fact putting in a one hundred percent commitment. If the man had come back and said he was still off and still in dire straights, you can bet he would have been inundated with help and support. If our membership saw he was needing more, they would have delivered it. But at this point we have zero indication of what this individual is thinking or doing.
The one thing that these two posts have in common is that they were bringing negative posts to the top, giving the impression these people were quitting and in trouble. In the first case the person was not in trouble, at least not in trouble with what was being addressed in the particular string, and the second case we don't know if the person is even quitting, let alone in trouble.
I hope that each and every one of our members would try to think back to what the board was likely like the day that you arrived. What made you realize that you wanted to join Freedom? Was it a whole bunch of posts of people complaining about the bad lives they are having since they quit smoking, or was it from a balance of posts?
The odds are the kind of posts that made you want to join were seeing people who were successfully quitting. There were likely some posts from longer-term members who were relating what it is like 99% of the time since they had quit smoking and not really thinking about cigarettes. Other posts were probably from people who were first quitting but who recognized how their lives were in many ways being wrecked from cigarettes and were totally out of control while they were still smoking. It is also likely that there were other posts that had a very strong educational component trying to get the message out that the effort being put forth by all of our members was truly a struggle for your Freedom, your health and your very life.
Try to think back what pulled you into Freedom and ask yourself is what you are posting now really helping others to want to quit smoking too. I suspect if you do this you will consider how you post and how you respond and will much more likely write posts that will not only better help the individual you are writing to, but also all others reading your words to stay determined to never take another puff!
A number of months back a new member had wrote the comment that the people at our board seemed to be "too cheery" for people who had quit smoking. There are plenty of Internet sites that people can go to if they ever want to be cheered down a bit.
If you can find sites that are dedicated to supporting people who are facing the ravages of smoking you will likely find lots of people who just won't seem overly happy or optimistic with their current situation.
Is it right that so many of our members seem happy that they quit? Of course it is for if people realize just what they have accomplished by quitting and the terrible fate that they would likely have faced if they did not stop they will likely stay forever happy, proud and thankful that they have stuck to the commitment that they had made to themselves to never take another puff!
P.S. If anyone is still looking to get a little more depressed today go check out the following links at www.whyquit.com:
| We died Young |
Noni Glykos - age 33
Quentin Delgado - age 23
Famous victims - under 60
Our family member died young
Our Living Nightmare
Deborah's stage IV battle - age 38
Kim's missing lung - age 44
Brandon's 2 missing legs - age 23
Does it sometimes look like a lot of our members seem to be having a bad day?
Did you ever notice how we can go days or even weeks without having a single SOS or 911 post, without a single person writing about having a totally miserable day?
Then, suddenly we see one person after another posting about having trouble, everything going wrong, nearly at the point of relapse, ready to throw in the towel?
If it seems like trouble comes in bunches, it's because sometimes it does, and with good reason. Over the years I have done two types of Stop Smoking Clinics. The first is community-based, with anywhere from 10 to 60 participants, few of whom know each other beforehand. The other is corporate-based, where many, if not all of the participants work together on a daily basis and are at least acquainted with each other.
In the corporate setting there is a real danger of two phenomena occurring. The first danger is the Buddy System, well documented and often talked about and cautioned against here at Freedom. That's where two people get together and quit at the same time and theoretically provide moral support to each other. The problem is that each buddy may start to feel that his or her quit is contingent on the success of the other buddy. If one buddy relapses the other one is likely to throw in the towel too. Or, even worse, the entire group becomes one big buddy system, with the danger of losing more than two people from the group in one fell swoop.
An example of how this can occur is seen when one of the clinic participants relapses. Typically he/she is embarrassed by the failure and will often try to hide the relapse from the other participants. Eventually, though, the relapse will be discovered and another class member will see the person smoking, maybe in the parking lot or another public area at work. The embarrassed smoker, instead of admitting the relapse and the failure, will say that he is only smoking occasionally and has everything under control.
The co-worker may spill the beans to the rest of the group or may keep it to himself and quietly ponder the situation. The idea of casual "social" smoking may begin to look attractive to him and the more he thinks about it, the more practical the idea begins to look. One day he tries it for himself. Then, in total shock and dismay, he finds himself hooked again and smoking regularly. While he may now be a daily smoker, he may try to hide from the others in the group and may even keep it from the person who originally relapsed for fear of looking weak in comparison. After all, that person is controlling his smoking just fine as far as the second relapsed smoker can tell. Before long, though, yet another member of the class catches Relapse Number Two. He may also profess to have the situation under control, instead of just owning up to the relapse. And so the cycle continues until a mass relapse is a distinct possibility, with all class members lying to each other on a daily basis.
We have controls in place to prevent this scenario from happening at Freedom. If a member of this group takes a puff, he doesn't get to tell the others that he "has things under control", because at the first mention of a puff that member is out for life. Whether or not that member convinces himself that he has everything under control there is no way his rationalizations can influence any other member. As soon as he/she writes about a puff, posting privileges are over.
The second phenomenon that can happen in a corporate setting is sometimes repeated here at Freedom. It can happen when all participants are still successfully not smoking. It can begin innocently enough when one member is having a bad day, possibly because of nothing related to smoking, and tries to share the problem with the entire group through a post. Those negative feelings are quickly picked up by someone else, who posts about more problems unrelated to smoking and then another and another and pretty soon the entire group is involved. They begin to fear that their quits are now in jeopardy, just because they are newly quit also.
It is crucial that all persons reading here understand that throughout their lives they are going to have bad days. This is not because they are ex-smokers; it is because they are human beings. Our moods will be affected by our environments, whether is be weather problems, family stressors, problems at work, shifts in the economy, world issues that affect the peace and stability of nations, or a host of other problems that plague mankind. Life continues to happen after people quit smoking and it is imperative to recognize that most of the same problems would have occurred even if they hadn't quit smoking and would also have occurred if they had never started smoking.
You should also realize that while many of these bad days would have happened regardless of your smoking status, by having quit you are avoiding many bad days that continuing to smoke would have caused. Days like the one where you have a smoking-induced stroke or the day you have a heart attack, or the day that a routine chest x-ray shows a spot that is more than a technological glitch. These days, while bad in themselves, will lead to a lot more bad days that may make your current problems seem totally insignificant in comparison.
Then there are the bad days where withdrawal is worse while still smoking, because the environment you are in is not allowing you to feed your addiction on a regular basis. This is becoming more and more commonplace as more cities, states and countries are implementing smoking restrictions in public places.
There are also bad days when smoking becomes a greater economic hardship because the price has jumped significantly. Or maybe burning some piece of clothing, furniture or your entire house will cause a bad day, especially if a pet or even a loved one was in the house and didn't get out in time.
Smoking does have one advantage, though. It pretty much insures that you will have fewer bad days as a whole. It does this by causing your death a lot sooner than you intended. Unfortunately, smoking also limits your number of good days too and it will normally leave your loved ones with a lot more bad days than they would have had if you did not smoke.
Freedom is a lot more like the corporate based clinics because we have the opportunity to stay in touch and share experiences over the long term. While this allows our members the ability to share experiences and help to reinforce each other's resolve, it also carries the additional risk of the spreading of negative experiences and having it appear to be effects of having quit smoking. It is crucial for our members to be more discriminating than this. When you are having bad moments, try to look around your surrounding circumstances and determine if other areas of your life may be responsible for certain physical or emotional reactions. If you come to the conclusion that absolutely nothing is wrong in your life or in the lives of others around you that can account for some bad feeling--congratulations are in order for you have reached a state of paradise and bliss that most of mankind has been seeking since its inception and has never been able to attain. Although, if this is the case, there is a chance that you may have lost touch with reality just a little.
Life goes on after you quit smoking--accept that fact. It is indeed what you were hoping for when first quitting--that your life would go on as it did before, maybe even better. While you may not be happy with the way everything is going in your life at any given moment, if you really examine the benefits to your health and to your life of no longer having to maintain an expensive, dirty, dangerous and deadly addiction, you will at least always be a little happier by the fact that you made and stuck to a commitment to never take another puff!
For the record, people actually can quit and stay off even with a lousy attitude. Here are two stories of clinic participants that illustrate this point:
"I don't want to quit smoking"
"I don't feel any better since I quit smoking!"
In the string Quitting With A Possitive Attitude
I actually have an attitude quote I sometimes use in clinics. It is that if you quit with a lousy attitude you are pretty much assured to have a lousy time when first quitting.
If on the other hand you quit with a good attitude, well, you may still have a lousy time in the beginning, but at least you will have a good attitude about it.
As you may have guessed, this insight doesn't help a whole lot in the first few days. But it usually gets a chuckle. The more important advice on this issue is the string Acknowledge the negative but dwell on the positive Thanks for your sharing of insights here.
In the string Using Attitude to Reduce Anxiety
If you quit with a lousy attitude and sustain a lousy attitude, you can expect to have a pretty lousy time of it. If you quit with a good attitude, well during withdrawal you "may" possibly still have a lousy time but at least you will have a good attitude about it.
After the initial withdrawal and normal readjustment period though, your attitude is going to make a huge difference on how good you will feel and how comfortable you will get. Everyone here must understand that by quitting you are not depriving yourself of one or even a few good cigarettes--you are ridding yourself of full-fledged smoking and all of the consequences that go with all of your cigarettes.
The consequences include the costs, the smells, the accidental burns or fires, the social awkwardness, the looks and stares, the constant withdrawal or nicotine poisoning episodes experienced from over-smoking at times because you are not able to smoke on your time table but rather having to smoke when the resistance of those around you is minimal, the health effect and the life-threatening implications that go with being a smoker.
Keep focused on the fact that quitting smoking is a good thing that you have done for yourself--something you likely wanted to do for a long time but never quite knew how to do until you finally realized that all it really take to stay successfully smoke free is just knowing to never take another puff!
One more comment I think I have used before but cannot find on the board. It may be something I just used in my live clinics:
Some people will just never allow themselves to be happy until they relapse. Then they will likely be miserable until they possibly quit again or until smoking kills them.