SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

June 24, 2008

Stop Smoking – FREE

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jan Turner @ 2:46 am

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Without patches, gum or buying any products.

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I ask you to put your disbelief on the back burner, read my story – let me show you how I did it and why you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I’d like to share what worked for me. It’s 15 years now and counting.

Why ?

I’ll tell you why – in recent years, with increasing frequency, we are being plagued with broadcast and print media appeals to buy products and plans to help people quit smoking. It’s an over load, and I’m weary of it. There is quite a bit of hype involved and I question the science of much of it, cynic that I am. It is sad that there is so little progress in this field and the same old bad information is still going around. This has caught my attention to the extent that I am forced to either let it go – or do something about it. I have chosen to do something about it.

You might ask, what makes me think that I have anything worth while to say in this field? Who do I think I am? To which I respond Well, I’ve been there and done that, and done that, and done that and done it almost to death. One might think I was a professional quitter. I was a smoker for about forty years with about half that time spent in trying to quit. Let me tell you that I quit for weeks and months many times; 10 and 11 months about three times and several times for over two years. I also quit for 10 years! And then went back Each time, I would go back. Hard as it was, I could force my way through the quitting, but in all those times, apparently, I never resolved my issues with it or didn’t DO STUFF right because I couldn’t be DONE WITH IT. I would go back. I missed it.

They don’t talk too much about what it does to us having to live with this failure thing – how it eats way at our sense of self and dings us all over as if we had been in a terrible accident psychically. This is very uncomfortable because it doesn’t fit what else we know about ourselves – that many of us are indeed pretty bright with some among the intelligentsia (so to speak). Multiple failed attempts to be done with it can create a sense of guilt which can almost be worse than the threat of ‘not quitting’ in the first place. It does undermine and I wasted much effort trying to figure out why I couldn’t make it stick. What was wrong with me? Sure, it’s an addiction, but what was I doing wrong that I couldn’t be done with it?

Over the years I tried a number of different methods and programs; some helpful but none proved to be my solution. Most of all, the cutesy things to do were ineffectual and a nuisance such as snapping rubber bands around your wrists; wrapping your cigarette packs up with papers and lots of rubber bands; keeping the buggers out in the car so that even if it is raining and in the middle of the night, you go traipsing out to get one. There were notes to take – how were you feeling, what were you doing and what caused you to have to have one at this time? The aversion therapy thing was repulsive, stupid and offensive.

The last program I tried was of immense help for me, essentially because it was not insulting to my mind. While most of the others had dealt with the perils of the health impairment of the habit (who of us doesn’t know the facts of the nicotine addiction), this one was different. It dealt with mind set, understanding a few particular essentials, facing our dragons – had a very cerebral approach. They got right down to it and didn’t fool around with a bunch of sharing stuff and insufferable things to do. They seemed to have opened things up for me. It was presented in mini-lecture form in which it was stressed we all have CHOICE. In fact, the only way we wouldn’t have choice is if we were in prison and someone threw the key away. This had not registered clearly to me before…. As admittedly, I had been blaming the tobacco companies, and all those people ‘out there’ who managed to stress me out so much that I was literally forced to take a cigarette. I hadn’t realized it, but I was blaming others and not claiming my own authority and power. So instead of making me feel guiltier or worse, magically, it seemed to get through to me and helped. That was the first thing that impressed me, placing the responsibility squarely on my own shoulders, where the thought processes originate – in my own head. I HAD A CHOICE! I could change things. I can control this – IF I CHOOSE! And this was the second zinger.

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LETS GET DOWN TO IT

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STEP 1 Why do we want to quit?

This process requires us to think deeply about why we want to quit. We must come up with a reason or perhaps several of them, write it down so that we can carry and reference it. We give thought to a quit date, perhaps down the road a little to ensure that we are able to give adequate attention to our own needs which we couldn’t do in the middle of an important business trip, a major social function or other significant event or distraction. We are advised not to try to smoke up a storm before quitting – just breathe and live as usual. Primarily, we must understand that our reason to quit MUST BE FOR OUR SELVES and no one else. The reason cannot be for our spouse, our boss, our doctor or even God. It had to be for us alone – our very own reason. Not because society sees us as lepers or worse, and that our laws are tightening around us. This had to be for self alone. To do this thing for any reason other than personal choice would ultimately result in our eventual feeling of being manipulated. We would come to resent it and the wars, the struggle would begin, both internal and external. My reasons were multiple, I hated the habit, the expense and the stink. But mostly, I just wanted to feel good about myself – I really wanted that control, and needed it desperately!

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SEEING IN A NEW LIGHT

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STEP 2 Getting honest about our relationship with smoking

The next thing which blew me away was that I had been deceiving myself by saying that I hated this whole thing of smoking. Not true! Well, I may have hated the addiction part and the obvious – that I had no control over it. The fact is – I loved it. It was my friend…..dependable,…always there. I loved my lighter (which incidentally remains in my desk drawer, even now. It still works though I haven’t filled it with fluid in fifteen years. It is beautiful; silver, hand made by Arizona Indians with inset gem stones). Loved my gorgeous ash trays, my special brand, (as only ‘my brand’ would do). I loved the ritual of it, talking on the phone; after a meal; after sex; actually, after, during or before almost everything. Clearly, I didn’t want to give it up. So I had been my own worst enemy all these years through all these efforts. Nothing, no system in the world could possibly work if it was going up against my will which it surly was. I wanted to smoke! After this was gone over and I began to “get it,” well, it was a revelation to me. I’m struggling here to find a way to reveal to you the sudden ‘freedom’ I felt. Maybe I COULD do this thing and make it work for me. I had been sabotaging my efforts by fracturing my resolve with this dichotomy of purpose, wanting to do one thing while devoted to another.

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THE CORE OF IT ALL

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STEP 3 Building our strength, power and control.

Now comes the biggest surprise of all. It is necessary to carry our cigarettes on us at all times. None of the other plans I had encountered did this. There was a good reason for this. We must face and deal with the URGES and DESIRES FOR A SMOKE. We must face it and go through this, not camouflage or suppress it. THIS IS THE CRUX OF IT ALL. To hide or eliminate our cigarettes and pretending don’t help you do that. . If a few hours have elapsed and no desire has come up, take the pack out, open it, play with them, smell them…. get the picture? We are stimulating the urge to smoke – encouraging it. Then, as the urge does come up (and it will) you face it head on and your private dialog begins… “I love to smoke, I want to smoke, but for now…….I choose not to smoke!” (put in words that make sense to you). All we are doing here is trying to exercise our own control over this “moment”. Nothing else. Breathe deeply. Be aware of it – go with it, you’ll be surprised at how powerful you will feel.

What you are striving for here is to get past this urge, go through and beyond it in this moment, by going through it consciously and with deliberation. You need this moment of ‘testing’ to exert your control. We are not dealing with ‘forever.’ No absolutes. We don’t set up an internal war as we have enough to cope with so we don’t even say or think “I’ll never smoke again” or “I’m through with those rotten cigarettes”. How much better to take pleasure in the fact that we are able to exercise this control, to take note of each small step and relish it for what it is – progress! Health like sanity is one day at a time, one decision at a time. Deal only with today, with NOW. Honestly, no deception. Tell it like it is to yourself – be aware of what you are feeling.. Our head must be in harmonious agreement (emotionally, mentally and physically) with the action we are undertaking. No games, if we want to have the strength to accomplish our goal through to completion, we need this wholeness and integrity.

Well that’s the head part, getting honest and choosing to do this thing, one step at a time. That’s how it works. As time passes, you realize that you have become stronger and have done it. The rewards you feel cannot be adequately conveyed to another – the joy and pride that you have done it. In the beginning, that choosing thing is akin to using flaccid muscle, pathetic at first until it becomes toned through use. Then as we continue to exercise that muscle of “choice,” we do become strong. This my fellow smokers, is the essence of the procedure for building the path to smoke cessation. If only that was the end of it – it’s not There is the physical thing.

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THAT PHYSICAL THING – THE TUFF STUFF!

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Your body is accustomed to nicotine. It won’t give it up easily. It takes about four days during which time the nicotine begins to leave the body. Anyone can do this right? Well, it isn’t easy. One experiences nicotine withdrawal as the demand is no longer being met. Symptoms vary from person to person depending on our natures and how we handle stressors. God bless the differences. With me, my eyes seemed to bulge (or so it felt). There was a feeling of irritability and I was edgy in large part due to the fact that I had always been somewhat high-strung and a so-called hard-case. I lacked patience and tolerance when things didn’t go my way. I guess I could be kinda hostile – act testy. . But I didn’t feel dizzy or get depressed There can be distress centered in the stomach area. Anything can seemingly set one off kilter and into a tizzy, causing you to erupt at anything or anyone. It’s very helpful to enlist the help of those you know or deal with on a close basis during this time. It is kind to let them know what you are doing so that they don’t just assume you’ve gone over the edge. In my experience, I have had work associates beg me to go back to smoking, but by the time I got through telling them what I thought of their idea, they just stayed clear of me altogether.

Be prepared to mess things up a little. You can apologize later. Not everyone of course is as nasty as I could be or as mean as I could get. So recognize that it is a time when you need to pamper yourself a little. Be at least as kind to yourself as you normally would to others. Forgive yourself and understand it. IT’S NORMAL.

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THERE IS STUFF YOU CAN DO:

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While the nicotine residue IS out of your body in approximately four days, I’m not suggesting that there is not damage already done. That remains to be seen and dealt with. But how much better a shot that your body will have in coping with its impairment when you are smoke free. In a short time, you will feel better. In a few years, much damage (if there is any) can be reversed. Nothing stays the same, everything is in a state of flux – cells break down AND rebuild as long as we live. Now there’s a thought that might be worth thinking about!

During the first week or so, take lots of vitamin C, a minimum of 1000 IE daily. This helps to counteract stress as does taking a stress formula B-complex. Please remember my non-medical status, hence I am not diagnosing or offering a promise of cure for anything – but merely ‘sharing with you what worked for me and others.’ Your stomach may feel like it is ripping apart so take care of it – it’ll be sour. Do what you know how to do for a sour stomach. Though they are only placebo, antacids seem to help you get through. Aloe vera juice would be my preference, but to each his own. Please drink lots of water, perhaps eight to ten full glasses daily. You are detoxing the body and it could use a little help.

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NO CRUTCHES, THEY DON’T WORK

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STUFF YOU MUST NOT DO:

It’s important that you understand what happens if you should get so frustrated that you just say to hell with it all. It’s not a bad thing – it just is. So what? No guilt! No shame! Of course, it’s not what the effort was about, it throws us off track. Every action carries within itself its own reward or consequences. Physiologically, we fall back to ground zero. Just that one little cigarette resurrects the whole nicotine pull on the body as if you had never tried to quit in the first place. Time lost. So it is important to be clear on this. This is the reason why using nicotine gum or patches or anything else containing nicotine is not only NOT a good idea – but is counter-productive in that it makes your work harder and extends the very impulses you are struggling to conquer.

You must get your priorities in order. Remember your list of your own special reasons for wanting to quit and refer to it often as needed. Reinforce by remembering that this process is your personal choice, something you want – have wanted to do. This totally prevents the sense of being controlled by others and frees you into a sense of purpose and strength. You get this, I know – it’s your choice. These are my reasons for doing this. Then do it.

If you should happen to slip, all is not lost. Just pick yourself up, renew your sense of purpose. Be straight with yourself and evaluate where you may have gone wrong This can work for you IF YOU CHOOSE TO LET IT. Start again with greater under standing.

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DON’T S M O K E GUM

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STEP 4 “Nailing” the urges”

This step is huge and one of the most important points of all. Do not ‘SMOKE.’ GUM or CANDY or any other CIGARETTE SUBSTITUTE.

Understand, you are facing down this CRAVING (the addiction) and exerting great effort to win this battle with your choice and control (your personal power) If you cave and eat candy, gum or anything else as a cigarette substitute, you are not winning this struggle, but giving in to the urge. (I think most of us know the difference between an urge [too much anything and everything] and appetite which is our body asking for nourishment). Keep your glass of water handy and drink it. Deep breathing is helpful. If possible, get up and move around or get some exercise. Water, breathing, movement – these are all healthy and good for your body, which is understandably railing. Please recall how little ones react when their toys are taken away from them. Sure we’re bigger and more sophisticated, but let’s face it – smokers ARE ORAL ORIENTED and want something either going into or coming out of our mouths most of the time.

Meditation can be extremely helpful in that it is very calming and can be beneficial to you. Truly, something as simple as focusing on your breath, slow and easy and trying to stay with that a few minutes can be magic. Sometimes the simplest of techniques can be the best though there are of course, great varieties available to those who practice such things. This should not be thought of as some mysterious religious thing (though it can be), – just regard it as a tool. Try it!

So once again, have understanding and be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. You are fighting an addiction and should be structuring some praise in there for the super hard thing you are doing. Breathe. Be honest, sure you like to smoke and want to smoke…..but for now, YOU CHOOSE NOT TO SMOKE. . . . .

There is no profit for you to trade in one addiction for another and that’s what it amounts to if you start with the gum, sunflower seeds, hard candies (because they last longer) or any other choice of substitutes for the cigarettes. You don’t want to loose this 20 ton addiction only to gain 20 pounds of unwanted body mass.

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THE HOME STRETCH

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That first week following your quit date is the toughest by far. With each passing day beyond that, things smooth out, you are establishing new patterns of behavior. Your confidence is growing even during the most stressful times because you have a method for dealing with your feelings which prompt your actions. Your ‘choice’ mechanism has developed some power and you see you can trust it. This is the power of you – not something outside yourself. Along with the struggle, a sense of pride has justifiably arisen and it feels good. Keep building on that. During that 3 to 6 week period, most people will find that they have done the deed and need to celebrate and reward them selves – big time. Look at the money you are saving by not smoking AND by not having to buy all those crutches! Seriously! Indulge yourself with something you really want – you’ve earned it. You can tell day by day that you are stronger and less desirous of your old habit. Hard cases like me might go on wishing for the comfort of a cigarette even a year later. Most people are a little quicker to learn their lessons than I was. Use your techniques as long as you need to, you’ll be in the best position to know when you’ve done it and you’re done.

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TO RECAP:

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  • Make the determination – do you really want to quit? It can’t properly be done without that desire, so probe deeply.
  • Note down your personal reasons to quit.
  • Confront the urges head-on – welcome them. The more you work with them, the sooner they dissolve.
  • Reinforce your thinking with your personal dialog. This activity is largely responsible for the development of the powerful “control” of these urges. It may seem trivial, but its not – the knower inside you is listening.
  • The first week especially, be diligent with nutritive nourishment and plenty of water. Try to stick with your 3 basic meals plus mid meal snacks such as a piece of fruit, or small handful of nuts and raisons, or yogurt, etc.,. This will be helpful in maintaining equilibrium as well as aiding the metabolism to keep pumping along so that you can remain trim and feeling good.
  • Do not “smoke” gum, candy or any other nicotine replacement
  • Don’t make it all work, remember to take pleasure in your progress in the program. Indulge your ‘grateful’ heart. See your future smoke-free, healthier, more energetic, radiantly proud and happy.

Trust the method, let it work. Keep building those mental images of yourself as happy, successful and smoke free. See it often and rejoice at the action you are taking. See the completion. Be happy about it. This is your want – go with it!

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CONGRATULATIONS!

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NOW YOU KNOW!

This is how it worked for me and because it was so easy to see the principles working here and be in agreement with them, I wasn’t at war with the plan. I did not have the hostility issues I had experienced all those other times. There were body issues, of course, this is natural, but I coped pretty well. I DID pamper myself and lavished on the praise because I was so proud of the success I was having. This was different and I knew it. I knew I would succeed – I could see it and I could ‘feel it’ and I was happy about it. (more remarkable when one realizes that I’d spent about 20 years trying to quit previously) My participation with this plan in the Los Angeles area in 1993 became the nucleus together with prior efforts in other plans to form the basis for this recollected memory/experience. Happily, I am living proof that it works. I had been a two pack a day smoker who inhaled deeply, right down to my toes. I knew I would miss the smoking – experience had shown me that. I had finally learned my lesson that I can’t have just one (much like an alcoholic). In fact it was wondering ‘how they would taste now’ that persistently led to my endless failure.

As an aside, I used to harbor an inner angst that cigarettes might seriously harm me one day as I had in fact lost several of my best friends to this tragic addiction, some of whom had extracted from me a promise that I would quit. But those promises were not a part of my personal reasons to quit. I wanted, needed, to do this for me.

So because I KNOW how successful these concepts are, how well they work; and witnessing what difficulty so many people are having with smoke cessation efforts; and how little I think of most of the available “help” currently out there, this is what I decided to do, to share what I experienced and profited by. This effort of communication is my gift to you, in the belief that you can have the same success I have had fifteen years ago and still going strong, knowing I need never smoke again, because I choose not to.

Please leave a comment or email me.

Apr. 27, 2008

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