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I prepared the above chart back in 2000 from data in a very detailed study that actually had smokers stopping and recording each crave episode. Although
the data reflects only the average number of daily crave episodes experienced by this particular group of quitters during their first ten day, it
evidences peak frequency at day three which hopefully gives every new quitter seeing it a bit of hope.
Keep in mind that which day is your peak day can, to some degree, be altered by hiding under your pillow or locking yourself in a closet and thus
delaying encountering many of your everyday triggers. The opposite may be true as well in that by more fully engaging life earlier than day three you
may be able to trigger a greater number of everyday triggers a bit earlier than shown above.
Assume for a second that you are not average in that you have somehow conditioned your subconscious to expect the arrival of nicotine in twice as many
situations as the average smoker in this study. Let's do the math.
First, although a recent study indicates that significant time distortion during nicotine cessation appears to be an almost universal recovery symptom,
if you actually time each anxiety episode that the subconscious triggers in its attempt to obtain compliance in bringing new nicotine into the body,
you'll discover that unlike with conscious thought fixation, no subconsciously triggered crave episode will last longer than three minutes.
Looking back at the above chart. If you have in fact established twice as many routine nicotine feeding cues as the average nicotine addict then that is
12 episodes times (x) a maximum duration of 3 minutes, or a maximum of 36 minutes of significant challenge on your most challenging day (12 x 3 = 36
Can you handle 36 minutes of anxiety challenge? Absolutely! Every smoker you know can! But recovery is a process, not an event, so your recovery odds
will be substantially enhanced if you develop a few skills that are naturally foreign to someone who is used to sensing and feeling their dependency
urges satisfied within 8 to 10 seconds of that first puff of nicotine.
First, patience and adoption of a one day at a time outlook for dealing with recovery and measuring victory. Forget about measuring success in terms of
quitting FOREVER, a mighty big bite to chew upon and a standard that almost all new quitters feel impossible to achieve when first starting out.
Second, invoke complete self-honesty in beginning the process of tearing down that thick brick wall of conscious rationalizations, minimizations, and
blame transference that we each built and hid behind to help insulate us from a world that never seemed to understand, and that allowed us to maintain
our sanity and a wee bit of self-dignity while looking in the mirror knowing that we were engaged in our own senseless self-destruction. We knew that
each and every puff was destroying a bit more of our body's ability to receive and transport life-giving oxygen and we knew that each puff allowed
another attack of tobacco's 43 known carcinogens from mouth to tail.
Attitude is also important because we are what we think. If we see this amazing process as our greatest opportunity ever to engage in self-healing, as
the most loving gift we've ever given to ourselves, as recovering the "real" us and taking back control of the more than 200 neurochemicals
that were compliant to flowing in response to nicotine's two-hour chemical half-life clock, then it truly can be one of the most amazing adventures
you've ever experienced.
Don't fear recovering you, embrace the gradually emerging you! Don't hide from your thoughts of wanting but instead analyze each under honest
light. Don't fuel those deep inner primitive protective fears of change and the unknown but instead reassure and calm them.
Your norms are changing and the intelligent thinking mind needs to stay in full control while recognizing that the conditioned protective impulses and
suggestions bubbling up from the subconscious are simply part of this amazing journey of healing. Expect them and smile when they arrive as each
reflects a brick in a wall that you yourself had built. See each and every encounter as your opportunity to remove another brick.
If, just one day at a time, your intelligence does stay in control then you'll arrive at that magic day where new (but really old) expectations take
root. I know you likely will not believe this now but you'll someday soon awake to the expectation of going your entire day without once wanting to
smoke nicotine. Oh, you'll still have "thoughts" or even a remote or seasonal trigger now and then but with decreasing frequency and
intensity over time. But you won't expect them, they'll take you by complete surprise and you may even wear a smile during the brief encounter
as it will likely be your only remaining reminder of one of your greatest accomplishments, and your amazing journey home.
You probably won't believe this right now either but I'm going to tell you anyway. I just reached the five year mark and I have not ANY thought
"wanting" to smoke nicotine since about December 2001. I know that each of us are different and that many ex-smokers tell us that they still
want for a cigarette now and then. It's probably that I've worked in helping others for too long and have seen far too many horror stories like
Sean, Bryan, Noni and Barb Tarbox, including the cancer death of one of my clinic participants, to still be clinging to some romantic image associated
with sensing a sudden unearned burst of dopamine flowing within my brain. I'm fully content in getting my dopamine the old fashioned way. I earn
Regardless of how long it has been, since that last puff you have traded places with your dependency and it is now under arrest and you are the jailor.
The key to trading places is and always has been just one powerful puff of one of earth's most captivating chemicals - nicotine. At times the moment
may seem far from easy but it will always l be simple - no nicotine today nicotine ... Never Take Another Puff !
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John (Gold x5)
Sep 17 06 3:04 AM
As Kay shares here, we each conditioned our minds to expect nicotine at certain times, places,
locations, events or when encountering certain emotions. As I've heard Joel say more than once, when phones were still tied to cords most of
us wouldn't pick it up when it rang without first ensuring that we had our nicotine source handy as we didn't know how long we'd be
It may be little things like ice cubes hitting a glass, our little walk, or subtle distinctions
like the weekly paper being a single cigarette read while the Sunday paper was always three. Each trigger encountered means an opportunity to reclaim one additional aspect of our life, to obtain another
piece of the puzzle. Soon the pieces start fitting together and before long more of the puzzle is complete than missing.
Unless we insist upon keeping a few pieces in our pocket (those lingering romantic dependency
fixations) - with each passing day the challenges will grow fewer, shorter and generally less intense. Fully retrain your EA, complete the
puzzle and taste the full flavor of a life where wanting for nicotine becomes the exception not the rule.
This can be one of the most interesting adventures in self discovery that we'll ever make if
we'll only stop being afraid and allow ourselves to notice and smell the beauty of the slowly opening rosebud that is us.
John (Gold x6)
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