I was just thinking of that first day that I decided to quit. You know, the moment when the thought first enters your mind. And I also remember the response to myself. It was quite simply, "You can’t do it!" This thought terrified me. I lit a cigarette and sat down to think a little. I asked myself why I wanted to quit but my mind was in a torrent of emotion at the mere thought of it and I honestly couldn’t come up with a single reason to quit.
As I finished my cigarette, the old familiar cough came rattling through my body and I thought, "O.K. Now I have a reason to quit." Of course this wasn’t really enough to convince myself to quit. I lit Another cigarette and sat there, still trying to convince myself that it was time to quit and again my mind screamed at me, telling me that I would never allow myself to quit.
I wondered about this. Why was my own mind trying to terrify me into not making this important decision? Why was I sitting here smoking and arguing with myself? What was making me so frightened?
I sat there, this time without a cigarette in my hand and came up with the answer. Because a part of my mind was convinced that the nicotine was as important to my well being as eating. This kind of shocked me. Which part of my mind is convinced that I NEED to have nicotine.
The answer became clear to me as the terror of the idea of quitting began to subside within me. It was my physical brain. The part that doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong. The part that only reacts to stimulants such as sight, sound, touch, taste and of course nicotine. I realized that this part of my brain somehow believed that nicotine was as important as eating to the wellbeing of my body.
Yet this same brain knew it wasn’t. This made me realize where the turmoil was coming from. The same brain and yet two different parts of it. A brain divided so to speak. This is where I found the determination to quit. By understanding the two sides of this brain. By understanding the internal conflict within myself and where it came from.
This was the moment I realized that to win this battle with myself, one part of my brain would have to train the other part. That part had to learn that nicotine was not as important as food. It had no impact on the wellbeing of the body.
And then I picked up the phone and called a quit line, knowing that if there was an internal battle to face, I was going to need some help. I was going to need the support of people who had already fought this battle. As I dialed the number, I began shaking almost uncontrollably. When someone actually answered, I almost hung up. I literally had to hold my own hand back.
By the time I finished the conversation with these wonderful supportive people, I had calmed a little. It was now all set up. Nicotine patches would arrive shortly and a quit date would be established. This was when both parts of my brain realized that my thoughts were no longer just thoughts but were going to become a reality.
Still, I was scared of quitting until the very day BEFORE my quit date. I prepped my mind the entire day before I quit and somehow the next morning, there was no fear! And the moment the fear was gone, I knew I was going to succeed. I knew that both parts of my brain were in agreement. Don’t think that one side still didn’t fight the other but as soon as the fear was gone, I knew I would win the internal battle with my self for the one side of the brain had lost the most valuable weapon it had.
I just thought I’d share this little story with you because for me it somehow made this whole quit thing make sense to me and with that understanding, my mind cleared enough to work on the important stuff. Because once the entire mind is in agreement it can focus on the urges. It can focus on the triggers. It can focus on the entire process of quitting and once that happens, there’s just no turning back!
Best wishes to all and have a wonderful smoke free weekend!