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2014

Good morning EXer’s!!

 

I hope all is well with you. I was just thinking about that period before we quit. A time when the journey is more of a thought then a reality. A time when we try to learn all we can to help carry us through what we know will be a confusing time in our lives. We study our enemy, the addiction and try to understand what makes that part of our minds tick.

 

It’s a time of self reflection and yes even doubt that we might not be able to complete a task that we have deemed the most important task of our lives, or at least the most important thing that we can do for our futures. I mentioned before the visualizations that I used to help me with the journey but before I quit, I hadn’t yet developed any of my tools.

 

I, like you was terrified of what I was about to do. Things were easy when I kept the thought of quitting as just that. A thought. But the moment I understood that I was going to transform that thought into a reality. The moment that I really knew that it was going to happen not in a world of scenarios but rather one of reality. This was when the fear really came to the surface.

 

I delayed my quit date several times looking for that perfect moment to quit. This was simply a manifestation of my fear trying to get me to delay the inevitable. But slowly I saw through the false realities that my addicted mind was trying to deceive me with. Slowly I came to the realization that on the 20th of February in 2011, I would smoke my last cigarette.

 

I remember building up to that fateful day. I studied and used my pack tracker to manage my addiction as the days went slowly by. And then at last the big day came. I would smoke my last cigarette at around 8:15 that night. The day was pretty uneventful. A perfect day to begin a new journey.

 

I remember stepping out on the porch and staring up to the summit of those 14,000 ft. peaks that I live at the base of. This was something I was always in the habit of doing. Smoking a cigarette as I stared at the beauty before me. But this cigarette was different for I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this would be my last, or rather the beginnings of something amazing! The first step on the path to freedom!

 

I lit that cigarette and inhaled deeply. Hmm. It didn’t taste any different than the ones that weren’t my last. Somehow I thought this one might magically taste different. Perhaps different enough that I’d never want to smoke again. But it’s never really that easy for us. And so I stared at the mountain and wondered if it would look different without a cigarette in my hand. Realizing how silly this thought was, I put out that last cigarette not when I’d smoked it to the end of the filter.

 

No, I put it out about halfway through it and walked into the house confident that I had done this right. That I had taken the first step on a path to something amazing! And I did indeed see those fourteeners in a new light for now the mountain symbolized my journey. The slips and falls that can happen if we’re not careful. I saw the snow fields as warnings and the boulder fields as a learning technique, symbolizing learning how to walk differently. How to leave the safety of the path and learning to travel in uncharted territory. I remember sleeping well that night. In fact better than I had in a long while. Perhaps this was because on this night I was no longer thinking about quitting. No, on this night I was creating a new and wonderful future for myself. On this night I was embarking on a journey that so far has been quite successful for me.

 

And everything I hoped for in my future came true. My health improved dramatically. My immune system is stronger than it’s been in I don’t know how long. My breathing is so much more precious to me and now, with the shroud of addiction lifted from my mind I can enjoy the peace that comes with losing an addiction. I can enjoy that freedom from what used to be my own tortured and addicted mind.

 

I can now live the new reality that started on that one day so long ago with a single thought that permeated my soul until it could no longer be denied.

 

So take that first step as cautiously as you can. Stay on the path and always keep your eyes on the summit. The place where you can finally find that world that you dreamed of when you first thought of quitting. It’s there. Just a bit of a climb is all but what the heck? We gotta start sometime and so long as we don’t waver from the path. So long as we stay true to our futures instead of worrying about our past. So long as we remain true to our new desires in life to be smokefree then there can be nothing that will stand in our ways for you see, once you finally make that commitment to quit. Once you see past the mask of your own addictions then there can be nothing but freedom!

 

Keep climbing my friends. Your prize awaits you in the future! What  you do today will determine what your future looks like tomorrow.

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!

   

Good morning EXer’s!!

 

I hope all is well with everyone! So often in a quit we find ourselves saying things like, “This sucks” or “will this ever end?”. This is one of the most obvious manifestations of our divided minds when we quit. We know good and well that eventually there will be peace and we also know that smoking “sucks” a lot more than quitting.

 

The thing that we always need to remember is that quitting really is a temporary situation. There can be no real time frame for us other than understanding the physical part of a quit. Thing is, most don’t lose their resolve during the withdrawal phase. It seems to happen later after we beat the physical part of it.

 

I think this is partially due to the fact that we generally learn about those withdrawals and when we first start a quit, we expect those first days to be unpleasant. And so when all of the nicotine is out of our systems we feel we have really accomplished something.

 

But then we wake up and find a part of our minds still screaming at us! We know it makes no sense and yet this is a reality that we all must face. The physical part of a quit is over with fairly quickly but the mental part takes a while to overcome and as such we end up with the addict within creating an endless argument within us.

 

This is where the real fight lies in a quit I think because for one thing, this goes on for a while and since we try so hard to keep our resolve strong, we always end up arguing with ourselves. For some, this can become an almost unbearable situation. For me it was a case where I had to learn some new things to get around this one. '

 

The actual key to ending this is acceptance of the fact that we no longer smoke. But the reality is that this is something that generally takes time to see. Our minds have been so wrapped up with our addictions for so long that we’re almost blinded from the truth. And so we have to find ways to stay strong during this time in our lives, confident in the fact that eventually, our minds will once again be whole.

 

For me, I found that being aware of just what the internal argument was saying was a big help. When one really looks at the endless dialog, it really makes no sense. So why not listen to what the internal noise is saying. For me I found that the mind was comparing the new smoke free world to the past, when cigarettes were allowed. The mind may not see the addiction but rather it see’s a calmer time when we smoked. And now it compares it to the discomfort we now feel. It doesn’t see that smoking will kill us. It only compares the two scenarios.   

 

It’s up to us to see through the comparison and add the fact to our quit that really matters. The part that tells us what a wonderful future we’ve got to look forward to so long as we stay true to ourselves. We have to see the future that we long for, and present it to ourselves in such a way that we can accept it as a part of our new reality.

 

Sure, it takes a little work and internal reflection but the benefits outweigh the trouble. This is one of the reasons that a website like this one is so beneficial. Because though we may not be able to see past the shroud of addiction at times, others who are on the outside looking in can see it.

 

We can understand for each other those things that aren’t making sense. We can help each other see past the lies of addiction to the truth that resides within all of us. Together we can see a reality that we might never see when we travel alone.

 

It doesn’t have to be a journey of misery. No, it can instead be one of discovery! A means of learning things about ourselves that we might never otherwise know. Every time we delve into the depths of our own psyche we learn. Everytime we change our reality to a more positive one, we learn.

 

Though we all know that we never should have become addicted in  the first place, we have to look past that and allow ourselves to grow. We have to understand that thought we made bad choices in the past that we’re making the right choices now.

 

So get out there into that wonderful world! Thumb your nose at that addiction and look to the freedom ahead! You’ve already shown your love for life the moment you put out that last cigarette. Don’t degrade that love of life by giving in to a part of your mind that doesn’t yet understand the truth. Instead embrace your new reality.

 

Seek the truth that resides within you. Remember that behind every dark cloud lies a rainbow that was created by the very forces that also created the cloud. It’s up to us to seek out the rainbow rather than accepting the cloud for what it is.

 

Just remember the freedom and the peace. That’s the truth of your new reality and every step forward that you take is another step toward all that you seek.

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!

   
Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011

Confidence

Posted by Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 Feb 22, 2014

Good morning EXer's!!

 

I was just thinking about a part of our quits that can be rather illusive at times. That day that we can finally feel confident about our quits. I think there are several elements to creating that confidence. First, we have to have achieved a few months smoke free so that our perceptions of our new life are firmly rooted within us. You know, where we don’t think of a cigarette with desire first thing in the morning. When we think past that cigarette to our new world without them.

 

Then comes the part where we have to believe that we will never smoke again. I know! So often people say “Never say never” which brings up another point. Though we can be confident in our quits. Though we can be at peace and cherish our new smoke free life, we still have to find that belief deep within ourselves that we will never smoke again. We have to know in our hearts that smoking isn’t anything but a bad choice.

 

It’s easy to say it but to truly believe it takes patience and a belief in the fact that we have indeed overcome the shackles of addiction that we lived with for so long. We have to see ourselves in our minds eye as a nonsmoker.

 

You see, our perceptions can determine just about anything in our lives because how we see things determines how our mind will react to those things. When we miss the “old friend” instead of embracing our new reality, we begin to lose confidence. When life’s stresses become overwhelming we can lose confidence and more importantly, when we associate cigarettes to those stresses and perceive them as a way to make those stresses seem more tolerable than we begin to fracture our quits.

 

These are the times to take matters into our own hands and change that perception. The means is within all of us, but it takes a little work. A little active building of our own minds. At times after I’d first quit and thought of a cigarette, I realized that I always saw it lit and in my hand. I knew that this kind of perception could do me no good so instead I used my visualization tools and watched myself driving without a cigarette in my hand. I even went so far as to perceive myself rolling down the window and smiling as I took in a lungful of fresh air. I’d look down to where the ashtray was and see it sparkling clean. I’d feel the wind blowing into the car. Over time with these kinds of visualizations, we can help to teach the mind that we no longer smoke.

 

We can replace our triggers with mental images of doing those very same things without a cigarette. I’m in no way saying that we should actively think about smoking. What I am saying is that when those mental pictures come in. When we find ourselves romanticizing the cigarette, then that’s the time to take advantage of the very thing that might cause us discomfort and change the pattern of our thinking. Look at things differently and things will become different.

 

So if your mental images aren’t the best that you’d like to see, then take a stroll up Mt. Freedom. Cigarettes aren’t allowed on that mountain and besides, your climbing! How could you possibly think about a cigarette when you’re exerting yourself?

 

I’ve always believed that the mind creates mental pictures of just about everything. These are our perceptions. When the addicted mind sends us an image of smoking, replacing that image could help us get through a tough situation. And once we do that, we build confidence. And the more times we do it, the more confident we become. It’s how we focus on things that matters most.

 

Stay true to yourself and don’t let those mental images take over your reality. Instead, take a moment to actively change them! By changing the way we see things, we can change the way we live things!

 

Stay on the path my friends! There’s a lifetime of peace and freedom waiting for you just around the corner!

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!  

   
Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011

Memories . . .

Posted by Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 Feb 21, 2014

Good morning EXer’s,

 

Reaching my three year mark smoke free got me thinking about those first days of a quit. You know, the ones that matter because we all have to struggle so hard at first. And thinking back, I wondered what it was that made it so hard at first.

 

Learning is a process that takes a bit of time. Just as we learned to smoke, we must now learn how to not smoke. And most of us spent a long time learning to smoke. For most, so long in fact that we can hardly remember a life without cigarettes when we first quit. Personally, I like to call this the shroud of addiction. A way that our own minds try to deceive us.

 

I think that over time, we build our own roadblocks as a means to justify doing something that we know can do us no good. When I think back to those days when I was comtemplating a quit, those roadblocks were quite evident. There was no way that my mind was going to let me quit just because I wanted to.

 

I think for many of us, this can cause a kind of confusion within us. The constant mental argument with ourselves. I think how hard a quit is has a lot to do with how we deal with this internal argument where one part of the mind is still living in the past while the other part is looking to the future. And since the future is unfamiliar, the mind does what it always does when faced with the unknown. It creates a kind of fear of it. A self preservation mechanism within us that would always rather take the easy or “normal” road. The one we’ve lived for many years as we continued to feed our addictions.

 

And yet by choosing to quit, we create a conflict within ourselves. To me, this conflict is the core element that can decide if a quit will be successful or not because we cannot reach for peace so long as the conflict remains in place. We can’t escape the cravings of our own minds so long as we listen to the craving. We can’t move on until we deal with the past or at least make peace with the fact that we don’t smoke anymore.

 

By quitting, we’re creating a new norm for ourselves and as those who already know me know, I used visualization as a tool to overcome my own roadblocks, first naming my conflict “the addict within” and then assigning a vision in my mind that would define the journey. For me, it was a mountain but the fact is that it could be anything you want it to be so long as it defines the journey.

 

This worked well for me on a couple of levels. The first being that by creating my vision, I occupied my mind with something that was related to smoking and yet was something different for me to think about. As I progressed on my journey, it became a shimmering symbol of both the hardships and achievements that we all find along the way. My vision went something like this.

 

When I first decided to quit, I stood at the base of Mt. Freedom looking up the long slopes to the tiny point at the top where the banner of freedom resides. The shimmering example for my mind to focus on as it learns my new reality. The slopes are steep and filled with dangers which in reality would be the weakness of my own mind in those moments when we find ourselves missing our past.

 

The day I quit, I visualized myself taking the first cautious step on a path that I knew could be dangerous but also filled with wonder, but a path I intended to walk because I wanted that banner of freedom very badly. Each day took me closer to the top of Mt. Freedom and soon I could clearly see the banner of freedom blowing in the wind on top of that summit.

 

And as I got closer I could see all those who had gone before me, cheering me on and at times even walking down the path to me every now and then to toss me a rope of experience so that I can understand the journey just a little better.

 

The top of the mountain also symbolized the culmination of the journey, reminding me that yes; there really is an end to the journey. There really is a peace that we find and it’s always right there waiting for us.

 

I kept the addict within close to me because I didn’t want him to try to create any mischief while I wasn’t looking.

 

For me, these visions helped. It gave me something wonderful to focus my mind on during those hard moments when the internal argument is strongest. It gave me a belief in myself because it helped me to understand that though it’s a journey, it’s one worth doing.

 

We all have to craft our own ways of quitting. This is because it’s such a personal journey. No amount of knowledge or advice can really prepare one for something they haven’t yet experienced. No one can quit for us. We have to do that ourselves. That’s why it’s such an achievement each time a person makes that wonderful decision to seek freedom over a slow lingering death.

 

But rest assured my friends that so long as we stick to the path of freedom. So long as we never let the addict within convince us that what we’re doing is wrong. So long as we trust in that part of ourselves that knows what’s right. Then eventually you like me will reach the end of that journey. You will be the one on top of Mt. Freedom waiving that banner proudly and yelling to all that will listen, “Look at what I’ve done! Look at me now! I’m so free! So at peace!”

 

Keep climbing. All of you. I can guarantee that you’ll love the view from the top. I can’t wait to see you there!

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!

Good morning EXer’s!!

 

I hope this finds you as well as you can be considering what you’re doing. I’ve come by to celebrate three years of smoke free living with you. At times it amazes me how much time has passed since the day that I made the decision to take my life back. That wonderful day when I decided that freedom was so much more important than the alternative. A consuming addiction that was slowly chewing it’s way into the depths of my mind to try to gain total control over my life forever.

 

It’s a day to be celebrated for all of us when we make that decision to quit because one thing is certain. When you find that freedom. I mean really find it then you want others to experience it. You want to see how that person can lift the cloud of addiction from their own minds and join a new kind of club. One that deals with life rather than a slow, suffocating death. One where there is so much more laughter simply because freedom brings happiness. And there’s a kind of peace knowing that when we do the things that always involved smoking, those things become different somehow. I still do the same activities that I did when I smoked but now I see more and feel more because all of my senses are involved in the activity itself without the endless nagging thoughts of when to have that next cigarette.

 

It’s a wonderful life to be sure but it has to start somewhere. I think we take the first step into our new lives the first moment that we accept the thought that we don’t want to smoke anymore. I don’t mean the day when you think of quitting but rather the day when you’re actually accepting the thought as a possible reality. The day we look past the fear of changing our lives and instead see the glorious future that we’re about to create simply by following our hearts instead of the fear that the mind can create when it comes to quitting.

 

I remember the fear well and I also remember that this fear can be overcome simply by looking past a reality that has been shrouded by the power that we give our addictions. That’s right. We give power to our own addictions because it’s more convenient to continue on the path that we’ve always walked. When we really make that choice to quit, we choose to do a lot of things. We choose to change our lives for the better and go through what it takes to make that change. We choose to see past the shroud of our addictions to the reality that lives there. To the peace and freedom. But most important of all, we choose to desire that peace and freedom more than we want to continue to fuel an addiction that can do us no good!

 

So it starts with that thought and soon the thought grows until it consumes us with a desire to see that freedom that only we can create by our own actions. As we grow we start to look past the discomforts that must first be dealt with and we start to see what life would be like without cigarettes. We break down the shrouds of our own addiction so that we can clearly see the goal ahead. The shimmering banner of freedom blowing in the wind high on the summit of Mt. Freedom.

 

I remember a time when that summit looked so far away. The banner seemed so unattainable. So hard to get to. But that didn’t change my resolve. Instead it built it because I knew that to get there, I had to first take that first step and put out that cigarette and then be willing to put one foot in front of the other, careful of my footing at first for this is the time that can be the trickiest. When our confidence first builds.

 

But soon I had many steps upward on the slopes of the mountain. I could look back at all that had been accomplished so far but I rarely looked back  for you see, my future lied ahead. At the top of Mt. Freedom. I wanted to wave that banner of freedom high over my head so badly that to even think about another cigarette was hard to do.

 

Don’t get me wrong here. I had to fight my battles just as we all do but now I’m here to tell you what’s past that. I’m here to attest to the peace that exists at the end of this climb. I’m here to tell you how wonderful freedom feels. All it takes is a little time and the will to commit to yourself for the long haul because this is a fight that no one can do for us. We have to do this fight ourselves and as such we must always remain true to the journey and never forget why we started it in the first place.

 

It won’t be long before you too are standing on the summit of Mt. Freedom, smiling happily and grabbing that banner of freedom so that you too can wave it high in the air for all to see! And like me you’ll be looking down the slopes at all who are still climbing and all you’ll want to do is coach them on. Throwing them a rope to grab onto in hopes of making the climb easier for them. Beckoning to them to make that final climb because we all want to share that banner of freedom. That day of success. The culmination of a dream that we took beyond just the dream and instead turned that dream into a reality that cannot be ignored because in the end when the freedom is felt; When the peace is felt; This is when we know that it was all worth the effort. Until then we just have to take it on faith.

 

So listen to those who have been there my friends. Listen to those who feel the peace right now that you long for so badly. Take what you can from them and build it into your own quit. It’s offered freely so what can it hurt?

 

Me? After three years I really do feel peace. And the Freedom? Amazing! In the last few months while I’ve been absent I did something I’ve always wanted to do. I wrote a book. I know, it seems like an odd thing to do for some but it reinforced some things in me. It taught me that there’s so much that can be done with all of that time we wasted smoking. My concentration has been perfect without the endless nagging of my addiction telling me it was time to smoke. And once that endless background noise of addiction is gone, there’s room in the mind for so much more!

 

Anything is possible and it all started way back in the beginning when I was still heavily addicted and made that choice to quit. That day when I looked ahead to where I’m at right now and stuck to that vision of a smoke free life. Sure, I had to live the journey. We all do. It’s just an unfortunate fact of addiction. But in the end all of the discomfort. All of the unfounded fear of quitting. All of the wars we have to have with ourselves to achieve freedom are worth it.

 

How do I know? Because the dreams I had in the past are the realities that I’m living today!

 

On another note, I haven’t really published my book yet. I’ve got a few looking at it but that wasn’t really the point with this mental exercise of mine. I call it a practice book. It started out as a little couple of thousand words story and blossomed into a 90,000 word novel. And along the way, I think it taught me the art of writing. Who knows where I’ll go from there, but one thing is certain. I now have the time. The clear mind and a new found confidence that came from my ability to be free. A confidence in myself that anything is achievable, so long as we stick to a plan to the bitter end no matter how hard it might seem at the time!

 

GO FOR IT!!

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!

 

Chuck

   

Good day EXer’s!!

 

Have you ever had a dream? A thought that becomes so powerful that it transcends all else. A thing that grows inside until it cannot be denied. To me, this is how it is when we first decide to quit smoking. To succeed we have to first take that thought and turn it into a tangible reality.

 

When it comes to addiction, we sometimes find ourselves working harder at finding reasons not to quit then we do finding reasons to do it. The thing is, when we choose to quit smoking, we also choose to live a life that we’re not used to. One that somehow seems lusterless without those cigarettes.

 

I think our addictions have been telling us little lies for so long that we actually tend to believe some of them. I mean really, why would anyone want to smoke? Is there a single good thing that we can find to make it worth doing? I think not. But the reality is that we have to find ways around those old dangerous beliefs. For some, this can be hard to do simply because we can’t seem to change those old thought patterns.

 

For me, looking at reality was kind of a wake up call. The lungs constantly feel the effects of smoking. Each cigarette can conceivably bring us closer to death. Every time we give up another minute of life just to smoke really makes no sense.

 

So I think what it boils down to is lifestyle changes. This is what we fear I think. For some reason we become convinced that doing the things we’ve always done without cigarettes just won’t be exciting without them. This is another of the lies of addiction.

 

And then on top of that, when we finally do quit, we get those darn withdrawals to deal with. That on top of the lifestyle changes can seem almost insurmountable at times.

 

But take heart! It doesn’t have to be this way! The first moment that we deny our addictions the food it needs to stay alive, we begin living a new reality. One that tells us that we really don’t need that cigarette to live. To enjoy life. Even as the addict within starts screaming at us, we see a new reality forming.

 

Stay focused on that new reality my friends! You’re not losing a thing when you quit and you’re gaining everything! Freedom. A newly found health. A new outlook on life that is just so much more positive! Always try to look ahead for that’s where your freedom lies. Not in the past where those thoughts of cigarettes still dwell.

 

You don’t have to miss your old life. Instead embrace the new one that you’re creating with every moment that you stay true to yourself. This is your new reality so why not try to enjoy it?

 

And never, ever forget that your new life is already there the moment you put out that last cigarette. When you feel a craving, look to the future where there are no longer any cravings. When freedom outweighs the old ball and chain. When the world calms and becomes a wonderful new life full of health and accomplishments.

 

It’s within all of us to quit. We have the power. All we have to do is believe in ourselves and never, ever think of the past with sorrow.

 

KEEP LOOKING FORWARD!!

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!