Good morning EXer’s!
I hope all is well with your quits. I was just thinking about triggers. What a crazy thing we’ve built into our brains with this addiction. I mean, it seems like we all slap the old shirt pocket or reach wherever we used to keep them for a cigarette even after we quit and the thing is, it seems like such a natural reaction that it’s hard to believe that it ever wasn’t.
I seemed to have all of the standard triggers. Driving was one where I always smoked. To me, it seemed like I couldn’t even figure out how to start the car without a cigarette because part of starting the car was lighting up one of those cigarettes first, before the key even hit the ignition.
Oh, and the famous one after a meal! Why we want that one I’ll never know. I mean all it does is ruin the memory of something we’d just enjoyed. And then there was the big one when I went outside and stared at the mountains that I lived at the base of, never realizing how little I was really looking at them because I was so involved with the act of smoking.
Learning our triggers is key to quitting I think. If we know when the addict within is going to try to attack our quit, then we’re not blindsided. Not only that, learning our addictions helps to take some of the fear out of quitting.
I identified and worked on my triggers mostly during the preparation phase. The first one I tackled was smoking in the car. I emptied the ashtray and just rolled down the window to breathe. At first it seemed really stressful to drive without the old crutch but over the next week, I realized that the car actually did start without first lighting that cigarette. I really could drive without one!
Staring at the mountains as I did every night with my cigarette was one I had to work on after the quit. Before I quit, I thought I would simply substitute decaf tea and sip on that as I looked at the view. But after I quit, I simply placed my hands on the railing and saw something amazing! What I realized was how little I’d really been looking to those mountains. After I quit, I really saw the beauty. I really felt the love for nature because I was no longer concentrating on my cigarette. Now, I was actually looking! And it was indeed wonderful to really see something that I thought I’d been seeing all along.
Of course, we can’t anticipate every little thing that might happen when we quit and I was obviously no exception. One day out of the blue, coffee was a trigger. Nooooo!! Not my coffee! But there was one thing cool about that one. You see, I’d already learned how to deal with my triggers. I knew that it only takes practice to beat the triggers.
It takes an understanding of ourselves to beat those triggers. That and understanding that the urges that these triggers create only last a few minutes. I think it’s actually easier than we might think to understand our triggers. Life events where we always smoked is the basis of them. After so many years of feeding our addictions, the mind becomes used to smoking during certain events. In fact, I think the addicted mind demands that nicotine during those life events after a while simply because it believes that this is normal.
I’ve got to tell you, nine times out of ten I actually found humor in the triggers. I laughed at myself for those “silly thoughts” that ran through my brain, seemingly uncontrolled. But I also tried to figure out the source of those triggers, at this point not so much because they bothered me but rather because I was curious.
And for me it all seemed to boil down to a previous lifestyle that I no longer lived. I realized that these triggers were remnants from the past. Little sticking points still in my brain. Though these triggers can drive us nuts on the first days of our quits, this is one of the things that gets better over time. This is one of the things that we learn to deal with and in the end, the “impulse” is no longer for a cigarette. Rather, we learn that these things that we always enjoyed are twice as enjoyable without the cigarette.
There’s no easy answer for dealing with triggers, but getting to know those triggers is a good start because those triggers are the main weapon that our addiction has to use against us. Once we can understand that what we’ve done in the past is not what we want to do in the future, than those triggers lose strength. Once we know deep in our hearts that we live in a new world that no longer has those triggers than we find peace. It doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen!
Stay on the path my friends. Learn your addiction. Understand that addiction and before long you’ll be standing on the other side and feeling so much peace. So much happiness. And it all comes from one thing. FREEDOM!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!