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2014
   Don't Drink Alcohol
  I probably don't need to tell you that alcohol and tobacco go hand-in-hand. New quitters are tender. Putting yourself into a social setting where you're tempted to drink alcohol too soon after quitting can be dangerous. Don't rush it. The time will come when you can have a drink without it triggering the urge to smoke, but don't expect that to be within the first month, or perhaps even the first few months.
   
  We're all a little different in how we move through the process of kicking nicotine addiction, so relax any preconceived notions you might have about how long recovery should take. Instead, focus on your own situation. If there is an engagement coming up that involves alcohol and you feel nervous about that, take it as a signal to proceed with caution. Consider postponing until you're feeling stronger. And if that's not an option, work out a plan ahead of time for how you'll manage the event smoke-free.
   
  It's no exaggeration that you are working hard to save your life by quitting smoking, so give cessation the attention it deserves. Keep your quit program in the top slot of your list of priorities for as long as it takes. You should do whatever you need to do to maintain your smobriety -- period.
   
  
    Tips to Manage Halloween Drinking Smoke-Free
  
     
  
    Don't Drink
     
   The obvious first choice is simple: Avoid alcohol entirely. Drink cranberry juice with seltzer water or another non-alcoholic beverage of choice. No one but you and the bartender will know the difference. 
  
     
  
    Know Your Limits
  
   If you do drink alcohol, be careful. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume and don't overdo it. Substitute every other drink with a glass of spring water and lemon. It will dilute the alcohol you've consumed, keep you hydrated, and will give you something to sip on while socializing. 
  
     
  
    Plan an Escape Route
  
   If people are smoking close by and it begins to bother you, have a plan of action in mind. Can you explain that you've recently quit smoking and ask them to refrain? If not, excuse yourself for a few minutes and go to the bathroom or step outside for some fresh air. When cravings to smoke hit, the key is to quickly change your focus. Interrupt your thoughts and you'll snap yourself out of junkie thinking. 
  
     
  
    Don't Go
  
   If you're worried about maintaining your quit program at the holiday party this year, consider simply not going. No, I'm not advocating avoiding life, I'm encouraging you to remember your priorities. Think of it this way...early on, smoking cessation takes a lot of effort and focus for most people. In order to succeed, your quit program must be in the top slot of your priority list for as long as it takes. 
  
     
  
   
    If you fear the temptation to drink will be more than you can handle, don't push yourself. There will be more parties next year. Give yourself the time you need to heal from this addiction. Do the work now to change your relationship to smoking, and the day will come when drinking alcohol no longer triggers the urge to smoke.  
   
       
   
     Count Your Blessings and Keep Your Perspective 
   
    Quitting smoking is not a sacrifice, it's a gift. You're moving toward a better life, one that is free of addiction and all of the strife that goes with it. Smoking cessation is your path to a healthier and happier you, and the benefits awaiting you are beyond what you can imagine.  
   
       
   
     The Bottom Line 
   
    Alcohol and early smoking cessation are not a good mix. It's important to maintain control of our senses when we're learning how to live a smoke-free life, and alcohol puts us at risk.  
   
    Provide yourself with the best possible environment for success that you can as you move through the holiday season. Keep your quit progam in focus and do whatever you need to do to protect and nurture it. Period!  
   
       
   
    Before the end of this weekend, somebody will probably come here and tell us that they lost their quit to alcohol. Somebody else won't tell us but they will have lost their quit! Will you be one of them? OR will you be the one who comes here Tuesday proudly celebrating their smobriety???  
   
       
   
    Have a great, smoke-free Halloween!  
  

Today my family will celebrate Halloween en our traditional way as the Day of the Dead. 

On the Day of the Dead, the boundaries between life and death begin to blur. Men, women and children of all ages honor and celebrate their loved ones who have passed away, participating joyously in a festival that has roots more than 3000 years old.

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated on October 31 - November 2 of each year. In Spanish, this holiday is called Día de los Muertos. Day of the Dead has gained worldwide popularity in recent years as it has spread from Mexico to America and beyond. It is now celebrated by Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and countless others around the globe who feel a deep kinship with these two special days that honor the dead.

Día de los Muertos is a time of celebration. Although losing someone is undeniably a somber and life-changing event, Día de Muertos provides people with the opportunity to rejoice in the living memories of their loved ones. It is a positive affirmation of the cycle of life and death, allowing people to reconnect with the spirits of their loved ones on the Other Side.

We were all born and one day we will all die, a concept that Día de los Muertos helps us acknowledge and internalize, so that we may live our lives with more awareness and meaning. The Aztecs developed the ritual some 3,000 years ago because they believed one should not grieve the loss of a beloved ancestor who passed. Instead, the Aztecs celebrated their lives and welcomed the return of their spirits to the land of the living once a year. That's where the food, drink and music offerings come in.

Mourning is not allowed because it was believed the tears would make the spirit's path treacherous and slippery. "This day is a joyous occasion; it's a time to gather with everyone in your family, those alive and those dead.”  Día de los Muertos expresses the beauty and mystery of life and death. For many, it is a time of partying and celebration; for others, it is a time of introspection. At its most potent, it is a balanced blend of the two.

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Altars are used to welcome the ancestors' spirits into the home. An alter generally has most if not all of the following, each item on an altar has special meaning.

Sugar skulls, tamales and spirits (the alcoholic kind) — these are things you might find on ofrendas, or altars, built this time of year to entice those who've passed to the other side back for a visit. Everything on an altar has special meaning.

Elaborately decorated sugar skulls are crafted from pure sugar and given to friends as gifts. The colorful designs represent the vitality of life and individual personality.

The ancestor's favorite meals are placed on the altar as offerings along with pan de los muertos. The semisweet breads are baked in the shape of bones, and dusted with sugar. They're also meant to represent the soil.

Pumpkin seeds or amaranth seeds are offered as snacks for the visiting ancestral spirit. Some of us make the skulls from the amaranth seeds.

Alcohol: Bottles are offered to toast the arrival of the ancestors. Pulque, a beverage made from sap of maguey or agave plant, is used in my family for ceremonial purposes only. Today, any alcoholic beverage favored by the dead can be used to toast their life and meaning to the family.

Photographs of loved ones who have died are placed on the altar.

Candles represent fire and are a light guiding them back to visit the land of the living.

It is also practice to visit the ancestral burial ground to celebrate with picnics and music. Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls also are placed on the altars.

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Calacas are favorites among children. These toys are both for the dead and living children to play with. However, living children become acquainted with death by playing with them. A calaca may be selected that is reminiscent of a certain profession or hobby that was once enjoyed by the deceased. They can often be found crafted into silly caricatures of smiling wrestlers, nurses, musicians, brides, dentists, cowboys or pilots heartily enjoying the afterlife.

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In Mexico, neighbors gather in local graveyards to share food, music and fun with their families and extended community, both living and departed.

 Upon the eve of November 1st the souls of children are honored. Los ángelitos receive special offerings of toys, candies as well as other decadent sweets. Miniature representations of objects such as metates, tortilla presses and tools may also be crafted for the souls of the children to play with.

 The following day and night of November 2nd is dedicated to adults. During the day the cemeteries are cleaned, tombs are repaired, scrubbed, painted and weeds are pulled. Around midday the bells of the church will begin to ring until the following morning to guide the souls home to their expectant families. In the evening the souls will be accompanied from their altars within the homes of their loved ones to the cemeteries where they will eventually begin their long journey back to the afterlife. Flower wreaths made of marigolds as well as petals are used to adorn the graves and candles are lit to guide the way. Offerings of pan de muerto, liquor, and other foods will often be brought to the cemeteries where families will hold overnight vigils alongside the graves. Throughout the night, mariachi music may be used to serenade the dead and family members will exchange stories and food until the souls of the dead are ready to depart once again. 

These days Halloween traditions of "trick or treat" and halloween costumes also blend in with our tradition making it even richer with meaning and celebration. 

However you spend your Halloween, make it a safe one. Avoid excess alcohol and by all means, Smoking is not required or desired! We're not yet ready to join our ancestors!

 






 

  Smoking Cigarettes Affects Brain Like Heroin
   
  Heroin, Morphine, Nicotine Affect 'Feel-Good' Brain Chemicals in Similar Way
   
  Just like heroin and morphine, smoking cigarettes triggers the release of addictive "feel-good" brain chemicals. The finding helps researchers understand why smokers have such a tough time quitting despite all the health dangers.
   
  Smoking cigarettes stimulates the brain's production of chemicals called opioids. The opioids are known to play a role in soothing pain, increasing positive emotions, and creating a sense of reward. Both morphine and heroin trigger this same chemical flow.
   
  Smoking cigarettes affects the flow of another feel-good brain chemical called dopamine. Researchers are now investigating the interaction between the two chemicals in the brains of smokers and nonsmokers.
   
  "It appears that smokers have an altered opioid flow all the time, when compared with non-smokers, and that smoking a cigarette further alters that flow by 20 to 30 percent in regions of the brain important to emotions and craving," says lead researcher David J. Scott, a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
   
  Learn more about brain changes due to addiction at:    http://www.hbo.com/addiction
   
  
   A SPECT scan is a map of brain metabolism. It shows how well the blood is flowing through arteries and veins in the brain. This is important because the brain must have oxygen and glucose to function (oxygen and glucose are carried to the brain through  blood). SPECT scans come as surface scans or in 3-D. Either way, a SPECT shows which parts of the brain are working hard and which parts are not working hard enough. 
  
     
  
   Surface scans, like those below showing the impacts of alcohol | drug abuse, give visual “proof” of these impacts. The areas that appear to be holes in a SPECT show areas of low metabolic activity, low blood flow. They are not areas of lost brain matter, which is the good news. The brain can heal — these holes can be filled in with proper treatment. 
  
     
  
    ACDuringAbuseTop  AC1YrFreeLaterTop  ACDuringAbuseBottom  AC1YrFreeBottom
  
     
  
   
     Top-down Surface SPECT During Abuse  
   
     Top-down Surface SPECT 1 Year After Abuse  
   
     Bottom-up Surface SPECT During Abuse  
   
     Bottom-up Surface SPECT 1 Yr. After Abuse  
   
       
   
       
   
    Why might this visual evidence help?  
   
       
   
    SPECT is helpful because each area of the brain is responsible for different brain (and therefore different body and behavioral) activities. A term to describe this is Functional Neuroanatomy which are descriptions of the various functions that occur in A SPECT scan are a map of brain metabolism.   
   
       
   
    So what can we do about it? We often speak of Retraining your Brain and here is a Video that tells us the most effective ways to do that:  
   
       
   
    2012 Roundtable at Stanford - Gray Matters: Brain Science in the 21st Century  
   
       
       
       
   
    I'd like to point out the following comments:  
   
       
   
    *There are approximately 100 trillion synaptic connections (which is how brain cells – neurons – communicate) in the brain and the goal is to maintain those connections or gain them back.  
   
       
   
    
     *We form new synaptic connections every hour – what determines if they persist is if they’re being used.   
    
         
    
     *Meditation, prayer, mindfulness activities are good ways to heal the brain because they shut down the stress circuitry – allow you to focus on the bigger world, relax and not get hooked into worry – to see the world differently; this is important to creating new memories, as well.   
    
         
    
     *Stress strips synapses in the hippocampus so reducing stress is critical.   
    
     
           
     
      *Nutrition, such as a healthy, Mediterranean-type diet, is important for brain health.    
     
           
     
      *Sleep is critical to brain health – it allows the brain to codify and organize the day’s learning.    
     
           
     
      *Exercise boosts the levels of BDNF (an important protein growth factor); BDNF is critical for promoting plasticity, which is the ability to form new neural connections and maintain the connections we have.    
     
           
     
      *Mindfulness activities are important – they allow for free-thinking – not focused on one task, rather letting random thoughts come and go – pushes synapses.    
     
           
     
      *We need to believe in the ability of the brain to heal itself and that can be hope or faith or…    
     
           
     
      *We need to be “in” the world – not on a cell phone or texting but rather open to what all is around you in order to extend/expand synapses.    
     
           
     
      There are a lot of concrete ways that you can recover your brain. None of them is more effective than keeping those sickerettes away from your face!    
     
      N.O.P.E.!    
    
   
  
Thomas3.20.2010

It's Simple:

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 30, 2014

LIFE vs. SLOOOOOW DEATH! 

What we used to call a no-brainer! Quitting most likely will make you uncomfortable - maybe even for several weeks but Smoking will sloooowly kill you! Now let me think about that!

Thomas3.20.2010

Accountability

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 30, 2014

An addict’s road to recovery causes pain and anguish along the way. Just the simple realisation that the addiction is no longer their friend rather the complete opposite is very disappointing feeling. The reality is that you must overcome your trials and in accomplishing this become accountable for your recovery in your daily life.

Recovery is a lot about being accountable. Accountability for everything that happened in your life of active addiction, accountability for what you think, feel and act. Being accountable is a choice. If you make this important choice and hold yourself accountable for where your life ended up as well as holding yourself accountable for your recovery progress then you have taken a gigantic step towards securing your recovery goals.

Not only will you be able to continue on the road to recovery carrying a lot less extra baggage around you, but you would have realised that your addiction did you no favours.  In fact, it did more harm than good, to you and to those around you. For that reason alone, you need to be accountable for yourself, and the consequences cause to self and others, because of your addiction.  Only you can accept this responsibility, no one else can do that for you.

Use the following procedures as a guide to help you become accountable. The procedure involves the following: 

Stop Playing the Blame Game

 “I am accountable for my life and actions”- repeat this phrase in your mind and aloud several times every day. This is very essential because many people in recovery tend to blame others for their mishaps and failures, when in truth they failed themselves. Reality is they are responsible for and accountable for their thoughts, actions, attitudes, emotions and behaviour.  When playing the “blame game” many may go back in the past and blame their mother or father for not setting them a ‘good’ example, while others point fingers at their friends. However, what they fail to realise is that every person has the power to make their own decisions and choices. When they realise that any choice made in the past whether good or bad was their decision, alone, indicates accountability.

I Am Accountable For My Concepts of My Addiction

You can look at the addiction as something positive to learn from and never to return or constantly anger yourself for having the addiction. It is possible to have a positive outlook and overcome the challenge. Try laughing in the face of a problem rather than feeling overwhelmed by it.

I Am Accountable For My Way Forward

You can choose to look back, reminisce and fall again or you can try to move forward. The laughter in the previous stage will help lead the way for this current stage. Set goals that you always wanted to achieve but were unable to because of your addiction.  Perhaps your goal is to finish college, get married, or work in your favourite firm. As you walking ahead in your recovery journey, keep your head straight; in other words, keep focused on the goal, and don’t allow yourself to be diverted from your primary goals. 

I Am My Own Motivator

You have to push yourself to overcome the addiction. While you push though remember to reward yourself. For every week you overcome the addiction treat yourself. Maybe it is your favorite ice-cream, movie, game and more. Then again, if you failed for the week, make a note of it and encourage yourself to do better the next week.

I Will Not Pity Myself

The easiest thing to do is feel sorry for ‘you’ and wallow in self-pity along with its friends, guilt and shame. Many people in recovery from their addiction reach this stage along the way, and then decide to turn back. But, you’re not to give-up. To avoid falling into the feeling sorry for yourself trap, it is all right to be firm with yourself and constantly remind yourself of your primary goal. Become your own coach and train yourself to remain focused, committed and determined to succeed in your recovery goals.

I Will Take Care of My Health And Well-Being  

You need to be mindful how your addiction destroyed your body, mind and emotions.  And make a ongoing decision that,

“I will not harm myself…I will take care of my health- and well being. I will eat nutritional food, drink at least 8 glasses of water each day, and engage in some form of physical exercises and organise a exercise regime, which includes stretching of my body, every day.”

  Nicotine from tobacco smoke reaches the brain and muscle tissue soon after being inhaled. When nicotine is present a number of changes occur:
   
  • The heart rate increases. This can be measured as an increase in pulse rate.
   
  • Nicotine also causes an increase in blood pressure and a slowing in circulation in the smaller blood vessels.This slowing in circulation, together with constriction of blood vessels, has the effect of lowering the skin temperature.
   
  • Nicotine can act both as a relaxant, relaxing skeletal muscles, and as a stimulant, increasing tension in other muscles. This can be illustrated by measuring hand tremors before and after a cigarette. Nicotine also increases stomach secretions and changes brain activity.
   
  1.Carbon monoxide levels in the lungs increase. This gas is quickly absorbed into the blood, reducing its capacity to carry oxygen. The changes brought about by carbon monoxide mean that more effort must be made to achieve the same physical results as a non-smoker. In particular, the heart must work harder for the same effect, especially when doing rigorous exercise. How many of us said,  "Yes, I smoke but I also work out!" We actually increased our risk of heart damage!
   
  2. A recent study found that smoking just one cigarette causes arteries to stiffen by 25 percent. The stiffer the artery, the harder the heart has to work--which means there's a greater risk of heart attack or stroke, even in 18 to 25 year olds!  "Tobacco smoke damages almost every organ in your body," says Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. In someone with underlying heart disease, she says, "One cigarette can cause a heart attack."
   
  3. Tobacco smoke also increases resistance in the airways leading to the lungs and reduces lung capacity.  The little finger-like cilia which keep airways clear of phlegm are 'stunned' by chemicals in the smoke and tiny muscles in our airways contract, constricting them.
   
  4. There are also measurable changes in the immune system.
   
  
   5. One single cigarette will change your DNA. When DNA is damaged, the "instruction manual" gets messed up, and the cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor.  
  
     
  
   6. Ever hear of Buerger's disease?    http://smokinggotme.com/buergers.html
  
     
  
   A recent review of several studies found that light smoking was connected to a host of other illnesses: cataracts, reduced fertility, an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy develops outside the uterus) and weak bones. 
  
     
  
   The Surgeon General states that exposure to any cigarette smoking either first, second or even third hand is too much! 
  
     
  
   The average smoker would smoke 365,250 cigarettes, but even your first sickerette might be your killerette! 

Mutual friends set them up on a date more than 20 years ago, and Phil Everly wasn't exactly open to it.

"I'm not looking for a girlfriend, I'm never getting married," he told Patti, then a longtime dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department.

"What do you say to that?" Patti Everly said, laughing. "I thought, OK, at least this'll be a nice dinner."

The pop legend's declarations notwithstanding, the two got married a year or so later, and the tabloids had a field day with the headlines. Her favorite: "Lonely Everly dials 911 for love."

And that started what Patti Everly says was a wonderful marriage filled with laughs, beaches and wine — and one that ended with stress, oxygen tanks, gasps for air, fear and doctors.

Phil Everly, half of The Everly Brothers ("Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up Little Susie"), died in January at age 74 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Though painful, Patti Everly says she wants to speak up about her husband's last days to draw more attention to the disease that ended his life. And she also wants to promote a once-in-a-lifetime concert by Paul Simon happening Wednesday at Nashville society maven Sylvia Roberts' house — which serves as country singer Rayna Jaymes' home on the ABC drama "Nashville."

"It's been a helluva year," said Patti Everly, sighing.

"People ask, 'What can I do?' And I say, 'Well, I wish you could bring him back.' "

When they met, Phil was a chain smoker, but he eventually quit in 2001.

"Seven years of nagging, I finally got through to him," she said. "That's a long time to be nagged."

A couple of years after that, The Everly Brothers finished their last tours, as openers for friends Simon & Garfunkel — and that's when Patti Everly started to notice her husband having problems.

"He would clutch his chest a lot and sigh and go, 'Ah, I can't breathe.' I thought he was having a panic attack. Kinda looked like one. It was being short of breath," she said.

"Then, he started worrying about singing, worrying about the next show, if he'd have enough air."

That shortness of breath turned into nasty bouts of coughing and more and more problems breathing. Phil Everly's touring days ended in 2004, and his last public appearance was 2011 when he spoke at Buddy Holly's Star Walk induction — andvideo shows Phil Everly struggling to catch his breath while he's speaking.

It was right around then that the singer got the COPD diagnosis. And it progressed quickly.

"It went from mild COPD to severe. He skipped medium," Patti Everly said.

"When I met him, he was 55 and taking nothing but vitamins. By the end he was taking 20 medications, and hooked up to oxygen 24/7, carrying it with him. He had oxygen canisters, oxygen on his shoulder," she said.

"We tried everything. Different inhalers, different treatments, his list of medications was so long he'd have to put it in his phone so when he went to the doctor's, he'd just rattle it off."

Two granddaughters often ran around the large Antebellum house the Everlys had in Columbia, Tenn., where Patti Everly still lives. And the girls would have to avoid standing on the tubes that were bringing their grandfather oxygen.

Nighttime was horror. That's when Phil Everly's oxygen levels would dip to dangerous levels, and his wife's fears would rise.

"In the middle of the night, you look over to see if they're still breathing," she said.

The fear took its toll on Phil Everly as well, especially when he left the house.

"Each step, he'd do less and less. He'd wonder if he'd make it. Then when he did make it, he'd sit down and wonder if he had enough air to get back to the car.

"Pretty soon," she said, "all you're waiting for is death."

Meanwhile, Phil Everly continued songwriting, inviting collaborators to the house in Columbia, making them feel at home by offering drinks, food and conversation.

"His thing was, 'If your ego's in control, your life is in control. Period.' "

And Everly would show those granddaughters how to run the toy train around the house every Christmas.

"They were his everything," Patti Everly said.

"He was positive about enjoying life, cracking jokes, laughing and enjoying movies. He'd love to watch TV and drink a glass of wine. He read his Bible a lot. He tried to stay positive."

When Phil Everly passed, his wife was devastated.

But Patti Everly says her new mission — bringing attention to COPD and raising money to find a cure — helps her make sense of his death.

"I want him to be remembered for helping find a cure. I want to reach out to people with COPD," she said.

"It's good to be busy doing something that's gonna matter."

http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/2014/10/27/phil-everlys-widow-shares-pain-copd-death/18010401/

Thomas3.20.2010

To Act or Not to Act

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 29, 2014
  Whenever a craving or urge arises, you have two choices: act upon it or don't act upon it. Therefore, once you are aware of an urge, you need to ask yourself, "If I act on this urge, will I be acting like the person I want to be? Will it help take my life in the direction I want to go?" If the answer is yes, then it makes sense to pick up that sickerette, put it in your mouth, find a lighter or match (or stove!), light it and puff away! 
   
  On the other hand, if you really don't want to be or become a smoker, recall the Law of Addiction: 
  "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependenceupon the addictive substance."
   
  In this case, knowing full well that you will be full blown addicted all over again and that you don't want that in your life anymore,  rather than acting on your urge to smoke, it's sensible not to act on the urge. 
   
  So when it comes to handling your urges effectively, the first step is simply to acknowledge what you're feeling. Just silently say to yourself, "I'm having the urge to smoke a sickerette."
   
  The second step is to check in with your values: "Will acting on this urge help me be the person I want to be? Will it help me take my life in the direction I want?" If the answer is yes, then go ahead and act. But if the answer is no, then instead take action that's more in line with your values. Come here and tell us which values you have which conflict with slowly killing yourself - one puff at a time!
  First, the good news. The risk of relapse declines with the passage of time! While roughly
  95% of uneducated smokers who attempt to stop smoking relapse within a year, the relapse 
  rate declines to just 2 to 4% per year from years 2 to 10, and then falls to less than 1% after 
  10 years.
   
  Keep in mind that those rates were generated by ex-users who generally had little 
  understanding of nicotine dependency and no formal respect for the Law of Addiction. If 
  obedient to Law our risk of failure remains zero.
  But just one powerful hit of nicotine and the addict is back. 
  While ignorance of the Law is no excuse, the vast, vast most ex-users do not remain exusers because of understanding or respect for the Law, or because of "one puff" relapse rates
  seen in studies.They do so because once home they discover that life without using is vastly better than using. 
   
  While the relapse rate for years 2 though 10 may seem small, when added together the risk 
  becomes significant. One recent study suggests that as many as 17% who succeed for 1 
  year may eventually relapse.These ex-users don't relapse because they dislike being home. They do so because they lose sight of how they got there, who they are, and the captivity they escaped. 
  Among educated ex-users there appear to be three primary factors associated with relapse: 
  (1) a natural suppression of memories of recovery's early challenges,
  (2) they rewrite, amend or decide to test the Law and 
  (3) they pretend that they have a legitimate excuse to break or ignore it. 
  Should these factors combine with an offer of a free cigar, alcohol use around those still 
  using or occur in an impulsive-type person, the risk of relapse gets magnified. 
   
  
    Recovery Memory Suppression
  
   It's normal to slowly grow complacent during the months and years after ending nicotine  
  
   use. Complacency is fueled by failing memories of daily captivity and the factors that  
  
   compelled us to seek freedom.It's also fueled by an inability to recall the intensity of early withdrawal anxieties, the powerof cue triggered crave episodes or the duration of conscious fixation. Most of us failed to keep a detailed record of why we commenced recovery or what those  
  
   first two weeks were like.  
  
     
  
   Without a record to remind us, we're forced to rely upon our memory to accurately and  
  
   vividly preserve the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But now, the memory  
  
   in which we placed our trust has failed us. It isn't that our memory is bad, faulty or doing anything wrong. In fact, it's working as designed to preserve in as much detail as possible life's joyful events, while suppressing and helping us forget life's stressful events, anxieties, trauma and pain.  
  
   To do otherwise would make life inside these minds unbearable. In fact, post-traumatic  
  
   stress disorder (PTSD) is believed to reflect a breakdown in the mind's ability to forget. 
  
   If women were forced to remember the agony and pain of childbirth, most would likely  
  
   have only one child. We are each blessed with the ability to forget.  
  
     
  
   So how does the recovered nicotine addict who failed to record their journey home revive  
  
   their passion for freedom and recall liberty's price? If we forget the past are we destined to  
  
   repeat it? Not necessarily.  
  
     
  
   But just as any loving relationship needs nourishment to flourish, we should not take our  
  
   recovery for granted or the flame could eventually die, and the fire go out.  
  
   It's my goal to protect my freedom until I draw my last breath.  
  
   If you feel the same, then we need to nourish our desires. If we do, we win. If not, we risk  
  
   complacency allowing nicotine back into our bloodstream. We risk dying as slaves.  
  
   Whether daily, monthly or just once a year, our recovery benefits from care. But where do  
  
   we turn if our recovery memories have been suppressed and we've kept no record?  
  
   Our best resource is probably our brothers and sisters still in bondage. Why not enlist their  
  
   help in revitalizing our own memories of active dependency?  
  
   
    Talk to them. Let them know what you seek. Encourage them to be as candid and truthful   
   
    as possible.   
   
       
   
    Although it may look like they're enjoying their addiction, their primary objective is to stay   
   
    one step ahead of insula driven urges and craves. Tell them the truth about where you now find yourself. Although not always the case, with most you'll find their responses inspiring. Be kind and sincere. It wasn't long ago that thosewere our shoes.   
   
       
   
    Try hard to recall those first two weeks without nicotine. Think about earlier uneducated   
   
    attempts. What were they like? Can you recall your mind begging to be fed? Feel the   
   
    anxieties. Were you able to concentrate? How was your sleep?   
   
    Did you feel depressed, angry, irritable, frustrated, restless or anxious? Were there rapidly   
   
    cycling emotions, irrational thinking or emotional outbursts?   
   
    Do you remember these things? Do you remember the price you paid? Do you recall the   
   
    reasons you willingly paid it?   
   
       
   
    If you have access to a computer, go online and visit any of the scores of smoking cessation   
   
    support groups. There we'll find thousands of battles being fought, hear a multitude of cries   
   
    and watch hundreds struggling for survival as they dream of the calmness and quiet you   
   
    now call home.   
   
       
   
    The newbies you'll see cannot begin to imagine traveling so far that remembering the   
   
    turmoil they now feel will someday soon become their greatest challenge of all.  
   
    If permitted, send a message to those in need. The most important thing you can tell them is  
   
    the truth about why you came. If still in the first few days they may be facing significant   
   
    anxieties. Their mind may have them convinced that their emotional storm will never end.   
   
    Don't pretend that you can feel their anxiety. Instead give them what they need, the truth.   
   
       
   
    
     Let them know that you've traveled so far that it's now difficult to relate.    
    
     Tell them how comfortable and complacent you've grown. Describe last week and how    
    
     many seconds, if any, that you devoted to thinking about using.   
    
     Fear of the unknown is frightening. Teach them what life on Easy Street is like. By aiding    
    
     them we aid ourselves.   
    
         
    
     It may be that complacency has you at a point where thoughts of wanting are again taking    
    
     root. But think back. How long had you gone without wanting?    
    
     If it is happening, rekindling pride in the amazing journey you once made may silence such    
    
     chatter.   
    
     If occurring, I suspect that you've either developed a romantic fixation with using, or failed to let go of one during recovery.    
    
         
    
      Amending the Law of Addiction  
    
     The second complacency factor working against us is a strong, natural desire to want to believe that we've been fully cured, that we can now handle "just one," "just once."    
    
     But just one puff, dip or chew and "do not pass go, do not collect $200." Go directly to the addict's prison and surrender your freedom.  It isn't that we don't believe the Law. It's probably more a matter of growing to believe that we're the exception to it.   
    
         
    
     We convince ourselves that we're stronger, smarter or wiser than all addicts who came before us.  We amend the law. We put ourselves above it. "Just once, it'll be ok, I can   
    
     handle it." "I'm stronger than them." "A little reward, it's been a while, I've earned it."    
    
     Such thoughts infect the mind and feed on themselves. Unless interrupted by reason and    
    
     truth, our period of healing and freedom may be nearing an end.   
    
     If allowed to fester, all our dreams and hard work risk being flushed like a toilet.    
    
     Instead of pretending we can handle" just one," such encounters demand truth. Before    
    
     reaching the point of throwing it all away we need to be honest about what's about to    
    
     happen.    
    
         
    
     If this moment should ever arrive, try telling yourself this before bringing nicotine back into   
    
     your body:   
    
     
      "My freedom will now end!" "I'm going back." "I can handle all of them, give them     
     
      all back to me, my entire addiction, all the trips to the store, the buys, the money, and    
     
      the empties." "I want it all back." "Go ahead, slowly harden my arteries and eat my     
     
      brain."     
     
           
     
      If a smoker, "fill my world with ash, cover me in that old familiar stench, and let     
     
      morning again be for coughing." If an oral user, "take my hair, destroy my teeth, and    
     
      put sores back into my mouth."    
     
           
     
      "Put me back behind bars, make me an outcast, throw away the key and let me die     
     
      with my master still circulating in my veins." "I accept my fate" "I'm ready to     
     
      surrender!"     
     
           
     
      It's far easier for the junkie mind to create a one puff, dip or chew exception to the "law"     
     
      than to admit the truth. Instead of picturing just one or once, picture all of them. Try to imagine fitting them into your mouth all at once. Because day after day, month after month, year after year after year that's exactly where they'll be going.    
     
           
     
      "To thine own self be true." You navigated recovery. You paid the price, if any. You     
     
      deserve the truth!    
     
           
     
      If you find yourself attempting to rewrite the Law, stop, think, remember, reflect, read,     
     
      revisit, revive and give to others, but most important, be honest with you!     
     
           
     
       The Perfect Excuse   
     
      The final ingredient is an excuse. For many, any excuse will do, even joy! It could be a     
     
      reunion with an old buddy who uses, one too many drinks with friends, a wedding, a     
     
      graduation, or even a baby's birth and someone handing you a cigar.     
     
           
     
      Imagine being curious about the new electronic or e-cigarette with its atomization chamber,     
     
      smart chip, lithium battery, and cartridge filled with apple, cherry, strawberry, chocolate,     
     
      vanilla, coffee, mint or tobacco flavored nicotine.    
     
           
     
      Imagine watching an e-cigarette instantly vaporize nicotine when sucked and seeing a little     
     
      light at the end imitate a real cigarette's heat. What about a chance encounter with a self service display offering two pieces of Nicorette's new Cinnamon Surge," "Fruit Chill" or    
     
      "Cappuccino" flavors of nicotine gum for one penny!  What about being tempted to    
     
      try one of the other new nicotine delivery devices now hitting the streets? It's exactly what those selling them are hoping will happen.     
     
           
     
      Imagine being offered the new fully dissolvable tobacco/nicotine toothpicks, sticks, film or     
     
      candy flavored orbs.But joyful or even stupid nicotine relapse is harder to explain to ourselves and to those we love.     
     
           
     
      The smart addict waits for the great excuse, the one that will be easy to sell to both     
     
      themselves and others. As sick as it may sound, the easiest to sell is probably the death of a     
     
      loved one. Although everyone we love is destined to die and it will happen sooner or later, for the     
     
      reformed addict it's the perfect excuse for relapse. I mean, who can blame us for ingesting     
     
      highly addictive drugs upon the death of our mother.     
     
           
     
      Anyone who does would have to be extremely insensitive or totally heartless! Right?     
     
      Wrong! There is no legitimate excuse for relapse.    
     
      Losing a job, the end of a relationship, a serious illness, disease, a terrorist attack, financial     
     
      problems, a flood, earthquake, hurricane, an auto accident, are all great excuses too - it's     
     
      drug time again! The addict is back!     
     
           
     
      Utterly terrible events will happen in each of our lives. Such is life. Adding full-blown     
     
      nicotine relapse to any situation won't fix, correct or undo our underlying concern.     
     
      Take a moment now and picture yourself fully navigating the worst nightmare your mind     
     
      can imagine. Sooner or later it will happen. When it does, staying clean and free may be the most     
     
      positive factor during this period of darkness.     
     
           
     
      Remember, we've only traded places with our chemical dependency and the key to the cell     
     
      is that one hit of nicotine that will force your brain's survival instincts teacher to teach a     
     
      false lesson, and make that lesson nearly impossible in the short term to forget.    
     
      As long as we stay on freedom's side of the bars, we are the jailers and our dependency the     
     
      prisoner.    
     
           
     
      
       There are only two choices. We can complete this temporary period of adjustment and enjoy     
      
       comfortable probation for life, or introduce nicotine back into our bloodstream, relapse, and      
      
       intentionally inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon these innocent bodies for the      
      
       remainder of their time on earth.      
      
             
      
       If the first choice sounds better - lifetime probation - then we each need only follow one      
      
       simple rule ... no nicotine today!     
     
    
   
  
   
Thomas3.20.2010

60 Seconds

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 26, 2014

Within the last 60 Seconds the following Smoke related Deaths occurred:

All Causes: 107

Tuberculosis: 3

Respiratory Infection: 7

Trachea, Bronchus, and Lung Cancer: 2

COPD: 5

Don't be one of these folks! LIVE Smoke FREE TODAY!

Thomas3.20.2010

The Push and Pull

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 26, 2014

image

  What do we do if an urge pushes us in one direction and our values pull us in another? We don't want to struggle with that urge because then it's hard to focus on effective action. So rather than try to resist, control, or suppress it, the aim is to make room for it, to give it enough time and space to expend all it's energy. And one marvelously useful technique for this is known as "urge surfing."
  Have you ever sat on the beach and watched the waves? Just noticed them coming and going? A wave starts off small and builds gently. Then gradually it gathers speed and grows bigger. It continues to grow and move forward until it reaches a peak, known as a crest. Then, once the wave has crested, it gradually subsides. The same happens with urges in your body. They start off small and then steadily increase in size.
  All too often we get into a struggle with our urges; that's why we talk of "resisting" them. In urge surfing, though, we don't try to resist our urges - we just give them space. If you give an ocean wave enough space, it will reach a crest and then harmlessly subside. But what happens if that wave encounters resistance? Ever seen a wave crash onto the beach or smash against the rocks? It's loud, messy, and potentially destructive.
  So urge surfing is a simple but effective technique in which we treat our urges like waves and "surf" them until they dissipate. The term coined back in the 1980s by psychologists Alan Marlatt and Judith Gordon is part of their groundbreaking work with drug addiction. 

The next time you light up a cigarette you may be puffing on a filter which contains pig’s blood. Recent Dutch research found that pig hemoglobin was being used to make filters of cigarettes more effective in blocking harmful chemicals before they enter the smoker’s lungs.

Simon Chapman, a professor at the University of Sydney said that this was one of the 185 industrial uses of a pig that the Dutch research had identified. Chapman was quoted by Australian AAP news agency saying “I think that there would be some particularly devout groups who would find the idea that there were pig products in cigarettes to be very offensive

"The Jewish community certainly takes these matters extremely seriously and the Islamic community certainly do as well, as (so) would many vegetarians. It just puts into hard relief the problem that the tobacco industry is not required to declare the ingredients of cigarettes ... they say 'that's our business' and a trade secret." said Chapman.

One cigarette brand in Greece was a confirmed user of Pig Hemoglobin in its production process. Considering that the Jews and Muslims consider the consumption of pork opposed to their core beliefs this new research finding is sure to shake a few feathers.

As a smoker of the Jewish or Islamic faith you would like to know if this ingredient is used in processing your cigarette, but tobacco companies do not provide these details. In voluntary disclosures of contents of their products they include “undisclosed processing aids” and these are said to be, “not significantly present in, and do not functionally affect, the finished product"

So in effect there is no way for you to know what really goes into the production of your cigarette.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100401/Cigarette-filters-contain-pige28099s-blood.aspx

Self-change is tough, but it's not impossible, nor does it have to be traumatic, according to change expert Stan Goldberg, Ph.D. Here, he lays out the 10 principles he deems necessary for successful change.

(1)  All Behaviors Are Complex

Research by psychologist James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., an internationally renowned expert on planned change, has repeatedly found that change occurs in stages. To increase the overall probability of success, divide a behavior into parts and learn each part successively.

Stage 1   Precontemplation

Stage 2   Contemplation

Stage 3   Preparation

Stage 4   Action

Stage 5   Maintenance

Stage 6   Relapse (optional)

 https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2013/06/27/relapse-the-lesson-learned

 

Strategy: Break down the behavior

Almost all behaviors can be broken down. Separate your desired behavior into smaller, self-contained units.

I  wanted to quit smoking, so I wrote down what that would entail: avoiding triggers, coping with stress, anticipating the reward stimulus, relearning boredom, finding healthy distractions to use, etc…

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/aztec-blog/2012/12/30/100-things-to-do-besides-smoke

 

(2)  Change Is Frightening

 

We resist change, but fear of the unknown can result in clinging to status quo behaviors—no matter how bad they are.

Strategy: Examine the consequences

Compare all possible consequences of both your status quo and desired behaviors. If there are more positive results associated with the new behavior, your fears of the unknown are unwarranted.

The consequences of smoking go far beyond health! They include all of the negatives of any addiction. Plus the money! Plus the hygiene! There’s a whole laundry list! The consequences of quitting are all positive! Health, happiness, stress relief, improved self image, money, … When it comes down to it, you really have nothing to lose and so very much to gain!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2013/05/31/the-good-news-about-quitting-smoking

Strategy: Prepare your observers

New behaviors can frighten the people observing them, so inform them of your plans. There’s a great letter you can use to talk about what they can expect and how they can help:

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Anacondahead-blog/2012/01/25/letter-to-a-loved-one

Strategy: Be realistic

Unrealistic goals increase fear. Fear increases the probability of failure.

By understanding what withdrawal actually looks like and having a timeline for the process, you are much less likely to be or become afraid and retreat back into your smoker’s world! Dale Jones has it all laid out for you:

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/people/jonescarp.aka.dale.jan_2007

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2014/10/15/what-is-normal-withdrawal

(3)  Change Must Be Positive

As B.F. Skinner's early research demonstrates, reinforcement-not punishment-is necessary for permanent change. Reinforcement can be intrinsic, extrinsic or extraneous. According to Carol Sansone, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Utah, one type of reinforcement must be present for self-change, two would be better than one, and three would be best.

Strategy: Enjoy the act

Intrinsic reinforcement occurs when the act is reinforcing.

 Becoming a Happy Quitter makes the whole process go smoother!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/james41-blog/2013/12/15/my-storyagain-lol-happy-quitter-strikes-again

 

Strategy: Admire the outcome

An act doesn't have to be enjoyable when the end result is extrinsically reinforcing. For instance, I hate cleaning my kitchen, but I do it because I like the sight of a clean kitchen.

 

Keep a list of the wonderful way you feel and look, how your food tastes better, compliments you receive from others, great check ups and high fives from doctors and dentists, Notice the good things about quitting! Becoming a Happy Quitter makes the whole process go smoother!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/james41-blog/2013/12/15/my-storyagain-lol-happy-quitter-strikes-again

Strategy: Reward yourself

Extraneous reinforcement isn't directly connected to the act or its completion. A worker may despise his manufacturing job but will continue working for a good paycheck.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Live4thedash-blog/2010/06/07/742-dollars-106-days-smoke-free-a-picture-paints-a-thousand-words

(4)  Being Is Easier Than Becoming

Strategy: Take baby steps

In one San Francisco State University study, researchers found that participants were more successful when their goals were gradually approximated. Take it one day at a time and make the Daily Pledge to keep moving forward by stacking those days!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/thread/3564-october-2014-were-not-afraid-of-those-ghosts-goblins-and-ghouls

Strategy: Simplify the process

Methods of changing are often unnecessarily complicated and frenetic. Through simplicity, clarity arises.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/SkyGirl-blog/2013/06/10/a-smart-turkey

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Kris54-blog/2013/03/09/this-is-not-rocket-science

Strategy: Prepare for problems

Perfect worlds don't exist, and neither do perfect learning situations. Pamela Dunston, Ph.D., of Clemson University, found cueing to be an effective strategy.

We can cue you till the cows come home, but you have to be logged in and reading the Blogs to get it! When you participate you are literally retraining your Brain!

(5)  Slower Is Better

Everything has its own natural speed; when altered, unpleasant things happen. Change is most effective when it occurs slowly, allowing behaviors to become automatic. You didn’t become an Addict overnight and you won’t recover overnight either! Understanding and accepting the 130 Day Challenge will make your quit journey more doable.

Strategy: Establish calm

Life is like a stirred-up lake: Allow it to calm and the mud will settle, clearing the water. The same is true for change.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2014/10/23/curiosity-and-kindness

Strategy: Appreciate the path

Author Ursula LeGuin once said, "It's good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." Don't devise an arduous path; it should be as rewarding as the goal.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2012/07/07/events-and-processes-metamorphosis

(6)  Know More, Do Better

Surprise spells disaster for people seeking change. Knowing more about the process allows more control over it. KNOWLEDGE is POWER!

Strategy: Monitor your behaviors

Some therapists insist on awareness of both current and desired behaviors, but research suggests it's sufficient to be aware of just the new one.

In my Blogs, I recorded the time taken for each step along the way toward recovery.

Strategy: Request feedback

A study in the British Journal of Psychology found that reflecting on personal experiences with others is key to successful change. Give the observer permission, suggests Paul Schutz, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia, and you will receive feedback. That includes folks in Your New Community and in your 3D World.

Strategy: Understand the outcome

Success is satisfying, and if you know why you succeeded or failed, similar strategies can be applied when changing other behaviors.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2014/10/13/how-becomeanex-changed-my-copd-life

(7)  Change Requires Structure

Many people view structure as restrictive, something that inhibits spontaneity. While spontaneity is wonderful for some activities, it's a surefire method for sabotaging change.

Strategy: Identify what works

Classify all activities and materials you're using as either helpful, neutral or unhelpful in achieving your goal. Eliminate unhelpful ones, make neutrals into positives and keep or increase the positives.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2013/06/06/indin-grl-our-friend

Strategy: Revisit your plan regularly

Review every day how and why you're changing and the consequences of success and failure. Research by Daniel Willingham, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, showed that repetition increases the probability of success.

Strategy: Logically sequence events

According to behavior expert Richard Foxx, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Penn State University at Harrisburg, it's important to sequence the aspects associated with learning a new behavior in order of level of difficulty or timing.

(8)  Practice is Necessary

Practice is another key approach to change, suggests one study on changing conscious experience published recently in the British Journal of Psychology. I've found that the majority of failures occur because this principle is ignored. Practice makes new behaviors automatic and a natural part of who we are.

Strategy: Use helpers

Not all behaviors can be learned on your own. Sometimes it's useful to enlist the help of a trusted friend. That’s what we’re here for! If you get into a sticky situation and become flooded, come here first and Blog HELP! I assure you that 24/7 people have jumped right on and saved more than one teetering quit!

Strategy: Practice in many settings

If you want to use a new behavior in different environments, practice it in those or similar settings. Dubbing this "generalization," psychologists T.F. Stokes and D.M. Baer found it critical in maintaining new behaviors.

As you become more sure of your quit you can resume your social activities that once were a trigger and one by one learn to take them on smoke FREE!

(9)  New Behaviors Must Be Protected

Even when flawlessly performed, new behaviors are fragile and disappear if unprotected.

 Hanging out with your smoking buddies at your old smoking places is not a good strategy for success. Going it alone and forfeiting the daily blogs and support available to you is a clear warning sign that you’re headed toward relapse. Relapse doesn’t just happen! Folks that relapse have been thinking about it for days!

Strategy: Control your environment

Environmental issues such as second hand smoke and level of alertness may interfere with learning new behaviors. After identifying what helps and what hinders, increase the helpers and eliminate the rest.

I literally skipped by breaks at work for the first weeks. I also had my Wife gas up the car. On the other hand, I found myself spending more time with my nonsmoking friends, both exsmokers and never smokers.

Strategy: Use memory aides

Because a new behavior is neither familiar nor automatic, it's easy to forget. Anything that helps memory is beneficial.

N.O.PE. is the most effective memory aid you can use. It’s both simple and complex and says all you really need to know to become a successful quitter.

(10) Small Successes are BIG!

Strategy: Map your success

Approach each step as a separate mission and you'll eventually arrive at the end goal.

Place a quit counter on your home page. Celebrate your milestones on the FREEDOM TRAIN! Blow your own horn and let the whole Community share in your TRIUMPH!

The process of changing from what you are to what you would like to become can be either arduous and frustrating or easy and rewarding. The effort required for both paths is the same. Choose the first and you'll probably recycle yourself endlessly. Apply these 10 principles, and change, once only a slight possibility, becomes an absolute certainty. The choice is yours.

[Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200210/the-10-rules-change]

According to the National Institute of Health: exposure to secondhand smoke evokes cravings among smokers and EX-smokers.

Just one hour of secondhand smoke in an enclosed space results in enough nicotine reaching the brain to bind receptors that are normally targeted by direct exposure to tobacco smoke. This happens in the brain of both smokers and non-smokers. Secondhand smoke acts on the brain to promote smoking behavior.  “Chronic or severe exposure could result in even higher brain nicotine levels, which may explain why secondhand smoke exposure increases vulnerability to nicotine addiction."

What will you do to Protect your Quit?

  
    Change your thoughts and you change your world. Norman Vincent Peale
  
     
  
    Barrie Davenport explains:
  
     
  
    Positive thinking really does change your brain. Not in some magical, woo woo kind of way, but in a real physical way.
  
     
  
    The science is called neuroplasticity. It means that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains. The idea was first introduced by William James in 1890, but it was soundly rejected by scientists who uniformly believed the brain is rigidly mapped out, with certain parts of the brain controlling certain functions. If that part is dead ordamaged, the function is altered or lost. Well, it appears they were wrong.
  
     
  
    Neuroplasticity now enjoys wide acceptance as scientists are proving the brain is endlessly adaptable and dynamic.
  
     
  
    It has the power to change its own structure, even for those with the severe neurological afflictions. People with problems like strokes, cerebral palsy, and mental illness can train other areas of their brains through repetitive mental and physical activities. It is completely life-altering.
  
     
  
    So what does this have to do with positive thinking and with you?
  
     
  
    It means that repetitive positive thought and positive activity can rewire your brain and strengthen brain areas that stimulate positive feelings.
  
    Fear of failure.
  
   
       
  
  
   
     Everyone fears doing something new because we don’t wait to fail. The truth is, we can do most anything if we take action, stop negative thinking, and shift our perceptions of the truth about our abilities. 
   
       
  
  
   
     Action steps: Force yourself to stop thinking about reasons you can’t do something, even if you don’t feel brave or capable. Every time a negative thought creeps in, retrain your brain to think a positive thought about your abilities instead. Then take small actions every day toward achieving your goal or desired change.  Nike’s slogan, “Just do it,” has real validity. 
   
       
  
  
   
     Over-thinking/Worrying 
   
       
  
  
   
     Have you ever found yourself trapped in obsessive over-thinking about a problem or in a state of anxiety or worry that lasts for days or even weeks? It drains your energy, affects your sleep, and spirals your mood and outlook on life. Focusing on your problem only strengthens the worry function in your brain. 
  
  
   
       
  
  
   
     Action steps: When you find yourself in that cycle of worry or compulsive thinking, remember the three R’s — rename, re-frame, and redirect. When the worry begins, mentally yell “Stop!” Rename the issue by reminding yourself that worry isn’t real. Rename it as a compulsive reaction, not reality. Re-frame your thinking by focusing on positive or distracting thoughts, even if you still feel anxious.  
   
   Force yourself to think different thoughts. Redirect your actions. Go do something uplifting, fun or mentally engaging. The key is following these steps repeatedly, every time you worry obsessively, to break the pattern and rewire your brain. 
  
 
       
  
   
   Need a place to fill your mind quickly with Positive Thoughts? 
  
     
  
   
    There's a group right here with 46 pages of Positive thoughts ready and waiting for you to visit! Please join the 146 members who visit and take as many as they need and leave their favorites behind as well! There's also a section for the relapsed. Positive Affirmations made a BIG difference in my quit journey! They can help you, too!  
   
       
      
Thomas3.20.2010

REFOCUS made easy!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 24, 2014

A good exercise is 5,4,3,2,1

Take a long deep slow breath,

- name 5 things you see,

- name 4 things that you hear,

- name 3 things you feel (touch),

- name 2 things you taste,

- name 1 thing you smell.

Breathe deeply once more.

Move on!

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American (RAI) is snuffing out smoking in its offices and buildings.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company informed employees Wednesday that beginning next year, the use of traditional cigarettes, cigars or pipes will no longer be permitted at employee desks or offices, conference rooms, hallways and elevators. Lighting up already is prohibited on factory floors and in cafeterias and fitness centers.

The no-smoking policy will go into effect once Reynolds builds indoor smoking areas for those still wanting to light up indoors, spokesman David Howard said.

"We believe it's the right thing to do and the right time to do it because updating our tobacco use policies will better accommodate both non-smokers and smokers who work in and visit our facilities," Howard said. "We're just better aligning our tobacco use policies with the realities of what you're seeing in society today."

While Reynolds will no longer allow smoking, it will allow the use of smokeless tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, moist snuff and pouches of finely milled tobacco called snus (pronounced "snoose").

Thomas3.20.2010

Curiosity and Kindness

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 23, 2014

image

If only we could be so curious about ourselves! We Addicts act in very interesting ways when we quit smoking!

First there's the fact that nicotine's chemical properties are addictive. So if you take that nicotine away from your body, it will miss it and you will experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms surface after three-five days of quitting smoking and linger for approximately two weeks. These symptoms, while some are unpleasant, will only be transitionary and once you're rid of them, will leave you feeling much better after quitting smoking.

There's emotional withdrawal. Some of the most common symptoms are... 

Depression: you may feel low, sad and hopeless. hence it is important to surround yourself with people, preferably non smokers and friends who will support your decision to quit smoking.

Anger: emotional upheaval can make you angry. others may not be aware of it, but you know what's happening to your body. the age-old remedy of counting till 10 isn't such a bad idea. stop, think, regain your calm and composure before losing your cool.

Boredom: you may have noticed that when you were bored, tired or depressed you tended to smoke. Now that you are on your way to a smoke free life replace these voids with hobbies or get involved with people around you. pay more attention to your loved ones. 

Loneliness: withdrawal of smoking can make you feel lonely, impatient and irritable. if your friends are busy, take up a dance class or cooking class. it is important to expect these feelings of loneliness, so stay prepared. 

Mood swing: tempers will flare and tantrums will increase. these are not exactly pms symptoms. Nicotine was once your evil friend but now you have to bear with the loss of the addiction. This will throw your emotional reactions to daily happenings into a tizzy. Most quitters will need help with these mood swings. Replace the smoking placebo with something else. Invest in some great music and strong coffee, maybe?

As for physical withdrawal, nicotine obstructs the flow of oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. Now that you have quit smoking, your body has to hit the reverse button to detox.

Bowel discomfort: it's time to change your diet and fitness once you quit smoking. Quitting smoking can cause cramps, nausea, flatulence and constipation, therefore it is important to increase roughage and exercise your body.

Nasal and throat problems: when you stop smoking, your nose and throat will try to clear the mucous that has accumulated over the years. You may experience coughing, dry throat and mouth. Fluids are the key to clearing this process.

Increase in appetite: craving for cigarettes can be confused with hunger cravings. The best way to stay healthy is to consume fluids and low calorie snacks.

Headaches: lack of nicotine can lead to headaches, the way out of it is with massages, plenty of water and rest. Gently massage your temple, drink water, take a hot shower and take a deep breath.

Lack of sleep: you may experience insomnia after you quit smoking. Take a hot shower before you hit the sack, do breathing exercises too and most importantly avoid coffee closer to bed-time.

Restlessness/lack of concentration: you feel like there is energy bursting in you, transfer this energy into something constructive. In these situations smokes would calm your nerves, but now switch off that thought and cultivate a new habit. You may feel you can't concentrate too; try listening to music or take a break from your routine life.

Weight gain: increase in craving can lead to weight gain, especially if you indulge in unhealthy food. But don't be dejected, you can cut it out with exercise and the right diet. 

Sweating and shaky hands and feet: you will feel that your hands and feet tremble. it is a passing phase that will stop. if you experience these withdrawals you know your body is simply shedding an addiction and leading you to a much healthier life.

Skin trouble: while quitting smoking is associated with healthier skin, the period of withdrawal will cause some skin trouble. some people with sensitive skin might break out into a fresh acne case or suffer from some ulcers in the inner-cheeks, tongue and mouth. The reason is simply that your body is letting go of the toxins and levelling up.

Instead of losing motivation, after reading these withdrawal symptoms, the one thought any quitter must focus on is this: the fact that your body is changing so much when quitting, simply showcases how much it is continuously changed and affected while you still smoke. 

You can point to any one or any combination of these symptoms as a "reason" to relapse or you can fight them with willpower, "Fight, fight, fight!" until you're EXhausted fighting, what??? - Yourself! Or you can gain the knowledge about what you might EXpect, prepare options for how to cope with any and/or all of them and then be curious about them and kind to yourself during the healing process! Give yourself 4 small Months that will literally save your Life and provide you FREEDOM after how many years of being a slave to Nicotine???? 

  

Avoid poor health and dangerous diseases - quit smoking today with curiosity and kindness!

   
   
Thomas3.20.2010

Dealing With Stress

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 22, 2014

Many people, including my prior addicted self, thought that we smoked in order to deal with stress. In reality, smoking creates even more stress because the second we put out that sickerette, our Addictive Minds are already planning how to convince us that we "need, deserve, have to have" the nEXt one! So the only time addictive stress is relieved is while we're smoking! 

But taking away sickerettes for whatever reasons doesn't change the fact that we dealt with virtually all stress by smoking and don't know another way to face it!

I've seen people discuss many great stress management skills on this site that not only relieve stress but keep it in check in the first place,  including:

* exercising

*stretching

 *meditating

 *using sensory strategies to relax

 *practicing simple breathing exercises

 *challenging self-defeating thoughts

*building spirituality

*sharing with friends (especially here at BecomeanEX) who empathize with your quit

 All of these are very effective and the more you use them the better the results. We also need in our Quit Tool Boxes quick Stress Relief Strategies. Some that come to mind are:

*Exercise releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being. Try running in place,  jumping rope, or walking around the block.

*Step outside and savor the warm sun and fresh air. Enjoy a beautiful view or landscape.

*Tell a friend a funny joke.

*Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to bust stress and find balance.

*Play with your dog or cat, enjoying the relaxing touch of your pet’s fur.

*Put on some calming music.

*Light a scented candle.

*Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers or coffee beans, or savor a scent that reminds you of a favorite  vacation, such as sunscreen or a seashell.

*Close your eyes and picture a peaceful place, such as a sandy beach. Or think of a fond memory, such  as your child’s first steps or time spent with friends. 

*Make yourself a steaming cup of tea.

*Look at favorite family photos.

*Give yourself a neck or shoulder massage.

*Soak in a hot bath or shower.

*Playing Sports

 

I'm sure you can add to this list now that you get the idea!  You can learn to get through difficulties without falling back on your addiction. Different quick stress relief strategies work better for some people than others. The key is to find the one that works best for you, and helps you calm down when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. When you’re confident in your ability to quickly de-stress, facing strong feelings isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming.

Often I see stress referred as triggers but we all know that stress is a part of life so if we want to quit smoking when there's "less stress" in our lives, it will be the day we're declared dead! Actually in the long run, Nicotine Addiction may very likely lead to smoking related illness - now THAT'S STRESS! So we need to learn to differientiate between triggers and stress. Triggers can be avoided, stress cannot! But it can be kept in check and it can be addressed in health ways! It's a set of skills that all successful quitters have developed - and YOU CAN TOO!

LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS
You and I wouldn't be here if we were not contemplating some need for change - a conscious or subconscious recognition that smoking is in some way not or at least no longer enhancing our Quality of Life. My own personal reason for facing change was due to a diagnosis of COPD - a chronic, progressive incurable smoking related illness. My Hope for you is that you haven't waited until you were looking bulls-eye at your own mortality before you thought about the need to change. But even some of us who have been confronted with this reality sometimes unfortunately  don't have the skills needed to Succeed in Smoking Cessation and fail to acquire them!

I had been intermittently listening and shutting out pleas for my own change from Family, Friends and Loved Ones. I would compromise with my Addiction, quitting for Months even Years at a time but always with the understanding that I "get to" go back to my Addiction once I cleaned up my lungs and breathing issues. Just like a "dry Alcoholic,' I was a smokeless Smokeaholic! I temporarily changed my behavior but not my Mental, Social and Spiritual status. 

So what obstacles kept me from making the more fundamental life-enhancing change that I later was able to access? I believe that I wasn't able to confront my Fear of Change and tap into my Sense of Courage and of Hope!

 When I was confronted with my mortality I had to re-evaluate what living a Life that matters means! I came to the conclusion that reinspiring myself with Courage and Hope was an important aspect of facilitating my fundamental change. But how could I bring about a new perspective that stimulated the  Courage and Hope that naturally lived in me but had up to that point remained unaccessable?

Each of us as  individuals  decipher the nature of Courage and Hope based on their own unique belief system. This belief system is influenced by their religion and spirituality, ethnicity and other multicultural influences. So I can't tell you what Courage and Hope mean to you but I can show you the process that I EXperienced and hopefully illuminate how you can find your own way.

COURAGE

Many definitions of Courage have been presented and depending on your cultural traditions and personal spiriual beliefs some of them ring true for you. One definition that fits my belief system says, "Courage, a moral virtue, is defined by the character strengths of Bravery, Perseverance, Authenticity, Integrity, and Vitality." Now when I thought about my own Addiction, I realized that Nicotine Addiction had chipped away at my Bravery to face my problems head-on; my Perseverence toward stress-related issues; my Authenticity due to the thousands of lies I told the World but even more damaging - to myself;  my Integrity since I chose daily to deny my body, mind and spirit; and my Vitality that was being sucked away with every puff I took! No wonder I wasn't tapped into my God-given Courage! My Addiction robbed me of a crucial element that could lead to a path of Recovery!

 One famous psychologist (Tillich) defines Courage as “…the power of Life to affirm itself in spite of this ambiguity…” Thank God! Now that I had to actually EXamine the meaning of LIFE itself and MY LIFE in particular, I was stimulated to affirm Life itself in my search for the road of Recovery!

 Courage has a revealing power via our Participation and Individuation - it is a motivating emotion - the concept of will toward power. Courage implies ‘Self Actualization’, as an expansion of one’s self. “Courage is not the absence of despair; it is rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair” (May, R. 1975, p.3). Well. I can't think of too many situations more despair provoking than being told that my Quality and Quantity of Life had just been severely downgraded. Yes, I like most folks receiving a davastating diagnosis felt despair! Yet, deep within me lived the power of Life to affirm itself (my God-created Courage!) I found that, yes, I DO have the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair! I re-discovered the Courage to meet the demands of work, love, and friendship. I re-defined my own personal meaning of living a Life that matters.

Courage, a mature virtue, is preceded by Compassion and Wisdom.  I learned to have Compassion for myself and others with smoking related illness and yes, for all Nicotine Addicts, as well as their Family and Friends who long for the day that the Addict discovers his/her own Recovery Path. I learned to nourish that Compassion by reading many stories of survivors and victims of Nicotine Addiction and the personal suffering that they and their families suffered. Wisdom, led by  Passion (soul of life), leads to Courage by rejecting the Worldly values of Wealth and Power. Such discernment is based on an Integrity in Knowledge and the Gift of the Holy Spirit known as Grace.I learned to nourish that Wisdom with a fundamental EXamination of Holy Scriptures and Conscience - by saying "YES, LORD! Here I am!" to the gift of Grace!

I also learned to embrace Simplicity, Patience and Compassion that the Taoist masters  outline as a moral or ethical code along with the Judeo-Christian values of Faith, Love and Hope! Mantras such as N.O.P.E., "one day at a time", "today is the most important day of my Recovery,""the future is a series of NOWS" all reflect that Simplicity that keeps me focused on the Goal of FREEDOM from Addiction. And here we are back to HOPE!

HOPE

Psychologists say “Hope, Optimism, and Future-mindedness are a family of strengths that represent a positive stance toward the future” My own  Hope could only thrive in the face of despair as a way of coping. Despair provided that change motivator that provided me with the desire and drive to dig deep inside and to overcome.

" Hope is a concept that allows an individual movement toward a goal" (Erikson), and Hope is a way of thinking and believing that is goal directed that produces routes to desired goals with the motivation to use those routes (Snyder). Without Hope, there can be no change - why bother? Hope is both a Cognition and an Emotion. Having a sense of Hope is in the affective domain, and yet acting on the Hope requires motivation and a plan that is actively carried out. Sound familiar? Didn't I just say something very similar when looking at Courage? Both Courage and Hope are agents of change!

Now sometimes I possess a high degree of the affective domain of Hope [I hope I win the lottery!] but an inability to take action [I don't even buy lottery tickets!LOL!], while other times I seem to possess neither a sense of Hope nor the motivation to move forward in a Hopeful way - that was the rut I was into as an Addict for Years (both my using years and my dry years.) Only in the most despairing of times did I  access the Power of Choice and go through a great deal of humbling, if not outright humiliation, before I came to the Simplicity of Hope in Action! Hope is a choice and the more dire the circumstance the more likely I was to make a choice to Hope.

COURAGE AND HOPE IN CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL CONTEXT

After reflection, I came to the conclusion that I had to know and acknowledge  my signature strengths and use those strengths in my relationships and in service of others in order  to acquire a good Life, to fulfill my meaning of Life and to embrace authentic Happiness.

I have from conception had the belief in the Christian virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope. Hope and Courage are both spiritual gifts in Christian tradition. Hope and Courage can produce endurance and encouragement for  individuals in the face of fear and despair. To conquer fear, Courage becomes an expression of Faith. Please remember that I'm speaking only of and for myself!  It is when we are most vulnerable and powerless we are given the most profound opportunities to risk believing that we are born in Love, of Love, and for Love. The Courage of Faith allows the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) to do its work: Grace brings us Hope as a manifestation of God’s most Supreme Love! I believe this and although I haven't always consciously dwelled in this First Principle to Life's meaning, it defines who I am. I have also learned much later in Life from the oriental  theme of Perseverance and Patience of  soft Courage EXpressed through Christianity as acceptance of God's Will and in the Eastern Religions as a path of least resistance.  In my mind, it is clearly shared in the Christian virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope. Hope implies waiting and stillness.  "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 45:10)

THE CHANGE PROCESS

So how did I recover Courage and Hope? I had redefined what living a Life that matters means to me and I humbly admitted that I need help to motivate my Courage and Hope. I was searching for an optimal level of functioning for the life tasks of work, love, and friendship by use of Encouragement. I acknowledged that I needed support to motivate change and improve my behavior but also to improve myself! For the first time in my life, I surfed the internet looking for Encouragement and I came to BecomeanEX. I was literally driven by despair! When defined using the root meaning of Courage, Encouragement is, “the process of facilitating the development of a person’s inner resources and Courage toward positive movement.” Encouragement is a natural way to find Courage in times of despair.

Rogers, the famous behavior psychologist, states that there are  three critical conditions  for accepting Encouragement and facilitating change - Acceptance, Genuineness, and Unconditional regard. I found all of these here at BecomeanEX. But I also discovered other attributes such as Patience and Hope that gave me Courage. These attributes facilitated my change by “locating” and enhancing my EXisting desire to be Hopeful that I already possessed. Obviously change does not come easy. By facilitating Hope in and of itself, the Become anEX Community  created the opportunity for  change. For that opportunity to be realized, it requires Patience and that's especially what I could find here more than with my non-smoking Family and Friends - more than anybody in my 3-D World! These are the gifts that Tommy refers to as Collateral Kindness!

I was able to set achievable  short-term (obtainable within one-year), middle-term (obtainable within five-years), and long-term (obtainable within my lifetime) goals. This activity was the beginning of “locating” what Hope resided already within me waiting to be utilized and to reclaim the Bravery, Perseverance, Authenticity, Integrity, and Vitality that I had forfeited through Addiction.  I became more Willing, thus connecting me to the emerging Courage and Hope that I possessed all along! I am  bringing my  overall life ideal to progressively manageable goals! I am living that meaningful Life that matters to me!

Thomas3.20.2010

Double Entendre!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 21, 2014

image

Not much to learn from getting hooked on Nicotine! It can happen to anybody! But our quit journey? Well, that's a very different case! 

So what made YOU join this site and become serious about Quitting!?

We all know famous people who have overcome adversity, and achieved success like Walt Disney and Nelson Rockefeller, who overcame learning disabilities, and people like J. C. Penney and J. K Rowling who struggled through personal bad times before finding their true legacy. For most, I think it starts with having the survivor instinct, rather than accepting the victim role. Applying these principles should  have a strengthening effect:

• Use the power of positive attitude and mindset. Developing a positive attitude about adversity seems essential to tapping its power to enhance and improve your life. A wise man once said, “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”

• Meditation is the art of letting go. Practicing meditation creaates and sustains your positive mindset. Don’t think of meditation in the classic Zen sense, as exercising or swimming daily is also a way of letting your mind go. You may realize that adversity is just another name for the series of choices called life.

• Communicate your goals and desires. A great gift of adversity is coming to understand that you can only resolve your problems when you share your life with others. You simply must reach out to others, or you will never overcome adversity.

• Practice sharing, not controlling. Don’t confuse the need to control with connection. As you truly connect with others – revealing, extending, and expressing yourself – the layers of adversity will peel away like an onion. Surround yourself with strong people who can help you get through the tough times.

• Acceptance is the key. Adversity at some point in your life is inevitable. The more you refuse to accept it and deal with it, the more you will lose. Denial and running away never helps. Those who choose to be strong, rather than choose to suffer, will overcome it and may actually thrive.

• Embrace the bounce. It’s all about being resilient. That means look beyond the challenges of the moment, and identify and integrate the new insights and convictions that adversity so often presents.

Your challenge is to turn adversity into success. You have to be both creative and patient to discover the multiple solutions that will unravel the knots of your adversity. In these ways, you will move ever closer to mastering it, and be that much more at peace.

"If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice." – Meister Eckhart

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

Wouldn't you like to increase your levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy? When we live with gratitude we have less depression and stress, are more likely to help others, exercise more regularly, and make greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”.

He finds that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. Those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

Notice and Appreciate Each Day’s Gifts

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

There are Many Ways to Practice Gratitude

A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude”. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. Some experts suggest that you set up a meeting with this person and read the letter to them face to face.

Last year millions of people took the challenge proposed by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. To help condition the participants to stop complaining, they each wore a purple No-Complaint wristband. Several authors in the self-improvement genre have suggested that people do something similar to help condition themselves to be constantly aware of the things in life that they’re grateful for.

A variation of the wristband concept is to create a gratitude charm bracelet, with either one meaningful charm or different charms representing the things you’re most grateful for. For example, you could have a charm shaped like a heart to symbolize your significant other, figurines to represent different family members, an apple to represent health, a dollar sign to symbolize abundance, a charm that represents your current profession or a future career, and maybe a charm that makes you laugh to represent humor and joy.

Becoming Grateful Every Day

Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

Today I am Grateful for

(1)my LORD 

(2) the SUN

(3) my FAMILY

(4)my FRIENDS 

(5) my HOME

(6) my JOB

(7) the gift of BREATH

(8)  my BODY and HEALTH 

(9) the FOOD I eat

(10) my FREEDOM from Addiction!

1. I am learning to understand the importance of forgiving myself for smoking.

Living in a state of being unable to forgive myself requires a lot of energy. I was constantly chewed up by fear of my vulnerability, burning with anger at myself and  with  guilt, and living with the constancy of sadness, hurt, and self-blame. Vulnerabilty terrifies me! But this energy deserves to be put to better use, so that my creativity and abilities are fed, not my negativity. Forgiveness also allows me to live in the present instead of the past, which means that I can move into the future with a renewed sense of purpose focused on change, improvement, and building on experience rather than being held back by past hurts and damage that cannot be healed.

I was afraid to forgive myself because I feared losing my sense of self that has been built on the back of self-anger, resentment, and vulnerability. But I asked  myself if that  angry, easily hurt and reactive person is the identity I choose to show the world and live with. Is the security of this mode of thinking worth the effort and harm it is causing me? I know that it is better to have a small time of insecurity as I find my way again than to continue a lifetime bogged down in self-loathing.

Now I see forgiveness in a positive light. I allow myself to experience strong feelings such as resentment and anger, but I view it as the chance to feel strong positive feelings, such as joy, generosity, and faith in my true self. Switching it to thinking about what I have  gained rather than what I have lost has the benefit of keeping me positive while minimizing the negative emotions.

2. I take into account the challenges raised by not forgiving myself. 

Not only do I allow myself to remain stuck in the past, but not forgiving myself takes a huge toll on my emotional and physical health. Inability to forgive is sourced from anger and resentment, two emotions that can wreak havoc with my health. Isn't that just another way to create more damage with my own behavior and attitudes?

I know that forgiving doesn't equate with forgetting [Thank You, Dash, for coining the phrase Never Ever Forget N.E.F.!] I am  learning by experience and  guided by that experience in all aspects of my life. It's about leaving aside the resentment and self-inflicted berating that comes with remembering - taking away the sting!

3.Accepting  my emotions. 

Part of the struggle is often being unable to accept that I am experiencing such emotions as anger, fear, resentment, and vulnerability. Instead of trying to avoid facing these negative emotions, I accept them as part of what is fueling my lack of self-forgiveness and self-respect. A problem named is a problem ready to be tackled. This is particularly a huge challenge for men in our society. 

4.I reflect on why I'm  trying to hold myself to a higher standard than anyone else around me.

 Perfectionism  causes me to hold too high a standard for my own behavior, a standard that I wouldn't hold anyone else to. And if my perfectionism causes me to be too hard on myself, I am caught in a situation where self-forgiveness is very hard to do because it seems like acceptance of a sub-standard Thomas. But  I can remove myself from this vicious cycle of thinking by  "welcoming imperfection". Welcoming imperfection is the way to accomplish what perfectionism promises but never delivers. It allows me to accept that all human beings are imperfect, and I am human, and imperfect too, and My Creator LOVES me just as I am!

5.I let go of other people's expectations for me. When I get stuck in a spiral of self-hate and never feeling good enough because of things that were once said to me, self-forgiveness is essential. I have no control over what other people do and say, and many things are said and done unconsciously, often motivated by the other person's own shortcomings. But living my life in self-loathing because I don't feel I live up to someone else's expectations is based on making too much of another person's mixed-up feelings. I forgive myself for trying to live a life according to other's expectations and am making the changes needed to follow my own purpose instead.

For every person who has been hard on me,I must remember that someone was hard on them. I am breaking the chain of harshness by being kind to myself, not trying to live up to someone else's expectations for me.

Whenever someone criticizes me unfairly, I realize that they have just made it that much harder for themselves if they make a mistake or fail to fulfill their own perfectionist ideas. I occasionally reflect where I've come from and why I no longer want to live that way.

6.I have  stopped punishing myself.

 I have frequently misunderstood that forgiveness equates with forgetting or condoning. This misunderstanding has at times led me to feel that it is not right to forgive myself because in the process of doing so, it's akin to an act of forgetting or condoning the past wrong. But forgiveness is a process of mindfulness in which I continue to remember what happened and don't condone something that was "wrong" as suddenly "right". It's a process of letting go of the damage that's still being done by holding on to the emotions surrounding the poor choice that was made.

It's perfectly fine to say: "I am not proud of what I've done (or how I've devalued myself) but I'm moving on for the sake of my health, my well-being, and those around me." Affirming this is healthy and allows me to break the cycle of self-harm I've fallen into because I openly acknowledge what was wrong and the intention to set it right from now on.

7. I practice self-acceptance.

 I don't need forgiveness for being me. Forgiving myself is about targeting the specific things that I feel bad about, not about the person that I AM. As a forgiveness technique, self-acceptance allows me to acknowledge that I'm a good person, faults and all. It doesn't mean that I ignore the faults or stop trying to improve myself but it does mean that I value myself above those elements and cease to allow my faults to halt my progression in life.

8. I think about and plan what will improve in my life if I can release myself.

Then I bring my plan into fruition. As part of forgiving myself, it's  not enough to simply resolve to forgive myself. Doing things to confirm the forgiveness process will help me to realize my self-forgiveness and to give me a new sense of purpose. Some of the things I have done include:

Taking up meditation.

 Meditation is an ideal way to find inner quiet, spiritual, self-realization, and physical relaxation. It  allows me to take time out, to tune into and appreciate the moment, and to get in touch with my inner self. Done regularly, meditation  improves my well-being and sense of self.

Affirm my self-worth.

Whenever the negative thoughts reappear, I make the time out signal with my hands and then I remind myself regularly that I am a valued and beautiful person and say simply: "I forgive myself" or "I will no longer let anger eat away at me", 

Keep a journal.

 I write down my journey to forgiveness. Having the writing space to share my thoughts and feelings with, one that nobody else will ever read, is a liberating and self-enlightening way to breaking through negative approaches to my life.

 

 Draw strength from the  teachings of the Holy Scriptures to support me.

 The Scriptures are full of imperfect people who were close to their Creator - not because of perfection - because of LOVE and Forgiveness. In fact, the only perfect person in the Scriptures is My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

9. I see forgiveness as a journey, not a destination.

Forgiveness is an ongoing process and I recognize  that I'll have my up days and my down days, as with most feelings and experiences in life. I sometimes have felt that I've reached a point of forgiveness, only to have something  - a bad breathing day or a COPD exacerbation -  that causes me to feel it was all a wasted effort and that I'm back to square one, angry and annoyed with myself. So I let the back sliding  happen and see it as a minor setback in an otherwise more forgiving self. In addition, I realize that forgiveness has no timetable; instead, I  do my best to prepare myself for the process once more, drawing on my experience of healing, knowing that by entering the process I will  this time as well,  no matter how big it seems at this moment,  repair and heal  and  begin again.

My name is Thomas and, after being an off and on closet smoker for 20 years, I was diagnosed with COPD and quit 6 days later. I have been happily free for 4 Years, 6 Months, 4 Weeks, 18 hours, 45 minutes and 51 seconds (1,674 days). I have saved $2510.67 by not smoking 16,737 cigarettes. I have saved countless days of my life and unknown suffering. My Quit Date: 3/20/10 and I have promised myself to forgive myself for the damage I have caused me. my family, my friends, my life and to never smoke again no matter what! N.O.P.E.!

Every new experience is a learning experience that can build self esteem. When I quit smoking I learned that I can successfully make radical life transforming changes that are for the better!I even learned that I can sometimes make mistakes in the process and nevertheless be successful in the end. I didn't have to choose perfectly in order to be good enough!

Getting out of my comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. Like most people I know, I feel anxiety whenever I am about to take a chance and try something new. In the past this anxiety and fear, stressed me out to the point that I  avoided trying anything new. I lived by the adage, "if it ain't broke don't fix it" or as my Grandpa used to say, "let sleeping dogs lie." 

Well, my smoking world became broken literally beyond repair the day I was diagnosed with COPD  but not beyond hope! The only hope I had/have is to keep my COPD from getting worse!Failure was not an option - so I did whatever it took to succeed! And the FREEDOM voice in me broke through!

Right at 100 days quit, (you can ask just about anybody who'se been there - an EXtremely vulnerable time in many a quit journey, including mine), at the height of the recession, I like so many other people was laid off! I was 52 years old at the time - a statistic that did not bode well! Did I think of smoking as a 'solution?' - YOU BET! But I didn't smoke - right when everybody around me who were also laid off were smoking like chimneys! My boss even had the indecency to leave her pack of sickerettes right under my nose for an entire shift! But I had learned - Breath or Death and chose N.O.P.E. to smoking and death!

  
   Surprisingly, I remained EXceedingly calm! I had already successfully made an even bigger change  in my life - I would sail through this one as well! It's amazing when one is faced with their own mortality, what the human being is capable of! Finding another job is a picnic in comparison, right? 
  
     
  
   
    
     So for the second time in 25 years I was thrown into the job market! I had learned something about myself, though! When I set my mind to the possible, nothing is impossible! I searched not in the same field of work (which was obviously vulnerable to lay-offs in that economy and compromising to my lung health on top of it) but in entirely new fields that were less vulnerable. I chose health care which I had never in my life even imagined! Within 3 weeks I had been offered 3 jobs and accepted 2, a part time and a full time job in order to decide which if either would fit for me!    
    
         
    
     I soon quit the part time job and took on the full time work in an assisted living facility. Within one year, I was promoted to manager and to this day, work at the same facility. I really enjoy my job and my life!   
    
         
    
     For me, it was not only that I was "successful" in my attempt to find work, it was the act of attempting  which  benefited me most in boosting my self esteem.    
    
         
    
      Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  
    
      - Mark Twain  
    
         
   
   
    
     Amazingly, once I in fact got past my fears and took the chance to quit smoking, change my job choice, learn computer, join a blogging site (yes, BecomeanEX was my first ever blogging site!), become active in exercise programs and workouts, (well, as you see, I could go on and on about the changes I've made in my life!) my initial reaction was - "I wish I had tried that sooner but better now than never!".   
    
         
    
      "Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power."  
    
      - Lao-Tzu  
    
         
    
      Life is about taking chances. Everyday we take chances. Sometimes we are blissfully unaware of the chances we are taking. Other times, it is painfully obvious. For me, jumping out of my comfort zone and "waking those sleeping dogs up" all started with my quit journey! Life just gets Better and Better with every step I take down this path of RECOVERY!   
    
         
    
     I wonder what Grandpa would say to that!   
   
  

"First thing every morning before you arise say out loud,

"I believe," three times." - Norman Vincent Peale

I got in trouble when I listened to  should statements such as  "You should quit smoking"  even when my gut was telling me the same thing.

I (and my Nico-demon self) kept saying, "It's my life! I have a 'right' to smoke!"

Yet I was being untrue to myself who deep down knew that I was killing myself one puff at a time!.

I lost respect for myself which I covered up by smoking that much more determinedly! "Nobody is going to tell me what I 'should' do!"

When I was untrue to myself, I incrementally lowered my self esteem. It can happen gradually. Almost imperceptibly, but can have a far reaching and long lasting impact.

I'm still re-claiming myself almost 5 years down this quit journey road!

The first step in freeing myself from social restrictions was the realization that there is no such thing as a "safe" code of conduct - one that would earn everyone's approval.

My actions can always be condemned by someone - for being too bold or too apathetic, for being too conformist or too nonconformist, for being too liberal or too conservative, from my nonsmoking family and friends when I was smoking and from my smoking friends and coworkers when I quit.

 So it was necessary to decide whose approval was important to me.

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

- William Shakespeare

I had to pay attention to my own needs and wants.

I had to listen to what my body, my mind, and my heart were telling me. For instance, if my body was telling me that I have been short of breath for too long, coughing for years not months, feeling tired and anxious, stressed and unconnected to my health, I had to learn to listen past the Nico-noise and hear that Freedom-loving voice that was screaming in the background for attention.

If my heart was telling me that I was abusing my God-given gift of LIFE then I had to tune into that message and ponder it with self-love, not run away from it with yet another smoke cloud of denial.

I learned to honor the person I am.

I learned to accept myself as human and therefore, imperfect. I had to forgive my mistakes and focus on the prize. i had to learn that I could achieve my goal one day at a time, keeping in mind that smoking cessation is a journey - not an event.  I learned to give myself rewards for the large and small Victories!

I learned to be true to myself and thus be truly me to my Family, Friends and Coworkers. Once they saw this transformation, the "shoulds" stopped both from them and most importantly within ME!

Thomas3.20.2010

How To Quit Smoking

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 17, 2014

About 50 years ago, a young psychology professor by the name of Walter Mischel was walking around Stanford Medical School, when suddenly he had the smoker scared out of him. 

"I was about 32 years old at the time, and this poor man on a gurney had his arm stretched out at his side, his chest was bare, his head was empty," Mischel recalls. "He looked terrible, and he had little green Xs all over him." 

With a throat full of terror, Mischel asked the nurse what was going on.

The man has metastasized lung cancer, she replied, and the little green X marks directed where the radiation treatment was to be targeted. 

At the time, Mischel was still a self-described "tobacco addict." He thought that someday he might get into trouble for his stress-relieving habit, but who knows? 

Seeing the dying man in the gurney, he realized that smoking wasn't helping him out.

"Even though it feels great at the time, it has delayed consequences that would probably not have me alive at this time if I continue," says Mischel, now 84 years old, a professor at Columbia University, and author of "The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control."

But Mischel — whose "marshmallow experiment" linking delayed gratification and success became a touchstone of psychological science — understood that he couldn't just rely on his willpower to stop smoking.

Instead, he realized that he would need to make a distant consequence (dying of lung cancer) feel immediate in his life.

He would have to keep the result of his smoking "very hot" in his mind, otherwise he'd just continue smoking. 

To do that, he'd have to take the temptation and subvert it. 

And that's where things get psychological.

First, he imagined himself in the same position as the unfortunate soul he came across in Stanford Med School — stretched out limply on a gurney, hair all gone, green x's painted on his body to guide the radiation treatment. 

Then he gave himself for a very smelly intervention.

"I had a can of tobacco debris — old cigarette butts and old pipe debris — which an enormous nicotine aroma, and stuck my head into the can whenever I was tempted to smoke," he said. 

Every time he did that he'd get nauseated. And what was once a wonderful temptation — that delicious cigarette — suddenly became repulsive. 

"What's happening here [is] you're changing the mental representation of the temptation," he says.

The trick, Mischel says, is to think about the delayed consequences in a way that's vivid and immediate — or "hot," as he likes to say — and think about the immediate temptation more thoughtfully, with greater consideration. 

In this way, the future self on the gurney becomes more vivid, and the present temptation to smoke suddenly gets a lot less attractive.

"Descartes said 'I think therefore I am,'" Mischel says. "What the modern research shows if I can think differently, therefore I can change what I am."

Mischel

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/psychologist-walter-mischel-quit-smoking-2014-10#ixzz3GQi6y2UO



 



 

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One of the most prevalent messages you hear from your Addictive Mind is "I'll just have one and...I'll feel better!"

The problem with that is once you've smoked that sickerette, you won't be satisfied at all!

If you are a serial relapser like I was then you know I speak the truth!

Pretty soon, you'll want that "just one" again! If you borrowed that "just one" you'll be borrowing that "just one more."

Then your Addictive Mind says, "Look at you! You're so selfish! You're borrowing like crazy! You need to buy that person a pack to make up for it!" So, you "generously" buy that person a pack - just to make up for the ones you borrowed!

Oh, and while you're there at your favorite place to buy them, it just automatically slips out of your mouth, "Marlboro Reds 100s in a hard pack, please!"

Now, you could say, "Well, not really! I didn't mean it! It just stumbled out of my mouth by mistake!" but you're too embarrassed to admit it!

So before you know it, you're standing in that old smoking place, doing that old smoking thing and you look up at yourself and you say, "What the he!! happened? I didn't even like that! And didn't I just quit, for crying out loud?"

You look at that burning coffin nail hanging on the end of your finger and you smell the stench. You think of the horrible way your chest is constricting, the awfully familiar scratch in your throat, and imagine your genes changing right in front of your eyes so to speak.

You remember all the reasons you wanted to quit, the promises you made to your loved ones, to yourself, the willpower it took to get through Day 1, Day 2, etc....

You wonder how long it will be before everyone knows that you're a failure again! You feel defeated, destroyed, obliterated!

And there's only one thing to do - have another sickerette! Then convince yourself you "like to smoke!"

There's just no such thing as one - sickerettes are like wolves, they're killers that travel in packs!

Remember that there are only two good reasons to take a puff once you quit:

You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until smoking cripples and then kills you,

or...you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever.

 As long as neither of these options appeal to you - NOT ONE PUFF EVER!

Thomas3.20.2010

Conquering Addiction!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 17, 2014

Did you know that Hernan Cortes was able to conquer all of Mexico with only 550 men? One of his closest Commanders, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, gave this description of Tenochtitlan, the capital with a population of 100,000 that later became the site of Mexico City:

"When we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico, we were astounded. These great towns and cues and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream. It is not surprising therefore that I should write in this vein. It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before. . . ."

Yet, not without many struggles, including the famous sorrowful night, Noche Triste, when 450 of those soldiers fell in one massive battle, Cortes became the victor! 

Well, it all goes back to Veracruz, the beach where the boats first landed! Cortes did something that we as Nicotine Addicts must learn to do - he burned all his boats! He gave his soldiers no choice to fail! They had to carry on - Victory was their only option! And that's what we have to do! We must burn all of our boats and embrace N.O.P.E. so that we can become victorious over Nicotine! 

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Why is it so all or nothing? The Law of Addiction! I know that each of us is an individual with our own personal quit history but it doesn't change the Law of Addiction! The Law of Addiction doesn't even know or care who you are! It's an equal opportunity law, like the Law of Gravity! The Law of Addiction says "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance." It applies whether you've been hooked for 2 weeks or 50 years and everything in between! It applies to the social smoker just as it does the closet smoker and the chain smoker. It applies to the 15 year old and the 60 year old. It applies to the healthy and the ill, to men and women, straight and gay, religious and atheist, all of us equally! Bottom line - the only way to quit smoking is to Not take One Puff Ever!!!! N.O.P.E.!

  

N.O.P.E. is not just a mantra - although it is, it's not just a slogan, although it is. N.O.P.E. is a way of LIFE! LIFE is what we're all about - your LIFE! No less - just as those soldiers were faced with no other options - whether we admit it or not, neither are we!  LIFE free from Addiction! LIFE healthy and happy and unhooked from a deadly, albeit legal, EXtremely Addictive Drug! A LIFE of FREEDOM is the PRIZE! You can conquer your Addiction but you, like Cortes, have to burn your boats!

  

If I had the words to describe Smoke FREE Living, it would also seem like an enchanted vision from the Tale of Amadis! The sense of self-worth, the PRIDE, the joy of living as Our Creator intends for us to live! The new tastes, smells, breaths! The clean clothes, hair, teeth, and mouth, skin! The ability to decide how I'll spend my thoughts, time, money, energy, love! I'm no longer a slave to a dead leaf wrapped in paper and dipped in 7000 chemicals! If you could for just one single day feel the freedom - you would decide that you can never go back to your chains of addiction - that you would do whatever it takes to gain and sustain that FREEDOM! 

  

All it takes is N.O.P.E.!

  

Conquer your Addiction!

   
   

Cigarette smoking accounts for approximately 14 million major medical conditions that plague the lives of U.S. adults, according to a new government report.

"For each annual death, there are 15 to 20 people living with major disease caused by smoking," said senior study author Terry Pechacek, associate director for science at the office on smoking and health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Smoking not only will kill you, it will damage your health andmake your life worse."

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, often causing multiple serious illnesses such as emphysema, diabetes and colon cancer, according to the report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is the illness most tightly linked to smoking, researchers report. About 7.5 million U.S. adults suffer from smoking-related COPD, which makes it harder and harder to draw breath as time passes.

But the study, published Oct. 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine, also links smoking to:

      
  • 2.3 million cases of heart attack
  •   
  • 1.3 million cases of cancer
  •   
  • 1.2 million cases of stroke
  •   
  • 1.8 million cases of diabetes.

The researchers said their findings regarding diabetes are particularly concerning.

"We've known for quite a while that smoking makes diabetes outcomes worse, and diabetics who smoke are really placing themselves at great risk," Pechacek said. "But if people smoke who have a tendency toward diabetes, are pre-diabetic, they are at a much higher risk of progressing to full diabetes."

"Smoking causes diabetes and makes it much worse," he said. "People are not aware of that."

The study relied on data gathered from two national health surveys from 2006 through 2012 to produce the first estimate of smoking-related illness since 2000, when the CDC estimated that 8.6 million people had 12.7 million major medical conditions caused by smoking.

This time they found that 6.9 million U.S. adults had a combined 10.9 million smoking-related medical conditions. Then they factored in COPD estimates and concluded that U.S. adults had a combined 14 million smoking-related illnesses in 2009.

"The implication is that smoking causes more harm than we previously thought, much of it in chronic pulmonary obstructive disease," said Dr. Steven Schroeder, a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco and head of its Smoking Cessation Leadership Center. "When you think about how smoking hurts you, people usually think about deaths first, and then those who are sick. There is much more lifetime illness related to smoking."

Schroeder said he was surprised that researchers found even though women have a lower overall rate of smoking than men, they have a higher rate of COPD. An estimated 4.3 million female smokers have COPD, compared with 3.2 million male smokers.

"Part of it might be that women may be more susceptible to getting pulmonary disease when they smoke," he said. "It also might be that they live longer, and so have an enhanced lifetime risk."

Even though these facts are gloomy, there is one bright ray of hope in them, said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior medical advisor for the American Lung Association.

"Smoking is still the most correctable cause of death and illness in the United States," he said. "When I have a patient with sleep apnea because he's overweight, it's very, very hard to get him to lose weight. But we have shown that we can effectively help people quit smoking. We've been able to reduce smoking rates in the adult population by about half. It's a health crisis that's amenable to a solution, if we make an effort."

Pechacek agreed.

"Millions and millions more people would have suffered and died, or still be suffering with disease, if we hadn't cut the smoking rate," he said. "The message is clear. Quit, quit as early in life as possible, and don't be afraid to talk to your friends and family who are still smoking."

Smoking changes us, and those changes happen gradually, over a long period of time. In fact, the personality shifts we experience due to nicotine addiction are so subtle; most of us don't realize our cigarettes are responsible for them.

Anxiety is a common problem among smokers. I had my fair share of it throughout the last few years I smoked. I thought my tension was the result of my increased pressures and responsibilities. I thought it was a "natural" part of aging, in fact. It wasn't until I quit smoking that I began to understand just how much addiction had influenced my belief in myself and self-esteem

Nicotine addiction taught me a lot of things, none of them good. It taught me to avoid dealing with life by hiding behind a smoke screen. When something stressful happened, what did I do? I lit a cigarette so I could think it over, of course. By the end of the cigarette, I often decided to let go of whatever it was, which sometimes was not a good choice. Smoking taught me to avoid, and avoidance breeds tension. I was teaching myself to settle for less by not dealing with life head on.

Smoking taught me that I was weak. I felt powerless to quit. As much as I hated smoking, I thought I couldn't live without my cigarettes. And there was that nagging worry in the back of my mind that I was killing myself, one cigarette at a time. I was in a constant state of subtle turmoil. It was such an awful way to live, but I settled for it for a long time. Nicotine addiction does that to a person.

The blinders finally came off and I quit smoking. Why? The tension in my life created by smoking had become unbearable. That's what it took for me to quit and to stick with the recovery process until I was free. And so I began my journey to freedom.

That journey has taught me a boatload of lessons, some of them hard, but worthwhile nonetheless. One that stands out at the top of the list sounds simple, but the impact on our lives if we take it to heart is profound. It is this

Don't settle for less in your life.

Smoking is a way of settling for so much less than you deserve. It's self-destructive behavior that tends to trickle to other areas of your life. Once you quit smoking, positive changes start to happen.

When I smoked, it didn't seem to make much difference whether I was exercising and eating a healthy diet or not. I knew I was poisoning myself 20 times a day. Now, making the most of what I have by living healthfully has become a positive focus in my life.

I won't settle for less.

Relationships have shifted somewhat as well...some have been let go and others I nurture more. As a smoker, I tolerated more than was good for me at times, but not anymore. Life is too short, and 

I just won't settle for less.

Quit meters show us the amount of life saved, but they can't properly indicate the quality of life saved. You have to read between the lines of your quit meter to see that one, but it is there, and it's one of the best benefits of quitting. It's proof of a new way of living...

of not settling for less.

Smoking cessation brings the value of our lives into sharp focus. It has given me the tools and the belief in myself to make changes successfully in any area of my life that I choose.

One day at a time...it works. Persistence and patience and time -- they're your path to a smoke free future and a better way of life.

Don't settle for anything less.

http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/whyquitsmoking/a/dontsettle.htm

Nicotine's chemical properties are addictive. If you take that nicotine away from your body, it will miss it and you will experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms surface after three-five days of quitting smoking and linger for approximately two weeks. We list out some of these symptoms to help you prepare for these side-effects to smoking cessation. Rest assured that these symptoms, while some are unpleasant, will only be transitionary and once you're rid of them, will leave you feeling much better after quitting smoking.

Emotional withdrawal

Some of the most common symptoms are...

Depression: You may feel low, sad and hopeless. Hence it is important to surround yourself with people, preferably non smokers and friends who will support your decision to quit smoking.

Angry: Emotional upheaval can make you angry. Others may not be aware of it, but you know what's happening to your body. The age-old remedy of counting till 10 isn't such a bad idea. Stop, think, regain your calm and composure before losing your cool.

Bored: You may have noticed that when you were bored, tired or depressed you tend to smoke. Now that you are on your way to a smoke free life replace these voids with hobbies or get involved with people around you. Pay more attention to your loved ones.

Lonely: Withdrawal of smoking can make you feel lonely, impatient and irritable. If your friends are busy, take up a dance class or cooking class. It is important to expect these feelings of loneliness, so stay prepared.

Mood swing: Tempers will flare and tantrums will increase. These are not exactly PMSsymptoms. Nicotine was once your evil friend but now you have to bear with the loss of the addiction. This will throw your emotional reactions to daily happenings into a tizzy. Most quitters will need help with these mood swings. Replace the smoking placebo with something else. Invest in some great music and strong coffee, maybe?

Physical withdrawal

Nicotine obstructs the flow of oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. Now that you have quit smoking, your body has to hit the reverse button to detox.

Bowel discomfort: It's time to change your diet and fitness once you quit smoking. Quitting smoking can cause cramps, nausea, flatulence and constipation, therefore it is important to increase roughage and exercise your body.

Nasal and throat problems: When you stop smoking, your nose and throat will try to clear the mucous that has accumulated over the years. You may experience coughing, dry throat and mouth. Fluids are the key to clearing this process.

Increase in appetite: Craving for cigarettes can be confused with hunger cravings. The best way to stay healthy is to consume fluids and low calorie snacks.

Headaches: Lack of nicotine can lead to headaches, the way out of it is with massages, plenty of water and rest. Gently massage your temple, drink water, take a hot shower and take a deep breathe.

Lack of sleep: You may experience insomnia after you quit smoking. Take a hot shower before you hit the sack, do breathing exercises too and most importantly avoid coffee closer to bed-time.

Restlessness/lack of concentration: You feel like there is energy bursting in you, transfer this energy into something constructive. In these situations smokes would calm your nerves, but now switch off that thought and cultivate a new habit. You may feel you can't concentrate too; try listening to music or take a break from your routine life.

Weight gain: Increase in craving can lead to weight gain, especially if you indulge in unhealthy food. But don't be dejected, you can cut it out with exercise and the right diet.

Sweating and shaky hands and feet: You will feel that your hands and feet tremble. It is a passing phase that will stop. If you experience these withdrawals you know your body is simply shedding an addiction and leading you to a much healthier life.

Skin trouble: While quitting smoking is associated with healthier skin, the period of withdrawal will cause some skin trouble. Some people with sensitive skin might break out into a fresh acne case or suffer from some ulcers in the inner-cheeks, tongue and mouth. The reason is simply that your body is letting go of the toxins and levelling up.

Instead of losing motivation, after reading these withdrawal symptoms, the one thought any quitter must focus on is this: The fact that your body is changing so much when quitting, simply showcases how much it is continuously changed and affected while you still smoke. Avoid poor health and dangerous diseases - quit smoking today.

 

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Thomas3.20.2010

Quititude!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 14, 2014

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Does the way we see ourselves effect how we speak or does how we speak effect the way we see ourselves?

Yes and yes.  It's called psycho linguistics!  It is proving that when you change your mind, your brain becomes neurologically wired in a different way.

 Like cussing - people who cuss see themselves differently than people who don't.  People who no longer cuss actually change how they think of themselves.

 That's just one example of how language changes our brains.  

The need to smoke exists only in the mind.  When we say craving or "I crave a cig" it brings back all kinds of brain connections both mental and physical.

 To break the cycle we have to break the language pattern.  If i no longer say "crave" the energy of that word is taken away.

  So I had an inkling or a fuzzy moment or a drat but I don't say  that four (yea I know I can't count) letter word!  I don't say try (another miscounted 4 letter word) or slip or luck.  They cease to be in my vocabulary and cease to have power!  

Now I put a substitution in place.

 It's called an affirmation!  An affirmation is a thought that I choose to make a belief.

 N.O.P.E. is an affirmation.

 I choose health and life is an affirmation.

 I don't do that anymore is an affirmation.

 Don't feed the monster is an affirmation.  

 When I read an affirmation I am engaging my eyes and brain.

 When I hear an affirmation I am engaging my ears, my eyes and my brain.

 When I read an affirmation out loud I am using many organs ( eyes, ears, throat, mouth etc) and my brain - a VERY effective way to rewire an unspoken thought!

 Every day when I get up the first thing I do is read WITH MY VOICE the message next to my bed –

 I, Thomas, pledge to myself to NOT ONE PUFF EVER NO MATTER WHAT beginning with today!

 I credit this to having very few drats a day and of much less intensity than they might have been!

Today I don't remember even one drat moment!  I also see much more of the positive side of the QUIT than I might have because I BELIEVE I am having a positive quit (Why? Affirmations say that it's true!)

 I absolutely know that this quit is for life because I KNOW that SMOKING IS NOT AN OPTION! There is no -  but...

If you don't think this helps just give it a try for one day - for 1 day I'll try Thomas' crazy idea!  I'm sure that you will find that it makes a difference!  It sure won't make things worse!  

 Along these lines I have a  Group which is based on Affirmations!  It's called Positive Affirmations for Success! If you have an Affirmation, Scripture Verse, Inspirational saying, please join the 146 members and post your contributions.

That way newbies have a single place where they can make their sticky notes and 3X5 cards that will begin the process of QUITITUDE!!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/groups/positive-affirmations-and-support

Thomas3.20.2010

After Month One....

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 14, 2014

A study by Drs. Gillinder Bedi and Harriet de Wit of the University of Chicago and Drs. Kenzie Preston, David Epstein, and Stephen Heishman of the NIDA Intramural Research Program provided initial evidence that drug-dependent humans can experience “incubation” of cue-induced craving. The phenomenon— an increasing susceptibility to drug cues during the first months of abstinence—has been documented repeatedly in animals. The issue has important clinical implications, suggesting that cues may continue to act as a potent trigger for relapse well past the initial period of withdrawal.

The 86 participants in the study were daily smokers who were not seeking treatment and were paid to quit for 7, 14, or 35 days. They came to the laboratory daily for tests to confirm abstinence, and the researchers measured their craving responses to cues on the last day of their participation. One group also participated in repeated cue tests on days 7, 14, and 35. The cues consisted of holding a lit cigarette and looking at photos of cigarettes, and participants rated their craving before and after cue exposure.

 The cue-induced craving was roughly twice as strong after 35 days of abstinence as it was after 1 week. Moreover, the craving increased over this period even though the smokers’ urges to light up in the absence of cues steadily weakened, dropping by more than 25 percent over 5 weeks.

Biological Psychiatry 69(7):708– 711, 2011.

This is NO MAN'S LAND! Be Prepared! You're not "finished quitting" 

-You're just getting started!

You didn't become addicted overnight and you won't be FREE overnight either!

Here's Dale JonesCarp's don't miss BLOG about the First 130 Days: https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007-blog/2011/06/26/what-to-expect-in-the-first-four-months

Don't miss Sarah10671's  great weekly feature: No Man's Land

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/people/sarahp

If you vist her page, you can read the back issues!

Welbutrin is associated with increased heart attack risks, according to a safety update issued today by Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia’s regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices.

The warnings are backed by the recent findings showing many patients developed high blood pressure when using the drug. Thought to work on the reward mechanisms responsible for nicotine cravings,  Welbutrin and Zyban are prescribed by health professionals to people who want to quit smoking.

If you are taking these very popular pharmaceuticals, please monitor your bllod pressure and consult your Doctor!

Thomas3.20.2010

Hey, YOU! Lurker....

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 12, 2014

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"The secret of getting started is breaking 

your complex, overwhelming tasks into 

small manageable tasks, and then 

starting on the first one."

- Mark Twain

The First Task is to READ, READ, READ! Read the BLOGS, Read on people's pages, Read about Nicotine Addiction at:

 

Allen Carr’s Ebook, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking  http://joga.365.lt/Allen-Carr_Easy-Way-To-Stop-Smoking_Download-free-PDF-EBook

 

 

http://www.quitsmokingonline.com

 

http:// www.whyquit.com

 

 

You aren't making any commitment or even decision - you're just Reading!

 

What do you have to lose???? 

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It is one of life’s laws that as soon as one door closes another opens. But

 the tragedy is we look at the closed door and disregard the open one.

-Andre  Gide

 

When I first found out that I had Emphysema, it was very hard to imagine a door opening in front of me! My eyes were focused on the door that was being slammed behind me - smoking!

The minute I heard the word Emphysema I knew my smoking days were going to have to come to a complete and abrupt halt!

In the following days I had my share of fantasies about how wonderful a cigarette would taste, smell, feel - how all my stress would go away - how everything would be alright again if I could just have my fix, -er, friend back!

Even knowing that all the above was a lie didn't take away my intense longing for the imaginary past I played with in my mind! I wasn't looking forward to giving up my constant companion! 

Fortunately, I came on this site and began to read not just here but also at whyquit.com and quitsmokingonline.com because I knew that the initial quitting is not my issue - I've done that many times before! But (see how devious the addictive mind works) only for awhile till my cough got a bit better and "my lungs cleared out!"

Little did I know that the cough was Chronic Bronchitis and I was well on my way to COPD!!!

My real issue even to this day is how not to be lured back into the addiction through Nostalgia! And one guy impressed me more than anybody else! His moniker is The Happy Quitter and his name is James! He doesn't write so often anymore so keep an eye out for him and you'll meet a true EXample! Happy Quitter!

You gotta be pulling my leg! We quit because we're more scared to smoke than we are to quit which is scared crazy, right???? James made a breakthrough in my junkie mind and then, not really believing, but as AA says Fake it till you Make it - I filled my mind not with nostalgia but with anticipation! 

Now what on this amazing Planet is there to look forward to when you quit smoking (besides not dying quite so fast, of course!) ???

Well, I kept looking around at other quitters on this site and some did talk about being tough, fighting the good fight, struggling through another day - just what I expected!

But A LOT of EXers spoke of FREEDOM and excitement, of amazing changes that were happening to them!

Guess who had been here the longest? The folks who weren't talking the fight language but were talking the FREEDOM language - They gave me something to Anticipate! The quit was no longer couched in words of FEAR but of Liberation from Addiction! Abundant Living! Clean, Pure, Fresh, NEW! the NEW ME! Or as my Friend Rose puts it - Metamorphosis! 

 

When I stopped looking at that door behind me with Nostalgia and began looking at the Open Door in front of me with Anticipation then my whole outlook changed! I got it! I got excited about my quit! This was the first of many times that I could look at my Quit with PRIDE and a True sense of Accomplishment!

Emphysema closed one door and opened another and the Exers told me to KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!

I just returned from my annual pulmonology exam with....GREAT NEWS!

My lung capacity hasn't declined one bit since I quit smoking 4 1/2 Years ago!

That is the BEST News that a COPDer can get!

Instead of increasing my medication, I get to decrease them! That's good because my medication includes steroids - and they wreck your body short and long term! 

The Doctor said, "Had you continued to smoke you would have been at the next  (descending) treatment stage! At this rate, you can look at Years before that becomes necessary!"

I came home, kissed my Wife and immediately said a prayer of Gratitude to the Almighty! 

I also want to say Thank You to each and every one of you in Our Community! IF it weren't for BecomeanEX, I might have been well on my way to lung failure!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

You ALL helped to save the Quality of my Life!

Thomas3.20.2010

A LIFETIME ADDICT???

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 10, 2014
  Well, Yes...from the standpoint of this true saying:
   "I'm a puff away from a pack a day!" but that doesn't mean that I have to grapple with my lifetime addiction on a daily basis other than simply to affirm my decision to LIVE Smoke FREE! The vast majority of days, my feelings about smoking, even exposed to smoke,smokers, or cigarettes is   Thank God I'm no longer a prisoner of my Addiction! 
  I don't even grapple with that beginner's question: to smoke or not to smoke! I firmly know the answer to that question!
   
  Honestly, once in a blue moon, I have had the experience of a memory crossing my mind followed by the thought: "A cigarette would be nice right about now!" This is an Addictive Mind thought and so weak that I easily can counterthink: "What a ridiculous thought! No way would I even truly enjoy that sickerette! What I truly enjoy is my QUIT!" I then take a long purging deep breath and relish the fact that I can!
   
  At times I ask myself if I would decide to smoke if I had lung cancer and only days to live.... The answer to the best of my honest ability to put myself in those shoes is an emphatic NO! I CHOOSE TO DIE FREE! In all honesty, this is a very valid question for those of us with COPD/Emphysema because our chances of getting lung cancer are elevated.
   
  I believe that when a person anticipates quitting or begins their quit journey and then finds out that addiction is for LIFE they can become discouraged, imagining that the intensity of feelings is the same throughout when in fact, there are stages of one's quit journey, as emphasized here in the EX Community. 
   
  It certainly is different once the Nicotine is out of your system as well as when you realize and recognize the vast advantages of quitting! Once you get out of NML (No Man's Land @130 days quit) the temptations are more memory than physical cravings and more abrupt and surprising than before. That's why the way in which we deal with them has to be different both in knowing that they are possible and not a sign of failure on our part as SUCCESSFUL QUITTERS and with the way in which we let go of those memories and put ourselves firmly on the Quitter's Road for LIFE! I was ashamed to admit that I was tempted Months after having quit but   honesty is the BEST anti-addiction tool we have!
   
  Am I an Addict? Yes! Do I suffer from Addiction daily? NO! I'm a PROUD EXer for LIFE!

What will you do instead?

All high achievers plan their work and work their plan, for they are keenly aware that "luck" is most often being prepared to take advantage of a situation.

Hello, Everybody, especially you Newbies! I want to speak directly to you this afternoon, folks! As we see dozens of people coming through our doors this time of year, We have learned to read those who will be here a Month, 6 Months, even a Year from now! Statistically we're speaking of approximately 6%! But I want to make it clear! This process called Quitting is not a crap shoot! Smoking is -  but quitting is not! With smoking you have a better chance at Russian Roulette than you do at surviving without a smoking related illness. For those who smoke lifelong the odds become 50/50! But with quitting it's all about your ATTITUDE!  It has nothing to do with "luck" - it has to do with being prepared!So many times one thinks it is a question of willpower! Again, not so! Do you win a sports title, an election, a business adventure, a scholarship through willpower alone? NO! You prepare!

 

Most of us coming here have an inkling that quitting smoking is hard. We've been told that we'll need not just one but multiple NRTs and prescriptions in order to survive the quitting process. They make it sound like an operation or curing an illness!Quitting is neither! Quitting is a lifetime journey based on a daily decision that you make for and to yourself!It starts with the understanding that I didn't "quit March 14, 2010" - I launched my quit journey! I packed my paraphernalia, cleaned my house, cleaned my mind, washed inside and out (remember the Bible where Jesus speaks of whitewashed tombs?) and left behind my addictive lifestyle while beginning my ADDICTION FREE LIFESTYLE! To this day I might decide to end my journey and buy a pack of sickerettes! By the end of the day I could be a full blown ADDICT all over again! I DECIDE! It has nothing to do with stress! It has nothing to do with luck! It has to do with a simple suicidal decision!

So did you ever begin a journey such as assuming a new job or moving out of the country without research? I think the intelligent person can see that it wouldn't be the sensible thing to do! Same here! You can just jump into this thing blindly or you can acquire KNOWLEDGE of Nicotine Addiction! Who do you suppose is "luckier?" Acquire knowledge! We'll even map it out for you:

 

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2012/01/03/nicotine-addiction-101

 

http://www.whyquit.com

http://quitsmokingonline.com/

Allen Carr's book - "The Easy Way To Stop Smoking" - free download - http://joga.365.lt/Allen-Carr_Easy-Way-To-Stop- Smoking_Download-free-PDF-EBook

 

 

You can decide to read these or not. AND you can DECIDE to Quit just for today! One day! 24 hours! If you've been cutting back then you're almost there already! So make a commitment to yourself! 

 

I, Thomas, pledge that just for today I will not take so much as one little puff under any circumstances for any reason! I will respect myself enough to honor this pledge NO MATTER WHAT! N.O.P.E. Not One Puff Ever!

 

Then what happens when push comes to shove? That's where preparation comes in! You will reframe the question! No longer may you ask "should I, could I, would I smoke if....." because the answer is simply NO! Ask yourself this: "What can I do instead?" We'll even help you answer the question:

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Maggie_quit_8-1-2010-blog/2011/06/10/things-to-do-instead-of-smoking

 

You can take the 130 Day Challenge that Dale Jones has offered. His reasoning is sound and his research has led dozens of us to SUCCESS each Year! Fidn out more about what to expect:

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007-blog/2011/06/26/what-to-expect-in-the-first-four-months

 

You see, we're here to help because every single one of us was EXactly where you are now and we want you to CHOOSE BREATH NOT DEATH but the DECISION is Yours and your alone!

There are a lot of "reasons" popping up these days for why some of us did not keep our promises to ourselves and protect our quits. Among them two of the more sympathetic ones I've seen lately are Mental and Physical Disabilities. So I'd like to kindly address these issues today.

Let's start with physical disabilities. Some of these, ironically, are smoking related disabilities! Smoke Related Disabilities deprive not just you but your entire family of income as well as the significant medical cost! The underlying cause of about two-thirds of disabilities is non-communicable disease such as cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.  Women over 45 who have smoked within the last 20 years are at very high risk of developing P. A. D. Peripheral Artery Disease causes serious discomfort, even disability and is closely related to atherosclerosis. Whether your disability is smoke related or not, it makes your quit journey more challenging because folks can't use exercise to get dopamine and relieve stress; speaking of stress, these folks have way more stress than some others of us; immobility means more tiredness and loneliness - 2 of the HALT warning signs for craving; these folks can't look forward to feeling so fabulously as somebody who doesn't have these illnesses - better, yes - fabulous, less likely! At the same time, it's just that much more important that you make the commitment and make it happen! Just because you have one disability doesn't protect you from getting another one, like COPD!!! Then you will really be in BIG TROUBLE!  it's very important that if you have a disability to not smoke or if you are smoking, to quit smoking TODAY! The risk you are taking with Quality and Quantity of LIFE is cut short by your addiction! This is one thing that YOU CAN do for yourself! Quit Smoking TODAY! We're here to help! We have many Great Quitters who also have disabilities and can relate to your struggles! Reach Out! Never Give Up!

Now, for you folks who have Mental Illness, I'm heavily borrowing from Sheryl's Blog which I'll leave the link for:https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/AutumnWoman-blog/2011/09/26/smoking-and-mental-illness

A study done by The Harvard School of Public Health reported that Americans with mental illness are nearly twice as likely to smoke cigarettes as people with no mental illness.  People with diagnosable mental illness comprise nearly 45% of the total tobacco market in the United States.  Nearly 1/3 of smokers with mental illness were able to quit smoking.  If they refrained from using alcohol and drugs, they had a cessation rate equal to people without mental illness.

Mental illness in this instance was defined as one of the following: major depression, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, social and simple phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse and dependence, antisocial personality, conduct disorder, non-affective psychosis (including schizophrenia).So you can see the people in the study were at varying degress of severity in their illness.

  Smoking has been shown to interfere with successful outcome in the naturalistic treatment of Bipolar patients, for example.Nicotine dependence has also been found to be a risk factor for depressive symptoms, as reported in a recent article in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

In addition to these direct effects on mental health, smoking is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease when combined with the presence of any three of the five primary risk factors that constitute the metabolic syndrome. (These five factors are: increased waist circumference, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, increased triglycerides, and insulin resistance or elevated fasting blood glucose.) Cardiovascular disease co-occurs with mental illness at a high rate and is one of the major causes of decreased life expectancy in those with inadequately treated illness.

Because smoking is a powerful risk factor for comorbid illnesses such as heart attack and stroke and is itself associated with a poor clinical outcome in the treatment of mental illness, every effort should be made to help patients with smoking cessation.  If you suffer from any of these disorders, do not think that quitting is impossible.You are not alone here! Reach out! Speak up! The life you save is your own! Yes it's harder but it IS doable! We CAN help!

Just in case you think I don't know what I'm saying, I have COPD, PTSD and Depression and yes, I know what it's like! My name is Thomas and I have 4 Years 6 Months 2 Weeks 4 Days 19 Hours 51 Minutes 51 Seconds, 52 Seconds, 53 Seconds, ..... Smoke FREE! YOU CAN, TOO!

Thomas3.20.2010

We All Want SUCCESS!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 7, 2014

"Success is a state of mind.
If you want success, start thinking
of yourself as a success."
- Dr. Joyce Brothers

Have you ever gone back to the way earlier blogs and just read for a while to see how things have changed? Well, I have!

 I was looking for the formula of WHY?

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 Why do some people make it from the very beginning?

Why do some people become chronic restarters?

Why do some people restart several times and then find the missing element and from that point on are sailing free?

Is it genetics, or gender, or life circumstances or support systems or NRTs or "stress"? Why this person succeeds with "ease" and that person battles for their life has kept me searching for answers.

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Well, I think I've got it but don't take my word for it - take a look for yourself!

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 Over and over again people say, "Get educated, Read, Read, Read!"

 Some folks take that advice and some don't and yes, those who do their homework do have better success, by far!

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 So why did she read and he just trudge along slogging it out?

 Why did she read and nothing changed while he read the same material and reported a life-altering WOW! moment?

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 Lots of questions, right? But it comes down to a fundamental ATTITUDE that makes the difference!

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If you believe that smoking cessation is an EVENT then you soon become impatient waiting for things to "get back to normal!"

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 Some folks do manage to stay quit for a considerable time but their attitude is brittle - they could still relapse remarkably easily!

 Others can't stand the "not normal" and just give in and relapse back into their comfort zone!

 Then there are those who even before they quit smoking realize that they are choosing a life altering way of life!

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 They are looking at not an event but at a LIFE JOURNEY - the path of abundant addiction FREE living!

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They recognize the quit as a choice that you don't just make once but that you dedicate yourself to each and every day!

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 They are open to a NEW NORMAL!

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 There is no going back - ever!

They welcome these changes and collateral changes that come with it - whatever they might be!

 They know that they will evolve and mature in ways they could never have anticipated!

And they say, YES!

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 That's where I want to go! I don't see the entire staircase, but I accept the direction as life affirming!

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 I will take the next step up - the simple decision that I won't smoke TODAY !

 Just for today I pledge N.O.P.E. no matter what and I'll do whatever it takes to maintain my quit because I respect myself!

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Tomorrow is another day!

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 The key to SUCCESS is within you but you must realize that you will change! Your relationships will change! Your PERSPECTIVE will change! Your future choices will change! And it's all for the BEST!

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Thomas3.20.2010

Addiction Recovery

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 7, 2014

When we realize that we are dealing with an addiction, we have opened our eyes to the quit journey!

Quitting is more than just not smoking - it is recovery from addiction! Recovery means the process of reclaiming something lost!

So what did we lose when we got hooked on nicotine? I would surmise that we lost our true God-given Selves!

No pill, patch, e-cig, or other device can give that back to us!

Only we can get that back by going to the source of our being - Our Creator! We must forgive ourselves and ask HIS forgiveness for the sacrifices we have made for the sake of our drug - Nicotine!

I sacrificed my body, my mind, my spirit, my soul to a dried up dead leaf wrapped in paper and dipped in thousands of deadly chemicals!

One by one, I have to reclaim each of these! That takes time!

I didn't just wake up one day and say, "I think I'll forfeit all that makes me special to an addictive substance!" NO! It took time - little by little giving up more and more of myself!

And I won't get all of that back overnight, either! I need to be diligent, careful, focused, determined! And I need to be PATIENT!

In the end, I will be recovering/reclaiming LIFE ITSELF!

So what if I'm grumpy for a few days! What's at stake is ME! And my Family and True Friends can only want that for me and more than willingly put up with my rascibility!

The GIFT is Abundantly Truthful Living! I can't let myself settle for anything less!

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The more you listen to your NicoDemon, even to argue with him, the more POWER he gets! The more you listen to your Life-affirming self the more POWER he gets! 

Don't argue with the NicoDemon! 

IGNORE HIM!

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. - Gail Devers

 

O.K. So you've "tried" to quit several times and you "always" made it so many hours or so many days and then.... failure! So you convinced yourself that you will probably die a Smoker! Well, you might! But only if you DECIDE to! You certainly don't "have to!" So put that thought behind you! It comes from your addictive mind ( often referred to here as the NicoDemon!) Your Addictive Mind is part of YOU and knows you intimately! LOL! But what it doesn't know is that you CAN change! You CAN LIVE ADDICTION FREE!!!

 

But you can't just do what you've done before and expect different results! So ask yourself, seriously, what are you going to do differently! One of the main things I did was to admit that I need help! So I came here and read what the folks here were saying! I listened to the people who had established a good solid quit! They told me to read about Nicotine Addiction so I READ! They told me to talk about my quit, don't keep it a secret! SO I TOLD EVERYBODY - EVEN STRANGERS! They told me to take it one day at a time - SO I PLEDGED on a daily basis I, Thomas, promise myself that NO MATTER WHAT I will not smoke for this day! Just for today I will LIVE Smoke FREE! If something comes up that I have to face I won't ask "Can I smoke, now?" I'll ask, "What can I do instead?" But I will not smoke even one little puff! I will RESPECT myself enough to HONOR my DECISION for the next 24 hours under ALL CIRCUMSTANCES!If I need help thinking with my determined Quitter's mind then I'll come here and BLOG before I blow my Quit but I won't give up or give in!

 

Today I CELEBRATE 1660 Smoke FREE Days! It was no "easier" for me than for you! I have had many challenges, especially at first! But I NEVER GIVE UP! I Believe in ME! I work hard at my Quit! And that means giving myself permission to make ME my First Priority at all times! I can't do anything for anybody if I can't take care of ME FIRST! LOVE YOURSELF! You deserve to LIVE Smoke FREE!

Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures  for
long-term values.   Joshua L.  Liebman

 

If I were to say "Oh no you don't! You just think you do", you would never believe me because you're still thinking with your Addictive Mind!

So let's just say for the sake of argument that you really truely enjoy your sickerette! Please tell me one other pleasure you have that you are so enthralled in that you will literally suffer and die for it! THAT is how much you enjoy smoking? Really?  

 

Here's a reality check that I read about yesterday - ONE IN FOUR US citizens will have COPD sometime during their lifetime! Guess who they are for the most part! You and ME! Yes, I have COPD already! But at least I know about it! Did you know that HALF of the people with COPD don't even know that they have it? So am I unlucky that I have COPD or am I lucky to know that I have COPD?  

 

So just what is COPD? Huh? Don't you take your Spiriva or Advair and go traipsing around with the Grandkids?

Absolutely not that glamorous! COPD is Chronic, Progressive, and Incurable! It is a combination of Asthma, Bronchitis, and Emphysema. You can't breathe right EVER!

Ever get winded going up a flight of stairs? Try living that way for the rest of your life!

Ever wake up with a smokers' cough? Try waking up every single day with the cough years after you quit smoking!

Now combine the two!

Here's another way to experience COPD when you don't have it: take a breath in and without exhaling count to 3 and take another breath in. Now do it again!

You see, emphysema means you can inhale but you can't exhale! So what do you exhale? That's right, CO2!!!! I can't do that as well as you can! Nice, huh? 

 

So you enjoy smoking THAT MUCH?!?!? I used to think that sickerettes relaxed me! Do you ever think that?

Believe me, they don't relax me any more! Are you going to follow in my footsteps and quit only when you HAVE TO or are you going to make a commitment NOW before you have COPD and be a heck of a lot smarter than me?

RELAX? With meds and oxygen and doctor's appointments and vaccinations and exacerbations, and disability, and a million other things that MUST change to accomodate my illness?

RELAX when I had to tell my Wife and Kids what I'd done to myself in the name of PLEASURE and RELAXATION? Seriously?

Can you see the contrast - the disconnect between my Addictive Mind and REALITY???  Get Smart! QUIT SMOKING for LIFE!!!!

I see a lot of Folks on this site Celebrating their FREEDOM! WHOOHOO! They're Dancing and Singing their JOY at living Abundantly Smoke FREE!

And I see some Folks who are mourning the loss of their Best Friend - the Serial Killerette - as my Friend JoJo calls it! With Friends like that who needs Enemies????

And I also see a lot of Folks who are fighting the NicoDemon without even realizing that the NicoDemon is just another part of YOU! Now, let me ask you this - how much Harmony and Healing can come from fighting Oneself?

So where did those EXcellent People get that Partying SPIRIT?

I'll tell you where! It came from a Fella  who said - when you have a craving - LAUGH!!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!

It comes from each and every one of YOU

who contribute their time, wisdom, and ENTHUSIASM

not only as they Pay Forward the EXpert Advice they received

but because it helps them to Protect their Quit because they Never Ever Forget

- what it was like to wish you were smoke FREE,

what it was like to make it one day, one hour and sometimes, one minute at a time,

what it means to Protect Your Quit TODAY NO MATTER WHAT,

that Addiction is a Lifetime Condition

and QUITTING IS A LIFETIME JOURNEY

so kick back and ENJOY the Ride - You're Smoke FREE for LIFE!!!!

 The Quit isn't about giving up anything of importance in the least!

It's about what you gain - the REAL YOU the way your Creator intends for you to be -Addiction FREE!

It's about healing your Mind, Spirit, and Body from years of abuse and finding your NEW NORMAL!

It's about growing into the person you dream of being! Now, what's not to SMILE about????

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Thomas3.20.2010

FEAR

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 3, 2014

Our fears are more numerous than our dangers,
and we suffer more in our imagination than in reality.
Seneca

I was so afraid to quit! I was afraid that I would miss my constant companion. I was afraid that I would never "get" to smoke again! I was afraid that I would "try" and fail! I was afraid that I would become one of those EX - smokers who hate anything closely related to tobacco!!!!

 

HA! The whole time I was afraid of all the wrong things! I SHOULD HAVE been afraid of Smoking Related Illness! But you know what? It never really crossed my mind ......until! Yep! Too late! Now I have the BIG Smoke Related Illness - COPD!

 

What did I imagine a quit would look like? Well, I thought that I would have that skin crawlly feeling forever! I thought that I'd always wish I had a Sickerette! I thought that I would have to be Super-Human depriving myself the one kick-back relax my-time activity I allowed myself to indulge in!

 

Little did I know that I was about to embark on the most Spiritually Expansive, Personally Maturing, Physically Renewing journey of self-exploration that I could ever imagine! Oh, how I wish I had known before I got sick! But I'm GRATEFUL every day for this journey! And YES, I'm PROUD to be one of those EXers who HATES the ENEMY! Now I kick back and relax naturally - not because I NEED MY FIX! But because I'M ADDICTION FREE!

 

So NEWBIE! Will you change? ABSOLUTELY - you will discover the NEW YOU - so much better than you could ever imagine! There's only one rule: keep those Sickerettes away from your face! All the rest will happen naturally!

Which are you with your cravings? Do you Battle that craving with all you have? Take That, you nico-demon! Rot in Hell!!! OR Do you let the cravings do their best while you passively go about your business of living, riding out those craves like a surfer facing a wave?

Early in my quit I had the all out WAR attitude! Then I read what JonesCarp and James were saying and it had nothing to do with feistiness! They talked about how you could actually ignore the nicodemon altogether and Voila! he shrinks into virtual nothingness!! WOW! Just ignore that junkie monkey and he'll give up because you're no FUN to play with any more!!! You see, he wants you thinking about Him! It doesn't matter what you think as long as you focus on HIM! He knows that if you keep playing that game he can make you so miserable about your quit that you'll relinquish responsibility and your quit will collapse!!! But if you get on with living LIFE Abundantly and deprive HIM of Energy instead of visa-versa HE is the one to run out of steam!!!

So I thought what the heck - I've "quit" dozens of times and I never even thought of this strategy!!! I'll give it a try and we'll see!!! Believe me, it didn't happen overnight! I was so used to coming to the frey ready to do BATTLE, it was hard to just passively walk away from the competition! Besides, it's a bit counter-intuitive,isn't it? But you know what? I kept practicing and FOCUSING on COLLATERAL KINDNESS and it really DID work!!! 

So all I'm saying is instead of fighting those craves, just change the channel!!! Laugh, Count your Blessings, Help other people, have FUN!!! You'll drive that NicoDemon Bananas and steal back the POWER he stole from you!

Thomas3.20.2010

CHALLENGE!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Oct 1, 2014

Does 130 days sound like an eternity?

It did to me when I began my Quit Journey!

Heck! Even 13 days sounded darn near impossible!

But when you have your Quit Tool Box ready and a basic understanding of Nicotine Addiction and Withdrawal (both physical and more, importantly, psychological) those days soon take on their true dimensions – only 4 Months and 10 days after having smoked for ……now, how many Years did we poison our bodies?????

Dale Jones has made the following challenge:

I CHALLENGE EVERY PERSON QUITTING SMOKING TO GO 130 DAYS FROM YOUR LAST PUFF AND THEN TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS OF SMOKING ARE STILL UNMANAGEABLE.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/people/jonescarp.aka.dale.jan_2007

Become willing to take the 130 day challenge! You will not regret it! In fact, I don’t know of anybody who has quit smoking and regretted their decision!

I DO know that 74% of smokers claim that they want to be  quit TODAY and 85% of smokers say they have in fact tried to quit at least once in their lifetime, including 45% who have tried at least three times.

Wouldn’t you like to stop TRYING and start BECOMING an EX?

Take the 130 Challenge and you’ll be well on your way to joining the 6% Club! [Only 6% of those who begin to quit smoking reach the one YEAR mark!]

The more you participate here the better your chances of Becoming an EX for LIFE! We have LOTS of SUCCESS!

 Ask around! Quitters are Happier, Healthier, and less Stressed than YOU are right now!

There’s absolutely nothing different about the folks who quit and the wannabes! They simply joined, participated and paid attention! They used the tools that were offered that they found useful! They stayed FOCUSED and DETERMINED and were willing to change!

They found out that they really CAN “Keep them away from their faces!”

YOU CAN,TOO!

Most U.S. Smokers Want to Quit, Have Tried Multiple Times

Former smokers say best way to quit is just to stop "cold turkey"

by Frank Newport

PRINCETON, NJ -- Most current smokers in the U.S. would like to give up smoking. Perhaps as a testimony to their desire to quit, 85% of smokers say they have in fact tried to quit at least once in their lifetime, including 45% who have tried at least three times.

 

These data are from Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 10-14.

There hasn't been a lot of sustained or significant change in smokers' desires over the years. An average of 74% of smokers have said they wanted to quit over the 25 surveys on which Gallup has asked this question since 1977. There is a small number of smokers in any one sample for which this question is asked, increasing the chances for minor variations from year to year.

The finding that smokers have tried on average 3.6 times to quit smoking over their lifetimes -- only to return to their habit -- is more understandable in light of the fact that 72% of smokers claim that they are "addicted" to cigarettes.

As was the case for the trend in smokers' self-reported desire to quit, this addiction trend has not varied significantly on a sustained basis over the last 22 years. But in 1990, when the question was first asked, 61% of smokers said they were addicted. Of course, it may be in smokers' best interest to claim that they are addicted to smoking, because that mental conviction may help reduce the cognitive dissonance that knowingly engaging in an unhealthy habit can produce.

Overall, 19% of Americans in Gallup's July Consumption Survey say they currently smoke, 24% are former smokers (they used to smoke on a regular basis), and 56% have never smoked. The quarter of Americans who are former smokers are primarily defined by age: 41% of those 65 and older used to smoke, but do not now, compared with 12% of those aged 18 to 29.

Quitters Most Likely to Use "Cold Turkey" Strategy

The quarter of Americans who have successfully quit smoking, when asked to name the strategies or methods they used to quit, are most likely to attribute their success to just deciding to quit "cold turkey." Smaller percentages of reformed smokers name willpower, support from family and friends and prayer, use of the nicotine patch, ceasing to be around people who smoke, using chewing gum or candy, and using an electronic cigarette.

Health Cited Most Often as Reason for Quitting

The former smoker group was also asked to detail the major reasons or factors that finally caused them to quit smoking. These reformed smokers were by far most likely to mention factors relating to health, including mentions of pregnancy, bronchitis, cancer, and other causes.

Fewer former smokers say they quit because of the expense of smoking, because smoking was a bad or disgusting habit, or because of their family and friends.

 

Implications

Smokers on average are engaging in a habit they wish they didn't have, and, in fact, the average smoker has attempted to quit at least three times in their lifetime. The difficulty in quitting is attested to by the fact that more than seven in 10 smokers say they are addicted to cigarettes.

The varied strategies for quitting cited by former smokers suggest there is not a dominant "magic bullet" method, but rather just a basic decision at some point in smokers' lives to quit cold turkey.

The majority of former smokers say their concern for their health was the main factor that caused them to quit smoking. This is an important finding, but given that 91% of smokers already admit that smoking is harmful to smokers' health and 79% admit that smoking is a cause of lung cancer, it is clear that the specter of bad health, disease, and death has not been enough in and of itself to get smokers to stop.

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