When we first decide to quit, it seems like a cute little idea at first that we kind of file into the background. But then as the mind nurtures this thought and starts really thinking that this is indeed what we need to do, a strange thing happens. The long argument with ourselves begins in that very moment.
Sometimes we lose that argument with ourselves. Other times we again file it away for later consideration. But sometimes, we grab hold of the positive and decide that we’re really going to do something positive for ourselves. We’re really going to create a new world. And once again, something strange happens only this time, the mind interprets it as fear. Mind numbing debilitating fear. At least that’s how it was for me.
And this is the reason I knew I’d have to take my quit seriously. My mind was completely consumed by my addiction; the tentacles, like a snake sneaking it’s way into everything that seemed to matter. Into every part of my being.
And I prepped for this so I’d be ready but the bottom line is no amount of prep can take away what we have to do on those first few days. You see, on those days we’ve kind of entered a new world and the problem is the old world doesn’t want to give up on itself.
When we smoked, the brain would send us impulses that we always interpreted as wanting a cigarette. These are sent because of changes in the brain that smoking caused, creating nicotine receptors These receptors expect a certain thing when they send an impulse and when the mind blocks what we normally do because we’re trying to quit, it creates confusion. And it creates the old familiar discomfort that we’ve all experienced.
Those two things together make it harder to see the positive aspects of what we’re trying to do when we quit. We can easily forget the tools we found and created to help us at first because we now have a different response to those impulses than what the brain used to consider to be “normal”.
And we haven’t yet learned that we’ve changed how we react to those impulses. I always used mental pictures to change my focus for several reasons. I don’t know if this is the same for everyone but for me, when I present a picture to my mind, it kind of gets all parts of it working together.
When we’re feeling negative in nature, sometimes we have to actively try to change it. My favorite method for this was to visualize a quiet place, and I mean really build it in the mind right down to the smallest blade of grass and the shapes of the clouds floating by. There’s something about painting a calm picture for the mind to focus on that just changes everything. And not only that, creating this scene can distract the mind from the hardest moments of our quits.
I know this idea isn’t for everybody. It’s just something that worked for me. The main point I’m trying to make is that because of what the brain does to us when we quit, we have to find a way to focus on the positive and kind of change the brain patterns simply because when losing an addiction it’s too easy to dwell on that addiction at first, blinding us to the actual positive nature of what we’re doing.
We have to find a way to see that THIS change is positive. Another visualization method that I used at weak times was to do a kind of comparison of my future, both smoke free and addicted. When we paint pictures like this, it helps the mind to focus on the picture we want to focus on which is naturally the positive one.
For example, I’d see my future after having quit. I’d see it as a gathering of my loved ones. Children, grandchildren and all the people I care about. In the one picture, I never got around to quitting and I’m sitting there in a wheelchair, oxygen tubes everywhere, my jaw surgically removed because of cancer. My grandchildren looking at me with concern in their eyes. There’s smiles, but they’re all fake smiles hiding the fear that they feel because they love us. And all my mind can see is “Why didn’t I choose a different path. Why did I remain so weak.”
And then the other scenario where I’m standing in the kitchen, helping to prepare a large meal. The smiles are real because there’s no concern from my loved ones of an agonizing death. And my smile is genuine as well. I can see the passion for life and a healthy glint in my eye as I survey all the ones that I loved. And I tell myself, “See what you did? Way back then, all those years ago when you quit, you created this future. You created this new and wonderful world for yourself.”
And even in the worst of times, my mind always gravitated to the positive image. The one we all know we want to see. That’s why I say it’s within us all to quit. That little gem of freedom has always been there. We just buried it away for a while. And I’ll tell you what. Once we unearth that gem it becomes a shimmering banner of freedom that propels us to that positive future that was there all along. We just had to find it and more than that, we had had to want it more than anything else we’ve ever wanted!
Keep fighting my friends! And in those dark moments when we feel the weakest, alway look ahead for that’s where the incredible rewards lie. The balls in your court. Which future will you choose?
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!