On those days before we ever started smoking, we had a perception of our world and how it was supposed to work with us and how we would interact with that world. Our minds were filled with curiosity and yes, a sense of belonging because as a species, we tend to want to stick together. We traverse through life, ever evolving as our minds learn from experience and uses memory to help improve our lives by not making the same mistakes twice.
And then, for some reason we choose to try a substance of the Earth. Perhaps it was that natural curiosity that all us humans have. Perhaps it was because of a perception of maturity or in my case a desire to be cool. Somehow when I was holding that cigarette, it made me feel stronger and more confident for reasons I’ll never really know.
But somewhere along the way we choose to smoke. And with that first cigarette comes the first big lie. You know, the one where we say “one can’t hurt anything, right?” and in reality maybe one didn’t hurt anything. But somehow that one became twenty and then forty and when we reach that point, we begin changing our perception of our world. Our brains begin the creation of receptors and uses this new substance to create a chemical euphoria, and each cigarette causes the mind to create even more of these receptors and as far as the mind is concerned, those changes are perceived as normal simply because of the stimulus we were continuously feeding the mind and body.
The brain itself doesn’t really understand right from wrong, I think. But it does understand euphoria and the feelings of well being that these receptors create everytime we take a drag off of a cigarette which over time changes our perception of everything! Suddenly we find it impossible to be truly happy without a cigarette. In fact, since it is believed that the receptors also release chemicals that dull negative feelings, it makes it really hard to see reality after a while.
I think this also generates the fear we feel when we first decide to quit. We know how we feel when we smoke. But we’ve forgotten what our perception was before we smoked. In essence, we forget what freedom feels like and I think this makes it even harder to quit. We have no reference to compare to and just have to trust that in the end, what we believe to be true if we quit is true.
And then when we do quit, we still get no taste of what that future might bring and it’s so easy to lose sight of the original goal of freedom and remember instead the pleasure that smoking used to bring us. And once that memory comes flooding in, we tend to latch onto it. We want to wake up those receptors so that we can feel what they once offered again. And of course that translates to smoking, or hopefully just the thought of it.
So in reality, the fight is quite real both mentally and physically. This is why our quits are perceived in such a negative light at times. This was why for my quit I’d created Mt. Freedom and the addict within. So I could visualize things in a different light and so that I could understand that my battles weren’t really against the cigarette. No. It was an internal battle against my own perceptions.
Mt. Freedom represented the entire journey from start to finish with the shimmering summit always giving my mind a tangible goal to get to. And I always saw myself dragging the addict within up the mountain with me so that I could keep an eye on him and at times when I really needed to, yell at! I was able to focus all of my anger toward the beast that was screaming inside of me simply by perceiving it as something separate that I could scream at and at times yes, talk to.
I realized that once my perception changed and I could view my addiction as an enemy, it helped me to focus more on what I was gaining rather than what I was losing. And then as the receptors shut down, calming my addictive half, I could once again focus on the future.
Quitting is a process. It takes time. It takes acceptance. It takes a desire to want to see things differently but one thing is certain. Once we can see through the lies of our own making. Once we realize that happiness really doesn’t live inside a modified plant, we begin to calm. And once we begin to calm we can stop living only in the present and look instead to the future that was waiting for us all along.
My hope for you is that you find your own Mt. Freedom. That single thing that keeps you focused on a burning desire for change. On a desire to be free. On a desire to find peace because it’s out there and one day at a time we do find it!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!