Tomorrow I will have been quit 3 months, and to celebrate I thought I would write down the three things that helped me the most in my quit. Turns out there are way more than three, I can’t rank them, and I would need to write a book to list them all. So for now, I’ve listed some things that worked for me. I have a couple disclaimers before I start:
- I can’t give you my quit. You have to get your own.
- There is no secret recipe or one right way.
- Many of these ideas are from others Ex’s – thank you, and I will keep passing them on.
- Any orange cat you see may turn into Picasso at any time, and vice versa. You decide which is which.
1. Acknowledge a craving as soon as you notice it. The longer I let one mess around inside my head without giving it a nod, the more powerful it was when I did.
2. Distraction was my best friend.
- Absolutely anything works as a distraction. Just distance yourself from the urge.
- I had big urges, little urges, urges that snuck up on me and ones I could see coming. For me, different distractions worked best for different types of urges.
- Learn your triggers.
- Devise an “I never did care about the little things” response and use it for the urges that sneak up on you.
- In a moment of need, pick any distraction and run.
I frequently re-read the “list of things to do instead of smoking,” and other suggestions from people with solid quits.
Sometimes a physical activity was my best distraction, sometimes something more meditative. Have a “menu.”
The act of inventing a distraction can be the distraction. “Triple_a” (Acknowledge it, animate it, annihilate it) was a distraction I made up when this big hairy gorilla of an urge wouldn’t go away. I felt like I had invented the cure for cancer . . . wait, I did!
3. Give thanks to those who give you support. Chances are you’re a really unpleasant, insecure, prickly person right now. Even if you’re not, thank them anyway. They are helping you save your life.
4. Don't wait to seek support until you are about to give in to an urge. Develop rituals that give you frequent doses of support.
- You need support. If you think you don’t, step over here and pound your head against this wall.
- When you’re on this site, be greedy. Take more than you think you need. One stupid idea stuck in your hip pocket may be the one that saves you from that next puff.
One that saved me was so stupid, I snickered when I first read it. And then I was caught off guard by a group of people smoking, and the aroma of burning cancer-sticks was like a siren calling. I couldn’t think of a way to save myself, but that stupid idea stepped right up and walked my butt down the sidewalk. Never can tell.
5. This is about you quitting smoking. it’s not a competition.
6. Quit smoking supports are not your lovers. They are not jealous of each other. Use as many as you need. If you need more, ask.
7. You are not the first person to feel like you this. Quitting is very hard and very personal. Much like a baby taking its first breath -- it's scary as hell, but lots of people have done it before.
8. “Wanting the cravings to go away is not the same thing as wanting a cigarette.” This from ckoalaco, on this site. Biggie for me.
9. No matter how old you were when you had your first cigarette, you were a non-smoker until that moment. Don’t think about becoming a non-smoker, reclaim the freedom you once had.
10. The one foolproof way to stay quit is to not smoke.
11. Gimmicks are “ingenious gadgets that work in a concealed way. “ Learn to love ‘em. Think up as many new ones as you can. Like:
- When you flip a light switch, visualize it as the switch that makes you a non-smoker again.
- When you see someone smoking, think of a positive aspect of quitting, like "my breath doesn't smell like rotting horseflesh anymore."
- Tape a picture on your bathroom mirror that scares you about what nicotine is doing to your body when you smoke.
- Take a deep breath when you feel an urge coming on. Picture in sailing away on the wind as you breathe out.
- Put a penny (or a dime, or a dollar) in a jar every time you let an urge sail by.
My friend Susan B used to keep her cigarettes wrapped in newspaper, secured with rubber bands and sealed in a sandwich bag. It took her 3 minutes to get one out. When I laughed, she said that her gimmick made her think about whether she really wanted a cigarette or not. She said, “Quit as often as you can, for as long as you can.” I thought, “when I quit I’m just going to do it, no gimmicks.” Susan quit smoking decades ahead of me.
12. Pledge your resolve. In this case, saying it does make it so. A pledge is a serious commitment. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.
- Pledge in increments of time that you can succeed at. 3 minutes will get you through an urge, 20 minutes will get you through a craving; a few hours will get you through an event where you used to smoke.
- A pledge is a promise made to something bigger than yourself, and it is powerful. I still pledge.
13. Concentrate on the bit of time you have committed to. No thinking about a failed quit 15 years ago, or what you will be able to pledge tomorrow. See number 10.
14. Review your list of reasons for quitting every day. Know your milestones and count them down. Don’t have a list? The wall is to your left . . .
15. Talk about your quit to someone who supports you. It helped me to talk to someone who had quit themselves.
16. Read or listen to all the information and advise you can find about quitting.
17. Animate a craving -- visualize it as something else. Any image will do – you steal it’s power by calling it a different name. Nicotine addiction is big and scary. But a one-eyed purple chicken? Maybe not so much.
- I think of my dwindling cravings as body parts of the overall giant monster urge to smoke that I have left bleeding on the battlefield.
- If a craving will not take the hint, I may say out loud “finger” or “toe” or name some other body part, as a reminder to us both. It can be pretty amusing at the grocery store.
A bit of humor has been the best tool of all. Happy quit!