(This was posted by John C on the old Ex site in 2008. It did not get carried over to the new site but I managed to copy it.)
The Fulfillment Trap
* Posted by John C. on December 12, 2008 at 9:49am in RELAPSE TRAPS
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"There is no way that I can do this the rest of my life."
"I've made it a month, and look what pains this caused me."
"I just don't seem to be adjusting to my smoke-free life."
Any way you look at it, a successful quit is a journey, not a destination. There is no finish line, just milestones by milestones. The journey never seems "complete".
One of my last quits ended because I just felt so depressed because I had to change my life so much, and did not seem to see the gains that I had made!
There is hope, though. And with hope, and the right mindset (quit-itude), we can see how we will remain smoke-free in the long term, without giving up one day at a time. Hope reveals to us the future of what may be. It is a projection not only of events within, but also of things outside of our knowledge. It is holding on to what we believe, in the desire and occupation that it will be fulfilled.
Aside from hope, and looking on the horizon, there are some practical things to do to keep your mind occupied. Of course, I now know a Dutch proverb that states, "A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains" !
I hope to have that handful, and maybe a handful of brains, too... What I did was to pace myself and make marks where there was some achievement. After awhile, I realized that one week, two weeks, etc. was not sufficient for me to judge my own progress. These are the types of milestones that I noted:
When my cravings felt like they no longer had the better of me.
When I went through a day and not a want of smoking.
When I re-trained my mind to think of myself as a non-smoker.
When I saw myself as a good contender for a long-term quit.
Now, I still look forward to my one-month, but I am still wondering and wandering into these thoughts, when I will achieve these milestones:
When I have made a new friend who doesn't even know I used to smoke.
When I completely forget my conditioning to turn at the handy-mart to buy my fix.
When I realize the good use of breaks at work, to relax, not to feed an addiction.
There is plenty to look forward to and to hope for. I started this discussion in order to bring hope to those who, like I did, feel a little worn-down by quitting cigarettes. I was there, but not this time. I learned my lesson- four more years of smoking after that one time.
Reply by Giulia on December 12, 2008 at 9:56am
GREAT POST! "A successful quit is a journey, not a destination." Love it.
ckoalaco Permalink Reply by ckoalaco on December 12, 2008 at 10:07am
Thank you John!! I agree totally with giulia. Great post!!
Diane W Permalink Reply by Diane W on December 16, 2008 at 5:46pm
"One of my last quits ended because I just felt so depressed because I had to change my life so much, and did not seem to see the gains that I had made!"
That's been the hardest thing for me, the struggle with depression. Thank you for addressing this ~ and good luck on your continued journey.
Laurie Schaible Permalink Reply by Laurie Schaible on December 21, 2008 at 4:38pm
Thank you John! Congratulations on your success! I love the suggestions of how to create those new memories with milestones. Life does change - for the better.
My quit date is 12/31 - this will be my manyeth attempt. I have previously set quit dates, and each time when I saw or thought about the many pitfalls before I would quit, it would scare me enough that I kept smoking. I have successfully quit one other time, many many years ago.
This time I have created solutions to deal with those pitfalls in advance, instead of getting stuck. I have started cutting them out in many ways - just need to do it once and for all.
Joan Permalink Reply by Joan on January 6, 2009 at 11:52am
what if it is hard to stay positive. like you are happy you didn't smoke but the next day you are so depressed you say screw it. I can't find my positive things right now and dont know what to do.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on January 6, 2009 at 12:34pm
Staying positive is a definite challenge. But the bottom line is you aren't allowed to say "screw it." Or if you do, say SCREW IT, I'M NOT GONNA BLOW MY QUIT!. Let's see, recommendations for focusing on positives:
1. Remind yourself that you have a sense of humor. If you've never acquired one - get one. Do something really silly. Fill a bowl with frozen peas and turn them over your head. Do anything to get your mind off the negative.
2. Write Happy Notes and stick them up all over the house. Could be a smilie face, or could be a word like, ATTITUDE, or a sentence like STOP BEING DUMB, or an inspirational paragraph. I have some up permanently and they help.
3. Volunteer somewhere. Nothing perks up the spirit such as that.
4. Get on this site and write a blog - get the negatives out of your system. Write until there's nothing left to moan about. If not on here, then in a private journal.
5. Go find something beautiful and uplifting to look at, listen to, partake of.
6. Do one thing that's on your unpleasant list of things to do. That will make you feel good about yourself.
Who's next to chime in with how to get out of depression????.............
ckoalaco Permalink Reply by ckoalaco on January 6, 2009 at 12:48pm
Dang G!!! Love those ideas!!
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on January 6, 2009 at 3:30pm
NEWS FLASH - REUTERS - NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF SMOKING CESSATION SCIENCE.
RELIEF FOR THE CRAVES.
A North Carolina housewife discovers a new technique for killing cigarette cravings. Selma Slowpate of Twisted Oak Retirement Community was cleaning out her kitchen drawer today and discovered that two opened boxes of wooden toothpicks had spilled and co-mingled in the draw. Which would have been fine and dandy “‘Cept for the fack they war two differn’t types,” said Selma, now an Ex smoker.
“One was roun, ya see, en the other sorta flat on one side. An they needed ta be put back in their rightful boxes. Sos I began to seprate them and heck it took a long time, what with two hunerd or so. An I dedn’t thank one little beet ‘bout smokin’ a cigareet whilst I was puttin’ them picks back in ordah in them little boxes.”
Dr. Hurt from the Becomeanex Organization gave his professional recommendation to the technique. “Anything and everything that keeps one from falling into their obsession is something that is OK in my book!”
So, for all you new quitters out there, RUN, don’t walk, too your nearest grocery store and buy two packs of differently shaped toothpicks, throw them in your kitchen drawer and watch those cravings disappear!
If you’ve enjoyed pick up sticks as kid, you’ll love em just as much now.
John C. Permalink Reply by John C. on January 6, 2009 at 7:58pm
It might be hard to stay positive and upbeat all of the time, but quitting doesn't have to be about constantly being happy. Hardly anyone is happy all of the time. You don't have to be happy to quit. One of the keys to quitting is your attitude towards it. Do you have a commitment to quitting (do you want it and will do almost anything for it), do you have the right supports and know how to utilize them? Are you setting goals for yourself and working to achieve them? These things are more important in the day-to-day survival of a quit, especially during the first couple of weeks.
I am still working this quit, fifty-four days into it. I am happy with my progress, but sometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps back. This is alright by me though because I made that commitment, which I am sticking to, and I know in a number of weeks I will have made it farther (it is not all back-stepping) I also know that I distanced myself so much during those first three weeks from the mere thought of smoking a cigarette (thanks to my supports) that I have some room to work with. I worked through my goals, and in the end I have achieved some of them, but my ultimate goal is to never take another puff (NTAP). Success being measured one day at a time, since this is a continual process. It takes good energy to quit, and positive energy helps, but you really need to be committed to the task and realize that it is some work and a real challenge and it is hard to stay happy through it all. A smoker doesn't feel that kind of happiness either, so much of that is the addiction telling you "the grass is greener on the other side" as always...
Don't pay attention to that. Focus on what is important to you and I'm sure you'll be back hitting those numbers you had before.
Best wishes for you and your quit. Stay focused on your goals, stay positive in your thinking, stay strong and live long.
Jennie Permalink Reply by Jennie on January 6, 2009 at 12:56pm
Diane W Permalink Reply by Diane W on January 6, 2009 at 6:19pm
WTGGGGGGGG John, Friday my 113th quit date (it feels like) but I'm determined this time. You brought up some really good suggestions.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on February 9, 2009 at 9:07am
Thoughts on cigarettes being our fulfillment center:
Cigarettes are our fulfillment. We think they make us feel replete. I am denied everything else in life, we think - happiness, satisfaction, peace of mind, security, love, hope - a cigarettes is my mythical fulfillment center. When everything around me is the pits - my family relationships, my marriage, my job, my best friend, my friends in general, my mother-in-law, my child who is a pain in the butt, my doctor who has no answers, lawyer who never returns calls, school board person, girlfriend, boyfriend, my dog that died, cat that threw up on the rug, person on their cell phone in the car in front of me paying absolutely no attention, sister who drives me nuts, brother who isn’t there for me, physical ailments that won’t quit, diet I’m trying to maintain.... Add your own scenario. When all that is dealt with on a daily basis, yeah, we go to one of the major sources of what we have programmed into our brains to think of as fulfillment, peace, happiness - a Cigarette. SOME effing thing that gives us PLEASURE in this otherwise relentlessly unhappy struggling for the meaning of life. It represents a moment of relaxation from all that angst. And one of the few constants in our life. And it's ALL OURS! Nobody can take it away from us. We puff away our cares as we suck in the panacea that kills us. We think “I may not have all the rest of it, the great job, the good marriage, the pleasing family relationship, the kind friends, but I DO have THIS. THIS is MINE. This is the ONE THING that is a constant pleasure giver. Until we find it actually robs us of our health in the process. Then it's not quite the pleasure giver we thought.
What we constantly fail to recall is that all those struggles or their equivalency were in our lives before we ever smoked. We had a fulfillment center that worked - somehow. It wasn't until we smoked that we thought and felt we weren't replete. No wonder it's so addictive. We live in a delusion where sucking on some weed on fire will make us feel good even as it kills us. Amazing.
John C. Permalink Reply by John C. on February 9, 2009 at 9:18am
Yes, and why add to the problems of our lives by smoking? It does not fulfill any of the needs that those problems displace. It only adds to the confusion of them.
I feel much more calm, collected and in-control of myself now that I have quit smoking. It did take a while to get over it and to wake up, smell the coffee and realize that I could not, I would not smoke ever again! The sooner we can do this, the better. It takes some time, and that's okay, as long as one is patient with oneself. For most, one day at a time makes it easier to manage. But, after a while, the reality of the task sets in. There will be no smoking cigarettes for me... ever! Ever? I asked myself, over and over again, and yes, the same answer has to resound positively... YES, ever, never-ever.
How to fulfill the "need" to smoke, without smoking? There is no way to do it. Happily, though, smoking is not a need, it is something that part of our addicted minds told us we need. Sometimes our addicted minds told us it was even good for us. Now, there is a rational side of each and every one of us that needs to be fed and nurtured. This side will tell us that it is unhealthy and hopefully, unappealing to smoke!
Chris Hollis Permalink Reply by Chris Hollis on February 9, 2009 at 4:21pm
I often felt a tremendous amount of guilt because I was smoking. I had quit before and here I was smoking like there was no tomorrow. I worried about my health, about whether I'd be around to watch the grandkids grow up, etc. There wasn't a lot of "relaxing" going on.
I'm okay with it taking time for me to not feel deprived of something. It was an assinine thing to do - putting all that poison in my body and spending all that money to do it. I will buy something else that will be a treat and relaxation for me. A candle would work far better, don't you think?
My fulfillment will come from being an ex smoker. Forever. :)
John C. Permalink Reply by John C. on February 17, 2009 at 2:00am
Yes, knowing that you will be an ex-smoker forever and having the commitment and determination are so important! A candle sounds nice!