The Good Parts of Nicotine Addiction
The reason people stick with addiction is that addictions aren’t all bad at least in the beginning before we have forfeited our desire to choose. Sickerettes helped me escape from the boredom of everyday life. They helped me to feel 'cool',' rebellious', 'independent'. They gave me a sense of belonging to a social group of edgy 'in your face' friends. They often remind me of happy times in the past and relationships I’ve formed with friends and family over the years. I joined my smoking friends so that I could be included. Over time, I got used to enjoying these pleasant qualities. Then I wound up spending a lot of time with my smoking buddies when all I really shared with some of these folks was Addiction! But instead of using Sickerettes to enjoy life, I used them to escape from it and that's the EXact point where Nicotine Addiction became destructive.
The Cycle of Escapism
Everyone feels the desire to escape. No matter how good you have it, there are times when, instead of dealing with problems, you’d rather pretend they don’t exist. I turned to Sickerettes because they allowed me to postpone, to numb, even to forget. They gave me a pleasurable sensation that seemed to push problems out of my mind and I related this escapism with "stress relief." The downfall of this solution is that it’s only temporary. The feeling wears off and the problems remain, often made worse by my indulgence and avoidance of real solutions to my problems. Once again faced with those problems, the natural reaction was to escape again.This is the cycle of escapism. I felt pain each time I faced reality, so I used Nicotine to escape, which only increased my pain, making me more desperate to escape. Each time around it took more Sickerettes to escape, increasing my dependency on Addiction. Once I got caught in the whirlpool of escapism, it felt impossible to get out.
Developing Positive Beliefs
The only way I could permanently break the cycle of escapism was to develop a positive perception of reality. When I associated reality with pain, I constantly wanted to escape. It was essential to find happiness in reality that outweighed the suffering caused by its problems. I had to find the things in life that gave me true joy rather than temporary pleasure. These are the actions that built up my belief in a positive reality.Changing my attitude towards reality was easier said than done. When I was accustomed to the cycle of pain and escape, reality felt hopeless. The truth is that reality is neither bad or good, but an equal mix of the two. My attitude is a reflection of the parts that I choose to focus on, hence "The Happy Quitter!" By fixing my attention on sources of hope and joy, I created positive beliefs and reduced the desire to escape.
Breaking Free of the Past
Perhaps the two most powerful factors influencing my behavior were my actions in the past and my expectations of the people around me. This creates resistance to change. My friends and family members could only judge me by my actions in the past - my family reluctantly accepted that I would continue to smoke in spite of how they felt about my Addiction and frequently some of my friends had a stake in my addiction as well - take my smoking buddies, for EXample. They shared my Addiction and we acted as mutual enablers. Many were afraid of losing me–that I'd start to consider myself superior and decide to abandon them or find that we actually had nothing in common beyond our destructive mutual behavior. By simply quitting I was bringing to their attention the fact of their own Addiction. These relationships made Addiction Recovery more difficult because we all need love and acceptance from the people around us. When I was trying to break out of the old pattern and the people around me weren’t, it might have been likely that I'd eventually give up and return to my old ways because of my need for belonging. The best way for me to permanently change my lifestyle was to surround myself with people I wanted to emulate who naturally pulled me up to their level - enter BecomeanEX Elders! That’s not to say that I ditched all of my old friends in search of new opportunities but I did sort out those whose companionship was based on more than Sickerettes and those who only wanted to share the fix. The truth is that change involved difficult choices. I couldn't remain bound by the past and change for the better at the same time. I certainly couldn’t force other people to change with me. Ultimately, I had to decide which is greater, the fear of loss and the unknown, or the fear of stagnation and perpetual mediocrity as a person and forfeiture of quality and quantity of LIFE!
Creating the Future in the Present
Another mistake I once made was to wait for the future. I had a picture of the “ideal life” I would have liked to live. I envisioned an “ideal Thomas” I wanted to become. I lived based on the past, waiting for a revelation to make me who I wanted to be. It didn’t work this way. My actions in the present determine my future. The only way to create the future I want is to start living it right now.I have a favorite saying, "The future is simply a series of NOWS!" Once I started living according to the future I want to create, it became easy to spot the behaviors that detracted from it. When I realized that giving up Nicotine Addiction and all it's fantasies was a necessary and inevitable part of creating the life I desire, addiction began to lose it’s power over me. Temporary pleasure and escape didn’t have the same appeal.The more progress I make towards my ideal future, the weaker my desire to escape from reality. Just like the cycle of escapism, the pattern is self-reinforcing. Over time, I have become able to delight in lifestyle choices that are congruent with my vision — that strengthen a positive reality instead of numbing pain. Eventually there was no need or desire to rely on addictions for relief. Pleasure can be enjoyed for its own sake. Problems can be concretely permanently resolved rather than postponed or avoided. Reality became an EXtraordinary place to BE!