Stop Smoking: Self-Empowerment and Old Fashioned Elbow Grease
Acknowledge. Accept. Prioritize. These are tenets of Save Our Selves, also known as Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a self-empowerment addiction recovery group founded over 23 years ago. When I arrested my addiction to alcohol in 1978 and founded SOS in 1985, I had successfully applied these tenets both cognitively and viscerally assuring my own recovery. I continued to smoke cigarettes, however, until 1993 and I thought and felt little about it.
Whenever I’d see a dying film star do a pitch on T.V. to stop smoking, I wouldn’t connect it to yours truly. So for thirty years it was second nature to me when I excused myself from a non-smoking environment to light up, shared cigarettes with other smokers, paced – cigarette in hand – while preparing for a talk about addiction recovery, etc. And I had plenty of company. Even today the birds of a feather phenomenon still applies; in my case, however, I hang out with other birds.
I couldn’t (translation: wouldn’t) connect with concepts casting cigarette smoking in a “bad consequences” light. As I recounted in my book Escape from Nicotine Country when, on rare occasions, a brave soul would point out smoking negatives to me I would reply, “Don’t bother me, kid, I only smoke socially.”
So, simplistically, we call this denial. We could refer to this seemingly ludicrous phenomenon as protectionism: protecting the organism (moi) from pain.
Whatever brought us individually into smokeland (initially wanting to be cool, to belong, to rebel, to enhance, to evade, etc.) is ultimately supplanted by a cycle of addiction to nicotine with a life of its own, i.e., the organism must be protected from pain feared by the organism trapped in an addiction cycle (ultimate translation: fear of extinction). The happy and joyful news is that this is B.S.! A distorted concept and misuse of a tainted (addicted) survival system!
This great realization – coupled with action – can smash the addictive cycle and free one from nicotine, catapulting one into the sunlight where the air is fresh and the birds really sing without the haze of tobacco blocking ones view, ones wheeze-free senses.
This stuff is not overstated. Hype, however used to achieve a goal, via a hoped-for motivation, is not helpful. We’re, instead, simply, straightforwardly removing the blinders here and letting the cognitive and visceral truth set us free and keep us free.
We become comfortable – not complacent – in our nicotine-free lives. As an ex-smoker of many years, Sarah, said to me recently “I really cherish having stopped smoking years ago – whatever life brings – I have that achievement and I’m damn proud of it!”
I agree. Life is filled with uncertainties, but so what? I no longer connect smoking and (in my individual case) drinking alcohol as a source to protect me from negatives. I no longer viscerally/cognitively have a knee-jerk need – even momentarily – for a cigarette or a drink. I don’t connect negatives (or positive feelings, for that matter) to cigarettes or booze as a source of relief from negatives or enhancement of positives. I’ve moved beyond that addictive nightmare and I want to continue the arrest of same.
So, in the end, prior to one’s coming to an end – via succumbing to the ravages – albeit gradual in many cases – resulting from chronic tobacco use, one can arrest the cycle of chemical need, learned habit, and denial of both need and habit with a new refreshing, life affirming cycle of acknowledgement, acceptance, and prioritization of one’s freedom from nicotine as a separate issue from all else.
This website offers valuable support and you can choose to use it, and you can also visit yours truly at quitnicotinenow.net.
I look forward to being with you again next week.