Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home

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Chapter 5: Packing for the Journey Home

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One Challenge at a Time

A fundamental "now" task focus skill

Patience allows us navigate anxieties when confronted by challenge. Our goal is simple, to navigate challenge until challenge subsides, until our addiction's daily chatter goes silent.

We cannot build a beautiful wall with only one brick, receive a new baby after only one month of pregnancy, obtain a college degree after only one class, or cook a delicious holiday dinner in a few short minutes? Imagine getting half the meal cooked and then fleeing the kitchen, or building half a wall and then walking away.

Going the distance in life, completing each challenge and accomplishing our goal is normal and expected. Swimming half way across the river and then stopping is not.

So how do we navigate the up to 72 hours needed to move beyond peak withdrawal? Just one hour and challenge (if any) at a time. Managing impatience can be as simple as turning lemons to lemonade, while making each task smaller and savoring victory sooner.

Whether confronting a physical withdrawal symptom, struggling with a recovery emotion, encountering an un-extinguished subconscious crave trigger, or fixating on conscious thoughts about using, the objective is the same, to summon the patience needed to experience victory here and now. But how?

The first huge step is mustering the courage to initially say "no" to normal wanting within. Allow your rational thinking mind (your prefrontal cortex) to realize and discover that it has the ability to say "no" to the primitive impulsive mind (the limbic or lizard brain).

We smokers became conditioned to expect to sense satisfaction of nicotine urges and craves within 8-10 seconds of inhaling a puff of smoke. Is it any wonder that it may take a few victories before growing confident and skilled at saying "no" to use impulses?

Try to embrace recovery don't fight it. For example, crave episodes are good not bad. There is a prize at the end of each, breaking and silencing another use cue and return of another aspect of a nicotine-free life. When we take recovery just one challenge at a time, it isn't long before so many aspects of life are reclaimed that we have no choice but to accept the simple truth that everything done while nicotine's slave can be done as well or better without it.

As Joel notes, we're forced to realize that our thoughts of what life would be like as an ex-user were all wrong, that there is life afterwards and that "it is a cleaner, calmer, fuller and most importantly, a healthier life."

Challenge may involve an internal debate and the need to call upon the patience needed to allow time for honesty and reason to prevail. Chapter 11 is loaded with coping techniques for handling subconscious crave episodes. And Chapter 12 shares tips associated with navigating periods of conscious thought fixation.



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Page created July 6, 2015 and last updated July 6, 2015 by John R. Polito