Many smokers fail at breaking free because they sell themselves on the lie that the mountain is just too big to climb. Sadly, they've fed their mind such rubbish so long that it believes it as much as their name. Still, it doesn't stop them from trying. Every few years they'll take a few steps, stop and decide that the mountain is still too big.
It isn't that they are too lazy to climb, afraid of heights or lack the desire It's that most convince themselves that there are just too many steps to take while having almost no insight into how many there actually are. Not only do they not have a map home, they've forgotten who they were.
Buried beneath a pile of nicotine induced dopamine "aaah" "pay attention" memories -- possibly the most high definition memories their mind has ever produced -- they now have very little if any remaining memory of the calm and quiet that occupied their mind before nicotine took control. It's why those first steps into recovery are often taken on faith. But if faith is to survive challenge it needs to be nourished not starved.
Imagine loving to eat beef but thinking about dinner while picturing yourself having to eat an entire cow (actually a steer). That's about five hundreds pounds of beef. Impossible! It'd get pretty discouraging rather fast, wouldn't it! But that's how most new quitters think about quitting. The pit their dreams, desires and faith against the biggest mental meal imaginable, "forever", that success can only be achieved by quitting forever.
Sitting down and eating 500 pounds of beef truly is impossible. Navigating the up to 72 hours it takes for your body to become nicotine free and for withdrawal to peak in intensity is not only possible, it has already been done by the hundreds of millions of now comfortable ex-smokers who walked this path before you.
How does one consume 500 pounds of beef? One steak at a time. How do you navigate the most challenging period of nicotine detox and withdrawal, the first three days? One hour and challenge at a time! As for beef, the average American consumes about 60 pounds of beef per year and thus consumes an entire steer once every 9 years. But forget 9 years. As with ending a fine meal, celebrate each hour of freedom and healing for the full and complete victory it reflects.
We smokers are impatient people. We want results now! But it isn't our fault. Our minds have been conditioned by our addiction to expect immediate relief from the anxiety of early withdrawal. Smoking nicotine was quick and dependable. Within 8 to 10 seconds of that first puff nicotine we could actually feel it arrive in our brain as that "aaah" replenishment sensation was felt. Every two hours the amount of nicotine remaining in our blood was cut by half. Within 20 to 30 minutes we would again sense our blood nicotine level falling to the point that minor discomfort arrived, and we'd again obtain almost immediate relief as new nicotine laden smoke was sucked into crying lungs. A pack-a-day smoker repeats this cycle of obtaining immediate relief about 7,300 times a year. Yes, we nicotine addicts are impatient people when it comes to bringing an abrupt halt to the symptoms of withdrawal but then we have good reason to be, as our drug was in charge of conditioning.
Those successful at recovery all learned to control their impatience by ignoring the size of the cow and height of the mountain as they continue taking just one bite and one step at a time. All lengthy tasks in life require baby steps in order to finish what we've started. we can't build a beautiful wall with just one brick, receive a new baby after one month of pregnancy, obtain a college degree with just one class, or cook a delicious holiday dinner in seconds. Imagine getting half the meal cooked and then leaving the kitchen or building half a wall and walking away. Going the distance in life is normal. Swimming half way across the river and stopping is not.
Do you dream of being free? Is there any doubt in your mind that you can stop smoking for just one hour? If so, you already have the building blocks needed break nicotine's grip upon your mind and life, but only if you fully accept the Law of Addiction, that just one powerful puff, dip or chew of nicotine and relapse is all but assured.
Not only has nicotine taken your brain's reward pathways hostage, it has rewired those pathways by growing millions of extra nicotinic type acetylcholine receptors in at least 11 different regions. They call it upregulation and it's related to an addiction concept known as tolerance, the gradually increasing need over the years to use more nicotine in order to achieve the same effect.
No subconscious crave episode lasts longer than three minutes but time distortion during recovery is as real as your name so be sure and look at a clock. Keep your eye on the path and try not to look ahead and do your best to enjoy the hour, don't dread it. It doesn't have to be difficult and if you'll allow your dreams to flood your mind you may even find joy in it. The hour could be flat and level or it might be a bit bumpy. Your subconscious mind might sense your calmness and dreams and relax along with you, or sense fear and begin issuing forth anxiety command that beg you to throw in the towel.
Either way it's just one hour, and so is the hour that follows. See each hour of freedom as the full and complete victory that it is. Slowly they'll build and within 72 hours your blood will be nicotine-free and your mind will have no choice but to begin sensing what it's going to be like taking a long overdue rest from an endless lifetime chemical cycle of nicotine, dopamine and adrenaline highs and lows.
With each passing hour you'll move closer and closer to that moment when the underlying current of anxieties (if any) begin easing off. Be sure and get plenty of rest as a tired mind is easier to betray. Also be sure and drink plenty of fruit juice the first three days (cranberry is excellent) to help stabilize blood sugar and don't skip any meals. Nicotine fed you with each puff by indirectly causing stored fats and sugars to be released into your blood. You may need to learn to spread your normal daily calorie intake out more evenly over your entire day. If you try skipping meals after ending all nicotine use you'll experience wild blood sugar swings and concentration difficulties that can making recovery miserable. Also, if you were a big caffeine drinker you need to know that nicotine doubled the rate at which caffeine was depleted by the body (203%). If you were not a big caffeine user you have nothing to worry about but if a heavy user (greater than 750mg. ) you'd be well advised to reduce your intake by roughly half but do not give up all caffeine as that can intensify recovery as well.
Some of us have spent a large part of our life learning to be good little nicotine addicts. Although it's not realistic for us to expect to learn to be a good little ex-smokers overnight, it is realistic to deeply believe that the next few minutes and that each is entirely doable!
Do you deserve to see what it's like being "you" again? If you don't remember what it was like inside your mind prior to nicotine taking control don't feel alone as can. Believe in your dreams and believe in you. Don't be afraid as you're leaving nothing behind and everything you did while enslaved you'll again do as well as or better once free! Baby steps to glory! Freedom is your birthright and there's only one rule no nicotine today. The next few minutes are doable and there's only one rule if followed provides a 100% guarantees of success - just one hour at a time, no nicotine today!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
John R. Polito
Nicotine Cessation Educator
Just One Challenge at a Time
WhyQuit's basic "how to quit smoking" video
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