or, Closing Back Doors
There are two parts to a successful quit: the want to quit and the how to quit. And there are two parts to the how to quit: getting off nicotine and changing the smoking behavior.
How you get off nicotine is entirely up to you. There are a number of methods e.g. cold turkey, nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, and several pharmaceutical options. They will all address the nicotine issue in their own way, but none of them will make long term change in your smoking behavior. To here, this site has focused on the smoking behavior - body cues and your associated automatic responses- and presented an effective how to quit. Now we need to look at the issue of commitment, the want to quit.
I always found it interesting that my commitment was greatest just as I was putting out a cigarette, and then steadily declined as I became more and more uncomfortable. Even those odd times when I managed to remain nicotine free for several days or a few weeks, my sense of commitment was too dependent on my mood or how stressed I was feeling. As fervently as I wanted to be someone who didn’t smoke, my commitment to quitting and staying quit was just too unstable. I’ve observed this same phenomenon in every on-line quit smoking group I’ve ever visited. People start out enthusiastic and motivated. Yet, far too often, as time goes by, their enthusiasm, motivation, and commitment begin to ebb or, in a crisis, are abandoned altogether.
We respond to life emotionally. Our initial responses are usually based on what we feel rather than what we know. As a result, our choices may be subject to change as, and whenever, our emotional state changes. I believe we need some foundation statements that provide a rational anchor for those times when we are overwhelmed by emotional turmoil and are least able to make rational judgments and objective decisions. Or as Tom St Louis said; “execute in your time of darkness what you resolved to do in your moment of clarity”. The CQ program provides you with the necessary tools to understand your smoking behavior and develop your non-smoking responses. The Foundation Statements clarify and define your commitment to use those tools.
There are a number of questions which you need to ask yourself and answer honestly. They will help you create a solid foundation. The first question to ask yourself is:
Do I want to be a smoker?
This question is very different from; “Do I want to quit?”. Quitting is usually a physically and emotionally uncomfortable experience. So again, the question is; “Do I want to be a smoker?”. In other words, do you want to continue to respond to life by reaching for a cigarette?
Can I think of any instances where smoking would be appropriate?
Smoking is an appropriate response only when it’s used to manage a fluctuating nicotine level. Once you quit, smoking is no longer appropriate. Please don’t confuse your desire to relieve discomfort, a perfectly normal and natural desire, with the thought that a cigarette is the appropriate tool for relief. If you can think of non-nicotine situations where smoking would be an appropriate or valid response, then you need to examine those situations in detail and decide now how you’ll deal with them when they arise. Most of us are very good at rationalizations and justifications for ‘just one puff’, or ‘just one cigarette’. If you are leaving back doors through which you can justify a cigarette, you WILL go through one of them.
Am I committed to these foundation statements regardless of how uncomfortable I may feel at any point in the future?
Discomfort is a normal part of life and so are crises. During a crisis, your discomfort intensifies and your ability to think rationally will be impaired. Are you prepared to stick with your plan?
Am I committed to deal with health issues as they arise?
Please take care of yourself. Quitting is a dynamic process and there may be changes to the condition of your health, either physical or emotional. Ignoring these changes and/or neglecting to deal with them in a timely manner may have serious consequences. Some medications are metabolized differently in the presence or absence of nicotine. Talk to your doctor to be sure you’ve covered all your bases. When you decide to take back control of your life and quit smoking, you must also be prepared to deal with any consequent health changes.
Am I committed to do the work?
You smoked automatically. Even if you were aware of some urge to smoke, the subtle associations and choices that perpetuated your smoking behavior operated well below your radar. To expect these established associations will simply fade away from disuse if you only stop smoking for long enough, is both unrealistic and unfounded. Established patterns, such as smoking, only change when you actively create alternate patterns and then follow them until they become automatic. The CQ program provides a structure within which you can create new non-smoking patterns. But you have to do it. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” - Goethe
Once you’ve answered these questions, please write out the following 5 Foundation Statements. Imprint these statements by actually taking paper and pen and writing them down. It will help you to make several copies and post them where you’ll see them: in the bathroom; kitchen; office; in your car; and keep a copy in your purse or wallet.
I have rationally determined that:
1 - I DO NOT want to be a smoker.
2 - There is NO situation where allowing my auto-pilot to choose a smoking response will be appropriate.
3 - I’m prepared to trust completely that no matter how uncomfortable, cranky, or confused I may be, these foundation statements are ALWAYS true and I will always help my auto-pilot
find a non-smoking response.
4 - I will conscientiously address and deal with any health issues, physical or emotional, that may arise.
5 - In order to retrain my auto-pilot, I WILL DO THE WORK.
Reading and thinking alone will not make permanent changes to my smoking behavior.
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