Goodbye Mr. Nic
It seems like only yesterday that I took my last puff just before I went to bed. I had set myself a challenge never to smoke again. At 11pm on that eventful night I happily dumped three packets of cigarettes, my legendary glass ashtray, and four lighters. That was me giving Mr Nicotine the push – I never wanted to see him again.
It’s been a fascinating journey since. Fascinating because it has made me discover the wonders and power of my own mind. I’ve been watching my mind with mind, so to speak. It taught me to use curiosity in a positive way. Today I feel new. I feel clean. I feel energetic. I feel in control. More than anything, I feel proud of myself. If a weak-willed person like me can do it, so can you.
I love writing. Full stop. I also love my tribe of scribes. To me writing is an outlet. It’s a personal thing that lets my inner voice be heard across a wider audience. It makes me feel connected…
Time to get curious about cravings
So what’s this curiosity malarkey all about?
It’s as simple as this – cravings or urges start with a thought that leads to body sensations.
You’ll notice that they occur in a certain context (or situation), which triggers off the need for a cigarette. For example, it could be pressure at work, some good news in the family, an argument, a tense football match or even after sex or an unexpected reward. Add to this the ordinary day-to-day situations, like a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter morning, a drink at the pub, or a delicious meal.
These events or situations are the triggers that lead to you lighting up and then feeling relaxed or satisfied. The crucial thing is your response to these triggers. The tactic is to be curious about them and not try to fight or resist them. Be a passive observer of the triggers and stay with them. Watch them come – and go.
In reality these cravings come in small doses that are easy to manage. The more you repeat your observation of them, the weaker they get. Watching them only helps to manage your next urge to smoke.
Cravings come in waves – surf them!
This is a simple mental exercise that can bring amazing results. Believe me, I have tried it and it works. In fact, it has made managing cravings a lot easier. I still practice it.
So here’s how it works… compare a craving with the movement of a wave. It builds up and up, rising until it reaches the crest and then subsides, hits the shore, and ebbs. If we observe and follow this movement like a surfer, you’ll find that you move with the energy of the wave and not against it. There is no struggle. The urge (or wave) will come back again and again but at least you are prepared for it. Just allow the waves to wash over you.
The ‘Oh’ factor
When a craving or urge makes its presence felt I simply say to Mr Nic under my breath, “Oh, hello there. How can I help you?” If the cravings return you casually mutter, “Oh you’re back, sorry I’m a bit busy now. Can we chat later? Bye now.”
A craving in real terms starts with a thought, which then moves on to an emotion. This emotion is expressed through a sensation or physical trigger. They don’t last for more than three to four minutes on average. So watch them grow and whisper the word “Oh!”. The more you engage in this process the weaker a craving gets. In other words, you get stronger while the urge gets weaker. It actually gets frustrated because i’s not having its way.
“Oh! It’s Mr Nic.” Try to personify the urge to smoke. Say hello to him. Imagine he’s knocking at your front door. Say hello, let him in, and let him out through the back door. You don’t have to entertain him. The more often you give him the cold shoulder he sooner he’ll give up. Isn’t that clever?
Jekyll and Hyde are alive and kicking.
Once you quit you’ll find that these two well-known characters will start having conversations in your head. Yeah, a bit like the good cop/bad cop. Here’s an example:
Hyde: “I feel great. I actually hate smoking now. I feel so fit. I can taste and smell better.”
But Jekyll has other ideas when the first cravings kick in: “Oh why torture yourself, surely you can have one cigarette. It won’t kill you. Why not quit in stages. Besides, it’s a great stress reliever and you’ll feel a lot better after a few puffs. Let’s face it, you actually love smoking so just smoke a few a day.”
The legendary Jekyll and Hyde continue fighting in their respective corners leaving you confused:
Jekyll: “C’mon, just one.”
Hyde: “Yeah but then I’ll have to buy a pack and one will lead to another. Sorry, I’m staying a non-smoker.”
Jekyll: “You don’t have a buy a pack of 20. Just buy 10.”
Hyde: “No thanks. I’m doing so well with quit journey. I’ve come all this way so I’m not turning back.”
These voices are actually your inner voices. They echo what you’re saying to yourself. Stay firm and positive and gradually they will go silent.
Click here to take a look at the book.