For me, this is one of the biggest lessons: not losing sight of my goal. I mean it’s huge guys, I’m not even kidding. There are several junctures in the quest to quit smoking including a mind fuck known as the “celebratory cigarette” or the “odd cigarette.” What happens here (and I’ve experienced it) is that because you’ve been quit for 3 months, you falsely think you are cured. SO YOU CELEBRATE BY SMOKING. Whaaa? (This is super subtle subconscious shit.)
Just picture it: your out at a bar, you haven’t smoked for months, you’re lookin’ good, you’re feelin’ good, (thanks to quitting smoking) and you’re a little pissed. You see a sexy stranger smoking a cigarette outside and, without even stopping to think really, you slither out of the bar and ask him for one. He made smoking look so good, so fun. You do not brag, like you have to everyone else lately, that you’ve quit. You just ask him for a cigarette. You lean against the wall (you have to ask him for a lighter too) and you deeply inhale that cigarette while a part of your mind is screaming: What have I done!?!!
Perhaps you just wanted to talk to the stranger, connect.
Perhaps the subconscious connections of smoking and drinking is deeply gelled within your psyche.
Two things have happened: for some reason you think you are immune to falling back into the trap (you may or may not be. Probably not) and you did not Protect Your Quit (jargon I picked up from Quitnet.com) Protecting your quit means being prepared for such instances. Asking yourself, “What will I do when my friends go out to smoke and I am no longer smoking? And I’m buzzed? ” Your response might be to head to the bar for a refreshing seltzer water with lime and cherries. Or continuing to dance on the dance floor. You are nothing if not prepared.
Many people facing serious addictions (and smoking really is a serious addiction with deadly implications) will refrain from socializing in the exact manner that they did before. It’s obvious why: most addicts only really associate with people who are addicted to the same substances or, at the very least, will put up with it.
In the beginning I found it difficult to remain focused on my goal. I was embarrassed. I felt I was becoming obsessed with not smoking. The truth is, I’d been obsessed with smoking. So this was the natural opposite of that. The other side of the coin. To crawl out, I had to remain fixated on my goal, and yes, kind of obsessed. I tried to just “meh” the whole quit smoking thing but it didn’t seem to work: if I minimized it, I’d just go right back to smoking.
In my obsession (which I am still experiencing now, as evidenced by this blog) I carried the book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking with me everywhere. When experiencing a craving, or just needing a psychological boost, this book did an excellent job of putting the habit of smoking into perspective, i.e. revealing how ridiculous it is. Now I just keep the book on my kitchen table (no big deal, it just stares me down every morning) and on my bedside.
Another huge, HUGE boost is a daily planner called The Life Coach in a Book: A 90-day Planner to Achieve Your Goals. So my goal, everyday, has been Do Not Smoke. Obsessed? Maybe. Successful? Definitely. If you don’t buy this planner (above) consider buying another one like it so you can set specific intentions as well as enjoy daily quotes like “Sometimes clarity comes in the darkest hour” and “Do something you love today.” I’m a little bookwormy, so this approach works for me. What’s important is that you find what works for you and do not lose sight of your goal.