Willpower and Addiction

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If you are going to be effective as any form of magical practitioner, then you must have not only a strong mind but indomitable will power.  This stands to reason if we are going to exert our will towards anything,  if we are weak-willed we aren’t going to get very far!  Four years ago I was challenged by my partner to stop smoking as it was an example of not being in total control of myself.  This post is about how I went about this, but firstly a bit of background.

I grew up in a family of smokers, in fact I cannot remember when my adopted mother didn’t have a cigarette hanging from her lips!  I vowed when I was a child that I would never take up such an unpleasant habit however, as a direct result of my career choice, teenage rebellion and peer pressure I started smoking at age 18 years.  I became a nurse, and if that sounds crazy you will find that the incidence of smoking in the emergency services was very high.  We were all dealing with very traumatic, life and death situations and needed someway of unwinding at the end of a shift – therefore a cuppa and a ciggie did the trick!

So by the time I was issued with the challenge to stop, I had been a regular smoker for 42 years.   Once when I was pregnant I gave up immediately for the sake of the baby, but that was followed by a miscarriage at 4 months and the profound upset caused me to start again.  There had been a few attempts of non-smoking without much success, basically because I enjoyed it too much so I wasn’t fully committed to abstinence.   I knew it was pointless even attempting it if I didn’t have the right motivation in place.  This is different for everyone; some find the money they save is the motivating force, others their health, and for others it’s a motivation outside of themselves – which was to prove the case for me.  What I needed to do was fall in love with a non-smoker – I didn’t know this at the time but it proved to be the prime reason, although the barb of ‘being out of control’ did hit home!  😉

So how did I go about it?  After having watched and heard other people’s experiences of attempts to give up, one of the things I wanted to avoid was to use anything as a crutch or a substitute – otherwise I’d just be under the influence of something else.  Also when I’m about to embark on any new project, I research and do my homework on the subject and as a result, I found out some very interesting information which I will share with you:

Recovery Timetable

20 mins after quitting – BP, pulse and temperature of extremities have returned to normal rates

8 hours – remaining nicotine levels will have dropped to 6.25% a reduction of 93.75%

12 hours – blood oxygen levels rise to normal, carbon monoxide levels drop to normal

48 hours – nerve endings start to regrow and smell and taste start to recover

72 hours – entire body will test 100% nicotine free, lung capacity will increase and breathing will ease

The above are highlights of a list of benefits that start to kick in the minute you stop smoking and the body begins the recovery process.  For more details : http://whyquit.com/whyquit/a_benefits_time_table.html

When I realised that it only took 3 days to eject nicotine from my system I knew that I wasn’t going to waste time, money and effort on nicotine patches or other substitutes as it was only putting off the inevitable, and therefore seemed pretty pointless.  Nor was I going to indulge in any form of group therapy – in fact, I wasn’t going to mention I was quitting to anyone, apart from my partner.  I knew that there might well be resistance from some of my friends at that time who were also smokers, and I didn’t want to make any announcement until I was well over the first stages of withdrawal.

One of the other important things I learnt was that when a craving hit, it lasted for only a couple of minutes so I would distract myself by doing something else whenever that happened – my partner also helped with this in imaginative ways…!  😉

After a week or so I was free of the more addictive substances and then had to deal with breaking the more pernicious habit of lighting up at particular moments.  The only way that worked for me was to subtly change my routine, not so much that it caused disruption – no need to add to the wobbly stress levels!  I found that having something to do with my hands helped a lot.  A lot of smoking is connected to oral fixation and one has to resist sucking sweets instead – I suppose that e-cigarettes are addressing this to a certain extent – but as a friend of mine recently put it ‘it was like having a dummy in my mouth!’

I found it helpful to use a ‘thumbstone’ of Astrophyllite whenever the habit and/or craving hit.  I kept it in my pocket all the time and used it a bit like worrybeads, rolling it over and over in my hand.  I chose Astrophyllite for its anti-addiction properties primarily and apparently it has grounding and transformative qualities as well.

astrophyllite

Although I was a bit ‘teazey’ for the first couple of days, on the whole I found the whole process less arduous than I feared, and I feel a sense of pride that I have successfully maintained a 100% smoke free lifestyle for 4 years now.  This is in spite of dealing with some dramatic and devastating incidents which in the past would have seen me reaching for my baccy tin!

To have a supportive partner and friends is very important and is a bonus, but when all’s said and done – it was down to my personal will power that I overcame this without the need of drugs or therapy.

I’m hoping that this post may help others who are going through a similar experience because I do feel much better for it.  I enjoy my food more because my taste buds have recovered, I don’t get so breathless on exertion, my skin is clearer and as one painfully honest friend told me – ‘you smell a whole lot better than you used to!’  What’s more, given the rise in tobacco tax I doubt very much if I could afford it , and I wonder how others can.

Thankfully, I haven’t turned into one of those awful, smug and often dictatorial ex-smokers.  I have no problem with my friends who continue to smoke but I will offer support and encouragement should they try to give it up.

Before I finish this post I want to stress that this whole process is ongoing – I take each day at a time.  Even now, I still have moments of temptation but when I remind myself of what I’ve gained rather than what I’ve lost, I can regain my equilibrium and carry on.

will-power

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.”  Mahatma Ghandi

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