Addiction – An Unconscious Signal of Not Being in Control
If you are substance-addicted, this may be accompanied or caused by the inability to fulfill one or more of your deepest desires. Although unconscious of it, you may have this idea that there is a power beyond your control that stops you from achieving your dreams, big or small.You may even admit self-defeat by maintaining the belief that it is just too difficult for you to give up old habits like smoking, drinking alcohol or eating addictive foods.
Many smokers argue that they cannot quit smoking if they constantly see other people smoking. Others do not want to face the possibly unbearable withdrawal symptoms that often accompany a sudden abstinence from smoking. Quite a lot of people managed to quit smoking, but when they suddenly put on a lot of weight, they resumed the habit.
Most smokers who wish to end their addiction feel that they don’t have enough willpower to stop smoking. Why are we giving a small cigarette such great power that it is able to rule over our freedom to make conscious choices in our life? Smoking, like any other addictive habit, is merely a symptom of an underlying void or deficiency of some sort. What is really missing in our lives that we continue to desire substitutes? This question is impossible to answer in this context due to a vast number of possible answers, many of which may only be known by the addict himself. But the need to smoke can become very useful in as much as it can reveal and actually overcome this inner lack, whatever it may be.
Instead of criticizing or judging yourself for giving your power to a habit that has the potential to make you ill or kill you, you can learn a great deal from it and make yourself feel complete again. Because you may not be able to understand the underlying message that smoking entails, you tend to resign yourself to the expectation that quitting the habit is a difficult and frustrating task. Yet smoking can make you aware that you are no longer completely in control of your life, and even offer you a way to reclaim that control.
The excuse “I cannot give up smoking because…” is an unconscious recognition that I am a victim of some kind, and that I am suffering from low self-worth. There is a part of me that I consider weak and inadequate. A part of me is not alive and well. The act of smoking makes me admit in a way that my desire for a cigarette is greater than my desire to stay healthy or, in other words, to love myself. It is very difficult to give up smoking or other addictions for as long as I preserve this underlying weakness, projected by such exclamations as “I can’t give it up” or “I go crazy if I don’t have my cigarettes”.
Learning to Recover Your Free Will
Similar to using a thorn to pull out another thorn, learning to give up the habit of smoking may be one of the most effective ways to uproot any underlying incompetence and dependency in your life. By suppressing or fighting the habitual desire to smoke, you merely feed it with more of your own energies. This all but increases the addiction. Desires want to be fulfilled, or at least we should be able to decide whether we want to fulfill them or not. The addiction to smoking, which reflects a lack in inner competence and completeness, can actually become a very effective method to fill you up again and regain conscious control over your life. What does that mean, you’ll ask. Smoking is not the problem you need to combat. Just seeing smoking as an addiction that may have horrible consequences is a depressing notion, and fighting it doesn’t raise your self-esteem. Even if you succeed in quitting this habit, you still haven’t regained your inner sense of freedom and are likely to develop an addiction to something else, like eating sweets, drinking alcohol or having sex. Instead of waging a war against your anxiety or poor self-confidence, all you need to do is increase that sense of inner freedom to make your own choices in life.
If understood and dealt with properly, smoking can be one of the most important things that has ever happened to you. It can lead you to adopt an entirely new way of thinking, thus reshaping your destiny. If you are a smoker and wish to give up the habit, you first need to understand that your addiction is not an accidental mistake you made during one of your lower moments in life. You have created this habit not to suffer because of it, but to learn from it. It is likely to stay with you or change into another addictive habit until that day when you will have acquired the ability to refer all power of fulfilling your desires back to yourself. Giving up smoking is not about quitting one addictive habit just to adopt another one; it is about recovering your sense of free will.
To use one’s willpower to fight an undesirable habit is defeating its purpose and likely to backfire because fighting something is based on the premise that you are being attacked or in some sort of danger. With what we know today about the powerful mind/body connection, the fear that underlies the fight against an addiction is enough to keep the cells of the body jittery, anxious and dysfunctional. They can never find the peace, balance, and energy they need in order to be ‘happy’ cells for as long as the fear of not being in control prevails in the awareness of their master. The enzyme-based messages that cells are sending to the brain and heart are simple cries for help. The host interprets these signals, though, as depression and nervousness. To ‘overcome’ the discomfort, at least for a few moments, the host feels compelled to grab the next cigarette or look for another drink. Each time the discomfort reemerges, he or she feels defeated and weakened, and so the addiction carries on.
True willpower, however, is about learning how to make conscious choices. Addictions stick like glue to everyone who wishes to overcome them. They are the ‘ghosts of memory’ who live in our subconscious and pop up every time the addictive substance is in sight or is imagined. The subsequent urge is not under conscious control, hence the feeling of ‘dying’ for a cigarette, a cup of coffee, or a bar of chocolate. It is important, though, to realize that you always have a choice. This is all you need to learn when it comes to overcoming an addiction.
You cannot successfully exorcise the ghost of memory by throwing away your cigarettes, avoiding your smoking friends, or living in a smoke-free environment. Society has condemned the act of smoking so much that many smokers already feel deprived of that sense of personal freedom they need to feel in order to make their own choices in life. If you are a sensitive person, be aware that a nagging spouse, a doctor, and the warning written on cigarette packs that smoking is harmful to your health may make you feel ridden with guilt. When all of this external pressure succeeds in making you give up smoking, you will continue to feel deprived of your free will and, therefore, look for other more socially acceptable forms of addiction.
Making Smoking a Conscious Choice
We all remember our childhood days when our parents told us not to eat chocolate before lunch or would not allow us to watch television when we wanted. The subconscious mind reacts negatively when it is deprived of its ability to make choices or when it feels forced to do something against its will. Disappointments resulting from not being able to fulfill one’s desires can add up and lead to an inner emptiness that wants to be filled. Smoking is simply a subconscious rebellion against the external manipulation of our freedom to choose what we want, and it appears to fill that uncomfortable space within, at least for a little while. However, this inner lack can only subside permanently when we have regained the freedom to make our own choices. You must know that you are free to smoke whenever you like and as often you like. If you have a cigarette and a match to light it, you will certainly find a way to smoke it, too.
The unconscious association of smoking, with all the other ‘don’ts’ in your past, will be negated by accepting your desire to smoke. I had my first cigarette when I entered high school at age ten. I felt like a criminal because the law said I was only allowed to smoke when I was sixteen years old. My parents were certainly strictly against smoking. Years of hiding my ‘secret’ from my parents and my teachers left me with no other choice but to continue smoking until I felt I had a choice. When I finally got the legal permission to smoke, I lost interest and chose to quit. I was able to give up the habit at once, without any withdrawal symptoms.
The first and most important step to quit smoking is to give yourself permission to smoke. Guilt from the act of smoking will only prevent you from gaining satisfaction and urge you to have another cigarette that may ‘at last’ give you what you have been looking for. But you are not really looking for the short sensation of satisfaction that smoking provides but for the lost freedom to make your own choices in life. By trying to avoid lighting up, you also deprive yourself of this potential satisfaction. The resistance to smoking creates powerful psychosomatic side effects. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms may include depression, lack of interest in life, sleeplessness, anger, nausea, ravenous hunger, obesity, cardiovascular disease, lack of concentration, and shaking. However, these symptoms can only manifest if you believe that you have been deprived of your freedom to smoke.
Choosing To Smoke Less, But…
Don’t fight your desire to smoke. Contrary to general belief, to give up smoking you do not need to abolish your desire to smoke. You will start giving up the habit automatically once you choose not to follow your desire to smoke each and every time you have it (the desire to smoke).This will take the fuel out of your subconscious, rebellious mind and stop you short of becoming a victim of external forces, situations or people. A master of yourself, you can choose to smoke or choose not to smoke. Keep your cigarettes with you as long as you feel you want to have this choice. It may even be a good idea to encourage your desire to smoke by keeping your cigarette pack in front of you, smelling it from time to time. Watch other people around you light up and inhale, imagining that you inhale deeply too. Do not count the days that pass without you smoking and do not look ahead in time either. You neither need to prove to yourself nor to anyone else that you can beat this addiction. In fact, you don’t want to beat it at all. You want to benefit from it. You are neither a better person if you quit, nor are you a worse person if you don’t. You are free to stop smoking today and begin again tomorrow. You will always have this choice, and you will always be only a puff away from being a smoker, just like the rest of us.
The choice of using and training your free will has to be made in the ever-present moment, right now, and has to be done anew repeatedly many times each day. The longer the periods of time during which you actualize your choice not to smoke, the more quickly diminishes your urge to smoke, becoming less intense each day. Whenever the desire to smoke returns, which is possible because the ghost of memory doesn’t just leave your subconscious overnight, you are once again compelled to make a new choice. This time, however, your conscious mind finds it much easier to stick with its previous successful choice because of the newly improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Setbacks don’t exist in this program; only exercising your freedom of choice does. One way or the other, you are in charge.
The conscious retraining of your mind will benefit your entire life. It will restore your power of using your free will and remove the ‘victim’ within you. Because you have been told so many times in your life that you cannot do this or cannot do that, you began to use this belief dogma to accept your addiction as being too difficult to quit. By reclaiming your power of making conscious choices you will be able to break the self-fulfilling ‘I can’t’ pattern in your life for good. This will become a great asset in every part of your life.
Ending the Addiction
Before you decide to stop smoking (or any other addiction), make sure that you are aware of the following points:
- Make ending your addiction a priority in your life.
- Don’t try to make too many other changes in your life at the same time.
- Don’t reward yourself for ending the habit; quitting is enough of a reward.
- It is good not to tell anyone about your intention to stop smoking because this only undermines your freedom to choose to smoke.
- Carry your cigarettes or tobacco with you, so you can choose to smoke whenever you decide to. Also, people will assume you are still smoking; this way you don’t have to prove to anyone that you are capable of quitting the habit.
- Unless for health reasons, don’t try to avoid places where other people smoke; you want to remain in charge under all circumstances.
- Realize that unless you are traveling on an airplane or a bus you are always free to smoke whenever you wish to, even if you have to do it out in the cold air.
- Avoid substituting things like tea, coffee, chocolate, chewing gum, more exercise, drinking mineral water, etc. for cigarettes, as they won’t satisfy your desire to smoke in the long run.
- Choose a starting time of your program to stop smoking that does not coincide with an emotional upheaval or stressful situation. It is best to link the starting date with a positive event in your life. New moon day is one of the best days to start quitting.
- Think about all the benefits that will come to you when you stop smoking, i.e., better health, less mucus discharge from the lungs, cleaner breath, saving money, etc.
- Acknowledge your desire to smoke when it comes up by saying to yourself: “I really have the desire to smoke now and I feel free to do so, but right now I decide not to smoke.” When the desire to smoke returns in an hour or so, you may choose to fulfill it this time. This will teach you to consciously accept your desire to smoke, but not always fulfill it. By choosing not to smoke each time the desire emerges, you train your mind to make conscious choices.
- Often, your desire to smoke is coupled with clues like drinking a cup of coffee, the ringing of the telephone, waiting for a bus or a taxi, or switching on the television set. Your addiction is a ‘program’ that you have written in your subconscious mind and associated with such clues. As the clues occur, your desire to smoke pops up, too. The next time you want to smoke when the telephone rings, while you drink a cup of coffee, or after you switch on the TV, make the conscious choice to wait for a few minutes until you have the time or opportunity to smoke consciously. Another suggestion is to smoke somewhere in the house or garden where you usually don’t smoke. This will sever the ties to your subconscious and make your decision whether to smoke or not a more conscious one.
- Allow your desire to smoke to become quite strong before you actually reach for the cigarette; in other words, you will still have the freedom to smoke but postpone your decision for a while until you really feel the discomfort. Notice where in your body you feel tense, irritable or nervous. It is important to feel how strong your desire to smoke becomes before you light up. Most smokers give into the slightest urge to smoke and do not even notice when they light up. You want to break the pattern of doing things unconsciously.
- To make it easier to quit smoking (or any other addiction), drink half a glass (or more) of water (at room temperature) before you choose to smoke a cigarette every time you have the urge to smoke. Physically speaking, the urge to smoke is directly linked to toxins that were deposited in the connective tissues of the body and are now entering the blood, increasing blood thickness. The thickening of blood generally causes irritation, nervousness and anxiety, even panic. Instead of pushing the toxins back into the connective tissues (as they will surely reemerge) drinking a glass of water will make your blood thinner, which will help to remove the toxins from the body. Thus, the urge to smoke lessens each time you do this and eventually disappears altogether.
- Finally, your addiction to smoking is not something terrible that you need to get rid of. It is rather an opportunity to train yourself to become the master of your destiny. In this sense, your addiction can become one of the very best teachers you have ever had.
Summary of the Technique to Stop Smoking:
- Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, repeat to yourself: “I want to smoke now.” This will bring your desire to smoke from your subconscious into your conscious mind and allow you enough time to make the conscious choice of whether to smoke or not to smoke. Drinking half a glass of water also brings the desire into your conscious mind.
- Then say to yourself:“I have the free choice to smoke now.” If you do not remind yourself of your inherent freedom of making choices, your subconscious, addicted mind may believe that you can’t smoke anymore and may go into a state of rebellion. This may cause withdrawal symptoms.
- If you feel a desperate need to smoke, acknowledge your desire by saying:“I choose to begin smoking again.” Before you reach for a cigarette check whether this is what you really want. Or you may repeat to yourself: “For the moment I accept that I want to smoke, but I choose not to at this time.” Think about how you would feel if you stopped smoking altogether.
Follow this simple sequence every time you have the desire to smoke. The technique is fool proof because you cannot go wrong, whatever the outcome. Whether you decide to continue smoking or not, you have begun to become ‘aware’ and exercised your free will – a prerequisite to consciously taking charge of your life. The majority of people who follow this simple program give up smoking within one week, others take a little longer. How long it takes to quit is not important. What is important, though, is that you experience a major positive shift in your thinking and in your attitude towards yourself and others.
All the research studies which show that smoking is a hazard to your health have missed the point. Instead of condemning people who smoke, we should show them ways to learn from this addictive habit as we can learn from any other problem in life.
This technique works equally well for any other addiction, including coffee, alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, sugar, salt, sex, and even work. I suggest that you read this section as often as it takes to familiarize yourself with the major points, or at least once a week.