Date With Destiny
2005-12-25 19:15:10 (UTC)

New reactions to anger as an ex-smoker/ Emotional Loss

New reactions to anger as an ex-smoker/ Emotional Loss
From JustinThyme54 on 6/13/2005 8:57:49 PM

New reactions to anger as an ex-smoker/ Emotional Loss
From SmokeFreeLife on 3/28/2005 4:21:26 PM

New reactions to anger as an ex-smoker/ Emotional Loss

Dealing with emotional loss has similarities to dealing
with anger in regards to smoking cessation and its
aftermath. When a smoker encounters a person or situation
that angers them, they initially feel the frustration of
the moment, making them, depending on the severity of the
situation, churn in side. This effect in non-smokers or
even ex-smokers is annoying to say the least. The only
thing that resolves the internal conflict for a person not
in the midst of an active addiction is resolution of the
situation or, in the case of a situation which doesn’t
lend itself to a quick resolution, time to assimilate the
frustration and in a sense move on. An active smoker
though, facing the exact same stress has an additional
complication which even though they don’t recognize it, it
creates real significant implications to their smoking
behavior and belief structures regarding the benefit of

When a person encounters stress, it has a physiological
effect causing acidification of urine. In a non-active
tobacco user urine acidity has no real perceivable effect.
It is something that internally happens and they don’t
know it, and actually, probably don’t care to know.
Nicotine users are more complex. When a person maintaining
any level of nicotine in their body encounters stress, the
urine acidifies and this process causes nicotine to be
pulled from the blood stream, not even becoming
metabolized, and into the urinary bladder. This then in
fact drops the brain supply of nicotine, throwing the
smoker into drug withdrawal. Now they are really churning
inside, not just from the initial stress, but also from
the withdrawal effect itself. Interesting enough, even if
the stress is resolved, the smoker generally is still not
going to feel good. The withdrawal doesn’t ease up by the
conflict resolution, only by re-administration of
nicotine, or, even better, riding out the withdrawal for
72 hours totally eradicating nicotine via excretion from
the body of metabolizing it into bi-products which don’t
cause withdrawal. Most of the time, the active smoker more
often uses the first method to alleviate withdrawal,
taking another cigarette. While it calms them down for the
moment, its effect is short lived, basically having to be
redone ever 20 minutes to half hour for the rest of the
smokers life to permanently stave off the symptoms.

Even though this is a false calming effect, since it
doesn’t really calm the stress, it just replaces the
nicotine loss from the stress, the smoker feels it helped
them deal with the conflict. It became what they viewed as
an effective crutch. But the implications of that crutch
are more far reaching than just making initial stress
effects more severe. It effects how the person may deal
with conflict and sadness in a way not real obvious, but
real serious. In a way, it effects their ability to
communicate and maybe even in someway, grow from the

Here is simple example of what I mean. Let’s say you don’t
like the way a significant other in your life squeezes
toothpaste. If you point out the way it’s a problem to you
in a calm rational manner, maybe the person will change
and do it a way that is not disturbing to you. By
communicating your feeling you make a minor annoyance
basically disappear. But now lets say you’re a smoker who
sees the tube of toothpaste, get a little upset, and are
about to say something, again, address the problem. But
wait, because you are a little annoyed, you lose nicotine,
go into withdrawal, and before you are going to deal with
the problem, you have to go smoke. You smoke, alleviate
the withdrawal, in-fact, you feel better. At the same
time, you put a little time between you and the toothpaste
situation and on further evaluation, you decide its not
that big of a deal, forget it. Sounds like and feels like
you resolved the stress. But in fact, you didn’t. You
suppressed the feeling. It still there, not resolved, not
communicated. Next time it happens again, you again get
mad. You go into withdrawal. You have to smoke. You repeat
the cycle, again not communicating and not resolving the
conflict. Over and over again, maybe for years this
pattern is repeated.

One day you quit smoking. You may in fact be off for
weeks, maybe months. All of a sudden, one day the exact
problem presents itself again, they annoying toothpaste.
You don’t have an automatic withdrawal kicked in pulling
you away from the situation. You see it, nothing else
effecting you and you blow up. If the person is within
earshot, you may explode. When you look back in
retrospect, you feel you have blown up inappropriately,
the reaction was greatly exaggerated for the situation.
You faced it hundreds of times before and nothing like
this ever happened. You begin to question what happened to
you to turn you into such a horrible or explosive person.
Understand what happened. You are not blowing up at what
just happened, you are blowing up for what has been
bothering you for years and now, because of the build up
of frustration, you are blowing up much more severe than
you ever would have if you addressed it early on. It is
like pulling a cork out of a shaken carbonated bottle, the
more shaken the worse the explosion.

What smoking had done over the years was stopped you from
dealing early on with feelings, making them fester and
grow to a point where when the came out, it was more
severe than when initially encountered. Understand
something though, if you had not quit smoking, the
feelings sooner or later would manifest. Either by a
similar reaction as the blow up or by physical
manifestations which ongoing unresolved stress has the
full potential of causing. Many a relationships end
because of claming up early on effectively shutting down
conflict resolution by communication between partners.

Hope this helps explain why it hurts so much but also
helps you to understand why it is still so important not
to smoke.


Understanding the Emotional Loss Experienced When Quitting

In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-
Ross identified five distinct phases which a dying person
encounters. These stages
are "denial," "anger," "bargaining," "depression," and
finally, "acceptance." These are the exact same stages
that are felt by those mourning the loss of a loved one as

Denial can be recognized as the state of disbelief: "This
isn't really happening to me," or "The doctor doesn't know
what he is talking about." The same feelings are often
expressed by family members and friends.

Once denial ceases and the realization of impending death
is acknowledged anger develops. "Why me?" or "Why them?"
in the case of the significant others. Anger may be felt
toward the doctors, toward God, toward family and friends.
Anger, though, doesn't change the person's fate. They are
still in the process of dying. So next comes bargaining.

In bargaining, the person may become religious, trying to
repent for all the sins that may be bringing about their
early demise. "If you let me live, I will be a better
person, I will help mankind. Please let me live, and I
will make it worth your while." This stage, too, will come
to an end.

Now the patient, becoming aware he is helpless to prevent
his impending fate, enters depression. The patient begins
to isolate himself from his surroundings. He relinquishes
his responsibilities and begins a period of self mourning.
He becomes preoccupied with the fact that his life is
coming to an end. Symptoms of depression are obvious to
anyone having contact with the patient in this stage. When
the patient finally overcomes this depression he will
enter the last stage, acceptance.

The patient now reaches what can be seen as an emotionally
neutral stage. He almost seems devoid of feelings. Instead
of death being viewed as a terrifying or horrible
experience, he now peacefully accepts his fate.

As stated above, these stages are not only seen in the
dying person but likewise in the family members mourning
the loss of a loved one. However, on careful observation
we can see these same stages in people who lose anything.
It doesn't have to be the loss of a loved one. It could be
the loss of a pet, the loss of a job, and even the loss of
an inanimate object. Yes, even when a person loses her
keys, she may go through the five stages of dying.

First, she denies the loss of the keys. "Oh, I know they
are around here somewhere." She patiently looks in her
pockets and through her dressers knowing any minute she
will find the keys. But soon, she begins to realize she
has searched out all of the logical locations. Now you
begin to see anger. Slamming the drawers, throwing the
pillow of the couch, swearing at those darned keys for
disappearing. Then comes bargaining: "If I ever find those
keys I will never misplace them again. I will put them in
a nice safe place." It is almost like she is asking the
keys to come out and assuring them she will never abuse
them again. Soon, she realizes the keys are gone. She is
depressed. How will she ever again survive in this world
without her keys? Then, she finally accepts the fact the
keys are gone. She goes out and has a new set made. Life
goes on. A week later the lost keys are forgotten.

What does all this have to do with why people don't quit
smoking? People who attempt to give up smoking go through
these five stages. They must successfully overcome each
specific phase to deal with the next. Some people have
particular difficulty conquering a specific phase, causing
them to relapse back to smoking. Let's analyze these
specific phases as encountered by the abstaining smoker.

The first question asked of the group during the smoking
clinic was, "How many of you feel that you will never
smoke again?" Do you remember the underwhelming response
to that question? It is remarkable for even one or two
people to raise their hands. For the most part the entire
group is in a state of denial - they will not quit
smoking. Other prevalent manifestations of denial are: "I
don't want to quit smoking," or "I am perfectly healthy
while smoking, so why should I stop," or "I am different,
I can control my smoking at one or two a day." These
people, through their denial, set up obstacles to even
attempt quitting and hence have very little chance of

Those who successfully overcome denial progress to anger.
We hear so many stories of how difficult it is to live
with a recovering smoker. Your friends avoid you, your
employer sends you home, sometimes permanently, and you
are generally no fun to be with. Most smokers do
successfully beat this stage.

Bargaining is probably the most dangerous stage in the
effort to stop smoking. "Oh boy, I could sneak this one
and nobody will ever know it." "Things are really tough
today, I will just have one to help me over this problem,
no more after that." "Maybe I'll just smoke today, and
quit again tomorrow." It may be months before these people
even attempt to quit again.

Depression usually follows once you successfully overcome
bargaining without taking that first drag. For the first
time you start to believe you may actually quit smoking.
But instead of being overjoyed, you start to feel like you
are giving up your best friend. You remember the good
times with cigarettes and disregard the detrimental
effects of this dangerous and dirty habit and addiction.
At this point more than ever "one day at a time" becomes a
life saver. Because tomorrow may bring acceptance.

Once you reach the stage of acceptance, you get a true
perspective of what smoking was doing to you and what not
smoking can do for you. Within two weeks the addiction is
broken and, hopefully, the stages are successfully
overcome and, finally, life goes on.

Life becomes much simpler, happier and more manageable as
an ex-smoker. Your self esteem is greatly boosted. Your
physical state is much better than it would ever have been
if you continued to smoke. It is a marvelous state of
freedom. Anyone can break the addiction and beat the
stages. Then all you must do to maintain this freedom is
simply remember - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!


The Serenity Prayer for Smokers
God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot
change, courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot

As smokers trying to stop smoking, we cannot change the
craving for cigarettes, but even if we can't change the
craving, we can accept it. The truth is that until we can
accept our craving for cigarettes, we will not stop
smoking. Lighting another cigarette is what we do if we
decide we cannot accept the craving!

It's that simple: If you want a cigarette and you will not
accept the craving, then you will surely light a
cigarette. Or maybe you will have "one puff" to get you
through, but even one puff is "not accepting" the things
that you cannot change.

Accepting the craving does not mean we want the craving or
like it. Accepting it means, first, recognizing the
craving for what it is: a strong desire, physical or
psychological, not a need, for a cigarette. That's all. We
do not fight this craving; rather we look at it, letting
it be, not getting panic stricken or feeling sorry for
ourselves, but saying, "Yes, I really am craving a
cigarette right now."

We do not practice self-deception and try to trick
ourselves into thinking we don't want to smoke. This is an
honest program. Nor do we try to hate the habit (or
ourselves) so much that we quit. No, we cannot make
ourselves stop smoking, but we can live with the craving,
and so we pray for...

courage to change the things I can...
The thing that we can change is our unwillingness to live,
even for a short time, with the craving for the next
cigarette. We can, with God's help and the support of the
group, change our old way of dealing with craving, and we
deal with it in a new way: We become willing to live with
the craving; we no longer light a cigarette to get rid of
the pain of craving. Our lighting up shows that we have
not accepted what we cannot change and have not acted with
the courage to change the things we can. Of course, living
with a craving is hard, sometimes very hard, but you are
not alone-with God's help you can do it. That is what this
Serenity Prayer is all about.

So we ask God to help us accept the craving, and then we
ask God to give us the courage not to take care of this
craving--as we have always done--by smoking one more
cigarette. Thus, we need the strength to accept the
craving, and the courage not to light up...

and wisdom to know the difference.
The wisdom we ask for here is to become aware of the
difference between our old way of handling the discomfort
of craving in the past (by compulsively lighting up) and
the new way of dealing with cravings: accepting the
craving until it passes, uncomfortable though we may be
for a few moments.

The strength and courage to live as ex-smokers with this
discomfort does come if we ask for it, even though it may
take time. What we receive is not raw will power, but
Power that comes from God, from the group, and from our
inner-most self The power that we want is actually love!
It is only with this kind of power that we can become ex-
smokers and receive a new life free from nicotine

The reason we did not become ex-smokers years ago is that
we chose not to live with the craving. Every time we
craved a cigarette, we gave in and smoked it. And kept on
hoping that in some magic way a day would arrive when the
craving would disappear or we would find an absolutely
painless way to stop smoking. That day never came. Each of
us kept using our favorite rationalizations or excuses for
lighting up, our own justification for not living with the
craving. And we kept on craving and smoking, craving and
smoking, year after year. But now we can change all that:
The moment we can accept what is -- "I want to smoke" --
and face it with the courage God gives us, we can say, "I
choose not to handle this craving by smoking a cigarette"
then we become ex-smokers!

If you continue to smoke even though you say this prayer,
then say it again, and again, and keep on saying it while
you reflect what it means to you, a smoker. Eventually it
will work. It will not work if you are not sincere, but if
all you can do at first is to say the prayer without
believing it, then at least do that! Some time may be
needed for you to receive the power to live with the
discomfort that comes from craving without lighting up,
but eventually it will come. In time, the craving will
diminish greatly, and someday, we trust. it will disappear
altogether. If you have a slip, however, and you light one
up, accept yourself reverently and say the prayer again
the next time!

Remember, it really is not the stress, frustration or even
the craving that causes us to have another cigarette, but
rather our lack of strength to deal with the craving. That
strength comes from God, from the group, and from your own
healthy inner self! May God be with you now! -