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Patience With The Process

"In the beginning, every day, every hour at times, is a milestone..."

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Updated February 13, 2007

Patience With The Process

Michelle Boisvert

I want to offer my welcome to all of you who embarking on one of the most amazing, liberating journeys of your lives. I also want to offer a perspective to you and to those who might be struggling.

There are several things that I think are really important to make the quit stick: the strong desire to become free of this addiction, a firm commitment to do whatever it takes to reach that freedom, and the kind of support you’ll find here at About.com's Smoking Cessation forum.

That said, I think there is an element that is crucial to attaining and maintaining smoke-freedom. It is said that “Patience is a virtue,” but in breaking the chains of nicotine addiction, I think patience is absolutely vital. I have learned quite a few lessons in the last 3 years, and one of the most valuable to me has been to grant myself some patience.

I have always been a patient person…with other people. Maybe many of you are the same. You have families and jobs that take much of your time, and you muster the patience you need to deal with spouses, children, co-workers, neighbors and pets. I’m suggesting that you deserve at least some of the patience you afford others, especially in this life-changing endeavor.

In the beginning, every day, every hour at times, is a milestone. I can remember how those first few weeks seemed to drag on and on, and I remember thinking about smoking 24/7. It’s exhausting, frustrating and, for most, completely normal and necessary. I didn’t keep a quit journal. I wish I had, and I recommend it. At the end of each smoke-free week, go back and read what you wrote the week before. Since I didn’t keep a journal, I would go back and read posts from the week before. It is all part of keeping your memory green. The improvement is sometimes so gradual that we don’t even realize it, and it is important to realize it.

It took us many years to create the associations we did as smokers…a cigarette after waking, a cigarette after eating, a cigarette in a stressful situation, a cigarette in celebration and on and on…we smoked as an automatic response to any number of stimuli, and we did this over years. We cannot expect to erase all those associations in a week, a month, or even several months. Reconditioning takes how long it takes, but it will happen if you give yourself time.

It’s also important to note that quitting smoking itself causes stress, which in turn tries our patience and can create some emotional challenges. Try to remember that this is temporary and quite common, and although at times it may seem that this journey is a veritable roller coaster, even the difficult days are steps in a very positive direction.

We wait in lines at the store, the post office, the DMV. We wait for Dr.’s appointments, for holiday sales and for cars with custom options. We make time for and wait for all of these things because we have to in order to get the things we want and need. You are all worth the wait, however long it is. The payoff for your patience in this process is bigger and better than I can really describe in words. The irritability, frustration, and other discomforts are temporary; please take each day as it comes, and find some peace in knowing that you are healing…every day.

~Michelle Boisvert~

More from Michelle:
Michelle's Quit Story
Michelle's 1 Year Milestone
Michelle's 2 Year Milestone
Michelle's 3 Year Milestone
Michelle's 4 Year Milestone
Michelle's 5 Year Milestone
A Perspective on Using NRT's
There is No Substitute for Time
Depression When You Quit Smoking
Smoking and Degenerative Disc Disease

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