Posted August 22, 2018 · IP
FILLING THE PAGES by Eric
A common topic a quitter might talk about since they quit smoking, is the fact that there seems to be void in their life now. Now that they're not smoking it feels as if the days have grown longer and they are unsure of how to fill this time. Sometimes this can actually put stress the new quitter, because this is so unfamiliar to them.
Cigarettes have been so deeply intertwined in their life for so long, that the new quitter is constantly being reminded that they no longer smoke just from everyday activities.
They may ask how do they unwind after work now that they don't smoke? How do they deal with stress, now that they don't smoke? How do they punctuate finishing a task now that they don't smoke?
For the smoker, that cigarette after finishing a task was like putting the period at the end of sentence. Now that they don't smoke, daily tasks can just feel like a long running sentence with no punctuation.
The cigarette was also like the smoker's pause button. If they needed to concentrate on doing something or were under a stressful situation. They would step back, smoke a cigarette and think about how to resolve the problem. Now that they don't smoke, there doesn't seem to be a pause button for the quitter. That magic button that says" Whoa give me a minute" is now gone. Now they are just left with the situation and a very unfamiliar way that they now have to deal with it without the cigarette.
One thing that should be pointed out though, is that we have lived our lives and dealt with stress DESPITE smoking, NOT because of it.
There was a fellow quitter that was talking about this and it was really stressing her out. She was having a hard time dealing with stress and everyday scenarios without smoking. She was getting discouraged about this and felt that her life just felt kind of empty since she quit. She felt that there was now a void in her life.
One thing she said though, that I thought was an interesting way to look at it, was that she said that since she quit smoking, was that she felt she now had to rewrite her life.
When I read this, for some reason it reminded me of someone writing a screenplay about the day in the life of a smoker. This is what it might say.
THE DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SMOKER.
I'm just making this up, but let's just say this is how your typical day when you smoked would look like.
You wake up. Smoke a cigarette. You get ready for work. Smoke a cigarette. You have breakfast. Smoke a cigarette. You get in your car and drive to work. Smoke a cigarette. You get to work. Smoke a cigarette before going inside. You go to coffee break at work. Smoke a cigarette. You go to lunch. Smoke a cigarette. You go to second break. Smoke a cigarette. Maybe something stressful happens at work. Sneak out and smoke a cigarette. After work, as you drive home, you smoke a cigarette. You get home and unwind. Smoke a cigarette. You cook dinner. Smoke a cigarette. After eating dinner. Smoke a cigarette. Have a glass of wine or beer and of course smoke a cigarette. Watch TV. Smoke a cigarette. Get ready for bed. Smoke a cigarette. Before going to bed. Smoke a cigarette.
Let's say that it took 5 pages to write the screenplay "In the daily life of (anonymous)."
Now that you don't smoke, you're not so much rewriting your daily life, but more of editing out a lot of useless dialog in your screenplay that isn't needed to tell the story.
The problem is that now after all that editing, what use to take 5 pages to tell the story, now only takes 3 pages. Now you still have 2 blank pages that you're carrying around with you and you don't know what to do with them. This can cause anxiety. You have been so used to writing your daily life with 5 pages that writing it with only having to use 3 pages feels like there is a void in the story.
Really take a look at the dialog that you edited though and put that down on the 2 remaining pages.
Here's what it would say: Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. Smoke a cigarette. etc, etc.
You can see how useless this dialog is. It doesn't even help tell your story and on it's own it makes no sense. It's just repeated blabber.
You have two choices now. You can either take these pages and just throw them away, because you no longer need them anymore. Or you can take these two remaining pages and add something to your story. Something that maybe you've wanted to add for sometime now, but just have never done it, because this addiction was taking up those two pages. These two pages are no longer being wasted on telling the story of your addiction. They are now yours to tell any story that you wish to tell.
It isn't so much that since you quit smoking, that there is a void in your life. It is more that smoking created that void, because it took away from you. That was YOUR time being wasted, it was NOT being filled. Now that you have freed yourself from cigarettes, don't think of it as leaving a hole in your life. Think of it as giving back the endless possibilities of living life as YOU again.
Also don't think that you need a cigarette to deal with life's stress.
It isn't that you were able to deal with stress better when you smoked. It's just that you've done it for so long that way, that you are having to relearn how to do it without cigarettes. It's new and unfamiliar. Smoking under stress was a combination of relieving withdrawal, but it also gave you a minute or two to reflect on what was causing the initial stress.
If you're under stress and where the times you would smoke a cigarette, what I would do is stop. Step back and give yourself a moment just like you would do when you smoked, but now breathe deeply, calm yourself and focus on what you need to do to alleviate what is causing the stress.
Don't feel that if you're under stress that you have to attack it head on because cigarettes are no longer there to buffer what it happening. You can very easily do this without smoking. You can step back and give yourself a moment to collect yourself and you can do it without cigarettes. They are a useless middleman and you know that cigarettes don't relieve stress. They only relieve withdrawal. They don't deserve that kind of credit.
You should be proud of yourself, because you have taken your pages back.
The pages are yours now. Fill them any way you choose
Link to original post: https://www.quittrain.com/topic/10920-filling-the-pagesrepost-from-eric/