Keep a clock or watch handy because when an urge hits the rising tide of anxiety accompanying it tends to distort time. When first told that crave episodes were less than three (3) minutes in duration I laughed at the assertion because, if true, there were many times during this and a dozen prior humbling experiences where those three minutes felt more like three hours. Now, findings of a new study suggest that time distortion may be an actual symptom of nicotine cessation.
In considering timing any anxiety event, be sure and make a distinction between the less than three (3) minute subconsciously triggered crave episode brought on by encountering one of your un-reconditioned nicotine feeding cues (a time, place, emotion, location, event during which you’ve trained your subconscious mind to expect the arrival of new nicotine) and consciously allowing yourself to fixate on a “thought” of wanting to chew (more akin to “gee, I sure wish I had a nice juicy steak!”) which can last for as long as you desire to consciously fixate upon thoughts of chewing.
This time distortion study also gives added weight to the age-old yet critical step of investing a few moments to document what daily life as an endlessly feeding nicotine addict was really like and all your reasons and dreams – your recovery fuel – for wanting to arrest your chemical dependency, stop the roller-coaster, and return your mind to that almost constant sense of quiet calmness that prevailed before introducing and permanently marrying nicotine to your brain reward pathways.
When you are out there in the middle of this temporary period of adjustment called “quitting” and time distortions start leading you to believe that you have been there for far longer than you actually have, a short loving letter from “you” to “you” that reinforces why completing this journey – “just one day at a time” – is so important, can be like reaching for a full canteen while crossing a simmering desert.
As you learn to reach out and embrace your craves, while learning why each and every episode is a necessary and amazing part of recovery, you may want to keep one eye on the clock as you continue following the only rule that 100% guarantees success for all – no nicotine.
© Joel Spitzer 2005
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.