Could anyone give me some tips on dealing with the Empty feeling?

Hello,

I'm really glad I found this forum, it's great!

I've been trying all week to give up smoking, and keep relapsing, and any advice would be appreciated.

I'm 52, have smoked since I was 17; used to be 12 a day. The last time I seriously tried to give up was in the 90's, and it was hell; I tried to give up coffee and sugar at the same time. (I know - what was I *thinking*?!) I threw all my cigarettes out, and tried to do it by sheer willpower, but every day was a battle. I felt Deprived, you know: 'Yoou-hoo caaan't have one!' Lasted about a week, and I got so irritable that I caved in rather than go round snarling at people! :D

I decided that since I seemed unable to quit, I'd cut down. Although they say you can't do that, I did, and for years have happily smoked maybe 5 a day (filtered roll-ups, mild tobacco).

But I now would really like to give up. This time it's not cos of other people, or fear, or the health police, I just have finally got to that point where you genuinely don't WANT to be a smoker anymore. There's not even any reason, it just feels like, I dunno, a crutch that was useful once, but I realise I don't need it now.

What I'm having a real problem with is the psychological habit. If you smoked 20 a day, say, I can see that the benefits to your health & pocket would be so immediate and dramatic that they'd help motivate you. Because I don't smoke much, and my body's used to not that much nicotine, in a way it's actually harder! If I stop for a day, I notice my sense of smell's sharper, and I feel slightly more spaced-out. But I don't get ratty, and there's no strong physical craving for a cigarette.

What does me in is the 'loss' feeling, and I'd love it if you could tell me how you handled that. I read Max on another post saying that the 'hole' is illusory. I get that, so I know that in the long run, we don't need to find a substitute. But if I could think of some kind of temporary ritual/substitute, just to get me past the killer first week, I *know* I could do it after that! It's as if, for decades, five times a day I had this nice pleasant relaxing thing to look forward to, no matter what. (Just typing this makes me want to go and light up, lol!).

It sounds pitiful, but cigarettes were my friends. (I said that once to a non-smoker ....... you should have seen the look of incredulous contempt he gave me. :)) A lousy friend maybe, but unlike humans, always reliable, always there. 'Had a difficult day? Feeling thoughtful, stressed, down? Here, let me comfort you!' That's what I miss, and as LadyK said in a post here, 'What have I got instead? My gum, my bottle of water??' I've read in the past, 'Treat yourself to something else', but I'm having trouble thinking of what. You can't have 5 radox baths a day! :DHave any of you got any advice on dealing with that horrible bored empty feeling, where you think vaguely, 'Isn't there something I'd be doing around now?', and then you realise what it is, and feel mournful?

Thanks for reading my whine,

Barbara

9 Replies

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  • Hello,

    I'm really glad I found this forum, it's great!

    I've been trying all week to give up smoking, and keep relapsing, and any advice would be appreciated.

    I'm 52, have smoked since I was 17; used to be 12 a day. The last time I seriously tried to give up was in the 90's, and it was hell; I tried to give up coffee and sugar at the same time. (I know - what was I *thinking*?!) I threw all my cigarettes out, and tried to do it by sheer willpower, but every day was a battle. I felt Deprived, you know: 'Yoou-hoo caaan't have one!' Lasted about a week, and I got so irritable that I caved in rather than go round snarling at people! :D

    I decided that since I seemed unable to quit, I'd cut down. Although they say you can't do that, I did, and for years have happily smoked maybe 5 a day (filtered roll-ups, mild tobacco).

    But I now would really like to give up. This time it's not cos of other people, or fear, or the health police, I just have finally got to that point where you genuinely don't WANT to be a smoker anymore. There's not even any reason, it just feels like, I dunno, a crutch that was useful once, but I realise I don't need it now.

    What I'm having a real problem with is the psychological habit. If you smoked 20 a day, say, I can see that the benefits to your health & pocket would be so immediate and dramatic that they'd help motivate you. Because I don't smoke much, and my body's used to not that much nicotine, in a way it's actually harder! If I stop for a day, I notice my sense of smell's sharper, and I feel slightly more spaced-out. But I don't get ratty, and there's no strong physical craving for a cigarette.

    What does me in is the 'loss' feeling, and I'd love it if you could tell me how you handled that. I read Max on another post saying that the 'hole' is illusory. I get that, so I know that in the long run, we don't need to find a substitute. But if I could think of some kind of temporary ritual/substitute, just to get me past the killer first week, I *know* I could do it after that! It's as if, for decades, five times a day I had this nice pleasant relaxing thing to look forward to, no matter what. (Just typing this makes me want to go and light up, lol!).

    It sounds pitiful, but cigarettes were my friends. (I said that once to a non-smoker ....... you should have seen the look of incredulous contempt he gave me. :)) A lousy friend maybe, but unlike humans, always reliable, always there. 'Had a difficult day? Feeling thoughtful, stressed, down? Here, let me comfort you!' That's what I miss, and as LadyK said in a post here, 'What have I got instead? My gum, my bottle of water??' I've read in the past, 'Treat yourself to something else', but I'm having trouble thinking of what. You can't have 5 radox baths a day! :DHave any of you got any advice on dealing with that horrible bored empty feeling, where you think vaguely, 'Isn't there something I'd be doing around now?', and then you realise what it is, and feel mournful?

    Thanks for reading my whine,

    Barbara

    Hi Barbara - first of all, we have all been there or are there! I think the main thing is getting to a point where you are willing to except that feeling - that horrible empty feeling - and accept you would rather have that empyt temporary feeling than smoke for the rest of your life - they are your two choices. I dont know why, but i think you should read Gillian RIley book - but really read it again and again!!! also try allan carr or neil casey book.

    Good luck

  • Thank you Danny, I will read the Gillian Riley book; and thank you, Max, that was a great pep-talk, I'm going to come back and read that if I feel myself weakening! :)

    You're right, I have the gut feeling too that this time I can do it; looking back, whenever I tried before, it was like two Me's duking it out: one wailing 'But I want a cigarette!', and the other saying sternly, 'Well you CAN'T.' Guess who won? :)

    This time all of me really wants to be a non-smoker, so there's no inner battle raging; there is, though, a flinching from potential pain, a bit like I suppose none of us would volunteer for dental treatment unless we had to.

    This is really helpful already, as from reading your & D's mails, I can see more clearly that my whole problem is motivation. As you've probably seen with your wife, yes, if you just smoke five small cigarettes a day, why even bother giving up?! [yeah, I know the health benefits, etc etc, but it's not as 'Wowza!' a carrot, if you know what I mean]. At present my only carrot is the soul-satisfying shock I can imagine on the faces of people who see me as a lifelong smoker, if I casually said I gave up. :) And moneywise, I'd only save about £5 a week.

    Oh, I just had a very good idea! I'll go out and buy myself a really funny book. BUT, I'm not reading that book in one session. Only when the want-a-cigarette feeling comes, then I'll go and sit where I normally would smoke, and instead have a good laugh for 10 minutes. Be interesting to see if that helps, it might be a good 'treat' substitute, I will let people know if it helps as a strategy. Will go to W.H.Smiths tomorrow and see what they got. :D

    You are right Max, I'll just do whatever it takes to get through the first week, even if it's mental-seeming or expensive. I know that every day the triggers get a little bit fainter than the day before. Thinking about it, I'm sure most of us have been through something, sometime - a relationship breakup, a bereavement, whatever - that left us feeling devastated, as if we'd never smile again. But we're still here, aren't we? - every day it got a little bit easier, you adjust.

    Thanks a lot for your support, I will probably be back here in a few days, hopefully saying, 'It's getting easier'! :o)

    Barbara

  • Hi Barbara,

    What you're feeling is so common for a lot of quitters. And I'm first in line with the theory that quitting is almost all about the mental process, and not about the physical addiction (just read a few of my old posts!). At first your subconscious is continually prompting you to smoke, in situations where you would normally have done so, and the result is a kind of continual obsession/yearning feeling. It takes time to readjust, and you just have to keep making the right choice - eventually your brain learns new habits, you encounter fewer and fewer new triggers, and you stop missing it. I promise you, this is not a permanent state of mind. It really does get easier!

    Hang in there.

    H

  • Hi and welcome :)

    you will get all the support you need and want from this place as its full of people that know exactily what your going through

    there is also alot of good posts you can read which will help to distract your mind and will also help you to stay focused on your quit

    just concentrate on one day at a time and that feeling of loss will go obviously when something is part of your daily life it does take time to adjust to not having it in your life i remember when i first quit i was always wandering around the house when i was getting ready to go out thinking im missing something :eek: and then i would realise i hadnt :o as i didnt need to put my tin and lighter in my bag anymore

    oh and thats another thing more room in your bag :) infact i went down a size in bags

    writing a list of reasons will help too

    and reading and posting on here whenever you feel a crave coming on will be your biggest weapon of choice as there is always someone around to help you through it

    onwards and upwards is the only way to go

    :)

    regards

    Carol

  • Could anyone give me some tips on dealing with the Empty feeling?

    Hi Barbara,

    Welcome to the forum - the best support community there is!

    Your original question asked for 'tips on dealing with the empty feeling'.

    My tip would be to think about what that empty feeling actually is. It is your addiction talking. It is saying 'just light up one more cigarette, and it will cure all your anxieties, it will relax you, whatever else is going on around you will cease to matter for those precious few minutes' (or something like that:D).

    Now, how about applying some logic - in your rational, conscious 'thinking' brain. You feel empty, anxious, tense. Your addiction tells you that a cigarette will cure these feelings. NEVER FORGET THAT IT WAS THE CIGARETTE WHICH CAUSED THESE FEELINGS IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! Do non-smokers get these empty feelings? Of course not! They already feel at peace with themselves, rather like you do just after you've smoked, but they feel like this all the time.

    Smoke a cigarette - you're relaxed, satisfied, fulfilled. Half an hour later, that very same cigarette is making you feel anxious, tense, empty. So, naturally, you smoke another - you're relaxed, satis... er, haven't we been here before, half an hour ago? Such a simple, obvious con-trick; yet as smokers we fall for it for decades without questioning it.

    It sounds ridiculous to say it, but the only way to give up smoking is to give up smoking! Use the tools by all means, but to be free of the chains you first have to break them.

  • Thanks, Egg! :)

    You're right, impeccable logic. It is NOT some 'emptiness', just my addiction talking ...... there IS no emptiness, things are just as fine as they were an hour ago, it translates as 'Want a cigarette'. Thanks for pointing that out. My, Nic Demon's a clever b***er, isn't he? The euphemisms, the self deception! What I find fascinating is that I've met people in my life who were addicted to other things, like alcohol, and I could see *really clearly* where they were lying to themselves: "Oh, I don't NEED alcohol. I just enjoy a drink. Is there a late off-licence nearby?" :D But when it's you, you can't see it, lol!

    Barbara

  • :D

    Great to see your keeping that nicotine demon at bay Barbara he has alot of tricks up his sleeves all designed to try and win you back :eek:

    But just remember you can win by just ignoring his demands when i first quit i always imaged my nic demon as a very spoilt kid whinning and whinging screaming and having temper tantrums whenever i ignored him then he used to sulk for periods of times before suddenly having another tantrum but i used to just keep my mind busy till it passed which it did and the longer i stayed quit the quieter he became

    yeah he is still lurking around but he knows he isnt going to win as im now in the Not One Puff Ever group and im not leaving :)

    onwards and upwards is the way to go

  • hello all will keep this short and sweet

    keep busy .... keep your mind busy .... dig ur heels in ....

    im not touching another f#@$ing tar ridden fag again

    we are the strong ones the smokers are the weak ones

    persist and you WILL overcome .... if i can do it anyone can do it

    my 2 cents worth

    cheers

    gra

    One year, six months, one week, one day, 3 hours, 24 minutes and 43 seconds. 33368 cigarettes not smoked, saving $19,020.04. Life saved: 16 weeks, 3 days, 20 hours, 40 minutes.

  • Yup,

    Keep busy, walk, get some fresh air,sit in garden, breath through your nose and feel the clean air entering your body and doing what its supposed to do when not competing with smoke.

    Feel and enjoy that benefit, use it as a positive force , let it give you the buzz.

    Change your routines for at least a few weeks, by pass that morning cuppa you may have associated with ciggies. Eat lighter meals, I found that heavy savory food went hand in hand with a post meal ciggie, so ate salads, fish, fruits for a while.

    You'll realise that the empty feeling is precocious time,which in the past we wasted away by smoking, now that you don't smoke , fill that time with good things.

    I know the above may sound all new agey lol, but it worked for me ( with determination off course).

    I won't say good luck, as that implies chance. I will say congrats for becoming a none smoker!

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