Day 9: The Big Push to May and Mind Hacking


10:06 AM 29 April 2013. Monday Morning Philippine Time

I sit on my chair and I hear the constant whirring of some unknown insect species outside. They probably number in the thousands, with most of them perched inside the prickly bark of the almighty Ana-ih tree which is nearby. I glance sideways towards the street and I hear a roving campaign truck blaring its incoherent political jingle. I take note that it cycles every 16 seconds. I try my best to ignore it and wait until it fades away into nothing.

I feel the strong urge to go outside and smoke but I stop myself and go here instead. Besides, I’ve already had my 6th today and by May, I should be going down to 5.

5 sticks a day all consumed before lunch time. 

There’s only 2 days left until the “Big Push” happens and I’m going to need all the willpower I can muster to do so. Right now, I’m even thinking of making a bigger push rather than the half hearted target that I set for myself. 5 sticks a day isn’t a monumental improvement, it’s almost the same as smoking 10 sticks. 

So far, I’ve managed to keep to the regimen of smoking only in the morning, especially since the hardest time to control the urges happens right when I wake up.

Why Waking Up is the Hardest Time for Smokers

Getting up from bed with a very strong feeling of desire pulls me like an invisible force towards the nearest supply of cigarettes. In my mind, that’s the convenience store. Physically, everything in my body is screaming for it, drawing me to its power from the time I regain consciousness.

My parched throat forces me to cough, one, two and then, three times. The bitter taste in my mouth beckons me to replace it with something I deeply associate with pleasure. It begs soothing and I know that it’s both psychological and physiological. I struggle to find my spectacles and reach for them on the side table. I get up, and instinctively head toward the bathroom to wash my face.

That’s the moment when I know that I have to make a split second decision on whether to smoke or not. Thousands of times, the decision has always been to smoke.

It feels good in the morning along with coffee and heck, we’re all going to die anyway, some day.”

The funny thing about it, is I know that it’s wrong. My reasoning is stale and weak. But somehow, the thought processes involved in the split second decision-making has a certain override switch that trumps everything that my reasoning can afford me. Maybe the pleasure and comfort that it provides (especially during moments of tension) are simply too overpowering. I guess that’s the specific time I have to focus the most. I need to establish either a work around or a replacement to ensure success. 

Troubleshooting the mind

The mind is an elaborate maze that is still so little understood. We know how to program it. Some know how to fix it and still, some claim to know all the secrets to the power it holds. But on a personal level, for me, it is a curious being that seems to be able to control everything I do despite its own protests. Yet I also know that this would be the sole key to solving the problem of my nicotine addiction.

Upon identifying this key moment when I decide to smoke at the start of the day, I now know that I need to do something to disrupt the thought processes involved. Changing the variables and the pattern could alter the normal course that it takes for the day. By doing so, it could also alter the rest of the thought processes lead up to my smoking.

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