Thursday, 15 December 2011

How To Quit Smoking With Hypnosis

Along with losing weight, quitting smoking is probably the biggest business for hypnotherapists because it is something so many people wish to do. But just why are there so many people out there who want to stop smoking but struggle to do so?

Everyone knows the long term damage smoking causes, there is evidence of it even on cigarette packets themselves nowadays. Cigarettes are a cocktail of more than 7000 chemicals that cause high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs, circulation problems to name but a few of main dangers (to both smokers and the people they smoke around), and in combination with causing poor oral hygiene these factors would surely put most people off, wouldn’t they?  (If you want to know more reasons to stop smoking click here) (Or here) (Or here)  

The cost is also frightening, in the UK cigarettes cost something in the region of 7 GBP (approx. 10 USD), so if a single pack are smoked daily you’re looking at around 50 GBP per week (75 USD), 2600 GBP per year (3900 USD) - and if someone did manage to survive 50 years of smoking your looking at a bill of 130,000 GBP (195,000 US) for the pleasure! And that's if prices stay at their current level which on current form they won't with taxes rising everywhere, not to mention the excess drinks that are bought to combine the smoke with as well as the time and cost of dashing out for cigarettes on a regular basis. Read more on the price of cigarettes.  I'm sure the average persons finances could do without such a burden to bear.  The smoking ban that has taken effect in many places around the world has also left smokers suffering often outside in the cold, huddled in groups together by doorways facing exclusion from numerous public places, because of the known effects that can be transferred lethally to others. To any non-smoker there seems little going for smoking… yet why do so many people continue with it despite wanting to stop?

True addiction is not to be underestimated. I’ve heard many people argue that they could stop eating something like cheese despite being addicted to it, so why couldn’t a smoker? Cheese for one thing does not have the addictive chemicals in it that cigarettes do. Physically the body craves the nicotine content it has become accustomed to over time. The mind also craves the relaxing sensation smoking brings, with many smokers claiming it is the only thing that allows them to ‘de-stress’. Despite the ‘anti-smoking ban’ smokers still see smoking as a very social pastime, and the ‘Let’s go for a smoke’ mentality bonds them together in a kind of exclusive club.

So where does hypnotherapy fit in? Hypnosis has been proved a successful method to help people quit smoking because it tackles at least a large segment of the problem at its root. Nicotine gum/patches may well prevent the body from craving the nicotine, but what about the habitual processes and the de-stressing factors that have little to do with the nicotine? Hypnotherapy tackles those very issues.

To understand hypnotherapy a basic knowledge of the two parts of the mind must be taken into consideration. On one side you have the conscious aspect of mind, the reasoning, critical ‘voice inside the head’ that is the voice of our thoughts and our decision maker. On the other side is the subconscious mind, the aspect we are not aware of but regulates all parts of ourselves we are not actively thinking about e.g. our breathing, regulation of hormones. The subconscious is also the seat of our emotions and our habitual behaviour, behaviour that has become so embedded we no longer think about it. Smoking addiction would fall into this category. Smokers light up a cigarette so frequently they no longer think about it and therefore we know this pattern of behaviour is controlled by the subconscious mind. Read more about the background of hypnosis and the subconscious here

The conscious mind of the smoker understands all the reasons stated above telling them they should not smoke. The conscious mind even agrees they should stop and actively attempts to stop smoking. But this decision has not transferred into the deeper subconscious that is still programmed to want cigarettes. The subconscious will send urges and cravings to the conscious mind continually for however long it takes until a cigarette is reached for, be it days, weeks, months or even years. The subconscious will always overcome the conscious in the end.

What hypnotherapy does is break the old unwanted thought patterns. Under hypnosis the conscious mind is bypassed leaving the subconscious open to manipulation as though it can be talked to directly. In this state the subconscious can be reprogrammed to behave in a different way, and so the hypnotherapist might reinforce the knowledge that smoking has so many drawbacks, giving smoking a negative association in the subconscious, while offering healthy new ways to de-stress and enjoy quiet moments. Using simple self-hypnosis/meditativemethods the individual can learn relaxation techniques that do not require smoking. They can also learn how to get rid of the urges that come to them so frequently without the need of a cigarette using visualisation and breathing techniques. After all, smoking is itself often a process of deep breathing and inner thoughts, so what better way to replace it than a like for like method?

Another key method in a hypnosis stop smoking program is to change the physical habits of smoking. Breaking the engrained habits even in small ways can help shift and eradicate the habits in the long term. For instance, if a smoker is used to a cigarette after lunch sitting in their favourite chair, smoking Marlboro reds with their right hand – that should be one of the first things altered. Change the brand to something different like Camel, smoke with the left hand and do not smoke after lunch or in your favourite chair – try a new less comfortable place at a different time. Of course going cold turkey is one way forward, but many find it easy to taper off and if you do so while breaking your old habits for many it is easier to give up for good in the long run.

Quitting smoking is not easy, and for a true addict will power alone is not always enough. Using hypnotic method hand in hand with strong will power makes stopping a lot easier, but it is very important to stress that the will power must be there and there must be a strong desire to quit smoking in the first place for hypnotherapy to work. Hypnosis can’t alter your opinion, so if people are urging you to stop and you don’t really want to, hypnosis just won't work for you. But if you do want to stop and are having trouble doing so under your own steam then hypnotherapy can certainly be a fantastic tool to quit permanently.

If you have a strong desire to be a non-smoker why not send me an email and let me know about it?

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