As an ex smoker I know what it feels like to want to stop…and yet not do anything about it. It was a part of my life and although I obviously knew what was so bad about it I instead gave myself reasons for why it was ok and what I got out of smoking. Mostly though I was scared of giving up and having that ‘urge to smoke’ and not being able to act on it. As we all know the more we resist something the more it tempts us and seems to become even more powerful. Yet we come across temptations every day which we are quite adept at ignoring or even coming up with strategies to make them go away. Of course with smoking it can be a bit more complicated than just not acting on an urge to light up and the withdrawal symptoms are usually difficult to start with, yet don’t last long in those that feel compelled to stop and have the right strategy in place.
So let’s take a look at the various factors that can keep the smoking in place and how I help people stop smoking with hypnotherapy:
A key aspect of the innate human ability to learn, as established by the human givens approach to psychotherapy, is the ancient (35,000 year old!) pattern matching part of your brain. As humans we constantly assess our environment and how to react when confronted with situations that are the same or similar to past experiences, learning what we think is the most appropriate response. So you are constantly building associations and patterns, from the smallest insignificant detail to more serious life threatening situations, essentially programming them into your mind. With this understanding you can see that you have learnt how to smoke, with numerous associations and triggers that build up to unconsciously reinforce this behaviour, which can make it all the more harder to change.
To be addicted to something you also need to have an expectation that it is going to be good in some way. The excitement we get when we are keen to do something, even on a subconscious level, then the fulfilment of this expectation locks our attention into an addictive trance state. When in this state, you are then unfortunately far more likely to form your own limiting beliefs, justifying to yourself why it is ok for you to partake in, what maybe, a very destructive and unhealthy behaviour. As your attention is highly locked and focused you are also then more likely to conveniently delete anything that doesn’t fit into your belief system, which only reinforces the limiting belief! Changing your limiting beliefs has a powerful long term effect which then makes changes in your behaviour far easier to implement.
There is another aspect to addiction and this is habituation. This means the more you have of something, the more you need to get the same level of satisfaction. This internal reward system also makes sense from a human development perspective, right from time when man created fire, to ensure we learn, improve and move forward in our development. When people master new skills they also get a dopamine and endorphin rush which is pleasurable and reinforces the desire to continue and do more of the same. But when those new skills become second nature then the person builds up a tolerance and needs to develop further skills to get the same buzz as before. So for most smokers it is very easy to find yourself smoking more without being aware of it as it becomes easier. There are however usually still only 3-5 cigarettes a day that really keep the smoking in place, once they are dealt with….the rest will be far easier to give up.
The Human Givens approach:
It has also been recognised through the Human Givens approach that there are a number of basic emotional needs programmed into our genes that are fundamental for every human to live a balanced and emotionally healthy life. The extent to how important each of these emotional needs are to us will depend on the individual. It is often found that an unwanted behaviour, such as smoking, is taken up as a replacement for one of these needs. The smoking can keep fulfilling that need or sometimes when that need is met in a healthier way the smoking becomes outdated, inappropriate or unnecessary, although unfortunately the pattern matching, trance element and habit can keep the smoking in place!
When I help clients stop smoking with hypnotherapy I take all of the above into consideration so that I can work out what approach will work best for them, equipping them with the best strategy to stop. The urge to smoke as mentioned at the beginning of this article then becomes something to be observed rather than feared, soon becoming inconsequential.
To contact me for your free consultation on how I can help you stop smoking with hypnotherapy click here