Can you stop me smoking?
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Are you finding that your habits are causing you increasing levels of discomfort or affecting the way you behave around others? Are you worried that unless you make some changes your future health and relationships are likely to suffer? Are you determined to stop but feel that something is preventing you from making that change?
Habits can feel so difficult to change because they can involve many interrelated issues: the ‘physical’ addiction, limiting beliefs around self image or what is possible, emotions that the habit helps us to avoid, internal conflict due to the ‘pleasure’ being lost, unconscious responses to trigger situations and the reactions of friends and family to the change in behaviour. Trying to ‘break’ the pattern or (nicotine) patch it up without addressing all the underlying issues may well make it stronger or lead to an alternative addiction or compulsion developing.
Because of the complexity of factors involved passive ‘one size fits all’ ‘guaranteed in just one hour’ hypnosis approaches may not achieve the lasting results they promise. Dr David Shephard, one of my first NLP teachers told a version of the following story:
‘A man went to a traditional hypnotherapist offering a guaranteed stop smoking cure. During the session the hypnotherapist used suggestions to distort the man’s sense of taste to the effect that, from that moment on, every cigarette would taste of camel dung. He then utilised suggestions of amnesia so the client would consciously forget the session.
‘A couple of weeks later the hypnotherapist was walking down the street and saw the client coming the other way … smoking! He remembered that the session seemed to go well so he asked the client ‘How is the smoking?’. To which the client smiled and replied ‘They taste like shit, but you get used to it.’
For a complete and lasting solution it is best to identify the particular issues which affect you and resolve them all. When you have made these changes you will find that you have the clarity, congruence and determination to say ‘no’ to the addiction in a way that it believes you. You will know that it is you who is consciously deciding to make this change and to enforce your boundary. You will have a stronger sense of who you are, what you want, and your ability to take action to get it.