of Alternative and Complimentary Healthcare
Southern California University
The article below can really help you quit smoking. In addition to what is below, the hypnotherapists at The Healing Shoppe offer private stop smoking hypnosis sessions.
Unlike other hypnotherapists elsewhere, they will NOT work with everyone trying to quit smoking unless they truly believe the clients want to quit. If you are accepted as a client, you come for 3 sessions, and you quit at the 3rd one.
Stop smoking sessions are not discounted, and the appointment must be made by the person wanting to quit (no one can make the appointment for you - you have to do it yourself.)
If you want to try on your own first, read below for some tips and help...
How to Easily Quit Smoking --
by Rick McFall, CCHT
(Reprinted with permission from the author)
If you want to quit smoking or know someone who does, you might want to read this. There are all sorts of advertisements for “stop smoking aids” and methods to quit smoking, but in my hypnotherapy practice, I have discovered things that you probably won’t read about anywhere else. Perhaps these are the secrets about smoking that will ultimately help you or that person you know who smokes actually quit. None of this information is medical advice, and I strongly encourage you to talk to your medical doctor about quitting smoking. (Obligatory Disclaimer)
Is Nicotine “Highly” addictive?
Let’s start off with one of the most controversial things I’ll be telling you. We’ve all heard that nicotine is a “highly” addictive substance. There are studies, and tests, and trials and all sorts of data to “prove” that fact. There are nicotine patches, nicotine gums, and other “nicotine replacement” therapies used to break the smoking habit. I’ve heard anecdotal information that nicotine is more addictive than heroine. I’m not a medical doctor, and I’m not a researcher, AND I’m not giving you medical advise here, BUT if the reason people had so much problem quitting smoking was because they were addicted to the nicotine, and the reason they smoked was to GET the nicotine into their systems, wouldn’t the desire for cigarettes immediately disappear as soon as they got the nicotine through another avenue?
In other words, if nicotine addiction is the culprit, once someone put on the patch, wouldn’t they just naturally NOT want cigarettes anymore? Most people I have worked with have tried the patch, and it didn’t do anything for them (or not enough). So is nicotine addictive? Sure… but so is caffeine… The point I’m getting at here is that the “nicotine addiction factor” with smoking is only a small part of the reason people continue to smoke and that nicotine is no more addictive than your morning coffee. From all the studies I have read about, it seems that right around 1 in 5 people are helped by the nicotine patch when they quit smoking. So if it’s only 1 in 5, then common sense says there must be something else going on.
What Purpose Does Smoking Serve?
“Why” someone smokes and the “Purpose” for smoking always gives two different answers. The “Why” might be because it relaxes the smoker, or it beats boredom, or some other “reason”. The “purpose”, however, is completely different. When I work with smoking clients in person, I induce a trance and we go back to the first time they smoked. I have them remember the situation, the time, all the specifics, and their mindset. What I find fascinating is that VERY close to 100% of the people who started smoking had the same purpose(s) for smoking. The purposes were 1. “To Rebel Against Their Parents”, and/or 2. “To Fit In with Their Peers”.
Let’s look at that for a moment. The purpose for smoking for most smokers is “To Rebel” and “To Fit In”. Is that a purpose that the smoker WANTS it to have? Does it work anymore? Do they still NEED to rebel and fit in? In today’s society, smokers are fitting in less and less by smoking, so it definitely doesn’t serve that purpose. As far as rebelling against their parents, that should have been over LONG ago for most of my clients, and in most cases IS over.
So… for most people who smoke, the purpose for smoking is no longer valid. It may have been valid at one time in their lives, but it isn’t anymore. To re-frame it, smoking serves no purpose. All that’s left now are the “why’s” and we can change those easily…
So If It’s not Addiction, and It Serves No Purpose, Why Do I Smoke?
There are a couple of reasons left, and I’m going to tell you all about them. The first one is that you’ve gotten into the habit of smoking. Actually, you got into the habit of performing certain “actions” with parts of your body and certain “rituals”, so to speak. Let me give you an example of something not related to smoking.
I’ve worn glasses ever since I was in my early 20’s. When I wear glasses, I don’t like them fitting too tight because they hurt my ears and the sides of my head sometimes,so I adjust them to be a little loose. With my glasses being a bit loose they slide down on my nose sometimes, and I reach up with my right hand and push on the center of the glasses over the bridge of my nose and push them back. No big deal… They slip down, I push them back up.
Well, I decided to get rid of my glasses and start wearing contact lenses, and I noticed the oddest thing. When I was agitated, or nervous, or bored, I would reach up as if to push my glasses up on my nose, even though I didn’t have glasses on anymore. The same action, but totally without purpose. It was a habitual action. A behavior. When I did it, I felt silly and could laugh at myself, and that made it quite simple to stop within a short period of time with no problem. I didn’t like contacts, by the way, and I went back to wearing glasses and am back to pushing them up on my nose again, but with purpose…
The Habit and “Ritual” of Smoking
Now let’s look a bit more at the actions of smoking. Most smokers smoke a pack a day. Some more, some less, but the majority are right around one pack a day. Each pack contains 20 cigarettes, and it takes about 15 “puffs” on a cigarette to smoke it. Each time a smoker smokes there is a ritual of sorts that is involved. He or she gets the pack, taps out a cigarette, puts it to their mouth, lights fire of some sort, puffs to get the cigarette lit, then performs a repetitive action of putting the cigarette to their lips and puffing and taking it away from their lips about 15 times, and then ends the ritual by stamping the cigarette out in some manner. This whole ritual takes 7 to 11 minutes to perform, and it is performed 20 times a day at fairly regular intervals.
Not only is he or she performing the ritual 20 times a day, he or she is also moving their hand to their mouth three HUNDRED times a day. Smoking for over 10 years means you’ve performed that action day-in, day-out over a MILLION times — literally. Now I don’t care WHAT it is, if you’ve done three hundred times a day for 10 years, when you stop doing it, it’s going to feel a bit odd, or like something is missing. I felt odd when I stopped wearing glasses and found myself performing the action of pushing up non-existent glasses on my nose. It’s the same thing going on here… It’s not the cigarettes that a smoker misses, it’s the ritual, and the action. Take away the cigarettes, and the ritual and actions have no purpose, so the smoker doesn’t do them anymore, so there is that feeling like, “there’s something I need to be doing right now”, or that something is missing, etc. That feeling gets translated by the brain into something along the lines of , “I need a cigarette”. In reality, it should be translated into, I need to perform my ritual/action.
Smokers Assign High Importance to Cigarettes
Somehow over the period of time that a person has been smoking, they began to assign extremely high importance to the cigarettes with behaviors about them. A smoker always makes sure to have cigarettes with them and that they have a “sufficient quantity” to last a while. A pack of cigarettes (and a lighter/matches) are nearly ALWAYS within easy reach if not ON the person’s body in a pocket or purse. If a smoker runs out of cigarettes, he immediately goes to a store and purchases more. If he forgets them, he either goes back to get them, or buys more right away. A smoker always tries to ensure there is a steady and ample supply of cigarettes.
The slight twist I’m going to make here isn’t that the cigarettes are so important, as is the ability to perform the “ritual” and “actions” I wrote about earlier. It’s the RITUAL that is of utmost importance, thus leading to all the actions and protections related to the “ingredients” of the ritual. That’s VERY important. It’s not so much the cigarettes themselves that are important, as it is the ritual that’s important.
Let’s look at it another way. Suppose you work at a job that’s 50 miles from your home. The way you get to work everyday is to drive your car there. You wash your car, do all the maintenance on it, and know the best route and alternate routes to get to work. So… everyday, you get up, get showered, and dressed appropriately and drive your car the 50 miles to your job. That’s your ritual — getting ready, and traveling to work. Your car is important because it’s an integral part of the ritual of getting to work. making sure there is enough gas in the car is important so that you can complete the ritual, as is maintenance and repairs on the car. The important OVERALL part here, though, is “getting to work”.
Let’s throw In a Few Changes
So what happens if your driver’s license is taken away, or your car breaks down and you can’t afford to get it fixed or get a new one? All of a sudden, you can’t get to work the way you have been for years. Regardless of how it happened, driving your car to work is now no longer an option. So now, you find another way to complete your “ritual” of going to work — because THAT is what’s important, right? It’s not HOW you perform the ritual of getting to work, it’s just important that you DO perform it. Perhaps you can take the bus, or the subway, or carpool with a co-worker. There are all sorts of ways that will get you where you need to go with relatively few differences. Sure, there will be some minor adjustments, but overall, things are the same. You still get up every morning and get showered and dressed appropriately and “travel” to work. The “travel” part is just a bit different now.Now Let’s Apply That to Smoking
Earlier we saw that nicotine isn’t all that addictive, and that smoking really doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. We also saw that it’s the ritual and the actions that seem to be important and that need to be altered in how we complete them. Now let’s change “how” we complete the ritual, so that you can give up cigarettes easily by replacing them with something else.
The ritual we are changing has a lot of ingredients, and we want to keep as many of those ingredients as we can, so that there will be as little “adjustment” as is possible., so let’s look at the ingredients. There is the repetitive arm motion of raising the hand to the mouth. There is the oral sensation and taste of the smoke. There is the need to have a constant, ample supply of the ingredients. We also want to have the changes actually be something healthy, rather than unhealthy.
Many people gain weight when they quit smoking because they substitute eating snacks or candy to satisfy the oral sensation, taste, and repetitive hand/arm movement. They keep snacks and candy around constantly in order to satisfy the ample supply part of the whole scenario. Since weight gain isn’t desired, that makes snacks a poor choice as an alteration to the ritual.
To combat the weight gain, some people try to just chew gum, but that doesn’t meet the “repetitive arm movement” part of the ritual even though it meets the others.
OK, Tell Me What Works!
The best thing I have found is so simple it blows people away. Get yourself a sports bottle (the kind with a straw sticking out the top) or one with a closeable top is even better. Keep it with you always, and keep it filled with drinking water. Assign the same importance to IT as you USED to do with cigarettes. By that I mean that: 1. You always carry it with you. 2. If you forget it, you either go back and get it or buy one at the nearest convenience store. 3. You always keep it at least half full, and make sure you refill it if it starts to run low.
It satisfies the repetitive arm movement. It satisfies the oral sensation/taste. It satisfies the constant/ample supply scenario. And everyone is always being told to drink more water to stay healthy. It’s a home run!
To Make it Even Easier To Quit - Do This
Before quitting, start to make cigarettes less important in your life. You can do that in VERY simple ways, and you’ll notice that you begin to smoke less without even trying. Here is what you can do:
1. Get the water bottle and start carrying it with you as described above (but don’t even TRY to stop smoking yet).
2. Put your cigarettes in a different place than “within reach”. Put them at least 10 steps away. The farther away you put them the better, but in “another room” is actually good. Get into the habit of doing this and your smoking will drop off a lot. It’s important to remember here that it’s OK to smoke whenever you want to at this point. You just need to go to the other room and get ONE cigarette and then leave the pack there and go smoke. If you smoke in your car, try putting the cigarettes in the trunk, and stop and get one out of the trunk whenever you want to smoke. You’re NOT quitting smoking yet. You are reducing the importance of the cigarettes in your subconscious mind’s perception. At the same time, you are giving it the water bottle in step one to transfer that importance to.
3. Count how many cigarettes you smoke each day. Get an initial count before you make any changes at all. Don’t force yourself to smoke less, just count them in whatever way you wish. Track what begins to happen when you have done steps 1 and 2 above and expect to see a rather quick drop off initially, followed by a more gradual reduction over the next few weeks or so.
4. About a week AFTER you have been successful at establishing the habit of leaving your cigarettes in another room and you only smoke when you go get one make this next change. Only smoke in one place, and do nothing else while smoking. No watching TV, no talking with other people, nothing. You stand or sit by yourself and just smoke that one cigarette.
5. If you’ve been buying cigarettes more than one pack at a time, start just buying ONE pack at a time, and only buy another pack after all the cigarettes from the current pack are gone.
Let each change that you make above settle in and become comfortable for you before you make another change. even though this will take longer for you to quit smoking, it will make it completely stress free and permanent for you. GRADUAL is the key here.
When do I Actually Get To Quit?
The answer is… When you feel ready. Once you have done all the things above, and you’ve experienced how easily you cut down dramatically with very little “adjustment” problems, you’ll find your confidence in being able to “quit completely” will be at an all time high. When you start to get that “I can really do this” feeling, set a quit date. Gradually get rid of ashtrays, and lighters so that on your quit date you’ll only have “one last ashtray and lighter” to get rid of. If you want to use the patch, make sure you have them ready to go (or the gum, or inhalers or any other aids you wish to use). You can do this more easily than you ever thought possible. Just do it the way I laid it out, and you’ll program your mind to help you with it rather than fight you on it.