People will often ask “oh, so you’re a hypnotherapist – can you make me give up smoking”? Well, I’ve got some bad news and I’ve got some good news. The bad news is that (contrary to popular belief developed from stage and TV hypnotists) – a hypnotherapist can’t make you do anything you don’t want to! The good news is that they can set up in your own mind, the right frame of mind and circumstances for you to make you give up smoking, if you really want to give up smoking but you feel something is holding you back.
Some research suggests that there are three key factors for success in giving up smoking. Firstly, you need to be motivated. Secondly, your smoking habit needs to change (things you do automatically without thinking, which is unconscious behaviour) or be modified, and thirdly, once you’re a non-smoker, you must not regress and go back to it and stay a non-smoker.
Hypnosis can focus on all three of these key factors in the smoking cessation therapy process. Firstly, motivation – how much do you really want to give up smoking? If you’re completely honest with yourself, you might find that you have reasons (whether you are consciously aware of them, or not) for not giving up (the “payoff”, it you like). But you might not be aware of all of these benefits (for not stopping) so hypnosis can help access your unconscious mind for revealing all the reasons you have not to give up. Once all these reasons are out in the open, they’re easier to tackle and sort out, for good!
Of course, then there are the benefits of giving up smoking. Many clients might say something like “sure, I’d like to be more healthy, play with my kids without wheezing, buy a car instead or go on a holiday”, but with a lack of conviction or belief that this is truly achievable for them. Once the “payoffs” for not giving up have been sorted out, with hypnosis you can then vividly realise the benefits you would gain from giving up smoking and completely understand that they are really, truly and believably within reach and very much a practical reality for you. These benefits of stopping smoking then take on a whole new real, practical, very attainable significance and, in many cases, totally transforms your motivation to stop and stay stopped.
Secondly there’s changing or modifying your unconscious behaviour. For example, have you ever noticed sitting there with a cigarette burning in your hand, but not remembering getting one out of the packet and lighting up? Or do you catch yourself thinking how silly this habit is and that you might give up one day, but without really engaging your mind fully on making that a reality? (This is incidentally is a form of ‘self-sabotage’ which is incidentally related to the “payoff” factor above).
These are just two from many examples which demonstrate how your unconscious mind drives your behaviour – that is to say, where your everyday conscious mind simply doesn’t register what you’re doing. A really effective way to stop this automatic response is to give the unconscious mind a big ‘jolt’, almost like giving it a big shake to wake it up from a lazy, big sleep, and get up and do something different! Again, of course, hypnosis can do this for you.
And thirdly – keeping it all going. You may be one of those people, or people you know of, who give up, and can’t stay given up. Hypnosis can embed your new unconscious thought patterns and behaviour by turning temporary change into long-lasting, permanent change. Most hypnotherapists can provide you with materials to support you - a recording of your hypnosis session to use when you need it, for example - and teach you self-hypnosis to help reinforce that new change, that new way of being a non-smoker, for good.
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