Stopping smoking when you are ready
Well, we're nearing the end of Stoptober and I congratulate all new non-smokers out there. However, if you're anything like I was as a smoker, you will be puffing away more than ever right now. A smoker has to want to stop. In my experience, being told you have to stop at a particular time often has the reverse effect and ends up making you smoke more out of sheer defiance.
All smokers wish they were non-smokers. All smokers feel stupid for starting in the first place and hate themselves for failing to stop. Many believe they 'enjoy' or 'need' cigarettes but almost without exception all know they are controlled by them. It's a horrible feeling and one that can wreck your self-esteem. If you are a smoker and this feels familiar, hypnosis could help you - if and when you want. No-one can make you want to stop, but hypnosis can help you find it easy to do so.
Why is hypnosis so successful? Well, as a smoker, you will probably already be aware that smoking is a 99% psychological addiction. Any physical side-effects are largely psychosomatic because we have been conditioned to believe that it is going to be really difficult to stop. The nicotine and associated drugs are out of your system within a maximum of 72 hours, yet many people who stop on their own continue to experience a range of symptoms, from irritability and depression to nausea and sweating, for months afterwards. This is because of a belief that you are missing out on something. Rather like a diet, if you 'deny' yourself cigarettes, you will feel a craving, feel a need, feel unsatisfied without them, eventually giving in to temptation and picking up the habit again.
Hypnosis works by reconditioning your mind, helping you to change the way you feel about smoking and cigarettes. A long, long time ago, when you first started smoking, you may remember how disgusting it was. How it made you choke. How it was a really repulsive thing to do and took a while to master. This is because your subconscious, whose job it is to protect you, was trying to warn you against doing something so harmful. Every part of your body was screaming - this is bad, horrible, you don't want to do it! But, consciously, you were determined. For whatever reason (usually social) you had decided that this was something you really wanted to do. So you persisted through the burning pain, the coughing and spluttering and the awful stink, until you got used to it and your unconscious gave in. In fact, it became an automatic behaviour without you even realising it. Stopping then became difficult, because it was an unconscious habit. Hypnosis allows us to influence the way you unconsciously feel about smoking, therefore 'reprogramming' your unconscious to how it felt all those years ago. If you're into computers, it's a bit like a hard-disk reboot.
Every therapist works differently, sometimes one session is enough, others will recommend more. The only thing needed from you is a real, true desire to stop and an open mind to what may be a different experience to that which you imagined. Don't expect to come out of hypnosis forgetting you ever smoked - you will probably always remember that, but the way you feel about it will be different. Simply put, you are not denying yourself anything, you are simply choosing not to do something.
You can be a happy and permanent non-smoker, if and when you want (not when someone tells you, you should!)
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About Sarah Russell
A fully qualified, experienced hypnotherapist, I have helped hundreds of smokers. I was a 30-a-day smoker myself for 20 years, finally stopping in 2010 after one session of hypnosis. It was this that inspired me to retrain as a hypnotherapist and I worked for several years at a specialist stop smoking clinic before setting up independently.