Do you smoke because you really enjoy it, or because you’re a smoker?

I treat a lot of clients for their smoking habit at this time of year. And it is a habit, not an addiction, which is an important distinction for my clients to understand. The urge to smoke is psychological, not a physical need such as alcoholism or heroin addiction, whereby the body becomes dependent on a substance in order to function. I use the example of going on a long-haul flight, and most smokers agree that they can go for most of the flight without thinking about smoking, because they know that they can’t. They only start to crave a cigarette towards the end of the flight when they know the opportunity to smoke is near. The desire to smoke is in the mind.

When smokers first start to smoke it’s not that enjoyable, and as a former smoker myself I can remember thinking ‘Is this it? It’s grim!’ the very fist time I sparked up (aged 14). Trying not to cough and trying to look cool were my top priorities. If you asked me then if I enjoyed it, the answer would be an unequivocal ‘NO!’.

But…I persisted and sooner or later like all smokers, I found myself hooked. My subconscious mind had interpreted my prolonged smoking behaviour as an indication that I wanted to smoke, and as a result my subconscious supported the behaviour by giving me cravings and developing smoking behaviours and rituals to reinforce it.

All smokers in the developed world consciously know the risks and implications of smoking, but subconsciously they do not accept them. Hypnotherapy can help to resolve this conflict by informing the subconscious mind of the true risks and harsh realities of smoking. By telling the subconscious mind that you no longer want to smoke because of the serious health dangers, the huge cost and the horrible smell, the cravings and rituals developed over the years can be replaced with more healthy and appropriate responses. It’s not a magic cure, but it does change the way you perceive smoking, so you can choose to stop. It also helps you commit to leaving smoking in the past. You don’t need it, and most of the time you don’t even really enjoy it, yet you feel stuck. Patches, gum and electric cigarettes can help you cope, but they don’t help with the psychology of smoking. Your brain still thinks you’re a smoker, and continues to prompt you to smoke.

My Smoking Cessation therapy consists of an hour long interview and 45 minutes of hypnosis. The questions I ask about smoking habits and behaviours can seem a bit tedious, however by uncovering all the patterns and rituals a smoker has, I can tailor the hypnosis exactly to their needs, targeting problem areas to give them the best possible chance of success.

Everyone has their own beliefs about why, when and how much they smoke. I’ve heard it all. But what I find really surprising is how much they don’t really enjoy it. Most clients will start by telling me they enjoy it, but when I get them to break down their daily routine, cigarette by cigarette, and then ask them “Which ones do you really enjoy, from start to finish?” most clients will only chose one of two, usually first thing in the morning, after their evening meal or a fag-break from work. They often tend to surprise themselves by giving this honest answer. But, the reason they are surprised is because they have never consciously thought about this question before. They are smoking because they smoke. Like a wind up toy, they are just going through the motions without any conscious decision making. It is HABIT. And habits can be broken!

I help people to break habits all the time, the vast majority of my work involves helping someone to stop doing something that has a negative impact on their lives or to start doing something that will have a positive impact on their lives.