No-one likes to think that they are just smoking out of habit, but that is the reality. All habitual behaviour is just automatic repetition of the usual routine, or the usual response. This behaviour will have been under your conscious control to begin with – when you could easily take it or leave it – but was quickly taken over by the Subconscious mind and turned into automatic repetition (habit) once the pattern became predictable. After that, the conscious mind may well be aware that it is happening, but no conscious thinking is required to repeat that sort of routine behaviour.
Conscious decisions that the Subconscious knows nothing about
So when a smoker makes a new conscious decision to cut down, or to quit, the Subconscious doesn’t know – that’s a different mental department. So it carries on trying to direct the usual habitual behaviour, whilst the conscious mind tries to resist it: conflict!
Which isn’t any fun. Also, smokers may believe that there is more to this than habit – that there are other reasons why they smoke, or believe they cannot stop.
The Addiction Myth
Smokers have been repeatedly told that they smoke because they are physically addicted to nicotine. I can prove that this is not true, and I explain it to every smoker who comes to Central Hypnotherapy to kick the habit. It is true that habitual smokers experience strong compulsive urges to light up at certain times, and it is also true that those urges become more insistent if you do not respond, but none of this has anything to do with nicotine.
My clients are astonished when those urges have disappeared after the session, because in all honesty they were not expecting that. Since they had always regarded those feelings as a ‘need’ or ‘desire’ to smoke, they thought they were stuck with them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The urge to pick up tobacco is not really a need or a desire, it just feels like that! It is an impulse sent by the brain, but routed through the body, so you feel it as a physical ‘pang’ – very much like a hunger pang, also produced by the same system. Like with hunger, if you respond to it then the signal will vanish, but if you do not, you will likely get another, more insistent signal. These pangs will continue, and typically continue to become more insistent until you do respond.
Shutting the Cravings Down Forever
In hypnotherapy, the therapist explains to the Subconscious mind that the smoking behaviour is under review – and the reasons – and then asks for the signals to be shut down, along with the whole habitual smoking routine. It is very easy indeed for the Subconscious mind to do that, because what we are really asking it to do from that point onwards is nothing, instead of directing the daily repetition of a smoking habit.
A Return to Normal
So the impulse to buy, smoke or accept tobacco that is offered (or cannabis, this will work for any smoking habit) disappears, and the client is returned to normal. It does not matter how much smoking was going on previously, or for how long. The only thing that matters is how the client feels about being rid of the problem.
It is quite normal for clients to have mixed feelings about stopping smoking. It is part of my job to help them make sense of all that, and get rid of any conflicts there might be about quitting. Then there are the ideas and beliefs that support the habit:
Lots of smokers assume that smoking helps them deal with stress. In reality it causes tiredness and hypertension (high blood pressure). Stress also causes high blood pressure, so the combination triggers heart attacks and strokes that wouldn’t otherwise happen.
A Simple Misunderstanding
So why does the Subconscious mind respond to stress by sending an impulse to light up? Simply because it does not know that nicotine causes blood pressure to rise – in fact it was given the opposite impression! Almost every advert for tobacco you ever saw or heard tried to make out that smoking was either calming or relaxing.
Tobacco advertising has been made illegal in the U.K. now, but we all grew up surrounded by messages like this: “Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet”, or “Relax, with a fuller flavour…” none of which means anything rationally, but it sure suggests pleasure and relaxation. That advertising was not aimed at your conscious mind, you see. It was intended to make a lasting impact on your Subconscious mind.
These suggestions – that tobacco is calming or pleasurable – were so effectively planted in everyone’s mind that they are still in common circulation – in real conversations, and therefore also in drama too. So although tobacco advertising was officially banned from TV screens in the U.K. over a decade ago, the repetition of the original suggestions from the tobacco companies can still be heard over the airwaves today!
Coronation Street Sponsors Tobacco as a Stress Reliever!
Not deliberately, of course. But twice in the last year I have heard the notion that smoking relieves stress repeated in conversations on that show – which is not true, but it is a common enough misunderstanding because we were all bombarded with that brainwashing. The tobacco industry did not spend millions of pounds every year doing that for nothing – they hypnotised millions of people into believing that tobacco is useful or pleasant in some way. So what I do is really de-hypnosis, which returns you to normal. We were all born non-smokers, after all.
The Pleasure Issue
Not all smokers are of the opinion that tobacco smoking is a pleasure, but some are. Long before any of us smoked, we were all bombarded with millions of suggestions that smoking is a pleasure, yet most smokers remember that their first encounters with tobacco were nauseating. So whatever it was that made us pick up the second cigarette, it certainly wasn’t because we enjoyed the first one. It was the same thing that made us pick up the first one – the influence of others, a spirit of rebellion, curiosity, trying to be more grown up – that sort of thing! Notice how that had nothing at all to do with nicotine? What’s more, you knew that then. And if there is a pleasure in smoking, how come we didn’t notice it straight away, eh?
Tobacco smoking is just inhaling the fumes from burning dead leaves, and it is not addiction it is just a compulsive habit. The average habit costs about £1800 a year – most of it tax – and if someone asked you to describe the pleasure of smoking, could you find anything to say?
If you would like to be free from the habit without struggle, without weight-gain – give us a call!
Office: 0161-474-8120 Monday-Friday 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., or call/text 07748 838 644 any day, any time.
Consultant Hypnotherapist Chris Holmes BA(Hons) HPD DipCAH MNCH is a Senior Registered Hypnotherapy Practitioner (General Hypnotherapy Register) and has been providing effective and confidential hypnosis and hypnotherapy services at Central Hypnotherapy for Stockport, Manchester, Tameside and Cheshire since August 2000.