Welcome to the Stop Smoking blog from James Brannan Hypnotherapy. I'm a Hypnotherapist, based in London, specialised in helping people to stop smoking. And in this blog post I'm really looking forward to sharing with you some interesting and useful insights that allow you to understand how it all works. That is, how to stop smoking with Hypnotherapy.
In this article, learn...
✓ Why Hypnotherapy can help you quit smoking
✓ The Psychology that holds smoking in place
✓ The 5 changes that must be made
Once you've read this article, you'll be quite knowledgeable about what happens in a person's mind when they successfully quit smoking. My hope is that this knowledge will help you to make whatever decisions are right for you. That is, whether you choose to stop smoking with Hypnotherapy or pursue another course of action. I believe having clear and honest information about a process is a good start to making the right decision. And so, I will endeavour to be as clear, concise and relevant as possible, while giving you the option to explore more supporting information if wanted.
Please Note: You will see links which take you to other related articles if wanted. They will open in new tabs so that this article is always left open for you to come back to.
When helping someone to stop smoking with Hypnotherapy, there are several key factors that come in to play. I remember when I first started learning Hypnotherapy, I thought it was all about a 'special state'. "The state of Hypnosis". And, when you get someone into the state...and talk in a dreeeeaaamy voice...things magically change...
Please void this idea from your mind. There's a lot more to 'how to stop smoking' than this, and the Hypnotherapist needs to be rich in their understanding of the psychology behind smoking. The state of Hypnosis is really "a learning state" which we go into to make changes in our unconscious processes. It is important to be able to guide the person into a hypnotic state, but that's just the start. The Hypnotherapist must have specialised knowledge to guide the needed changes effectively.
In a moment I will reveal the answer of how to stop smoking and break down the key things that need to change in order to stop successfully and permanently. However, for now I will say this. While there are various misconceptions about Hypnotherapy that might at first make it seem wishy washy or without substance. Realise, Hypnotherapy to help someone stop smoking is closer to precision neuro-science than anything spooky or half-hearted. Rest assured, the psychological understandings applied are from a huge volume of testing and feedback from people who have achieved consistent results.
In essence, when the specifics outlined in this article come together, it works! The person who smoked doesn't want to smoke anymore. That is, they don't desire it or feel the same compulsions, which is far apart from disciplining themselves to stop smoking. Along with making changes in the areas outlined, the Hypnotherapist must listen and understand the individual. They will ask questions and pay very close attention so that they know how the person keeps their smoking pattern in place. They will attend to the psychology of the individual and tailor what works, in the best ways, to that person.
How to Stop Smoking...The 5 Essential Changes
So, here we go. Here are the 5 Key Psychological changes which must be made for you to Stop Smoking Permanently.
Change must happen in your unconscious processes
Consider this. When doing something you're good at. If you start to think too much, you interfere with your performance. Sports stars know that they are better off being in a state where they can just flow. Not too much thinking. The 'zone' or 'flow state' is where they want to be. Their conscious mind quietens and their unconscious mind guides their processes. This allows all they've trained for and their talent to come through.
We've all had the experience of forgetting someone's name. It just won't come to you in that moment. Yet the moment you relax (usually after the person has gone!)...it pops back into your mind. This is the thing; it's our unconscious mind that stores all this information. And, often, the conscious mind interferes with the natural access and flow of information and ability.
The power lies with your unconscious mind.
Coming back to the question then of; how to stop smoking. You don't try to want a cigarette, the compulsion arises from an unconscious impulse. Unconscious processes hold the smoking behaviors in place. And, unless changes are made to these unconsciously held patterns, no lasting change occurs. Your unconscious mind wants what's best for you and is open to change, but it needs instructing. Hypnotherapy is a wonderful way of communicating with the unconscious mind and allows us to offer the needed instructions.
Cutting the strings that tie smoking to other things
A person who smokes inadvertently forms associations between smoking and unrelated things. This is because these happen to be done simultaneously. Every time a new association is made, brain cells reach out and form new connections. Each time they are repeated these new connections are strengthened. They: have a coffee...while smoking, socialize...while smoking, drink a beer...while smoking, relax in the garden...while smoking...and so on. Smoking gets connected up to all sorts of actions and happenings which, over time, start to feel like they just go hand in hand. Certain times of day, before or after meals, certain people or places. They all become linked.
Over time, a network of supportive habits forms and keep the 'smoking schedule' in place. These associations hold patterns of thoughts and feelings which operate unconsciously. You don't consciously create the desire for a cigarette when you have a coffee. And, until these associations have been changed, they continue to keep the desire for a smoke going, outside of your conscious control. And so, a part of the answer to how to stop smoking is to detach these present associations.
Detach from the identity of being 'a smoker'
One of the key psychological factors that holds smoking in place is identifying with smoking. That is...as if it is an identity. A person gets labelled as "a smoker" or as "a non-smoker". However, smoking is not an identity, it's just something some people do. Personally I don't swim very often, but that doesn't mean I see myself as a "non-swimmer". I might play golf, but don't particularly identify myself as "a golfer".
The relevance here is that, over time, your psychology has somewhat intertwined the act of smoking with an identity of "being a smoker". Of being the 'type' of person who smokes.
People ask; "Are you a smoker?" and, whether you're aware of it or not, you have been trained to think of yourself as this person.
This sense of IDENTITY with smoking may make little sense consciously and yet it impacts our unconscious blueprint for our lives.
With Hypnotherapy, we go in with an array of ideas and suggestions that challenge these perceptions. You are guided to map out a shift in identity from "smoker" to "non-smoker". Relax, you are still YOU, only you just don't identify with smoking the same way. Once adjusted, the new foundation of thinking of "non-smoker you", adds to the power of all else that's done. As you start to see yourself as a "non-smoker", you begin to create a supportive network of thoughts and feelings which allow the old habit to slip away like water off a duck's back.
Pain and pleasure; life's two great motivators
The only reason someone continues to smoke is because, at some level, their mind perceives that they get more pleasure from it than pain. Our perceptions of pleasure and pain are driving us and influence our decisions, feelings and behaviours. And, so long as the balance of perceived pain and pleasure stay the same, then your unconscious compulsions stay the same.
You might think to yourself that you don't believe you get much pleasure from smoking anymore and you do associate more pain with it these days instead. However, the perceptions that matter are UNCONSCIOUSLY held. And as long as the strongest part of you (your unconscious mind) holds on to these perceptions, the old behaviours prevail.
"The perceptions that matter are UNCONSCIOUSLY held."
So, again, it comes down to changing at an unconscious level. Notice also I say PERCEPTIONS because our motivations are not based on reality but what we unconsciously believe to be our reality. Smoking might even start causing a person terrible damage where they begin to really suffer. And yet, if the old perceptions stay put, they keep on smoking and somehow feel a reward for doing so.
New patterns of thinking must be established
Before we start feeling and behaving differently, new patterns of thinking must be established in the mind. That is, if we are to naturally and automatically feel and behave differently. In the same way that you would need to forge a new pathway across an overgrown meadow; in your mind, you must establish new pathways in your brain cells. This is done through mental rehearsal.
So, again, returning to the relevance to stopping smoking with Hypnotherapy; what we do is mentally rehearse future scenarios where you don't smoke. One thing I do with my clients is get them to imagine "a typical day" from start to finish. I guide them to imagine it in some detail and create in their mind some clarity of what they will be doing instead of smoking. It's no good me just repeating over and over; "imagine yourself there at that time and place….without a cigarette". Because all this does is bring the thought of smoking back in. What I do instead is get them to imagine and describe what they ARE doing in that moment rather than what they AREN'T doing (smoking). This allows the brain cells to start to connect in new patterns that form the future habits that you DO want and drop the old ones that you DON'T want.
These new thoughts create their own pathways which then, with repetition and re-enforcement, turn into 'highways' in the brain. There comes a point where these new pathways become the easier route for the electrical signals in the brain to travel down. Again think of the trodden path across the meadow. The ones which have been forged most clearly are the ones that continue to be followed. Clients leave my Hypnotherapy room with a clear and strong blueprint in their mind that their thoughts and behaviours will follow.
Hopefully this article has gone some way to answering the question of how to stop smoking and especially how to stop smoking with Hypnotherapy. As you can now appreciate, there's a great deal more to helping you become a happy, healthy non-smoker than someone talking in a dreamy voice and taking your money! The points covered in this article are the main essential ingredients. However, success also depends on how well your Hypnotherapist can work with you...and you with them. If you are open and willing to work with them, then your chances of success goes up and up. It's key that you feel safe and comfortable with the process and the answer to that is the you ask lots of questions. By reading articles like this one, you will have many concerns alleviated. And as you inform yourself more, both your conscious mind and unconscious mind is enabled to have more faith and trust in the process.
...because the fact that you've read this article to the end implies that you have a strong level of motivation and interest. With those attributes in place, it's likely that you would do very well when having hypnotherapy to stop smoking. The main determining factor is that you want to stop and that you are deciding to do it for yourself, rather than doing it to appease others. Having said that, you don't have to feel 100% ready to stop. If you have decided to do it, then we can get you there. Perhaps you'd like to have YOUR FREE CONSULTATION with me and fill in any remaining gaps you're curious about.
For your FREE, confidential consultation, or to find out more or book:
Call me on 0208 9919805 or leave a message on the contact form.
Perhaps you'd like to take a fun quiz and discover "How Likely Are You to Stop Smoking" now.
I love helping people stop smoking, it's a fun process. And, I do hope to have the chance to serve you soon. Thanks again for reading. Your stop smoking specialist…