The Department for Health are hoping that thousands of people across the UK will “give up” smoking for the whole of October. Their belief is that if smokers stop smoking for 28 days they will not want to start again. This is obviously a positive outcome to work towards and I'm sure that for a few smokers who have been thinking of “giving up” smoking, they will be lucky and never smoke another cigarette again.
However, as any smoker who has “quit smoking” only to start a few days, weeks, months or even years later knows, a 28 day time frame is really neither here nor there.
Although I am sure that these campaigns are run with the very best intentions, to improve the health of the nation, all of these schemes seem to be put together by “non-smokers” who have absolutely no understanding of the psychology of nicotine addiction.
Just for a moment remember the last “Stop Smoking” advert you watched on TV. Take a moment to run it over in your mind and make the picture really bright and turn up the sound – really experience that advert again.
OK if you did it as asked there are two possible outcomes.
One: The non-smoker.
If you are a non-smoker you will wonder why anyone would want to start smoking in the first place. You will feel revolted at the effect tobacco and nicotine has on human biology and rather than feel sorry for someone caught in the trap of nicotine addiction you are more likely to feel anger at what you see as a self inflicted condition that costs the NHS millions of pounds a year.
Two: The smoker
You want a cigarette! If you are a smoker, your first thought on seeing a stop smoking or quit smoking advert would probably be to reach for your cigarettes. In fact there is a likelihood that you have already lit a cigarette or are about to do so.
Why? Well there are a whole host of psychological reasons but the easiest way to explain it is that our unconscious mind, which is the part of us that produces our behaviour, cannot process a negative. This means that it is impossible for a smoker to see themselves “not” smoking. In fact it's impossible for us to think of “not” doing anything.
Try it – try not to imagine lying in the sun, on a beautiful beach, listening to the waves crashing on to the sand. The more you try “not” to imagine it the more you experience it. If you're a smoker, try not to think of putting a cigarette in your mouth, now don't think of lighting it and definitely don't imagine inhaling the smoke and feeling the smoke being taken into your lungs. As you don't think of exhaling don't look at the smoke as it drifts across the room. This is what the well-intentioned anti smoking groups and government departments fail to understand when they put together these campaigns.
This is exactly the same reason that in the long-term diets do not work – because they are designed to make you focus on the thing you don't want. Remember, your unconscious mind cannot process a negative, therefore you cannot “not” see yourself smoking in the same way a dieter cannot “not” see themselves eating.
A better solution is to re-frame what it is that someone is trying to achieve when they attempt to stop smoking. What is their ultimate goal, what outcome are they trying to reach. When you cross a road you must have a goal, your outcome will be to reach that goal whether it be to meet a friend, go in to a shop or a café or catch a bus. You goal is not to cross the road just for the sake of crossing the road, in the same way you don't go on holiday for the flight on the aeroplane, that would be silly – unless you're an aeroplane fanatic!
That's why programmes combining powerful techniques such as hypnosis and neuro linguistic programming (NLP) are so effective at helping people to stop smoking. Using NLP we can find the unique thinking pattern used by each smoker and then change that pattern for one that produces a positive outcome such as becoming healthier and living longer. Hypnotherapy can be used to visualise that outcome so that your unconscious mind has both a positive outcome and a clear picture to work towards.
Re-framing in this way, using hypnotherapy and NLP, it's no longer about trying to “stop” or “quit” smoking, instead it becomes about the thing you do want, such as becoming fitter, healthier or live to a very, very old age.
It's always much more powerful to move towards the thing you want than away from the thing you don't want and that brings me to the first and most important fact about becoming a non-smoker -YOU have to WANT to do it. Hypnotherapists and NLP practitioners can help people make the most amazing and profound changes in their lives but they can't make anyone do anything they didn't want to do in the first place – despite what you may see on the TV (that's called entertainment).
So, if you have reached a point in your life where you simply want to stop smoking just because you want to, then a combination of hypnotherapy and NLP is probably the most effective way to allow you to do just that. See our offer here
For more information on hypnotherapy and NLP visit www.marksheppard.co.uk or call us on 01636 642878
(This article was written by Mark Sheppard Develop-Mental Coaching)