Monday, 3 December 2012

How Pete started to stop smoking

Pete wants to quit smoking. Pete Loves smoking. He associates it with friendship and conviviality, with relaxing in the evening. When he smokes he is spending time with friends laughing and enjoying a glass of good wine. He likes the taste of tobacco, which he describes as being like vanilla, and he likes the smell and the feel of the tobacco as he rolls his cigarette.

He likes flavoured tobacco, which he describes as “good tobacco” - tobacco flavoured with fruit or spice. He believes that rolling his own makes cigarettes that are “better for you” than ordinary cigarettes because it’s more “natural”

He’s smoked since he was a teenager, in fact his whole family smoke. It’s the norm where Pete comes from.

Pete is no fool. He knows that smoking is bad, and expensive and smelly, but that thought is just a string of negatives. There is nothing to make him want to give up smoking. Here’s another strange thing; now that he’s older and his Dad’s getting into old age, he worries about his Dad smoking.

He worries about the fact that good food (he loves cooking) and fine wine are interlocked in his mind with the joy of smoking. So he ends up building a snowball of cyclical behaviour eat – drink – smoke – eat – drink – smoke.

It really bugs him that he can’t stop.

"Rational Pete" enjoys the warmth and conviviality of unwinding with friends at the weekend, but  he struggles with the "Beat Pete" who just wants to feel warm and full, and who smokes and drinks without ceasing until he feels ill. As for “Pompous Pete” he can’t bear to hear his voice when he talks to Dad about not smoking so much.

The different parts of Pete struggle to find equilibrium.

“I don’t want to stop completely” he says. “I want to get control and choice back”

Pete is heavily into the experience of cooking and health, and the deep physical pleasure of food and wine.

I’ve got Pete in a relaxed state of trance. His face is slack and still and his chest is moving slowly.

I’m using guided imagery with him because he is so connected to his physical and sensual experiences. He can really get in touch with the these things and experience them in his mind. They are precious to him.

So I encourage him to re-live the experience of  peeling onions, cutting mushrooms, throwing in herbs.

Then I get him to imagine putting the tobacco into the food. Next I get him to imagine getting an ashtray full of the stubbed out ends and stirring it into the food.

“After all this is "good tobacco", and therefore good ash, and they’re all hand made too. Why not enhance the beautiful stew with nub ends and ash? Imagine feeding this uniquely flavoured stew to your eager friends who so much appreciate your cooking skills? If it’s good enough for you it will be good enough them surely?”
Pete imagines the sweetly flavoured stew sickened by the bitter edge of the burned tobacco and ash. I’m hoping I’ve also changed his view of his roll ups from something nice and hand crafted, into something that spoils his beloved cooking.

We have more sessions which re-enforce his motivation to stop smoking, and I remind him that he’ll be able to appreciate the food even more deeply and subtly. I also work on his motivation and focus.

Whilst he's in trance I point out that there is no such thing as "good tobacco" and that his hand made roll ups are still bad for him not "better" for him as his language suggested.

Subsequent sessions track his progress, and he proves to be a very focused person with great determination. He's even taken up running.

Now I'm not suggesting it was a simple as that. Kazzing! Your done!

It wasn't a magic bullet. It was difficult. Pete was quite a hero. If you are reading this carefully you will have noticed other challenges that he might want to resolve. One thing at a time though.

There were several other factors in play. Number one; Pete had already decided deep in the centre of his being that he was determined to stop smoking. He's a very intelligent and willful man and the fact that he felt he couldn't stop really did bug him a lot. I'd say he had mostly already resolved to stop somehow. What I gave him was a little help.

Number two: Pete is a man who's got a strong imagination and intellect. These are fruitful resources, especially within hypnotherapy.

Anyway, that was a while ago now, and I spoke to him the other week. He tells me that he has not smoked now for over a year.

Well done Pete!

(Obviously Pete isn’t really called Pete and I’ve tinkered with the details of the case a bit in order to protect Pete’s confidentiality, having said that it’s more true than false)

Find out more about hypnotherapy here

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