Tips & Techniques for Quitting Smoking

October 19, 2015

By Paula O’Sullivan (RC Hyp, Dip Hyp)

quit smoking

So you’ve decided to quit smoking? Maybe this is your first real attempt to quit, or maybe you’ve tried everything you can think of and haven’t succeeded so far.

Well I’d like to share a few things that might help you to succeed once and for all. Remember we only fail when we stop trying. Although ‘Yoda’ from ‘Star Wars’ tells us, to ‘do or do not, there is no try’. In a way trying actually gives us an excuse to fail. ‘Look I’ve tried everything and it hasn’t worked, I’m never going to quit etc’… well it doesn’t have to be that way.

Begin with being very honest with yourself, yes yourself! Forget about what everyone else in your life wants or thinks about you smoking. Do YOU really want to quit, for your OWN personal reasons? On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being very committed, where are you? If you are under a 6, you just haven’t put enough focus on this issue, let’s see if I can help you change that. If you want to that is!

Get a sheet of paper, it’s time to make a plan.

First, in order to change anything in your life, you need to know what the habit of smoking actually gives you. Every behaviour has some form of payback, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. We are primarily motivated in two ways, by the promise of pleasure or the fear of pain. Your promise of pleasure mostly wins out, although the fear of the pain of something can also be a strong motivator which could stop you from even trying to quit.

Ok so you have a piece of paper? Draw a line dividing the page in half. On the left side, write the title: Reasons why I smoke. And on the right hand side of the page, write the title: Benefits from quitting. Now list all those things, reasons may be relaxation, dealing with stress, etc. Benefits may include better health, more money, etc

Be very honest with yourself. Money will not be a benefit, if you are already financially well off, unless you decide on something to spend that extra money on.

Your list will look something like this:

Reasons why I smoke

 

  1. Relaxation
  2. Dealing with stress
  3. Clears my mind and helps me think clearly
  4. Social inclusion etc.

Benefits from quitting

 

  1. Better health, I will feel fitter
  2. More money
  3. Clothes smell cleaner
  4. Feel empowered and a sense of achievement
  5. Food tastes nicer
  6. More energy
  7. Better relationships etc.

Now you have an idea of what smoking is giving you, and what would be the benefits of quitting.

Let’s see if we can balance some of the reasons, with some techniques. Ok if you have reasons like, 1,2 & 3 above, think about this. What are you actually doing when you smoke?

You are breathing in very slowly and deeply, and you are breathing out very slowly and deeply.

When we are ‘stressed out’ or need to relax, it is because we have triggered the ‘Stress Response’ in our body. If you think of it like this: Your body and mind is like a very busy building site with lots of workers rushing around doing many jobs. When you are stressed, a signal travels up to the brain area and puts these workers on high alert.

Oxygen gets pumped immediately from your brain down into your heart and lungs, so that you can’t think clearly, it puts you into survival mode. Cortisol and adrenalin gets pumped in excess. This all allows you to have the strength to fight or flee from whatever is distressing you. Ha! But most of us can’t fight or run away. So we grab an oul smoke to help us, but what are we really doing? We are breathing! Why? Because the only way to reverse the stress response is to breathe deeply!

Now that you know that, here is a breathing technique, which, if you really want to quit, will give you everything that, reasons for smoking 1,2 & 3 gave you, except the chemicals !

Breathing Technique:

Find a quiet place initially, where you won’t be disturbed, lock yourself in the loo if you have too!

Close your eyes, uncross your arms and legs. Now breathe in very slowly and deeply. To help you with this, imagine that the breath is travelling up from your fingertips, all the way up your arms, to your head and chest on the in breath, and out and down through your body, down through your legs, feet and toes on the out breath. Do this slowly at least 5 times.

Now doing this sends the signal to all those hard workers in your body to go take a tea break! They can relax and do what they normally do!

You will now feel calmer and more relaxed and your mind will be clearer. But wait, we’re not done yet. We still have to deal with your thoughts. It is your thoughts and beliefs about things that are keeping you stuck in the habit of smoking. A belief is a thought you keep thinking over and over.

Every time you think a thought it strengthens a neural pathway in the brain, this becomes a belief, which then forms a habit, and will then affect how you behave. This will in time become your unquestioning automatic response to things in life.

How do we change this? Use the breathing technique on a regular daily basis, for example every morning and evening and during the day, when stuck in traffic, a queue, or when being challenged by life, then you’ll have enough oxygen to be able to reason this out more effectively.

Then remember this: There are TWO ways of thinking about things.

The Worst Way: Focuses on all that is going wrong or may go wrong, you play movies in your mind about not being able to cope with quitting, you feel all the dreadful feelings of failure etc. You can’t see yourself doing it. In the battle between imagination and reality, imagination will always win, so as long as your focus is on the pain or the fear, then that is all you will see and experience.

The Best Way: Focuses on all that could go right, you play movies in your mind about all the ways quitting smoking can benefit you. You see yourself using the breathing technique, you see yourself choosing a different way to think. You imagine how wonderful it is to be finally free of this habit. You see and feel the excitement, the empowerment of achieving something in your life. You use your imagination to focus on the pleasure of being free of smoking. In your mind you play out your daily routines and plan what will be different now that you are a non- smoker.

Now you have two things to try, a breathing technique and the choice of how to think about this, but there is one more thing that will help you. The mind movies that you play in your mind and the feelings they conjure up, will either keep you stuck or will help to liberate you.

Remember a RUT is only a Record of Unhelpful Thoughts. Stay out of a RUT, by choosing the best way of thinking. Talk back to any thoughts that tell you to give in.

Use a journey statement to help you, one like:

‘As I become and stay a non-smoker, my life improves in many ways,’ or write your own one that resonates with you.

As you change your thoughts, you will change how you feel. Don’t believe me? Close your eyes, think of something sad, go on bring it all up. Open your eyes, feel really good do you? No? Ok close your eyes again, think of something that made you happy, go on bring it all up, that lovely feeling in your chest, or tummy. Open your eyes, feel really good do you?

Now here’s a little visualization exercise for you. Find a quiet time when you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly, so that you can think clearly.

Mind Movie

Use your imagination to imagine that you are walking into your own private movie theater.

You are perfectly safe in here and you choose a seat. You look up at the screen and see a scene from your life on pause. Think about how you DO want to be in this scene. Not how you ‘don’t want to be’ (that’s the worst way of thinking!) Now think about how you want to be as a non-smoker. What will you be wearing, what will you look like, what will you feel like? See, hear, feel, and imagine your life as a non-smoker. How wonderful does it feel to have achieved this? Imagine yourself doing all you can to make sure that you remain a non-smoker. What kind of things are you telling yourself? What kind of scenes are you imagining for yourself?

Press play and let the movie unfold as you would want it to be, take your time with this. Now press pause, re think what you could improve on, then rewind it back very fast and press play, imagining any changes you want to make, take your time. Press pause, review if there is anything you can improve on, then play again and so on, do this at least three times or more, regularly. It is no different to what we already do, except that we usually play disaster movies instead.

If you can see yourself doing it, then you are already halfway there. The next thing you do when you have a clear idea of what you want your experience to be like, is to put into action all the techniques that feel right for you.

Now finally plan out your first week as a non-smoker. Get rid of the spare cigarettes, roll ups, cigars etc. Yes even the little glass box on the wall, with the break in case of emergency! If you decide to do this right there won’t be a need for it!

Break the habit easily by slightly changing your routine. If you have a smoke with a cuppa in a certain cup every morning, change the cup for the first week, so that you break the habit association with the thing you smoke. Ever hear a song, or smell a scent that brings back a memory? Well it might be the same with letting go of smoking. Be prepared. If you smoke before you shower, change the routine and shower first, then do something else where the smoke would be, read, or go for a walk, or use the breathing techniques etc. Plan out your day and be prepared.

  1. Use your breathing technique.
  2. Challenge your thoughts and change your focus to what you Do want.
  3. Play your Mind Movie in your imagination.

If you want it badly enough, you’ll make it happen, if not, you’ll just make an excuse. The choice is yours!

Paula O’ Sullivan is an Author / Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Artist & Photographer, based in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Her website is http://www.i-want-a-better-life.ie

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Disassociation by Design

July 20, 2012

Image

Life throws so many things at us doesn’t it? People and situations, some unpleasant, some emotionally painful. Sometimes things just don’t go our way or the way we would like. And we end up mulling it all over, and over in our minds, tormenting ourselves about how it could have been different. Of course that just makes it worse in our minds. As the more we play back a picture that upsets us, the more we evoke stronger feelings and emotions in relation to this, which keeps us stuck in the past, and helps to make us more fearful of the future. Now most of us wouldn’t keep watching a DVD for instance, if it really upset us, so why do we continue to replay mental pictures that upset us and make us feel sad, uncomfortable, fearful or unhappy? Crazy aren’t we?

I’ve learnt some techniques which I’ve used successfully with my clients and in my own personal life too. I cannot take the credit for them, I’m just sharing something that works for me, if you know of any other ones, please share and I’ll update this article with them.

Firstly and very importantly, I suggest that you try to accept what has happened. A lot of the time, most of our pain and suffering, or even in some cases depression, arise out of our lack of acceptance of what the reality is. So when you get into the place in your mind where you accept that you can’t change what happened, but that you can change how you feel about it, then you can move on to disassociate effectively in my opinion.

What we’re aiming to do here, is to free your mind from unpleasant thoughts and feelings around a person or situation, so that you free yourself to move on to be able to embrace new experiences in the future.

This first one is about dissociating a bad feeling. If someone annoys you or leaves you with a bad feeling that you can’t shake.

Return to Sender

  • Imagine where that feeling is lodged, i.e. chest, tummy?
  • Imagine a colour for it
  • Imagine a shape / texture
  • Then imagine plonking it onto the table, packaging it up, and then firing it over the horizon back to the person who gave it to you!
  • At best it will give you something to smile about

Now as a loving spiritual type of person, I don’t tend to send bad energy or bad feelings back at anyone, so the original one I came across is mentioned here, but I changed this slightly and I send the package to the far ends of the universe for recycling. I believe that feelings are only good or bad if we attach that label to them. So for me, I’m sending stagnant energy out and away from me, and I’m not harming anyone by directing it at them. Do whatever works for you, play around with this idea, and make it your own, so that you can feel better.

Photo disassociation

  • Imagine a person or situation that has bothered you
  • If you are in the picture with the person or situation in your mind, notice how you feel, how bright is the picture? Full colour?
  • Now imagine you are looking in on the person or situation as if you were a bystander, you can now see you and the person from a third perspective. Notice how you feel now, as an observer, you’ll be slightly more detached and less emotionally involved.
  • Now imagine that you take a photo. There is a frame around the picture of you and the person and situation, and the photo is in bright colour, large and up close.
  • Now start pushing that photo further away from you, so that it gets smaller and smaller and the colour starts to fade out of it, until it becomes just a white rectangle in the distance and then dissapears.
  • Do this, as often as necessary until you feel better about the person or situation. Ideally the intensity of your feelings about the issue will lessen as the photo gets smaller.

Movie Theatre

  • Imagine that you go into an empty cinema and sit down. You feel safe. On the screen is a situation that has been bothering you. It’s on pause ready to play.
  • When you are ready, play through the situation as you recall it, then pause at the point that you would like a different outcome of how you reacted or felt about it.
  • Now rewind it back to the beginning really fast.
  • Think about how you would like it to be different, ie, maybe you have a new or different perspective at the end of it; maybe you can see it from a different point of view, from theirs or from a third party view point.
  • Now play it again, and in your mind allow the picture of that new approach to go up on the screen. See yourself calmly reacting in a different way this time. Feel the feelings, you want to feel etc.
  • Pause. How does that feel? Better? Or not there yet?
  • Rewind back to the beginning and pause. Think, what could be better?
  • When you are ready, press play, let the movie reflect what you want the situation to be like, get into the feelings that you do want to feel, not the ones you don’t want to feel.  So how would you like to feel? Play that out. See yourself playing that out. Work with it until you feel happy. And then play it again. Pause, rewind, and play as many times as it takes until you feel you have it as you want it.

Then whenever you think of this situation again, play the updated movie in your mind. It won’t change what has happened, but you will feel better about it. And you will have a blueprint in your mind for the next time something like that happens to you. This can be used for many things. You can use it to pre plan how you want to be in future situations. The more you play your mind movie over and over, bringing up new thoughts, new feelings and new emotions, you will successfully re programme yourself. I did this long before I trained as a Hypnotherapist, I played a mind movie over and over, getting it right, seeing and  feeling how it would be when I qualified. By the time I got to train, most people believed I was already a professional. I’m doing it again now, as I’m training to be a Life Coach. I’ve used this technique to deal with emotional situations also, so I know first hand that these techniques work if we work at making them work.

If you need any help with this, feel free to contact me. I’ll share what I can.


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