Thousands of people will be taking part in the Stoptober Challenge this October. You may have started the challenge in previous years and failed, or maybe got through the 28 days only to slide back into the habit some months later. Perhaps you have read a stop smoking book, attended a stop smoking seminar or taken part in a group hypnosis session achieving short term success, then in a moment of ‘madness’ lit up again and rekindled the desire.
You know that smoking is not good for you, you don’t particularly enjoy it, its a huge inconvenience and a ridiculous expense so why do you do it? Believe it or not, that smoking behaviour persists because it provides you with some sort of positive benefit. The main reason why smokers are unable to permanently overcome their smoking habit is that they do not have another strategy to provide that benefit, in place of the perceived benefit that smoking gives. More often than not smokers will not consciously understand what that benefit is. I started smoking to ‘fit in’ with my peers at school. I lacked confidence, self-esteem and felt uncomfortable in social situations even amongst friends – a characteristic which would follow me well into adult life (although I would hate to admit it to myself let alone anyone else). Despite all this I took up barwork during my late teens and early twenties in an attempt to ‘hide’ my anxieties. Prior to the smoking ban it was not unusual to see the barstaff puffing away at the end of the bar and the majority of bar staff smoked. When I went for my stop smoking hypnotherapy session I recall that one of my biggest worries was what I would do with my hands in social situations and this I suppose was a huge clue as to what smoking did for me. Smoking was helping me to overcome my social anxieties. I used to blush a lot, so that cloud of smoke was providing a screen and distance between myself and others. I could keep my mouth and my nervous hands occupied with my ciggie when I struggled with small talk, and those regular drags on the fag regulated my breathing (that of course was my perception).
Everyone has different reasons for smoking and those reasons and benefits can vary greatly from one person to the next. During our sessions we will acknowledge those ‘perceived’ benefits and I will demonstrate that they are not real. Together we can install strategies that REALLY provide the benefits you thought you got, only in a healthier way.