I am speaking from my own experience here. I smoked from the age of 15 years of age when I started work. The girl teaching me the job, offered me a smoke, and of course, I felt very grown up and took it. Then I felt I wanted to purchase my own so that I could offer one back.
I joined the table tennis team to play against other companies. So now, whilst we were not actually playing, we would be sitting on the sideline cheering on our team, smoking and drinking coffee until it was our turn to compete. It soon became a part of who I was.
However, the Universe has a way of nudging us to take notice. As the years went by, I felt fit and healthy. I jogged at the park, played squash before work. I got married, had children and life went on, and I kept smoking. In those days, you could happily smoke at your office desk. I smoked when my husband met me. He did not. He played soccer and smoking did not fit into his life. Now when we were married, he was on at me to give up the smoking habit. You know it isn’t good for you… it stinks… blah! blah! My thinking at that time was; “It was good enough for you when I first met you, stop hounding me now!” (My rebellious child kicked in!) I kept on smoking.
I began to notice that although I only got one cold a year, sort of mid season between winter and spring, I would get a cold and have bronchitis. Each year it was taking me longer to get rid of the bronchitis. However, over it I eventually got and returned to smoking.
Then I got a bigger nudge, one year I had Pleurisy. Now this was harder to shift. I had to bend over the edge of the bed before I sat upright and spit out the phlegm into a bucket, otherwise it would make me cough and it would hurt my ribs. Most people when they get pleurisy get sticking bandages wrapped around their rib case to stop the continual coughing from causing damage. I however was allergic to the plaster and had quite a difficult time getting over this.
Now it makes one wonder why would you keep on smoking. Nevertheless, of course I did. I had probably been smoking now for about 25 years. I liked smoking… I did not want to give it up… why should I? A number of things happened around this time that made me change my mind.
One of my husband’s uncles was having problems with circulation in the lower part of his left leg. He underwent surgery to bypass the damaged artery to get another smaller artery to do the job. It didn’t work. Through the lack of blood flow, he got gangrene in his leg that was amputated just below the knee. This same uncle some months later had a stroke, lost sight in one eye, and the use of his limbs that side of his body. Another stroke further along the line, put him out of his misery.
Another uncle was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He too had a heart attack one day and died before the cancer killed him. His daughter also had terminal lung cancer, but had to suffer till it eventually killed her. Then I received a letter from my mother overseas telling me that my stepfather, Bobby, had suffered a heart attack. Now Bobby was never ill, but he had been a smoker all his life. The letter voiced my mother concern and relief that he was now over this and would be out of the hospital in the next couple of days. The next letter from my mother a few days later told me that he had left his bed to go to the toilet and the man in the bed next to him noticed that he had been gone a long time and told the nurse. They went looking for him and found that he had suffered a major heart attack whilst sitting on the toilet and this had killed him.
Around this time, my inner voice spoke to me. “What are you going to do it said, wait until you get there?” That was the time I made my decision to become a non-smoker.
It was a tough journey for me. It was before my days of knowing anything about hypnotherapy. I struggled with the craving and withdrawal symptoms daily. Even a year later, I was in ‘no-man’s-land’. I still wanted a cigarette, but I was nauseous at the thought of having one. A part inside me tried all the tricks in the book to get me back to being a smoker. However, I guess I had the majority of me inside determined to give up. Eventually, that feeling became less and less and I have now been a non-smoker for many years. I gave up smoking when cigarettes cost $1.26 a packet of 25. They do not go down, do they? Moreover, believe me, the tobacco company do not care a damn about your health – they are just interested in making their billions. And the younger they can get you hooked, the longer they can make money out of you.
Giving up smoking was the best decision that I have ever made for my health. I look at people who still smoke and I wonder where they will be in 15, 30 or 45 years time. A friend of mine died of emphysema. She had a lot of money. She could afford the home nurse, the oxygen tank, all the best care and all the luxuries that money could buy. However, she could not buy health.
I hear therapists of different disciplines promote all sorts of ways of giving up smoking. Some say take Champix, some say lazer treatment, patches or a particular model of counselling. Then we have the NLP and Hypnotherapy proponents. However, the bottom line is there is little research out there that says any particular modality works 100 per cent for every person for a lifetime of abstinence. Some last a few years, go through a tough time in life and go back to their earlier way of coping, whilst others have been through tough times and have remained a non-smoker through those events and decades later.
In addition, whether we talk about smoking or weight release, insomnia, gambling, or anxiety etc. the same dynamics are at work with whatever it is that has become a habit that you wish to change.
I had a person that came to see me two days ago that wanted to give up smoking. He currently smoked 40 cigarettes a day and he has been smoking for 40 years. There was no particular happening in his life that had caused the original smoking intention other than to feel grown up… to be one of the group… and the repetition of partying and having a drink in one hand and a smoke in the other, had helped to make it a habit. His job entailed many hours behind the wheel of a vehicle and smoking helped to pass the time. Cigarettes had become a ‘friend’ he could always rely on. Now at 60 he felt that for health reasons it was time that he gave it up.
He saw my local paper advert and gave me a call. We spoke about 20 minutes and he decided to book a session to see if I could help him. When he arrived he told me that He had tried patches, lazer treatment, Champix (caused anxiety), Smoke Enders, and even group hypnosis where everyone had their last cigarettes and threw their packets of cigarettes in the bin, causing him to leave and go straight to the shop to buy another packet of cigarettes. Nothing had worked.
He was sceptical that he could be hypnotised, after all, it did not work last time. Despite painstakingly going through the process of what hypnosis is and isn’t what you may or may not feel depending on the sort of person you were, he was still sceptical that he had been in hypnosis. During the session we had obtained a hand levitation through visualisation, we had obtained a hand levitation through using the mind, I used ideo-motor questioning with fingers that moved on their own violation (having checked that with the client), and I had received the right responses to the changes I had asked the sub-conscious to make. I pointed all these things out to him, yet he still felt that he had not been hypnotised. At the end of our one and a half hour session, I had asked him did he feel any cravings right now? The answer was ‘No’, so I told him that as long as it stayed that way, that is all he had come here for. I suggested he call me when he was available in about a week’s time.
However, he phoned me two days after our session asking if I could possibly see him urgently as the following week, he would be at work and he had started smoking again. I made the appointment. When he arrived, he told me that after 4 hours he had lit up a cigarette. I asked him; “Did you have craving?” He said “No.” So I said. “What made you have a cigarette then? His reply was; “I think my subconscious wanted to stop, but I don’t think my conscious mind did.” Or was it the other way round he asked. When I came to you I had all these reasons of why I wanted to stop smoking, now I can’t think of one of them. Today he said he had smoked 3 cigarettes.
Even with the lack of having any craving or withdrawal symptoms, it was not enough to stop the smoking habit. Smoking can still be a problem if the psychological thinking is not in zinc.
So this time after putting him into hypnosis I read him a story that I have had for many years. It was a story called ‘The Outward Journey of a 40-a-Day Man. Condensed from The Canberra Times, (however I could not find the original article in the archives of the paper). It didn’t give the authors name, who described his experiences leading up to his diagnosis of cancer, a small carcinoma of the right bronchus. The author went on to describe the removal of his right lung. The confusion and pain, life becoming centred upon the struggle to breathe. He dared not sleep as he felt he would drown with the accumulation of fluid and mucus in the space left by the removed lung. He didn’t smoke anymore but still had a terrible craving for tobacco. Statistics told him he had a 1 in 3 chance of surviving for 5 years, which was rated as a cancer cure. Not a particularly attractive proposition when he considered what he had been through and must face in the future. At the end of the graphic details by the author there was the Editor’s note: The author of this article died of secondary cancer four months after the operation he describes, having been on oxygen for the last month. Cancer may spread to any organ, particularly the liver, and the bones. In this case, it also returned at the stump of the bronchus.
I asked my client using Transactional Analysis whether he was willing to play Russian roulette with his life? Is that what he wanted? He shook his head. I checked with the PAC Ego States and they all agreed. The Rebellious Child took the responsibility to put in an ‘Aversion’ so that the cigarette would taste vile. Before bringing him out of hypnosis, I asked the subconscious to make the body lighter and lighter and disappear until it felt that only his mind was there and to nod his head when he had that feeling, which it did. Then I brought him out of hypnosis. His conscious mind was now no longer querying that he had been in hypnosis, however it was now fearful that the aversion technique would not work. (He actually didn’t want to light up a cigarette in case it didn’t work.) I said; “You will always wonder if it will work and one day will have to try for yourself to see if it did work. Why not light up a cigarette now, and you will know.” We walked out to the client’s car. He took his cigarettes out of the car and lit up. As I watched his face, it screwed up. He said he felt light headed and dizzy, he didn’t want the cigarette, it tasted vile. He threw it in the gutter and put it out with his shoe. I said give me a call in a couple of days and let me know how things are and off he went.
Health is our responsibility. How we look after our self will give us the outcome of the choices we make. How much food we eat what type of food we eat, how much we drink, whether alcohol or soft drink – they are all the choices we make. Decisions that give us an outcome according to these decisions we make. And eventually, the Reaper will take his reward for those that ignore the Universe’s nudges. As I tell my client’s “There is no such thing as failure – there are just ways of doing things that don’t work”.
What choices will you make?