Quitting Smoking and What you Should Know First
I usually take a break at some point during the day, head across the street, grab a coffee, sit in one of the comfortable chairs and proceed to read the day’s paper. I’ve been doing this for a number of years now so I’ve gotten to know many other people who use the coffee shop for a pleasant distraction from their regular daily routine. Many people know me there as Terry the author, even the owner and a few of the staff at the coffee shop has bought my book, Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja. Others know me as Terry the martial arts and meditation teacher as I’ve at times bumped into students of mine from the past who stopped in to grab a quick coffee. Yet others know me as Terry the international business man, as it seems I’m always getting ready to go or returning from places like Costa Rica, California or Asia. Today Anthony was there and he knows me for all of these things but also he knows me as Terry the personal wellness coach and hypnotherapist as my health centre, Positive Changes Hypnosis and Coaching, is just across the street. Anthony has been a smoker for just over 25 years and he often has picked my brain about quitting the habit when we crossed paths at the coffee shop. I knew he wasn’t ready to do so before because when people are, they will take action and he was just inquiring, kind of like when someone starts to research different places to live but they are not ready to commit to actually moving quite yet.
On Sunday I had stopped into the coffee shop and grabbed a coffee before heading to the annual festive gathering I like to put on each year in this month. It’s a time when I can see people from the various different organizations that I’ve been a part of in some way over the years. Often people will show up that I’ve known from teaching martial arts over 25 years ago, so it’s a great time to reconnect, reminisce and find out what’s current in everybody’s life.
While I was in ordering my coffee, Jameson was there. He’s a friend of Anthony’s who I have gotten to know as well. He immediately said hey Anthony has stopped smoking for 6 days now so if you see him give him some support. Of course I said “wow that’s great, I sure will!”
So today when I saw Anthony there slumped down in the chair, half reading the paper I sat down beside him with my coffee and said “Hey buddy, great news I heard the other day, congratulations!” He said “oh about the smoking” and I remarked “yeah. I heard it’s been a number of days now that you have stopped.” He replied back “yes, it’s been 8 days actually” but in an almost begrudgingly like tone. I knew what this tone was about. I have heard it with many of my clients over the years. So I said three words that are always assured to have a person share their thoughts on the matter, often from the deepest resources of their mind.
“How’s it going?” I said.
Anthony then proceeded to open up by saying, “well it’s been 8 days now and I thought it would have been easier by this point…but I find myself feeling drained of energy, at times more irritable and sometimes feeling more anxious than ever!”
Little did he know that this was often a common occurrence when someone quits cold turkey like he had. I knew that my clients who had had hypnotherapy often found it an easier go, as they had resources, tools and coaching to help them get through the transition they were experiencing.
I said to him well if you haven’t had a cigarette in 8 days, it’s not the nicotine addiction, as nicotine is out of your system in only four days, completely.
He said, “yes. I thought the nicotine would be out of my system by now and that’s why I thought it would be so much easier then how I’m feeling. I just have periods of such low energy which I don’t understand”
I said to him, “well just because the nicotine is out of your body doesn’t necessarily mean the ALL the other 4000 chemicals you inhale while smoking are completely out of your body, so it’s quite possible you are feeling the effects of your body going through a detoxification stage. When this happens you often feel worse before you feel better.” I told him that one of the things he could do to help his body out was to drink more water and to put freshly squeezed lemon or lime often into the water, as this helps to detoxify the body. Then I told him that while he was going through this transition he might want a vitamin B supplement specifically for the nervous system which also will help. I continued by saying that the only other thing that was left to contend with were the mental habits and behaviours that come with any long term habit or behaviour; of course his being in relation to his smoking routine from over the past 25 years.
Anthony continued, “Yeah, that’s a tough one; it’s like I have these voices in my head where one is saying this is good, quitting smoking is a good thing and you will be better for it. Then there is this other one which can get quite loud when I’m feeling anxious and it shouts ‘you can’t do it; it’s too hard for you; look how long it’s been and it’s not any easier, you can’t handle the stress; you know you should just go and have a smoke. It will make you feel better!’ ”
I told him the story I had heard before of the two dogs. There was this person who said exactly the same thing that he had these two voices that were like these two dogs both barking loudly on either side of him, arguing back and forth against each other. One was telling him that it was okay to make the change, it was the right thing to do, and the other was arguing the opposite, saying it was stupid to even try, it was better staying with what he had known for so long. It was a constant struggle for so long as he wasn’t sure which one to listen to. So the question is, what did the guy do to solve the problem? He simply stopped feeding the negative dog that kept telling him he couldn’t do it and eventually the dog knowing he wasn’t to be getting anymore food (attention) simply decided to wander away and left him alone.
Anthony immediately piped up and said “I’m going to have to think how I’m feeding that damn dog! I mean I can’t believe I still have these thoughts about smoking like I miss it. How could I miss something that I know is so terrible for me? I mean, how am I supposed to get rid of these thoughts?”
I said to him in time, time will have them fade. I continued by saying that he has had 25 years of practicing the same thoughts many times a day! Of course they are going to be there in his mind after entertaining them that long. They are not going to disappear in only a week. One of the things you should remember though is that you are not your thoughts! Your thoughts are generated by past experiences, beliefs and memories, the story of your past. They bubble up to your conscious mind and many people become over identified with them as if they are their thoughts. This simply is not true and you are far greater than a bunch of rehashed thoughts or an old story. I said to Anthony when those thoughts about his lack of will power or ability to stay a non smoker come into his mind, to take a deep breath and to simply notice these thoughts … as if they were clouds in the sky passing over head. Soon, they would disappear into the horizon and he could just watch them go. Or the world of unlimited creativity in his mind, he could use his own breath to speed up the passing of these thought/clouds by taking a deep breath in …and then letting that breath out fully…scattering and dispersing these self limiting thoughts… far out of the way. This would show him that he has the power to detach and not so readily identify, which makes the experience rather intense when listening to these old messages.
We all have thoughts that we don’t act on. How many times have you been at work and wish you could take the day off and do something different or continue the weekend fun you were having? Or maybe you were thinking about that scrumptious chocolate cake you had and thought hmm another piece? Or that car that you know you can’t afford but you thought about buying it anyways. How about the time you were angry at someone and thought about wringing their neck…but you didn’t. I said to Anthony look at your thoughts as stories and if the story isn’t making much sense and you don’t like the way it’s going …then rewrite it in your mind. When you have the story written the way you like it to be and are thinking about that one more often rather than the old outdated one then the more the new story will stick in your head and soon you will have a better story to listen to! I said that’s what Dr. Gates and I do at our coaching and hypnotherapy clinic, we help our clients to rewrite the story in their head. Thus with a new story playing they react differently having changed their habits and behaviours; that’s the essence of hypnotherapy.
We talked for a bit longer and I mentioned to him that it would help to buy some oranges or tangerines too. This way he would give himself something to fill the void with his hands (rather than the old action of pulling, lifting or twitching a cigarette) he could peel, lift and eat something that would give his body a little extra vitamin C that would help while he was transitioning. I wasn’t sure how Anthony would do with the small talk we had but he thanked me for the talk and said that he felt better. While in the process of writing this blog post, as more often than not as of late, a few other pressing business matters came up and took precedence. So I am only now getting back to it a week after I started. I bumped into Anthony once again today at the coffee shop and am happy to report that for a full two weeks now he has remained a non-smoker…and he looked in far better shape than the previous week when we had the talk. Congratulations Anthony I’m saying that now because I know you will read this blog post at some point in time!
Proud to say at my office Positive Changes Hypnosis Etobicoke we have helped hundreds and hundreds of people kick the smoking habit once and for all!
So what are the rest of you waiting for? Do you have something that you have been wanting to change and haven’t been getting around to it? Well there is no time like the present…Just ask Anthony! Start now and make it happen. If you are unsure how, simply get hold of me and I can help you get started! Don’t wait too long though… or you will have to add procrastination to that list of things to change!
By Terry Hodgkinson
Note: For more information on Positive Changes Coaching and Hypnotherapy Centre in Toronto (Etobicoke) you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-695-7272 and talk with either Terry or Dr. Gates. Or have a look at our website: http://www.PositiveChangesEtobicoke.com
Hypnosis and Stop Smoking Video (57 seconds)
Hypnosis Does It Work For Everyone? (1 min 14 sec)