The dangers of smoking have been studied and analyzed for years. The detrimental effect of smoking on people's health and their activities is now public knowledge, and many people who have become addicted to smoking are now looking for ways to quit.
Most stop-smoking programs work at increasing the individual's strength to resist the desire to smoke. They rely on willpower, and for most people that is the worst method for quitting smoking. Willpower fluctuates like moods and emotions. One day it may be strong, the next day it may be weak.
Hypnosis works at eliminating the desire to smoke, whether it be from identification or replacement, the two principle reasons for smoking. Identification is when the smoker indulges in the habit because he admires (or associates) with others who smoke, i.e. parents, peers, or celebrities. Identification smoking is the most common and the easiest to eliminate. Replacement is when smoking takes the place of a previous habit (such as overeating), is used to replace something that is missing, (such as companionship, love, acceptance, self-esteem, security, independence), or when it fills a void created by anxiety or boredom. Replacement smokers often receive sensual gratification from smoking. They enjoy the feeling of the cigarette in their mouth or the taste of the tobacco. For cigar and pipe smokers, the act of lighting often becomes a ritual.
For both types of smokers, smoking is both a physical and mental process. So to be effective, the stop-smoking program must address both aspects. To address the psychological aspects of smoking, the hypnotherapist may include an evaluation of why the person started smoking. "What purpose does it serve in their life?" For the Identification Smoker, suggestions can be given to help strengthen a person's perception of the individuality, i.e., not needing to smoke to be accepted. For the Replacement Smoker, a more detailed analysis of their motivation is required. To address the physical aspects of smoking, the hypnotherapist may include suggestions that change the perception of the taste from pleasant to unpleasant. The individual can imagine cigarettes as unappealing, bad tasting, foul smelling and revolting in every sense of the word. This makes quitting easier.
Hypnosis takes advantage of the mind's natural ability to imagine and visualize. The client pictures themselves free from the habit, filled with new health, energy and vitality. They can see themselves as looking healthier, more attractive, and being more active. Once a smoker has achieved success in a stop-smoking program it is necessary to reinforce the programming that led to quitting. Smoking is a habit that is acquired and built over time. It can rarely be completely eliminated in an instant. Even though they may have stopped smoking, the behavior pattern still remains. Fortunately, it fades with disuse. Hypnotic conditioning with a recording can be used to reinforce the changes until they become permanent.
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