Thursday, January 24, 2013

Switching My Blog to:

I am consolidating! After trying to write two blogs, as well as posting on my Facebook Page and everything else in Social Media, I'm spending January - February 2013 putting things together. 
Follow me on my new Wordpress Blog:

I'll be transferring all of my Relaxation Suite and Quitter's Edge posts to the Hypno-Behaviorist blog.

I'll also be posting recipes, hypnosis information and, for good or ill, random thoughts.

JOIN ME~  http://hypnobehaviorist/


Monday, March 26, 2012

Reasons People Smoke -- Part 2

In my last post, I told you about a question I ask all of my Quit Smoking clients: Why do you continue to smoke? Here are MY responses to their answers:
1. I'm under so much stress. I need smoking to reduce the stress. 
Smoking does not reduce stress. If you think it is reducing your stress, you are believing your own bulls--t. When you smoke, your blood pressure goes up and your heart rate goes up. This the opposite of reducing stress. Several things are going on here when you have a cigarette because you feel stressed and you THINK the cigarette is helping you: 
a. You are breathing deeply, which is a good thing to do if you are stressed and if you weren't filling your lungs with smoke, it would be one of the best things you could do. Your body is craving oxygen when you are feeling the "fight or flight" response when you are feeling stressed. When you are breathing smoke deeply into your lungs, your poor body is expecting oxygen, but you are tricking your body. It's not actually reducing your stress. 
b. You are leaving the situation that is stressing you. Your client ticked you off, so you slammed down the phone, you grabbed your cigarettes and you went outside to calm down. Leaving the situation is a GREAT thing to do. Smoking a cigarettes are only an excuse to leave. 
c. When you are putting nicotine in your body 10, 15, 30 times a day for years, your body starts to expect it. If it doesn't get its fix, you start to go through withdrawal. This is true. But unless you always wake up in the middle of the night to have your fix then you are able to go through eight hours or so. Your withdrawal symptoms are not as strong as you think they are. So you are probably not as addicted to the cigarettes as you think you are. (If you are a bad sleeper, and you get up and have a cigarette because there is nothing else to do while you are awake in the middle of the night, that is not the same thing as being woken up in order to have a cigarette because you need the nicotine. Don't confuse them. VERY few people are so addicted to nicotine that the withdrawal symptoms wake them up. Truthfully, I've never met such a person, and I have worked with hundreds of smokers.)
2. I'm afraid I'll gain weight if I quit smoking.  
This will only happen if you are replacing smoking with food. Or, you are rewarding your smoking cessation by eating. For example, "I quit smoking, I deserve a second piece of cake at the office birthday party." "I don't know what to do with my hands now, I might as well eat potato chips while I watch TV."
I will agree that smoking does curb your appetite. (you didn't think I'd admit that, did you? Come on, if I tried to convince you that smoking did NOT curb your appetite, I'd lose all credibility with you.) Most smokers who quit using hypnosis do not gain weight, or they gain a little bit -- a few pounds because they quit in the middle of winter -- which falls off when the snow melts. You move more when you quit smoking and you have more energy. When you quit using hypnosis, you come up with lots of healthy activities to replace the smoking. Chew gum, drink water, call people on the phone, take a walk, visit a colleague down the hall. There are thousands of things you can do, instead of smoking.  
3. Cigarettes were my best friend.  
What kind of friend makes you sick and even kills you, and charges you money to do it? Cigarettes happened to be around when you got divorced or moved to a strange city, but the cigarettes never, ever helped you. Either you made it through this difficult time all by yourself - which means you are much stronger than you though, OR you made it with your friends and family at your side, in which case, they will help you again when you decide to quit smoking. You do know who your friends really are - cigarettes are not your friends.
4. I'm afraid I'll fail and hate myself.  
You've been smoking for a long time. As I've said before in this book, you've been smoking 10/20/30 cigarettes a day for how many years? 15? 20? 40? How many times did you practice smoking? A lot, right? Anything you've ever done well, you had to practice: Learning to use a fork or knife; drive a car, tie your shoe, typing, flipping a pancake in the air, played the piano, threw a strike (baseball or bowling) etc, etc. The first time you tied your shoe, you probably threw the shoe, threw yourself on the floor and cried. But you can do it now, can't you? (You have my permission to throw your shoe right now and as many times as you picked up a cigarette after you said you quit.) 
If you quit before and went back to smoking, let me tell you something profound -- You didn't fail!!! You just aren't finished yet. If you keep going, you can't fail. Pretty cool, huh?
End of Part 2 -- Hang in there, I'll post again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reasons Why People Smoke -- Part 1

I ask all of my Smoking Cessation clients a number of questions before we get down to the hypnosis session. 
How long have you been smoking? How many cigarettes do you smoke a day? etc. 
There are two questions I love to ask, because the answers are predictable. How old did you start smoking? and Do you remember WHY you started?
I've worked with hundreds of smokers and almost all of them started smoking as a teenager, in college, or just after college. (It's a rare person who started smoking at age 30.)
Even more predictable is the answer to the second question: Why did you start? A few say that they grew up in a house where people smoked. A few say they went to Europe where everyone smoked. But most people say, "I thought it looked cool" or a variation on that answer -- "Everyone else was doing it." "I was rebelling." "I wanted to be in the cool group." 
Then I ask, "Do you think you are cool now?" 
Nobody says yes to that one.

If the reason you started was to act cool, and you don't think you're cool now, then why are you still smoking?

Conversely, why don't you quit?

Here are the answers to that question I've heard the most often:
  1. I'm under so much stress. I need smoking to reduce the stress.
  2. If I quit, I'm afraid I'll gain weight.
  3. Cigarettes have been my friends. They were there when I got divorced and when I lost my job.
  4. I'm afraid I'll fail and hate myself.
  5. I've failed and I don't want to fail again.
  6. My life is miserable and cigarettes are my only reward.
  7. My wife won't have sex with me and she says it's because I smoke. But I'm afraid that if I quit, and she still won't have sex with me, it's because she hates me.
  8. Smoking gives me a reason to get out of the house or work.
  9. I need a release when I'm at work. Cigarettes are the release.
  10. I love smoking. If I could, I'd smoke two at the same time.
  11. I  hate smoking, but my husband/wife/parents/partner smokes and I might as well.
  12. It's my only connection to my reckless youth.
  13. My parents smoked into their nineties. I'm sure I'll live that long, too. 
  14. I'm so addicted to nicotine; I can't quit. 
Next, I'll post my responses to each of those reasons.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quit for Your Pets

So you don't have any children and you live alone -- so what's the big deal if I smoke in my house? 

It's a big deal if you have pets. 

Recently, one of my clients told me that her family dog, the one she grew up with, died from a malignant tumor in his nose, most likely induced because there were six smokers in the house. So I thought I'd learn something more about this. Are you hurting your pets? 

You better believe you are.

Quitting smoking will not only reduce risks of cancer and other diseases in smokers, it will reduce the risks in your dog or cat. (and probably your ferret, parrot or monkey, too, but I couldn't find studies on those animals)
Studies clearly indicate that exposure to environmental factors, such as second-hand tobacco smoke has devastating consequences for cats, increasing their likelihood of contracting lymphoma.  In a study done by Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts, a cat exposed to second hand smoke had double the risk of getting lymphoma.  If the cat had lived with a smoker for five years or more, the risk tripled.

Researchers at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital found that dogs exposed to second hand smoke were 1.6 times more likely to get cancer. The most common form of cancer was nasal cancer. Most dogs with nasal cancer will not live longer than a year after diagnosis.

And your dog and cats don't just inhale smoke; the smoke particles are also trapped in their fur and ingested when they groom themselves with their tongues.

Mary Suchowiecki, a veterinarian at Just Cats in Stamford, CT, says she is sees other serious conditions in her patients that live with smokers. “I see many cats with asthma and other respiratory ailments that are caused by second-hand smoke.”  

Dr. Suchowiecki says that allergies can be caused by second-hand smoke, too, so that the animal is miserable. “Atopic, or inhalant, allergies are common with both cats and dogs. Breathing in, or directly contacting, airborne particles in the environment, including tobacco smoke, will activate atopic allergies.” The symptoms may include respiratory problems, but cats and dogs more typically develop itchy skin – to the point that they are ripping their fur and leaving bald spots. She continues, “I tell the owners, ‘Even if you smoked cigarettes outside, your cat can be sensitive to the smoke on your clothes. The best cure is no exposure at all. Quit smoking.’”

So many smokers tell me that they smoke to reduce their stress, but they are profoundly mistaken. Smoking doesn’t reduce stress; your heart rate and blood pressure goes up when you smoke. 

Spending quality time with your pet will, absolutely, reduce your stress; whereas smoking could reduce the life span of your pet, as well as your own.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"I Could Quit Any Time I Want!"

I have questions about that statement. I hear this all the time. Someone finds out I'm a hypnotist and that person turns to their friend and says, "Hey, this person is a hypnotist. Why don't you quit?"

And the smoker says.... well, it's the title of this post. I don't know how to respond to that statement -- or if I should at all. My first reaction is to ask, "Well, why DON'T you quit?" But I'm afraid that it will be taken the wrong way. I really want to know the answer, but I think the smoker will become immediately defensive. Smokers, in general, are a defensive group. Strangers yell at them. Children and spouses nag. They have been ostracized from buildings. I'm a hypnotist, so I'm actually quite sensitive about their defensive behavior. I'd feel that way, too, but this means I don't know the answer to that question and I don't know how to ask it any other way.

Everyone knows that smoking is a stupid thing to do. So why don't you quit? People who think or know that they could quit any time are not looking for a hypnotist. They don't want to quit. But WHY NOT?

These are my ideas, but I'd love to hear from smokers.

1. I've quit before and I did fine, so it will be easy when I feel like quitting again.
2. I don't smoke that much, so it will be easy to quit.
3. I'm not ready.
4. I like smoking.
5. My aunt/uncle/grandfather - whoever - smoked until he was 95. I'll live that long, too.
6. I smoke American Spirit, (or I roll my own) so I am not putting the same chemicals in my body that other smokers do.

If you have an answer to this question, please reply!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Myth of Will Power When Quitting Smoking

"I have no will power. After a few days (hours, weeks, whatever) without a cigarette, I cave in and I feel like such a loser."

Sound like you? Please, PLEASE don't beat yourself up! It's not your fault.

We hypnotists spend a lot of time talking about your conscious and your subconscious mind. Your conscious mind is not able to process very much at any time. According to research on information processing, your conscious mind is only able to process approximately 50 bits of information per second. Your subconscious mind, on the other hand, processes approximately 11 million bits per second.1 You use your conscious mind for important things: You make decisions in your conscious mind. You choose a different driving route when you see traffic on the road in front of you or you weigh the pros and cons of making a job change in your conscious mind - the part of your mind that is rational, analytical and objective.

Your will power is in this part of your mind. Will power is a wonderful thing given to us by Mother Nature. If you are starving, weak and tired, instead of just falling over and caving in, you marshal your forces, so to speak, get up and find food. Or if you are at a party, but you are tired, you can also marshal your forces and get a second wind so that you can party for a few more hours. You made a conscious decision. The problem with will power is that it doesn't last very long. If you don't find food, you are going to fall over and die; or, after a few hours of partying, you are going to have to go home and sleep, no matter how strong your will power is.

Your subconscious is immense. You have stored everything you've ever learned in your subconscious: the multiplication tables; how to drive a car; the lyrics to your favorite songs; how to put on your pants or tie your shoes; throw a ball. These are all "programs" that you stored in your subconscious. Your subconscious mind processes information about 220 times better and more effectively than your conscious mind - you can now turn the key of your car, turn on the turn indicator and turn to your left to check for drivers behind you, all at the same time -- without having to think about it. The process is automatic. You have stored all of your habits - your programs - in your subconscious, the good ones and the bad ones. And smoking is one nasty habit.

How many cigarettes do you smoke a day? Ten? Twenty? Forty? And how long have you been smoking? Ten? Twenty? Forty years? You stored your smoking habit in your subconscious a long time ago and you have practiced being a smoker over and over again so that this program is deep in your subconscious.

Your conscious mind knows perfectly well that smoking is a really stupid thing to do. And your subconscious just goes blythely along doing what you programmed it to do all those years ago: I drink coffee, I automatically reach for a cigarette. My boss pissed me off, I automatically reach for a cigarette.
I'm in the car and I don't have anything else to do, I reach for my cigarettes. Habit. A deeply-rooted habit.

If you are having a hard time quitting smoking by using your will power, give yourself some slack. There is nothing wrong with your will power and you are not a loser. You are looking in the wrong place for help.

1. Zimmerman, M. (1989). In R. F. Schmidt & G. Thews (eds.), Human Physiology, pp. 166-173. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
2. Lovitch, Michael, The Will Power Myth., Jan. 6, 2009.

Next post: "I Can Quit Any Time I Want"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great American Smokeout - November 17, 2011

Yesterday, I hypnotized smokers for free at Occupy Wall Street (OWS) at Zuccotti Park to mark the Great American Smokeout. Altogether, 20 people quit, (I started a few days before, to iron out any kinks in my project) sitting on the wall on Liberty Street in the cold, the rain, with sounds of chanting, sirens and drums in the background. At one point, I had a line of potential ex-smokers! 
On Tuesday, when I heard that the police had "dismantled" OWS, my first reaction was, "Couldn't they wait until after the Great American Smokeout?" Coincidentally, 11/17 was also the 2 month anniversary of OWS. Undeterred, I brought my sign and my video camera and set up shop. Many people took pictures of my sign:

Among many things I learned: it's easier to hypnotize people in a park than you would think. Smokers came in many varieties. Some only smoked on the weekends when they drink, another smokes three packs a day. Predictably, he's a truck driver. (He thought I was psychic, because I guessed it. The truth is, few people can smoke that much and work -- except truck drivers.) One is on the construction crew building the 9/11 Memorial.

All in all, this was a very gratifying project. As soon as I learn how to edit my video, I'll post it!

Next blog: The Myth of Will Power