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.