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Stop Drinking Start smoking

Start smoking to Stop Drinking

Start smoking to stop drinking

My client was an events manager who cannot stop smoking. He says that when he stops he gets cravings. He read the Alan Carr book one time, and stopped for three years. Then he started again.  Nothing unusual about that.

He stopped himself smoking for four months. Then he deliberately started again in order to be able to cut down on his drinking. He works in the hospitality industry and tended to binge drinking because it was available all the time. He thought that if he started smoking, he could stop the drinking. Apparently it worked. He did stop drinking but now he is smoking, and he can't stop.

Patterns of smoking

The pattern of repeatedly starting smoking, then stopping, and then starting again is a good indicator of Black and White thinking. A lot of smoking is caused by B & W thinking. I suspected that this client was smoking because he had high expectations and a touch of depression.

I showed him the list of symptoms of dysthymia, and he said that he recognized parts of his behavior in every section. We discussed this for a while. I explained how dysthymia is a common form of depression, and affects many parts of your life, including your habits. I told him it was mainly an inherited problem, and he likely got it from his father or his mother.  He told me that his father in fact is an alcoholic. And it was clear that his father has all the symptoms as well.

Inheriting Smoking

I explained that his father probably had dysthymia. We spent quite a lot of time going over how his behavior fitted perfectly with the drivers of dysthymia. This all came as a revelation to my client.

He could now see that many of the things that he was using as excuses or reasons for his own behavior were in fact not true. Depression was a much better explanation.  He confessed that he had long worried that he might have depression. But refused to go into it, because he was even more worried that he might have schizophrenia!

He recognized that his dad was driven by some sort of 'demons'. At some level he feared that he too had these demons. And didn't want to end up an alcoholic as well. Having dysthymia as a rational explanation was a great relief to him.

Ending stop smoking to stop drinking

I did a standard hypnosis session aimed at helping him deal with his emotional problems. Once he has stabilized his behavior he will be ready to tackle the smoking. One step at a time. The real issue is not that he felt he had to start smoking to stop drinking. The real issue is that same unconscious behavior was driving both, as it had with his father.

He was amazed and delighted by hypnosis and the calming effects of trance. He said that "I want to come back and do this every week". Great.

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drinking problem

Problem Drinking Bind

Problem Drinking Bind

My client came because she is having problems in her relationship with her husband. This is making her feel very bad about herself. This is a follow on from our previous session. She originally came because of problem drinking and couldn't control it.  I now learn that her husband has depression and is blaming her for everything goes wrong in his life. She is reacting to this tirade of blame by drinking.

And when she drinks she is saying things back to him. He is then taking the things that she says, and throwing them back in her face.

And the process is deteriorating. He is deep in depression and throwing out any kind of insult to her that will make him feel better. He is only interested in how he feels right now. He is unhappy, nothing works, he is fully depressed.

Problem Drinking Bind

He is attempting to trap her by saying "I can only change once you have changed". Then he makes it impossible for her to  change. He says that he won't change until she stopped drinking, but she is drinking in reaction to his behavior in the first place. They are busy building a negative circle. They are in a problem drinking bind. The more depressed he gets, the more he hurts her, and the more she drinks to escape it. But drinking makes her lash out at the unfairness of it all, and he feels justified in blaming her for that. He won't change until she does, and she can't change because of what he does.

So now she is reacting to what he is saying by blaming herself. He is triggering feelings from her childhood. Growing up, she got beaten for no reason, and nothing that she did was right. So these unjust accusations are sending her into panic mode. Reliving  all these feelings are making her drink at night. And so the cycle continues.

The way out of problem drinking

I told her that she had done nothing wrong. Her husband is a victim and she is a victim. She needs to stop reacting to him with intellectual analysis. She needs to start putting up a shield project to protect herself from all the things that he is throwing at her in his pain.

I told her that perhaps the best way forward is to get some sort of pharmacological solution. Not for her, but for him. He needs to get some medication to help him deal with the pain that he feels. As soon as he is begins behaving rationally again she can get into the pentathlon of exercise, diet, thinking challenges, socialisation and planning. That is the way out for her.

She knows how to do that. But she has been so focused on her own pain that she hasn't really thought about how to get out of this thing.

Sometimes the way to fix yourself, is to fix somebody else.

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smoking yourself to death

Smoking yourself to death

Smoking yourself to Death

Today I found yet another reason for smoking: Smoking yourself to death. This client could not stop smoking. She tried, and it worked for a few days, and she just had to start again. It is a very common smoking pattern. It is always because of some underlying psychological problem.
Normally, I can talk to the client, dig into the childhood, and find out what is so threatening that she needs to smoke to escape from it.

In this case, when I started digging, the most horrific story of family violence and abuse emerged. My client grew up in an ethnic minority household. Everything was deeply religious, and secretive, and closed to outsiders. She described growing up in a family where her mother was mentally unstable. Nothing and nobody was ever good enough for her mother. Her mother was totally wrapped up in herself. She had no interest in the children. As a little girl my client felt rejected and worthless, and was constantly told "Shut up and be quiet. Stop making it all about you!"

Overcoming inter-generational abuse

Eventually, my client learned why there was always a cloud of secrecy around the family. Her mother was the result of incest. Because of the huge taboo, her mother married the first man who would have her. He turned out to be a wife beater and drunkard.

So she grew up in this dysfunctional household, emotionally abused by both her mother and her father, and ended up convinced that she was worthless and stupid, and constantly told she was no use to anybody.

And yet, somehow, she overcame all this. She got married and had children. Her children were loved and cherished and gradually she began again. Through heroic efforts she got an education, went to university, and became a schoolteacher. "If I am a teacher, I can't be dumb!"

Reason for Smoking yourself to Death

She was doing well in her family life and her work life when a catastrophe happened. She learned that her own husband had been sexually abusing two of her daughters for many years. My client had no idea it was going on. Nobody believed her. "You must have known something was going on." She was devastated.

They immediately divorced and she began again as a solo mother. Her daughters grew up, married, moved away and started their own families.

And then to her horror, the whole cycle started again. It turned out that one of the relatives of her daughter's husband had started sexually abusing one of the granddaughters. This caused the whole extended family to split into factions. The whole issue of sexual abuse and incest was brought up again and again, fingers were pointed, wild accusations made. And now nobody is comfortable talking to anyone. Most of my client's daughters will not talk to her at all. And to top it off, my client has now been forced economically to move in and share a house with her mother.

Nothing to live for, might as well keep smoking.

She feels her life was ruined. A wonderful family that gave her fulfillment and happiness has been torn apart by sexual abuse. She now blames herself for not seeing her own daughter's abuse, and her granddaughters abuse. Nobody loves her, or wants her. Now she has no role to play, she is barred from seeing her own grandchildren. Her daughters are alienated and won't talk to her.

The outcome is that she feels she has nothing to live for. She is consumed with guilt, and regret, and can see no way out of it. So she actually said "I'm smoking because I don't want to be here any more". I couldn't believe my ears. I said, "You are smoking yourself to death?". "Yes, that's right. I don't deserve to live".

Hypnotherapy Response

She wasn't suicidal, but she saw smoking as an acceptable way to kill herself slowly and get out of this bind. Well, I wasn't about to allow that to happen. The basic problem appeared to be displaced guilt. So I started on therapy to allow her to see her situation for what it was, and clear away any blame. The session went very well and I think I have been able to get rid of that feeling that "is crushing my heart ".

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reasons for smoking

Reasons for smoking

Reasons for Smoking

My client yesterday was a middle aged woman who just could not give up smoking. She could not give any reasons for smoking.

I asked if she had ever stopped smoking. She said "I stopped when I got pregnant". I then asked her why she started again. "About a year ago. A friend offered me a cigarette, and said it might help, so I took it. And then it was a case of another one, and then two, and then very quickly I was back smoking again."

I asked what else was going on in her life at that time. She said "I discovered that my husband was having an affair with my best friend."

The real reasons for smoking

It seems strange to me that someone would blame starting smoking again because a friend suggested that it might help them, and totally ignoring the fact that their life had fallen apart around them. It is a peculiar kind of blindness that seems to affect people who start smoking again. They will blame the smallest thing, and completely ignore overwhelming emotional changes.

It is also strange that even after years of not smoking, people can believe that smoking will help them. I have had many clients who told me "I took the first cigarette. It tasted horrible. I felt sick and dizzy. But I kept on with it, until I had started again."

I asked "how did you feel when you stop smoking when you were pregnant?" She said, "I felt that I had to quit, and I resented it. Even though I stopped for 11 years I still resented being made to stop. Especially at the beginning of the pregnancy when my husband did not stop smoking but I had to. I hate it when I cannot do what I want and other people make me do things."

And there was the real reason for smoking. It was also the best indicator of how to go about helping her stop smoking again.

 

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smoking procrastination

Smoking Procrastination Fear of doing it wrong

You never stop learning in this business. My smoking client today said she loved smoking but had to give up because it was affecting her health. I asked what she loved about it and she told me that it calmed her down. It turned out that she had anxiety all the time. Smoking was how she self medicated. She actually had smoking procrastination.

Smoking Procrastination

I discovered that she came from an alcoholic family. This led me to suspect that she would have some form of depression and I started probing gently about that. When we got to the questions about Black and White thinking she said that she was a procrastinator. She would stay in bed in the morning and her husband would bring her cups of tea. And with every cup she would have a cigarette. She said that sometimes she would stand in front of her clothes closet and not know what to put on, so she would have a cigarette and think about it.

I traced this to the perfectionism associated with B & W thinking. She agreed that rather than take a decision that might be wrong she would put it off: smoking gave her an excuse to drag it out by another ten minutes. I think that she was fearing the wrath of her parent and wanted not to commit to anything in case it was the wrong action. In childhood when she got things wrong  she would get shouted at, and an argument would ensue.

It seemed that she was mainly smoking to avoid taking action. If she didn't do anything then there was no danger of anything that would trigger those old feelings of fear. This fear of doing things wrong was also the source of her ongoing lifelong anxiety.

Have you dealt with procrastination? How can it be overcome? Share your ideas below.

 

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switching to vaping

Should smokers be switching to vaping?

Many smokers are switching to vaping. Most assume that the change will be beneficial. By switching to vaping they are trying to avoid the well-known health problems of smoking tobacco. But is vaping actually better for you? And how exactly?

A recent pilot study looked into what effects vaping has compared to smoking. It only investigated a small number of people but it is the first research into smokers versus vapers. It suggests that vaping actually is better for you. But for a very surprising reason.

Switching to vaping

The study looked at the bacteria living in the gut of people who used vaporizers and people who smoke tobacco. The study found that participants who used vaporizers have the same gut bacteria as non-smokers. But the tobacco smokers had a significantly altered gut biome.

The term "gut biome" refers to the total collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi living in your gut. We all have trillions of bacteria working away inside us. Most of them are harmless, some of them are potentially hazardous, and a very large proportion of them are actually essential for good health.

Scientists are realising more and more that we have a symbiotic relationship with all the critters that make their home in our intestines. It is becoming clear that the gut biome can have significant health effects. Gut bacteria have been shown to influence obesity, depression, confidence, and even some quite severe mental health issues. So a healthy biome is of critical importance to everyone.

More research will have to be done but the initial results are intriguing. Who knew that smoking could adversely affect the bacteria living inside you?

How many of your clients are switching to vaping? Share it below.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/nu-van042718.php

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weirdest reason for smoking

Weirdest reason for smoking

Today I had what I thought was a very ordinary, normal client. But she actually had the weirdest reason for smoking ever.

She wanted to stop smoking. Then she gave me a long list of all the things that were going wrong in her life. This was all delivered in a quiet monotonous voice. She sat there with her head down, avoiding eye contact and radiating unhappiness.

Smoking to respect grandma

She knows that she has depression but chooses to do nothing about it. Her mother died a few years ago. The issues she had with her mother were never resolved. She loved her grandmother. Her grandmother was the best and brightest thing in her life. And all her memories about her grandmother include her grandmother smoking. The client said that part of the reason why she smokes is to honor the memory of her grandmother. Somehow, if she stops smoking, this disrespects her grandmother.

She wants to have a child, so she thinks it would be best if she stopped smoking. On the other hand she fears that she might be too old to have a child. Overall, I felt this client's despair. I really wanted to help her.

There was no point in trying to address the depression, because she's already said that she is not going to do a thing about it. So I did what I could with standard stop smoking therapy. To my surprise, she went into trance quite easily. I later learned that she had done a lot of meditation in the past, which would explain it.

Different realities

I took her through a series of hypnotic metaphors and visualizations. In trance I got her to look at her own reflection in a pool of water. I encouraged her to look at the reflection as if she was someone else. I encouraged her mind to consider different perspectives, alternative realities and to re-evaluate her own role in life. She was taken to a place where all her friends and relatives were assembled. There she proclaimed that she was changing, that she was stopping smoking, improving her lifestyle. And she outlined what her goal was and how she was going to get there. Among the people gathered there were people who had been a bad influence on her life in various ways. She identified those and banished them from the place.

Ego strengthening

I then did a series of ego strengthening statements. I sought out her personal beliefs and tried to establish a connection between her body, and her soul, and her mind. By the end of it, I had really pulled out all the stops and done everything I could to get this woman to a good place.

I brought her out of trance, and asked her how she felt. She told me that she felt relaxed and clearheaded and was seeing everything differently. And that was a problem.

Weirdest reason for smoking

She then told me one of the most extraordinary reasons I've ever heard why someone smokes. She said that she smokes because it "fogs her mind". When she doesn't smoke, she has "a sharp mind". Having a sharp mind, seeing everything clearly, means that she sees all the faults of others. Noticing those faults makes her angry at them. So she becomes unpleasant, and unsocial. And that's why she smokes, so that she can get on with people.

So my work with her was the exact opposite of what she wanted!

 

What is the weirdest reason for smoking you have heard of? Share it below.

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smoking and mindfulness

Smoking and Mindfulness

I have been reading Alan Wells' excellent book on metacognition and depression.  It is perhaps a  bit hard for the lay person to follow. But with the academic jargon stripped out it makes a lot of sense.

He introduces the idea of Detached Mindfulness; a state of being able to observe thoughts without acting on them. He differentiates between able to experience a thought from the point of view of an observer, and experiencing a thought as some thing that fuses together reality, belief and behavior  into one unbreakable unit.

Smoking and Mindfulness

I was thinking about this in the context of how to use it to get people to stop smoking. Smoking and Mindfulness are not often linked but there may be a way to combine them in therapy. I got to wondering about how it fits into the classical psychology conditioning model. That model sees learned behavior as the result of conditioning: stimulus →  response → reward.

However all these studies were originally based on non-sentient being like clams and worms. Humans are different in that they don't have to respond instinctively to everything. If you blow a puff of air into a person's eye, they will  blink. No matter how often you do it, they never unlearn it, and they cannot not do it.

But many stimuli cause different responses in different people, so perhaps the model needs another element: stimulus → thought → response → reward.

If that is a better model of how people actually respond to stimulus then it suggests that intervention based on changing the thought should work just as well as intervention based on changing the reward.

What do you think? Share your ideas below.

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smoking again

Why do people start smoking again?

I have had some interesting clients this week. One of them was a woman who came to see me to stop smoking six months ago. It was a success but then suddenly she just felt that she had to start smoking again.

She stopped smoking completely for about five months. She told me that she felt a wonderful sense of freedom. What worked for her was my hypnotic suggestions that she would feel as if she had never smoked. She had no cravings, no weight gain, no desire at all. The result was that she could mingle with smokers and be completely unaffected.

Start smoking again

But then someone close to her died. She went to the ceremony and felt totally devastated, understandably. On the way home she felt the emotional wrench so bad that she stopped and bought a packet of cigarettes, and smoked one, and then a second. She didn't think the cigarettes helped. But she just felt compelled to go on. It was the only thing she could do. So without wanting to, she had started smoking again.

I have never understood how this happens. How can a sensible person who hates smoking and has stopped for months allow themselves to start again?

Why do people start smoking again?

I have interviewed many people who have done this. Sometimes they have not smoked for years, in one case for seven years. Yet given a big enough emotional jolt, their instinct is to reach for a cigarette. I have never seen any explanation of this phenomenon that makes any sense to me.

I think the hypnotist who cracks that problem will become world famous. I'm still trying.

 

Why do you think people start again after a long time? Leave your comment below.

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tarot hypnosis

Tarot Hypnosis and your unconscious mind

Yesterday, I met with a friend who has done an extensive study of meditation, psychology, and matters of the mind. He and I discussed what meditation is. His opinion is that it has some connection to a universal consciousness. He believes that there is a reason why everything happens. For example, at every critical point in your life, you meet the right person. I politely but forcibly disagreed. I believe that meditation, like hypnosis, is simply a way into accessing our own unconscious minds.

Tarot Hypnosis

We were in my office where I see my hypnotherapy clients and he noticed that I have some tarot cards on my bookshelf. He expressed interest in the tarot cards. Apparently he had heard of Tarot cards, but had never examined a pack closely. I let him handle the cards, and I showed him several other sets I have which have different themes. I often use the Tarot to open up the unconscious thoughts of my clients.He said he thought I was the last person on earth who would have used tarot cards, given my strictly logical view of the world. I started to explain to him how I used them and why. He was trying to reconcile his view of tarot cards as some sort of mystical gateway, with my view of tarot cards as logical tools to understanding the unconscious mind. We got into a heated discussion. In order to give him a specific example, I offered to do a tarot reading for him.

The tarot spread

I told him to select five cards and lay them out face down.  I then offered him the chance to rearrange the order if he wanted. In this reading, the first card was his current situation. The second card represented the near future, and the third card represented the longer term future. His fourth card represented a surprise, something unexpected. And the fifth card was something that influenced all the others, that gave a particular interpretation to them.My friend was looking for a career change. The new job he is in is now is not working out. He is likely to be offered another job but isn't sure about it. He is completely undecided about even what industry he wants to work in, or whether to move to a different place.

The Tarot Reading

To do the reading I began to explain the cards one by one. The first card, the immediate part, was the Four of Cups. This shows a man with 3 cups in front of him turning his back on a castle and the offer of the fourth cup. I explained that this was him refusing to look at the things he was being offered, by focusing on what he had. I suggested the card meant that he was focusing on only part of his assets.The second card was the High Priestess. I explained that this was about mysteries revealed and that he could expect to find things happening for which there was no explanation. I also pointed out that the crescent moon is on top of the columns. These suggested that things come and go, wax and wane, and that he can expect variations in his progress.The third card, the long-term future, was the Moon. I explained again that this was about things changing, not being one thing or the other, constantly moving. On the card, the crab symbol is partly in the water and partly on the land. The whole card is about things being in flux, that nothing is ever fixed, or right, or final. Its message is: there is no certainty.

Influencing cards

The surprise card was the King of Pentacles. I explained that this meant success in physical pleasures, luxury, abundance. He then started talking about what abundance meant. saying that was different for everyone. The card started him pretty much thinking aloud,  and  allowed him to firm up his ideas of what 'abundance' might mean for him personally.The fifth card, the card that underlies or influences all the rest of the cards in the set, was the Two of Pentacles. the Two of Pentacles represents the beginning of a journey. Its meaning in this case is that he has started on a journey and that there will be no straightforward progression. No one knows where the journey will go, but he has made a start on it, whether he realizes it or not.

Interpreting the Tarot cards

We then started to talk about this and he agreed that this was a very good description of his life at the moment. I told him that I found that more times than not the cards actually did match people's current situation. He thought that was deeply significant and had something to do with a universal consciousness of that kind of thing. As he talked about the cards in front of him, it seemed to me that he had clarified his thoughts. He seemed more sure of what to do, more focused.

Why does Tarot work?

Thinking about it later, I wondered "why do the Tarot cards seem to match so well, so often?" I think I have come to an understanding. I watched this man trying to make sense of the cards he choose and then listened to him rationalize the connections.I think that most people do not actually understand their own life, and cannot put into context. I think people unconsciously think about their life as a series of random, unplanned events. This gives them a large number of different, possibly conflicting, views of where they are, and who they are, and what they should be doing. This leaves them looking for confirmation and guidance.

Tarot creates a life story

My theory is that the normal way that people understand themselves is incomplete, biased, uninformed, and in constant change.I think what the tarot cards do is to offer a symbolic representation that they can then create sense from. I get my client to look at a tarot spread and I explain the symbolism and what it means. They then can sort through the partly formed, incomplete ideas and possibilities in their mind. And from that random jumble they can find some combination that makes a sensible pattern that connects the tarot cards. I think that what the tarot card reading does is to give them a template around which they can arrange incomplete thoughts and ideas. They then link those incomplete thoughts and ideas to other incomplete thoughts and ideas until they make some kind of sense of their life.

Find the pattern

This is why it works with almost any cards. The symbolism is like the crystal seed that allows everything else to form a regular and understandable pattern around it. Having created that pattern, the client's mind then goes through all the other currently unconnected bits and reinforces the pattern that crystallized around the tarot card symbol. The client's mind is much happier with the idea that the tarot somehow pulled out symbols with a meaning  special to them.It works because they can create a complete "story" around that symbolism.  The "story" helps them to make sense of their own life and their current problems. It gives them a sense of certainty, that this is the correct interpretation. It makes sense out of the mass of uninformed, incomplete, and contradictory half-understood feelings and beliefs. The fact that it comes from an external influence helps to validate one particular interpretation of all those partial feelings and beliefs.Do you use Tarot? Share your thoughts below.
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