You are not a ‘smoker’, you are someone who smokes.
After four hours of coaching Miss Y was set to go, but something seemed not to be right. It was clear that she still harboured a desire to have a cigarette and that this was troubling her. The smoking habit had become a barrier to her doing anything else. If she couldn’t give up smoking how could she expect to achieve her other goals?
I asked her to light up a cigarette and smoke in front of me. She refused. I persisted. She said that she could not smoke in my house. Despite her desire to smoke she could conquer her habit in order to conform with her interpretation of the ‘rules’ of the house. The competing commitment not to offend me and my house rules was greater than her desire to smoke.
I pointed out that this meant that she and not her habit were in control of her smoking behaviour. That she could NOT smoke if she chose. This meant that she could choose not to smoke if she wished. We then made the cigarettes the villains of the piece and then focused on what she wanted more. The answer to that question was – ‘Life’. What did life consist of? Marriage, children, love, happiness, independence and a good job. These are things she wanted more. In the arena of competing commitments, these would win.
I asked her again if she would like to smoke. She declined. I asked if she wanted to go outside to smoke. She again declined. I asked her to imagine a situation in the future similar to one in the past where she would be confronted by a situation that in the past would have led to her smoking. She said that she would not smoke – that the desire to smoke had gone. She left her packet of cigarettes and lighter on the table and said that she would not need these anymore.
If you would like to quit smoking try asking yourself these questions:
- How do you know that you are addicted to smoking?
- What advantages are there in calling it an addiction? If it wasn’t an addiction what would it be instead?
- Do you smoke when you are asleep?
- Do you smoke in front of children?
- Do you smoke indoors?
- How clean does the air have to be before you will consider not polluting it?
- Were you born with a habit? Did you have a habit before you were born?
- When did you first decide that this behaviour would give you what you wanted?
- Who are you surrendering to when you give in?
- Does anyone else make you behave this way?
- Whose rules are you living your life by?
- Who benefits from your repeated behaviour?
- Who decides when you repeat this behaviour and when you don’t?
- Whose hand creates this behaviour?
- It’s interesting that as we grow up we leave learned behaviour behind when it stops being useful – like using a potty or crossing a road with an adult – what could you leave behind?
- What does this behaviour that you learned much earlier in your life still give you?
- Assuming you don’t behave like this all the time, what do you decide when you don’t behave this way?
- What are the hidden advantages of continuing to do what you are doing?
- If the advantages are cancelling out the disadvantages leaving you in stalemate, what does this mean?
- If you were the rulemaker what would you change to break the stalemate?
- What rules are there that people can apply when they can’t decide between two equally powerful options?
- When might you decide that stalemate is a good place to be?
- What do you do when you think you can’t win?
- If this is a game, what game would you rather be playing?
- If you noticed that you have been hiding something, how is hiding helping you?
- What would honesty give you instead?
- Could honesty help you create a set of new rules?
- How have your goals, longings and aspirations changed since you started this behaviour?
- What was the difference between behaviours that lasted and those that didn’t?
- Supposing that you could draw upon energy any time that you needed it, what difference would that make?
- How do people who DON’T succumb to habitual behaviour not do it?
- When did you first notice that you were doing this behaviour?
- Who made this decision for you?
- What would happen if this behaviour were so unique to you that only you could control it?
- When you DON’T do repeated behaviour who makes that decision?
- If you control the decision not to do it, who controls your decision to do it?
- What would it be like to put out one of your fears instead?
- Looking back in six months time what did you decide today that changed everything?
- Do you want to do something better instead? What could that be?
- Supposing freedom meant fresh air?
- What would happen if you had to accept responsibility for what you do and how you do it?
- When would a good time be to start?
- What would happen if someone like you made a good decision for and about themselves?
- What do you want more than to just carry on as you are?
- Think of a situation in the future where you would have reacted as you did in the past. How are you reacting now?
Smoking is not an illness in the conventional sense. It’s a learned automatic behaviour – at Powerchange.com we call it Auto-Response Psychology. You decided to start. This may have been prompted by a trauma or even an absence of something in your life. Since then, when that original feeling has repeated itself, you reach automatically for a cigarette. The pre-conditions may be boredom, loneliness, stress, hunger, looking cool. These are the triggers – or they used to be. The questions above will have re-wired these responses. You decide when you smoke. You do not smoke continuously (certainly not when you are asleep) and so you already make choices.
The cigarette is not a person, not a controlling, sentient being. It does not make decisions. It is a passive object. It only lights when you light it. Other people have given up easily when they realise this. You can too.
You are not a ‘smoker’, you are a human being who used to smoke.
You are in control. How does it feel to be someone who has regained control?
Now go and do that thing you wanted to do instead.
More information on addiction and phobia release at www.powerchange.com