If you have a particular habit or compulsion that you want to stop doing I want you to list all of the reasons why it is a good idea for you to stop having that habit vs all of the payoffs that you will get as a result of not doing it anymore. Pay particular attention to focusing on the positive elements of having that, rather than the negative stuff. Really focus on what you will get. There is a series of books by a guy called Allen Carr which you might be familiar with. He wrote lots and lots of books about giving up smoking and used to do so seminars as well to help people give up smoking or quit smoking as we should say and here’s why.
Allen Carr used to say we shouldn’t use the phrase ‘giving up’ when we’re talking about giving up smoking because you’re not actually giving up. It’s not about giving up, you are actually starting something new. The focus should always be on what you will gain. So really, we should be talking about ‘quitting smoking’ and ‘stopping smoking’ rather than ‘giving up’ because giving up already implies some kind of failure, doesn’t it?
When I deal with smokers I say to them ‘giving up smoking isn’t a punishment so if this is going to be a reward for yourself I want you to focus on the sorts of treats you’re going get in your life now and the sorts of rewards you are going to have, as a result of stopping smoking’.
So many people think it’s going to be so hard because of this and it’s going to be really difficult in these situations and so on and so forth and it makes it sound as if giving up smoking or quitting smoking is like a punishment for them. Well, it’s not. When you stop smoking that’s a brilliant thing. You’re doing the best thing for your body that you
possibly could ever do. So, you really want to be thinking about how this is going to be a reward for you from now on.
If you always view this habit or compulsion and stopping that habit or compulsion as an uphill struggle, then it will be. When my dad gave up smoking the first-time round, he did so because lots of other people in our family were giving up smoking and because my grandad had died from cancer smoking related.
I don’t think he really wanted to stop smoking at that time and I remember that when he did he had some terrible side effects. He had ulcers in his mouth. He literally looked like he’d been chewing on a piece of glass and he was moody and he found it so difficult.
Now the second-time round that he stopped smoking which is the most recent time was when the smoking ban came in in the U.K. for public places and there was one time he was in the pub, having a drink and wanted a cigarette and was trying to kind of drink and smoke and stand in the doorway and he got told off by the security guards who said ‘no you’re not allowed to do that. You are either inside or you’re outside’ and he
didn’t want to go outside in the cold and stand out there in the rain and stuff. He just said to himself ‘you know what I’m just going to stop you know this is silly, I’m just going to stop smoking’ and so he did and that really was all there is to it.
The smoking ban came in 2007 in the summer and he remained a non-smoker for the rest of his life which was up until 2014. It was an easy thing to do because he just thought ‘well I’ll just do it and that’s all there is to it’. Whereas in the past there were all the concerns about it’s going to be like this and it’s going to be hard work etc.
Think about any metaphors that you might be using to describe this habit that you have or more importantly how it would be to give up the habit that you have. There probably are some metaphors that come to mind – like ‘it’s going to be an uphill struggle’. ‘It just feels as if everything’s on top of me at the moment’. All those sorts of things are called ‘toxic metaphors’ because they are metaphors that tell us something about what you’re
thinking but in a very indirect story like way.
And also, they’re toxic because they’re not giving you a good internal representation. They’re not giving you a good internal focus. If you notice that you’ve got some of these going on then you need to start challenging them. We need to start thinking of some smart-arse answers to these metaphors so that when one of them pops up in your mind or somebody else might deliver one to your door, then you can think of something to say to give you a new internal representation.
So, if you’ve got something going on in your head about it being an uphill struggle then you can think well, do you know what, I’m very near the top now and soon I’ll be on top of the world. Something like that so that in your head, your mind starts picturing actually being on top of this problem, rather than struggling up the side of the problem. I hope that makes sense.
The Hypnotherapy and NLP Clinic provides Hypnotherapists and NLP coaches in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex and Coventry to help with the management of stress, anxiety and depression.
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By Gemma Bailey