Why do people want to quit smoking? It often comes down to health, self image, being a better role model, or cost. When an 82 year old man entered my clinic and told me he wanted to quit, I was delighted, and surprised. Firstly, this man did not believe he would be alive in 2 years time. He was free of any serious illness, he just thought that his time would surely be up by then. So why would it matter, to quit smoking now?

Gerald’s desire to quit smoking

Gerald was a frail man, at 82. He dressed well and walked carefully, in case of a fall. “I need to hold onto things these days” he said. When I asked him why he wanted to stop smoking, he told me that he didn’t like the coughing. This seemed to be the main incentive. During our sessions he did not seem to cough much at all, but it was enough to bother him. It had been this way for decades and he had finally had enough.

Gerald had tried to quit smoking many times before. He had tried drugs, patches, gum, and anything else he could get his hands on. He always ended up coming back to his long lost friend, the cigarette.

I asked Gerald what else he didn’t like about smoking. As a pensioner, the cost made a massive dent into his weekly expenses. He hated the smell on his clothes and fingers. He was embarrassed to talk to people after he’d been smoking. He didn’t think it looked very good. He was worried about lung disease. It wasn’t doing his cholesterol or glaucoma any favours.

When I asked Gerald why he smoked, he said it was due to boredom. OK I thought, but there’s more here. At session 2, Gerald acknowledged that he had a restlessness or a mild anxiety that needed calming, and this was the main reason why he smoked. It took him a week to process the information to come to this realisation himself. That’s OK. Now that he acknowledged it, he could do something about it.

Dealing with anxiety and boredom

We did some aversion hypnosis around smoking to make Gerald sick to his stomach at the thought of taking in another cigarette. We talked to Gerald’s subconscious mind to find alternative behaviours Gerald could do to appease his anxiety and secondly, any boredom that was relevant. We also regressed the first time that Gerald smoked so that he could reframe that experience; and we did a suite of NLP processes to change the way that Gerald felt and thought about smoking.

Between session 1 and session 2, Gerald had not had a single cigarette. He then asked me if I thought he could really do this. I said, “Oh, you mean like you already have done this past week?” It was clear to me that Gerald’s lack of confidence and personal power was the biggest issue with his smoking. He still doubted his ability after proving to himself for a whole week that he could stop.

That restlessness or mild anxiety was in fact low confidence, prompting Gerald to question himself and his sense of worth. Although he didn’t like to admit it, cigarettes were an emotional support for Gerald. The techniques I had given him were designed to replace that support. As long as Gerald continued doing these activities until a new pattern was established in his subconscious mind, he could now remain a non-smoker.

Gerald’s desire to quit smoking was in fact a desire to overcome his emotional dependency and to value himself, before his time was up. You are never too old to complete that life lesson.

If you need help to quit smoking, we can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.