The Smoking Lizard


Quitting smoking using hypnotherapy works, but why do some people start smoking again? 

The positive suggestions used to get people to quit smoking are a wonderful thing. They go in a smoker, an hour and a half later they come out a non-smoker. No withdrawal symptoms, no cravings, no desire. Breathing becomes easier, taste buds and sense of smell returns, stress levels fall, energy returns, health and finances improve etc.. But then, something happens and a few days, a week, a month, maybe three months later that person suddenly reverts back into the smoker again. Life was so much better in every way not smoking, so why did they do it? What happened?

The hypothalamus overrode the cortex. The ancient reptilian brain of the hypothalamus, normally responsible for looking after the safety of the body, got triggered, and took over control of the ship, ousting Captain Cortex who knows what a bad idea smoking is; locking him temporarily in his cabin. This ' fight or flight' and 'avoidance of pain' mechanism is there to automatically keep the body and mind functioning. It gets triggered by perceived danger in the form of fear, anxiety and stress as well as overwhelming negative emotions like anger, grief, unworthiness, shame etc. that are painful to the mind - as well as by actual physical pain.

The reptile brain has been around for millions of years and usually does a good job of keeping creatures alive. However, it's not very bright. It will do what it's done over and over as long as the perceived threat to the body and mind goes away in the short term (i.e. anxiety, which represents danger to the body)  - regardless of what the longer term effects are. For example someone who has suffered some kind of abuse or trauma in life will usually have a high level of anxiety. It does not take much to raise it to a level where the reptile brain takes over.  It's like the cup is already 90% full anyway.

If in the past, nicotine has been used to lower anxiety through increasing dopamine, that's what the reptile brain will have the person do again. Now, as I've said,  Mr Lizard's brain is not very clever and he does not realize that nicotine only relieves anxiety for a very short time (and is in fact likely to k ill you in the long term). Within 10-30 minutes of smoking, the adrenaline created at the same time as the dopamine, converts to cortisol and the anxiety starts over, but worse than ever - necessitating the need for another cigarette. Hey presto! the whole smoking addiction starts up again - which is why (as all relapsed smokers know) there is no such thing as just one cigarette.

So, what does all this mean? It means, in order to ensure someone has the best chance of quitting smoking with hypnosis and staying quit, they need to first get rid of any past trauma and unresolved negative emotional issues like anger, anxiety, depression etc. that resulted from it. The same applies to quitting drugs, alcohol, overeating of course. It's not too difficult to get someone to quit for a while but keeping it up is another matter.

As a Master Clinical Hypnotherapist, with many years of experience of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and working with trance and hypnosis,  I have developed something called Emotional Alchemy which uses the subconscious mind to rapidly release stuck negative emotions on a vibrational level. This is done by converting the negative feeling into a color, shape and form and removing it from the place in the body it was felt. For example, someone might feel the tension of anxiety like a black ball of knotted rope in their gut. Once they 'see' it in a trance state they can then be guided to then visualize removing it from the body and burning it or sending it to the light for transmutation. It is extraordinarily effective and not just for smokers of course but also for anyone with addiction, depression, PTSD, phobia issues and so on.

For smoking cessation though, I use this visualization technique first to remove the emotional triggers for smoking, going all the way back to childhood,  as well as the releasing the craving itself. It's then, and only then, that I use the more classic positive hypnotic suggestions to turn the smoker into to a non-smoker who's far more likely to stay quit forever..

Do you want to quit smoking?

Two quit smoking sessions of 90 minutes each which will free your from nicotine addiction and have you feeling more relaxed than you have felt for a very long time: $200 /  £144 /  €160

Helen Basinger Master Clinical Hypnotherapist, working online and by phone Author of "Quit Smoking Now and Forever - Conquering the Nicotine Demon"