During my earlier career in media, I lost count of the times that people would tell me they were stopping smoking in the New Year, only to be seen with a cigarette in hand by about the 7th of January.
Back then it was the source of much ribbing, but what I know now is that it’s very hard to quit without help. That’s because smoking is a habit that has been built up over many years and has been linked in the mind with “you” time; with enjoyment. If you’re in an office and need a break, a cigarette is the perfect excuse. If you’re at home and want a moment to yourself, stepping into the garden for a smoke enables you to do that. It is this part of smoking that many people find hard to let go of.
Now that I’m a hypnotherapist in London I see things a little differently. If I could go back in time and see all my old colleagues struggling with their New Year’s resolutions I wouldn’t be chuckling: I’d be explaining that they’re going about it all wrong.
Seeing cigarettes differently
I’d explain how the first step on the road to quitting smoking is to stop associating cigarettes with pleasure. I’d explain that if they could see cigarettes as hideous, life-eating chemical monstrosities instead they’d be off on the right foot.
Then I’d get them to think long and hard about the benefits that would come with stopping smoking. I’d encourage them to visualise these benefits and really focus on them. Benefits include more money, a smoke-free house, less stinky clothes, improved health and a longer life. I would help them find the benefit that matters most to them and turn that into an amazing and powerful ‘positive’. Something they really want.
This kind of thinking is at the cornerstone of the clinical hypnotherapy work we do with smokers who want to quit. The reason why hypnotherapy can be so successful is because we can often speed up the process and make people swiftly disassociate themselves from the idea that cigarettes are something they love. We can help them see cigarettes as a negative, and we can help them find a positive to focus on that would only result as an outcome of giving up smoking.
Celebrities choose hypnotherapy to stop smoking
It’s little wonder that time-pressed celebrities often turn to hypnotherapy to stop smoking. Actor Matt Damon is one of the many celebrities who did it and described it as “the greatest decision I ever made in my life.” Other celebrities who have used hypnotherapy to quit smoking include Drew Barrymore, Billy Joel, Britney Spears, Friends star Courteney Cox and Charlize Theron. The list of celebrities who quit using hypnosis is also said to include Samuel L Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck. Ellen Degeneres even quit smoking with hypnosis live on her own show.
Celebrities are often surrounded by a very powerful support network and are very often the kind of people you would consider to be “in control”. So if they’re turning to hypnotherapy to quit smoking, I think the word must be out in Hollywood that that’s the smart way to do it.