Smoking and Beliefs

We often start to do something without a full appreciation of the implications. Starting smoking isn’t usually a logical conscious decision, it’s normally an emotional one taken at an unconscious level. The behaviour is then fuelled by our beliefs and attitudes, becoming a habit.


Many people have “positive” beliefs linked to smoking;


“it relaxes me”


“it suppresses my appetite and helps me to maintain my weight”


“It’s important to my social life”

Many of these are true - inhaling smoke requires a relatively deep breath in, usually followed by a longer exhale. This action (particularly the exhale) has the impact of activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping the body to relax. Thus having a cigarette can have the effect of physiologically relaxing us.  However, what’s important to recognise is that the same can be achieved by taking a deep breath of fresh air followed by a longer exhale. And this can be done anywhere and at any time!

Similarly in today’s work and social environment there’s usually a requirement to go outside to a smoking shelter for a cigarette, which provides a short walk and break from work activities and a chance to chat with friends. Again this can be achieved in many other ways - a trip to the communal kitchen to make a drink or a walk with a colleague at lunchtime - a longer opportunity for a chat and a chance for physical exercise and fresh air - both of which are more healthily beneficial and have a positive impact on stress levels.

Equally many people have less positive beliefs about smoking’s addictive nature and and their perceived inability to stop smoking. Nicotine certainly has some addictive qualities but perhaps not as much as we think. We are able to sleep through the night without needing to wake regularly for a cigarette, and many are able to take a long haul flight without experiencing the withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction. The behaviour and belief is the real habit, not the nicotine. And if we say to ourselves that we can’t do something (i.e. can’t stop smoking) then we probably can’t because we’ve told ourselves that we can’t and generated that belief.

How does this knowledge help me and how can Hypnotherapy help?

The principle of Hypnotherapy is that through hypnosis the client enters into an altered state in which it’s possible to quieten the conscious mind and give easier access to the unconscious mind. In doing so it’s possible for the client to identify the unhelpful and now redundant programmes and beliefs.  The role of the therapist is to employ an appropriate technique to help the client first identify and then amend the programme. To do this the therapist will work with the client to identify all the beliefs they hold about smoking, the perceived advantages they see, and the subconscious triggers for smoking. They will also help the client to identify what they wish to achieve by stopping smoking. The combination of these will be different for everyone in terms of beliefs and strength of feeling. Using this information, and understanding what the client wants, the therapist can support the client to make the required change in behaviour at an unconscious level.

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*Required disclaimer: Results, symptoms and treatment may vary from person to person, all individual cases are taken on merit.