Ready, Set, STOP!
Congratulations on choosing health, life, freedom and pride.
Your appointment is set and you've made the decision to become a non-smoker.
Here is the essay you've been asked to read today or tomorrow, so you can make good use of these next few days. You may read it here or click on the icon to download it to print and/or read offline.
Ready, Set, STOP!
Please read this essay today or tomorrow. It’s best to read it aloud, whether or not there is someone listening. (It’s great to read this to a baby or a pet, if you have one handy!)
There are some suggestions for HOW TO SMOKE at the end of the essay. Following them will make this easier for you.
When you have your last cigarette at least 6-8 hours before your session, you may find you have a craving before you come in. That’s terrific! We’ll work with that.
Please also bring two lists:
1) Your top 10 reasons to quit smoking.
2) Your triggers for smoking – occasions, situations, places or people associated with smoking in the past.
Got it? Good. Now you can settle down and start reading:
The First Taste
Do you remember your first cigarette? How about that coughing and gagging? Some people even throw up. For some of them, that first taste is so unpleasant it becomes their last as well. Yet you kept at it. Why?
As humans, the complexity of our minds is both a blessing and a curse. We have the ability to defer gratification. We can put up with discomfort now for future benefit. But sometimes ignoring basic sensory input can backfire. Even an amoeba has enough sense to move away from pain. Just think about that first puff -- your brain was deprived of oxygen. Your stomach heaved to get rid of poison. Yet because you had a notion that smoking represented something even more important than good health, you kept breathing in toxic fumes. On purpose!
The associations you made with smoking as a younger person have been reinforced with every puff you’ve taken since. Many teens start smoking because their friends smoke. Back then, you just wanted to fit in, to have something to do with your hands. Sometimes people start because they date someone who smokes – a cigarette in that case acts sort of like a clove of garlic. If one of you is going to smell and taste like garlic, then you both have some. Sometimes a kid just wants to be like an adult they admire who happens to smoke. Whatever the reason, the emotional connection outweighs the physical reaction of disgust or you don’t keep smoking.
But the physical reaction is real. Bypassing it means that soon the subconscious programming that is supposed to protect the body becomes corrupted. Your autonomic nervous system runs all of the functions of the body you don’t have to think about, including breathing, heart rate and digestion. When you train your subconscious mind to ignore the facts, to stop responding to toxins, your body trusts you. It starts to accept those new chemicals as necessary for its survival.
Nicotine, the most important component of tobacco, is a stimulant. It’s addictive in the same way caffeine and speed are addictive. Once you set a new level for stimulants, your body starts sending out a demand for new supplies when the level drops.
It’s the same mechanism that causes hunger when you need nutrients and thirst when you should drink. The more nicotine your system gets used to, the more it thinks you need.
It’s not just nicotine, or even tar, that hurts you when you smoke. You’re inhaling bonus toxins. There are thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke and more than 25 of them are known carcinogens. Others are poisonous in different ways.
Arsenic is found in cigarette smoke. As are cyanide, ammonia, benzo-pyrene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and prussic acid. Sugar and menthol oils may be added to make the smoke seem milder or cooler. Ammonia increases the nicotine hit. Glycerol helps keep the cigarettes fresh. And then there are the insecticides and chemical fertilizers sprayed on the tobacco crops. All these chemicals and more are present in tobacco products and are absorbed into the tissues of the smoker’s body.
Did you know that nicotine itself is one of the most poisonous substances around? If you were to extract the nicotine from one cigarette and inject it with a hypodermic needle directly into your vein, you would be dead in seconds.
Studies show that each cigarette shortens your life by 6 to 10 minutes.
Tobacco is also teratogenic, meaning it can cause birth defects if a pregnant smoker passes the poison along to the fetus. Nicotine is a recognized vaso-constrictor, meaning it causes the arteries to contract. The heart has to work harder to pump the blood around the body. If you smokes 20 cigarettes a day, then your heart beats an extra 10,000 beats in that 24 hours.
Smokers often claim a cigarette helps them relax. That’s not exactly accurate, as you’ve seen. Your heart works harder to handle effects of nicotine. What really happens is that when poisonous smoke is introduced into the body, the automatic defense system gets activated and the whole body goes into “fight or flight” mode.
This automatic response to perceived danger prepares us instantly use maximum strength either to fight or to run away. Your heart beat faster and you breathe faster to pump oxygenated blood to the major muscles and the brain. Adrenaline courses through your system and lactic acid is produced to maximize muscle power.
You’ve heard those stories about how normal men and women perform amazing feats of strength in the midst of danger – lifting large cars off little children and so on. To do that the body diverts physical resources away from other areas. The fight or flight response basically shuts down any systems that aren’t involved in this, like the digestive system, for example. Blood flow to the extremities is reduced, and the immune system is also lessened.
So why do you continue to smoke? Well, in normal circumstances, when a period of danger ends, the nervous system returns to normal function. If you smoke often during the course of a day, though, the body is under constant assault. You don’t get the relaxation response.
As the body starts believing it needs nicotine, it produces a craving that is truly unpleasant. You need more stimulant to keep going at that pace. Until your body gets some, restlessness, anxiety and irritability all increase. The illusion that cigarette smoking is relaxing comes because cigarettes satisfy the craving that cigarettes caused in the first place!
Research has found that even smoking as few as 1 to 4 cigarettes a day can lead to serious health problems.
Although you may have managed to convince yourself, “it won’t happen to me,” estimates are that more than 30 per cent of all cancer in the world is caused by tobacco. You are at risk.
Cancer is latent in everyone. It begins when the cell reproduction function becomes corrupted and runs out of control. The immune system usually protects us by rooting out stray cancerous cells and keeping the body in harmony. A smoker’s immune system is suppressed because of the permanent aggravation of the fight or flight response. Smokers have weakened bouncers guarding their doors, and those wild-growing cells are not flushed out.
Although lungs take the biggest hit, literally, of the toxins in cigarettes, the rest of the body suffers too. Smokers are at risk from cancer of the mouth, tongue, larynx, kidneys, prostate, liver, bladder, testicles, cervix, ovaries, stomach, colon and skin. In fact, any form of cancer you can think of is more prevalent in smokers.
When you smoke, you inhale gases produced by burning tobacco into your lungs. The airways that conduct air into the lungs are covered with tiny little hairs called cilia. Normally, dust or irritating particles brush up against the cilia, which respond by pushing the particles up toward the mouth. The lungs and air- ways go into spasm and you cough. This is designed to expel particles and protect the lungs.
But smoke from cigarettes coats the cilia with sticky tar, causing them to break or to lie flat against the walls of the air- way. They can’t do their job like this. The fallen guards lie help- less as invading particles of dirt and toxins, even viruses and bacteria, rush into your lungs.
As lungs get filthy, their ability to get oxygen into the bloodstream weakens. The delicate mucus lining of the lungs is corrupted. Lungs produce more mucus in an attempt to heal, but when that doesn’t work the lungs just fill up with fluid. It’s harder to climb stairs, much less ladders; it’s harder and harder to walk, much less exercise. Pneumonia has been included in the list of diseases caused by smoking since 2004. Smoking also increases your risk of getting lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases are grouped together under the term COPED (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Impurities that enter through the lungs then get passed along to the body’s next level of filters – the kidneys and liver. These organs were never intended to work overtime on high levels of poison – so it’s no surprise that smoking is linked to kidney and liver failure.
Smoking also attacks sexual health. Impotence is more common in smokers. Sperm counts are lowered. Eggs inside the ovaries are weakened. In pregnant women, the amount of oxygen flowing to the fetus is reduced. Babies born to smoking mothers are often smaller and more vulnerable to respiratory infections.
Smoking also affects the sense of smell – a good thing, probably, as stale smoke generally is considered an unpleasant odor. If your nose were working properly, you’d be self-conscious about the way cigarette smoke makes everything stink, from your breath and hair to the inside of your car or home.
Rebel With A Cause
Many people continue to smoke cigarettes even after learning smoking harms their health. There is a warning on every pack. But a warning only stops someone who is making a ration- al decision to smoke. How often does that happen?
Some smokers take a certain amount of pride in their risk-taking behavior. They keep smoking because they don’t want to be scared or shamed into quitting. They don’t want to be bossed around by anyone, not the waiter at the fancy restaurant who seats them outside, not even the people who love them. If you associate smoking with being grown-up or rebelling against authority, you may not see how easily you were brainwashed.
Some people do better at liberating themselves when they harness their independent spirit. They just decide to rebel against tobacco companies instead of against their own best interests.
Many of the most successful techniques for becoming smoke-free focus on positive goals. No one wants to give up something they have. Even the phrase “quitting” can sound disappointing, especially to athletes or competitive people. Becoming smoke-free is all about finding a motivation that inspires you. If living longer and avoiding a painful death isn’t enough, or seems too far away, don’t focus on that.
Focus on being able to walk up a flight of stairs at age 70, at saving 5 to 25 dollars a week. Or imagine how many lives you could save, for example, if you gave that money to charity.
Many people, who can’t quit for them, find the strength to become smoke-free for their children. We’ve gotten the word out that smoking while pregnant is terrible for a fetus. It’s amazing how many pregnant women manage to stop smoking. And then start again! But the danger doesn’t end with birth. Children who live with smokers suffer an increased risk of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
A study in 1995 found that one carcinogen that exists only in tobacco smoke was detected in the urine of non-smokers after the equivalent of 90 minutes in a smoke-filled room. And they have found residue of air pollution in the lungs of young children living high up on mountains all over the world. So even if you don’t have kids, quitting will help every single child on the planet.
Take Back Control
Most people have heard most of these facts before, although perhaps not all at once. But they’re still smoking! That’s because everyone who smokes has a subconscious part that truly believes they need to keep smoking.
The part of you that associates smoking with something positive lives in your subconscious mind, home of the strong, instinctive levels of emotion and imagination. Your previous efforts to stop smoking probably depended on will-power or your conscious mind. No wonder cravings usually win.
Hypnosis lets you go in and tinker with your thoughts at that deeper level. You don’t have to struggle to quit smoking. You just have to realize that you are not a smoker. You never were. It was a mistake. Once you take away your emotional need to smoke, your physical need will pass quickly.
Your body and your nervous system will be genuinely grateful to let go of smoking. It’s no fun being irritated, polluted and stressed all the time. It’s as though your physical plant, your factory, has been on double shifts for as long as you’ve been smoking. Imagine all the overtime you’ve racked up if you’ve been smoking for a year. Or 10. Or 20! Your subconscious mind has been acting like a foreman under pressure at the factory – every time you’ve told it to stop smoking, it’s argued back: “Hey, buddy, I got a quota here!” It believed you really needed that smoke.
Now, all you have to do is knock out the villain who has taken control. When you eliminate those old associations that made you think you needed tobacco, the foreman will surrender. It’s your own action movie – ending with a celebration. And think of those happy worker cells in your respiratory and circulatory systems. No more unpaid overtime! No more filthy working conditions!
Hypnotherapy for smoking will give you an anchor to a positive feeling. Once you understand how smoking works, you won’t fall for old arguments like, “You deserve a little break.” From now on, you see those arguments and rationalizations as the jokes that they are.
Smoking is like banging your head on the wall because it feels so good when you stop. When you were smoking, you were making yourself physically stressed and fooling your body into craving more stress. That’s pretty twisted, isn’t it?
Hypnotherapy can help you get rid of any bizarre associations you may have with smoking. For a lot of people, smoking used to seem cool. Doesn’t that seem funny now? How cool is an old wheezer lugging around an oxygen machine, with tubes running up his nose?
Some people are used to smoking at parties or when they’re drinking. Using cigarettes to bond with friends or as a signal of a good time is one way that subconscious smoker tries to manipulate us: “Ooh, join the gang. Be like everybody else.” Now that just seems ridiculous. You may choose to spend time with people who smoke. But it’s like hanging out with pirates – you can laugh at their jokes, but you wouldn’t replace your hand with a hook just to fit in, would you?
When you choose hypnotherapy to help you become smoke-free, you relax into a pleasant state where it’s easy to get to those deep-level associations.
Soon you are flushing toxins out of your body. Your energy level rises and you feel much more in control of your life. You feel much more attractive as a person. You notice that your skin and your hair improve in texture. Your eyesight becomes clearer as the oxygen levels in your blood become normal. And as your brain begins to receive its full quota of oxygen, you find you are thinking much more clearly. Some estimates hold that your brainpower increases between 20-30 percent when you stop depriving it of oxygen.
Congratulations on taking control of your life!
Ready, Set, Smoke
(You don’t need to read this final section aloud – but DO follow the directions.)
As you continue to smoke until your session, do it in a very specific way:
√ Smoke with a different hand if you usually use the same one.
Otherwise, change your fingers or grip.
√ Change brands.
√ If you can, it helps to make a note before you light up. Note what you’re doing and what made you want a cigarette at this particular moment. Some people put a small pencil and notepad in a plastic bag along with their cigarettes, so they can’t get to one without the other. It’s old school, but it works! Otherwise, you can use your favorite mobile device, or even just review your cigarettes at the end of the day.
4/19 Morning. Break at work -Otherwise I’d grab a doughnut.
12 pm Walking to lunch, friend was smoking
4/20 After dinner. With coffee.
Then go ahead and smoke. Focus your attention on the act of smoking. Don’t worry about it one way or another if your smoking increases, decreases or stays the same. All you’re doing at this point is bringing the your full awareness to the habit.
We can use this information in your hypnosis session.
See you soon,
Sources for this article include Canada’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health, the American Cancer Society, The American Lung Association, WebMD, Wikipedia and Hypnotherapy by Roger Allen. [Rev. May, 2018]