I think I took my first drag of a fag at 14. I was with my (far more sophisticated) cousin on a bench round the back of the local minimart. By 16 I was smoking when I went out with friends, and by 18 it had become a part of my life. I remember my college exams by reference to the brand I was smoking at the time (Dunhill menthols for my finals – can you imagine??) and my social life in my 20s involved sneaky smokes in the company cafeteria and scouring my pockets for change for the fag machine in the pub.
I lost count of the times I tried to give up. Cutting down didn’t work. I favoured going cold turkey… and for a while, I’d feel very pleased with myself, clearer lungs, no hacking cough, better mornings after the night before… but I generally lasted around 3 weeks before I caved and I’d find a cigarette in my hand with my wine glass without even thinking about it.
In my early 30s, my top smoking buddy sat me down and said “we need to kick this once and for all” and she thrust a flyer under my nose – an advert for Suzanne, a hypnotherapist in Harley Street. Hypnosis? I’m very open minded, but I’ll admit we were scared … what would she do? What if she implanted some ridiculous suggestions into our subconscious that every time we saw the colour blue we started doing a strip tease?
And it was expensive. Was it going to be worth it? Would it work?
But it was one session. We were desperate, so we went.
Suzanne was lovely and very professional. She checked that we were certain that we wanted to give up and she explained the process. She won our trust and she easily guided both of us into trance (it was a double session). The 2 hours went by in a flash. When we left, she warned us that we would need to exercise restraint for the next 48 hours or so whilst the nicotine left our bodies, but thereafter we would be fine and we would think of ourselves at non-smokers.
With hindsight, we hadn’t really thought things through. That night was my mate’s husband’s birthday and there was a huge party full of our friends. The temptation was great. My mate caved, but I knew that this was a big opportunity for me and I really wanted to be a non-smoker. I’d also spent a lot of money – so I wanted to give it a chance to work. That evening, I said no to the cigarettes, even though inside I was desperate for one. I hung in there… and I’m so glad I did.
A week later, I found myself in the pub with mates and someone offered me a cigarette. Normally during my “giving up” periods, I would dither and explain that I used to be a smoker, but I was trying to give up, blah blah blah (if I was in the pub at all, as I used to avoid them so as to avoid temptation). This time, without thinking at all, I said “no thank you, I don’t smoke” and the conversation moved on. The therapist was right – smoking became a thing of the past and I thought of myself as a non-smoker.
I was finally free.
It’s been over 10 years since then and I wish I could remember Suzanne’s last name, because I’d love to thank her for liberating me from that addiction – although being a therapist now, I realise that being able to help people in these ways brings its own rewards.
If you are a smoker and you want to be free from that trap, or if you have other addictions or behaviours that concern you – please feel free to give me a call for a no obligation chat. I would be privileged to help you, the way that Suzanne helped me.