with NLP
One year on since the smoking ban,
The ban on smoking in public places your health, plus public opinion granting Many smokers have mixed feelings about
it honorary pariah status, combined with quitting: they want to lose the disadvantages the current legislation making it so darned of smoking but don’t want to lose the benefits. polls, ‘three quarters of adults expressing their inconvenient (hands up who enjoys popping And they are absolutely right to be concerned support’. Hefty legislation targets the ‘managers outside in the cold and rain for a ciggy), what about this, because there are indeed benefits to of premises’ rather than smokers themselves; interests me is that so many people continue smoking; no one would do it if there weren’t. ‘managers’ are threatened with a fine of £2500 to do it. I suspect they haven’t cottoned on to There are coercive self-help methods that insult for failing to prevent puffers from lighting up smokers and deny the benefits of smoking, but – rather like bullying the prefects to make the as well as being unkind and discourteous they naughty kids behave. The result of this is that approaches to quitting: either the NHS route, we’re seeing more smoking than ever because or, for those understandably wary of that So, accepting for the moment the hypothesis that there are benefits to smoking, how can we Physical addiction
lose the smoking, but keep the benefits it was is not the major
We can start by being attentive to what’s issue the nicotine-
A little introspection shows the mind to be a replacement
complicated process, changing all the time and made up of many parts; it’s not a single stable promoters would
entity. Sometimes there’s a conflict between have us believe
two or more parts of it, as reflected in everyday speech when somebody says: ‘Part of me wants to do this, but another part wants to do that, acupuncturist and later as an NLP Trainer so I don’t know what to do!’ It’s reasonable to nicotine-replacement products, plus Zyban and and personal development coach, I’ve had think that different parts of oneself would have Champix (whose list of side effects includes the privilege of helping many people to stop one’s well-being at heart; however it’s only too ‘suicide ideation’), as ‘medicines’. So complete smoking. I’ve become fascinated by the way obvious that they can have different ideas of companies that other more wholesome methods despite all attempts to squash it – and despite of helping people to stop smoking, such as NLP its apparently insane self-destructiveness (hospital entrances are full of coughing One of the classical presuppositions of NLP patients trailing drip stands, shivering in their suggests: ‘A positive intention underlies any pyjamas and fluffy bunny slippers, puffing behaviour.’ If we’re open to the interesting idea that there may be positive intentions underlying even destructive habits such as smoking, we every time she wanted to smoke; her husband can explore some kind of constructive conflict hated the smell of it on her skin, hair, clothes resolution. This can avoid the disappointment and breath, and had been nagging at her for experienced by people who heroically battle ages to stop; and of course she couldn’t smoke the desire to smoke and succeed in suppressing around the children. To make matters worse it, only to succumb to temptation months or her eldest daughter was receiving anti-smoking years later. The fact that this happens so often propaganda at school and coming home and indicates that physical addiction to nicotine laying on the guilt along the lines of, ‘Please, is not the problem; anyone who has stopped Mummy, I don’t want you to die.’ This smoking for a year is beyond the nicotine emotional blackmail had actually backfired, dependency – and yet the desire to smoke is still as it raised Chloe’s stress levels so she needed lurking. As ironic graffiti artists have pointed to smoke even more to calm herself down; out: ‘Stopping smoking is easy – I’ve done it and she’d resorted to lying to her daughter, hundreds of times!’ It’s staying stopped that’s pretending that she had stopped smoking – so now she was hating herself for her dishonesty.
Let’s look at the idea that the impulse to With all this incentive, why couldn’t she smoke is prompted by a positive intention. If stop? More accurately, why couldn’t she stay that were so, then if people could find better stopped? She had been able to manage without ways to fulfil the intention they wouldn’t need cigarettes for periods as long as three months; but then had experienced an increasingly Smokers need to reflect on the underlying uncomfortable feeling that she identified as purpose of the part of them that is prompting a craving for a cigarette, and had eventually them to smoke. Is it trying to offer them a way yielded to it, usually after a few glasses of wine. to feel better, maybe to relax, or think more The fact that she could go for such long periods clearly, or to reduce tension or alleviate some without cigarettes indicated that physical kind of unease? If so, how could they find addiction to nicotine was not the major issue; there was something else going on. She needed to get in touch with the part of her that was with the model of parts of the psyche are particularly good for resolving the inner conflicts associated with unwanted behaviours. bring out the two parts of her mind that were in conflict over the smoking, and imagine them actually sitting in front of her, one on or denial, often accompanied by guilt and recriminations as the ‘goodie’ part punishes like, if she could see them? It seemed that the the ‘baddie’ part and the ‘baddie’ part feels stop-smoking one looked like a rather glum resentful and rebellious, we can work with little goody-two-shoes, standing demurely self-awareness and an attitude of kindness with its hands clasped; while the smoking one and enquiry to find alternatives that avoid looked like a sparky little goddess, stark naked and dancing wildly. It was easy to see that the sparky goddess was unlikely to take kindly to being told what to do by the goody-two-shoes, Let’s look at an example based on a real-life and that while it might be possible to shut it case history: a client of mine from several in a box temporarily, it wouldn’t stay there ‘Chloe’ wanted to stop smoking; or rather a part of her did – another part was very about its positive intention for Chloe, it resistant to the idea. In her mid-thirties, transpired that it was battling to save Chloe’s with three young children, Chloe knew she youth, creativity, and ultimately her freedom shouldn’t be smoking. It was inconvenient, for self-expression – all of which she felt were going outside in order to escape the family


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