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quit smoking, stop smoking hypnosisWith the publication of my new article, “Hypnosis, Nature’s Swiss Army Knife” in the fall edition of BrainWorld Magazine, I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries regarding the use of hypnosis for creating behavioral and habitual change, and a LOT of those have been in regard to smoking cessation, perhaps because the news about smoking and what it does to us just keeps getting worse. For instance, quoting an article in today’s Los Angeles Times,

“Close to half of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes… …Tobacco use accounts for a major chunk of those cases— it contributes to 10 types of cancer, along with cardiovascular disease, lung disease, low bone density, and other problems… Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths in this country.”

Ouch! I don’t know about you, but if I hadn’t quit 13 years ago, reading that would certainly get my attention.

Why it’s so hard to quit

We all know that it can be very hard to quit, but why? Most people would point to nicotine as the culprit. In my opinion, though, and it’s one I base on both my own experience with quitting and having helped many hundreds of clients do so too, it’s not the nicotine, but instead the emotional and behavioral addiction that really makes it so hard to quit. When we stop smoking, the nicotine is completely out of our system within 72-96 hours, yet many, many people continue to crave cigarettes weeks, months, sometimes even years later! Why?

Well, what so often begins as a recreational activity that seems grown-up, sexy, or maybe sophisticated and chicly rebellious soon turns into an enslaving habit that literally and insidiously weaves its way into the very fabric of our day to day life and behavior. I don’t know a single person who has smoked for any length of time that is glad they started, but after a while we come to believe we need cigarettes to simply exist and get through the day; and this all arises in our subconscious mind.

Almost all of our beliefs, behaviors, habits and emotional patterns are learned and literally programmed into the subconscious, which functions much like a computer; it will dutifully and automatically run it’s programs—good or bad doesn’t matter—until or unless we change the program. Conscious desire is rarely enough because the subconscious is so much more massive than the conscious (90% to 10% or so) and therefore more powerful. That’s why willpower—a conscious facility— is so ineffective for most people. Thus, we need a way to gain access to the subconscious “hard drive,” and hypnosis, when applied by a skilled practitioner, is one of the most powerful and versatile tools there is to accomplish that.

Does it really work?

In a word, yes! I cannot speak for all practitioners, but I still personally work with between 50 and 150 smokers every year, and to the best of my knowledge the success rate for those folks over the last 10 years or so is about 95%. (I actually guarantee my program.) There are also scores of people who purchase the “do it yourself, (DIY)” downloadable/CD version of the program, and I have yet to receive a single request for a refund. So, yes, hypnosis really works. It’s not magic, it does take commitment and some effort, but it can and does work, quickly and profoundly, and very often with little or no pain and with little or no withdrawal.

Is it worth it?

Here, I can only speak for myself, but as I love to tell my prospective clients, next to marrying my wife, quitting smoking is the best decision I ever made for myself. (Starting was the stupidest.) For those of you who are still hooked, I hope you decide to take action. It’s a decision you will never regret.