This week’s blog is part 2 of smoking and its effects on the skin so if you haven’t read last week’s post I would recommend going back to see my (slightly vain) motivations for trying hypnotherapy in the first place.
I started smoking at the age of 14, I can still remember my first one now, how much it made me cough and how bad it tasted, but I was so determined to fit in with the ‘cool kids’ that I pretended to enjoy it and unfortunately, as time went on I did start to enjoy it (or at least I thought I did).
At the same time, I had also started drinking with my friends in the park on Friday nights (again thinking we were so cool) and so the association of having a cigarette with a drink became ingrained into me, I couldn’t imagine ever having a drink without a smoke.
I’ve tried to quit many, many times over the past 10 years, actually trying hypnotherapy once before at my dad’s request when I was 15, but was not in the right frame of mind and had no desire to stop so it unfortunately did not work. I manged to reduce my smoking to weekends when I had a drink, but I went through phases of smoking the few I had left, over the week or even having a glass of wine midweek as an excuse to smoke!
I believe many smokers have gone through this process and refused to admit (as I did) that they were addicted, however after a stressful few weeks at work last year I found I was smoking up to 10 cigarettes a day and had finally had enough!
It’s a drug addiction guys…
I am proud of the fact that I am generally a very disciplined person who wants the best for myself. I exercise 4-5 times a week, I tend to opt for healthier alternatives because it makes me feel good but can also allow myself a weekly pizza (maybe this is another addiction I need to address), since deciding to stop eating meat over a year ago I have not once wavered in this choice and believe I will never eat meat again, but smoking, although the most damaging and harmful thing that I ever did in my life, I could just not seem to stop.
This is because it’s an addictive substance and realising that I was a drug addict scared the shit out of me. I decided that I didn’t want to be controlled by a substance that was slowly killing me, costing me hundreds of pounds and giving me absolutely no benefit.
Really it’s because I had tried everything else. I went onto the e-cigarettes for a while but found that I was using that 5x more often than smoking cigarettes and ultimately I was still feeding a drug addiction. I had tried just giving up on my own before only to find that I was distracted and irritable and when I did go for a drink with friends, I couldn’t enjoy just sitting and having a conversation, because all I could think about was smoking.
I wanted to just be done with it and after hearing of success stories, my auntie included, who hasn’t smoked in over 14 years now I thought ‘fuck it’, it’s worth a try and if it works it will be the best money I ever spent, if it doesn’t at least I tried.
After doing a bit of research of local business’ I found Katie Brazier, who happened to be less than a 2-minute walk from my flat. I booked online for a free consultation with the mindset that I would just go and see what she had to say.
She asked me why I was there, and we chatted about why I wanted to stop and how smoking made me feel. She got into her occupation after having hypnosis herself many years ago for smoking and having successfully quit. This changed her life so much that she wanted to do the same for other people, which made me sure that she was the right person for me and I wanted to give this a go!
Her recommendation was 2 1 hour sessions done within 2 weeks of each other, from her experience she found that most people quit after the first appointment but the second helps to cement everything in place.
The cost was £140 per session so £280 total, I understand that this is a significant amount of money, but the way I saw it that was this is the cost of 28 packs of cigarettes (a 3 month supply for me) and so it was worth the investment for the long term savings to my bank account and the unequivocal benefits to my health.
A lot of people have asked if hypnotherapy is having a watch swung in front of your eyes and being ‘under’, sorry to ruin the fantasy but it is nothing like this. First Katie explained how in hypnotism she was going to be speaking to my sub-conscious. In our logical mind we know that smoking is incredibly bad for us, however there is a part of the brain that rationalises smoking and makes us think we enjoy it, this is what she is targeting.
She likened it to an ice berg with the visible layer above the water being conscious mind and larger layer beneath the water being the sub-conscious (I liked this). We then discussed why I wanted to quit, how I wanted to feel when I saw people smoking, what I wanted to do instead of smoking, what my triggers were etc. I won’t bore you with all of these but my biggest one was smoking when drinking, I wanted to be able to be indifferent to seeing people have a cigarette rather than envious and not have the horrible tight feeling in my chest, desperate for a cigarette.
So, we began… I was told to get comfortable and close my eyes, Katie has one of those soothing voices like David Attenborough or Morgan Freeman, very easy to listen to. She told me to think of a place where I remember feeling completely relaxed and calm, which for me was in Positano on the Amalfi coast, sitting on a balcony looking out at the sea (refer to our Instagram for the very popular Pizza tour of Italy!)
Once I was placed there, she started to slowly count down from 10 to 0 and with each number I felt more calm and more relaxed than I’d ever been before, which I can honestly say that I was. I was aware of everything around me but I felt heavy, like I didn’t want to move my limbs and almost asleep like when you have very heavy eyes.
Once I was in the relaxed, calm space she started to tell me that I was now a non-smoker and built in all the ways I said I wanted to feel when I would normally be smoking. She told me that I was free from the addiction and I could live the rest of my life now happily as a non-smoker. It felt like only a few moments before she was counting again, from 0 to 10 this time, to bring me back. As she counted up, I could feel myself become more awake and able to move freely, it was like waking up from a light afternoon nap; I felt refreshed and very calm.
It wasn’t like some lightbulb moment had happened, I didn’t really feel much different until later on that day when I was having my afternoon coffee, which would normally be accompanied by a cigarette. When this craving came I took a deep breath and thought ‘I’m free’ and this overwhelming feeling of joy mixed with pride and relief that I don’t smoke anymore washed over me, it felt like I quit years ago! The first session was the one that started this change, but for anyone wanting to try this practice I would definitely recommend the second session as it helped to cement everything in for me.
The best advice I can give If you’re thinking of quitting smoking is stop thinking that you will loose something, have the cravings forever or not be able to enjoy social events. Giving up smoking is one of the hardest things you can do, so if you manage it you need to feel so fucking proud of yourself, you have done something incredible!
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