Thursday, January 20, 2011

Positive Feedback

I received some positive feedback today, from a client of mine from several months ago, who asked for my help in the quest to become a non-smoker. Client confidentiality being what it is I'm not going to discuss specifics, But when I asked if I could write about some of the stuff we talked about, I was given permission as long as I don't identify him.

So we're talking a middle-aged Australian male, urban and well-educated, living a secular, white-collar, well-paid lifestyle. He smoked cigarettes, his wife smoked cigars. One of them developed mouth cancer, both of them agreed to stop smoking. The wife seemed to have little trouble stopping cold, but the husband struggled. He had all the usual issues with addictive cravings, but I know they end. Years ago I used to smoke heavily myself, and for me the hardest things were patterns of behaviour: lighting up during TV commercials, lighting up when waiting for buses to arrive, having a smoke before leaving work, having a smoke after getting home. That took a lot longer than the physical cravings, and even than the belief I'd developed that when I was under stress a cigarette would relieve that stress.

We established he started smoking as a teenager, early in the period of time when he was a bit off the rails, stealing cars to joyride up and down the eastern seaboard, getting into fights, doing a bit of vandalism. Turned out that although as a young boy he'd been quite proud of his bad-boy reputation, there'd been something he'd been terribly ashamed of doing - he told me what it was but I am not going to share it publicly - that filled him even back then with utter shame. Smoking made him cool, and if he was cool he couldn't have been the same person who did that thing. Also, when he remembered that event he would be hugely stressed suddenly, and smoking would give him that calming nicotine hit that enabled him to cope with the wobblies.

The first session I spent with him was about two hours long, which was unusual. The first fifteen minutes or so were about taking a history, signing the disclaimer, then simply encouraging him to talk around all the issues that, in his mind, surrounded smoking now and in the past, how it made him feel, how not smoking made him feel, and just encouraging him to open up to me. During that session I came to feel very privileged: he willingly peeled back layer after layer of his personality and his past, with my doing not a hell of a lot more than listening very closely and accepting everything he said and everything he had done in the past. At the end of it despite the fact that I'd heard about a lot of things I really didn't want to know that he'd done, I understood a lot more about him than I understand about many of the people I have known for years.

Our second appointment was six days later. I asked how his week had been - turned out that he had felt really relieved after just talking a lot of things through with me that he hadn't even been able to talk through with his partner, and in fact he had smoked marginally less during the days since without any conscious effort on his part to cut down. Apparently his whole family had noticed he was more relaxed, even his dogs. We discussed what we would do, then I dropped him into a light trance, deepened him a bit into a working trance, and gave him some post-hypnotic suggestions about dealing with the habitual aspects and the cravings associated with smoking. that would give him tools to use in his bid to become a non-smoker.

Then we got to the real work. I deepened his trance, and got him to visualise an empty office chair, filling up with cigarette smoke which thickened and thickened, until it became the spirit of his addiction sitting there. He indicated when this entity was real and strong to him, and then became a dialogue. I got him to question the addiction itself. What did it want? What were its motives? What benefit did it get out of him being addicted that it didn't get out of him not being addicted? What benefit did it think he got out of being addicted? At that point the dialogue paused, and I asked him if he really benefited from this benefit the addiction through it was giving him.

Then we changed tack, my client and I working together. All the way through I would provide gentle direction and he would comply, negotiating with his addiction himself, and reporting its replies back to me. Now that we knew where the spirit of the addiction was coming from and what it was getting out of it, it was time to bargain. We pointed out other ways it might get its needs met without my client ever having to light a cigarette. We offered it a symbol in the client's house - a potted plant in the same family as tobacco, actually, which my client promised to tend himself and keep healthy as long as the spirit of addiction kept away. And eventually my client and I agreed that we had reached a point where not only was the spirit of addiction satisfied, but he was, too.

So I got him to allow the being to break up into smoke and float away, and to leave the place with the chair, and I reinforced the post-hypnotic suggestions of calmness, self-forgiveness for his distant past, lack of desire for a cigarette, and replacement activities for smoking, then brought him back into normal consciousness. He was really happy with the session. I said he was very welcome to ring me and make an appointment if he needed to bolster up the work we had done together and he thanked me, and I didn't hear a thing until today. I asked him if he wanted to set up another session, he said no, he was still at peace with himself and still a non-smoker. He was just ringing up to let me know he was doing well, and that he had saved thousands of dollars in the cost of cigarettes. And it was good to hear that the person in that household who had had a tumour removed was still doing well and had not relapsed.

It was very good of him to ring, actually. Theoretically, every client who sees me, seems happy at the end, and doesn't get back to me is a satisfied customer - but are they? Or could some of them be people who just lost faith and didn't want to waste time on me again? I would never know without feedback. So I was delighted when he rang, and we talked for quite a while. Now that I have better-quality audio equipment, I offered to make him a free meditation CD tailored to his own internal imagery and preferences as a thank-you gift for the detailed feedback, but he serenely refused even that.

He said in passing that I crafted the inside of his head with as much care and skill as he'd craft the inside of a building. I was flattered. Let's just say that if any of my friends or contacts are in need of an architect, I know whose business card I will be handing out.

If you would like to discuss making an appointment to transform into a non-smoker,  contact me and we will discuss your particular needs privately.


  1. Wow, awesome work. I love your ideas. Now, to tailor that to helping me cut my cholesterol level... 8-P

  2. We can do something about that, if you're serious. Cholesterol is not only sourced in foods, but manufactured in the liver, and over-manufactured when you are under stress. We can put together something to deal with the stress, something to provide the liver and the body generally the willingness to be better-balanced in its activities, plus post-hypnotic suggestions to find foods that help clear the system of cholesterol more attractive.

    Let me know when your farm is no longer under water and your income stabilises - I'd hate to help you manage one problem, only to start another .