Having just completed the Smoking Cessation Hypnotherapy Practitioner Certification by Dan Jones, Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy Instructor, addressing smoking, bad habits, addictions or unwanted behaviour is front of mind.

I don’t think I’ve ever personally been without a good vice or two. From as young as I can remember sugar has taken centre stage as my indulgence of choice, then coming of age brought a good couple of decades of (often excessive) alcohol consumption, not to mention the plethora of other habitual behaviour that I’m either unaware of or not ready to divulge in such an open forum. But often these seemingly harmless habits that have evolved over time can begin to get out of hand and really start to impact our lives in negative ways as we move through our life cycle. Below I discuss some of the elements to consider when approaching real and lasting change.

Unhealthy behaviour we engage in is usually the ‘treatment’ for another problem, and some possible emotional needs being met (directly or indirectly) by that behaviour may include boredom, stress, tiredness, excitement, socialising, status, attention, privacy or control. Or maybe the behaviour met an innate emotional need when you started but it has now morphed into an almost unconscious habit because of the associations you’ve spent years creating. To make real and lasting change we identify the emotional needs being met, learned undesirable habits and unhealthy behavioural patterns, and then new more constructive or healthy behaviour identified and reinforced.

Many people may benefit from change to your unwanted behaviour, but it’s important to make sure that you are identifying, focusing on and noticing the personal benefits and improvements to living a healthier more balanced life. To truly change your identity it’s important to be able to establish what individual success looks like, thus focusing on your future identity, and overtime harness an indifference to the offending behaviour so that it no longer defines you.

We release ‘feel good’ reward chemicals when we engage in pleasurable or new experiences, but just as engaging in regular behaviour takes advantage of our natural ability to form habits, it also takes advantage of our ability to habituate things. That is we need to increase the frequency or quantity to keep the chemicals releasing as the novelty wears off. So when behaviour hijacks our natural inbuilt drive to complete patterns (habits), has become instinctive, and also requires increased involvement for effectiveness ‘the con’ really kicks in. The con can be looked at as a form of trance whereby a craving or habit triggers the mind to focus on short term perceived positives (immediate emotional need fulfilment) and pushes negatives aside, skewing reality as you convince yourself the behaviour isn’t bad for you. To break free you need to address the instinctive/automatic associations cravings trigger and provide healthy alternatives, then practice and actively think about them until they become the new norm.

It is important to explore the likelihood that there may be a situation that leads to a single instance of engaging in unwelcome behaviour – after all we are all human. But rather than relapsing into a full blown habit again it’s important to constructively approach these situations. Acknowledge them, accept them, learn from them and move on stronger in your resolve as if it was just a one off ‘blip’. Furthermore if you can plan in advance for high risk situations by identifying possible scenarios that could hinder success, discuss what could be done differently, and mentally rehearse them then the likelihood of them taking you surprise will be diminished, and more often the new rehearsed solution will take over the old default response.

So if you find yourself out of balance, making excuses for your behaviour or on a path that is impacting your life in a negative way then Hypnotherapy can help target habits, behaviours, emotions or thoughts that are no longer serving you today and reprogram your subconscious to support who you want to be. And if you are still asking yourself why Hypnotherapy? Evidence based best practice for successfully changing behaviour includes:

  • a step by step plan that first details the cause for the behaviour and then puts in place manageable and measurable steps to address the behaviour and its causes;
  • making a public declaration of intent to change so that support and help can be enlisted;
  • primarily focusing on the positives – what will be gained and what motivates;
  • putting healthy rewards for time and situation milestones in place;
  • progress tracking; and
  • visualising benefits and challenges.

Hypnotherapy with Desireé involves all the above steps and more. I use a therapeutic approach to change combined with hypnosis to focus attention on what is immediately relevant, narrow awareness through relaxation, and create a mind-body connection. That path to a healthy, balanced and mindful life could be just around the corner, get in touch to find out more.