by Celeste Hackett
A few years ago a successful CEO of a computer software company in his late 50’s came to see me for stopping smoking. He had been working on himself for some years to be the best he could be. He had given up drugs in the 60’s, alcohol in the 70’s, gone to marriage counseling with his wife in the 80’s and finally overcame his aversion to exercise in the 90’s. He was even eating more salads. The way he saw it he was now down to his last big personal challenge. He had tried everything to quit smoking, and was just beginning to think cigarettes would be the one thing to beat him when a co-worker gave him my name and number.
Roger, not my client’s real name, entered into the somnambulistic state easily and was convinced he was in hypnosis through the technique of eye catalepsy. I gave him suggestions that he was a non-smoker and once he emerged from hypnosis, he felt excited to think he could really stop smoking. He was also pleased that he had gotten to relax deeply during the hypnosis session, something he rarely was able to do because of his stressful job.
Roger was what I call a hard-core smoker, so by the second session he was still smoking at work, but he had stopped smoking at home in the morning and evening. When clients come back still smoking on the second session hypnotists, who do the type of process I do, called 5-PATH®, begin working on uncovering and resolving deeper issues – any strong emotional component that has made their habit more than just a habit. To do this age regression is required. My client was committed to doing whatever it would take to overcome his problem, so we easily moved right into that phase of the work.
Through age regression, a process of uncovering root causes of problems, we learned that Roger was feeling an unnecessary and significant amount of fear based on feeling abandoned by his Mother at just a little over a year old, when she left him to cry in his crib. In addition, his Mother also had abused him throughout childhood making the original fear stronger. Though Roger wasn’t aware of it until I pointed it out to him, this old fear resonated with stress he felt at work making the work stress so strong that he’d do almost anything to distract from it. In his case, his favorite distractor was to smoke.
We use a process called informed child technique (ICT) to take away fear held in the subconscious mind regarding emotional events such as what Roger had gone through. ICT allowed Roger, as the “grown up”, to inform his “child self” of things that would help him (the child) go through those difficult events again, but this time without being negatively affected by them. While still in hypnosis, using the unique ability of the subconscious mind to not know the difference between real things or those imagined, Roger could talk to his little child self in a meaningful way which would help him gain wisdom, and more importantly resolve the fear. So with my guidance Roger gave helpful information to his “little one”, based on his hindsight as an adult. We then watched as the child made it through each event feeling unbothered and secure instead of abandoned and fearful.
A much abbreviated excerpt from the hypnosis session may shed a bit more light on how this technique is applied:
HYPNOTIST: What is happening?
CLIENT AS CHILD: I’m in my crib. I’m crying. I’m wet and hungry. No one is coming. Where is my Mother? (Roger is trembling in my chair in obvious emotional duress. Tears slide down his face and in his voice there is sound of desperation.)
HYPNOTIST: What are you feeling Little One?
CLIENT AS CHILD: I’m so scared! What if she never comes back to feed me? I could be stuck here forever.
HYPNOTIST: All right, in a moment I’ll count from 3 to 1 and you’ll still be this little one, but just a day or maybe an hour younger. 3…..2…..1. Now you are a day or an hour younger. Are you safe and secure?
CLIENT AS CHILD: Yes, I am. (Roger relaxes, wipes his tears and nose with a tissue I give him and sighs.)
HYPNOTIST: Good. Take a place in the back ground and I’ll be back to speak to you more in a moment. Now, BE “Grown Up” (the grown up self). Grown Up, what do you wish you had known back then that would have allowed you to go through that scene without being negatively affected by it?
CLIENT AS GROWN UP: I wish I had known my Mother was coming back!
HYPNOTIST: Good, then if he knows what you know now, that she came back to care for you, he will feel much better, right?
CLIENT AS GROWN UP: Yes.
HYPNOTIST: Good. Let’s go tell him. At the count of 1, you, as your grown up self, and I, will be with him, this little child, who is feeling safe and secure. This is the child you were who hasn’t gone through this scene in his life yet (The scene where he is crying in the crib and his Mother isn’t coming).
3…..2…..1. Now, you, Grown Up, I and this Little One are all together. Inside of you, Grown Up, are the words that need to be said to him, so that when he goes through this scene in the crib he won’t be negatively affected by it. And then, since he is just a part of you, you won’t be negatively affected by it either. Are your ready?
CLIENT AS GROWN UP: Yes I am.
HYPNOTIST: Good, tell him what you wish you had known back then.
CLIENT AS GROWN UP: Listen, in a few hours you’ll be in your crib. Mom won’t come as fast as she usually does when you cry. Don’t worry though because she will definitely come. She is always thinking of you, she is just taking a nap because she has been sick.
HYPNOTIST: Little One, do you believe Grow Up?
CLIENT AS CHILD: Yes.
HYPNOTIIST: Is there anything more you need to hear from him, so when you go through this you won’t be scared?
CLIENT AS CHILD: No.
HYPNOTIST: Good, then at the count of 3 you are in your crib. You are wet and hungry, but this time you know you’re Mother is definitely coming to care for you, just not as fast as she has in the past, okay?
CLIENT AS CHILD: Ok.
HYPNOTIST: 1…2…3… and there you are in your crib. You are wanting your Mother. You are wet and hungry. How are you feeling?
CLIENT AS CHILD: Good. I’m playing with my toy. She’s sleeping. She’ll come in a little while.
HYPNOTIST: Are you safe?
CLIENT AS CHILD: Yes. I’m going back to sleep.
After the child went through all the events (feeling much better from the ICT), I smiled as I watched an expression of peace wash over Roger. I then had him become aware of the area in his body where he had felt fear before and give me a report. Roger seemed a bit surprised as he said he felt “relieved, and like a weight had been lifted”.
Once I heard that, I let him know he’d never have to distract from that old feeling again with cigarettes because it was resolved, and that now he could stop smoking completely. While still in the hypnotic state, I asked him if he believed it was true that he could now be a non-smoker. Roger nodded indicating yes, that he thought so. I also took him into an imagined future to help him practice rejecting cigarettes and living smoke free. He did wonderfully well, and said he felt great. Next, I gave him more suggestions that he was a non-smoker. Then, feeling confident that our work was finished for the day, I emerged him from hypnosis.
At this point we were finished with phase 2. At least I hoped we were. Roger emerged from hypnosis, rubbed his face, looked a little dazed and said, “That was weird.” Clients often are surprised with how real the scenes are when they re-experience them. He also said that he felt lighter and was excited about how the session would help him. I encouraged him to do the best he could to reject cigarettes in the coming week and to just let the work we did soak in. He left the office with a confident smile on his face.
Part 2 coming soon.