by Celeste Hackett
Before the next session Roger sat in the chair looking a little sheepish. When I asked him how things were going since our last meeting he said they were going great until he had a big fight with his wife. The fight was resolved pretty quickly, but not until after Roger had a cigarette to calm down. I could tell he was really kicking himself about smoking, so I let him know that this sort of thing happens sometimes. I also reminded him that this is precisely why some smokers need more than one session. Next, I asked him if that cigarette was the only one he had since I saw him last. He said it was.
“And how much did you smoke per day before we started the hypnosis work?” I asked him.
“A pack and a half a day.”
“Wow. Good job. You are down to your last one then!”
Roger smiled, feeling noticeably better.
“Are you ready to be done for good today?”
“Yes I am”, he beamed looking hopeful and ready to do the work needed.
Sadly, I have encountered many hypnotists who blame the client when they don’t quit smoking. These hypnotists will say that their client “didn’t really want to quit.” In my experience, the real reason their clients are still smoking however, is not because they didn’t want to quit, but because they have far more than just a habit causing them to smoke. These clients are dealing with significant emotional problems. And it is not their fault if the hypnotist doesn’t recognize this and/or doesn’t know how to address it.
When a client comes back after all the work that was done in the last age regression session (which deals with subconscious fears and misconceptions) and they have smoked (any amount of cigarettes) because they felt angry or irritable, then this is a clue that the next emotional layer of their problem (anger) has risen to be dealt with. Most smokers have a good deal of subconscious anger and it can rear its head in an obvious way, such as Roger’s case, and can happen before, after, or during any session.
It can also show up in a less obvious way. For example, if you are confident in the age regression work (that you have cleared up the fears and misconceptions directly related to your client’s smoking) and your client is still smoking, ask them what happened that caused them to reach for a cigarette. Don’t be surprised if they say they were “stressed”, “upset”, “grumpy” or “irritable”.
You can probably see how some clients might say they were grumpy or irritable when they were angry, and you may wonder how would being stressed or upset mean anger. Just consider that anger can also be very “stressful” and it can “upset” a person pretty badly and you can see how a client would use these words for anger. One of the reasons clients don’t always come right out and say they had or have some anger is because most people are just pretty bad at knowing what they feel at all. It’s your job to figure it out, so you know what to do to help them resolve it. Hypnotists who embark on work such as this need to know that each emotion that clients have has a different cause, and a unique approach is needed to resolve each of them.
If your client says they just don’t know why they smoked, it could be they are totally unconscious of any bad feeling at all that could be causing the problem. Try asking them to think back to one of the recent times when they just had to have a cigarette. Then, ask them to tell you what happened right before they had that craving. If they can’t remember, ask them again once they are in hypnosis. The subconscious mind can take them right to it. If anger is indicated don’t be surprised if they still don’t use the word “anger” to describe how they are feeling. Again, they could just use one of the words we’ve mentioned or say they feel “bad” or even something else.
Even if your client never gets a realization that they are angry you can know they probably were if what happened would make any normal person angry. Clients are notorious for trying to forget anger in an effort to reduce or resolve it. Mainly, this is a learned behavior due to our societal beliefs that anger is bad or dangerous. In fact, at least 50% of the time my clients are so good at this that they do not display any signs of anger at all until it is provoked and encouraged while they are in hypnosis. This includes them never mentioning they are angry in the age regression and even outright saying they are not angry when we talk about anger as a possible part of their smoking issue. If you have a client like this, and you are trained to do so, work on anger anyway and just let them know the anger may be subconscious. The results may surprise you and them.
In Roger’s case he knew he was mad at his wife and he didn’t want to feel that way, so he smoked. Interestingly, anger can be resolved without a cigarette and without hypnosis if the amount of anger is at an appropriate level. In other words, if the only anger he had at the time of the fight was from a sense of something being unfair in his interaction with her, he could have resolved that with a simple method we teach our clients. 1) Name the feeling 2) Name the cause of the feeling. 3) Do a satisfying response. You can learn more about this and about other emotions and how to properly respond to them from Cal Banyan’s book, The Secret Language of Feelings.
Unfortunately, Roger had a significant amount of subconscious anger and when he became angry about something in his external environment (a fight with his wife), the old internal anger (subconscious and unresolved from the past) came up too. This was way more anger than Roger felt he could handle, and it frightened him, so he’d smoke a cigarette to get his mind off of it. Hearing what happened made our next phase of the work quite clear to me. We had to rid Roger of as much subconscious anger as possible to give him the best chance of resolving future angry feelings on his own, so he could be a permanent non-smoker.
The hypnotic anger process we use is called Forgiveness of Others and follows particular steps designed to free someone from subconscious anger through 1) Having the client bring up as much of the anger as possible, 2) having them fully express that anger, 3) having them gain new insight and understanding and 4) helping them free themselves of that anger through forgiveness.
Within each of these steps we use particular techniques that make each of them possible. For instance, in order to do step 1) bring up the anger, we have clients a) enter into somnambulism, a level of hypnosis that makes it easy for clients to hallucinate (or imagine really well). We then have them b) hallucinate the person that hurt them the very most in their lives and c) encourage them to express to this person when they hurt them, what it made them think and how it made them feel.
We have clients bring up as many instances of perceived wrongdoing as possible which really helps the client to feel old anger long forgotten. When in hypnosis it is not only easier for clients to remember all the details of what hurt so much, but also, since they are coming from where emotions are generated (the subconscious mind), it’s easier for them to be in touch with those feelings.
In our next and final article in this series find out what happened when Roger brought up all of his subconscious anger. If you love hypnosis like I do, I think you’ll find it very interesting. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions feel free to contact me at any time. I’m easy to find with a quick search on the internet.