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A Metaphor For Stopping Smoking

Sunday, 27th September 2015

A Useful Metaphor  For Stopping Smoking 

If you would like to stop smoking take a moment to read the story below:

 A lady had been trapped on a bleak, desolate island for many years. 

The island was full of toxins which were slowly killing her. 

Escape seemed impossible as the island was surrounded by a deep, wide, river with freezing water and strong, dangerous currents leading to steep, impassable waterfalls. 

One day a man appeared on the island and said to the lady:

 ‘I can help you escape’ 

The lady asked how and the man explained: 

‘I know a route through the water, where it’s only chest deep. The water will be icy cold and will try to deter you and the current will be strong and try to pull you off course, but if you are committed and follow me you will escape this island forever.’ 

And the lady said: 

‘I do want to escape forever and I am committed and I will follow you.’ 

And so the lady followed the man into the water. The water was icy cold, but she wasn’t deterred and the current was strong, but she wasn’t pulled off course. She was committed and she followed the man. 

And she escaped forever. 

The story is, of course, a metaphor to explain the process of stopping smoking. It’s fairly simplistic, but accurate. 

  • The island represents the situation many smokers find themselves in, i.e. being trapped in an addiction to smoking; they know it’s slowly killing them, but they don't believe they can escape.
  • The river, with the strong impassable currents and freezing water represents how many smokers imagine the withdrawal symptoms will be if they stop smoking – impossible to bear. 
  • The freezing water is the initial ‘shock’ a smoker’s body experiences when it first goes without nicotine. 
  • The strong currents that negative unhelpful voice inside our head that says ‘I can’t do this, it’s too hard’ 
The man in the story represents a guide or mentor - someone who knows the way to escape. What the guide is saying is this:
  1. You can stop smoking; it really is possible (millions of people have done it)
  2. It might feel awkward at first, but the feeling won’t last long (nicotine is addictive, but the withdrawal symptoms are mild compared to many drugs and don’t last long)
  3. If you want to stop smoking for good, the only qualities you need are commitment and self-belief – you might feel strange for a short while, but the feeling won’t last.
  4. You can do it and I will help you.

I once had a client, a veteran of the first Gulf War, who wanted to stop smoking but didn’t think he was ‘strong enough’ to do it. When I asked him about the most difficult thing he’d ever done, he told me about how he’d rescued a wounded fellow soldier from an exposed location in the face of heavy enemy gunfire. When I pointed out to him that if he was ‘strong’ enough to risk his life to save a friend, he could definitely endure a few nicotine withdrawal symptoms, the penny dropped. He is now a non-smoker. 

Hypnotherapy doesn’t stop you smoking, you do that yourself. 

However, hypnotherapy does help you find the confidence, and commitment and self-belief you’ll need along the way. 

To find out more, call me on 07768 613866 or email Brett@resultshypnosis.co.uk