Have you ever given in to a craving? A ‘Stoptober’ blog.

Girl craving alcohol and smoking a cigarette
FreeImages.com/Katherine Evans

In this month when so many people are aiming to become smoke-free, you may well have moments of weakness. While not everyone has cravings, they are a factor to be considered whenever you are ending a habit. So the things I write here can also apply to things like binge eating, compulsive habits and any inappropriate behaviour.

The great thing about this is that it is ONLY applicable if you have already had an experience where you gave in to temptation previously!

So if you have lapsed, it’s a good thing.

Here is the process. I suggest you read through it a few times before you do it.

  1. Think of something that you would never, ever do.
    (This needs to be something that would outrage you. Nothing to do with the craving or behaviour. This should be a strongly held principle – the more powerful the better. Something like: I would never steal. I would never have an affair. I would never hit somebody. Really search for something that you would be ashamed or humiliated to do).
  2. When you think of what that thing is, get a picture in you mind of you actually doing it, and the moment you feel that sense of outrage, self-disgust, shame, embarrassment or general disconnection I want you to press your thumb and middle finder of one hand together really hard. Do this for as long as the feeling lasts and then let go.
    (What you are doing here is ‘anchoring’ this feeling of outrage – this feeling that ‘I would never do that’.)

    —-take a moment now to think of something completely different. Admire a picture, remember a joke. Decide what you want for tea. This is just to distract yourself for a moment. It’s very important.
  3. Now think of a time when you let yourself down in the craving or behaviour. So if you had given up smoking for a period and then you had a cigarette in a moment of weakness, that would be ideal. Try to remember the trigger that caused you do to it. Maybe a friend offered you one. Maybe you had a stressful day and you did it as you got into the car to drive home. We are looking for an external event that set the thing in motion.
  4. Now you have something, revisit that experience in your mind. The moment you start to get a picture or a memory of that experience happening press your thumb and finger again just the way you did before and at the same time say out loud to yourself “That”s right, and it isn’t a matter of whether you want a cigarette (or whatever the craving is), it’s a matter of whether you choose to be uncomfortable or not with that decision”.
    (Say this firmly but kindly to yourself as you press the thumb and finger together and then release them.)

    —–Distract yourself again by thinking about your favourite film, or a recent holiday.
  5. Now think of some situations that may happen in the future where the idea of that cigarette, or that other desired item or behaviour comes to mind, and imagine being totally repulsed by it and saying to yourself ‘good grief, I would never do that’.

By all means do this process again at another time. Even better get a friend to talk you through it so that you can concentrate on completing the steps as thoroughly and powerfully as possible. Of course the ideal would be to have an NLP practitioner work with you in this or a similar process.

Consider this a tool in your armoury to back up the many other tools and techniques that are available this month and throughout the year to become totally smoke free.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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