A 55-year-old man came to my office recently in order to quit smoking. Hi didn’t book his appointment, his wife booked it for him.
During the course of my initial, information gathering session I’ve learned that his motivation to quit smoking was near zero.
He not only had no motivation to quit smoking, he didn’t even know that he came for hypnosis. He thought, he was going to receive some sort of an acupuncture treatment.
I saw him from my office window when he arrived, driven by his wife. Right after he got out of the car, he lit up a cigarette and started smoking amidst the horrible coughing spells.
I knew - even before he entered my house - that I was going to have in my office an addict in his end-stage, in terms of his ability to handle the physiological effects of his addiction.
What he told me confirmed the correctness of my observations. He told me that upon lighting up his first cigarette in the morning he coughed terribly, bringing up large amounts of phlegm. He also told me that he coughs a lot through the night.
His father was a smoker who died of a throat cancer at the age of 75, and my client wasn’t even expecting to live as long as his father did.
He considered dying of a throat cancer much sooner than his father as a real possibility.
After what I’ve told you above, you may think that this was a hopeless case.
And yet, drawing upon my 10 years of experience of working as a respiratory therapist, I was able to get my client interested in the actual physiological mechanism of his coughing affliction.
I made a few drawings for him, showing him what was happening in his body, and as I proceeded with my mini-lecture on the physiological effects of smoking, my client seemed to become interested in NOT ACTUALLY DROWNING IN HIS OWN PHLEGM.
I finally had in front of me someone who was at least to some degree interested in breaking his 3-pack-a-day habit.
Another thing that was working for both of us was my client’s very pleasant “way of being”.
From the very beginning - even though he honestly expressed the truth of his near-zero-level of motivation to quit smoking - in some paradoxical way he was very pleasantly and very cheerfully open to the possible benefits of our sessions.
He also seemed to have a very “good soul” - kind and sensitive, and free of any grandiose ideas about himself.
I’m reporting this case because it shows that what initially presents itself as a hopeless situation, may actually turn itself into a vision of the “light at the end of the tunnel”.
Mainly, because of my clients so very pleasant demeanor, and his openness to go through our sessions, I am quite hopeful in terms of the final results of our engagement.
I think, I will be able to help this man mainly because it is very easy for me to relate to him.
He doesn’t throw any blockages, any psychological posturing between me and himself.
In spite of his initial, near-zero-level of motivation to quit smoking, HE IS NOT RESISTING the engagement in our hypnosis sessions.
This totally open, free from resistance attitude is the very foundation of successful hypnosis.
It is possible to perform a very successful work in hypnosis based solely on this kind of an attitude.
I am honestly looking forward to seeing my client again because I know that I may be able to help him.
Follow Up #1
The first working session of hypnosis with my "near-zero-motivation-client" was a great success.
I decided to use in this session one of my favourite techniques - the hand levitation technique of trance induction, and my client's subconscious mind showed a great willingness to cooperate.
This subconscious willingness to cooperate is one of the most important ingredients of successful hypnosis sessions.
It appears that in spite of my client's "near-zero" motivation to quit smoking on the conscious level - his subconscious mind is greatly motivated to help him quit his deadly habit.
Follow Up #2
When my "near-zero-motivation-client" came for his second working session of hypnosis, he reported that he still smoked the same amount but coughed much less.
Realizing that the standard hypnotic techniques, which I use to help my clients quit their smoking addiction, may no be enough to dislodge the 3-pack-a-day smoking habit from my client's psycho-phisiological system, I decided to shift our engagement from the level of a mere hypnosis to the level of the spiritual healing, combined with the hypnotic suggestions designed to evoke feelings of deep disgust for smoking.
Follow Up #3
When my "near-zero-motivation-client" came for his third working session of hypnosis, he reported that after our second session (the spiritual healing session, combined with the hypnotic, disgust-for-smoking engendering suggestions), which took place in the early morning - he was totally free from any desire to smoke for the rest of the day.
This result is quite incredible considering the strength of his smoking addiction and the level of his initial motivation to quit smoking.
On the second day after our second working session, my client smoked just a few cigarettes, noticing that the smell of the cigarette smoke became quite unpleasant to him.
During the rest of the week he slowly increased the number of cigarettes smoked.
Considering the great results achieved by our second session of hypnosis, our third session continued in the same vein.
We were both very optimistic about being on the right track towards my client's final liberation from the chains of his smoking addiction.
Follow Up #4
When my "near-zero-motivation-client" came for his fourth working session of hypnosis, he reported that he was smoking 1-pack-a-day - significantly less than his usual 3-packs-a-day.
When he came for the fifth session, he reported the same situation.
In spite of the significant drop in the numbers of the cigarettes smoked, my client cancelled his sixth session and quit on our further engagement.
Was his decision to quit our sessions a right decision?
Well, if you smoke 3-packs-a-day, and find out that you are totally OK on 1-pack-a-day - the chances are that if you persist in the process, you may be OK smoking only 1/2-pack-a-day, 1/4-pack-a-day, and eventually nothing at all.
Considering the fact that my client has made a significant progress in terms of the numbers of the cigarettes smoked, I believe that his quitting was an unfortunate decision.
He experienced a progress towards the achievement of his goal - and yet, in spite of it - terminated what seemed to be working.