Everyone wants to fit it, to be accepted, to be part of the tribe. It’s one of the most natural human instincts. I started smoking when I was sixteen in an attempt to be one of the cool girls. I wanted to appear sophisticated and adult and to join the mysterious and wonderful ‘cool ’ group of women who smoked.
Women’s handbags with cigarettes poking out (Black and silver JPS particularly) were the coolest thing me as a teenager, so refined, so stylish. This movie star style world I wanted to step into and join. Plus at sixteen I thought it looked incredibly sexy and I wanted to look cool, to BE cool.
I desperately wanted to be like these girls, so I had that first cigarette and although inhaling it was truly vile I gradually, with dedication, became a smoker – and smoke I did, for many years.
Smoking for me, for a long time, was associated with exciting, fun times. It was about growing up, joining the adult tribe, realising my own identity, rebelling against my parents and creating my own path in the world.
Sneaking off for a fag and laughing with my smoking friends, that perfect ‘marriage’ of a martini and a cigarette, being tipsy and smoking countless fun time fags, the ritual of sharing that last fag together, that cold beer and a cigarette on the beach…all of them I really enjoyed on many levels. The social inclusion, the distraction, the gift of a ‘treat’ to myself, the rebellion, the nervous release, the intimacy the comfort of smoking all deeply resonated with me.
In my 20’s I started to get sick of smoking and tried many times to give up. I read Allen Carr (as a lot of my friends were doing – he was the current guru) and a few of us gave up including me. Then I’d go out to a party and after a couple of drinks I’d be pinching everyone else’s cigarettes and smoking just as much as before – I just fooled myself I wasn’t really a smoker because I hadn’t bought them.
In my 30’s I was finally able to stop smoking because I wanted to have a baby. This was successful , I had the ultimate goal outside myself and I knew I had to stop to conceive. When I became a mother I then didn’t smoke for years as for me smoke and babies just didn’t mix.
Then the painful trauma of divorce reared its ugly head. By this time I was a practised and accomplished therapist with years of experience and countless hours of personal development under my belt, and yet, there I was sneaking a desperate and emotional cigarette every chance I got a moment alone.
I had a huge tool bag of skills to pick (I am trained and successful in clearing addictions for others) but nothing, nothing was stopping me from smoking. These fags weren’t fun, or enjoyable, they were desperate, and they stank and I could feel them hurting my body, my chest, my head, my skin – but I couldn’t stop.
Smoking was still a ‘friend’ to me it was reliably there when I needed a distraction from my current, painful story.
I tried everything, hypnosis, traditional EFT, NLP submodality change, meditation and even old fashioned will power. None of them hit the spot, because until I found something healing that I perceived was better than smoking to deal with my anxiety and loss nothing could replace it.
Finally in the spirit of flexibility I tried Picture Tapping Technique (a mix of EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques and Art Therapy). I was an experienced EFT Professional by this point and liked PTT but hadn’t used it on myself for a while, and with nothing to lose I set about with a colleague and put pens to paper to draw what this relationship was for me with cigarettes. The beauty of PTT is that with one picture you can cover a huge amount of unconscious aspects and cover a lot of ground very quickly.
To begin with I drew my unhappy feelings. My pictures tend to be very abstract so they were just dark colours and shapes and on each picture I tapped on myself and acknowledged what was there. As the process continued I started to draw all the fun I’d had smoking – the martini glass, the cigarette the laughter. As I tapped looking at this picture holding the ‘fun times’ I was angry, and emotional, this was FUN, I deserve some fun, I’m having a terrible time right now, I’m not giving this up! I love my martini and cigarette – I have to keep this!
I could feel energetically that something was happening and the next few pictures were non-descript and obviously representing my internal process working things through. Until finally I reached my resolution picture which was a representation of my lungs clean, clear, healed and whole. If felt right, it looked beautiful to me and it felt peaceful.
When we reviewed the pictures to see if there were any remaining aspects that still triggered me the ‘fun’ picture now looked utterly disgusting – dark and ugly and dangerous. No desire for this ‘fun’ remained.
From that moment on I haven’t considered cigarettes once. It doesn’t feel like I have given up or deprived myself of anything at all.
I treasure my healed, perfect lungs and have kept that beautiful resolution picture as a memento.
That is fun enough.
Picture Tapping is a fabulous technique that can be used for any problem, and is especially good for deeply unconscious patterns, addictions or family issues.
I regularly use it with clients and often is ‘breaks the chain’ of negative thought patterns in a way that nothing else does.
Please get in touch if you would like break and old pattern. Sessions can be run remotely over Skype too – all you need is some paper and pens.