Greg* was a very fed-up young man. “I just feel that I’ve made a stupid decision. If I could I’d go back in time and change things. Is that something you can help me to do?”. I work in a therapy room not a Tardis, so time travel is out. But therapy does enable people to make changes, so I asked Greg to tell me more.
“I started vaping about three years ago, and I really got into it. Different liquids, different tanks and coils – there was such a lot to it, more than I’d realised. I even got a job in a vape shop I was that into it. But it’s got completely out of hand. I’m vaping at my new job when I shouldn’t and where I shouldn’t and I’m on a warning about it. I’ll take any opportunity to vape.”
Indeed, I’d seen Greg emitting a cloud of steam the Flying Scotsman would have been proud of in the car park. But it wasn’t work worries that had brought him to see me.
“I’m really worried about my health” he told me. “I was following this girl on Instagram and she’s developed lung cancer or something.” He meant Maddie Nelson, an Instagram influencer who developed a rare form of pneumonia and nearly died after promoting the vaping lifestyle since 15.
“Plus now they’re saying it’s bad for your heart. My dad’s had two heart attacks, so I can’t afford to take any chances there. Plus I’ve got a permanently bad throat. Do you think that you can help me to give it up?”
I reminded Greg that he hadn’t been born vaping. In fact he’d only taught himself to do it three years ago. Did it come naturally I asked him? “Not at all, I really had to push myself at first. I’d never smoked so it was very alien at first to feel all that in my throat and my lings. I just used the same thing I did when I started drinking – disguised it with a sweet flavour I already liked. “
As Greg had taught himself to start, he could teach himself how to stop, I told him. After all, vaping hadn’t stopped him from being able to learn.
“It’s just that I’m relying on it more and more. I’m even sneaking it out of my bag at work when I’m in client’s houses, or even in cafes to have a quick couple of puffs with a coffee. I want to stop, but I can’t imagine life without it to tell you the truth.”
And that’s the space that so many people find themselves in. Wanting to stop a habit, but not being able to imagine themselves being without it. That’s one of the reasons hypnotherapy can be so effective, because it lets us tap into our imagination, and really see a life free from that old habit. Once we’ve tasted success like that, even in imagination, it becomes much easier to believe in.
That was a large part of what we did with Greg. His friends still vaped, and we both agreed that it was important that he didn’t learn to hate it. Instead we got him to see really clearly how he had a choice whether to vape or not, and that was a choice he made every time he picked it up.
We took that idea of choice and just got Greg to experience that sense of success and freedom straight away every time he decided not to. He’d been worried about how much willpower he had, but this way he didn’t need any. That’s because we made choosing not to vape even more enjoyable than vaping was for him.
The result was a much happier Greg when he called me a couple of weeks later. “I’m not missing it at all” he told me “not the smell, or the taste. Instead I just feel free – free from vaping and free from the worry it brought me.”
*Greg is happy to share their story, and their identity has been protected
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