With the new year, many of us have been making resolutions, and one very popular resolution is to quit smoking. We know that smoking cigarettes is unhealthy; it shortens our lives partly by increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases such as emphysema and various forms of cancer. Smoking even weakens our bones, as it increases the expression of genes that encourage bone breakdown at the expense of regeneration and strengthening. We know that there are increasing restrictions on smoking cigarettes, with their sale even banned in Bhutan and Turkmenistan. Quitting is difficult, however, but research does suggest that Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) could be an effective way to abandon those coffin nails for good.
How Can I Successfully Quit Smoking with Emotional Freedom Technique?
It is no secret that conventional, reductionistic and honestly quite paternalistic (belittling) methods to help clients quit smoking are often failures. Ninety-five percent of attempts at quitting are unsuccessful within a year, and there is still a risk of relapse afterwards. Success depends on experiences during the quitting and post-quitting phase, and how well interventions deal with the "benefits" of smoking.
Emotional Freedom Technique can directly address two of the biggest causes of sustained cigarette use: their function as a "tranquiliser" and withdrawal symptoms. Smoking is a common and once-accepted way of relaxation, of avoiding negative feelings. Withdrawal symptoms are typically emotional, such as anxiety and irritability, and can be worsened by the fear of experiencing them. Many people even think they mean that their body "needs" cigarettes! The therapeutic relationship with an EFT practitioner can help to deal with the other underlying cause, which is the powerful mental associations we can make between cigarettes and situations such as meeting with friends who smoke, stressful times or a favourite drink.
How Does Emotional Freedom Technique Work?
Emotional Freedom Technique combines tapping on a series of acupressure points with talking about the issue, as a safe form of exposure, with self-acceptance. As a result, you can tap on the problems yourself anywhere, any time after a consultation. The issues to be talked about and tapped on typically fall into two categories: what are the downsides to quitting, and what are the advantages of remaining a smoker? Some reported "downsides" include fear of losing friends; fear of weight gain and fear of losing part of one's identity. Even "If I quit, I will have to achieve more" has been reported by clients in Peta Stapleton's study! When it came to perceived advantages, statements included "I will remain thin", "I can be like my father" and "I can get away from people".
When using EFT, the exact words we tie to a situation or feeling are essential. For one client, tapping on "Even though I want this smoke, but I don't" had no effect. However, tapping on "Even though I have this habit and don't want to have this habit anymore" was effective in three rounds. This same client found that underneath this were feelings of self-consciousness, lack of goals in life and inadequacy in relationships. One month later, he found tobacco products too revolting even for special occasions and was more confident when asking to take breaks at work.
While more clinical trials may be necessary, EFT can be an effective aid if you want to quit smoking. If you would like an EFT session with me, click here or message me on my Facebook page. I am also taking expressions of interest and suggestions for a course aimed at helping smokers quit and maintain abstinence from cigarettes.