‘Growth’ vs ‘Fixed’ mindsets – and why it’s important to have a ‘growth’ mindset

Anyone interested in personal development will have come across the Henry Ford quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This quote is so often repeated because it encapsulates an essential truth – that self-belief…

Advice on stopping smoking and staying stopped

Although I should preface this article by saying that when I was a hypnotherapist I stopped taking 'stop smoking' clients as they were my least favourite type of client, wanting me to wave a magic wand without them having to take any responsibility.

This is what I've found works, however. A lot of smoking is habit (we do it on autopilot) and some of it is delivering some kind of psychological benefit (e.g. calming anxiety, something to hide behind when meeting new people, reward for doing stuff they don't want to do, etc). I suspect that when people are no longer in need of whatever payoff they were getting and are just smoking out of habit, that's when they can just decide to stop and have not trouble, like some of the cases described above.

I don't believe the physical addiction is as strong as people say it is, although I did read somewhere that there may be some genetic component. Since you can't change your genes (yet) and I imagine it would be pretty hard to test what sort of genes you have, it's best to regard genetics as just an excuse. The exception would be if you're a really heavy smoker, when the additional oxygen hitting your lungs combined with the sudden lack of nicotine may be a bit overwhelming – so tail off to 20 or less per day before stopping altogether.

So this is stuff I have found works:

1. Stop thinking of it as 'giving up' – this implies that smoking is some kind of amazing pleasure and implies you will really miss it. Obviously it isn't – as a drug it's a really crap one. This is one of the main points of the Allen Carr approach. Instead, think of it as 'embracing life' or 'saying yes to the future' or something – whatever works for you.

2. Keep a diary of every cig you smoke for a week – time, what you were doing/where you are, and how you were feeling at the time. This will identify the environmental and emotional triggers, and more importantly will make you mindful of every cig you smoke. Usually people see a reduction in the number they smoke just from doing this, because it tends to cut out the 'autopilot' ones – each cig becomes a conscious decision.

It's also a good test of motivation – if you can't be bothered to keep the diary, you probably won't be bothered sticking to staying clean.

3. Sit down with a pen and paper, clear your mind, and write down why you started smoking in the first place, and what, if anything, it gives you now. Often you find that the reasons you started in the first place – to be grown up, to be cool, to be a rebel, to give you confidence or whatever – have become irrelevant to you.

If there is anything left that smoking still gives you – and it's important to be honest with yourself here – then ask yourself how else you are going to supply that payoff. Write that down too and commit to yourself that you're actually going to do it.

4. Hypnotherapy can work amazingly well, but if you do go and see one, for heaven's sake make sure it's a good one and someone that you feel comfortable with and trust that they know what they are doing, otherwise you're just throwing your money away.

If you do go and see a hypnotherapist, don't have your 'last cigarette' on their doorstep, because it doesn't give them anything to work with. You need to be in a state of craving, because that's when you need the help (an insight that seems glaringly obvious in retrospect – thanks to Andrew Austin's brilliant NLP book The Rainbow Machine for pointing it out)

The quit-smoking market attracts the most profit-focused people in the hypnotherapy world (because that's where the money is), not necessarily the best hypnotherapists. If they are claiming a 95% success rate, I would view that claim with suspicion. What they might mean is that 95% didn't come back for the free follow-up session offered if the first one didn't work, probably because the clients found the experience of the first one so unpleasant.

I once did a survey of my former stop smoking clients – about 50% of them were still smoke-free. That's a pretty good success rate when compared to any other method, but I still saw it as 50% failure on my part. So after that I stopped seeing smokers.

I hope some of this helps!

Incidentally, you may wonder why I'm bothering to post this when I no longer see hypnotherapy clients and therefore the post will not directly attract customers to my business. Well – I wrote it in response to a query from someone I know, and it seemed a shame not to share it with the wider world.

Influence: Credibility – Develop your confidence (1)

you like to be more influential? In some contexts, such as sales, the
answer will be a no-brainer – "YES!" And actually, being more
influential will benefit you in pretty much any situation – making sure
that people are open minded enough to make the right decision,
contributing to a more positive emotional climate at work, or
convincing an interview panel that you are the right person for the

I'm focusing particularly on business and work here, but you may find these tips helpful in other contexts too.

generally teaches us that establishing rapport is the first step to
getting people to listen to you. In business (and increasingly in other
areas of life), however, there is a vital step that you need need to do

Establish Your Credibility

People are busy,
especially in business, especially these days. They don't have time (or
just as importantly, they don't feel they have time) to indulge people
or to hear them out on the off chance that they might have something
interesting. Instead, they employ quick-and-dirty mental strategies to
save them time and energy.

One of these strategies that comes
into play when you call them, or start your presentation, or even just
meet them socially, is to ask themselves, before they've even heard the
first word you say, something like "Is this person worth spending time
listening to, or are they a time-waster?"

From their point of view, you are worth a listen if:

  • you seem to know what you are talking about
  • your knowledge and experience is relevant to them, AND
  • you are someone they can take seriously

will make their judgement based largely on non-verbal factors – how you
dress, how confident and at ease you seem, and (for certain situations)
other factors like how educated you seem to be.

Of course you
can't please everyone. In the recent US presidential election, there
was a certain section of the white electorate who were never going to
vote for a black candidate, no matter how inspiring his oratory or how
well-qualified he was for the job. Fortunately, because Barack Obama
did everything that was within his power to establish his credibility,
he was able to change enough people's minds to achieve his historic

Now, you may not have Barack's powers of oratory, but
there are other things you can do to reassure people that you are worth
listening to. The most important – far outweighing the content of what
you say – is to be at ease with yourself.

Here's why: when a
group of people show up for a meeting, they are unconsciously looking
for a leader – and while you're presenting, that leader had better be
you. In these situations our unconscious minds are constantly scanning
the body language, facial expressions and voice tonalities of the
people present to pick up clues about the state of their relationships
to each other, and their relative status. One of the more obvious clues
to low status or inexperience is: does this person look nervous? Are
they sweating, is their voice trembling, do their facial expressions
express discomfort? Do they sometimes look around as if trying to find
an escape route?

All of these manifestations are the outward
signs of an unresourceful internal emotional state. If you get your
state sorted, they won't happen. You won't have to put up a front of
confidence, because you will actually be confident. So how can you do
this? In the next few newsletters I'll be sharing some practical tips
to make yourself more confident – here's the first one:

Relax – instantly!

and mind are one system. If your body is relaxed, it's impossible for
your mind to stay nervous. So use quick, effective techniques like
peripheral vision and centring to get yourself calm yet alert in the
moments before you step up to speak. These methods are described in the
web article "5 Ways to Relax Instantly" on my web site.

If you're attending our NLP Foundation Skills Diploma course in February, or the one-day Introduction to NLP course that I'm doing for Dreamcatchers on December 8th, you'll learn and practice these skills.

Relaxation CDOr
if you would like to take your 'background' levels of anxiety down, so
that you are starting from a calmer baseline, invest in my Relaxation CD (or download the relaxation audio for your iPod) – details at http://practicaleq.com/products/relaxation.html


Appreciative Therapy

And here's the research to prove it – Therapy works better when the therapist focuses on the client's strengths from the AI Consulting blog.

Now that we know that therapists get better results when they prepare by paying attention to the client's strengths, consider the implications for you:

  • if you are a manager, could you get better results from your team by focusing on their strengths rather than their weaknesses?
  • if you are in sales, could you have a better relationship with your customers and hence better sales if you focus on their good qualities as a customer?
  • if you are a teacher, could you get better results for your students if you focus on their strengths (actually, we've known that for ages from the "Pygmalion effect" or "teacher-expectancy effect")?
  • if you pay more attention to your strengths, will your performance (in whatever area) improve? We would expect it to.

Why not give it a go? Try this experiment:

Notice how you feel about your performance in an area of your choice and give it a score out of 10.

Now take 5 minutes (no longer, no less) to write everything that's good about your performance in that area – past achievements, signs of improvement, things you are proud of, whatever occurs to you as long as it's good.

Now, on the scale of 0 to 10, how do you feel about your performance now?

For a progressive, longer-lasting effect, keep an "Improvement Diary". Take a moment at the end of each day to write down any improvements that you've noticed. If you don't notice any straight away, you're not looking hard enough! There will be something.

Research findings from Positive Psychology suggest that over time your self-esteem and, interestingly, your objective performance will improve.