Carol Dacosta took a drag of her cigarette as she stood outside the office of her friend and certified hypnotist Kathy Lindert. For weeks, Kathy had been encouraging her to try hypnosis for smoking by saying, “Just give it a try. I can get you to quit smoking, just like I did!” Carol exhaled a long trail of smoke, thinking, Good luck with that.
Though the New Jersey EMT knew the health risks of smoking, her attempts at quitting had never lasted. She was now in her forties, and smoking had been her go-to coping mechanism in times of stress and anxiety for decades — and hypnosis isn’t going to change that, she thought skeptically.
Still, as a mother to a young son, Carol knew she had to try.
Recently, she’d been feeling drained, with no energy to kick the ball around with her little boy, no stamina to get through her long days on the job and, scariest of all, she’d been experiencing shortness of breath.
But as she stubbed her cigarette out, doubt surged through her. “It’ll never work,” she said, reassuring herself that there was a pack in her car to smoke after the session. Little did Carol know that when she walked into Kathy’s office, nothing would ever be the same.
“Take a seat!” Kathy welcomed her. “I’m so glad you came!”
In no time, Carol was sitting in a comfortable chair, opening up to Kathy about her family and the struggles she had faced in her life, from the loss of her parents, sister, and several miscarriages.
As she settled in for the hypnosis part of the session, Kathy encouraged Carol to close her eyes and envision her favorite place — the beach. Imagining the crashing waves and the sun on her face, Carol felt deeply relaxed, listening as Kathy discussed how much better she’d feel when she stopped all the triggers that led to her habit.
“You are the CEO of your mind and body,” Kathy assured. “You’ve told yourself so many times, ‘I can’t quit smoking’ or ‘I’ll try’ — but now, we’re going to say ‘I will, I can, and I am going to quit smoking.’”
Repeating the words, Carol felt relief wash over her. After their relaxing 2-hour session was over, Carol climbed back into her car. The pack of cigarettes was still on her seat, but for the first time in years… she felt no desire to smoke them.
Those same cigarettes spent a whole year in Carol’s car, unsmoked — and today, seven years on, the 54-year-old hasn’t taken a single puff. “It’s all about helping people change the way they speak to themselves, the way they react and the way they think subconsciously,” says Kathy, who also offers hypnosis strategies to quit smoking on her website, the Mental Edge, LLC.
“Thanks to Kathy, and just one session of hypnosis, I’m healthier than ever!” Carol says. “I have so much energy, but, most important, I’m in control of me!”
3 Other Great Ways to Kick the Habit
Move for 15 minutes: You’re 55 percent more likely to quit — and stay smoke-free — if you get 15 minutes of daily exercise, say British scientists. The study co-author says motion calms brain nerves that fuel the urge to smoke, so cravings are weaker and easier to ignore.
Download an app: Tracking cravings and smoking triggers on a free app (like Smoke Free for iPhone or QuitGuide for Android) helps give you the skills you need to quit. UCLA researchers say it can double your odds of success!
Reach out to others: When willpower wavers, getting help from a successful ex-smoker who understands what you’re going through makes you three times more likely to quit, say researchers at Louisiana State University. Simply try an in-person or online support group like Become an EX or Nope365.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.