The Limits of Self Control – and Hypnotherapy to Stop Smoking

The Limits of Self Control

A few years ago, an article in Psychology Today by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D, covered a study by UC San Francisco researchers, Dikla Shmueli and Judith Prochaska, which showed that it’s not necessarily smart to attempt to change too many behaviours at one time, particularly when they concern your health.

 The Limits of Self Control

In Shmueli and Prochaska’s study, a group of smokers was told that they were participating in a challenge to see if they could resist the temptation of various types of snacks, including raw vegetables and baked goods. Each person sat alone in a room with a randomly-assigned food, with the challenge of looking at the food, smelling the food––but not eating it. After a while, the participants were given a break.

What the participants weren’t told was that what researchers really wanted to know was if resisting a sweet treat, as opposed to a healthy one, might lead to more people craving a cigarette during the break. So after the break, they analyzed the participants’ breath to see who had succumbed to a cigarette.

The researchers discovered that 53% of the participants who had had to resist something sweet lit up during the break, while only 34% of those who had resisted raw vegetables felt the need for a cigarette!

According to McGonigal, the researchers cited Roy Baumeister’s theory of self-control as a likely explanation. This theory posits that you only have a certain amount of self-control, and if it has been ‘weakened’ by resisting one temptation, it makes you more likely to succumb to the next.

So, if you want to give up smoking, don’t try to give up something else at the same time!

Hypnotherapy to Stop Smoking

So where does hypnotherapy come in? Well, if you want to give up smoking and you think you may not have the self-control to do it, hypnotherapy can be the answer. If you genuinely want to stop, hypnotherapy works together with your willpower to help you kick the habit. Any desire to smoke is usually completely gone after a single intensive session.

And then you can worry about using your self-control to resist something else. Chocolate anybody?

Article: The Science of Willpower by Kelly McGonigal PhD in Psychology today, June 9 2009.

The study McGonigal cites is: Shmueli, D. & Prochaska, J.J. (2009). Resisting tempting foods and smoking behavior: Implications from a self-control theory perspective. Health Psychology, 28(3), 300-306.

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  1. That’s a smart answer to a tricky quiteson

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