The problem of focusing on not wanting something

This is the last of a trilogy of articles inspired by reading Ozzy Osbourne’s “I am Ozzy” book. When having a break from reading my normal hypnosis books I still found myself thinking as a hypnotherapist. The following section from “I am Ozzy” really jumped out at me:

“Rehab can work, but you have got to want it. If you really want to quit, you can’t say ‘Well, I want to quit today, but I might have a drink next week at my friend’s wedding.’ You’ve got to commit, then live each day as it comes. Every morning, you’ve got to wake up and say, ‘OK, today’s gonna be one more day without a drink,’ or a cigarette, or a pill, or a joint, or whatever it is that’s been killing you. That is as much as you can hope for when you’re an addict”

To me this can only be written by someone that will still drink or smoke etc. If I ask you to set an alarm to go off every day at 6pm and when you hear it I absolutely do not want you to think of chocolate. That it is vitally important to you not to think of chocolate for 2 minutes after the alarm. What do you think the results will be? Perhaps you might even like to try it but my expectation is you will be thinking of chocolate at the time. In order to think of not doing something you have to think of what it is you are not wanting and you have failed.

If you are trying to give up buying chocolate from the tea lady at work the last thing you want to be thinking of when she comes around is anything to do with chocolate positive or negative.

Please don’t think of a cup a tea while reading this article. … Oh did you just think of one?

If Chocolate from the tea lady is a problem you want to beat what you want is to give yourself a positive thought when she arrives. If you feel you need to eat something spend some time thinking of your favourite piece of fruit. See it sitting there looking so appetising. Imagine its texture as you bite into it. Hear the sounds of you eating it. Then enjoy the taste as you chew. Really get into the full experience. Do this every time you think off the tea lady coming around.

If you find you don’t want anything from the trolley especially chocolate then find something positive and non food related to think of each time you think of the tea lady. Think how it feels to be full and so much slimmer, stronger and healthier. Imagine how it feels to have toned muscles like you did when you were younger. Feel how good it was to be so flexible and fit.

Draw on memories of how you want to feel. If you don’t have those memories think of someone that is how you want to be and imagine being them each time you think of the tea lady.

As I hit the final pages of the book I read

“After I had been sober for a while, I asked Sharon, ‘Can I have a drink now?’ All she said to me was, ‘You’re old enough to make up your own mind’. ‘But I have never been any good with choices,’ I said. ‘I always make the wrong ones.’ ‘Well do you want a drink, Ozzy?’ She said. For the first time in my life, the honest answer was ‘no’. In the old days, whenever I stopped boozing, I always used to think about the good times I was missing. Now, all I think about is how the good times always – and I mean f***ing always – turn bad”

It surprises me that both quotes were written by the same person. This last quote is from a person that is finally getting somewhere with the problem.

The problem is not the alcohol. It is the thoughts about alcohol. It is about controlling things. When you have really have control, you don’t need control because if you have control you can get it back whenever you want it. It is only when you don’t have control that you have to have it all the time, because if you lose control when you don’t have it, you won’t be able to get it back.

Ozzy by switching his thinking from the ‘what he is missing when not drinking’ to the ‘problems drinking has caused him in the past’ is finally starting to take control of alcohol. If he progresses far enough one day he will be able to have a pint of Beer and then stop because it just does not interest him. Alcohol is something he could drink but he is totally neutral about it. It is just something that exists in the world like sand. He can take it or leave it.

I feel sad for Ozzy that it took so long for him to get as far as he has but then not everyone knows about the resources available to them to help them overcome issues with minimum effort.

If you wish to discuss anything in this article please phone, e-mail or leave a comment. Your feedback is always appreciated.