You Only Have What You Give

Consider the warnings on cigarette packaging. If you glance inside a well stocked tobacco products cabinet nowadays, it’s like viewing a scene from a poor horror movie, or paying a visit to a very distressing hospital ward or mortuary. The question is, does this put smokers off? It might have an impact on those who don’t smoke, yet those who already have the habit, aren’t likely to care. They already play the ‘lung cancer lottery’ and many seem happy to do so. The advice on cigarette packaging is largely ignored.

“In some ways this has a lot to do with how the advice is dispensed”

Scare tactics might work for some, at least for a while, yet during my time as a Hypnotherapist, it was positive reinforcement, of the benefits to ceasing smoking, that seemed to hit the mark. In my experience, all aversion therapy tends to do, is reinforce the guilt potentially driving the habit in the first place. With that in mind, what are the horrors – portrayed on tobacco product packaging – doing to the observer, at an unconscious level? Guilt is self-destructive.

“Getting rid of guilt is a tricky business”

It’s an emotion instilled into the mind of the average human from a very early age. If we advise parents to show caution, in how they teach the kids, we must do this through reinforcing the benefits to well considered methods. The guilt free tend to live happier, healthier lives after all. And so, when needing to set boundaries, do we reinforce positive behaviour and ignore the bad? Not really, no. What we must do, is find a way to help children realise the benefits to good behaviour, and the limitations of bad. If we shout: “stop that it’s naughty” we teach guilt. If we ignore the bad but gently say: “if you share your toys with Johnny he’ll play nicely with you” we’re more likely to be on a winner.

In an ideal world, the key, is to never instill guilt to begin with. When it comes to removing established guilt, far better to say: “You have nothing to fear as you seek a beautiful, healthy life, as a non-smoker.”

In addition to how advice is dispensed, the reason for why it’s so often ignored, often comes down to disbelief. We just don’t believe the way someone else does things, could be better, than the way we’ve been taught. Also, it’s the confident and self-assured, who’re better at acknowledging the usefulness of clever advice. Contrary to this if we have a fragile ego, combined with a lack of confidence, advice can be seen as an attack and threat to an already shaky sense of self. Our behaviour becomes our identity, and to question that, questions who we are? An instilled doubt many can’t cope with. Who are you exactly?

“If we say who you are is actually something quite different to what you’ve been taught to believe, we put in doubt those things we hold dear: our identity”

When the guilty, fully realise how guilt is a destructive control-rod over their lives, they often turn things around. Gentle advice comes from a voice of compassion and love as opposed to fear and control. If you’re in the business, of advising people how to live better lives, remember it’s the guilty who teach guilt in the first place.

“Removing our own guilt is done through advising in a guilt free manner”

To be whiter than white is impossible, we learn from our mistakes. However, how we feel about the things we’ve done, is a choice. We must question what purpose feeling guilty about past errors actually serves.

Sometimes it’s serves us well to have an awareness of the past before we can move forward. If all we do is lock away negative feelings they’ll drive us in negative ways. Briefly opening up those wounds, and moments of regret, reminds us of who taught us the guilt. Was it a parent from within your own mind? Be a better parent to yourself and reinforce the good. Gently closing the wound now, having removed the irritant, from under the skin.

Some advice is designed to free the person giving it. After all, we only have, what we give. Be free.

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