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It is said that generally all positive intentions have a cascading effect as a positive action.

However, in psychology we understand that all behaviour whether good or bad has some positive intention. Seemingly surprising, isn’t it? But when we look deeper than the surface this is the truth. So as per psychology every behaviour has a positive intention. The behaviour may be dysfunctional but it has some positive intention.

We will be taking the example of smoking to understand this. Smoking is one of the most common addictions in the world.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. It causes a huge number of deaths worldwide each year and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other serious illnesses. People who smoke are more likely to experience mental health issues like depression, anxiety and stress.

It’s also one of the most dangerous addictions out there. A person who smokes regularly finds it very difficult to quit smoking. Withdrawal symptoms include shaking, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety and depression—and that’s just the beginning.

Let’s begin by understanding what causes people to smoke in the first place. Smoking is a common practice among many people because it releases endorphins into the body, which makes them feel good and relaxed. These physiological experiences of pleasure or relief can be luring especially for those who are trying to quit smoking and makes it extremely difficult for them to quit smoking.

When someone tries to quit smoking, they have a difficult time deriving the same physiological high from other alternative sources by anything other than cigarettes or cigars because their brain associates nicotine with pleasure and happiness.

This is responsible for the yo yo effect which the smoker keeps reeling under.

Smoking is a habit that can be hard to break. It can also be hard to quit, especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time. If you’re trying to quit now and are having trouble, we can help!

We offer psychological services to people who smoke and want to stop. Our goal is to provide you with the support you need to make your dream of quitting smoking a reality.

To drive home the truth of positive intentions behind a compulsive behaviour such as smoking, let’s take a case study.

As a therapist, I would like to highlight one of the recent cases that I have had in this regard

At the discovery session the client (Rahul) starts talking about the behaviour of smoking he wants to change. I understood that on some days he smokes at least a pack of cigarettes. His wife and little daughter are totally fed up. In fact, he says when he comes home his little daughter wrinkles up her little nose and refuses to allow him to pick her up or love her. This hurts him very much. The smell of smoke on his body upsets both his wife and daughter. His wife also turns away her face and goes about chores in a monotonous way. He wants to give up smoking but is unable to. From this it is very obvious that he loves his family very much. The next question is what are the gains or benefits he derives from this addictive habit of smoking.

Rahul says it gives him a feeling of deep relaxation.

There are two ways in which I can work with Rahul. The first is the

  1. The conscious method
  2. The next is the unconscious method.

Conscious Method: In this method the person mainly relies on his will power to quit smoking. At times it can be a continuous tussle between his will power and desire to smoke.

The Unconscious Method:

In this case I choose the Unconscious method.

The utility of Positive Intention is bought distinctly here.

Positive Intention: The first presupposition of NLP which is very important to remember.

There is always a positive intention behind every behaviour. Whether the action is good or bad, a person’s behaviour always has a positive intention. If you find a person behaving the way you don’t want him/her to behave, or you don’t understand the behaviour, it doesn’t mean that he/she has a negative intention behind that behaviour.


  • Suppose, you ask someone to lend some money for a couple of days and the person denies, it is definitely a negative answer for you but there will definitely be a positive intention for that person to say no to you. Maybe he/she does not want to take the risk OR he/she does not have enough money to support you. Whatever the reason, the intention is positive.
  • Another example to understand this presupposition; if you are a manager or manage a team and your team member is not performing well maybe that’s because he is under learning or he is more focused on perfection and does not want to disappoint. If you look into the real reasons for underperformance then you will have better ways to improve his performance and your management style instead of getting disappointed and bringing conflict in your working relationships with your team.

With Rahul, the technique used is the Reframing method to facilitate Rahul quit smoking.


Reframing, in the therapeutic sense, is about looking at a situation, thought, or feeling from another angle. It is a method of contacting the unconscious and working with the unconscious to find out alternative behaviours.

The heart of reframing is to make the distinction between the intention and the behaviour. Then new more acceptable behaviours can be sought which satisfy the same intention.

Some situations where Reframing can be used are

  • Changing of a habit.
  • Stop doing something that is currently being done.

In the recent case of Rahul smoking the benefits that Rahul gets from smoking is a feeling of relaxation.

What are the other things that relax him? According to him,

  1. seeing his daughter’s face sleeping comfortably on his shoulder. With a smile on her face.
  2. Going to the beach.
  3. Drinking a hot cup of green tea
  4. Drinking lime water

So, in this case the intention of getting relaxation has to be be reframed with other more acceptable behaviours which could be any 1 from the above or more than 1.

After the therapy sessions, Rahul called up to say that he no longer feels like smoking. Just to check himself whether it was his willpower or the therapy, one day he kept both a cup of green tea and a packet cigarette with his favourite lighter on his work table. But his hand instinctively reached for the cup of green tea.

We thus see that working with positive intentions and Reframing is a very powerful technique to change behaviour and achieve desired behaviour. We saw Rahul shift from his addiction to smoking to having a healthy cup of green tea. This brought about massive changes in his personal family life, his health.and his happiness.


From the above case study, we conclude that Reframing is a technique that can be used effectively to change behaviours. When we make regular use of techniques that facilitate changes that are conducive, we put ourselves in a much healthier mindset. And, ultimately, this leads to a great positive shift in your quality of life.

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Jyoti Gujaran
Show full profile Jyoti Gujaran Practitioner

I am a Transformative Relationship Coach and NLP practioner. I am backed with approximately over a decade and half years of experience. My experience has been in the corporate sector where I was in charge of HR activities and also the in house counsellor for +500 strength organization. Post my corporate experience I also worked at the grass root level in an NGO to understand the social sector in depth.

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