The Original Sin of Smoking

Forgive me for I have sinned…

There is a strong theoretical basis for the theory of original sin, if we are willing to see original sin not as a physical act, rather, a symbolic act. Original sin is thus: Once a sin has been committed, other sins will surely follow, the damn has been breached and Pandora’s Box is now wide open. It is human to err and it is human to sin and we inherit our humanity from our ancestors and the more we give into temptation, the harder it is to resist. Once the initial often gruesome threshold of emotional agony and shame has been passed, it becomes less morally torturous to continue. Sin is to aim for a target and miss it. Shooting an arrow at a target and missing is a sin, there is not damnation, only trying again. When we smoke our first cigarette, it becomes easier to get hooked on smoking and many other cigarettes will follow. Once we taste our first beer, it becomes easier to fill our fridge with beer “just in case we get company.” Once we win, even if a little, it is easier to spend all night at the slot machine. Why do we obsess with the first cigarette? Because at one point or another in the future, when we have tamed monkey, we will not be so much concerned with that second cigarette or the third or the fourth cigarette, it is the first cigarette that opens Pandora’s box and that is where the line of defense will be established and defended. When we have attained true freedom of choice, the real choice will be regarding the first cigarette. The second cigarette and the third and the rest of the 20-pack, when we think about it, are part of the choice to smoke the first cigarette. The first cigarette is the original sin. We can convince ourselves that only one cigarette will do and we will write a book of excuses and assurances that it will only be one cigarette. There is no “just one cigarette”, this is monkey reasoning. The monkey wants to go back to the habit and the first cigarette is its goal and when it achieves that, it switches targets to the next cigarette. The monkey is tricky when it comes to obtaining what it wants, we cannot demand logic and reason from the monkey. We can only offer it loving compassion and patience.

The longer we extend our time limit for the first cigarette of the day, the later the first smoking occasion will obviously be. Essentially the second cigarette of the day becomes the first cigarette when we abstain from the first cigarette. Later on, the third cigarette of the day will be promoted to the honorable first cigarette position and then the forth and so on. Every cigarette, with time, will be the first cigarette of the day and over time we will have defeated each and every smoking occasion by moving it to the first spot and giving it attention. We are cultivating the habit of non-smoking over an extended period of time. With the passage of enough time, any cigarette is the first cigarette, and it is the first cigarette that we want to focus our effort and attention on. As we are pushing the time limit to become longer, we are practicing abstaining from every smoking occasion we can conceivably encounter throughout any given day. We are not quitting smoking, we are practicing non-smoking. Over time and with enough practice, there is no effort to non-smoking, it becomes part of the subconscious programming. We are reversing the development of the smoking habit.

According to the 21 days program of the NLP community, the 21 days of cold turkey, we “simply” don’t smoke for 21 days and the habit of smoking is replaced by non-smoking. This would work in a perfect world if it weren’t for the intense pain and cravings combined with prolonged abstinence from the only relief we know. When we cut off the drug supply after a prolonged period of drug use, all we are practicing is denying ourselves the relief that the drug has become. We live a life of denial, we deny ourselves the relief of smoking and we deny that abstinence is taxing on the body and mind and we deny having problems at work and we deny that some of our relationships need work. We live in denial and are just trying to cope with the immense pressure that we used smoking to suppress which now just keeps piling up inside our bodies. After the initial trauma has settled, we abstain from smoking because we remember how awful it was to quit, until enough time has passed and we forget the pain and the monkey rationalizations begin, just one cigarette.

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