Authority Over the Cigarette Monkey

I’m in charge here.

When we promise someone that we will not smoke cigarettes, even if we promise them not to smoke for a limited amount of time, any amount of time, we give them authority over us. They are now in a position to punish or reward us when we fail or succeed in our endeavor not to smoke. The punishment will most likely be no more than a few words of disappointment mixed with reassurance [sic] enabling behavior. Enabling behavior is behavior we engage in towards an addict that despite our best intentions serves to further the addiction and not stem it. For example we shame an alcoholic for drinking, thereby amplifying their shame and driving them to drink more to suppress their amplified shame. Did we mention that addiction is irrational? Indeed? The need for authority is built into the human experience, we need someone or something to keep us in line. We are not speaking of authority in the form of police, government and courthouses. We need to be the final arbiters of authority in our own lives. Only our creator can punish or reward us. Other people such as governments have authority over us in so far as we willingly allow it and we are free to withdraw our consent when we see it fit. We cannot throw away all the cigarettes and stop all cigarette manufactures by authority of some law that we push through government, we have only addressed the symptoms, that we are unable to control the smoking habit. The monkey is wild and we need to tame that monkey. Each individual person needs to tame his or her own monkey. The more of us there are that have tamed their monkeys, the less need there will be for rules, regulations and laws. Tame monkeys will put the tobacco corporations out of business, no one will buy their products anymore. Trying to tame someone else’s monkey, with or without their consent, gives us control over their monkey and thus enable us to take away their self-control. When we attempt to tame someone else’s monkey we take away their power to tame their own monkey and leave them helpless under the whims of the monkey. The cigarette manufacturers have our monkeys locked in the 20-pack solitary confinement prison cells and it is up to us to free our individual monkeys. No one can tame the monkey for us, we need to do it for ourselves.

We need to take back the authority over ourselves and tame our own monkeys, we need to take back the power of choice. We need to reclaim our self-control. Far too long has the monkey been in charge and far too long have we been slaves to the demands of the restless monkey. We can choose to force our authority on the monkey with pain, quit cold turkey and suffer, or we can choose to tame the monkey with love and encouragement, thus earning the authority. We need to show ourselves that we can take charge of ourselves with love, compassion and understanding, not with pain and punishment. Far too long have we been punishing ourselves with tar and nicotine and for far too long have we been laying the foundations of disease inside our own bodies, as if our bodies were our enemies. It is time to stop the madness, we need to be compassionate, and we need to love our bodies and to respect our bodies. No one of us shows respect to our friends by slowly poisoning them with nicotine, so why do we gladly do it to ourselves? Don’t we deserve better? Is it really a viable strategy to mistreat our one and only vessel for experiencing earthy life? We feel weak and we try to punish ourselves out of being weak. Is feeling weak the same as being weak? We need to encourage ourselves to build up our strength. Inflicting pain does not solve the underlying issues, only the symptoms. Loving encouragement can bring our wounds to the surface where they can be healed, and our weakness will be transformed into strength. We need to stop denying our humanity. Every time we punish the monkey, we back it up into a corner. A cornered animal is a dangerous unpredictable animal and as soon as we let down our guard, it will go for the only relief it knows, the cigarette. Every time we treat the monkey with love and compassion we are gaining its trust and we find it willingly accepting our authority. The monkey does not understand why we smoke less and less, it enjoys the new-found strength and the effort we put into its well-being. We need to re-parent ourselves and replace the authority of fear and punishment with the authority of love and encouragement. We make mistakes, not to justify self-abuse and punishment, we make mistakes in order to learn and grow. If the authority of love was good enough for Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and Krishna, then it certainly is good enough for us. After all, aren’t we all human beings?

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