Why do people smoke and become addicted?
To stop smoking we first need to understand why we are doing it. In most cases people start smoking for a sociality issue, the cigarette is:
- A facilitated access to friendships / attentions
- A gun that makes us feel stronger, a test of fire
- Something that enhances our charm
Smoking tobacco makes us feel special but not strange, a bit ‘damn and incredibly cool.
How much are we (truly) aware of the damage?
From a theoretical point of view, any smoker knows and understands that he is offending his body, so:
- Why do we not stop smoking spontaneously?
- Is it possible that we are all so self-destructive?
- Which animal can consciously damage itself?
If we stop for a moment to think: to pass hot smoke inside our respiratory system is an extremely absurd activity for a human being. Normally, living beings move away from what burns and emits suffocating substances.
The fact is that:
- We do not realize the negative effects – In itself, it should be extremely simple, something like “I do not want B, A cause B, I do not want A”; for example, the first time we touch the flame, we understand that it burns, the nerves instantly alert the brain and for the rest of his life, a normal person will avoid touching the fire; the problem is that the deterioration of our organism is (relatively) so slow and gradual that it does not seem to exist; not feeling immediate pain or malaise does not give us the measure of what we are suffering
- We spend our lives pretending – The human mind is used to accept superficially something as “true” (smoking damages health) but not necessarily to act consequentially (stop smoking); we are (unconsciously) used to being inconsistent because coherence costs a price of effort and fatigue (physical and mental)
- We avoid facing the topics that we do not like – In the absence of serious stimuli (body deterioration, cancer, etc.), we simply do not change, we believe we can have a superior freedom to the one of the others; we think that after all, to us, smoking is not doing so badly; so we spend years with shortness of breath, trouble breathing (etc.) until the illusion ends and, most of the times, it’s too late
Absence of rationality
Smoking hurts extremely slowly and our mind falls into a dull absence of rationality:
- Smoking damages health, but not mine
- Tumors come to others, maybe for predisposition
- Impotence is totally disconnected
- Brain cells lost are only a few parts
- The heart attacks are rare
- The growth limitation is a myth
- The breasts problems are fantasies
- It’s all false, people envy my courage and the social position that gives me the passage of smoke inside my body…
So, without thinking, we light one after another thousands and thousands of votive candles to that goddess Death, a goddess that we do not believe but that listens, silently, to all our invocations. Death is not stingy with graces and incessantly answers our prayers; it is enough for us to accept his soul through our lungs and millions of times we are honored with widespread discomfort, various shortcomings until the most coveted gift: a slow, frustrating and painful death.
A note by Master Kongling – I’ve written the original version of this article a lot of years ago, when I’ve stopped smoking. Only now I understand how these words were “extreme” but I have decided to republish them because a lot of people found these thoughts useful, first of all, me. My idea is and remains to share everything I’ve found working, both in martial arts both in other aspects of life so… here we are… it would be fantastic if this series of articles lead at least one of you to stop smoking.
Smoking: the path that we follow
This is the phases that, on average, a smoker follows:
- Acceptance of the humiliation (1-2 cigarette a day) – The first step is the acceptance of the humiliation of aspiring smoke (from the taste more than horrendous), in exchange for which we obtain (or we think to obtain) affirmation, admiration and / or acceptance in a specific social group; we think to gain what everyone wants without effort, without using personality, a great profit; we feel strong, smoking does not give us any pleasure but we appear great doing it; alone we would never smoke, phase 1
- No real discomfort (3-5 cigarettes a day) – We continue to smoke because we do not feel real discomfort, maybe it takes a light heavy breath but nothing worrying; nicotine slowly begins to like to us, friends continue to look at us as we like and we are unconsciously sure we have the control over the situation; when we are alone, we do not smoke… too much; addiction may have already started, phase 2
- Smoking becomes a habit (10-15 cigarettes a day) – Something that binds us to other people, the right choice for empty moments, the ideal filling of breaks and absences of topics to discuss; we need our cigarettes and if we remain without we become nervous; we think that the ills are for those who smoke more than us, sometimes we self-justify deceiving ourselves to have a passion for tobacco and that there are things that do more harm; we are still convinced to smoke by choice and (unconsciously) to be able to stop at will, without effort, phase 3
- Cigarettes become the first thought (from 20 cigarettes a day onwards) – Cigarettes become the first thought when we wake up and the last before we sleep; we begin to believe we need them to concentrate, to digest, to defecate, to fully enjoy anything; we can not stay up more than 30-45 minutes without smoking; the need is almost physiological, we can stay without eating but not without smoking; only now we begin to vaguely understand that we cannot stop, phase 4
What obstacles stand between us and stop smoking?
As for smoking, as for every other thing that requires self-discipline (read Having discipline: do not contradict ourselves), it’s because of:
- Lack of concentration
Every time we choose a loophole to our problems, an “easy” solution, we are weakening us:
- We think that because smoking is legal it can not be so harmful, false
- We think that nicotine is not able to get the better of us, false
- We think that others will have problems, that the others will die, false
- We think, without the pack of cigarettes in our pocket, we do not worth anything, true (until now)
In the next article of this series, we will continue the discussion about stop smoking.
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.