Last week’s blog on our road trip to Sobriety, was about the powerful and pervasive social conditioning around alcohol. About the ‘why’ so many of us rush towards the ‘joy’s’ of drinking at each and every opportunity.
Of what we are conditioned to feel that alcohol brings to our otherwise overstressed, time poor, slightly dull little lives. Of how it will lift us up (when in reality it has smashed us down), and how much more bright and shiny our world will be when it is running through our veins. I am going to make a wild guess here though and assume that as you are reading this blog, it has been a while since you have basked in any sort of golden alcohol glow.
Knowing you want to stop or cut down on your drinking, and seeing as you are taking the time to read my words, what is stopping you from putting down the bottle, and what are you looking for in this blog?
I know the answer to the first, and I hope in you accepting my response, I will start to answer the second. Remember, to get the best from what I offer to you, you must read these blogs with an open mind.
Ok, on top of the insanely dangerous social conditioning that sets our booze waggon rolling, it’s the emotions, the feelings (and the power that we give them), that we attribute to alcohol and it’s place in our lives, that takes the damn brakes off and sends us careening into the paralysis of our drinking (paralysed is the perfect word here, otherwise we would make the changes easily).
But let’s keep it real, alcohol wasn’t always a curse in our lives. At some point in our drinking history, booze was fun. It had to be otherwise we wouldn’t have stuck with it!
It did give us a confidence boost, it has made a dull evening brighter, a boring companion tolerable, a tough time easier- it has lived up to all its promises. Temporarily. And then it hasn’t. And we know it hasn’t, we can see its failure staring back at us in the mirror. So why do we seem to focus on the more distant past ‘good times’ as opposed to the more recent (excuse me) shit storms?
Why are we not put off drinking wine at the end of the day by the fact we know it worries and depresses us, disrupts our sleep, causes the hated ‘wine waist’, makes us irritable, upsets our precious children, husbands/pets…..even my dog didn’t like me drinking?
The answer lies in our Unconscious Mind. In our thinking. I am not going to get all spiritual on you (or me), it’s not my thing, but I do now understand the supreme power of our thoughts.
Our Unconscious Mind cannot see or hear and does not understand logic. It is responsible for keeping us alive and safe. It regulates our breathing and body temperature. It tells us when to sleep and eat, when to run from danger. And it is our profound memory keeper. It stores all our memories, those that we consciously remember and those that we don’t. All our happy times and all our unhappy ones.
It randomly stockpiles all our memories and then throws up to us, in times of perceived stress and unhappiness, what it ‘remembers’ has alleviated our pain in the past, and for those of us who struggle with drinking, it is alcohol that it remembers and it is alcohol that is thrown up to ‘save’ us.
In fact, that is exactly where the struggle comes from. If our Unconscious Mind didn’t hold on to the memory that alcohol has offered us some solace in the past, that we had felt better/safer/happier when we had a drink in our hand and down our throat, it wouldn’t even come into our thinking! Read that again, it is both powerful and true.
In the present, even though alcohol no longer offers us any support and is the cause of our pain, our Unconscious Mind doesn’t recognise that fact because not only does it not see or hear, it cannot process negatives! It cannot acknowledge our desperate conscious thoughts of “I don’t want to drink”, it deletes the “I don’t want to” bit, feels the desperation and is left with one word, DRINK!
So, when our Unconscious Mind senses our anticipation of pain, of our expected inability to cope, our despair, and, in its best attempt to comfort us in the moment, it sends us booze. Then, when we try to deny our Unconcious Mind’s attempt to comfort us, our anxiety and upset increases and brain starts to bloody scream “DRINK FOR GOD SAKE!” at us!
Our thinking becomes overwhelmed with the strongest urges for alcohol. The one thing we want to avoid. And, with feelings of powerlessness and lack of control, we grab the wine glass, get the hit of alcohol, feel a temporary relief (it is a powerful drug), and alcohol is further reinforced in our Unconscious Mind as the panacea to all our problems. WTF!
Do you recognize your thinking, your drinking behaviour here? And does this all sound too simplistic to you?
It is simple, but we are conditioned (again that word) to believe there is so much more to making personal change, to addiction and recovery, and that is why the understanding of your drinking (or any unhappy habit) is so important.
If you understand where the urges come from and why, you can at least breathe a small sigh of relief in knowing the emotional acrobatics you are experiencing.
I have said in previous blogs that you cannot change anything you don’t understand. However, once you understand how we all function as humans (we all react in the same way, it’s just drinking has become ‘our way’), we can start to un-weave our innocently faulty thinking and conditioning around alcohol, and in doing so begin re-directing our Unconcious Minds to the place of peace and balance it is always striving to maintain for us. That, coupled with the choices you will be able to make and own, will ultimately bring you to freedom.
Exercise. Before you reach for your next drink, knowing you want to quit, ask yourself,
- “What emotion am I feeling/fearing?
- How do I think this drink will make me feel?
- What am I saying to myself to justify my drinking?
In one column write the answers you feel to be true (Unconcious Mind) In the second, write down the answers you know to be true (Concious Mind). Look at the differences.
Next week in Understanding Your Drinking (part 3), I will tell you how to start re-wiring your Unconscious Mind, your innocently faulty thinking, and the importance of being kind to yourself in the process.
Check out my Working With Me & Practical Techniques for Recovery pages to see how I help others who are struggling x
Let me know if you need any help.
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Love & respect
PS, Be brave, be strong and know that you are not alone and you are definitely NOT your habit. x