Destroying Your Desire to Drink (page 3)
The idea is to make the old perspective really have to FIGHT to exist. Unlike the perspective you’re creating (a perspective you welcome and permit to exist without effort or resistance…a perspective that you reward and rewards you) if the old perspective shows itself, you will challenge it. If it seems to have the “upper hand,” never waiver in your determination to attack and weaken its influence.
Even if, lost in this temporary “old and unwanted” mindset, you DECIDE to drink; do not approach it as a loss or an act of surrender…it is not. Know that YOU are making the decision, know WHY you are making the decision (because of an old and unwanted perspective that is currently clearer than the one you aim to create) and make a study of it.
When I first started trying to stop drinking, I’d “struggle” and “fight” urges (not really sure of what was causing them) and then I’d eventually throw my hands up in the air and just go full throttle in the opposite direction. “Ah, FUCK IT!...I’m going to get FUCKED UP tonight!!!” This of course was counterproductive on a number of levels. One, it made me totally reckless about how I approached the drinking, and it also had an underlying connotation that carried over: “Why try to stop? You’re just going to drink again…”
In the later years, I began taking a more mature approach. First, I stopped accepting it was inevitable that I would “always end up drinking again.” Instead, I leaned more towards believing that I’d eventually “get it right.” (Meaning: The correct perspective, with effort, would eventually become dominant and the old perspective would be weakened to the point of insignificance.)
In my less wise past, if I’d gone 30 days without a drink but then drank on day 31, I’d consider that a total negation of everything I’d achieved. This is clearly an exaggerated and counterproductive conclusion. My healthier perspective was more likely to see it as “New Joe: 30, old Joe: 1.” Not only was this a more accurate way of viewing the situation, it was far more productive. I didn’t beat myself up needlessly. I didn’t falsely allow myself to believe that “one day drunk” could somehow take away the 30 days that I hadn’t drank. It couldn’t and it didn’t. I was still “30 days ahead of the game” and those 30 days would always be mine.
I’m not certain, but I’d bet it was after a night of drinking that the following statement popped in my head: “As long as you learn from your mistakes, then what you’ve done was not a waste.” All I know is I wrote it down and have reminded myself of it often. You should too. Learn to view your experiences in a way that will HELP instead of harm you. Learn to take whatever value you can and apply it toward what you want to achieve.
Dealing with “Triggers.”
Certain events, environments or “states of mind” can trigger old images / associations. Keep this in mind whenever a seemingly sudden “favorable association” (and subsequent urge) presents itself. It is often nothing more than a habitual reflex thought that has been developed over years or even decades. Identifying triggers immediately dulls their power. Your internal dialogue might go something like “Oh yes, of course, triggered by “X,” …that is predictable.” Learning to identify triggers keeps you objective and in control. It helps move you to the next logical step (correct and replace the old / unwanted association) as opposed to making a counterproductive “heat of the moment” decision.
I was very lucky to figure this out in the first few weeks and months after I stopped drinking. I noticed all sorts of things that triggered old / unwanted ideas about drinking and an obvious pattern began to emerge: The first time I engaged in any activity or encountered any kind of stress that before would have included alcohol, my reflex thought was to, once again, include alcohol. (Kind of like when you pick up your toothbrush, your reflex thought is to begin looking for the toothpaste. …Alcohol had become an expected element during these particular activities or states of mind.)
My first date, my first trip to a nightclub, my first dinner at a fancy restaurant, my first “boring” weeknight, etc…each prompted the habitual thought: “Where’s the beer?” Once I realized what was going on, I could respond to those urges in a less fearful manner. Where before I would have believed I had a merciless broken record in my head, randomly playing “You want to drink, you want to drink, you want to drink,” I realized it was simply my mind following an established sequence that I had set up years ago.
By the second, third, and fourth time I faced each activity without alcohol; I noticed the “new sequence” taking hold. Walk into a bar, order a bottled water; sit down at a restaurant, order an iced tea, etc. It wasn’t long before my new reflex thought was to NOT drink alcohol. (…And for those who asked me why I wasn’t drinking, I had an honest and simple answer: “Because I don’t like the way it affects me.” There was nothing more to say. If somebody couldn’t respect that, then I had no reason to respect their opinion.)
Again, make an effort to identify your triggers. There are many counterproductive ways you might have associated alcohol with otherwise unrelated events, states of mind, environments, etc. For example, if years ago you established alcohol in your mind as a “value multiplier” (something you add to things that are already good) then simply being in a good mood could act as a trigger. “I’m feeling good about “X,” let’s go have a beer and celebrate!”
If you established alcohol as a “social lubricant” (something you use to loosen up around others) then there are countless situations that could act as a trigger. (Going to a party, going to nightclub, a concert, etc.) If you’ve established drugs / alcohol as a way to “numb pain,” then clearly anything that upsets you might act as a trigger. Do you use alcohol to validate yourself? “I can drink anyone under the table.” If so, the simple desire to feel “important / special” could act as a trigger.
As stated, learning what triggers you (whether it triggers you a “little” or “a lot”) is very useful…but it is only half of the equation. The other half involves replacing the unwanted associations with more accurate / productive ones.
Take a long honest look at how alcohol has affected your life. Does it really look like a “value multiplier?” I owe some of my worst memories to alcohol. Days, months and years of my life that were miserable as a direct result of “adding alcohol” to the mix. Sure, there are a few good memories; but those times don’t even come close to making up for the bad. (And besides, the majority of what makes those few memories “good” had nothing to do with the alcohol. A great concert, a Fourth of July celebration with friends, or meeting an interesting girl at a club; the truly fun elements would have been there with or without the booze.)
Is alcohol your “social lube?” Well, if having a good time or feeling comfortable in a certain environment requires that you first drug yourself, maybe that is nature’s way of saying you’re not where you’re supposed to be. Perhaps you need some better pass times. (Pass times that don’t require drugs or alcohol to make the event tolerable.)
Depressed? Trying to deal with things that are “unpleasant?” Let’s hope you haven’t settled on alcohol as an acceptable “solution.” Any honest person knows that alcohol is NOT going to solve a damn thing. Quite the opposite…it’s likely to make whatever you’re avoiding even worse. If you’re dealing with something difficult and your old self suggests you add alcohol, simply answer with the truth: “That’s not the solution. That isn’t going to help. Why the Hell would I want to make things worse than they already are?”
Do you use alcohol as a way to validate yourself? Did you earn a reputation for how much you can drink and now, it’s like a badge of honor? ...is that really an “honor” worth keeping? If you have a knack for being able to tolerate “more than others,” try applying that talent toward things that are actually productive instead of self-destructive.
How about just plain boredom? Does that trigger you? Well, once again, the “solution” isn’t to get drunk. “I’m bored so I’m going to engage in a self-destructive act that will make me hate myself.” And tomorrow, you’ll just be bored all over again plus, more than likely, you’ll be able to add depressed to the list. Doesn’t sound like a very good SOLUTION to the problem of being bored, does it?
The solution to boredom is to “get a life.” Develop a wide range of interests. Learning about topics that interest you, writing / photography / art, exercise in any of its innumerable forms; these are all excellent places to begin. How about some hobbies? Skydiving, drag racing, martial arts, hiking, or snowboarding for the thrill seekers; dance, cooking, knitting, learning to play an instrument, rollerblading or bicycling for the more “laid back” types.
A friend of mine stopped drinking a few years back…shortly thereafter, he took up Karate. So, instead of sitting on a bar stool getting drunk after work, he went to his Karate classes. Years later, he’s now competing in tournaments and has something of real value to show for how he chose to spend his time; something he can be proud of and will always be with him. Stop dulling your mind and motor skills with drugs / alcohol, and a whole new world of opportunities open up. The possibilities are limitless.
A guy once asked me: “what do you do if you don’t drink?” I answered: “I do a lot of the same things you do…I just don’t do them drunk.” That pretty much sums it up. As far as boredom goes, I truly can’t remember the last time I was bored. I’ve got so many things keeping me busy these days; I often wish there were another one (or two) of me to get more done. -----> Continue to "Moving On - Final Thoughts"