While the holidays were nice, we’re also glad to be back to “usual.” We like our work and all of you that we get to know. This new year also means having the opportunity to help add you to the list of people who have successfully left alcohol problems behind.
Many of you will remember that in early October we started considering finding some company for Jazz-the-Elderly-Beagle. As a result, early in December Sophie-the-Bat-Eared-Dog came home from a dog rescue shelter where she had languished for 16 months. She had a lot going against her: at 8 she was “too old”; she was black and black dogs have a far lesser chance of being adopted; and she has epilepsy. Strike three.
But she has settled in nicely despite being more than a little anxious – anxiety not helped by a trip to the vet’s for much needed dental work. Jazz has also benefited as we hoped, becoming more active and dropping a few pounds in response to her attentions.
It is so satisfying to adopt an “older dog”! No housebreaking! No being worn to a frazzle with all of that puppy energy! And she is sooo grateful for the attention after competing with a dozen other dogs.
Rewarding to do a good thing that turns out to be an even better one for us than it is for her.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Any activity we pursue has both costs and benefits – that’s not a mystery. But sometimes we neglect ever balancing the two in any real way. That makes it impossible for us to act in ways that really are in our own best self-interest.
We deceive ourselves in several different ways. We usually, for example, consider short term benefits to be more important than long term costs, as every smoker knows every time they light up another cigarette (as I did, knowingly, for over twenty years).
Sometimes we are completely unaware of the benefits and costs until we change the behavior. Or we don’t consider the costs and benefits to the people close to us. It’s not uncommon for us to hear from spouses who’ve suddenly become aware of what they were getting out of a husband’s or wife’s drinking and are having trouble giving up their “benefits.”
Significant change always has unexpected aspects, but it helps to do as much planning as you can. It also helps to have an experienced counselor who can prepare you for some of the common, but rarely thought of, consequences.
Who knew, for example, that your husband actually might not like your renewed interest in sex? Or that your wife might resent your sudden participation in parenting?
Of course the benefits of changing our drinking behaviors will always out weigh the costs, but we still need reminders for when short term needs are pushing hard against our long term ones.
It always helps to write things down so we’ve added a simple Cost/Benefit Analysis form to our list of free tools to download. Click on the link and start actually creating your own picture of what you can gain if you give up your alcohol abuse. We think you’ll be surprised at all of the benefits you come up with, and how small the comparative price is.
Cost Benefit Analysis!
The following free download will help start you on figuring out your own personal costs and benefits of either continuing you alcohol use or letting it go. We tend to forget that drinking does have its benefits, and quitting its costs, and we cope better when we look at them up front.
It’s also very helpful for spouses to do the same. Many are surprised to learn that they miss the benefits they get from your drinking when you quit!
As we mentioned last week, achieving goals is a matter of defining them accurately, tracking progress, finding support, and getting good help when necessary.
The following Weekly Planner is one we use when we find our focus drifting. Use a different one for each area of your life that you want to address.
Our Goal Setting Tool gives you something to go back to as the year progresses. Don’t forget to track your gains! Too often we focus on setbacks and sabotage ourselves. Long term written goals combined with the weekly planner help keep that from happening!
The EOC Institute relaxation CDs we like so much, continue to be a good alternative to alcohol for a quick, handy, and effective way to relieve anxiety and relax. We don’t endorse all of their claims, but we do use the “Awakening,” “Balance,” and “Into the Deep” CDs to quiet our racing thoughts. We even give every client a copy of the “Balance” one.