So How Do We Create a New “Normal?”
Steppers always admonish you to “keep away from ‘Normies’.”
Instead, we suggest that you create your own new normal and include whoever fits that life. Remember, you want alcohol abuse to move into the “been there, done that” category, not simply take on a new form as in, “Hi, I’m an alcoholic.”
Making that move requires that you understand your old “normal” and replace it with a new normal. A client recently discussed the difficulties of that process with me and I noted that there are two main problems:
First, we rapidly forget how bad we used to feel, or how “at risk” we were. Some of us can manage to “forget” nearly every day – how many of you get up in the morning saying, “never again,” but then open another bottle at 5:00 PM? For others it takes longer, but we still manage to suppress the worst of the feelings, risks, and consequences.
Second, we also start to forget how much better we feel when feeling better becomes our “new” normal.
Yes, we need reminders to keep us motivated and I suggested to my client that he create lists of his old and new normal. He did an excellent job, e-mailed them to me, and here they are:
- Wake up about 5 times a week with some degree of a hangover;
- Wake up feeling anxious and with some degree of guilt;
- Feel groggy for much of the morning;
- Occasionally oversleep and be late for an appointment;
- Drive drunk;
- Around lunch time think about eating at a place where I can get a beer or four;
- Buy a 12 pack on the way home to sneak into the garage fridge;
- Feel annoyed with my wife and kids over the smallest things;
- Drink at home after my family has gone to bed, often til midnight;
- Occasionally say inappropriate things at business meetings;
- Don’t like the way my skin looks, red and bloated;
- Get drunk and do dumb things with motorized toys;
- Sit in my hotel and drink the rest of the day away;
- Eat garbage food while drunk;
- Forget to do important things.
- Wake up with a clear head;
- No guilt in the morning;
- Sleep very good;
- Skin looks the best it has in years;
- Lost 7 pounds;
- Doing a better job for my customers;
- More engaged with my kids;
- Better relations with my wife;
- Not worried about getting pulled over drunk;
- Exercising again;
- Painting (landscapes) again;
- Less anxiety;
- Feel good about myself.
The only “new” negative was some increase in depression, but that’s likely just part of the normal mourning of the loss of an old “friend” who has let him down.
So! What does your normal look like? If it’s not what you want, then let us help you create it.
Motivation, Self-Control, and CBT
We’ve written about motivation which is easier to maintain when we are exercising our self-control and achieving some well-earned self-esteem and a much improved self-image. Unless of course you want to be a powerless alcoholic, but, if so, why are you reading this?
Self-control can also be learned, enhanced, and applied. A good introduction to this topic appeared in the Sunday New York Times:
It’s a good introduction into learning how to strengthen that “muscle” too. In brief it describes the two systems our brains operate under, the limbic “immediate gratification” or “hot” part versus the “cool” goal-oriented prefrontal cortex part. Learning to use the cool part to moderate the hot part results in better decision making.
Sounds a lot like the CBT portion of our program (and most all effective programs) – learning to manage your emotions, which you create, rather than having your emotions and impulses control you.
This is all, of course, anathema to the purveyors of “powerlessness” and the disease model of alcohol abuse which supports it, and keeps you a supposedly helpless victim, ripe for the plucking.
But as the research and our experience demonstrates repeatedly, alcohol abuse is a choice, as is eliminating it and the only “higher power” you need is the one you already have – yourself. You just need to eliminate the brainwashing, add a bit of training, practice, and get good, once again, at running your life.
That’s right – get good at it again! You were once, always have been in some areas, and now it’s time to spread what you know into the troubling areas of your life. Need a framework, some hand holding, real information and intensive short-term help?