I'm here to tell you- YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. There is nothing wrong with you! Your brain is doing exactly what it was made to do. It’s become so accustomed to using alcohol to move you towards pleasure and away from pain that you keep drinking even though you logically want to stop.
A BIT ABOUT THE BRAIN
The front, business part of your brain, handles rational thought and decision making. It is the part of your brain that logically knows drinking is not serving you. The lower part of the brain, your flowing party mullet, is the survival side of the brain. This lower primitive brain is all about sex, eating, and fighting or flighting.
OK, WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
It helps explain why we know quitting drinking is a logical, healthy choice AND why we give in to drinking. You see, everything we do is either to move away from pain or move towards pleasure. ALL organisms function this way because it is how we survive. We are driven to seek the pleasure of sex and food because this helps keeps us alive and ensures the continuation of our species. We are driven to avoid painful feelings of fear or anxiety because they signal danger.
Our lower brain HATES feelings of pain or suffering and it doesn’t matter where the feelings came from (a real threat like a mountain lion or a feeling of threat like a traffic jam). In order to survive these feelings our lower brain takes a shortcut to relief. One of the quickest shortcuts to relieve distress is alcohol. Alcohol is also one of the speediest shortcuts to pleasure. Logically, we know the short term effects of alcohol don’t last but our lower brain doesn’t care. Think about a craving- it’s a powerful desire, yearning, or hungering for a drink. Cravings are downright uncomfortable and painful. We are wired to avoid pain so our lower brain kicks in and looks for the fastest way to relieve the pain and provide pleasure instantly. What does it turn to? Drinking!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Stand in the moment. This pause allows you to delay and consider what action will follow your craving. It will also diminish the craving. Try using a mantra to fill the pause.
CREATE A MANTRA
Got a little woo on you, hang in there, it’s more science based then you think. A mantra is a statement or slogan repeated often that can aid in concentration, promote thoughts and ideas, and center your mind and your life. Mantras are used to maintain control, slow down reactions, control impulses, and avoid shame and blame.
The key to this technique is to create a mantra that has meaning and enough significance that you will remember it and then to use it the next time you have a craving to drink.
Here are some mantra ideas:
I will not drink today.
I am taking care of myself.
This feeling won't last.
I am practicing not drinking.
I am moving forward right now.
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