Do you know that feeling you get from the first few sips? You feel all warm inside, and you know that in a few minutes, all your troubles will be gone.
That would be a tough thing to give up, wouldn’t it?
Not really. I still experience it to a certain extent when I drink, but it’s a lot less than it used to be. And that’s completely fine.
One reason that warm glow is less intense is that my emotional baseline is a lot higher. By the time it is beer-thirty, I’m feeling alot less frazzled than I used to. There’s just not as much contrast.
Partly that’s because I’ve made some positive changes in my circumstances. But mostly, it’s because I’ve learned to manage my mind and my emotions.
I used to spend so much time in harsh judgment of others and myself. I thought I was just observing “reality”, with my fine discernment and high standards of quality.
What was happening is that my brain was just finding evidence for what I had previously chosen to believe – classic confirmation bias. The result was that I was soaking myself all day in a toxic cocktail of stress hormones. Those first sips – even before the alcohol kicks in – give you a big ole shot of dopamine, and that’s what feels so damn good.
So how can you even things out, and make it to the evening without needing so much relief?
The solution is to start paying attention to those judgments, especially of yourself. I’m not saying that they are wrong or invalid, but they represent just one facet of whatever it is you’re looking at.
And when you get used to looking at them, you unconsciously start looking for them, and then that’s all you see.
They aren’t doing anything for you. They aren’t making you smart. And especially with regards to yourself – they aren’t keeping you in line. I used to think that my self-critique was quality control, that if I wasn’t so tough on myself – I’d turn into an idiot like everyone else. Well, it hasn’t turned that way at all. The more I like myself, the better I feel and the better I perform.
You’re not going to be able to turn them off overnight. The first thing you do is to start noticing them. Watch your brain in action.
When you catch yourself judging, just think “oh, there I’m judging”. And DO NOT begin judging yourself for your judging.