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What I see in my clients as the main obstacle to the moderation they want is a lack of awareness. They initially say things like:
- I drink because of stress.
- I drink to relax.
- I just really like it.
- I don’t know why I drink / can’t stop.
And while those statements are true, they’re superficial and not actionable.
Therefore the process I use in my coaching is mostly focused on overcoming this lack of awareness. I organize this process into 3 steps: PLAN, OBSERVE, and EVALUATE.
The second step OBSERVE is the most important, and the one to start with.
To explain why this is so crucial, I want to make a comparison to something that's going on in my life right now. I'm working to improve my swimming in preparation for a triathlon in a few months. I've watched many hours of youtube videos that illustrate in great detail what proper swimming looks like. Unfortunately, by itself, that information is close to useless, because as the guy hammering away in the water, I have no idea what I'm actually doing. Without knowing what I'm doing, I have no idea what to change in order to move towards the ideal, even if I have a perfect picture of the ideal in my head.
But when I periodically get my wife to film me underwater with a Go-Pro camera, I can clearly see my flailing legs, crooked feet, misaligned elbows, and desperate attempts to breathe. Armed with that knowledge of my current state, I've been able to make steady improvement. I still suck as a swimmer, but a little less so every week. (It's not helping that the pool temperature is in the mid 60s which makes it really hard to concentrate on technique!)
The OBSERVE step I'm describing here is going to be your equivalent of that underwater video.
Here's how you do it. Before you start drinking for an evening, consider these questions:
- What are you feeling before the first drink? (maybe stressed, happy, tired, frustrated)
- Why do you feel that way - what was the situation, event or person that seemed to arouse the feeling?
- What would you anticipate having to feel if you didn't drink?
- Notice the sensation of the Urge. What does it feel like in your body? Are there sensations in your belly, your mouth, or …?
Then with every drink, make some observations based on these questions:
- Why are you having this drink? What result do you want from it?
- What do you truly realistically expect to get from it? (There might be a difference between these two answers)
- What are you giving up by having this drink?
- With each succeeding drink, notice how the experience changes. What do you like? What do you not like?
In the next lesson I'll explain the PLANNING steps of the process.