What is the reason behind your drinking?
There are three broad categories of reasons why people drink:
- DESIRE – there are things we like about it.
- AVERSION – we use it to get away from negative emotion
- HABIT – we’ve programmed our brains to want it at certain times and in response to certain situations.
To get to the point where it’s easy and natural to drink moderately and in control, you need to reduce the power of each of these channels.
Today, I’m going to talk about the first category, Desire.
You might easily recognize some of the thoughts that create desire. Thoughts like I love the taste, or I love the buzz.
I want to focus on a less obvious but equally powerful set of thoughts that create desire. I’m referring to the associations we make between drinking and other things.
Drinking and golf; drinking and fishing; drinking and grilling.
Consider Golf for example. Golf has many attributes – being outside, hanging out with a friend, challenging yourself, the drama of the unknown, competition, and physical activity.
But then we make an association between Golf and Drinking. And we actually stop thinking about all those other dimensions that make golf interesting.
It’s the nature of alcohol that draws our attention to the exclusion of these other things. It’s completely irrational, but that’s just how our brains function.
So we have these things in our life that are important to us, and alcohol is associated with them. The result is that alcohol becomes the single thing that’s really important. All the good things in your life become a proxy for alcohol. And you pay less attention to those other attributes because alcohol claims your attention.
It’s no wonder that when you’re faced with an opportunity to drink, that you tend to say yes. You don’t even have to be golfing – just the halo effect around the booze makes it seem like a good idea, even if it’s Tuesday night.
How To Control Your Desire
The solution is to rethink these associations.
First, identify them. Then think about the other aspects of these things that make them attractive, independent of drinking. Practice thinking about these things and life in general, in ways that don’t involve alcohol.
Notice when your attention falls back into that simplistic association. Then claim your attention, and direct it in a different direction, towards the other things in your life that have value.
Let alcohol drop in importance.
Think about people in your life for whom moderation is easy. They aren’t that way because of their iron will and discipline. The difference is that their brains aren’t full of thoughts that create desire.
You can change your thinking, and its processes like I just described that let you do it, fast.
This is advanced stuff for do-it-yourself. But try it; you’ve got nothing to lose.