WE DON’T HAVE TO TRADE ONE PAIN FOR ANOTHER

Disappointment

Uncertainty

Worry

Boredom

These seem to be the prevailing emotions of the day.

These feelings aren’t pleasant, and our primitive brains see them as a problem. Its solution? Numb the pain!

And we seem to be answering the call. Alcohol sales have spiked during the quarantine.

But this brings its own set of problems and pain. Interrupted sleep, headaches, dehydration, fatigue, regrets, impatience, and more. But these pains are familiar and, as such, maybe a little less scary than uncertainty and worry. 

Here’s the scoop though. We don’t have to trade one pain for another.  You can absolutely handle uncertainty or disappointment. And doing so has the side benefit of helping you evolve.

Glennon Doyle talks about this in her new book Untamed. She always assumed her hard feelings would kill her. But when she decided to allow them she discovered they didn’t stay forever and they certainly didn’t kill her. Instead, they came and went and left her with the precious gifts of self-knowledge and transformation.

The same can be true for you during these strange times. You can teach yourself that you don’t need to numb to get through. Within the pain, you can find your potential. Let that be a gift you give yourself. 

******

Do you want some help applying these ideas to your life? Are you unsure how to effectively manage uncertainty, worry, or boredom? Click this link to sign up for a free session, and I’ll show you how to get started.

TAKE CREDIT FOR YOUR PROGRESS

Megan decided she was going to use her time in quarantine to work on changing her drinking. She got clear on her compelling reason, planned for obstacles, and allowed her cravings to pass unanswered without relying on will power. After three weeks she hadn’t had a single drink. You’d think she’d be really proud, right? After all, she hadn’t gone more than 24 hours without a drink in years. But, no. Megan’s response to this accomplishment was, “well, it was easy because I didn’t have to go out.” 

This is one example of how we devalue our accomplishments, but it can also sound like:

“Yeah, I did that, but I should have done it a long time ago.” (a personal fave)

“Maybe it was good, but it wasn’t perfect.” 

All these flavors of devaluing our progress may sound true, or humble, or prudent (if we get too comfortable we’ll let down our guard), but they don’t serve us. Instead, they keep us from seeing our own capability (however imperfect it may be in the beginning). 

In Megan’s case, she still had alcohol in her house and liquor stores were open. She had plenty of access to alcohol if she decided to drink. But instead, she did the work. She showed herself that the restlessness from not having a drink when you want one, while uncomfortable, is completely tolerable. She was able to slow her habit cycle and take a look at the thoughts fueling her cravings. She practiced showing herself compassion even when she was frustrated that the cravings hadn’t gone away as quickly as she would have liked. 

But instead of acknowledging that she herself had produced this result, she chalked it up to circumstance (home alone). If that’s her thinking, how do you think she’ll fare when the circumstance changes and she can go out with friends again?  

Managing your drinking when out with friends is the same skill set as when you are alone. The only thing that changes is the thoughts that give rise to your cravings. “I’m bored, a drink sounds good” (home alone) vs. “It’ll be more fun if I have a drink, too” (out with friends). 

The capability we build in one area serves us in all areas. The trick is acknowledging that you deserve some credit to begin with.

IT ISN’T PERSONAL

Well, this was a timely book to come up on my stack.

One thing, in particular, has struck a chord with me at this time. Namely this…it isn’t personal. 

Other people get divorced, fret over their kids’ screen time, or feel lonely during quarantine. 

When we’re in it, it feels so unique and personal. But if we draw back to the 10,000-foot level we can start to reframe our situation in the context of the shared human experience. We can start to take things less personally. We are not alone in our suffering.

As Pema says, “If I really connect with my jealousy, my anger, or my prejudice, I find myself standing in the shoes of humanity.”

This is so comforting to me right now. These are surreal times. If your brain is telling you that you need to seek solace outside of yourself and need a drink to escape, you’re not alone.

Take a beat and remind yourself that we are all in this with you.

IT’S OK THAT YOU HAVEN’T FIGURED THIS OUT YET. YOU’RE STILL LEARNING.

If you’re still struggling to get your pandemic footing, you’re not alone! I’m right there with you and so are many of my clients. 

I’ve talked to lots of people over the last couple of weeks who are frustrated with themselves because:

They’re eating more

Numbing with alcohol

Struggling to provide structure for their kids

Can’t seem to focus on work 

But it’s worth noting that their frustration comes not from the eating, drinking, kids, and work, but from their thoughts that they “should” be doing it differently, followed by what they make it mean about themselves that they aren’t (out of control, bad mom, etc). 

This line of linking adds a layer of shame to what they are already struggling with.

It’s hard to take positive action and make changes from a place of shame. 

If you’re in a similar predicament try these two things to get unstuck:

  1.  Let it be okay that you’re here right now. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic for chrissakes. We’re all finding our footing at different paces. Trust that getting thrown off your game for a while is part of the process of figuring out your new normal. This is my own mantra right now: “It’s okay that you haven’t figured this out yet. You’re still learning.”
  2. Use your thoughts to generate feelings of capability instead of worry and shame. Compare these two thoughts: “I can’t believe I don’t have the kids on a schedule yet! What’s my problem?” 🆚 “I trust that I can figure this out.” I know which one most of us default to, but which one reminds you of your capability?  I promise you don’t have to be unkind to yourself to spur action; you’ll get better results when you take action from feelings like focus, determination, and capability. Play around with which thoughts generate those feelings and practice them!

******

Would you believe that NOW is the perfect time to change your drinking? There are triggers o’ plenty, so lots of opportunities to practice retraining your brain and unlearning the habit. You don’t need more will power, I promise; just the right tools. Sign up for a free session by clicking on this link and I’ll help you out.