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.