My feelings and thoughts can get intense. I have come to understand that I primarily used drinking to manage the peaky, spiky, distressed inner state that my intense feeling and thinking can create.
To stop drinking, I have had to manage my drinking problem directly, but I’ve also had to try to understand what is going on within me – the feelings and thoughts that trouble me so. I’ve had to become intensely aware of what I was thinking and doing that wasn’t working, then to discover new ways of thinking that might work. Then I’ve had to train intensely to make the new workable ways kick in over the old ways.
Ultimately, I think I am trying to learn to treat myself with mercy and kindness rather than with criticism and contempt.
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Photo is of my father getting ready to fix his 55 year-old daughter white bread toast in the exact same toaster he used when she was a small child. To his daughter who has struggled and seems to be emerging like a phoenix chick from ashes, he has shown mercy and kindness.
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I’ve created a table to show my new thinking vs. my old thinking, i.e. my pre-drinking/drinking thinking with my post-drinking thinking. (That’s a lot of thinking. Made me laugh. There’s the post title, then!).
In practice, I try to start at the top of the list and work my way through to the bottom in a linear progression, but I tend to cycle in and around. It’s hard to take time to pause, to think systematically, and to then respond when conversations, discussions, conflicts or situations seem to provoke or require an immediate reaction.
I’ve probably sought most of my life to respond rather than react, to learn to pause and become aware of what I am feeling and thinking, to see what options align with my values, then to speak or act. A friend describes this as trying “to make my outsides match my insides.” A drinking problem put an end to an intellectual exercise and began a dire attempt to not just think, but do.