Part I: The MEDS…It All Starts In Your Mind.
“If your mindset is defeated, the results will be the same no matter how often you put up a physical fight.”
― Mac Duke, The Strategist
About a month ago, I shared the overview of The MEDS…the process that one can use to break through her/his addiction and begin to live their life to its full potential. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please check it out here.
Now, over the next four months, I‘ll break down each step of The MEDS to explain in detail how to apply and be successful in each step. If you can’t quite wait a month, however, and you would like to have access to the full content now, please send me an email at Ken@kenmmiddleton.com, and I’ll email you all the info at once.
For now, however, we’re only going to focus on the first step of The MEDS known as Mental Re-engineering. As the first step of the process, one would be correct to guess that getting this right will lay the foundation for your success.
As shared in Why You SHOULDN’T Stop Drinking Immediately, this is one of those steps that perhaps goes against conventional wisdom as it relates to giving up drinking, as you should begin applying this step WHILE you’re still drinking. The reason is that an important part of the process of your education is truly taking the time to be aware of what alcohol is doing to you.
Some may have noticed, that I don’t often use the word sober when referring to myself as it relates to my drinking status. Instead, I refer to myself as “alcohol-conscious” because I am now cognizant of what alcohol was doing to me while I was drinking and choose not to drink it based on that awareness.
For anyone who decides to attempt to implement The MEDS into her/his life for improvement, the goal is NOT to get you to stop drinking. That will be a decision that you will have to make once you have all the facts and information to do so.
However, the true goal is to make you completely AWARE of what your decision is doing to you and your body and what you are trading for it. For some people, it leads to them drinking the same amount as before. For others, it leads to them drinking much less. While for some, who are like me, it leads to them quitting altogether.
There are three simple things you must do while you’re drinking to begin this journey to see where you land.
READ BOOKS ON SOBRIETY
While I don’t use the word to describe myself, it is the common vernacular used to describe those who abstain from drinking, so I still use the word sobriety for clarity.
I’ve pretty much read every single well-known book ever written about what one needs to do to give up alcohol and lessons from others as it relates to it. This is so important to increase the chances of your success. The reason for this is that you have to begin to reprogram your mind to look at alcohol differently than it sees it now.
Right now, your brain probably associates it with nights on the town and memories of fun with your friends. Reading books on sobriety will begin to open up your eyes to the other side of drinking that’ll help you understand the subtle negative effects that so many people often overlook when referring to the dangers of it.
What many of these authors will do is open up your eyes to the dangers of alcohol of which most people are just not aware. For many, the only true danger of alcohol is either making the terrible decision to drive while inebriated to get a DUI or to fall prey to clutches of alcoholism.
What many of these authors will do through their writing is present images of normalcy that will scare you. Most of them were not full-blown alcoholics who started drinking when they were young and slowly went down a path of destruction.
Instead, many of them are individuals who rarely drink more than a glass of wine at a time until they got into their late 20’s or early 30’s and then slowly, with time, began to drink more and more each day until they could no longer go without a drink.
These are people with successful careers and prominent titles who were able to fully perform in their jobs during the day but would not be able to resist the allure of alcohol at night.
You’ll see yourself in so many of these stores, it’ll be scary, as you realize that no one THINKS they are becoming an alcoholic until it’s too late to realize it. The top ones that I personally recommend are:
- This Naked Mind — Annie Grace
- Drink? — Professor Dave Nut
- Quit Drinking Without Willpower — Allen Carr
- Sober for Good — Anne M. Fletcher
- Alcohol Lied to Me — Craig Beck
This is a good place to start just to get a feel for how your alcohol can slowly sneak up on you over time.
RESEARCH THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL
You will do much of this during the course of reading the various books on sobriety, but you have to make sure that you’re just not taking in the information without truly analyzing the effects it will have on you in the short and long term.
For many, drinking is a pleasure that we indulge in without little to no thoughts of the consequences. As long as we don’t drink too much and embarrass ourselves at a work function or make the terrible decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, we often think the damages done are relegated to our wallets and sometimes a loss of pride at doing something that we would not normally do.
However, when one really begins to understand the effects of alcohol on your mental and physical well being, as well as its ability to become increasingly more needed (i.e. addicting) over time, the immediate and long term dangers of alcohol are foreboding.
In The Science of WHY You Should Quit Drinking Alcohol, we dive into the slow process of how alcohol will take over your mind and body and go from something that you can “take or leave” to something that you absolutely MUST-HAVE every single day to feel normal.
While most people think that you are born with some type of gene that makes you an alcoholic or not, the truth is that is not entirely the case. Yes. There are some who have a greater propensity to become addicted to alcohol in the same way that it may be a bit easier for some to lose weight faster than others.
However, with time, if someone is not conscious of what they eat and decide because of their “good genes,” they are going to eat whatever they desire, then they will shortly find themselves looking for pant sizes a tad bit larger than their high school days.
Due to the endless cycle of endorphin/dynorphin creation of alcohol and how it artificializes the excitement and pleasure created by the release of serotonin and dopamine, over time your body will actually NEED alcohol to prevent having bouts of depression and anxiety.
Couple this with the fact that alcohol makes it much more difficult to learn and retain anything that could directly affect your ability to experience success in life and the hidden cost of excessive drinking is high.
By understanding this and being cognizant of the ways in which alcohol is impacting you, you can then analyze the effects and observe how positive or negative the overall effects are on your life.
This should lead you to the third and ultimate goal of this first step in The MEDS process…
BECOME A CONSCIOUS DRINKER
This is the final step on the mental re-engineering path. This has to do with focusing on putting together everything you have read while educating yourself on the dangers of alcohol and its short term and long term effects.
Now, whenever you drink, you should take some time to analyze how it is affecting you in real-time. You need to take some time with each drink to observe the way it makes you feel and what you are giving up each time you make this decision.
Most of us who succumb to the pull of alcohol’s lure do so because we drink without thinking about it. We chug down beer after beer in no way being cognizant of how it is affecting our lives more than just that moment.
By doing the research to understand the trade-offs that we are making with each drink, we will be more be apt to drink less or perhaps not drink at all.
The goal to become a conscious drinker is to not drink anything ever again, but instead, it is to be completely aware of what alcohol does for you and to understand how your future will be affected by it.
As you continue to go down this journey, the more you will begin to realize how wasteful this is for your life in so many ways — wasteful in time; wasteful in money; wasteful in brain cells, and wasteful in your body’s health.
And while you may not give up alcohol completely, the hope is that by doing so, you’ll reduce your consumption enough to stay in constant control and not allow alcohol to dictate the actions of your future.
It is through this first step of The MEDS that you can then begin to do the work of changing your psyche about alcohol and give yourself the best opportunity to be successful.
Next month, we’ll dive into the next step of the process: Exercise Commitment.