"And when you consider what's holding you back right now
What's been taking up far too much space, too much capable mental real estate
Remember, our work is to address it
To allow ourselves this time to relate to it”
Elena Brower, Above and Beyond - Flow State 2019
About 7 months before this quote, featured on a guided meditation on the album Flow State by Above and Beyond, I recognized that alcohol was holding me back. It was taking up far too much space in my life. I didn’t want to admit it. I was embarrassed to admit it. I though if I did I would be giving up, admitting defeat.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Alcohol has been the thing taking up far too much space in my life, but I am not saying alcohol is bad or evil. That thing can be different for everyone. For some it is emotional eating, marijuana, shopping, the internet, social media, etc. My decision to give up alcohol is not a judgment on alcohol, or those that consume it, it is a reflection of the inner work that I have not done.
In January of this year, I decided to make it my goal to understand how to drink alcohol more mindfully. I dedicated myself to reading books, to confronting habits, to learning about mindfulness and meditation in order to increase the quality of my consumption while decreasing the quantity.
This turned out to be much harder than I ever could have imagined, and here are some reasons why:
1. Alcohol is not just socially accepted, it is socially expected. People often question your decision to not drink, or to not join them for a second or third round. Peer pressure is a thing, and it doesn’t just exist in high school
2. Alcohol affects our judgment. The more intoxicated we become the harder it is to make a decision that is in line with your goals or ideals.
3. Willpower is a finite resource. It is like a muscle; we can train it and grow it, but it can fatigue.
4. Thinking and decision making take energy. It is literally exhausting to have to chew on the question: “do I want another drink”. As you expend this energy, you make yourself tired and weaken yourself, making it more difficult to make the right decision.
5. Alcohol affects your brain chemically. It feels good, and sometimes it’s hard to refuse that good feeling.
There are more reasons why, but these were the most powerful in my life.
2 weeks before I heard this guided meditation, read to me live at the Gorge Amphitheater at the Above and Beyond Group Therapy Weekend, I recognized that alcohol was taking up far too much space, occupying too much mental real estate.
There is power in abstinence. There is no difficult middle ground. When I made the commitment to saying no for 1 year, I freed up all of that energy to focus on other things. I didn’t have to chew on the idea, I didn’t have to consider, and weigh options. I just said no. Now I can channel that into my work, my family, my friends, my healing, and myself.
What is that thing in your life?