Self-Awareness, Mindfulness, Paying Attention, your preference in terminology, but it all still comes down to the same thing.

Whether we’re exchanging bad habits for new ones, accommodating aging and the normal changes that life hands us, or adjusting to unexpected losses, gains, or just day-to-day ups and downs, it helps to pay attention.

For example, our clients are frequently surprised by the results when we suggest they record their urges to drink and also keep a diary of what they actually do drink. The surprises? The actual amounts, but also what the patterns and triggers are.

Most of us know that we can’t change something we don’t understand and most of us prefer to pretend that our drinking is less of a problem than it is. We keep blinders on to avoid the very awareness necessary to make successful changes that are in our own best self-interest!

Part of getting help is agreeing that it’s time to take off the blindfold and start actually exploring our choices and options and then making an informed decision about what, if anything, to do about our drinking patterns, habits, and choices.

The stats program that monitors traffic on our website frequently reminds us that we “can’t manage what we can’t measure.”

We note the same thing with curtailing alcohol abuse: measure usage and urges; set measurable goals that are of value to you; track progress; learn from regressions; adjust; accommodate; and learn new skills.

When you do that you can make decisions that reflect your own best “self” and which increase you personal power by playing to your strengths, interests, abilities, and self-image.

Want to pretend, placate, and pacify others (and probably yourself) for awhile longer without actually doing anything about the problem? Go to AA or 12 Step rehab. They work really really well for that.

Want a better life? Well, that’s a different – and we think better – choice. But what matters is what you think, because that’s what you will get.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”

There is no magic……

We often remind clients that smokers are far more successful at leaving tobacco behind than problem drinkers are at giving up their alcohol abuse. But quitting smoking, by those of us who have done both, is universally acknowledged to be the harder problem to lick. What’s with that?

Mainly it’s a difference in attitude.

Smokers expect it to be difficult, uncomfortable, irritating, and take awhile to adjust to a new normal. But they also know, and expect, to succeed. They also tend to seek real help when they need it and use such aids as nicotine gum and craving suppression meds.

Drinkers have been so brainwashed by “powerless” and “disease” mythology that you’re paralyzed by labels, misinformation, and rehab mill “magic.” No wonder success eludes all but the most astute – and alcohol doesn’t usually increase our grasp on realities.

Still, most of us don’t really believe that we can overcome a difficult problem by appealing to the “magic of the palms” or the “waves” or the “vortex” or the “magic helicopter ride.”

Nor do we want life long labels, depressing and dreary “meetings,” mind numbingly boring drunkologues, or other recovery blocking nonsense.

What’s wanted is what “ex’s” – whether tobacco, alcohol, or any other self destructive consumption or habits – want: “been there, done that.”

That’s right – BEEN THERE! DONE THAT! And now it’s over and no longer a topic of interest or area of concern.

I couldn’t tell you how long it’s been since I smoked a cigarette, had a problem with alcohol, rode a motorcycle, or ended up in the wrong bed. These activities all fall into the same category – been there, done that. And they ended when I opted for something new.

As noted last week, time is finite, and perhaps we’ll all be a bit happier if we emulate Mae West who noted that when she faced a choice ” I take the one I haven’t tried before.”

So why not try not drinking and see what happens? You can always go back to it or, perhaps, you’ll learn what a recent client told us and which we’ll pass along next week.

Or you can just call and ask – about her, or about yourself.