Putting On Your Oxygen Mask

I’m sure you’ve all flown enough to have memorized the cabin attendants’ run through “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartments. Put your mask on first…”

I’m also sure that over the past 6 months we have all experienced a “loss of cabin pressure” in this country and it’s tempting to continue to reach for another bottle rather than an oxygen mask. But in doing so we not only harm ourselves but we also fail to provide the support and protection to others that we could.

Even if Donald Trump disappeared tomorrow, the problems his candidacy and election have highlighted aren’t going away. Bigotry, racism, financial inequity, sexism, ageism, intolerance, and a dozen other un-Americanisms exist which any of us can either help to mitigate or continue to support by our alcohol-fueled disengagement.

Yes, I know about disengagement. My own is fueled by health problems, the vicissitudes of aging, and other factors beyond my control. I recently confessed to a friend that I had been allowing myself to deteriorate in ways over which I do have control.

The meaning?

You have the power to make a difference to many people in many ways if you will only choose to end self-medication with alcohol or by retreating into the 12 Step cult.

Every week when Friday morning arrives, and we are working with another client to incorporate new routines into their lives, the recommendations always include ways to regain personal control of our emotions (CBT), relationships (Assertiveness Training), our physical health (walking, gyms, massages, yoga), and social/recreational ENGAGEMENT!

That is the real road to complete recovery: engagement with self, others, and community.

Alcohol abuse, hatred, cults, and other examples of a wasted life can only exist as long as you stay isolated. So stop living in the safety of medication, disengagement, isolation, and unhappiness.

And it’s easier than you think. We help 40 some clients do it every year. Is this year, a more important one than any since Nixon, your year to stand up or will you continue to lie down?

Instead of Reaching For That Bottle…

Another left over from AA is the idea that it’s all about “not drinking.” That’s a really bad goal. Why? Because it’s a negative goal, one about not doing something. How much time, energy, and attention to your actual issues to you suppose that’s going to use up?

Zero. That’s right, ZERO!

Positive goals or activities require you to do stuff. Some take a fair amount of effort like learning and internalizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and others mean paying attention and adjusting your interactions with others, like Assertiveness Training.

Those are big changes but there are also the little detail changes that interrupt your drinking habits. One of these is reading. If you spent as much time stockpiling books as you do you liquor cabinet or wine cellar, and paid as much attention to your preferences, you’d have reading materials on hand for most any mood.

And reading is interactive! It’s not like TV, movies, or radio. You have to be actively mentally involved.

I discussed this with a client yesterday and referenced my 5 years in the 1970’s when I operated a K-12 one room school in the dying mining camp of Rampart on the Yukon River. No TV, no phones, no roads, and one radio station – KJNP, King Jesus North Pole. Most of the 55 winter residents passed January, February, and March, with the daylight down to a scant few hours, and temperatures ranging from 30-80 below zero, huddled in their cabins medicating themselves with cheap whiskey.

For my part, I’d stockpiles books against the coming isolation. I’d accumulated projects. I tried out new ways to prepare moose, caribou, grouse, hare, salmon, ptarmigan, and a dozen other uncommon main courses. I taught myself to bake and to write.

The difference between me and 75% of my neighbors was that I planned for that predictable time and frankly, folks, it’s just as easy to reach for a book as a bottle.

PLAN! You know what your habits are. CHANGE THEM! You know what you like to do or might like to try, SCHEDULE IT! Make sure you have plenty of options on hand at all times.

Unsure how to address this? We’re happy to help. Just give us a chance.