Managing All the Commotion!

It is extremely easy, and tempting, to get distracted by all of the political turmoil which threatens to engulf us all for the foreseeable future. It’s also another excuse to drink our way through what looks like looming disaster.

Guess what? As with many issues, events, conditions, and conundrums, there is a limit to how much any of us can do. As usual, the choices are, do what we can – and that requires some careful choosing – or ignore everything and retire from life, possibly with a numbing, and even more depressing, alcohol assist.

No, we’re not going to ignore the pink elephant (how appropriate) in our lives, but neither are we going to join, or suggest you join, in the general hysteria.

Instead, we do think you might want to consider choosing from the more productive options you do have – just like choosing how to manage your alcohol use and/or abuse.

First, you do get to decide how much of this particular “reality TV show” you want to admit into your daily life. You do, after all, control what you allow television, the internet, radio, newspapers and magazines, and general conversations to thrust upon you. Sense would suggest that you can empower yourself, and maintain control over your emotions, by controlling what you allow to intrude on your sensitivities.

Stated more simply, don’t allow TV, the internet, and radio to cram “information” of dubious accuracy down your throat.

Sure. Stay informed. But use print media so that you control what you’re swallowing, not hysteria mongering, ratings driven, ignoramuses.

An example? Years ago a client eliminated about 80% of his urges to drink by turning off Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Yes, he stayed informed, and balanced, via The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The difference? He was the one who now decided what information mattered to him.

When you control the input to your brain and the processing of that information you also control your emotions. That’s basic CBT, which we teach a lot of around here, and practice pretty continually these days as well.


Acting Works Better Than Reacting!

That may seem self-evident, but most of us spend way too much time reacting. Instead, we can opt to act, and we can also decide to respond. Again, you aren’t powerless and when your life reflects this fact you will feel a lot better than when you pretend you are a helpless victim.

Yes, there are many facets of life we can’t control but, for most of the ones that have an immediate impact on us, we can control our responses and, hence, our emotions. Whether the buzz words you prefer are self-awareness or mindfulness or some of the other current jargon, the result is the same. Manage your responses, rebut your reactions, and you won’t need to medicate your negative – and self-created – emotions.

More practically, manage your time and you will manage your life. Doing so will result in less stress, depression, angst, and anger. It will result in more productivity, pride, intimacy, joy, and laughter.

I know, I know. Specifics, please!

Every day you and I are allotted 24 hours to use as we choose. Some of those hours will be spent sleeping. Some will be working. But most of the rest we can do what we please with.

This leaves us with 3 categories of activity: passive, semi-active, and engaged.

Passive activities are those where we are simply spectators: TV, movies, and other pass times where we are simply observers.

Semi-active activities are those like reading which require our attention and mental participation.

Engaged are those which require both mental engagement and, usually, a physical component, which excludes other things from intruding into our consciousness. That’s also known as focus.

Yes, we need all three but the proportions vary and drinking, folks, reduces everything to passive spectator-hood. And that leads to boredom and depression and, guess what, more drinking which leads to more isolation which leads to…..

That’s how the downward spiral works as you know from your current state.

Happily, the spiral also works in reverse. Stop medicating and feel a bit better. Feel better, engage a bit more. More engaged = less isolated and lonely. Less lonely, isolated, bored and depressed = more focused and engaged = ……

Or you can choose to continue drinking to excess, or join AA, and keep on missing out on having a life. For those “doors” you don’t need us.