When I was finishing undergrad I took a course called Solution Focused Pastoral Counseling. The basic premise was that if we could focus on a desired outcome rather than our present circumstances, we’d have a better chance of achieving the results we wanted.
How does that sound?
It sounds like self-help. Positive thinking breeds positive outcomes. Yeah, it does sound a bit like malarkey, but I’m not sure it is.
You see, the premise I want to toy with right now is the idea of thinking past the first drink. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an alcoholic or not, this should apply to all of us. Think past the first drink.
The Big Book tells us that, “THE FACT IS THAT MOST ALCOHOLICS, FOR REASONS YET OBSCURE, HAVE LOST THE POWER OF CHOICE IN DRINK. OUR SO-CALLED WILL POWER BECOMES PRACTICALLY NONEXISTENT. WE ARE UNABLE, AT CERTAIN TIMES, TO BRING INTO OUR CONSCIOUSNESS WITH SUFFICIENT FORCE THE MEMORY OF THE SUFFERING AND HUMILIATION OF EVEN A WEEK OR A MONTH AGO. WE ARE WITHOUT DEFENSE AGAINST THE FIRST DRINK(Chapter 2, There is a Solution).
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Think past the first drink. Let’s not start there though. Let’s start with the first drink. The lust hit. Winning that bet. The first high. That bite of food. The ecstasy the pain brings.
We all remember how good it can feel. We all want to feel that way again. But chances are we’ll never experience that again. We’ll keep chasing an invisible six foot tall white rabbit because we know it’s there even when nobody else can see it. We want what we once had, no matter the cost.
The problem is, we’ve already paid too much. We’ve already lost too much. Too much dignity. Too much respect. Too much money. Too many friends. Too many loved ones. Too many jobs.
Before you take that first drink, stop and think. Think about what happens after. Think about what you do. How you feel. Who you become.
Do you black out and have no recollection of where you’ve been or what you’ve done?
Do you feel remorse? Regret? Guilt? Shame?
Do you like the person you are when you’re trying to score? How do the people you care about feel about that person?
This is not supposed to be a means of guilting you into stopping. This is supposed to be an opportunity for you to recognize that your actions have consequences.
When you feel the overwhelming urge to…whatever, think before you act. It can be a truly liberating process.
And just to ensure that you don’t do anything stupid, do the next right thing. Make a phone call to your sponsor or accountability partner. If you find yourself in a place where the ability to act out is readily accessible, try to find a way to extricate yourself from those circumstances. Call a ride. Walk away. Take a minute to collect yourself and move on to something else. Step away from the keyboard. Leave your local hangout. Make new friends.
Y’all, this stuff isn’t easy. That’s why it’s a struggle. That’s why we have to work hard everyday. That’s why we take it one day at a time – sometimes less, never more. See where you’ve been in the past. Learn from your mistakes. Move on.
You’ll thank yourself later.
– Alex Walker