So… I’m on the wagon again. Yup, things finally got too spicy for the pepper and it became over evident that drinking just isn’t for me anymore. The past seven months have shown me that there is something about my chemical makeup and alcohol that just don’t play well with one another. I mean technically, over long term use, alcohol doesn’t play well with anyone, but some of us have stronger constitutions or the ability to “drink responsibly”. Whatever that means. It’s been 39 days now and my resolve has never been stronger to stay sober. I’ve got my routines intact and I’m actively working my SMART tools daily, which has been the greatest downfall in my previous attempts at sustained sobriety. With all that being said, I have a better chance at making this attempt one that will stick.
One of my greatest tools has been how active I have been within the SMART online community. On July 1st, I attended my first SMART Zoom meeting in three months, and made a commitment to attend 30 meetings in 30 days. I began to the put the tools learned via them into practice and restructured a routine that would help keep me focused. I’ve had a better go at things this go ’round by taking on the underlying impetus for my drinking. One of the best tools for this is to examine behaviours and beliefs and work to correct or reframe them. For me, my drinking is most triggered by feelings of anger and frustration, and those feelings are most often triggers by the beliefs I hold about the “cause” of my anger and frustration. The SMART Recovery program focuses on rational (thinking) beliefs and irrational (emotive) beliefs, and switching the latter for the former whenever you find the former dictating maladaptive behaviours. In the case of this practice, most irrational beliefs are seen as limiting judgments about a person, a person’s motives, or a general situation that evoke a negative reaction. For those of us who have addictions, dealing with irrational beliefs about things we can not control can lead us to picking up our DoC if we’re not diligent in thought switching. So a big part of remaining sober, from that perspective, is to be mindful of the thoughts or beliefs you allow to become a part of your every day cognition. Seems simple enough, right? I’ve had relative success in using the basis of the method so it does work. However, I have started questioning certain acceptances of what makes a belief irrational in nature, which has led me to an unpleasant crux with certain SMARTies.
The trick to making the thought switch tool work is to run through a couple of tenets of humanity politics. First off, you come to accept certain human behaviour as base and imperfect. Second, you understand that none of us are owed any particular treatment by anyone else, so personal offense is kind of illogical. And third, you push on to the next bit of business you have planned to do in your life. The basis of irrational belief is the thought that something should or shouldn’t be simply because you deem it as such. We’ve seen a lot of irrational beliefs playing out on the national stage concerning the bouts of civil unrest with people in assumed positions of authority trying to dictate what others do or do not have the right to partake in. Most irrational beliefs are based on feelings and feelings are not necessarily based in fact. But is there anything wrong with with emotive beliefs if you don’t act on them in an irrational manner? Additionally, just because a person feels a certain way about a certain thing, does that make their belief inherently irrational? Although we try hard not to label one another in SMART, I am finding more and more that while we don’t label each other, it seems more than permissible to label someone’s thoughts or feelings, which I think sends the wrong message.
Rational beliefs can be seen as the direct contrast of irrational beliefs in the sense that they are built upon documented proof of a thing instead of speculation or opinion. In trying to curb maladaptive behaviours, deeming a thought or belief about something rational or irrational can help with accepting whether or not one is justified in believing what they believe. This can allow the person to chose the right coarse of action for resolution in the situation, if one can be made. When I voiced an observation about a particular meeting event it was suggested I evaluate my “irrational beliefs” about it, even though it was something that had been observed by more than just me, and all of us came away with similar beliefs about it. So the automatic labeling of what I voiced as “irrational” was not only pretentious it was… Well… A bit irrational by nature.
I think it’s past time for us to accept certain things “as is” if they are not bothering us, whether irrational or rational by our individual standards. Everyone has the right to feel how they’d like, believe what they believe, an think how they think without it always needing to be so neat, tidy, and concise to others. Sometimes a belief about something is based on the fact that a person just doesn’t vibe with it personally. I don’t see that as rational or irrational since most often the response is to just keep on pushing and leave the thing where they found it. Everything isn’t for everybody, and as long as my belief is not inspiring irrational actions or reactions then it should be one of those things that is left where it is found.
Accepting what I can and leaving the rest…