Thursday, January 27, 2011

Impulse Control

I've previously written that I think going to AA and thinking in terms of rules regarding drinking is a way to break short-term impulse into a longer term framework.  Fortunately or not, we associate short term impulses with freedom and capability, and we want to have the discretion to do as we wish.  Folks who have fallen into a rut concerning chronic alcohol abuse, however, know that freedom is not had by another bottle, regardless of how much you or I might want that to be the case.  Freedom, if it exists, is something that is temporal.  And, I'd say we should try to flip our previous notion of freedom on its head by doing this: catering to short-term impulses locks us down into unforeseen medium and long term consequences that we purposefully neglect in the short term (when we justify acting).

There are undeniably situations that turn us into short term thinkers, that prick the impulse nerve: when we're hungry, tired, or stressed, for instance, or if we just had a fight with a loved one.   There are points of weakness, in a way, if you like that word, and so we come up with navigational rules for those times, and we slow ourselves down, if we can.

Anyway, here's a tip for sobriety, coming from someone who has been sober for over 7 months now: allow yourself some pleasure instead of alcohol.  At many AA meetings there is coffee.  It seems to work for some people.  Chocolate has seemed to work for me, though some exercise works too--mostly walking.  Black tea is nice, especially with some lemon and sugar.  This is great stuff.

 The name of the game, I think, is not to vanquish all longing or anxiety or depressive streaks into a ball of "bad acts" then feel horrible about internal conflict and try to push away all negativity.  Instead, it is to manage stress successfully.  To do so, get something to do every time you get stressed that you don't have to think about.  It can be calling someone.  It might be writing something down furiously, I don't know.  Try to do something, you know.  Trying to do something generally, even if it isn't going to shatter the elites' perception of their world, is a good thing.  For now. For me.  You know, this is like a work in progress.  Success is the ability to continue. 

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