Making changes in life, no matter the circumstance (health, marriage, career, parenting, friendships, habits), is hard. For me changes are so hard that a momentary urge, a small nudge from someone I care about, or a even a deep spiritual message that spoke to me probably isn't enough to make permanent change. I am starting to recognize that most of the time change doesn't REALLY happen unless there is a significant paradigm shift. I can make minor changes in my life by changing my behavior or my attitude, but if I want to make major changes, I need to shift the way I look at things.
Dr. Stephen Covey explains, "A paradigm is our “map” of the “territory” formed through all in influences around us and in our lives – our conditioning. These paradigms are also the source of our attitudes and behaviors; we tend to think we see the world objectively, but we actually see the world not as it is, but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it. When our paradigms finally align with the world as it is, we have truth. But to see the truth as it is, we must first have a paradigm shift."
I suppose the first step to shifting my paradigm is describing my current reality in regards to what I want to change and not be afraid to list the unpleasant facts. So here is my honest reality. I drink too many alcoholic beverages per week and it is causing me to feel tired (especially after the weekend), gain weight, and my mind is foggy. I take way too many motrin to get rid of headaches from alcohol and dehydration. Recently, I was honest with my doctor about how many beverages I drink per week. Since I may have anywhere from 3 to 15 in week I just told her on average I have about 10. She asked me to cut that number in half and that should have a positive impact on my overall health. I spend way too much damn money at the grocery store and restaurants on beer and wine and I could be using that money to go out to a nice dinner or take the family on a vacation. I order a drink at every single restaurant I go to and it isn't because I am craving it or I physically need it, but because I just think it is fun to do and I feel like I will miss out if I don't try all the new fun craft beers or taste the restaurants specialty cocktail. I have a serious issue with "Fear of missing out". On the weekends, I drink beer and wine and very little water. This is so bad for me because I am a chronic kidney stone manufacturer and my body needs water more than anything. I know I need the water, but the craft beer or wine just sounds like it is way more tasty and fun. I use alcohol in social situations to relax and I think it makes me more funny, open to sharing my feelings, and helps me laugh. I use it to get past my inner social awkwardness. I use alcohol in intimate situations with my husband. I think it helps me unwind, clear my head of stresses, and lose my inhibitions. I used to get buzz and feel "giddy" after 1 or 2 drinks. Now, I sometimes wonder if I ever get a buzz which tells me that clearly my body has built up a tolerance. Because of this so called tolerance, I have driven a car one too many times after having drinks. My daughter once told me that she has a hard time cuddling with me on the couch because the arm that she would snuggle in was the one I would keep moving to pick up my glass of wine. When my kids tell people that mommy's favorite drink is wine, I don't like how that feels. OUCH. I also think that on the weekends I tend to become more patient with the kids after I have drinks. I think I drink sometimes when I am bored and it is something to do with Rick and with friends/family. This isn't a pretty picture.
Sure, it is important that I know what I don't want, but it's even more important to visualize, imagine, or simply think about what I do want! So what pretty picture do I want? I want to be able to recognize when familiar patterns take shape and have the power to choose not to perpetuate it. I want to be able to acknowledge my anxiety and keep it in check by trying not to change something I don't have control over. I want to wake up each day happy, rested, and hydrated. I want to make positive choices when interacting with my children and have the patience to work on the things that God is teaching me. I want to have the motivation to work out and lose weight and feel my personal best. I want to be the best wife, daughter, employee, and friend that I can be without relying on alcohol to calm me or make me more patient. I want to drink more water and fuel my body with healthy things. I want to laugh, play games, take walks, and hang out with friends. I want to live a long and happy life.
It is time to create a bridge from my reality to my vision. My old paradigm: I need alcohol to be social, patient, and relaxed and it is fun, normal and regular part of my relationships. What is my new paradigm? I don't need alcohol to have fun, be social, relaxed, and have fun.
Anything is possible. I have the power to shape my future. I can create my own vision and I can be my own catalyst for change.
The good news... I am off to a good start! We are 5 days in with no alcohol. Rick and I made it through our first dry weekend. We even entertained family on Saturday night and it didn't feel any different than if we had been drinking. We made some yummy MOCKtails to have something refreshing to sip on while socializing. Visit the website forum for the recipe! I did fill my time with some extra cleaning and I went out shopping and ran errands. I got things done that I have been pushing aside for awhile. I do have to admit that I may have been a little extra crabby this weekend and I am disappointed that I peeled off all my beautiful nail polish and bit the nails that I have been growing for 2 weeks, but heck... I didn't drink!