On the day that you DID drink... think back at the precise moment that you had thoughts of taking that drink. At that very moment, you had a few choices. Try to remember what you told yourself.
Perhaps something like:
“This is too hard.
I can’t stand it anymore.
Just one little drink won’t hurt.
I just need a drink to get through this day and it is over.
I can start again tomorrow.”
You may think that it just happened automatically, and to some degree that may be true, but you DID in fact have a reason to choose the drink over your earlier wishes to remain sober.
The work and aim of Smart is to get you to STOP for a minute (before you make your choice) and see what it is that you are telling yourself. At that point, you can take the belief (ie, what you are telling yourself) and see if it is true or rational (given your goal).
To check out a belief you can ask these questions:
Is what I’m thinking a fact (provable)?
Does thinking this thought help me feel the way I want to feel?
Does thinking this thought help me achieve my goals? Or better yet, get where I want to go or be where I want to be.
If you get a NO answer then realize that you CAN CHOOSE not to give in to the urge to drink. We often FEEL that those big, bad urges will overwhelm us or not go away unless we drink.
With a little practice you will find that urges are rather flighty things.
If you engage yourself in some diversionary activity for a while, they evaporate and disappear. THEY WON’T FORCE US TO DO ANYTHING.... only WE can pick up the drink.
In the first few weeks, it is not unnatural to be hit with urges many times a day. But if you practice ‘waiting them out’, you will begin to get mastery over them and I promise you, they will begin to lessen in frequency. This only takes time and practice.
So, in looking back at your last drinking decision, ask yourself:
How did you talk yourself into drinking?
What did you expect drinking to do for you?
What irrational beliefs did you have that helped make it ok for you to drink?
What could you think and do differently in the future?
The answers you get to these questions will give you ammunition the next time you face an urge.
Remember: any thought what-so-ever that gives you permission to drink is your enemy! Argue with it, firmly tell it to go away, dispute the basis of the thought, don’t let it take up space in your head, do something to distract yourself....whatever it takes to stop that permission for that drink.
Whenever I feel or recognize an urge, I have always used this simple way to remember how to block that urge:
Stop! Look! & Listen!
Instead of blindly going into automatic mode and doing what feels natural... I make a conscious effort to STOP for a moment. Indeed, just learning to stop the behavior pattern long enough for a moment of reflection is a major step in changing the behavior.
‘Uh-oh! This is an urge here. Hold on a minute and lets LOOK at what I am telling myself right now.’
LISTEN to the excuses you are telling yourself.
Use your SMART tools: ‘Lets get out that written CBA (cost-benefit analysis) that I am carrying around and LOOK at it to bring back into my mind all the reasons I wanted to quit; all the benefits of sobriety I wrote down beforehand.’
My little list also has some written out, pre-determined ‘things to do instead of drinking’ already written out because my thinking at the moment of the urge is usually pretty one sided! So I’ve planned ahead for that moment, and written down a plan of action. Plan your defenses ahead of time!!!
With thanks to Marky from SMART Recovery!