100 Days

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They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I googled it, apparently not. It seems things aren’t always that simple. Well anyway I decided to make my own rule. I chose 100 days. It seemed like a nice round number. 100 sober days.

There use to be an alcohol awareness campaign that had the tag line ‘It’s not what we’re drinking, it’s how we’re drinking’. I can relate, I was drinking to oblivion. I was experiencing significant blackouts when I went out drinking. If you haven’t experienced blackout’s then you may find them hard to believe. Often times people can have selective memories the day after drinking or can experience ‘grey-outs’. Grey-outs are when you have forgotten but when someone reminds you of an event, the memory restores and you get that ‘oh my god I remember that’ moment. A blackout is essentially when the short term memories don’t convert to long term memories, the memories are gone, they are not stored anywhere so no matter what someone tells you, you won’t remember. It is an incredibly shit feeling waking up in the morning and not knowing how you got there and having no recollection of the final 2 or 3 or even 4 hours of the night. When you are obliterated like that you have lost all cognition, you are on automatic pilot. Bad decisions are imminent.

So I agree with the campaign slogan, “how we’re drinking” is definitely an issue, I also think though that “why we’re drinking” can be equally an issue. Are you drinking to celebrate a special occasion? Are you drinking to enjoy a social gathering? Or are you drinking to escape the challenges that you are faced with in life? Intoxication was giving me a temporary reprieve from the challenges of everyday life. For a short time any anxiety, stress or fear could be forced to the back of my mind and replaced with fun, laughter and freedom. That was of course until the morning after. There I was again, back in the real world, challenges and emotional bourdons intact. Now though I was hungover and emotionally drained with even less mental capacity to deal with them. The anxiety, stress and fear would then compound as my state of mind was weak. I needed to escape again. Rinse and repeat. Down we go. Emotional oblivion. Pass the Prozac.

I socialised with many people who would have partied at a similar level and frequency to me and maybe it’s not an issue for them, it’s not for me to judge others nor do I have any willingness to do so. I think ultimately no matter what it is, drink, drugs, gambling or anything else the line of moderation can be a blurry one. If your behaviour is outside of what society deems to be reasonable then you may likely be assessed as having a problem. If however you are below societies behavioural radar the measure of acceptable moderation is going to come down to your own self assessment. What is too much? What price am I paying? It really comes down to you and the questions you ask of yourself.

The moment that really got me in the end was when I started focusing on the man I wanted to become and what I wanted to achieve. When I thought of who that person was I knew that if I continued the way I was going I couldn’t become that man. I wasn’t going to achieve what I believed I could. That was my litmus test.
So I finally stopped running and started fighting, literally.

I would like to be able to have a social drink again and maintain a level of moderation. I know that if I do it has to pass my criteria, it cannot negatively influence or slow my journey forward. What I have learnt within myself is that sometimes abstinence is easier than moderation. Drinking again does freak me out because I currently enjoy the safety of abstinence, moderation is a beast I have yet to conquer and she is a fiery one.

There is a lot at stake. My boys deserve the best of me. My family and friends deserve the best of me. My colleagues deserve the best of me. I deserve the best of me.

Day 101…

Go with the #Flow

flowHave you ever been in one of those moods when you can do no wrong?

You. Are. Unstoppable.

I call it the state of Flow. This is where I want to live.

I’ve felt like this before but it’s the exception to the rule rather than the rule. It makes me wonder what life would be like if you could condition yourself to operate in that state of Flow on a daily basis. Sure we’ll all have bad days now and then but I’d like to shoot for this state the vast majority of the time.
Can you change the way you think and feel on a consistent basis? Of course you can. Well I believe you can. But like anything it will take a strategy, commitment and dedication otherwise our state of mind will revert to the default. The default is one of reaction to the stimuli and circumstances around us based on the way we’ve been programmed to view ourselves and the world. If I grew up in an environment that made me believe the world was out to get me, that I was stupid, that I would be taken advantage of at every turn, that people are sharks and not to be trusted, or that money is the root of all evil, then that would naturally play a part in forming my view of myself and the world. Everyone who has had a significant influence on our lives has played a part in forming our personality, what we believe, what we value, and ultimately how we see things.
Many of the things I have been made to believe or views I’ve held of the world and myself won’t serve me productively in living a full, rich, empowered life. If I want to change a life time of programming it’s not going to be a five minute process.

If you had the opportunity to reprogram your view of yourself and the world how would you do it? How would you want to see yourself and those around you? What would make up your state of ultimate Flow?

Would it include beliefs like…

  • I am incredibly confident and there is no problem I can’t solve with a smile?
  • I am compassionate and understanding of the challenges others face in their lives?
  • I believe in myself and what I am capable of?
  • If determined enough I can achieve anything?
  • I will give to others even when they take from me?
  • I will love others even when they display hate towards me?
  • I will be courageous in the life I lead and not fear failure?
  • I believe if given a chance people are inherently good?
  • I will not judge others as I understand they may have lived a very different life to me?

The way I see it, we didn’t ask for the values and beliefs we have and we may no longer want to have some of them. I figure I’d rather proactively program my own state of mind exactly how I want it. By doing so I want to try and build a state of mind that enables a reality where Flow is the norm, Flow is the default.

There is no reality other than that which we choose to experience.

Have you ever had a night out at a party and had a great time and been with someone who has had the worst time ever? You were at the same party! You loved the relaxed atmosphere, they hated the scruffy dress code. You loved the music, they thought the music was too loud. You loved the dancing, they thought the dance floor was too crowded. We are living the same circumstance but having a very different quality of experience. A big part of how we feel about a given event or day is going to be what we choose to focus on and which beliefs we choose to reinforce, those forced upon us, or those we choose to create for ourselves.
So I have created a new action to accompany the other tools I’ve adopted in my personal journey to reprogram my own state of mind. It’s a tool to help keep my focus on that which empowers me, a tool to hopefully take me ever closer to a sustained state of Flow.
Each time something good seems to go my way, or the world seems to bend in my favour, or one of my new beliefs is reinforced, I write it down in my journal. I write ‘#Flow’ and then write what happened. It’s a way to keep my eye on the prize, a way to remember the good, a way to… just go with the Flow.

Are you feeding your mind shit?

omaskThe plane is shaking, adrenaline is spiking…people start screaming! Your children to whom you love more than anything in the world sit either side of you. You would gladly choose death so that they could draw a single additional breath. The oxygen masks drop from the overhead compartment, what do you do? You must put yours on first.

Remember what it was like when we were kids? There was so much wonder, so much excitement. Boys ran around as superheroes and girls as princesses. Possibilities were endless. Our minds were like sponges, we absorbed an unbelievable amount of information, we learned at an incredible rate. We laughed often and lived in a state of empowered curiosity absent of fear.
The movies we watched as kids were full of emotional purity and moral fortitude. They taught us not to give up and that the underdog would triumph and that good would win over evil.

What happened when we grew up? What happened to that state of mind?
Did life somehow suck all of that out of our soul. Where did fear, judgement and hate come from? We weren’t born with these.

Society as we know it happened. The pain, fear, failure, judgement, intolerances and disappointments of past generations were passed down to us as a new way to see the world, replacing the childhood beliefs we had of wonder, promise, joy and curiosity.

We lowered our standards. We sold out our childhood selves.
We are bombarded with everything that is wrong with the world on a daily basis. Misery, horror and disgust, that’s what rates in the media. We are accepting a skewed microscopic sample of the world as our reality. It’s easy to digest these bits of information as accurate portrayals because it’s spoon feed no preparation required. No need to spend time and effort forming our own view of the world when there is one pre packaged in easy bite sized chunks ready for consumption.

The movies we watched as children have been replaced with medical dramas of misery and loss, law and order programs showcasing the most derelict behaviour humans can contrive.
Is it any wonder that we live in a world being more and more consumed by depression and mental illness? I have been there and it is a terrible feeling. I would describe it as the feeling of drowning in your own life. It is the point at which you feel you can no longer climb out of the psychological hole you have found yourself in. Your mind is clogged with shit. You have lost sight of all you have and are focused on all that is wrong. You have become the victim of your own thoughts, paralysed by your own internal turmoil and darkness.

It is not easy to fight out of but it is certainly doable. The critical aspect of recovery and maintained recovery in my opinion is the preservation of an empowered state of mind. This is the state of mind that society does not support or encourage. I needed to clear my mind of all the shit it had accumulated, rid my mind of those thoughts and beliefs that dis-empowered me and instead rebuild my mind with new beliefs to once again live in harmony with my inner child. I now stand guard at the entrance of my mind and defend it at all costs. There is no greater asset to me than the preservation of an empowered state of mind.

There is no doubt that unbelievable atrocities are happening in the world, there is horror, there is murder, there is poverty. Those stories that are covered in the media are but a drop in the bucket. I have deep compassion for those in the world who struggle in any capacity. I have a strong desire to help people in a way that my skills will allow. In order to do that I cannot feed my mind a diet of sorrow and helplessness. This is the diet our media and our society in general would have me endure.
I believe that we have to look at what our circle of influence is. What can we do to make the world better? What actions can we take? As Ghandi so rightfully said, we must be the change we want to see. We need to avoid the learned helplessness that can transpire when continuously feeding our minds with the misery and pain of those we cannot help. But rather empower ourselves with actions we can take to support and assist those we can.
To protect my state of mind I choose to see the world on my terms. I choose to see the good, the great, and the wonder. I am aware of the darkness but I choose not to focus on it or emotionally live there. I know I must choose a degree of ignorance. I choose it not to ignore the struggle or plight of my fellow man, but rather to enable me a state of mind that empowers me to act.
I have to put on my oxygen mask first.