S – serenity
O – obvious
B – bravery
R – reality
I – integrity
E – ethereal
T – truth
Y – yes!
I have looked at this word and what it means to me: Sobriety. It means so many things. I must say, the sober approach to life is a many-faceted being. One meaning is “not affected by alcohol, not drunk” and another meaning is “serious, sensible and solemn”. Well, I am both of those things – and more!
When I drank wine, I felt light and fun, relaxed and warm. Until that fourth glass, of course! Then things were not so lekker and the morning saw me in my guilt and shame and irritation with life. NOW: I am clear-headed, focused, FULL of energy, happy in my work and in my play. I am NOT gay or jolly or shrieking with laughter every hour.
No, I am sensible, serious, and solemn. I don’t like authority and I like to have my own slant on life where I do things my way, not the sheep ‘herd’ way. Being sober has assisted me to be this person! An individual. I do, however, like the feeling that we are all part of something greater, we are all victims of the present (crazy and unsettling) Status Quo in the world and that kindness to all our peers and brethren is the best way to go.
Can We Assist Others to get Sober?
I have been thinking a lot about how to convince someone who battles with their drinking to get sober. How can it be done in a subtle, undemanding way where they see the light on their own? I mean, many of you reading this will empathise how hard it is to stop drinking and remember how many times you fell down the rabbit hole and had yet ANOTHER day one?
Coaching practice teaches us to hold the space and listen on three levels: the first level is just listening to the words; the second level is listening to the emotions behind the words, and the third level is that deeper listening to what is really going on and where this discussion needs to go.
Coaching practice also teaches us never to FIX anyone, to ASSIST them, to PREDICT for them or to PROJECT onto them our own ideals and opinions. So, the coach is there to a) listen and b) guide using deep, courageous questioning.
What are YOU doing right now, besides reading this blog? Think about it. How are you spending this minute, right now? And how is that helping you, or negatively affecting you?
I recently read about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. And it is linked to the dopamine we need to survive as human animals in the jungle of civilisation we have created.
According to an article by Delaney Tosh in the Coaching Tools Company, “dopamine is a critical neurotransmitter involved in motivation. Dopamine sends signals between neurons and plays a role in the brain’s reward system, telling us to take action, to achieve something good.”
Motivation was a survival instinct in the days before the Industrial Revolution. Before the world starting modernising, in our ancestors’ days, motivation drove humans to hunt, have sex, find food and exist in the wildness of their environment.
In today’s contrived, man-made world, motivation is defined as the condition of being eager to act or work! Wow, how the meaning has evolved! As have humans! In today’s life, motivation involves giving someone a reason to do something. Have you ever bribed your kids or someone close to you? If you get an A for Science, I will take you shark cave diving. If you mow the garden for me, I will buy ice cream for pudding tonight.
We all know that story! Motivation is a force that causes someone to do something just like that, whether they like it or not.
Says Tosh: “Motivation seems to be driven by the circumstances in our life and our attitude. Yet if we take a closer look at neuroscience research, we see that it’s the neurotransmitters in our brains that determine motivation…. dopamine is a critical neurotransmitter involved in motivation. Dopamine sends signals between neurons and plays a role in the brain’s reward system, telling us to take action, to achieve something good.”
Let’s look at intrinsic motivation: it happens internally and is driven by the brain. You will be motivated by duties that you really like and want to do. These duties or activities are what you are good at or what you do creatively. When you do these chores or activities, you feel driven, useful and happy because the dopamine is working, and you feel a sense of reward.
Let’s look at extrinsic motivation: these are the things you have to do for work or as chores. The rewards may be money or recognition or a visual pleasure or a physical powerful pleasure. We get rewarded in our jobs with money for whatever we do: accounts, bus driving, yoga teaching, nursing, cleaning or running an entire company. We also get motivated by the mundane chores at home like cleaning, mowing the lawn, fixing the gutters, and building walls.
Many of the extrinsic things we do for motivation come with pressures from society, the glory of recognition, huge expectations, and huge rewards. In a corporate environment, employees are rewarded with bigger and better offices, gadgets, paycheques, and accolades. These things drive the ego.
Where is the Ego?
In life, it is often the extrinsic desire for motivation that strangles the intrinsic motivators. So, after work, the employees go for a drink. They are being rewarded for a hard day’s work. This drink will dampen the desire to be artistic or to do the things that you are naturally good at and love: yoga, hiking, painting or knitting, carpentry or gardening.
Drinking can dampen our drive to do things. We think we are fine that we are coping, and the drinking is fun and helping us. Meanwhile, the alcohol is doing its bad work: your liver starts taking strain, your heart is under stress, your pancreas is straining, and your gut is dealing with an influx of bacteria.
Then there is your entire immune system which is now weaker and cannot fight as hard when you are affected by dis-ease. People with compromised immune systems will get colds, flu, then bronchitis, then pneumonia. Cancer comes to those who drink too much, we know this.
Answer These Questions
I will conclude with some questions for you to answer in your own time, at home, when you are relaxing with cuppa TEA (not wine!). Think about the work that you do for money:
- Are you satisfied that it is something you love doing?
- Do you feel that your work is forced upon you?
- What in your life do you have control over?
- How can you approach your work differently?
- How can you change the situation and do the work for YOU?
- How can you turn the chore into a challenge that is worth achieving?
- How can you achieve something new today?
The second step is to look at HOW your work situation aligns with your core values.
If, for example, you list your core values as peace, love, trust and faith, then how does your work enhance or relate to these?
Ask these questions about your work:
- What are your values? Do you have these same values at work?
- What makes your work feel focused and having a reason?
- How is your work part of your life vision?
- How can you improve your work connections and your life-work connections?
Have fun answering these questions as honestly as possible. It may be that your intrinsic motivation is overwhelmed by your extrinsic motivation. Finding the balance may well help you to drink less or to do more of the things you love!
This brings me back to that word, Sobriety. Write it down and list your values according to each letter like I did when I began this blog.
Janet Gourand notes that “it takes a period of sobriety to gain the perspective to look back and realise that in fact you have been “in prison” for many years.”
Read her blogs HERE and sign up for Sober Spring HERE!