Day 6 – Overcoming Discomfort Dodging

IWISH

This month you are doing something you probably don’t usually do – avoiding all alcohol.

Because it’s new or unusual, a MOB will take you outside your comfort zone now and then, so you will need to be able to handle the discomfort of not being 100% comfortable all the time (e.g., having a drink every time you want or think about one). You might feel a particular sense of discomfort about missing out on experiences that everyone else is having.  

Illogical Belief: Life Should and Must Always Be Comfortable

Life is easier and more comfortable now for most of us than it ever has been before in history. We all have certain expectations and demands that many things should be comfortable for us – that we shouldn’t feel hungry, we shouldn’t have to walk to work because we can’t afford transport, that we should get a holiday each year etc.

Only a few thousand years ago we would not have survived if we could not hunt, kill or prepare our own food. Today, we find it an inconvenience, it even makes us furious, when trains are late, or there is no wifi in our hotel.

We also believe that many of our urges, preferences, or desires, should be immediately satisfied (it would be unpleasant to have to suppress or deny these urges, and that would make us feel uncomfortable – and we don’t want that do we?).

This is an illogical and ultimately unhelpful way to think. If we are always satisfying our urges to make ourselves feel comfortable, it would be hard to work towards any goal that requires us to postpone immediate pleasures or preferences (having a drink now) in order to achieve a larger goal that happens in the future (having a successful MOB).

This doesn’t just apply to MOBs, but diets, writing projects, saving up for something…you get the idea!

pinsDon’t be a Discomfort Dodger

We have a tendency to go for the easiest (although not necessarily the best) solution. It is easier to give in to our urges because it takes more effort, feels more unpleasant, and creates a bit more tension to experience the discomfort of sitting with and experiencing the urge, or denying ourselves something we think we really want.

Many of us who are concerned about our drinking have become used to having a drink pretty much whenever we fancy one. Rather than create some mild discomfort by denying ourselves a drink, we want to make ourselves feel comfortable by giving ourselves what we think we need or want. By doing this, we are discomfort dodging.

Having a drink is also taking the path of least resistance, the easiest way we know to resolve a problem. The problem might be stress, or anger. The most familiar solution you have to cope with the emotion you are experiencing is to drink on it. There are other solutions though, they just might take a bit more effort (spoiler alert!: most other solutions are actually better – drink usually just magnifies a negative emotion, it doesn’t change it into a positive one!).  

Learning to Ride out Discomfort

To deal effectively with urges, cravings, tension, or thoughts of how lovely a drink would be right about now, we need to develop more tolerance for discomfort, so we can focus on the longer term reward (completing the MOB), rather than giving in to short-term benefits.

If you are doing this course, you are not physically dependent upon alcohol. So:

It is not the lack of drink that is causing you to feel uncomfortable or tense – it is your thoughts about that drink/lack of drink that is creating the discomfort.

To be able to focus on our longer term plans, we must learn to challenge our thoughts and beliefs about how much discomfort and tension we can tolerate. This will help us delay gratification, and postpone immediate rewards for longer term gains.

Using the daily ritual will help you remove or manage some potential discomfort (possible pitfalls) because you will be creating plans to deal with it.

One particular plan you can put in place is to commit to practicing some logical and helpful self-statements or internal self-talk when you feel a bit uncomfortable or experience an urge, such as:

  • Sure I feel like a drink, but the discomfort of not having one won’t kill me.
  • I CAN tolerate more discomfort than I think I can.
  • I CAN do some things I would rather not do, including resisting a drink today.
  • I CAN cope when things get stressful, without having a drink.
  • Discomfort is temporary. Relative to the total time available in your entire lifetime, most uncomfortable tasks that you set for yourself will eventually be over – exercise classes take an hour, a MOB is just 30 days in an entire lifetime!

Today’s post is based around one of the core irrational beliefs (low frustration tolerance) that form the basis of a psychological intervention called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. This book is a great introduction to the model.

There’s also a video from our October 2015 MOB on dealing with discomfort you might want to check out!

Your actions for today

  • Reflect on whether there are areas of your life where you have been a discomfort dodger. Are there also parts of your life or achievements where you have been able to postpone immediate reward for longer-term gain? What can you learn about yourself these experiences to help you in the MOB?
  • If you have already experienced some discomfort, urges, or cravings for a drink – what did you do or say to yourself to ride that out?
  • Visit the private Club Soda Facebook group and tell us your thoughts or experiences of discomfort dodging and how you cope with urges.  

2 Responses to “Day 6 – Overcoming Discomfort Dodging

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Excellent article .I have never really thought about it this way but yes its discomfort not having a drink .

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I loved this article. Just wanted need as it things get tricky. Out for dinner tonight with colleagues so was worried and about resisting. I did some planning inadvanced and called the restaurant to ensure they have alcohol free beers…

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