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Do Things to the Best of Your Abilities

by | Stop Drinking Alcohol | 10 comments

Today I wanted to talk about just doing things to the best of your abilities.

Not talking about alcohol here or quitting drinking alcohol, I think that’s something that everyone is capable of doing and you shouldn’t make any allowances for that, you know – there’s no drink, there’s no drink, that’s it – no drink, right? But I’m talking about afterwards and pushing yourself forward and learning new skills and all that kind of stuff.

I’m a massive believer in the growth mindset as apart from the fixed mindset and this is something, I can’t remember the woman who developed this, but it’s a mindset where, if you have a fixed mindset, you’re born and you go throughout your life thinking that what you have, the abilities that you have in your life are fixed, right, you can’t expand on them. What you’re born with is what you get basically.

Growth mindset on the other hand is sort of along the lines of you believe you were born with certain gifts, certain range of abilities, but that you can grow and you can expand those abilities and you can expand them into whatever area you want to take on, right. I think the key word there is want.

I tried to, I love the sound of Spanish Guitar, right, Spanish Guitar and the classical Guitar. I just like that sound, I think I can listen to that in the background. I’m not a great fan of music but I did enjoy playing it.

And I went to, I brought a guitar for myself – this was before I quit drinking – and I went to lessons, I took some lessons with a young Guy and I think I did about twelve lessons and I was getting really good at playing maybe three or four different tunes, I managed to get my fingers attuned to pressing the frets and pressing the guitar strings and doing all the strumming or whatever, the picking.

But, I never really got a real buzz out of it. I got a buzz out of playing certain songs, but I never got a buzz in the long-term so I never really pursued it. And although it’s in my mind – I’d loved to do this, I’d love to be able to play – it’s not something that I want to put the work into, that would be involved in order for me to play well you know.

I’m not really a person who listens to a lot of music. I prefer the peace and quiet and stuff. I listen to music, sometimes, if I’m out walking and stuff and I’m just, my mind is not with it, I’ll stick on some Billy Joel or something like that and just take my mind off things. That’s the only time that I ever really listen to music.

So, if you lock me inside a room with a Guitar Teacher for six months, right, I would probably be able to come out and I’d be able to bang out a few tunes, but that practise, that over and over again, playing the same chords over and over again, that is just beyond me, right? It’s just not in my mind to be able to do.

I think that’s the basal ability that I don’t have, right. That patience for learning that kind of thing. The same with Chess, I would love to be a great Chess player. But I don’t have that basic patience to sit there and master the different moves that it would take to get there.

I’m sort of, I’m good at Pool, I used to enjoy playing Pool, but I got good at Pool because it was something to do when I was in the Pub. And often now when I play Pool, people see what level of skill I’ve got with Pool and they say – “Jesus, you had a wasted, wasted youth, you know!” And it’s true, but that’s just something I did.

It’s the same thing goes with reading. I love reading. I have the patience to sit down and I could spend six hours, seven hours, eight hours in the day, just reading through a book.

And I read all different types of stuff, whether it’s from fiction, science fiction, action stuff, that type of thing. Mostly I’d read non fiction. I love psychology books, I love self help books, I love all that type of stuff, you know. And I could do it, I could do that as I said, you know, five, six hours, seven hours a day, eight hours a day, no problem.

A few years ago, again before I stopped drinking, so there’s probably going to be a caveat in that. I went to do an Open University course in literature and I’ve always liked reading Dostoevsky, Dickens is one of my favourite authors, going back to when I was a kid. I read a Christmas Carol, every year, coming up to Christmas. It’s only a very short book, I usually do it in a couple of nights.

And I thought from that, that I’d really be able to get into this degree course. And once I got into it, the first year was all about, it was a general arts year, so I had to learn about music, poetry, I think there was some politics in there and literature and I found it boring. The whole thing, you know, it was completely different to reading.

You had to read to take apart what was being said and analyse what was being said and for me that was just something I didn’t want to do, with that particular stuff. I can read self help books and I can sort of take it apart in my head and I can sort of re-work things around but with literature I just didn’t want to do it.

Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t really into the stuff that was, that was on the course, but, you know, anyway, I didn’t do it and I dropped out before the year was through. So, like I say, it might have been because I was drinking and I just wasn’t seeing many things through then. I was seeing my day job through, because, I had to. I had to earn the money, that kind of thing, but other than that – I wasn’t doing it.

You know, I think in a lot of ways, your skills are a reflection of your abilities right and in other ways your abilities are a reflection of your skills. You can learn skills in one area, but if you don’t have that natural ability to, if you haven’t got an empathy with music for instance or with literature or you haven’t got, you don’t really like to dance, but you fancy being a dancer, then, you know, it’s not going to work out for you.

So, you’ve got to sort of, go for the things that match your abilities, that you’ve learnt growing up but you can learn any skill if you put your mind to it. If you really want to do something, you can learn anything. Nothing is past you.

You know as I say a lot of my experience with learning new skills were always under the influence of being a drinker. Maybe not under the influence of alcohol but under that influence of being a drinker. It permeates your thinking, you know, when you have an overall habit like this, a bad habit, especially with any drug, that thinking just permeates every other different aspect of your life. Whether it’s your work, your home life or learning something new, progressing in your life, you know, this, for me, all those years of being a drinker, maybe that just pushed me out.

I mean I’m finding myself doing things now, which I never would have thought. I’m going, I’m starting a degree in a couple of months, in psychology it is something that I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve always been putting it off, but now’s the time to do it.

I’ve got a huge advantage now in my life because I’ve got a lifetime of stuff behind me, you know, personal things behind me, you know, personal experience behind me. I’ve a life time of reading, a lot of that stuff might not have sank it’s way in, you know, but a lot of that self help books and phycology and stuff is still in there it’s, hopefully it’s there for me to learn.

I mean time is going to tell, right, I’m giving it the first year anyway, I’m going to have to pay for the first year. And then we’re see how things go after that, you know. I don’t know. See how it goes.

You know, I’m going on to your relationship with alcohol. My relationship with alcohol. As a drinker, you have the relationship where you are drinking, you’re thinking about drinking first, you’re thinking and then you’re going through the hang over, the consequences of all of that drinking.

And when you’ve stopped drinking, you’ve got to realign everything. Realign your thoughts, realign how you think about yourself, realign how you think about other people, how you feel about certain situations in your life. Certain places, like the pubs and Restaurants and stuff like that and just put those into a different perspective into your head.

You’ve got to sort of bring these out in a different way. You’ve got to think about them and put them into a different …

You know, alcohol is still going to be there. You know, people drinking alcohol are still going to be there, so you have to deal with that, but relearning these skills and realigning this alcohol thinking within your mind, that’s how you deal with it is, you know, you start to think about alcohol in a pub in a different way.

For me going to the Pub, I go to a Pub, I watch a Match, am out the door, you know. When I listen to people who are drunk, I’m out the door, I don’t listen to it any more. Because, you know, at first, it’s sort of funny you know?

It’s funny in one hand and on the other hand, it’s sort of, you’re looking at it and your sort of cringing and you’re thinking – “Jesus, was I really like that, did I talk that much shite you know” – but then eventually you get used to it and you go -“Yeah I’m not listening to it any more, I don’t have to listen to it, it’s not funny anymore, it’s not giving me anything, it’s only taking away by time, you know.

And you only have a certain amount of time. So, get the hell out of there. Don’t listen to it no more. So, when you are quitting alcohol you just have to realise that the first step is actually not putting the alcohol into your mouth any more. So, that’s it – zip. No more alcohol.

Once you’ve done that you learn new skills and very gradually and you build on the skills that you already have. You build on the abilities that you already have and build new abilities and as you’re approaching these new areas of life, whether it’s in your home, your career, whether it’s in your education or try to improve your health right, you do these in a very methodical, very step by step way. Moment, by moment, by moment.

You build and you gradually expand on these skills, that’s all it takes. Don’t think about this in the long term of, I’ve got to learn this and I’ve got to learn that and I’ve got to be this person and I’ve got to be that. You will eventually get to that person. This is the whole thing. You have to give yourself the time.

You have to give yourself patience in yourself, that you’ve got to go from being a drinker, from thinking as a drinker, into not thinking as a drinker, thinking as the person you want to be. And that’s a gradual process. It’s a natural process. It’s a process that we have to go through all our lives, in different stages of our lives.

You know, when you’re a baby and you’re first born, you’re just a bundle of nothingness, you just cry and poop and that’s it, you know, and look gorgeous but gradually you sort of assume this identity as a toddler, and you’ve got to go from being that baby into a toddler.

Think about all the different skills that you’ve got to learn to be able to stand up and walk and talk, and feed yourself and do all those things that maybe a two, or three, four year old is able to do. That’s a lot of skill learning. That’s a lot of skills that you’ve got to take on board, that you’ve got to learn.

And it’s only done, step, by step, by step. And this process will follow you though for the rest of your life, if you let it. And that’s the growth mind set. Is moving from where you are now to where you want to be and thinking about that and visualising it and thinking where you want to be and thinking, well how can I do that?

And then just taking the first step and then the next step and then the next step and then the next step and eventually you’ll get there and then you think about something else and want to be something else.

That’s it, that’s what it’s about. So, if you like this video give us a thumbs up. Stay safe, keep the alcohol out of your mouth and do things to the best of your abilities that’s all you can do, you know. Step by step, by step, just take it step by step by step.

“There is a difference between not knowing and not knowing yet”

Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!
Take Care

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  1. Bengt

    Hi Kevin,

    The name of the mindset woman is Carol Dweck. Lovely older woman (professor)



  2. JOHN

    Hi Kevin, i always enjoy your videos.Kevin i’m really having a tough time with alcohol,i can go sometimes two months at a time without drinking,i start feeling so good and then i fail. The depression the next day is debilitating,i’m not giving up,just sometimes i feel like i’m not going to make through this.i really admire your strength,this is a lot harder then i thought it would be.You talk about certain gifts we all have, mine happens to be playing guitar and singing,I’ve played professionally for over 40 years,a solo act. your probably thinking that i’m drunk on stage, i don’t drink when i’m performing, strange huh? I think the hardest thing for me is staying away from my drinking buddies,sometimes i can hang out with and not drink, other times i get hammered.Sorry for the long comment Kevin, sometimes i just don’t know who to talk to.

    Best regards

    • Kevin O'Hara

      No worries John. Leave as many comments as you want. I hope things get easier for you. You will make it through if you persevere and try to learn something from every failure. Take care, Kevin

  3. John

    Thank you Kevin for the comment back. I think your so right,i feel so great when i don’t drink. i think i’am learning from my failures. I just have to remember how extremely bad the hangovers are

    Thank you for all you do Kevin


  4. Mick

    John if you can do a couple of months you can do this. You did the hard part. I think after a few months you do get sometimes a few days where you start to loose faith in your decision, faith in yourself, even thinking you feel depressed and like shit, you then can start to think, fuck it I might as well have a drink. It does not have to be like that.

    Get a few months back under your belt, you know you can do that. During the time educate yourself about alcohol. Read at least a couple of books. When you get the 2nd month cravings this time see it for what it is. Its the dead cat bouncing, its your old habits final fling, your old habit chucking all it has into its last few rounds. You may have to take a few on the nose. But just keep on keeping on. Tell your self you don’t have the right to let the you down that got you this far.

    Keep your guard up and let it punch itself out, don’t fight it, just watch its final death throws.

    Think Control, control yourself in the environment your in. It thats not working.

    Think Avoid, do I need to avoid these people this place for a bit, if you judge this wrong,

    Think Evade, get the fuck out of the place, go home, go to bed, just don’t give in.

    The cravings will gradually fade and die. What you finish up with is being liberated to enjoy everything sober. This feeling is that great its worth any level of discomfort. After 2 weeks its all in your mind. your own thoughts are causing the cravings. Eventually the thoughts will just stop. Trust me on this one. My view is the liberated feeling starts to pop out more and more after about 4 months, once you have tasted it, you want want the taste of that poisonousness piss ruining everything. Alcohol is a fools gold. I can enjoy being sat out with a cup of tea, feeling fit and healthy inferentially more than I used to with a glass of the shit they call wine.

    Be lucky John, you can do this, its actually pretty easy.

  5. Mick

    Great video Kev, I love the idea of growth mind set.

  6. Dave

    Hi Kevin, I read your message every day and find it a great source of strength. It’s two years 3 months now and not a drop. Didn’t think I could do it. Certain times each day and stressful circumstances are still a fight but they pass. I reckon I would feel much better for a couple of drinks but I would be so angry with myself it just wouldn’t be worth it.
    Everything you say is true – after quite a short time the problem is definitely in the mind.
    I have done myself a fair amount of damage I reckon from poor lifestyle and my hobby of boozing from an early age. I am now learning to manage the conditions I have caused – some of it is irreversible. Never knew it at the time.
    Life is so much better in every way now. My mind is so much clearer I can cope better with the ups and downs and not just procrastinate for another day.
    You provide excellent advice not just theory like you get all over the place – real life experience. I have a good brain I’m pretty sure – I’ve wasted loads of time on thinking I was sort of rock and roll. As Keith Richards of the Stones once said when his manager ripped him off – ‘it’s the price of an education’. So nothing is really wasted it is experience.
    I am determined to make up what ground I can now by doing the best I can for myself and other people. Thank God I have been given the strength to throw the booze out of my life. I still have physical pain and the pain of working through difficulties smoothly.
    However nothing is as bad as having your life directed by a bloody chemical. That is utter stupidly and none of wants to think they are stupid.

    We all make make mistakes all the time – it’s the bouncing back and carrying on by doing useful stuff that counts. Thanks on behalf of myself and I’m sure many others. Never think your efforts are wasted for a second. You are a star! Onwards and upwards Kevin! Dave

  7. Douglas breen

    John, Just finished Eric Claptons Biog..Take a read..Good luck…Doug


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