I’m Kevin O’Hara for alcoholmastery.com and today’s video is about not allowing other people to bully or dilute who you are with their labels.
You are your biggest cheerleader or not, depending on your self-image and how much notice you take of what other people think or say about you.
Don’t let other people define you by their limitations and never allow YOUR perceived limitations to define who you are and what you can achieve. Instead, define yourself by your how much you’ve already achieved in your life and the vast potential that’s inside you, waiting to be unleashed.
Other people’s praise doesn’t change who you are, it doesn’t make you into a better person. The same goes when someone criticizes you, the criticism doesn’t alter who you are, it doesn’t make you any better or any worse. When someone sticks a label on you, or your behavior, the label doesn’t fundamentally alter you, who you are, or the behavior itself.
One of my favorite quotes is from the Italian thinker Galileo when he was on trial, back in the seventeenth century, in front of the inquisition for saying that the earth was not at the center of the universe and in fact the earth moved around the sun. After renouncing his own theory because they threatened to torture him, he apparently said, “And still it turns”. No matter what they did to him, what they said was the truth or not, or if he denied his own theories or not, the facts would still remain the same, the earth would still revolve around the sun.
Let’s look at a bottle of alcohol. There’s this bottle of Jim Beam sitting on the shelf. Now, it’s gonna sit there on that shelf, gathering dust, with absolutely no power to move, to harm you or anyone else. You are the one who has all the power. If you think the bottle of Jim Beam is drank by generation after generation, as the marketing will tell you, or it has the the power of a demon, as in the demon drink, it doesn’t change the form of the liquid in the bottle. It still remains an inert liquid stuck in a shiny bottle. The only changes are in your head.
Let’s take another example. This time how other peoples definitions can affect you, and the your frame of mind, when you want to quit drinking. Other people can label you an alcoholic and they might define you as having alcoholism. They might even be nice enough to say that you’re suffering from a disease, and that you really can’t help yourself. Poor you! Millions of people have latched on to this notion that they have a disease for life called alcoholism. Does it do them any good?
Alcoholism is only a definition. It’s someone else’s interpretation that doesn’t alter the reality one bit. When you show up at your doctors office because your drinking has caught up on you and you’ve got signs of physical damage, your doctor is required to name your condition. As his pen hovers over that piece of paper, or his fingers spread out over the keyboard, he has to write something. He has to keep records for himself. He has to satisfy the needs of the insurance underwriters. He hasn’t got the time for long descriptions. He needs to move you out of his office as soon as humanly possible. He has twenty other patients in the waiting room. He has to write something so he writes alcoholism.
One alternative definition of alcoholism is it’s a word used by people to camouflage their own drug use. If you fear disapproval about your own bad habits, move the spotlight onto someone else by pointing out how much worse their habit is. If you are uncomfortable being 10 pounds overweight, stand next to a guy who’s 100 pounds overweight and you don’t look as fat. If you drink a bottle of wine a night that nobody knows about, compare yourself to a guy who drinks two bottles of wine and who’s making a complete arse of himself in public.
This is a form of psychological projection. It’s a theory in psychology where we defend ourselves against our unpleasant habits and impulses by denying their existence, while at the same time applying those impulses to others. Our society is doing this on a massive scale. Nobody has a problem with taking this harmful drug until they cause problems to themselves or to others. In fact, you are considered a responsible person if you keep within some arbitrary limit while you use this drug.
Ask yourself, how does the word alcoholic make you feel about who you are? How does it make you feel about the size of the journey that lays in front of you? If someone calls you an alcoholic, or you say it about yourself, what does that say about your place in your community or in society as a whole? What does it say about your position in your family? What does it say about your your intelligence? What does it say about your your self-control? How do you see yourself if you call yourself an alcoholic?
Now let’s go back to the beginning and let’s switch the viewpoint. Instead of using the word alcoholic to describe yourself, exchange it for something like undesirable habit. Now how do you feel about who you are? How do you feel about the size of the journey ahead? If someone speaks to you like you’re trying to change an undesirable habit, or you use those words about yourself, what does that say about your place in society? In your family? What does it say about your intelligence, about your self-control, about the difficulty of the road ahead. How much more manageable does it make your new journey? How much more control of the situation do you now feel you have?
Notice that nothing has physically changed. Your problem is still there, it’s still your problem. You still have to deal with it. The only difference is that by choosing your own labels you choose where you are going to start and what to expect on the journey. There’s a reason why Lao Tzu said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you start out on a journey of a thousand miles with the enormity of the goal in front of you, it may seem insurmountable, but a single step is easy, anyone can do that. All you have to do is take one step, then the next, and the next. That’s how we live our lives, one moment, then the next, then the next.
Once you start exaggerating what’s happening to you, naming alcohol a demon, saying you have an incurable disease, defining yourself as a lifelong alcoholic, you create a virtually insurmountable obstacle for yourself before you even start, you create an imaginary monster that you’ve now got to fight. How can you beat a lifelong addiction or cure the incurable? All because you listen to someone else’s definition. Your job is to reduce your journey to that single step.
YOU are the one who writes your own story. You’re not allowing anyone else to set the limits or potentials about your future.
Thomas Jefferson asked “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask, act! Action will delineate and define you.”
Regardless of the box someone else tries to put you in, for you to get through this and overcome your problem, you have to work towards your own solution. You can’t do this by inaction. You can’t think yourself into new action, you must act your way into new thinking. You won’t get anywhere thinking about labels or what others will think of you.
When you choose to use someone else’s definition of who you are, you make these labels a part of your identity, your self-image. This has the power to alter the course of your journey. Labels like alcoholic, disease, sober, and recovery have so much inherited negative baggage just dripping from them. Take the power back and define yourself. Accept nobody’s definition of who you are. Don’t let anyone else build their walls around you. You’re only limited by walls you define for yourself.
Click the like if you got something out of this video and thanks for watching
I’m Kevin O’Hara for alcoholmastery.com
Onwards and Upwards
Thank you for all the updates
Many Thanks Kevin. Brillianly written and helpful: kind regards Veronica
very good and very helpfull once again kevin.many thanks,stanley.
Haven’t corresponded with you in a long time but I’m still here watching. Must say this is your BEST YET! I hate those definitions – always have! They never felt right, I felt weak uttering them. One is NOT POWERLESS or have an incurrable disease. Another reason AA has a Very Low Success rate! Those words do ” have negative baggage dripping from them”. I have self-control over almost everything. One can apply this to many areas in there life.
Lovely to hear from you Rochelle 🙂
Just watched this a couple of times! Fantastic! This really struck a nerve.
A big part of me drinking was to shut out all the negative comments people have made to me over the years which I would replay over and over in my head rather than just think “sod off”. I have always craved praise, but you are so right, it doesn’t define me or change the person I am inside. The poison I was drinking though was changing me, although I do like my own company I do love to help others and always went out my way to help anyone, but the last couple years I was becoming more selfish by the day. The more I drank each time the more I didn’t care about others.
Tomorrow it will be 2 weeks since I had a drink, and I feel good! Tomorrow I go back to work after 7 weeks off, and I feel strong! So bring it on world.
Kevin watching this has gave me a light bulb moment!
Glad to help, Lisa!
Brilliantly written! Labels are like shackles – once you have got rid of them, you become free to begin recovery.
Thanks Kevin! You have helped me through from the very beginning when I quit one and a half years ago. Thank you for all your advice. I feel like we’ve been on this journey together! I’m grateful for your support!
You’re welcome, delighted to be a part of it all.
An excellent and brilliant commentary! I specifically applaud the comment of “do you want to know who you are?, don’t ask, take action.”
Nail and head once again Kev.many thanks.I am 11 months without a drink now and yesterday was the first time somebody chose to label me as an alcoholic to my face.l was trying to understand why I felt disturbed by it.
Podcast really helped me understand that they may need need a label and I don’t.
Isn’t it very strange that someone would choose to recognize your strength of going against the grain and gifting yourself a healthy life by labeling you in such weak terms. When you look at who’s doing the labeling, you realize they are still drinkers and are really only reflecting their own weaknesses.
Very helpful info. Inert liquid in a shiny bottle. That really spoke to me. Thanks for posting
Hi Kevin –
If you get a double reply from me – my 1st one didn’t go through right away. Best video yet!!
I dislike those labels and they are VERY NEGATIVE AND , “have negative baggage dripping from them” as you stated. A big reason AA has such a LOW SUCCESS RATE! I am the one who has the self control if I put it to use. I have found that to be true. One can apply this message to almost anything they are struggling to overcome in there live. Well said!
Great video today is 9 months off the drink for me.
I can’t begin to tell you how much of a help you continue to be in my new life I actually started watching your videos a year or so before I quit drinking we are about the same age and I found your story similar to mine even though you are half way around the globe.
Thank you Kevin. You sure know how to hit the nail on the head! Why do we listen to so much BS….because we were told to.
Accepting negative labels from the past, or from others, or from society’s definition definetly makes an impact of how we see ourselves and how it affects our self esteem. We are continuously bombarded with their negative description which in turn affects our outlook on life.
Then we feel stuck, like a loser, helpless, and downright crappy. Being brought up in a drinking environment and attending Alateen and Alanon , I can attest….. labels are most destructive to our ourselves and to others.
Thank you Kevin for this brilliant information. You get right to the core of the matter and you rip it apart wide open exposing the BS that has been feeding our minds and our thoughts.
My favorite: “Proverbs 23:7 Whatsoever a man thinketh so is he” And so I do and I continue to think as you do Kevin: “Onward and Upward!”
I’m not a religious person, Sandy, but I have to say there’s a lot of wisdom to be found in the Bible…nice quote 🙂
That’s a wonderful post, Kevin.
I look at alcohol as my having a severe allergy to it (as I do to eggs). It seems to help a bit, too. Thanks for everything. Julie
Hi Kevin, thanks for this brilliant Video, it is really helpful, as all your material is. I just bought your second book, and I really like the way you write.
“Keep it simple and stay strong”
Brilliant piece of writing Kevin. It reminds me of a piece I read many times before: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change [Dr. Wayne Dyer R.I.Paradise] It all really starts with our perception of ourselves, not the labels the outer world would have us wear but the ones we ‘chose’ to wear ourselves. This really resonated with me, “You can’t think yourself into new action, you must act your way into new thinking.”
I’ve always said that dealing with alcohol challenges, like any other challenge in life, is a matter of changing one’s mindset towards the challenge. This means first changing the thinking towards it then changing the acting towards it. It must first come from within and I appreciate the fact that this is a point that you stress. At the end of the day, it’s not just about non-alcoholic living but about better living over all. Great video and post Kevin.
Well said mate
The one truth you should know is – The history of alcohol is the history of ruin.
Thank you for your insights, makes sense on lots of levels,trying to get over the shame of being myself and I’m not so different!