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