Habit Memories (Transcript)
I spoke a little bit about this on a previous video, on stop drinking alcohol week 40. And it’s basically how some of your alcohol memories can actually jump up and bite you in the arse, months afterwards.
I’ll talk a little bit about my own experience in a little bit. But first, I wanted to talk a little bit about memory and your habits in general.
When it comes to habits, everyone knows it takes a long time; it’s a very slow process for a habit to form. Just for you to get onto that plateau where it’s a daily habit is about 66 days, roughly 66 days. It’s a very hard upward slope at the beginning, it starts tapering off, and then around 66 days, it goes onto a plateau and it becomes easier to do the habit, to have the habit as part of your everyday life.
The longer you actually do something, the more ingrained into your personality it gets. The more ingrained your cells, if you want, it gets. The reason is simple. It’s pure survival! That’s just the way your brain works, it wants everything to be as easy as possible.
If you think about a child when it’s born, if you’ve ever watched a young infant, even learning the simplest tasks like putting something into its mouth or standing up and walking, it’s all trial and error.
Your Old Habits
Our old habits are still waiting in the wings, and the longer you’ve been drinking for, the more deeply ingrained these habits are going to be. The problem with these old habits is that they’ll come up. At the beginning, you’re not too far off it, the 66 days, so you get past that two month period, and everything seems to be plain sailing.
Two Years and Two Thousand Miles
I’ll give you the example of me the other day, and I’ll explain it a little bit more. I got a phone call from a mate of mine in Ireland. It’s not unusual, I haven’t seen him in about two years, but I’ve spoken to him several times on the phone. We always talk about the same thing, what he’s doing for work, what I’m doing for work. We talk about the team that we both support in the premier league. And we just have a natter. How is this person or that person, that kind of thing.
I asked him where he was, and he said “I’m in Paddy Quinn’s” which was a pub that we both used to go to, it was one of our locals. He said, “I’m on to the Diamond in a minute”… and it was just, the whole conversation, everything coming together, I was speaking to Liam, and it was like I’d never left Ireland. It was like two years had never gone past. And it was like I was two miles up the road instead of two miles in another country. It was that strong that I could taste the beer. I could smell the bar. I could see everything; I knew who was in the bar, that kind of thing. It was just a big, strong, emotional memory. It only lasted a couple of minutes. But in those two minutes, it was so strong.
Beware of the Pouncing Memory
The reason I’m talking about these is that it’s the type of memory that will come up and bite you in the arse. You don’t know when it’s going to come up. There are certain types of situations when you know you’re going to be thinking about drink. Christmas, when you’ve been around people before and you’ve always drank, birthdays. The situations, the personal situations, when you know that when you go there, everyone else is going to be drinking. And you’re going to be thinking about drinking.
It Will Pass
But these are the situations; these are the strong emotions, where everything comes together. It’s like the previous months haven’t occurred. And it’s a really strong emotion. Like I say, it doesn’t last long. You’ve just to be careful that these are only memories. I would say that it’s your habit trying to get back, it’s your drinking trying to get back, but that’s bullshit, you know. It’s just all the things that you used to do, all combine, when you have a combination of memories all in one single package. And it’s a little overwhelming for a few seconds, but it’s having the knowledge that it will happen to you. And when it does happen to you, you just carry on as if nothing has happened. It did keep me thinking for almost a week. But there you go.
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