By George, He's Got It!
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Let me start off by saying to all of you ‘Friends’ fans, go find your own recovery source. This is for the elite aficionados of true comedic television that fully accept that Seinfeld is hands down THE comedy of its era!
I had no idea that my many years of wasted time watching the countless reruns would provide me with the keys to Sobriety! Who would’ve known that the hapless George Costanza held the key to my sobriety success? Today, I no longer view George as my television persona, complete with all the fears, insecurities, laziness, slothness and self-pity that I AM, but I see him as one of the wisest individuals to grace the medium called television. I realized the answers regarding my path to sobriety were within me all the time. I know it when George spoke for me in the episode entitled “The Opposite”
“Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but... I was perceptive. I always know when someone's uncomfortable at a party. It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat... It's all been wrong.”
“Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!”
After watching that episode for the 73rd time, to the delight of my wife and our lawn that was only growing longer, it dawned on me that if the last 30 years consisted of me drinking excessively, what if I did the opposite and didn’t drink! What a great idea, but it required a lot more than that simple approach. I had to look at every moment of my life during those drinking years, and find the events, situations, times of day, things accomplished, things not accomplished, chores completed and those not, basically all of the things in my day that lead me to take that first drink, put them all down on paper and……,.you guessed it, do the opposite. If my actions during my drinking days steered me towards alcohol, where could I go if I did the opposite?
I know this sounds like I’m going for the cheap plagiarized laugh, but let’s look at this ‘theory’ to see if it actually has some merit.
I started off by putting down all the situations in my typical day prior to taking that first drink. I wanted to know exactly what I was doing, where was I going, who was I with and what was I thinking before I cracked that first beer.
Here is a list of a typical scenario.
I was alone
I was at a location that encouraged drinking
I had free time on my hands
I was bored
I had not exercised
I had not journaled about my thoughts
I had not planned my evening
I had not worked as hard at my job as I could have
I did not have alcohol free beverages in my hand before urges hit
I had not called or talked to a friend who was in recovery
I had not been honest with anyone about my emotions
I was typically hot and dirty after a day’s work
I had not filled myself up with a good healthy meal
I had not practiced mindful breathing exercises
I had not been to any type of support meetings
I had not written down my goals for that day
I had not offered to help someone with whatever it is I could offer
I had not listened to any self-help or inspirational podcasts
I had been thinking about drinking all day
I hadn’t acknowledged in advance that I was feeling an urge to drink
I had not planned ahead as to how I would handle cravings
I was not prepared to NOT drink
So guess what I did?
Your list is probably similar, I am sure there are many more things that I had or had not done on those typical days, but I believe the bulk of them are listed.
So the question is, how strong would my desire to drink have been if I had done the opposite of every one of those on that particular day? How much easier would it have been for me to say NO to a drinking urge if I had done the complete opposite of the list above? Would a decision to not drink been more or less of a ‘white knuckle’ experience if I had done the opposite?
A major reason that sought out alcohol was to help drown out the negative feelings I had about myself. I did not like the things that I was doing in life, and I liked even less the fact that I was NOT doing the things in life that I should have been. My self-worth was low. My actions did nothing to build up my belief in myself or give myself hope that tomorrow would be a better day. I neglected myself both spiritually as well as physically. I typically put off today anything that I could do tomorrow. I had no reason to pat myself on the back those days, and the only thing that helped to relieve the guilt for the life I was living, or should I say not living, was to drink alcohol to momentarily forget who I wasn’t. I gave myself no chance whatsoever of pulling myself up out of the hole I had dug. All I could do was to dig it a little deeper.
But what if today, I did the opposite of everything on my list. How would I feel about drinking when Happy Hour came around? Would I want to throw all that effort away, or would I want to hold onto the feeling of pride, self-worth and accomplishment for actually living the day like it was meant to be lived.
Do you want to give yourself a really good chance at not-drinking today? Figure out what you did yesterday when you drank and try doing the opposite. If it can work for George and Jeff, I’m pretty darn confident it can work for you.