Day 22: The Inner Negotiator

(The author, Beej Christie Karpan, is on oboe in this piece!)
“Live the story you want to tell” — Topaz

As you near the end of Dryuary, if you’re considering moderate drinking you’re probably thinking a lot about the tools you’ve built up, and the support you’ll need in order to stay on track.

One of the things my clients have found helpful is, once they’ve come up with a plan for the evening or for the event, to also plan for the appearance of the “Inner Negotiator.”

The Inner Negotiator is the one who shows up after you’ve made your perfectly well-thought-out-and-reasonable plan and says “Hey! I have an idea, let’s drink tonight!” Or “Let’s drink more than that boring part of you [the wise adult part] has designated for the evening!”

So it can be helpful to do some thinking/writing about who your Inner Negotiators are. Most people have several.

Here are a few who show up pretty regularly:

Rebel: You can’t tell me what to do! Screw it—I’m just going to drink!

Bully/Critic: You’re just going to screw up anyway so go ahead and drink.

Enabler: You’ve already gone over the limit, so might as well toss moderation out the window.

Buddy: Hey, c’mon, this is going to be fun!

Empathetic friend: I’m sorry you’re feeling sad. They shouldn’t have treated you that way. This will make you feel so much better…. Or: Gosh you’ve been working really hard. You deserve this!

Whiny kid: But I waaaaant this! Everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?!

Reasonable Mentor: Well, you’ve only had 12.75 drinks this week, so I don’t see any reason not to continue to drink this evening.

Troublemaker: Let’s see how far we can push this…

Perfectionist: No matter what you do it won’t be good enough, so go ahead and drink.

Party Girl/Guy: Woo Hoo! You are so much cuter when you let loose!

Chameleon: Let’s drink as much as everyone else, so we blend in.

Flirt/Seducer: You know this will make you so much hotter!

Free Spirit: I am wind!

Judger: No one else can hold their liquor the way I can.

Loner: No one wants to be with you anyway, might as well drink.

Nurturer: It’s ok, Honey, you’ll feel better after another drink or two.

Introvert: You know it will be so much easier to talk with these people if you have a few.

Procrastinator: You can start moderating/abstaining tomorrow!

Risk Taker: You don’t know for sure this will give you a hangover….

Handler: You don’t have that much to do tomorrow; you can definitely handle tomorrow with a hangover.

Accommodator: You don’t want others to feel bad because they’re over-drinking and you’re not, do you?

I’m sure you can come up with your own!

Here are some questions that might be helpful to investigate:

1. What is the tone of voice of your Inner Negotiator (friendly, bullying, conniving, friendly, sympathetic, consoling? Loud or soft? Gentle or rough? High tones or low tones)?

2. How old does this part seem (little kid, preteen, teen, college, adult)?

3. Are they male or female?

4. Do they remind you of anyone?

5. What do they look like/Any image come to mind?

6. How loud/persistent are they?

7. How do they make you feel?

8. How does your Inner Negotiator feel toward you?

9. Where else do they show up in your life?

Get to know your Inner Negotiators. Shine a light on them. Sit down and have a conversation with them. Generally they’re child parts, so they’re not super bright. (Think: Little girl encouraging her brother to eat more ice cream. She’s trying to be helpful.)

Put them in a chair across the room and talk to them, or role play with a friend.

Come up with a response to them—What will you say to them when they do show up? Be kind, but firm.

(Ex. “Thanks! I know you’re trying to help, and maybe next time we’ll do it your way, but for tonight we’re doing this.” )

That way, when they do show up, you’ll be ready for them.

Good luck; you got this!
Post Submitted By: Beej Christie Karpen

Beej Christie Karpen is a Conscious Drinking Coach-Therapist and Creator of Conscious Drinking 101: A Group Coaching Program
Suggested NA beverage: Zingy Turmeric Ginger Lemonade with Mint