Day 9: Apply What You Have Learned

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci

As I started thinking about Dryuary, a relevant quote from a major motion picture in the 1980s kept coming up: “A good pilot is compelled to always evaluate what’s happened, so he can apply what he’s learned.” (from a pivotal scene in the 1986 movie Top Gun).

To me, this classic line summarizes nicely an important exercise I like to do this time of the year. When I evaluate things that have happened to me dating back to my first Dryuary (2016), here are some of the life lessons I have learned:

1) Support is vital when trying to change any habits, such as trying to go for a month without alcohol. This may mean working with a professional in the mental health or medical field, or simply connecting with friends and family. Picking up the phone is a weakness of mine, but I know I should still challenge myself to make some phone calls this time of year. In the end, I’ve learned calling an old friend or relative is a great distraction. I don’t even talk to them about my drinking, but simply re-connecting can be very rewarding.

2) Consider your own needs and tell yourself it’s okay to be selfish at times. Do as the crew on an airline flight tells you and “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” Tell yourself it’s okay to put some distance from people who push your buttons or might trigger you to want that drink. Then take the time to stick close to the crowd who’s cheering you on during this new journey. This can be a great chance to connect with some new people who can certainly relate to your thoughts and feelings during this time.

3) Be kind to yourself.

4) Allow yourself to get past that feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) that creeps in at times. Be proud that you’ve “missed out” on all the potential risks and negative side effects alcohol throws our way.

5) Take advantage of the distance you are putting between yourself and alcohol. I’ve heard this described before as getting back some “mental real estate.”

6) Appreciate the little things in life you may have missed out on for awhile. Sobriety can allow us to get back our full abilities to see, hear, and contemplate our surroundings. I know it sounds cliché, but you have the time now, so it’s okay to “stop and smell the flowers” sometimes. (Or in my case, get distracted watching the squirrels).

7) I will never forget the people who supported me during my first days abstaining. Some of them have moved on to other things, but many of them are still around during Dryuary. I remain eternally grateful for this program and community each year.

8) Abstaining can be very hard at first, but can get easier with practice. Some people describe absing as similar to working a muscle. The more we practice the exercise, the better our “muscle memory” becomes. We can still have our slip ups and stumbles, but keep at it and don’t give up!

Post Submitted By: Marc Moderation

Comments

  1. Your last paragraph is so true. This is my 5th year. My 1st year was such a daily struggle and the cravings were terrible, year 2 was much better, and the last 3 years have been smooth sailing w no cravings and just mild insomnia for the 1st week and 1/2.

    I usually slowly get back into my old routine every year and I’m back to 10+ beers a day by summer. This year I’m motivated to keep it going!

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