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Day 38 - What are you Whys?



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What are your Whys?


“Countless addicts have told me they don’t want to drink, can’t stop and don’t know why. I’ve seen people ruin their health and their life.”

Professor David Nutt


Something people who have never knowingly experienced addiction or dependence have trouble understanding is that most people who have an addiction problem do not want to have that problem.


However, this alone is not enough to give up the behaviour. It’s more complex than simply wanting to stop.


Start with Why

A book I really like the sentiment of is Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’. It is focused on business, but I think the title is an important concept for life not just in business.


One of the models in Simon’s book is called the Golden Circle. It talks about needing to understand your why in order to become more successful.


Why = The Purpose

How = The Process

What = The Result


The diagram is a circle within a circle indicating that at the heart is always Why.


The way I interpret this model in respect of addiction is two-fold:


1. To Overcome Addiction

If your what and how don’t align to Why then success will be limited.


If your What = Giving Up Your Addictive Behaviour and your How = Following a Given Addiction Cessation Plan, without knowing your Why and Why that is important to you, you are likely to relapse or simply fail to succeed.


2. To Understand the Addictive Behaviour

If you are doing what and how without knowing your Why, you will possibly be stuck with behaviours you don’t want since the Why will always drive the what and how.


In respect of the addictive behaviour we have:

  • What = The Result = An addictive behaviour that is providing relief, comfort, pleasure…

  • How = The Process = The behaviour itself; drinking alcohol, overeating, taking illicit drugs, smoking…

  • Why = The Purpose = Why you are seeking relief, comfort, pleasure...


Why Stop?


If you could stop your addictive behaviour tomorrow what would be the best outcome for you?


For me it was not getting ill health as a direct result of drinking alcohol.


Due to the way that alcohol tolerance works, I required more alcohol for the same response over time. It got to a point where I knew this was going to have a detrimental effect on my health if I continued and I did not want that.


I have an innate desire to live a long and healthy life and so for me the health implications of continuing to drink was the biggest Why for me to find a way to give up. I did not want to ruin my health when I eat relatively well and maintain an active lifestyle, both in the name of living a long and healthy life.


This was a strong driver for me in the process of Becoming Teetotal.


I believe that the first step in the process is to come up with a strong sense of Why you want to stop the addictive behaviour. Without a strong sense and understanding of Why, which is intrinsically motivated, you may struggle no matter the support you have around you.


Intrinsic motivation is key. Having other people tell you why you should give up is seldom likely to work. It has to be your own inner reason.


What would be the benefit to your life if you give up your addictive behaviour?


Make a list of the things that come up for you and then construct your Why.


Write your Why down and have it somewhere you can refer to and be reminded of regularly.



Why Are You ADDICTED?


"A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours."

Gabor Maté


The next step is to figure out why you have the addictive behaviour in the first place. This is the bit that isn’t so comfortable. I very much believe in the work of Gabor Maté in that he suggests ‘a hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours.’


Generally addictive behaviours excite our pleasure-reward system in the brain. The substance or activity we use will spark a hit of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter meaning that it is a chemical messenger. When it is released, dopamine enables feelings of pleasure to be experienced. The brain often stores in memory the things that provide this response so that at time when we feel low, anxious or in need of pleasurable feelings, we reach for the thing that made us feel good so we can feel good, even if only initially.


Alcohol, certain foods, cigarettes and illicit drugs have this impact on the pleasure-reward system and hence are implicated in human addiction and dependence.


It is therefore imperative to dig deep to discover why we are searching for the pleasure our given addictive behaviour elicits.


This can be uncomfortable since until this point in time we have avoided sitting with this and have covered it over by reaching for our vice.


Sitting with uncomfortable emotions is key in being able to understand them and move forward with more positive behaviour in the future.


You may already know what the reason is. In this case you might want to begin your own journey of discovery by yourself. You can use self-help books, podcast or courses, amongst other things. You may also wish to seek a particular therapy to support you in this and in processing the root cause.


If you don’t know what lies beneath the addictive behaviour, it might be worth seeking a therapist from the outset to help uncover the Why behind the addiction.


I knew what my Why was. It was so that I could stop feeling the PTSD symptom in order to fall asleep and allow the symptom to dissipate. This then turned into using alcohol to ease all sleep anxiety and became a nightly habit which without it I felt I would not cope. It all linked back to sexual abuse in childhood and the sleep anxiety, nightmares and PTSD symptom that I have experienced as a result.


Knowing our Whys doesn’t mean breaking the habit will be easy. However, it does make it possible. If you understand Why you have the problem in the first place, you can address the problem. If you know Why you want to give up you can plan forward to reach a place where this Why becomes your lived reality.


What are your Whys?


Day 38 - 365 Day Journal

Reflections


PTSD Symptom

Ssssshhhhhh, I don’t think it have it right now. But sssshhhhhhh don’t tell anyone in case it appears!


Wednesday Night

Things that were awesome today:

I really enjoyed the coaching session with my client Sarah today. It is 5 months this weeks since she started training with me and has now lost 34kg / over 5 stone in weight! It was great to share the emotional experience of that with her this morning.


Thursday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

I am grateful for a beautiful sunny day

I am grateful for eggs! The staple of my breakfast meal!

I am grateful for chickens who make my eggs!


Health Dashboard


Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0



Fitness

Low Intensity

Run


High Intensity

-

Strength & Mobility

Hip Hinge plus foam rolling and mobility


Veggies & Fruit

Red cabbage

Lettuce

Tomato

Pepper

Mushrooms

Avocado

Courgette

Onion

Garlic

Spinach

Turmeric

Ginger

Kale


Meditation & Mindfulness

Before bed – Guided meditation


Day 37 - 365 Day Journal

Reflections


PTSD Symptom

The symptom re-triggered very mildly last night. I was awake until late but then managed to sleep well, despite not getting as many hours sleep as I would have liked.


Tuesday Night

Things that were awesome today:

Again I loved the sunshine and warm weather today!

It was great to get my hair cut as I didn’t do a lockdown cut this time so it had grown a lot for me!


Wednesday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

Inspirational women in the media like Brené Brown to learn from

Inspirational women in my life like my mum who is the human incarnation of unconditional love

Inspirational women in my life like my weightlifting coach Sarah Davies


Health Dashboard


Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0



Fitness

Low Intensity

-

Moderate Intensity

Row


Strength & Mobility

Squats plus foam rolling and mobility


Veggies & Fruit

Red cabbage

Lettuce

Tomato

Pepper

Mushrooms

Avocado

Courgette

Onion

Garlic

Banana

Strawberries


Meditation & Mindfulness

Before bed – Guided meditation


I ask all readers to be respectful. This is an honest and heart-felt account of the struggle I have incurred.

I thank you in advance for your respect and kindness and I encourage you to sign up to my mailing list so I can notify you about new blog updates.

If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in my blogs please get in touch. Your conversations with me will remain confidential. Please note that I am not a therapist but I can support you to find a way to address any issues you may be experiencing.




Copyright 2021 Val Craft – All Rights Reserved

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