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How often do you do things automatically?
Roll out of bed, brush your teeth, make coffee, lock the house, drive to work. It all happens on autopilot with little to no decision-making on your part.
Our systems and our brains can function automatically when it comes to so many things. We don’t need to be reminded to breathe. We don’t learn to walk all over again each day. We can also pick up some pretty amazing talents and have them become automatic as well. From playing sports to flying planes, our brains learn how to do those things until they can handle the task with little to no input from us.
This continues until something happens to upset the system. You run out of coffee. Forget to get gas. Leave your phone at home. Suddenly, your system has gone haywire. You can no longer run on autopilot because your brain has now been taxed with the task of actually making decisions.
Those decisions may seem minor, but that all depends on what has caused your automation to be derailed. Choosing coffee over tea when you run out probably won’t be earth-shattering. Walking to work instead of driving might actually improve your day.
What about when we get thrown off course by something that we perceive is negative? The end of a relationship. Losing a job. An accident. An injury. Some sort of trauma.
Not only do those situations not have an automatic response, but they also throw off all of the systems we’ve had in place that eased our mental burden and allowed us to run on autopilot.
When that occurs, things can get dicey. We start looking for ways to quickly fix whatever it is that ails us. It isn’t enjoyable to feel off-kilter, and being forced to increase the number of decisions we make daily is exhausting. It’s easy to want to just find something that will quiet all of the noise and make us feel better—even if it is just a temporary improvement.
Suddenly, you’re Google and you’re releasing a patch to “fix” the flaw, but you know deep down there is more work to be done.
I’ve been there. My life reached a point where nothing seemed to work on autopilot anymore. I was constantly stressed, anxious, and uncomfortable in my own skin. Nothing was going the way I wanted it to. Between the demands of my career, the constant traveling, guilt over being away from my husband and children, and the need to stop all the competing voices and demands in my head, my system was just ready to shut down.
So I would shut it down. I found that two bottles of wine at night could virtually eliminate my need to make any choices at all. It was my patch and I used it regularly. In fact, it became my operating system. Being human was overwhelming for me and I realized that when I drank, I didn’t have to feel, think, or make any decisions.
Finally, I had some peace!
Have you ever not had quite the right tool to do a job? Have you ever found yourself attempting to use something else in its place? Attempting to use a screwdriver as a hammer? Duct tape instead of glue?
That’s what the wine was for me. It was a tool and it allowed me to continue to function, but it kept me from being human.
When I put my systems to sleep with wine, I also took away the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of my life.
I no longer found any pleasure in my achievements at work. No joy in spending time with my husband or my children. I might have been showing up physically, but the best parts of myself had ceased to exist. A virus had taken over and it was all because of my desire to make things easier. To not have to be quite so human because life, decisions, and feelings can be hard and painful at times.
What we fail to realize is that taking away the pain also removes the ability to feel pleasure. That not making a decision is a decision in and of it itself. That all of the most beautiful and amazing parts of our lives come from the moments when we aren’t just going through the motions. They are created when we choose to be human and choose to embrace all of the feelings, experiences, and decisions that we have the freedom and the ability to be a part of.
If you’re looking to engage with life again and get back to being human, join us in The Alcohol Experiment. Over 335,000 people have taken part in this free 30-day break from alcohol that brings you back to a place where you’re happier, more at peace, and in control of your relationship with alcohol.