BINGE DRINKING – SHOOTING FROM THE BASELINE

Social dynamics Social interaction, for me, is like a game of basketball. Every time I step up to a social situation, there is competition, team players and past injuries that all factor into my ultimate success. There are specific intentions and outcomes of every interaction that I shoot for. The goal of this game of life is to make as many shots as I can (behavioural choices) and get as many of those shots in the basket as often as I can (desired outcomes).  Binge drinking is like the one-armed full court throw. I very, very rarely got it in, but I still chose to deceive myself to think that ‘this one was definitely going in’, every time. I ask myself now, why didn’t I ever just learn to dunk? Then I could throw the occasional full court sling, safe in the knowledge that if I really wanted to get it in I had the skills to.  Deciding at the beginning of the year to take a few steps closer to the basket (at least to the free throw line maybe) has been both a highly rewarding strategy and cause for an entirely new set of ‘technical’ deficiency. Now that I am closer to my desired outcomes I realise that I can’t expect a one-armed throw to serve me the same way that it may have done in the past. I need to learn how to shoot properly and then practise my arse off until I get so confident in my skill that it becomes second nature. The first half of my year of sobriety I have set the intention to work out why it is that I and other people my age consistently choose to take pot shots from the baseline… ‘the why?’. Now that we are knee-deep in academic literature and doing our own research projects on binge drinking at FRESH, I believe that we have got to quite a deep level of understanding around the issue. Although you can’t really pigeon-hole anyone, it seems that the majority of us drink predominantly for one particular reason – to gain a level of perceived social confidence. Although there are many, many other weird and fascinating reasons (all of which can and do derive from the same person at times) this seems to be the one that is most prevalent. We drink for confidence. I think that confidence is a concept that is quite universal however there are certain elements of it that are subject to a person’s relative ‘higher-self’. So what is confidence for me? Speaking for myself, confidence to me means two things:         1) To be able to communicate, clearly and effectively with absolutely anyone         2) To be 100% focused in enjoying the moment For me, if I achieve these two specific things in any life situation, I know that I am at my most confident. I know I am at my most happiest. When I get these two right – I know I am ‘in the zone’ and this is typically when the good stuff happens :). I think if I were to drink, in the most instances, it would be an attempt to get to this place. Bringing back our basketball analogy, having 100% confidence in my mind could be likened to being able to dunk. Unfortunately, I’m not the tallest of cats and I definitely don’t have the flexibility of one (both literally and metaphorically), so as a result, I have never really tried to learn how. Where does one learn ‘how’ to get confidence anyway? As such, throwing from the baseline has always been a much less socially risky behaviour. Its interesting to note…when you hear people preface their stories with ‘I was so drunk…’ this is exactly what they are doing – they disqualify their behaviour by attributing it to a drinking identity.   Which brings me to the second part of this year, the ‘how?’ How do I go about getting the confidence? This next 6-7 months, I commit to doing whatever it takes to learn how to achieve the ‘how?’, without involving alcohol. I commit spending hour upon hour out there on the court, falling over, looking stupid but always getting closer to learning how to ‘dunk’. So if any of you have any more ideas as to how I can go about doing this, workshops I can do, books to read, etc etc. – please pass that information on to me! I hope, that through this process, I will be able to then condense what I have learned and pass that knowledge on to others that are looking for a similar outcome in their lives.  Furthermore, as part of this second phase to Hello Sunday Morning, we have set the intention to build on the connectivity of young people that are asking the same sort of questions about themselves, their identity and alcohol. We would like to involve as many people as we can in the activities that we are doing on the weekends. If you are interested in saying ‘hello to Sunday morning’ with us, please jump on to the Facebook group to keep updated on what is going on over the coming months. The first of which is the Bridge to Brisbane race, which we are entering a Hello Sunday Morning team into.  Until then, stay real. Chris.  

Love the Basketball metaphor – very easy to relate to 🙂

This blog pretty much sums up my feelings about the situation.

I figure if I eliminate the crutch of binge drinking (which rarely IF EVER results in effective or focused communication for me!) I will force myself to find my true confidence. And will hopefully never look back as I’m sure that feeling will surpass any that alcohol could provide.

Look forward to reading about your progress 🙂

You’ve got my ongoing support, Chris! 🙂

Mr Raine,

The second half of your experiment sounds much more interesting. I think there would be indeed much less drinking if people could find their ‘zone’. The trials and tribulations of the non-drinking and socially risk-taking will also be hilarious and entertaining. Let’s talk about this soon with potential ideals!

Sincerely
Backstager numero uno

Great post, Chris – i’ve been following you all year.

An interesting resource for comparison is an infamous book called The Game by Neil Strauss, which features an underground society of pick-up artists who lack the natural confidence to approach women and so break it down to a science.

Many guys i know who have read this book tend to focus more on the ‘how’ and less on the ‘should I,’ but it touches on your comment about ‘learning the how’, especially in relation to why alot of people go out.

For all my disgreements with this book and its shortfalls i think it might be an interesting part of the picture, especially with your interest in social heirarchy, self-belief and the concept of a person’s ‘higher self’.

Keep up the good writing – you’re an example for young men.

A

Very interesting reading Chris. I like the simple breakdown of why we drink (for confidence). It really makes a lot of sense. Keep up the good work mate – this is all very informative reading!
Cheers,
Matt

Interesting you guys brought up The Game – Neil Strauss learns to dunk with women and it makes him more focused in other areas of his life too. I did NOT like Tyler Durden at all, but it was a perspective book and it was painted so I didn’t like him, must look up RSD.

In terms of confidence binge drinking puts us all on the same page – no-one becomes an introvert when they’re drunk (unless they’re too drunk in which case they’re more likely close to passing out rather than introverted).

So by putting yourself on a level playing field in terms of everyone being an extrovert (and usually everyone telling it how it is) these are the positives we often look at. But everyone is equally likely to lose the positive communication attribute they have when they’re sober – like knowing when to NOT talk (the little voice in your head becomes the big voice spilling out of your mouth).

Thanks for the food for thought Chris, loving your work.

Hi Chris,

I have just been catching up on my HSM blog reading. Your last few posts have been great, what an eye opener.

I have been trying to cut back on my drinking in the past year or so. This came about when i finished uni in 2007 and realised that pretty much all my social activities revolved around drinking and getting smashed!!! how uncool!

Initially I was a bit down on myself following this realisation. But it’s the culture…. it’s just what you do. Going out on a Saturday night and getting trollied… i didn’t even give it a second thought!

But what’s the alternative if everyone you know is out on the piss every weekend? PRESSURE is a major issue. No one wants to be a nigelnofriends and it’s not fun when you miss out on those hilarious drunk moments with your buddies.

Have you have lost touch with friends due to your new way of life? would be interested to know.

stay cool chris, keep up the good work!!
Laura

Hi Chris,

You asked about confidence courses. It may sound silly but I have been more confident since I have been studying kabbalah with its principles on unity and the way it starts exposing our individual egoism yet without ever pointing the finger of blame like religions do. It reveals our limited perception of the world and its people but also reveals the value of our own unique viewpoint on life. Whatever you are is just fine and I have a worldwide group of friends to prove that I’m fine too. If you would like to feel like that, then maybe watch the on-demand lessons or enrol in the directed interactive lessons (for free of course). Most of the course information is available as links from http://www.kabbalah.info but I warn you that many of the students are drinkers and/or smokers because it is not frowned upon as in the religions. Because I am only a student, I can only say what I think Kabbalah would say about breaking the binge drinking habit and I may be wrong. I think a Kabbalist would have you look into your desire and your assessment of a things ability to fulfill that desire. Kabbalists, I think, would say that if you were fulfilled at the soul level, then you would not even have a need or desire to drink for any other purpose than to be social or quench a thirst so they teach fulfillment at that higher level which seems to solve just about everything. Confidence levels too.

So check out http://www.kabbalah.info

Hi Chris,

Interesting to come across your site mentioned in Good Health.

I’ve always said that I would love to be the person I am having had one glass of wine on an empty stomach – I’m relaxed, I’m not scared to share stories and let my quirky sense of humour come out, but I haven’t lost the boundaries of knowing when to keep my mouth shut too! It’s the perfect example of using alcohol as a social lubricant. But more often than not, it ends up being too many wines and a hangover the next day.

Gaining confidence in self and in communication are also my goals this year, so I’ll continue to follow your blog with interest!

Nic

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