I love when I open an email or read a blog post that deals with a topic I’ve been struggling with. It happened again this weekend.
I forgot how much Memorial Day weekend is a trigger for me. Sunday afternoon I saw a peel-off can of microbrew I used to love and thought “maybe I overreacted when I decided to give up drinking forever”. My next thought was, “I feel so much stronger now. Drinking might not even be a problem anymore.”
Some say this is the disease talking, and it can apply to any self-destructive behavior we freed ourselves from. Over time, we forget how bad things were or we get tired of feeling different and apart. We do feel better and stronger, so we begin to doubt we made the right decision for our new and improved selves.
In my inbox the next morning, I had a message containing this quote by Rollo May:
The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.
This email I could have just as easily skipped over reminded me that it takes real courage to re-commit myself in the face of that doubt, again and again as necessary. I found something about this idea very comforting. I acknowledged the real reason I feel good and strong now is because I gave up drinking.
Entertaining thoughts of drinking again made me wonder where they came from. Was I really that stressed? What was I feeling anyway?
I have a hard time separating feelings from thoughts, but in the second half of the message, I found this helpful suggestion:
Try this experiment. Instead of asking “How do I feel?” ask “What do I want?” or “What would I love to do next?”
This is much easier for me to understand and answer.