Monique: The Reptilian Brain
Drinking is the new smoking. More and more we are being rubbed under the nose that alcohol is really very bad for you. First you were allowed to drink 14 units a week as a woman (men 21), nowadays they are talking about 7 units and even that would be harmful. Alcohol is a hard drug, only available everywhere and fully integrated and accepted in our society. Remarkably, when you stop smoking, no one tells you; “But you don't stop forever, do you? You will have another cigarette in a while, won't you?" When stopping alcohol, that is often the standard comment you get. It seems that one's own drinking behavior is condoned. Camp alcohol at its best.
Why is it so difficult for most people to quit alcohol? Are we all slackers with a lack of willpower? Are we so sensitive to addiction and is it in our genes? Could our parents have set the wrong example, ignorant of the risks associated with alcohol consumption? Or is the fact that you are confronted with alcohol everywhere, perhaps a reason?
I regularly start the day with good intentions. Today I'm going to do it differently. But almost as often—when the workday is over—my craving for a glass of wine wins over my mind. Relax for a while, after having had conversations all day with people with all kinds of problems and life questions. Not so strange that I eventually succumb to that glass of wine. It turns out it's the fault of our ancient reptilian brain… It's all about survival. To survive? By drinking wine? How?
The reptilian brain does everything it can to maintain safety. And if you survived today, you will tomorrow, just by doing the same thing again. The reptilian brain hates change. Because that could be dangerous. So when you want to change something, your reptilian brain gets on the brakes and finds ingenious ways to convince you to keep the old behavior going. 'You earned it, that wine. After all, it was a tough day…” and so on.
In order to convince the reptilian brain that our new behavior is safe, we will have to stick with it for 66 days and learn to recognize the tricks that same brain plays with us (namely, looking for all kinds of excuses and excuses), I recently read in an interview with Sigrid Sijthoff (from Kick your Habits). So quite a challenge.
Sigrid Sijthoff advises people to look for new distractions and activities when they take a drink-free period. So I've signed up for a course that I've wanted to do for so long and I regularly take a walk after dinner, instead of lounging on the couch with a glass of wine and Netflix. Because if you stop drinking, you suddenly have more time to fill in things differently. So actually I kill two birds with one stone by participating in IkPas.