That's the title of a TED talk by Judson Brewer. You can see why I was interested....
(Here's the link to the talk).
Judson talks about quitting smoking and stress eating, but his techniques are just as useful for quitting booze.
Here's my take on what he has to say:
It's all about mindfulness.
Brewer (he really should be a drinker with that name, don't you think?) talks about how bad habits arise.
We're programmed, at a deep subconscious level, to repeat behaviour that gives our brains a reward. It's how we learn to find food, water, reproduce etc. Trigger. Behaviour. Reward. Repeat.
The problem is that, in the modern age, some of the things that reward our brains - like alcohol - are not at all good for us.
Our conscious brains know this, but our subconscious brains are too simple, too hard wired, to get it.
(The problem is exacerbated when we're stressed, as stress causes the logical bit of our brain to short circuit, leaving us to rely on our more primal instincts. The ones that have been engrained with the habit.)
When we try to quit drinking, our conscious minds try really, really hard to not think about drinking. But the harder you try to not think about something, the more you do.
Your subconscious basically throws a big hissy fit and bombards you with instructions revolving around drinking more booze.
Brewer says the key to dealing with these cravings, these brain tantrums (my words, not his!) is curiosity.
Don't fight those thoughts. Definitely don't give into them. Don't try to make them go away. Study them, like a scientist. Be mindful about what they're saying and how your body is reacting.
Oh, here we go again. Primal brain throwing big strop. Jaw clenching, shoulders tightening up, starting to feel like a kettle reaching the boil. I wonder how long this one's going to last before it gets back in its box.
Once you start attacking cravings with curiosity they lose all their power. And you realise that they are separate from you, and that each of the small effects of that craving are manageable, and temporary.
And gradually, over time, like trying to train a really stupid dog (and, as the owner of a really stupid dog, I say that with love), the subconscious gets the message and stops seeing booze as the solution to every issue.
Try it. It works.
Love SM x