If you haven’t guessed, I spend a fair amount of time online. Whether it’s involved with work or following entertainment or the pursuit of intelligent observations.
Podcasts are one of many things and I found one recently that I felt a particular affinity for from Freakonomics, “In Praise of Incrementalism“. Although it doesn’t specifically call out dealing with alcohol, I see the applicability quite clearly.
The net of incrementalism as I relate it to the subject at hand, making small changes that bring about small degrees improvement toward my goal of being sober and achieving several other goals in life.
Our world seems to be pervasive with the desire for instant gratification. That seems to be a contributing belief that there are silver bullets. That one thing will make anything happen.
But how many times do we really ever see something that, by virtue of a singular thing, event, or decision suddenly transforms any one circumstance? Nothing is ever that simple.
I may say to myself “I don’t want to drink”, but I had to make all those other small decisions and work through the rationale to actually take action. I had to make the decision that I would take action not only once, but every single day. Like deciding NOT to cruise through the beer and wine sections of the grocery stores and then actually sticking with that. I daily decide to avoid as many of the temptation triggers that I can as each one comes up on the radar. And every day is another increment in the counting of sober days.
So whenever I’m talking about being sober, no one should interpret it as a light switch that suddenly got flipped and everything fell into place. It’s a decision that I mulled over and rationalized periodically at different times for a long period of time leading up to the day I started. And it’s a decision I think about fairly regularly to maintain the will to continue. That to continue this sober journey, I have to make lots of small contributing incremental decisions every day.
Fortunately, as time has gone by, the ease of each decision and action has become easier and habitual.
Another point to all this is being self tolerant and minimizing self recrimination. Not everyone’s steps along the road of sobriety is the same. Not everyone’s steps are straight ahead. Sometimes there are detours, flat tires, crushing events and missed turns. Recognize the reality and truth of where I am, but don’t get caught up in the destructive cycle of self recrimination.