…And how are you drinking YOUR wine?
A lady came to see me with a whole menu of issues around food and drink. I say a whole menu, because this metaphor was not just table d’hote but an extensive a la carte as well. When confronted with such a veritable ‘banquet of choices’, and a lengthy narrative of how it all impacts upon her day, her life – where should I start? What to sink my teeth into first? Plenty of food for thought here, I mused as I got her to start talking…
Out of control and in a downward spiral
“I’d like an Anchor to help me deal with my habit of drinking too much wine” was an opening request as it seemed this had been suggested as being something that might be useful for her by someone else.
Now to be fair to her she was not an alcoholic, she was not remotely dependent, she wasn’t particularly overweight either – however, she talked a lot about being out of control, on a downward spiral, having no willpower and that the ‘way out of the pit seemed too much’.
Her biggest issue was that she had no set routine in her working lifestyle, and this translated back to her personal lifestyle. She was sometimes in meetings all day – then sometimes working from home – it was all “out of control”.
The irony is that she is a Project Manager – so we decided it would be useful for her to become her own project. We also identified what having willpower was like for her and how and where she experienced it in terms of her physiology. There were some noticeable changes in her demeanour through this part of the session and there were definite signs that some things (at least) were on the move for her.
“Now then,” I said eventually. “Tell me what happens at home when you decide to have a glass of wine. Make it detailed because I want to map out the structure of what you’re doing.”
She duly told me what took place step by step which was like this >
Decide to have wine > Get glass > Go to ‘fridge > Open door and see what wine is there > Choose wine > Open and pour into glass > Put wine away and close ‘fridge door > Consume wine.
“And is that what (pretty much) happens every time?” She nodded. She’s good on narrative so there were a raft of mini-details thrown in as well.
“Ok let’s look at the decision now,” I said next. “When do you decide to have a glass of wine – at home, before you get home, when? ” Her answers here were unclear, vague, muddied. She felt like it was just habitual, she certainly didn’t anticipate the pleasure of the wine passing her lips at any stage except perhaps when she was at the choosing stage gazing into the ‘fridge.
I explained to her about how the quality of any decision making process is greatly enhanced when you finish the deciding section before you start the action section. “What’s been happening up to now is that you’ve not felt in control of the part where you decide to have a glass of wine. You’ve just gone to get a glass through force of habit and everything has taken that course – Yes?” She nodded.
“You drink liquids for one of 2 reasons – Thirst or Pleasure – or a mixture of both. But only those 2 reasons. You need to decide – your Decision Making process – needs to be clear on whether you’re going to drink for thirst or pleasure. ONLY once that’s done can you move onto the next bit of action. SO – what happens when you go and get a soft drink or a drink of water?” She described it as she had described the ‘drink wine’ routine.
“I get a glass,” she started
“Same kind of glass?” I asked
“No – Different glass. And they’re in a different cupboard.”
The glasses were kept in separate cupboards that were side by side. I got her to close her eyes and show me what she did to get out (a) a wine glass and (b) a glass for water or a soft drink. She used her left hand to open one cupboard and her right hand to open the other. The wine glasses were on her left hand side. “Close your eyes and show me how you’d open the wine glasses cupboard with your right hand.” She laughed as she discovered it was quite an uncomfortable action. “You can do a number of things here,” I said – and here’s your anchor. You need to put something visual on the wine glass cupboard door that stops you and gives you thinking time. You need to be aware these cupboards can only be opened with your right hand.”
I left her to choose what visual trigger she’s going to use – and we went through the whole routine for her from start to finish (future pace) several times to see how she reacted to the strategy. She liked it, felt it would work.
This procedure coupled with the clarity of the decision making (the Thirst/Pleasure choice) was certainly going to be simple yet adequate enough for her to allow it to become a regular routine. This way she could still have a wine – if she REALLY consciously wanted it – which is quite appropriate for her. Plus this whole installation of a level of control, even in just this one area of her life, was enough to show her that willpower is a habit she can wear all the time.