The Disturbing News
One of the early participants in my Alcohemy Video and Community Support & Forum Program, sent me a message saying she was not continuing with the treatment program as she said it now suddenly “doesn’t work for her”. Now this was a major shock, as it was coming from one of my most motivated participants, who had read the book (twice), watched all the videos (most more than once), completed all the workbook tasks, had successfully not been drinking alcohol for a few weeks… and up until now had been a very staunch and vocal supporter of the program. I was blown away by how she was regularly leaving public and private rave reviews and comments about how great the alcohol program was for her. In fact, her praise for how the program had dramatically changed the way she thought about her alcohol use, I considered her a ‘golden child’ of my relatively new alcohol treatment program, and used her as a shining example to inspire others. I could really tell by her frequent comments she really ‘got’ the deep meaning behind everything I had explained in the book and videos, and she was really loving the program! You can imagine my disappointment to suddenly get this one-liner message to say she wasn’t continuing (without any further explanation). I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean if you’ve also had some bad news that came at you like a bolt from out of the blue.
The very moment I read that one line, my initial ‘reaction’ was to fall intovictimhood mode and think, “Oh no! What has happened? My longest serving online member now doesn’t like my program. What has gone wrong or what have ‘I‘ done wrong? Now everyone else will think my program doesn’t produce great results. Me using her as a shining example to others is gone. Woe is me! My whole Alcohemy program is in jeopardy!” In general, I experienced an initial gut-wrenching feeling of doom and gloom about the program I am so passionate about. Also, I am not proud to say the initial ‘reaction’ was more about ‘poor me’ and how negatively this may affect my ability to help others stop drinking alcohol. Self-preservation is an extremely common ‘reaction’ to most undesirable situations and I’m sure you have experienced this.
For those that have read/listened to my book, or have even watched my program’s ‘Introduction’ video http://alcohemy.com/alcohemy-online-video-program/, you will know I specifically discuss the topic of ‘reacting’ versus ‘responding’. So fortunately (after a few minutes of horror ‘reaction’, I stopped myself from being in the reactive ‘dismay mode’ and switched my thinking to ‘response mode’. Only after I did that (by pausing and taking a step back), was I able to look at it from all sides and start looking for the positives. (Again, in much of my written, audio and video material, I promote that there is a positive side to everything in life if we look hard enough, though most aren’t conditioned to do that.)
The first thing I did was to switch my focus to the troubled participant and how I may possibly help her. To do this I had to know the details of her reasons for wanting to leave, so I sent her a compassionate, private message seeking greater understanding of why she felt that way and offering whatever support was required. My suspicions were that she had such a difficult challenge come her way that she resorted back to seeking comfort from drinking alcohol again and in doing so blamed the Alcohemy program for ‘not working’. And in a technical sense she is right… the program doesn’t ‘work’. Technically no alcohol treatment program does. What my program does is it provides great information, experience, a proven process, support and a forum for people come together to share and support each other to stop drinking alcohol. It has and is facilitating success… though the participants have to embrace the process and do the actual ‘work’. Printed words, videos, a step-by-step process and good intentions won’t achieve anything, unlesssomeone turns that information into committed action. I have yet to see instructions on how to assemble something, hop up and actually do it, without anyone lifting a finger.
As of this post, I am yet to receive this participant’s answer to my return message (and I’m sure we can successfully work through it, as she has been very dedicated and hard-working). Though by pausing to contemplate the possibilities for her comment, it also raised another point I make in my program; you can’t control what others do, nor are you responsible for what others do, nor how they think. In that moment I remembered I can’t control how participants accept or use the experience and information I give them within my program. My responsibility is to share it as best as I can at the time and to continue to offer compassionate support and advice, in the best way I know how.
Though I do provide a great process and motivation to stop drinking alcohol, I have no control over how much commitment and sincere effort participants will put in… that is their responsibility and it will determine their particular path on the way to success. Some will really want to be free from the consequences of their alcohol abuse, though not prepared to fully commit to the process and work involved, until it’s done. I cannot take ownership of participants’ failures, nor claim glory for their successes. By me ‘walking this talk’, I may empathise with someone struggling to quit drinking alcohol, though not drown with despair in the responsibility if it doesn’t come easily for them. I’m convinced this is just a temporary setback this particular participant will learn from, on her way to success. In fact, there is a concerning statistic I reference in my book about the globally accepted Alcoholics Anonymous program, that states: ‘nearly one-third (31.5 percent) left the program after one month, and by the end of the third month, almost half (47.4 percent) left. Of those who stay for three months, half (50.0 percent) will attain one year of sobriety’. I expect my Alcohemy process will prove better than that, though this is a take-away lesson for us all when we are trying to assist someone struggling with an issue. As much as I want success for this person and others (with all my heart and soul), I realise you can’t be responsible for others’ success or failure. We can only control our own destiny.
Another key thing I teach in my program is using natural, healthy ways to feel good when challenges get us down. I talk about a term I coined, the ‘Lifeometer’ and how it lets us know if we are on the right path or not. If we are feeling a bit down or upset we need to have a group of healthy natural ways to boost our brain’s dopamine, endorphins and serotonin levels. This is the best and quickest way to get back to a positive state of mind, which in turn generates better health, creativity and productivity.
This is another ‘practice what I preach’ lesson I got from this morning’s situation. Here I was feeling troubled by an event and my Lifeometer was letting me know my thinking was out of whack from where it should be. Once I started ‘walking my talk’ and looked for the positive actions that could come from it, I started to feel better.
After sending my personal message to the participant, I looked for other ways to feel positive. Writing this blog article about the experience and lessons was another. This in turn, led to me scheduling other blog articles I had planned to write, as well as develop a ‘face-to-face’ presentation (called The Human Face of Alcohol Dependence), to deliver nationally to companies interested in educating their employees. And further to that, I’ve committed to start recording my blog articles in video format, so people also have the choice to see my charming face , with emotions and sincerity along with the information. You see, helping others and being creative is something that makes me feel good, naturally. It bumps up my ‘feel good’ brain neurotransmitters, leaving me feeling very satisfied afterwards.
It’s one thing to ‘talk the good talk’, though if you want to be respected, admired and ‘feel good’ to boot… you had better practice what you preach and ‘walk the good walk’.