How is alcohol affecting your life? If you are: an executive, high performer, high-level highly motivated individual, in the workplace, who is concerned about alcohol.
The fact that you may be drinking too much. It’s affecting your performance, it’s affecting your motivation, your energy levels, and your self-esteem, it’s affecting the way you influence others in the workplace. If this resonates with you then read on, or watch my latest You Tube Video.
Maybe it’s affecting your values at a deep and core level. Anyone of these things. Because the problem is huge, the problem is vast. And so, if this is you, I want you to completely ditch any shame any guilt, and any of that stuff because this is a problem. And like so many real problems it’s just kept hidden. It is so veiled in shame; it’s so veiled in a lack of understanding that my clients are those people.
My clients are those people. My clients are high level, highly motivated Vice Presidents, Presidents, Business Owners, running orthodontic practises in New York, running legal practises in London.
These are the people who come to me because they see something in my messaging that resonates, I don’t know, but those are the kind of people who come to me. They are telling me when I speak to them on the phone because I have to speak to people before I know that you’re the right person to work with.
When we’re talking on the phone, I hear in their voices I hear the shame. The biggest thing I hear is ‘I’m just exhausted with this… I don’t want to be doing this anymore and yet I find myself doing it and by doing it I mean drinking; I don’t want to be drinking and yet I’m drinking!’ And very often, it is affecting reputation in the workplace.
Are you drinking too much at corporate events?
So, what that might look like is drinking too much at corporate events. It might mean turning up to zoom after you’ve had a whiskey, or a large wine, or whatever that might be with all the home working.
Anyone of those things, and then getting feedback afterward, subtle, maybe not so subtle. The trust is beginning to get damaged, and at that point, when the trust gets damaged.
That’s when you start to fall back and wonder how to solve the problem, what’s gone wrong, what are you doing about it, and why isn’t what I’m trying to do to cut down on drinking actually working?
Now, that’s really another discussion. What I want to talk about today is that, motivation and the values, the authenticity and integrity that alcohol damages. So, let’s just drive straight in and think about the values.
You can pause and ask yourself ‘what are my values? What are my core values as a human being on this planet and as a human being in the workplace – As that executive, as that business owner that therefore manages others, manages resources, and money, often a huge amount. What are my values.
And in all likelihood, you will come up with things like, you value integrity, you value honesty, trust authenticity, those kinds of things, you value wisdom, creativity growth, innovation maybe, maybe for you.
So, let’s look at where alcohol sits in the whole conundrum because, it is a conundrum, and what we will find is that alcohol because, when we drink, for example, a large glass of wine.
I’m in France right now, in the UK we would drink typically, somebody going out drinking would have 250ml of wine and that will be a glass. Here in France, it is about 5ml, a thimble full, and we think the French are big drinkers.
No, it’s just not the case. So any more than a glass of wine, around about size. Our logical brain starts to shut down and what that means is our emotional regulation system starts to falter. It’s not working anymore.
What that means is we will react, we will be triggered, and we will say things that we would never say when that part of our brain is working at full capacity, we just wouldn’t.
So what that means is that at that corporate event you say something that you don’t mean. You offend somebody, you just step a little further than you would have done.
Something that may be bugged you earlier in the day or during the week about that guy or woman, it comes up, it comes out and you are on full flow and you just don’t care at that point…Until the next day.
Until the next board meeting, until the employees are there. Either that or well that’s enough isn’t it? In terms of the values, that is not authentic because it’s not you because that part of you is gone and you are just reacting like a wild animal with instinct and we know where that gets us.
Integrity is out the window, honesty is actually out of the window because any honesty judgments under the influence of alcohol are just not true. They are just full of fight/flight responses. It’s not honesty, it might feel like it at the time but it really isn’t. It’s not integrity it’s not value, it’s not wisdom, it’s not creativity.
It’s not any of those things you have come up with when you just stopped and thought about what your values are. It’s none of that…
And so, what that does at a very deep level. It affects your own perception of self and that leads to an incredibly painful and deep-seated inner conflict.
Occasionally we will have a conflict with the world out there or with somebody out there but when that conflict is internal when that conflict is with self then any expansion that we might have in our world and our life and our job and whatever is it relevant because what we are doing is we are shrink wrapping our self.
There can be nothing more shrink-wrapped, there can be nothing tighter, restrictive, or limiting, than being in absolute conflict with ourselves. We all are for a bit of the time anyway whether alcohol’s there or not, but when alcohol comes into it. It is completely internalised.
Nobody outside may see it, but you know it. It is painful. It is painful and then also we probably said somewhere in our values trust.
I value trust, if you have employees, if you have members of a team then trust is absolutely vital, and anything that happens under the influence of alcohol, Whether it’s an e-mail with an error that went out because, you had been drinking at home, or sent it late at night, banged it off to somebody in a fit of a whiskey, two or three whiskey induced rage, whatever, trust.
Once that thread of trust is broken. It takes a long time to rebuild it. So alcohol goes against our value system at a very, very deep level, causing deep, deep internal conflict. Self-loathing, self-hatred, it’s horrible.
The good news is that the conundrum of alcohol can be unpicked. If you are that person, you are strong, you are intelligent, and we can use all of those things to kind of ambush this.
Rather than going head to head, we can go alongside it and move it off in a different direction, a bit like Aikido. That is the way to deal with this. It is a perceptual problem. Anything about alcohol ultimately is a perceptual problem. Anything about alcohol is a psychological problem but its really one of perception.
All drugs are taken to enhance or relieve life which is true of heroin, cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol. And so initially in your early days of work, you may have been going out to drink with the gang, to keep up, to keep in with the tribe and so it would have started from there.
Then maybe it was a stressful day, and you stopped at the bar on the way home, just to relieve the stress of the day. Or maybe it was working from home, a stressful meeting, I’ll just have a quick drink and then it’s I’m at home, I’m stressed, I’ve arrived.
Now I can dive into the bottle. So it is attempting to relieve but actually, it’s not because, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog, or listening to my video. It doesn’t actually relieve at all. It causes conflict.
So it affects us at the very deepest levels of our values it affects our motivation because, we’ve just become exhausted with all of this internal conflict and the ‘I won’t drink’ and ‘I am drinking‘, I won’t drink but I deserve it, it’s been a hard day, I just need it… I need it.
That is then hijacking the survival instinct of the human being which is you. ‘I need it,’ that is a survival response.
Highly motivated people which you are, so highly motivated people make highly motivated drinkers because I’m highly motivated myself, I get it, I was that person. So therefore driven. Driven to get what is desired and the perception is alcohol is that.
So, highly motivated people make highly motivated drinkers so that is another conundrum in that if you in a lazy world, can’t be bothered really, but it’s not that, it’s I want it, I’m going to have it, and so that is why if you are strong willed that is why it doesn’t work.
Are you strong-willed?
What I mean by that is, I hear all the time, Vice President on the phone and she said ‘I have been out, corporate event, drunk too much, made a fool of myself but I don’t get it because I’m strong-willed.
I am highly motivated.’ I have said to her, that is part of the problem because, that will, will just make you say: ‘If I want a drink, I’m going to have one.’ So we need to work alongside that, and use it to get you to where you want to be, back in alignment with your values.
And so, values, motivation and then we have performance, well of course if we have inner conflict on any level, how can you possibly be working at your peak. It’s impossible because, alcohol wrecks sleep.
It causes stress and anxiety, it causes overwhelm, and it causes internal conflict that I have mentioned earlier. It affects motivation in a negative way because actually it hijacks the natural dopamine cycle.
You will find, you may not recognise it, but you will be less motivated toward other targets and goals in life because alcohol is hijacking it.
It affects performance in that way. It affects performance because you wake up in the morning and you have got a hangover and you’re dealing with all that again. Then you add on the fact that your values are misaligned and struggling for alignment all of the time.
You may be overcompensating in other areas, you may be over trying to compensate with your team, or you may be over trying to prove yourself, or whatever it might be. It’s not you in your flow, it’s not you at your best.
It can never be, and so there’s any question of ‘well I have had a couple of drinks and I’m functioning fine.’ No, you won’t be. Categorically you won’t be.
Coffee isn’t the answer…
For all of these reasons and so you will be loading down the coffee. I am saying this because that was me, going into the cabinet office in London to do the work I was doing at the time.
Hangover coffee, coffee, coffee, ‘I feel ok now,’ until the evening ‘oh I just deserve a wine.’ Wake up, coffee again…Slap myself round the face with cold water, feeling inauthentic. Pushing, pushing, pushing to try to overcome all that…
Peace, Peace is what you get outside of that because it isn’t inside. If you are inside it, you are inside it and right now you may not be able to see how you can be outside it.
All you need to do is say that you want to be outside it, and I don’t know how right now but I’m going to find out. Hundreds of thousands of topflight executives are in this trap. More so because of COVID.
The reason for that is when we were working 9am till 5pm, 9am till 8pm or 10pm, whatever hours you were working, outside and in office then there was a boundary, a natural boundary and so you couldn’t drink as you were in the office.
When those boundaries go then the opportunity arises. It’s why I have a lot of clients who are actually retired. Who find themselves drinking more in retirement because, the boundaries slip and go, and then you are drinking at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, then 1:00 o’clock and then it’s lunchtime, and then you know maybe it’s 11:00 o’clock and that is just the way.
It is insipid, always chasing the rainbow, always needing more, getting less of a result. Which is what we do not want for a high-performing person.
What I want for you is to do less, be in the flow, and get better results, and you can do that outside of the alcohol trap. So, I hope that has been helpful. I have talked about values; I have talked about motivation, and I have also talked about performance.
I just want to finish off by mentioning that if this is you, just to reinforce it’s not your fault. Anybody who takes enough of an addictive substance, particularly highly motivated people are likely to fall into the trap, and so the best way to live is outside it.
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Hi, I'm Michela
I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!
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