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While I am not Simone Biles, I do appreciate having a sense of equilibrium in my life.
In fact, our bodies crave it as well. Of course, it sounds much fancier and technical when it comes to our body systems.
Homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems. Homeostasis is the pinnacle—where we’re functioning at the optimal level; everything internally is just right—body temperature, hormones, fluid balance, and so on.
Rarely, though, do we maintain homeostasis in our lives. Both in the physical sense and the mental sense. To me, it all seems like a cruel trick sometimes. Our bodies want homeostasis, but, from the moment we are born, things are constantly happening to throw off that precious equilibrium. From teething to puberty, midlife, and end of life, what homeostasis is keeps changing. It can feel like our bodies are a few steps behind in catching up.
As if that isn’t difficult enough to deal with, then we add in all the environmental and societal things that occur and can throw us off balance. Once again, these begin at birth and never seem to slow down. Just as we adjust to one phase in our lives, it is time to thrust into the next. And between those phases, we’re expected to deal with all the ups, downs, dings, and hits that accompany them.
Whoever designed this thing called life didn’t really plan it out all that well, did they?
Inevitably, someone will come along and say, “Well, that’s just the way life goes! Deal with it!”
That is where most of our problems begin.
It is in the way we choose to deal with it.
As children, we might choose to go with tantrums and tears when life is off-balance. Until we get told over and over again to stop, calm down, or brush it off.
So feeling our feelings and expressing our emotions obviously isn’t the right way to deal with things when we feel off balance. We start searching for an acceptable way to deal with it. Far too young and with not nearly enough life experience, we begin to observe how others deal with a bad day, a rocky relationship, and pain—both physical and emotional. We begin taking note of the right way to celebrate, to let loose, and to relax. After all, we’re told these are also crucial elements when it comes to finding balance in our lives.
What answer do we come across most often in this quest for discovery? What are we told is the key to balance—whether it is relief, relaxation, rage, or even romance we are dealing with?
All too often, what we observe and what we learn is the right way to deal is to reach for the bottle, pour a glass, and allow the alcohol to work its magic. From an early age, we make alcohol alluring: “You can’t drink that! It’s a ‘special’ drink!” or “I can’t wait to get home and crack open a beer!” The seeds get planted long before we realize it. Many of us anticipate our first sip far before we understand the ramifications and responsibilities that come with it.
Yet, we indulge in that drink anyway. Soon enough, we do begin to experience the things alcohol can do. It can numb the pain; it does make us forget, let loose, and all the things we’ve heard.
What it also does, though, is steal from us the ability to form the coping mechanisms we’re going to need later in life when the changes—physical, emotional, financial, societal, legal, and so on—get bigger, harder, and no longer come with a safety net. We’ve been sold snake oil but often do not realize it until we’re 20 or 30 years down the road and the thing we’ve always turned to has now turned on us.
What is shocking to most of us is that it isn’t a DUI, a damning health diagnosis, or a fall from grace that makes us realize alcohol has turned on us. The realization is much more subtle. It is looking at your partner and wondering when they stopped being your lover and became your drinking buddy. Or maybe it is sending your children off to college and realizing that so many memories of them are fuzzy and warped by alcohol. Maybe it’s a return to the office after working remotely for the past few years and coming face-to-face with the fact that happy hour can no longer begin at noon.
Someone might say in this situation as well, “That’s just the way life goes. Deal with it!”
I am not that someone. I don’t think we need to just deal with it. I don’t think a drink is the answer whether we’re in pain, celebrating, depressed, or stressed. What we need to learn, whether we are two or 82, is to process. To feel, to be present, to allow things to naturally take their course.
After all, that is what our bodies do. The instant we take a drink of alcohol our bodies begin working to bring back homeostasis. Our systems go into overdrive to get everything back in balance. The very balance we’ve disrupted by artificially stimulating it.
What if we make it natural and part of our balance to be happy and sad? Stressed and relaxed? What if we start teaching everyone that all these things have space and a place in our lives and they are part of our balance? What if we stop looking at disruptors in order to find equilibrium and look within ourselves instead?
Are you ready to take a look within yourself and see how you could find balance in your relationship with alcohol? Nearly 275,000 people have done just that in The (free) Alcohol Experiment. Could a 30-day break from alcohol bring you balance and clarity? Join us at alcoholexperiment.com to find out.