Understanding behaviour vs identity

Understanding behaviour vs identity

When I first decided to quit drinking, I had to go through several iterations of "the quit" before it finally stuck. Even though my common sense told me that drinking did more harm than good, it could not override my desire to drink. So, I decided to start paying more attention to the ways that I described my drinking habit. 

"I could never completely quit. I just love my wine."

"I'm a drinker, I'll always be a drinker."

"I've tried to quit drinking. It's just not me." 

"I'm a party girl, I like my booze."

Over time, I came to realize that I didn't describe my drinking habit as a behaviour, rather I had actually absorbed my drinking habit into my identity - my sense of self. 

It was an a-ha moment for me. No wonder I couldn't convince my brain to quit drinking. It was constantly reminded that alcohol consumption was as much a part of my identity as a personality trait or physical characteristic. And, that's hard to change. 

Once I started to consider my drinking habit as one of my many behaviours rather than a part of my identity, it became a lot more manageable to quit. And, trust me, I had to continually remind myself that drinking was a learned behaviour honed over decades of practice! And, as a behaviour, I had full control over it. 

The more I recognized it as a behaviour, the clearer it became that I was so much more than that party girl, wine-loving, after-work-need-a-drink kinda gal that I'd become so attached to.

Was it hard to let go of that identity? Yeah, it was. I kinda liked that girl. She'd helped me feel like I belonged in social situations and was the life of the party who others loved to hang out with. But, at the same time, I felt liberated. I was learning that party girl Dani was a persona, a layer, a mask, that I'd added over the years to cover up someone who was much more unique, interesting and true. Someone who I've gotten to know very well since I've quit drinking. And, I like her. 



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