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Is your drinking stealing from your future self?

Thief reaching for mans wallet
Don't let drinking be the sneaky future thief!

I listened to a great podcast the other day by Israel Smith, who is the creator and presenter of Illuminating Lives. It was titled "Are you a future thief?" and the theme is about the choices we make today that can and do affect our future lives. Those affects can be negative or positive, large or small and we rarely think about how the choices of today will pan out in the future and how it will affect our future selves.

A large part of the podcast was about the affect of decisions that his father made over his working life that led to injury, a decision to delay rehabilitation and a loss of mobility that adversely affected his later life. These decisions affected not only the father's future self but also the family and in particular his relationship with his son's future self. They were not able to do things together that they had done in their earlier years.

We tend to make mostly short term decisions that forgoes safety, we act according to convenience, we suck it up, we push through and usually, we do what everyone else is doing.

Which got me thinking, what if I applied the same thoughts to drinking, what affect does drinking have on our future self?

Twenty years ago if you had asked me what are my most valuable assets are? I would have replied my house, money in the Bank, maybe my superannuation and followed up by my family, I needed the fore mentioned to support my family of course.

Today if you ask me, I would say my health, health and yes, health; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. My health is more valuable than tangible assets. As long as I have my health everything will work out. If I'm physically healthy I can enjoy the activities I love, if I have my mental health I can be resilient when problems arise. If I have my emotional health I can navigate any problem rationally and keep the fight or flight feelings at bay. (or is emotional and mental vice versa? mmm) I can be present and able for my family. Anyway, if push came to shove and money became an issue, with my health levels covered I could go back to work and earn some to carry us over. Spiritually I can appreciate all the things in this world and be grateful for them.

Where does drinking come into this?

Well, it's easy to drink when it becomes ingrained, it becomes the thing we do, when we do the things. It's a short term decision, gee I feel like a drink.. okay. Done.

Another one, yep, and another.

But do we ever think about the future?

The future in terms of a few hours, a few years, a lifetime.

In a few hours, if I'm out drinking I'll need to get home. Will I drive or will I take a cab? Is my decision making ability impaired enough to get in car regardless?

If you did get in your car, a poor outcome would be a car crash and injury or a DUI. Maybe you'll get home unscathed, I did many a time. There were times I didn't. If something does go bad, the future implications could be dire. What are you stealing from your future self, a large fine, extended loss of licence, jail time if you kill someone and even financial compensation to the victims family. What would your life look like then?

In a few years. What about the affects on your long term health, drinking tends to grow over time. If you are a regular drinker, your consumption never goes down, unless you work to moderate it. Then the moderation might become an issue in itself, causing you to drink more.

Making rules, breaking them, overdrinking, doing it all over again, losing trust in yourself and becoming inward focusing. Drinking more than ever, what then?

We read about alcohol being a carcinogen, its nasty effects on the liver over time, and what it does to our brains if its continually soaked in alcohol soup?

A lifetime. What future experiences are you stealing from yourself, if you become sick with liver disease or cancer or you develop a physical addiction? Remember if unchecked, alcohol consumption always increases, it creates a need and a thirst for itself. Will you be bed ridden or not able to travel when you need to be at the liver clinic several times a week. Will you become so consumed you lose everything to exist for drinking.

Sounds extreme but for a lot of people it is a daily reality.

Your family life, the kids. If you are drinking, more than likely you are not available for your family. Your attention is focused on the alcohol. Your kids crave your attention.

You grab a beer from the fridge when you get home from work. You wave the kids off with your beer hand while you plonk yourself on the couch to watch the news and "relax". Mum hustles the kids away and grabs a wine joining you, its been a long day for herself as well. Both parents become unavailable. What if its a friday night, and both parents go overboard.. the kids are left to fend for themselves if something goes wrong in the household. Who calls the fire brigade or the ambulance if both parents have passed out and one of the unsupervised kids gets in to difficulty. Or if a parent themselves gets into difficulty affected by alcohol? It happens.

Late nights getting home from work after going to the pub for a quick one, never seeing the kids until the next morning. Too grumpy from last nights drinking to talk to them, ask them about their day or whats happening in their lives?

What message are your kids getting?

Internally they may or may not be aware of it but they are noting you chose drinking over them. What message are they forming in their subconscious?

"I am not enough"

How will that affect their future selves, what emotional trauma will they experience when "I am not enough" is reinforced over and over again in their experience and in their minds?

How will that affect your future relationship with your children. Will they drift away and make their own lives without you, since you are never available? Will they become nervous and needing approval from others all the time. What will their relationships look like in the future, will they partner with a drinker to relive the trauma to try and figure out why they are not enough? (According to Dr Gabor Maté this type of emotional trauma and response is common)

Are you having disagreements with your partner when you are drinking? What ripple effects does that have through the family? Do the kids live in fear, always hyper vigilant and never relaxed and happy enough to want to spend time with you.

Hangovers. Days written off because you are too crook to do anything. What are you missing out on while you are hiding from the light under the covers? Kids sports, recitals, family outings without you? What they telling themselves.. "I am not enough".

Our future selves.. 99% of the time we don't give it a thought, and it's only when we stop drinking and remove that fixation that we have the opportunity to reflect and do something about it, assuming we are even aware of what impacts drinking might have had on others around us.

Its the understanding and working on the affects that alcohol has had on our loved ones, seen or unseen, that improves our relationships.

Which we can do once we stop or cut back significantly our dependance and fixation on alcohol.

Reconnecting, reaffirming bonds, being open and vulnerable.

We become available again, we trust ourselves and in trusting ourselves, others learn to trust us again.

The art of stopping for a moment and thinking it through, whatever you are doing, drinking to the exclusion of others, staying late at work too many nights, mowing the lawn without earmuffs, using a chainsaw without eye and ear protection, gloves, and chaps.

Am I stealing from my future self if I go ahead with that choice?

Or will you make choices for the moment, push through the discomfort of whatever the roadblocks might be in front of you? Hangovers, relationship problems, money worries, health worries and so on to keep drinking, to keep alcohol close to you in your life?

Never considering if you are actually stealing something from your future self in those short term decisions?

Thanks to Israel Smith and your inspirational podcast!

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