Drinking Diaries: Pavlov

When did “drinking” become the key to fun? When did we decide if we are going to have a nice time or a nice meal then there would NEED to be alcohol. When we were 7yrs old what did we need to play? When we ate as children were we looking for the glass of wine to compliment our meal, or anything other than what was on our plate? Remember being burdened by having to sit down and eat? Remember playing on a jungle gym, swimming, running around outside and Mom was like “Get in here and EAT!” and all you wanted to do was keep playing? But then, at some point food, became the playing. At some point, for some of us, alcohol became the main ingredient to fun. As adults, can you imagine going to an evening social without alcohol? I ran into an old friend recently and he invited me and mine over for a “get together” at his home. We showed up and there was lots of alcohol, per usu, and I never even spoke to the old friend. We tried to but he was so drunk and not “there”, it was useless. I am not shocked. This is how we celebrate each other. This is how we “enjoy” ourselves. I only feel fully licensed to talk about this because I am the living example of “I BELIEVED IN ALCOHOL“……. (dramatic pause). I believed that not only alcohol would make any event better, i.e., baby showers are lame (insert mimosas…..BAM fun!), birthday parties are fine (insert Cosmopolitans…BAM fun), picnics are nice (but insert champagne and now it’s special). But, I deeply believed that without alcohol it was not worth it. I would be insulted if I showed up to an evening event (evenings=alcohol) and there was no mention of the stuff. I would struggle through it. If it was a dry meeting or something businessy then I would count down the minutes for it to be over. I would have the “finish line effect” when I got home and reward myself for good behavior. If it was a dinner or something and there was no alcohol I would be like WHAT THEFUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK? (in my head, of course). 

At some point we learned this. This is what Pavlov would consider a Conditioned Response. 

Pavlov observed dogs natural response to food. When the dog was presented with a bowl of food his Unconditioned Response (not learned, natural) would be to salivate. 

Later Pavlov started to ring a bell while he presented the bowl of food to the dog. So, eventually the dog associated the sound of the bell with the the idea of “I get to eat, I get to eat” and would salivate just by hearing the sound of the bell.

This is a Conditioned Response, the dog learned that the sound of the bell meant food. What have your learned about alcohol? Where along the way did the ring of the bell (getting off work, seeing friends, eating dinner, going to lunch, even seeing a newborn (Sip & Sees are all the rage right now), going on vacation, etc) mean that it’s time to DRINK ( “I get to drink, I get to drink”, just like the dog)? 

There are many that would read this and think….. Nicole, you really relied on the swill, I had no idea you had this obsession. Of course you didn’t. We (high functioning drinkers) make huge efforts to normalize our behavior and make it very natural to drink and treat non-drinking as absurd and unnecessary suffering. 

This writing comes from a PRIMAL URGE to TALK ABOUT IT. 

If you are salivating at 5p.m everyday, this is Learned. You can change your conditioning with awareness, practice and time. 

Let’s open up about this science of the mind, and conditioning of the body. It’s ok. We are just growing, knowing and flowing. I want to help shed the light if you are in the dark. 

Have an amazing life! (don’t just fly, SOAR).

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