Have you ever known someone with an all or nothing attitude? No matter what this person does, rest assured, it’s usually an extreme and often impulsive endeavor of some kind that they feel will bring them satisfaction when they’re done.
It can be purchasing and setting up expensive gym equipment because they’ve decided it’s time to “get into shape.” Planting a lavish garden that ends up being bigger than they needed. Almost anything they build. And even putting up Christmas decorations that when finished turns out to be a grand and extravagant display for the holidays.
I can certainly relate to these people because I basically had an all or nothing attitude myself for a good part of my life, especially when I was younger. But it was the feelings I got during my endeavors and rarely the outcome that I found satisfying. I simply loved the elation I felt while doing certain things, and I often sought out activities that would make me feel that way again. Unfortunately, however, eventually drinking would be the activity I chose most often.
There were other times too though, when I actually felt contented with feelings of deep sadness. And although worry, anger and even self-pity also seemed to satisfy in a morbid kind of way at times, the extreme feelings of elation and sadness were the ones I experienced most.
It’s easy to see why I loved alcohol so much.
When I was having a good day, I often thought “what can I do to make this day even better?” And if I was having a bad day, my thoughts were often “life sucks and no one understands me.” But it either way it usually led to the same thing. Going out and getting drunk—in truth it was mostly fears and insecurities behind the extreme emotions I felt, and drinking was the only way I knew of to deal with them.
l still get elated over certain things today, and I also feel sad at times, but I no longer experience the extremes that I used too. I am now able to find a balance in my emotions that actually helps me feel happier.
I first noticed this emotional balance early in my sobriety, but I actually didn’t know what I was feeling at the time. I was in the car with my wife who was driving—she never liked my driving and still doesn’t today—and started describing how I was feeling to her. I said I wasn’t sad about anything, but I didn’t feel real up or happy either. She looked over at me and said “you’re just feeling normal,” and at the time I just nodded in acceptance, but I didn’t like the way I felt, and it would take a while for me to become comfortable with this “normal” way of feeling.
Emotional balance is harder to obtain for some people and they may need professional help to treat actual imbalances in their brain chemistry. But whether someone has an all or nothing attitude or not, I know we can face our fears and insecurities without using a substance to help us, and find an emotional balance that leads to greater happiness in our life.