This time of year absolutely filled me with loathing up until about a decade ago (funnily enough, when I stopped drinking alcohol!). There was something encroaching and doom ridden about the increasingly dark nights, the dank, misty air, the enforced jollity that I knew could not actually be the lived experience for so many, and yet there it was, year upon year; you WILL go to the ball, Cinderella! And you will drink alcohol and have fun and be popular and happy and glamorous.
I’d notice it creeping into my psyche around mid-November, when the seasonal advertising begins to reach the epic proportions that are sustained relentlessly, right up until the New Year.
Ahh, how I would long for January 2nd, when the world resumed normality and we could all stop feeling obliged to be in the Christmas spirit.
Now, don’t get me wrong; there are still aspects of the festive season (the commerciality, the alcohol push) that evoke in me a sense of mild ire. But I have learnt to manage this time of year in a way that works for me, and have realised that this is what our happiness is all about - carving out a way that works for us.
It’s beyond easy to be swept up with the values and ideas of other people - we are so readily influenced by those around us that we can effectively lose all sight of what matters to us.
And for that reason, I wanted to share with you this model of behaviour change, to help you gain a clearer perspective on yourself and your behaviours over Christmas thus allowing you to challenge them and create a happier holiday that works for you.
The BASIC-ID Model is an acronym, and here’s what it stands for:
B - Behaviour; what is the behaviour that is causing you problems? Don’t think ‘drinking’ (that comes later!), but rather the behaviour that puts you in a frame of mind to WANT to drink. Do you overcommit to social events? Are you a people pleaser who does everything for everyone and, in the process, runs yourself ragged?
A - Affect; how does the above behaviour affect your emotions? Does it make you feel resentful? Angry? Depressed? Worthless?
S - Sensations; what bodily sensations does the behaviour bring about in you? Do you feel tired or exhausted? Are you anxious and struggling to breathe properly? Are your shoulders tight and stressed?
I - Imagery; when you think of all the activities associated with this behaviour, what images come to mind? Are they positive or negative? In these images, how do you present yourself?
C - Cognitive; now think about the thoughts that arise when you bring the behaviour to mind. What does your internal dialogue sound like? Is your Inner Critic piping up? Are you thinking self-compassionate thoughts, or are you being unnecessarily harsh on yourself?
I - Interpersonal; how does the behaviour impact on the way you act with the people around you? Are you snappy? Do you retreat into yourself? Are you falsely gregarious, overcompensating for your inherent shyness?
D - Drugs; does this behaviour result in you partaking in drugs (alcohol being a drug!)? How often? How much?
Now you just need to apply this model to a behaviour that you really want to change. This exercise is especially helpful if you’re aware of a behaviour that always results in you drinking to excess. For me, it was my tendency to hate Christmas - I’d bring it into everything and drag myself down with the weight of my festive misery.
When I look at the BASIC-ID model and apply it to my past behaviours around this time of year, it provides me with a huge sense of achievement - for knowing how much I have changed and how I have actively challenged myself to make my life better.
Focusing all my attention on how sad and lonely I was at Christmas made me hate it all even more - it made me feel lonely, I’d experience a sense that I was different to everyone else in the world, which obviously intensified my loneliness even more. I would see myself as a pathetic, unloveable person and tell myself that my divorce and broken family was all my fault, that I was unloveable and couldn’t make relationships work. And of course, all of that made me want to drink alcohol - which I did, by the bucketload.
YOU possess the power to challenge your unwanted behaviours and thoughts that are making you unhappy. And it’s especially important that you do so when those behaviours cause you to want to drink alcohol excessively.
Be kind to yourself - make an assessment of what you can change and then go about doing it. You'll have a much happier, easier life if you do...
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas,
Lots of love and festive best wishes, Lucy (Former Scrooge) ♥️🎄