Sunday, August 9, 2009

Alcohol Consumption and Drama

In this article I want to focus on what to do when you get caught in an emotional drama with someone who is tipsy or drunk (and maybe you too?!) I combined the categories of "people who are drinking a couple of glasses of alcohol during a dinner" and "people really getting drunk". I personally believe that what I say below reflects well in both situations.

Since I was a very young kid I have been in situations where people around me drank alcohol. In some situations people just drank enough to get tipsy; in other situations people would drink until they were totally drunk. I have been able to observe how human behavior changes when alcohol is in the blood in many, many different situations. I kind of believe to be an expert in this field, an expert by experience...

A couple of days ago, during a wonderful dinner with friends, Sushi and wine, one friend got very upset with Mark's direct communication towards her. Slowly an drama unfolded at the table and it reminded me of past experiences and the basic beliefs I created so long ago and which still seem so useful…

Belief 1. All people change while drinking alcohol, some people radically.

People who normally are quiet might get really loud, people who are normally nice may become very obnoxious, people like me fall asleep... What ever it is, when the person has drunk, you cannot be sure the person will respond the same way as when he/she is sober even if he/she looks untouched by alcohol.

Belief 2. Drunken people sometimes show thoughts and emotions you normally don't see.

I always think that this is an interesting one. It is not only that they seem to show more inner thoughts and emotions. I'm especially intrigued by the ones they show which they normally keep under the surface. I remember when I was in my teenage years and my dad had a girlfriend. When they were sober the relationship seemed wonderful, but when they were drunk, lots of unhappiness would come out that would be fought about and discussed for hours at the time.

Belief 3. It's of no use to "work out" anything while a person is drunk.

I do not believe in "working out" anything with a drunk or tipsy person. The chance of escalating the situation, and discussing the situation for hours, is huge. I believe that the drunken person is less able to reflect on the situation and derive insights they can implement the next day. They might not even remember the conversation the next day! When I am in a conflict with a drunken person where something "needs working out", I tell I would love to discuss it with them the next day with or after a cup of coffee.

Belief 4. Drunk people might not like the solution mentioned in number 3.

Because for drunk people emotions and feelings seem to be so big, sometimes they will insist that the situation has to be solved in that instant and cannot wait until the next day. The more insistent they are on that, the more I recommend to stay persistent in solution 3 and move the conversation to the next day.

Belief 5. Don't expect the conversation to happen the next day without you pushing for it.

Finding a solution and "work it through" can be very important for the person whilst in drunk stage, but don't expect the same response the next day. If the person was drunk enough the day before, then might not remember the discussion clearly or they might not remember it at all. If the person was only tipsy, the emotions are back probably are back under the layers of control and might not come out without you asking about it or until the next time the person is drunk and you are together. Or the person might be so frustrated and irritated about the situation that they don't want to talk at all.

Belief 6. If the person is important enough stay pushing until the air is cleared.

For me this has always been the most difficult part in a relationship with people getting drunk regularly. If a person is only willing to talk about their emotional stuff when drunk and not over coffee, it's up to the other person to insist to having the conversation over coffee.

Growing up I used to be in drunken people situations so often (with the same people) that I started to believe some people do not intent to learn and move on, but that some just want to hold on to the unhappy feelings inside. Holding this "some do not intend to learn" belief, I gave up many times. This belief has been a cornerstone of why I decided to break up many relationships in my past.

I realize in this moment that if I had started my conversations with these people out of my want to be in relationship with them and the want to improve the relationship with them, and had I would have left my judgments at home; lots of these relationships probably would have flourished instead.

Belief 7. A conversation is not about right and wrong but about wants.

If you both want to be in the relationship together, you can work it out together. Anything can be discussed during coffee and there are always answers to be found. If you stay away from what is right and wrong, ahh... the most beautiful things can happen!

Enjoy your Friday!

1 comment:

  1. Right on. and I'm finding there is not much difference with a 'dry drunk.' One that still resists resolving the issues one might have, which they attempted to cover up, ignore, with self-medication. ~~~~~


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