Autonomy + Social Pressure
Conceptualizing cultural alcohol use in this way—stepping outside of the line we’ve been told, that alcohol is normal and fun and cool—helps give legs to our decision to remove alcohol from our lives. And anything that gives legs to our choices helps to build autonomy, helps us to resist social pressure to drink.
If you walk into a room full of alcohol and your autonomy is lacking (you still rely heavily on the external feedback of others to make decisions about your life), then you’re at risk of accepting that drink that’s handed to you. Alternatively, if you have strong autonomy (you’re able to stand firm in your own choices regardless of external feedback), you’ll be able to enter that situation and feel confident declining the pressure to drink alcohol.
So we continue our work in strengthening our autonomy. Call upon the tools we’ve already learned to cultivate this trait, and begin applying it to different scenarios. Even if we feel like we have poor or shaky autonomy, especially around this decision to remove alcohol from our lives, we can practice. As hokey as it sounds, stand yourself in front of a mirror and practice saying “no thank you” or even “no thank you, I don’t drink.” Repetition, practice, getting the actual words out of your mouth, calls on our friend neuroplasticity. By practicing, you are creating inroads in your brain (those neural pathways we talked about), so that it becomes more natural and easy to call upon in the moment.
Now, consider how else you might cultivate autonomy within the context of resisting social pressure to drink alcohol? How can you strengthen your resolve to stand firm in your decision regardless of external pressures?