Sometime in the early 1990s:
When a man sat next to me on the bus today, smelling of Lynx Africa, I became so overwhelmed with sadness and longing for Jamie Barton that I cried. I love Jamie so much, why, why, why did he have to dump me? He was my reason for being, the love of my life. Things will never be the same…
WhatsApp message to friend:
A customer came to the bar today reeking of Lynx Africa. That stench still to this day reminds me of that two-timing-twat Jamie Barton…
A smell, a song, a place. They can evoke powerful responses rooted deep in our psyche. As soon as we sense a scent or hear a melody we can be transported to a different place and time. That, essentially, is our subconscious at work. We can’t do much about it, we don’t control it. If you think of your mind as an iceberg, around 90% is below the surface, the subconscious, and in those icy depths are our beliefs and our emotions, formed over the course of our lives. What we can manipulate is the 10% glistening above the water: that is our logical and critical thinking which influences our responses and our reactions and we do this through educating ourselves.
A sniff of Lynx Africa still reminds me of Jamie Barton, I’ll probably never be able to change that. What has changed over time however is my response. At 17 I thought Jamie Barton was the love of my life and when I caught a whiff of his Lynx scent, I was reminded of him and how he’d left me and that made me sad. But over the next few weeks and months I became educated in the realities of Jamie Barton and learned that he was far from being the love of my life never mind my reason for being. For me, he was putting on an Oscar-winning role as the perfect boyfriend and I fell for the performance. What I learned over the next few weeks and months however, was that he was a two-timing shit who had snogged half of my friends, and the more I learned, the more I became indifferent to the point of dislike of him. So, although a sniff of Lynx Africa still reminds me of Jamie Barton my reaction in 2020 is totally different to that of teenage me.
What I’m attempting (probably very badly), to convey in this analogy is that for me, Jamie Barton is like wine and Lynx Africa is….well….for me….it’s anything I want it to be: a day with a ‘d’ in it, 5pm ‘wine o’clock’, friends turning up, a night out, a holiday. They’re all things that trigger a ‘Jamie’ response. I’m reminded that this is wine time. The ‘Lynx event’ is so deeply ingrained with association with wine and drinking that it’s hard to shake off. But, what I have learned, through using the Jamie Barton example, is that we can educate ourselves in the realities of what you perceived to be true. In the wine case, that wine is a depressant doing an Oscar-winning role as a relaxant and go-to fun potion. The reality is…it’s not.
It’s a bit like birthday cake. When you’re a kid, you can’t imagine a birthday without cake! You’d feel deprived and hard-done-by if you didn’t get one. But, as you grow up, you realise that cake ain’t the be all and end all of a birthday, you grow up and you’re not bothered. Things change, our association between birthdays and cake change. What we have to work on now, is understanding that wine or alcohol isn’t a necessary accompaniment to the events we thought it was. We’re not children, it’s time to grow.
The good news is, that you can do it. ‘Neuroplasticity’ is a real thing and we can train our brains to develop different responses to stimuli. You can shift your subconscious beliefs. This has happened on a collective level when it comes to smoking. Many of us used to smoke in the ‘olden days’ before we understood the consequences to our health and it became the social no-no that it is now. The perils of smoking are now so ingrained in our collective psyche that it is impossible to just light up with a cavalier attitude when you know all the risks. Our collective and our individual subconscious and conscious minds have shifted, education has transformed our responses. The problem with drinking and our collective psyche is that most people haven’t caught on to the dangers yet, so we have to be the pioneers, the mavericks, the path forgers.
Why am I banging on about Lynx Africa and smoking? As part of my commitment to my sobriety this October I intend on doing some hardcore work on shifting my subconscious beliefs and cementing my attitude towards what I thought were drinking ‘events.’
That is the next task for any of you interested in doing this with me: to start to list your beliefs about drinking, what you believe about it, what you believe it contributes to you…and then we can do the interesting part, revealing ‘the truth.’ I shall be posting my own beliefs over the next day or so.
Names have been changed, not to protect the two-timing shit that is Jamie Barton, don’t worry about him, karma had it’s day with that bastard, I saw him recently and he looked like an old giffer and had a front tooth missing – which I can only hope was sucked clean out of his head by one of mates he snogged.
Actual, proper disclaimer: I don’t pretend to be an expert in neuroplasticity, conscious and subconscious beliefs or an expert in anything really…I’m just somebody who has used alcohol in an abusive way, abusive only to myself, and I want to do some work on undoing any positive associations I have with wine and if you think this helps and want to do the same then feel free to join me. You can even send me your own lists of beliefs if it helps…I’m not saying I’ll read them but….