In a recent conversation with a few very bright, high achieving college students in my practice, we have uncovered insights into destructive behaviors patterns. These patterns are typically invisible or blind spots that tend to be automatic and unconscious. Unfortunately, they can produced severe consequences until revealed and dealt with. Insight into these patterns have come to light in recent months due to addressing the problems that have ensued. One of these clients tagged her insights as NOT managing her life causing regrets over these decisions. She calls these leftover feelings and thoughts a “moral hangover.” The regrets she accumulates after going out drinking too much often causes physical and emotional distress. The fear gives into the impact of social pressures placed on her by friends in addition to her own FOMO (fear of missing out). If she didn’t go out and drink, vape (or use other substance abusing chemicals) with her friends, she felt bad, lonely and alone. If she did go out, she felt worse the next day. Is this fear of being left out, fear of being alone, or something greater and deeper? Whatever the sources the result is suffering. Then, negative thoughts even embarrassment would ensue while recovering from the inevitable hangover. Do you replay the consequences you experience from over-drinking? It may be time to take a look at the patterns that are destructive to your mood, health, and self-respect.
The people you choose to spend your time with will be a powerful influence on your choices. Are these “friends” a positive influence or toxic to you? Try this experiment; avoiding going out for your usual drinking/binging event perhaps not even remembering what happened, having a blackout. In this way, you can take time to examine the internal drivers of that behavior. If you also have a family history of addiction, this makes you even more vulnerable or susceptible to your own addiction potential. How vulnerable are you to addiction genetically? What are the behaviors emerging that cause suffering, shame or the “moral hangover?”
As an alternative, find activities, friends that give you a sense of purpose, meaning, fun without any substances. Friends that are a positive influence. The next day, evaluate how you feel about yourself. Check in with the “going out group” to observe their physical and/or moral hangover. Imagine the misery you have just prevented.
Other moral hangovers may include treating someone badly. Were you angry, mean, disrespectful or said horrible things? These feelings can causes regrets, anxiety, depression or worse. IT IS PREVENTABLE! Get with positive influences, people, ideas, groups and take responsibility for difficulties and problems. Until you “own” the problem, it will persist. It is easier to blame others and ultimately stay stuck. CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. Take time to examine you choices, guilt, fears and plot a new course for moral happiness and self-esteem.