A common problem I run into with most clients is how to handle the social influence on their lifestyle. While on one hand you may want to get results it cannot come at the expense of having a social life. The vast majority of people’s social interactions are meeting for dinner or drinking related. The key therefore is how do you obtain a balance between social and getting results. There are a few stages to do this –
1) Address Environmental Cues To Eating & Drinking –
It is important to address your current connections to different stimuli to eat or drink. I have discussed numerous times how we react to signals from the world around us. For many people, If they go into a pub the mere sight, smell of the building will engage connections to drink. The same applies to Friday / Saturday night.
Any current connections to eating or drinking will be magnified around other people. To address these connections you simply need to use a little willpower to resist any urges a few times around a specific environmental cue.
2) Address Eating & Drinking Cues To Social Situations –
To get a balance with social and work life you cannot be totally at the mercy of anyone you meet. You should aim to be comfortable both choosing to do, or not do any behaviour. So if you meet a friend in the pub, go to work drinks or run into a free buffet at a party then you are comfortable both saying yes to it or saying no!
Developing this area takes a little time and for most is a more difficult challenge than going after just the environmental cues away from social scenes. However, if you do this in combination of expanding your social repertoire it is more than possible (see below). To address this area specifically, first change your reaction to the cues around you in step 1, then pick the easiest social situation and start to become comfortable in this area and build upwards.
Often you will need to make use of the odd story or justification to make things easier. For example, meeting a non drinking friend in a pub quickly at lunchtime will be easier to not drink than meeting your best friends on a school reunion night out. Saying you are feeling a little ill stomach wise or antibiotics can make it even easier to not eat or drink etc.
3) Come Up With Some Better Ideas For Social Events.
Even if you are comfortable not eating or drinking around friends it is always going to be harder if in a food & drinking environment than if you were elsewhere. Therefore you should come up with ideas to socialise away from the usual boring meal or drinks.
In my experience I have found that people are on automatic around the ‘let’s meet for food or drink’ plan and completely unable to suggest any alternatives. This means the onus will be on you to come up with different ideas. I have also found that if you do, most people are very enthusiastic for it.
After reading research back in 2015 about how having a weekly social event was as influential on your long term health as whether you smoke or not I set up a Monday Night Social Group. The rules were simple, we met every Monday and did an activity which could not involve food or drink. We had great fun, we rotated bowling, pool, pub quiz, exhibitions, board games and more week by week.
Here is a list of ideas you could consider to try for some social interaction in a different environment. I am always looking for more ideas so if have some let know, I will add them to the list below.
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