I’ve been reflecting on Christmas, us Brits and the notion of group think that I discussed in this post here. Yesterday I wrote ‘Just choosing not to drink over Christmas doesn’t mean that we are immune from the influence or attitudes of those around us’ and for me that is one of the biggest difficulties of not drinking. We all want to belong and to be seen as part of our group whether that is British, drinker, celebrating Christmas rather than bah humbug, etc and not drinking puts us outside of our mainstream group. This is Tajfel’s Social identity theory which is where our individual self concept is derived from a perceived membership in a relevant social group. A key assumption in social identity theory is that individuals are intrinsically motivated to achieve positive distinctiveness. That is, individuals “strive for a positive self-concept”.
So I like to be accepted and to fit in and to have a positive self-concept and to remain part of what Tajfel called the ‘in-group’. But not drinking means I no longer feel like I fit in because I’m not doing what my social group are doing and this impacts on my positive self-image and I feel like a bit of social outcast. I am now part of the out-group of non-drinker not the in-group of drinker within my social group.
If only society could see the damaging effects of drinking in the same way that it does with smoking. Now when you stop smoking people praise your achievement and are supportive of the change because of the health benefits but if you stop drinking this is met with suspicion, and at times derision. Unlike smoking this is not yet perceived to be a socially acceptable change of lifestyle to pursuit or even admit to.
Which is where the sober blogging community comes in to its own and is so powerful. By finding this group I have had the opportunity to re-frame my social identity within my new social group. Within this group being a non-drinker makes you part of the ‘in-group’ and I feel accepted and fit in once more. AA from the 1930’s provided what the internet revolution is providing now, an opportunity to find a group of like-minded people who understand and support each other. For this I am filled with gratitude on a daily basis 🙂 Day 98.