What is the Gray Area?
As a busy professional, are you experiencing a tremendous amount of stress in your daily life, both at home and in your work?
If you just answered yes in your mind, how are you dealing with that stress? What are you using, doing, or reaching for when you experience those tough moments?
What I’ve found in working with clients and in my own life is that the behaviors we typically engage in to relieve stress can oftentimes become addictive and they can actually prevent us from enjoying vibrant health, fulfilling relationships and career advancement that we deeply desire.
We find ourselves living in what I like to call a “Gray Area” of life. A place where we intuitively know we’re capable of so much more but just don’t know what actions to take to close the gap between where we are currently, and where we dream of being.
If you’re like most people, you probably engage in some type of self-defeating addictive behavior pattern to deal with the stress in your life. It could be one of many things from drinking every night after work, lighting up a joint, popping a Xanax, eating a pint of ice cream, scrolling through Social Media, or watching pornography.
You can also be addicted to your painful childhood stories that you’ve been carrying around with you for decades now about why it’s not possible for you to have the life you deeply desire.
Heck, it could be that you’re addicted to your phone!
Whatever your self-defeating addictive behavior pattern is, know this; you’re not alone. Most people have something.
On August 14, 2016, I drank close to two bottles of wine while watching Father Martin videos on YouTube. There I was drinking heavily while watching a priest talk about the benefits of the AA 12 step program! Kind of ridiculous, right? I’d been contemplating quitting drinking for a while but was scared to be without it. I was functioning well in most areas of my life but still felt like I needed those 2-3 drinks most nights to numb the pain of my unresolved issues and the day to day stress in life.
Those glasses of wine had become a big part of my life; a friend that was slowly turning into a nemesis. After a lot of hard work and soul searching I realized I wasn’t an alcoholic, but a Gray Area drinker. After all, I’d never missed work, gotten a DUI or done any of the things I’d heard people who called themselves “real alcoholics” had done. I thought I just really liked wine!
I only drank in the evenings like many people I knew, so I thought I was fine. But deep down, I’d been asking myself for years if I was drinking too much. I’d kept it hidden and quiet. Very few people knew I was even drinking most nights, including my husband. It was the shame of that realization that finally woke me up; I knew deep inside I had finally reached my ‘this is enough”.
Not knowing any avenues for me to take besides AA, I called a friend who attended meetings and asked to go. I read the Big Book, got a sponsor and I did the suggested work. This was fine at first but ultimately left me feeling empty and broken. I knew this wasn’t the way I should be feeling and was determined to find a solution that worked for me and the spiritual path I was on.
You see, I didn’t believe I was powerless; after all, I was performing quite well in most areas of my life. The disease model of addiction did not make sense to me, and as far as I knew had never been proven medically. And the thought of having to go to lifelong recovery meetings listening to people talking about the same problems over and over again that never seemed to get solved made me want to run!
After several months of hardcore soul searching and deep diving, I had the good fortune to work with a Life Coach. That experience changed my life. So much so, that after a few more years of hard work and personal transformation, I became a Certified Life Coach myself providing my clients with the same life-changing benefits that I’ve learned in all my research and experience.
That’s how GrayTonic was born. I wanted to create a program for my clients that was empowering and rich with possibilities! My philosophy is based on neuroscience and proven methods, not outdated ones that keep you feeling broken and forever labeled.
So what is the Gray Area?
The Gray Area is a place where to an outsider, you appear to be normal or “fine”, but deep down, you know you’re not really as happy as you could be or reaching your full potential in life.
As a former Gray Area drinker, I was high functioning and didn’t experience what is typically referred to as “hitting your rock bottom”. As I mentioned, I never got a DUI, lost my job or my marriage, but I was still secretly questioning my relationship with alcohol. I didn’t identify as an alcoholic in the general sense of the term but knew I was more than just a social drinker. When I did consume alcohol, it was hard to stop after just a few. I frequently found myself drinking more than I intended. I was confused to say the least.
AA and society, in general, tend to define problem drinking in a binary way, stating you’re either an alcoholic or you’re not, that there’s no middle ground or Gray Area. I’ve found that this is simply NOT true, both with myself and through working with numerous clients.
Many more people fall into this Gray Area than those who identify as an alcoholic, by a wide margin!.
The Gray Area can also be described as teetering between merely existing, like going through the motions in a “Groundhog Day” type of life and the feeling of being fulfilled, excited and thriving in your life. All too often, we live in a fog where things appear okay just a few feet in front of us, but past that, it’s completely clouded with not much hope.
When I was 7 years old, I clearly remember asking myself, “Is this all there is to life?” A pretty profound question for a precocious little girl, right?. But looking back, I didn’t really enjoy much of anything except for the few and far between family vacations we took and I realized the memories of that sad, frustrated child still haunted my adult life and I had to do the work to heal that part of me. I became profoundly aware that her feelings had stayed with me for another 40 years. I wasn’t seeing the beauty of my adult life. I was just existing.
Maybe you can relate to this in your own life. If so, you’re not alone.
What I’ve found is a high percentage of professional men & women are dealing with tremendous amounts of stress and overwhelm. They’re struggling to find a work/life balance and feel as though they’re just existing and not really living the life they desire. They’re afraid of change and feel handcuffed to their current job which provides those 4 weeks per year vacation and generous benefits package. They long for early retirement when they’ll “finally” be happy. What they really want is to have the freedom and money to do what they want NOW, have balance in their work and personal lives and experience joy in the present instead of having to wait for another 10 to 20 years.
They’re convinced all their drinking, pill-popping, overeating, and other self-defeating addictive behaviors are part and parcel to managing a big, stressful life. “It’s no big deal since most everyone else is doing it so some degree,” they say. They falsely believe that if they just learned how to moderate their drinking and committed to a meditation practice or something similar, they’d be able to eliminate their stress and the fear of admitting they might actually have a problem. I’ve found that what’s really happening with this type of person is that life is passing them by and the alcohol or coping mechanism they use is actually making their stress worse, but they can’t see it since they’re in a fog of busyness and overwhelm most of the time.
Living in the Gray Area is teetering between merely existing and fully living.
What they need to do is develop an invincible mindset, uncover the limiting beliefs that are keeping them stuck, come out of hiding behind negative coping mechanisms, and finally establish a healthy balance so they can start thriving in their lives again.
That is the process I take my clients through. I show them how to have the life they really want – one full of abundance and joy. I help them discover what their underlying issues are so they can move out of the Gray Area of life and into the Light where they can thrive.
From my own journey, I found that light. It took deep work but I can honestly say I’m incredibly happy with my life. Removing the alcohol was just the beginning. And it’s been over 3 years since I’ve had any alcohol!
I’m so grateful for that night I drank. It was not easy to face my inner demons but I did it. It was what I needed to finally make the changes that have transformed my life for the better. I was scared, of course. But I had the courage to fight for a fulfilling life.
My wish for you is that you have the courage to fight for your fulfilling life, whatever that may be.
You can do it. You’re not broken, or powerless and you don’t need to accept a label that doesn’t feel right for you. You’re a powerful creator and deserving of so much for your life.
It would be my honor to help you with discovering this for yourself. And if you’re not quite ready, that’s okay too. If all I’ve done today is plant a seed of possibility, then I’ve done my job. It’s all about the awareness. Once you see it, you can’t “unsee” it.
It all begins with questions, my friends. And through questions, you will achieve clarity. Through clarity, you will find the freedom you desire and from there, ultimate joy will be discovered. If you’d like to have a conversation with me, I offer a free 45-minute Discovery Call. It’s a great way to see if I can help you achieve your goals regarding any area you’re struggling in. You’ll have an opportunity to be fully heard and see how I can serve you. If this resonates with you, click here to schedule a convenient time that works for you.