If you follow me on Instagram, you saw my recent post about a thing I referred to as “Social Debt”. What is that? I’m not only going to tell you what, but why you don’t need to buy into the game.
It’s the term (I have assigned) to describe the feeling like you owe people.
- apologies for your decisions
- explanations for your choices
- reasons for your actions
- excuses for your feelings
Just in case you were wondering, you don’t really owe anyone those things. You are under no obligation to explain yourself to anyone; contractually or otherwise.
Seriously, think about how many times you have given that courtesy to people and they still trample over you? For me, it happens when I say, “I don’t drink.” You’d think I was saying, “I don’t breathe.” People want to observe me like an oddity.
“We should meet up for drinks sometime, isn’t there a bar near your house?”
“Actually, I don’t drink.”
^ This puts us at an instant disadvantage because, either we admit we are recovering alcoholics (which isn’t as hard for us to say as it is for people to comprehend) or we feel shamed now for NOT drinking.
Let me try and put it in simpler terms for those of you on the outside looking in….
We just fought our way back from a cloud of shame that surrounds even being addicted, and now we are getting shamed for not drinking….and often we get into defense mode. Not necessarily angry defense mode, but a defense mode where we protect what we stand for and feel slightly personally attacked when it’s called into question.
To my fellow recovery tribe members
To the drinkers
It’s ok to ask why someone chooses not to drink. Perhaps just try and breach the subject in less of a peer pressure situation. If someone declines a drink, don’t make it a spectacle, just move on. If you still feel like it, you can come back later and say, “Hey, Dave, I noticed you didn’t take a drink last night, that’s awesome! I hope I didn’t make it awkward.”
A lot of us just want honesty and that would be a great way to open the conversation for both parties to start communicating. Chances are good your questions will be answered and laid to rest.
Don’t play into the ‘social debt’ game of owing people anything more than you are willing to give.