This past weekend, a post by Mel Robbins reminded me to take action and stand up against the perpetuation of problems that not only effect me, but tear down people I care about.
Brene Brown has encouraged us (in a number of her books) to be brave - to not sit by quietly and passively let racist or oppressive comments be tolerated in our presence. Going against the grain like this might land us in a place where we are discriminated against or abused ourselves - but this is the risk we take for the sake of integrity and respect for our fellow human beings.
Making jokes that promote racism or misogyny are intolerable. It is not funny to generalize, insult or berate a group of people, as part of a campaign to keep a majority group in power. Thank you to those who stand up in these situations to say, that’s not funny. You are raising awareness and changing the way people think.
And so what about people who make jokes about alcoholism? Should I sit quietly while people promote abusive drinking and laugh about the so-called benefits, which in fact are the cause of dis-ease, abuse and death? There is absolutely nothing funny about alcohol abuse. We know it, yet many of us will not stand up and say it out of fear of being stigmatized. We don’t want to be the buzz-kill, right?
As a recovery coach, I refer many of my clients to Mel Robbins and her personal development programs. Currently she is offering a Mindset Reset, which encourages people to look at their negative thinking patterns and make choices to think deliberate affirmative thoughts instead. It is a brilliant and free program, and I am grateful she offers it. This weekend however I was disappointed to see that given everything she has said to us about mental health, anxiety and honesty that she would then contradict it all with an inappropriate post about alcohol abuse.
In her book the 5 second rule, Mel tells us our mind wants the best for us, so if we can use her 5 second method to motivate us into action - we will inherently do what is best for us. In her recent post she said she uses the 5 second rule to get herself to the liquor store to buy wine before the shelves go bare on a weekend of a snow storm. The joke was about how, depending on the severity of the weather we will need to stock up on wine to get us through the weekend. - up to 25 bottles of wine… Is this really what the 5 second rule is about? Of course not. Getting plastered on wine is not what is best for us. We know that, but we are supposed to find humour in the idea anyway. Unfortunately, this kind of humour justifies and perpetuates a culture of abusive drinking. If someone like me stands up to say this is actually not cool - alcohol abuse actually makes people sick and is a major problem for mental health for millions of people - well, I must just be defensive, because I have a problem.
Yes, I do have a problem with alcohol, and so do the people I support and represent. In the past I bought into the idea that drinking (and heavy drinking was a good time) until I learned the truth about alcohol. It is an addictive drug. Abuse of alcohol is not a laughing matter. Wine memes, jokes and the promotion of alcohol abuse should not be supported.
As much as I admire Mel Robbins, I am also concerned about the message she sends about alcohol. She is a model for so many people, and her actions will set a standard for others to live by. She is not perfect, none of us are, but I hope she will recognize the impact of the messages she sends and as a role model for us all, discontinue her jokes about alcohol abuse.