When I first started helping women quit alcohol I spent a huge amount of time and effort on the practical elements of giving up. It’s the information you know by heart if you’ve been trying to quit for a while:
- Commit to a Day One
- Set clear goals
- Commit to a certain number of days
- Replace your bad habits with good ones
- Use alcohol-free alternatives if it helps
- Check-in with your doctor
- Reward yourself along the way and at the end
- Understand your triggers and find healthy and better ways to manage them (there’s a freebie that will help here)
- Get support
- Be good to yourself and increase your self-care habits
Obviously all of the above is good advice and has helped countless women stop drinking, either for good or for an extended period of time. I’m sure this is not that different from all of the advice and information you’ve come across in the past.
Over time, as my knowledge improved and I coached more women, I began to see a repeating pattern where women would commit to drinking, succeed at 30 or 90 days but then go back to drinking – often drinking more than they had been when they first quit.
I was realising that the majority of the conversations I had weren’t really about giving up alcohol. So many women who had been sober for weeks would start to feel uncomfortable about their sobriety and start messaging me on Whatsapp that they were feeling like drinking.
After a few conversations with clients, I had a Eureka Moment!
Alcohol isn’t always the problem
Nearly every woman who was struggling had the same issue.
When I was coaching I could see that so many of my clients had not had the benefit of working on their personal growth in the same way I had and this was having a direct impact on their ability to stay sober.
Since the year 2000, I have been working on my personal development. I was introduced to the topic by a management coach I worked with and after the first book I was hooked. Over the next 17 years, I inhaled all things personal growth and development. I did courses, retreats and anything that I found that I thought would make me ‘happier’.
Personal Growth Inhibitor
And this is what I discovered. When you reach for the bottle in response to feeling something like anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, trauma etc etc, so that you don’t have to feel it you are robbing yourself of learning invaluable and necessary life skills that contribute to your personal growth.
Alcohol causes anxiety so if you are living with anxiety because of something that’s happened to you, then adding alcohol into the mix is only going to make it worse and you will never be able to be free of it. After a spell of confident sobriety, you should discover that your anxiety levels are reducing and putting you in a much stronger frame of mind to start the process of dealing with it for good.
If you are stressed and drink you will never learn to listen to the messages your body gives you to tell you that stress is coming and what you need to do about it. After I stopped drinking in 2017, I learned really quickly that when I am stressed my sleep gets very disturbed and patchy. Now, I can spot stress before it gets out of hand and I can deal with whatever I need to at the right time before it has a major impact on my health. This is because sober me knows I sleep well where drinking me never did. So, if my sleep is disturbed then there is something going on that I need to deal with.
If you get angry and reach for the bottle you are missing out on the opportunity to learn how to set boundaries with other people and stop being a people pleaser. Sobriety will also give you the chance to learn how to let go of stuff that doesn’t warrant your anger. I used to be a very angry woman and would be furious about stupid little things, today I don’t notice the little things and live a much calmer life. Your sober life will show you ways to manage your anger and let go of what truly doesn’t matter.
Feeling sad about something is an emotion to be honoured. If you are sad at any kind of loss then you are saying that this was important, that it mattered to me and my tears honour that. Often, sadness accompanies other emotions and adding alcohol to these feelings robs you of the chance to be clear about what is really troubling you and what you need to do about them.
I know many women drink at home alone which exacerbates feelings of loneliness. When you drink alcohol to stop feeling the discomfort of feeling lonely it’s the alcohol that is directly contributing to keeping you lonely. Drinking makes you feel like you don’t need anyone anyway and you’re probably an introvert so it’s alright and alcohol becomes the reason that you feel lonelier and lonelier and begin to imagine a bleak future. Getting sober will give you the chance to find out if you actually like being alone or if you would prefer more people in your life.
I thought I drank on social occasions because I was an outgoing person who found it easy to meet and talk to strangers and alcohol was just part of being there. Sobriety revealed that I was actually quite an introvert and drank so that I could have a social life. Now I don’t worry about it and spend as much time on my own as I need and see lovely people when it feels good to.
If you drink because you feel guilty about something you’ve done in the past, then I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but if you keep drinking, you always will. Forgiving yourself is an empowering act of self-love where you can see the tangible benefits of letting go of guilt and letting yourself off the hook. Alcohol will keep you exactly in the same spot. Sobriety gives you the chance to look at why you feel guilty and take positive action to make amends to others and yourself because you know life will be so much better afterwards.
Drinking to drown out the horror of a past trauma is certainly understandable. Grappling with the depths of feelings that arise without the tools to do so effectively makes drinking a very easy thing to do. Yes, when you stop drinking, the pain of your past might feel worse for a time, but getting the professional support you need will put you on the path to eventual freedom. Continuing to drink will keep you trapped in the past and it will never set you free. Only you have the power to do that.
Getting to grips with your personal development soon after you get sober will give you the very best chance to succeed at long-term sobriety. I know that no matter what comes my way, I have the resilience and strength to deal with it and it’s my sobriety that is the foundation of that knowledge.
If you are already working on your personal growth and are still drinking I would ask you to do a brief assessment and ask yourself if you are truly making the progress you think you are.
Over the years my coaching has developed so that your personal growth is my top priority. In coaching, I spend as much time, sometimes more, as I do on the practical elements of giving up.
With just a few weeks of sobriety under your belt you will have the clarity of mind to start the joyful process of making good choices and decisions for yourself and be clear about the contribution those choices are making towards how you see yourself and how you want to live in the world.
If you have been drinking for decades then you may have a fair bit of catching up to do. I know it might seem a little scary from where you are right now, but I promise you it doesn’t have to be. Taking full control of your life and your personal growth will make you feel like a giant of a woman who is capable of anything.
If you feel you might need some support and would like to discuss coaching with me, you can book a free discovery call here.
Much love always, Jules xxx