I put this in the group to see what obstacles Sobersistas commonly struggle with when thinking of giving up alcohol. Here’s my take:
Trump (aka Politics/The World)
Have you ever tried not watching the news for a week? It’s incredibly liberating. It’s also incredibly irritating when you go back to it a week later and find that the news channels are still pumping out the same stuff and the world hasn’t changed that much. If you are struggling to give up alcohol then try switching off the news for a little while or give yourself a 10 minutes a day check in just to make sure nothing major is happening.
Drinking to calm your anxiety is a bit like pouring oil onto a fire. Alcohol causes anxiety so letting go of it reduces your anxiety levels dramatically. I have seen so many women on anxiety medication who report that once they stopped drinking they were able to dramatically reduce or eliminate meds completely. Alcohol is only making your anxiety worse.
If you are drinking because terrible things happened to you in the past, drinking is only going to keep you held in the same place. Whatever the goal of the perpetrators was, drinking alcohol ensures that they are still with you every day. Getting sober doesn’t make these things go away but sobriety does give you a fighting chance of getting the right professional help so that you can live the rest of your life free.
No Hobby to Replace Drinking With
What did you love to do as a child? I loved to read and write and drinking for 40 years meant that the only thing I could do was watch the TV with one eye shut to compensate for the double vision. There is something that you love. If I was your fairy godmother and gave you one spare time wish – what would you do? Every time I ask a Sobersista this question in one to ones they always know and they always light up when they start talking about it. If you really don’t know then you can do some research and make a list of some things you would like to try. Plus you will have the time and money to indulge. You could then spend the next year trying out new and different things to see what sticks. The added benefit of this is that trying new things will build your self esteem as you begin to see what you’re good at.
Social skills can be learned. It’s just practice. The big thing to remember is that when you walk into a social situation, everyone there is thinking about themselves and how they are coming across to you. Yes, everyone does a quick judgement but they will all be looking for the same thing you are. Acceptance. If you approach new situations by listening, being curious and asking questions. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Also, remember to be compassionate – if you’re feeling uncomfortable the chances are that most other people are too.
Low Self Esteem
Similar to anxiety, low self esteem loves to wallow in alcohol. Unlike anxiety it can take a little longer to build up, however, it does improve. The other thing to consider is to ask yourself if you want to live this way for the rest of your life? Drinking alcohol is a bit like wearing armour. It’s heavy, weighs you down but ultimately keeps you protected from anything in the outside world getting in. Being free of the armour means you get to choose how you live your life and I know from experience your self esteem will naturally build and you will begin to love who you are.
It’s a Habit
In the same way drinking became a habit, you can make a new one. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between good and bad habits, it just knows you do something on a regular basis and helps out with the decision making. Your brain knows, for example, that if you are in the kitchen cooking it’s time for a glass of wine. That’s often why you can almost have finished your first glass and wonder how it got there. Yes, it takes time to make a new habit but it is possible. We make new habits all the time. Think back to a habit you used to have. How did you break it? You already have the skills to change your habits, you just need to apply them to alcohol. It’s important to remember that alcohol is not a reward, it’s the opposite, so try and find a lovely, yummy, indulgent reward to replace it with.
If you’re bored then you have time on your hands. Who in your life needs your help? Who can you support or be of service to? Giving your time to others is a wonderful way to shift your perspective away from yourself – alcohol makes us horribly self indulgent. We are almost like sulky teenagers and yet with the amount of suffering in the world there is definitely a cause that matters to you that you can get involved in.
To Avoiding Uncomfortable Feelings
Your feelings are natural and human, despite whatever teaching you were given as a child that you’ve internalised. They are an indicator that there is something you need to attend to. Anger means a boundary has been crossed, sadness means you need to cry, hurting means you need to heal, fear means you need to investigate whether your fear is real and if it is, do something about it. One of the most wonderful gifts of sobriety is being able to deal with these feelings appropriately. It’s like the veil is lifted from your eyes and you can see who you are clearly. Also, don’t assume that you will still have all these uncomfortable feelings all of the time – alcohol is a great catastrophiser! You will probably find that the things that bothered you in the past no longer do to the same extent, if at all.
It’s My Stress Relief
Alcohol is a depressant so whatever stress you’re feeling is only being made worse by it. Stressful days still happen but what happens when you’re sober is that you get to really enjoy that moment of winding down at the end of the day. Coming home, jumping in the shower and straight into your pj’s, making a healthy dinner and then relaxing by reading, watching TV or calling a girlfriend who needs a bit of support right now is such a wonderful way to end a difficult day. Also, because your sleep improves, you can get into bed knowing you will sleep well and wake up rested in the morning. Lovely.
It helps me ‘float’ after a crap day at a job I hate!
Last year I did a one year contract in a pretty intense, high profile job where all of my staff bar one or two absolutely hated me. Being sober during that year was amazing – despite all the nonsense that went on I still did a great job and saved the organisation a fortune in efficiency savings. I could never have done that when I drank. The stress of others incompetence and back stabbing would drive me insane. There’s a part of me would love to do my career over again but this time sober. What a totally different experience that would have been. You do have options. You can retrain and get a better job, you can speak to someone who can help you sort things out at work. Being sober will mean that your job will stop being stressful and you can impress those that matter and get yourself a promotion or a better job. Continuing to drink will only ensure that things will stay the same.
I like it
I totally understand the pleasurable element of drinking but the truth is that the one element of pleasure isn’t worth the whole raft of damage it’s doing to your mental health, your body, relationships etc etc. The fact that you’ve chosen to search out information and help with getting sober means you’re already most of the way there to understanding that this one element of pleasure isn’t worth it. If you enjoy the taste of it and the physical experience of drinking it with others you can try alcohol free drinks. There are plenty to choose from and can be a great substitute. The other alternative is to make a list of the many other benefits you will experience living an alcohol free life and keep them to hand to remind you of what it is you’re trying to achieve.
By being here and reading this, you’ve already made the decision to let alcohol go from your life. Take a few moments to examine your beliefs about giving up. Do you believe that it’s too hard to give up – it was easy for many, many Sobersistas. Do you believe that you won’t like your sober life – sobriety gives you the energy and clarity to create a life of your choosing. Do you believe that you can’t sustain it in the long term so what’s the point – what if you can? Can you examine everything you believe with a magnifying glass and still hold on to those beliefs? We always know when we are not telling ourselves the truth about something. I told myself for years that I can’t lose weight because I hate exercise – guess what? It’s not true.
Have faith in yourself darling. You are wiser, stronger and much more capable of taking control of your life than you think you are.