I’ve been running Sobersistas since 2017 and one thing I have learned that goes to the heart of giving up alcohol is the mindset you bring to it.
Finding Myself – Not!
In 2012 I decided to go travelling at the age of 49. I sold everything I owned, apart from a backpack of clothes, left a couple of boxes of keepsakes with my daughter, and flew to India.
I was miserable in 2012. I was overweight, stressed out of my skin with a job that was making me crazy and doing additional work as a local councillor that was more stressful than my job. I was drinking a bottle of wine every night, more at the weekends, and the only reason I didn’t drink more was because I was terrified that it would become obvious to the people I loved who might start to become concerned.
In the 6 years that followed that first flight I had some of the most amazing adventures. I lived and worked in a yoga ashram for 3 months, I taught yoga in Sri Lanka for 3 months, I taught English in Taiwan for 3 and a half years and Spain for 2 years. Sometimes I drank a lot but there were plenty of times where I was in situations where I couldn’t or didn’t want to. I’ve always been able to take or leave alcohol, I just chose to take it when there wasn’t a reason not to – which was most of the time.
When I got to Spain I knew it would be my last stop before coming home. In that last year I started to examine what I had learned and who I had become during all these wonderful experiences. I was floored when I looked at myself and realised I was no happier or healthier than I had been when I left the UK in 2012!
Sure, I understood myself a bit better, but my overriding thought was that I would return home and present myself as exactly the same person as I was when I left. I was mortified.
My darling friend Bev gave me a beautiful journal for my birthday when she came out for a visit to Spain. I had resisted getting my own, rationalising that it was too much to carry in the backpack. I realise now that I was subconsciously resisting because I didn’t want to know the truth.
The journal was so beautiful that I dived right in. I hadn’t realised how much I had missed it and it felt like a cool glass of water for a parched throat. It was three months later that I had my mortifying moment of realising why I hadn’t changed that much in 6 years.
Looking back on those 3 months of entries was horrifying. I had written about alcohol every day for 3 months! One line here, a comment there, it was in every entry. I knew then that something needed to change and after some tears and a very supportive conversation with my lovely friend Sarah I decided to stop drinking. Following her advice I decided to set my first objective of reaching 30 days without taking up any other new thing like a diet or new exercise. I just focussed on being kind to my body, resting when I needed to, and checking out the support groups online.
I will need to write another blog about Day 21 as there’s quite a lot more to this story, but on that day I knew in my heart and soul that I would never drink again. I felt so amazing, so happy (for the first time in forever!) and so peaceful that I knew I never wanted to let go of this feeling for the rest of my life.
Is it really hard to give up?
I have always had a generally positive attitude to change, mostly because I spent close to 20 years managing IT teams where it was a natural part of the job. As long as I can clearly see the benefits of the change in front of me, I will just go for it. I know from experience that I can always change my mind later if I need to.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that many women approach giving up as though it’s really, really hard to give up. This mindset makes it almost impossible to give up.
If you believe that something is difficult, then logic dictates that you will approach it assuming you’re going to struggle. But is it always true? How many times has someone said to you “oh my god this exam is a killer” and you’ve breezed though it? Or “that Zumba class is super hard” but you found it energising?
What someone else believes about anything doesn’t mean it’s true for you and that applies in the same way to giving up alcohol. Just because lots of people say it’s difficult doesn’t mean that you can’t give up easily. I did, my friend Sarah did and so have lots of women in Sobersistas.
Why do you find it difficult?
If you’re finding it hard to give up then perhaps, as you’re reading this, it’s an opportunity to examine your beliefs about giving up? Here’s a journal prompt to get you thinking:
Giving up alcohol is going to be…..because…
My guess would be that you believe it’s difficult so you approach it as if it’s an immensely hard puzzle to solve.
What if it’s easy?
Our thoughts run our lives. What we think and believe makes us who we are.
What if you believed it was easy to give up? What if you believed that all you needed to do was experience a bit of discomfort through the detox and everything after that would be a wonderful discovery that you can live happily and change your life in so many amazingly positive ways that alcohol just becomes an unimportant consideration in your life? (You must check in with your doctor before giving up to ensure it is safe to do so.)
Try this – choose something over the next couple of days that you are dreading doing, like walking the dog in rain, doing the ironing or (if you’re like me) meal prep cooking and as you begin to think about gearing yourself up to do it repeat to yourself ‘this is going to be easy’, write it THIS IS EASY on a sticky note and put it somewhere strategic. You can also spend a few minutes writing down all the reasons it will be easy.
Here’s my example of meal prep cooking:
- Once I’ve done it will save me from having to cook during the week. (Phew!)
- I can play music and sing while I’m doing it. (Shame for the neighbours but I will love it!)
- Prepping means I will make healthy food. (It stops me from eating crap!)
My dislike of cooking has a long history that stretches back to my childhood so I have really had to change my mindset about how I approach it. Luckily, I’ve learned through how I gave up alcohol that changing my mind is easy because I’ve done it before so I already have the skills.
Wouldn’t it be utterly lovely to let go of alcohol with relaxed shoulders and a sigh of relief? Your mind is your own so you can choose what you think about how you want to let it go.
Of course, there will be some challenges like forming new (better) habits and routines during that evening danger time, but, what if you approached these with a sense of excitement and curiosity for what you can create? Yes, there may be days when you might wonder why you bothered trying – but there might not be.
If you do nothing else, at least keep an open mind about the possibility that living a better, free, life will be so much easier than you thought.
Make an Easy List
Make a list of reasons why giving up alcohol will be easy for you. Here’s a few suggestions:
- I’ve read a lot of posts in Sobersistas where many women say it was easy so there’s no reason to believe it will be difficult for me.
- I have loving, supportive friends and family who will help me.
- I am ready to give up the struggle and to have my life flow with ease.
- It will be easy because I am ready to make much needed change in my life.
If you can create a future vision for yourself you will find giving up easy too. Once your mind has settled onto a clear vision of your future you will begin to move towards this future because you’ve trained your brain to look for the things you’ve asked it to. I’ve created a Future You Guided Visualisation to help you get that crisp vision. If you do this regularly it will give you a million reasons not to drink. You can listen to it HERE.
I am ridiculously enthusiastic about sobriety as anyone whose had a one to one with me will tell you. I absolutely adore being sober. It’s freed me in ways I couldn’t possibly have predicted. After 40 years of drinking, crappy self esteem and rock bottom confidence, to love myself and know it in my heart and soul is a peace I never thought I would experience every day. Even when I have bad days I get sort of excited because I know I have the clarity of mind to come up with innovative solutions that are in line with my values and how I want to live my life.
I want every woman in the world to stop drinking so we can all start living the lives we were meant to. If you’re in Sobersistas or reading this you know you’re not living the life you were meant to live if alcohol is playing to large a part in your life.
My darling Sobersista, don’t assume it’s going to be an endless struggle to get to where you want to be. Imagine that your mind is a gentle stream that just flows around all life’s obstacles and believe it will be easy and you might just surprise yourself.