When I was thinking about giving up alcohol there were a number of things that I thought about before making the commitment to liberating my life from it completely.
Could I stick to it? – Not one of my strongest character traits to date!
Would my social life disappear? – I had a pretty limited social life at the time but didn’t want to lose the little I had.
What else would I drink? – I had never been that interested in soft drinks, preferring tea or coffee when I wasn’t drinking wine or vodka.
1. Other People
However, my biggest consideration was ‘How would everyone else react?’. Would friends and family think I had been a closet alcoholic for years? Would they think it was just another new-fangled thing I was trying and would ultimately fail at, like I had done at so many other things? Would they feel uncomfortable around me – fearing I would be evangelical about sobriety and try and convert them against their will?
Thankfully and joyfully all of my fears were unfounded. Everyone was hugely supportive and encouraging and that gave me the strength to make this a permanent, lifelong choice.
2. Social Life
Many Sobersistas have expressed nervousness at attending social events where ‘everyone’ would be drinking and being unsure of how they would be received. Some feared that people would think they would come across as boring or would leave you alone to be the sober wallflower in the corner.
Try just one event where you plan to go sober and observe. Don’t pressurise yourself into changing everything at once. Just try one event and observe, see how you feel and decide afterwards how you felt about going out.
3. Have A Reason
When you are questioned about why you don’t drink I find it helps if you are clear about the reason you’ve given up. When I am asked I usually respond along these lines:
“I just found it was getting in the way of all the other things I wanted to do with my life.”
I have found this response has two benefits. The first one is that because I say it with absolute confidence it doesn’t encourage anyone to try and question my choice or persuade me to have a drink. The other, and I think even bigger benefit, is that it provides an opening into conversations that are nothing to do with alcohol. “Oh, you do yoga/meditate/make jewellry/write…etc etc.” can take your conversation off on a different and more comfortable track.
Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that some people will feel uncomfortable with your choice because they think you will be boring but sometimes it’s because they know, consciously or sub-consciously that it’s something they need to look at in themselves and are not ready.
4. Reframe What You’re Doing
Phrases like ‘giving up’ or ‘doing without’ clearly have a negative connotation and this can sometimes make you defensive when you are asked to give a reason, which sometimes, in turn, will leave others thinking you’re not really committed to your choice.
Reframing how you see it will give you an inner confidence that will shine through when you talk to others. My lovely friend Sarah at Simple Happy Life who has been teetotal for over a year now describes it as her ‘superpower’. You can say “I’m making healthier choices” – and who would give you a hard time about that? You can use my reason “it’s just getting in the way of ……. “. Whatever choice of words you decide upon the most important thing is that reframing your view to a positive one in your own mind will be hugely beneficial to succeeding in staying sober in the long term.
5. Don’t Give Away Your Power
All too often we defer to others’ opinions in order to remain friends or not rock the boat. Fumbling and mumbling a weak excuse gives your power to anyone who wants to take it. If you really feel the peer pressure when you are with your friends and they are encouraging you to drink, take a step back and consider if you have healthy boundaries with people, or even how much your own image depends on how others see you?
Yes, it might be scary to think that some of your friendships might need to change or disappear but the truth is, those that love you will always love you no matter what. Those that push you and give you a hard time about drinking don’t respect and love the real you and then it’s up to you to decide what you do next.
Thankfully, being sober means that you will be clear minded enough to make whatever decisions you need to make to be truly happy. Those that truly love you will adore the sober you.
6. Recognise That Change Can Be Scary
Have you been the life and soul of any gathering? Are you the one that is first on the dance floor? Are you the one that talks to cute guys so you can introduce them to your friends? Will this change when you don’t drink?
Many people fear change. Getting people to be comfortable with change was the hardest part of my management job and the area I had to put the most effort into – and not always successfully!
Your friends and family might fear that you will be a different person without alcohol. And you might be. It’s more probable that that you will be a better version of yourself but, in my experience, few people will see it this way. They will fear they won’t know you anymore or that – horrifically – not only will you be sober but you will try and change them too!!!
Staying true to yourself is the one of the best outcomes of being sober, in my view. My relationships are now authentic, honest and deeper than they have ever been. It will be a huge confidence booster for you to go out, have fun, laugh and talk to cute guys without your beer googles. Yes, it might be a little scary the first time you do it but each time your confidence will grow until it will become second nature. And you will get to see people as they really are.
7. Remember That You Are Strong
After years and years of drinking, it takes great personal strength to take a look at your life and decide that alcohol will play no further part in it. Many people will see you as incredibly strong to have made this choice. We all know how embedded alcohol is in our culture, how prevalent it is on TV, how most socialising revolves around it, so it’s just about impossible to avoid.
Choosing to step away from alcohol completely shows that you are strong and determined and many people will find that intimidating. Some may even be a little jealous.
8. Be Kind and Compassionate
It’s important to be kind and compassionate with yourself and others as you take this journey to liberate yourself from alcohol. Getting angry with yourself or others is counter-productive to what you are trying to achieve.
Showing everyone you meet with kindness allows them to soften and relax and perhaps even become your best Sobersista.
Being kind to yourself allows you to have bad days and find a way to turn them into good ones.
It’s only been in the last few years that I have figured out that my main purpose for being on the planet is to be happy. When I am happy, it becomes easy to do whatever I can to make the people I love happy too. Being kind and compassionate are two of the key foundation blocks that happiness is built on.
With love, Jules xx
P.S. If you liked these tips and you want my support to take those next important steps you can find out more by CLICKING HERE.