The benefits of hindsight

The benefits of hindsight

Imagine you could counsel your younger self: what words of advice would you offer? I’m reading a book at the moment in which numerous celebrities write letters to their teenage selves. From the hilarious to the heartfelt, there are some little nuggets of wisdom: don’t do drugs, listen to your mother, buy shares in Google – and my personal favourite – stop hating your thighs!

It got me thinking about hindsight and our fantastic ability to understand a situation after it’s happened. Hindsight can make things look so completely, utterly different. I’ve often thought that if I could go back in time to when I was struggling to stop drinking, there would be about a hundred things I’d want to tell myself.

For example, it would’ve been handy to know that alcohol-free living was not going to be hell on earth (despite first impressions). I was convinced that drinking was the only way to have fun and relax. If I’d known that eventually I’d feel a million times happier without alcohol, then perhaps I wouldn’t have wasted so much time trying to get booze to fit into my life. They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome; looking back, this sums up my behaviour exactly.

It goes without saying that we can learn a lot from other people’s experiences. So, I asked a few graduates from my Getting Unstuck course to reflect on what they’d love to have known, back when they were still drinking. What would they have told themselves, if only they’d listen? The results are funny, touching – and straight from the heart.

 

tinystar“If I could go back and give myself some advice, I would tell myself that once you aren’t drinking anymore and you observe how people behave at parties, you will feel so grateful that you are not behaving that way. Asking the same questions over and over, crying about something that’s not even a big deal, making the ‘sexy face’ (even though it’s really the drunk, train wreck face) and having really fake conversations. I wish I could have shown myself how I was acting and coming across. I always thought a core value of mine was being authentic. It’s only now, as a non-drinker, that I feel like I’m really living in line with that. It’s so great. It’s the best way I have ever connected with myself and felt real and genuine.” Jamie

 

tinystar“I’d love to have known that in sobriety, I could have everything – yes, everything – that I was looking for by drinking. Really! Even though it sounds crazy. Everything is within you already – confidence, fun, the ability to heal. In that way, I’d like to tell myself that I can take alcohol down off the pedestal and that it is ok to just be me.” Ruth

 

tinystar“Alcohol gives you nothing, it takes away the joy of life. And you’re making it too hard for yourself because there is no such thing as moderation. Cut it out completely, set yourself free and enjoy your wonderful, hangover-free sober life and all the possibilities it brings! Miranda

 

tinystarI would tell my younger self that I didn’t need alcohol to be a fun and interesting person. I’m much better just the way I am, and much more likely to find my tribe of people by being true to myself than by changing my personality to be more outgoing through booze. It’s a cliché, but it’s true! Juliet

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Have you recently stopped drinking? What are the things you’ve learnt, with the benefit of hindsight? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

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20 Comments

  1. I would tell myself alcohol is stealing your time as well as your money.

    Reply
    • I am just realizing that I have a problem. I’m ashamed. But I want help, without a religious aspect. I am in a minority that just does not believe in it… But I do have a problem. I thought I knew how to handle it, but I just can’t anymore. I am reaching out. If someone, anyone, can help me on where to start, your thought will not be unheard.

      Reply
      • Hi Amanda. I understand how it feels to acknowledge that you do have a problem with alcohol. I am just starting to accept that I have too, but the realisation has been haunting me unconsciously for sometime. Like you I am looking for support without a religious aspect, I guess that’s why I’m here writing this. I’m hoping to use this online support as encouragement to help me succeed. Good luck

        Reply
      • I’m in the same boat

        Reply
  2. Hi Kate
    Things I’ve learnt since giving up alcohol 7 months ago:
    1. I can dance!! Yes and I’m good at it..I had no idea that I would be good at Salsa at the age of 50..
    2. I’m free now to drive of a night time..I’m proud to be the designated driver when the occasion occurs..
    3. I sleep better..
    4. I can watch a movie all the way through and not fall asleep on the couch..
    5. I’m setting a good example to my four adult children..
    6. YOU CAN BE FREE OF THE CLUTCHES OF ALCOHOL..TIME AND DETERMINATION WILL GET YOU THERE..
    Regards, Jenni

    Reply
    • That’s a brilliant list Jenni – I love it!

      Reply
  3. Sleep is the real thing! Not that sedated fog and that taste in your mouth like you’ve drunk nail varnish remover. But restful, healing, nurturing sleep.
    I’m just at 6 weeks alcohol free and I’m beginning to like myself again.
    Kind thoughts,
    Lizzie

    Reply
    • Thanks Lizzie – I quite agree about the sleep thing. Congratulations on your 6 weeks! Well done.

      Reply
    • Keep going x

      Reply
  4. Being sober opened up so much time in my schedule to pursue hobbies, get fit and challenge my mind.. the inner peace than comes from that is far more relaxing than alcohol ever was!

    Reply
    • So true!

      Reply
  5. Being sober has given me time to actually enjoy my weekends. So often I would go out drinking on a Friday night and because of that I would spend the entire Saturday slothing on the couch and/or bed wasting the day away. Now I can still go out but I’m up and awake on a Saturday morning ready to enjoy the day to the maximum.

    Reply
  6. Its been one week since my last drink, but i’ve done that before. I am able to get up earlier in the mornings but I would love to fast forward to see if I feel the things people are describing here. I’ve come to realise there is no quick fix to the abuse and negativity I have put myself through and really want to see this through to the end, I hope I have the patience and strength, I want to get to that hindsight stage!!

    Reply
    • Good luck Lisa!

      Reply
  7. Hi. I am on day 3. Very new to this.

    Reply
    • Good luck Margaret, I’ve been on & off for a few weeks now.. Keep going, that’s what I tell myself

      Reply
  8. My younger not-so-sober self was raising two kids at the time. I wish I had known that “enjoying” alcohol was not worth the loss of time and, especially, energy that they needed and deserved from me. For all the young mothers out there, I share this hindsight.

    Reply
  9. Kate; Bless you for The Sober School. This site reinforces my sobriety every time I read your views and pearls of wisdom. 62 years old and now 3 months completely sober. I can’t have the lost years back but will take every advantage of the many more in front of me.

    Reply
    • I’m 3 mos sober to…I still have intense cravings to drink…. How r u doing with your cravings if u have any?

      Reply
  10. I’d tell myself to never take that 1st drink, alcohol took my mums life, my dads life, now it seems to have a grip on mine, I thought I was immune to it, that i’d never be like them, but now I am, and I really don’t want to be in this dark place anymore

    Reply

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