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