Trick Or Treat? The Stories We Tell Ourselves About Booze

Trick Or Treat? The Stories We Tell Ourselves About Booze

As it’s Halloween tomorrow, now seems like a good time to talk about ‘treats’.
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So often we say things like:

“I’m going to have a glass of wine tonight because it’s a treat.”
“Let’s get a bottle… I know it’s unhealthy, but it’s a special treat isn’t it…”
“Go on – one won’t hurt. Treat yourself, you’ve been good all week!”

But is alcohol really a special ‘treat’?

Somewhere along the way we realised – correctly – that alcohol was harming us. But instead of deciding we would raise our standards and not invite it into our lives, we opted to make it a ‘treat’ instead.

And what happens then?

By telling ourselves that alcohol is a treat, we are tricking ourselves. We’re glorifying this cheap, toxic poison. We’re putting it up on a pedestal and making it ‘special’.

If you want to stop drinking – and actually feel good about it – you have to break up with the idea that alcohol is special.
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Here’s how to do it.

 

Be aware of the story you’re telling yourself

What we think, we become – the beliefs and stories we repeat internally tend to play out externally. I know that on the face of it, the idea of ‘being good during the week’ and ‘having a treat on Friday night’ sounds like a balanced and healthy approach…

However, as soon as alcohol becomes a treat you’re saving yourself for, looking forward to, or planning ahead in advance, you are – whether you realise it or not – making it ‘special’. You’re training your mind to look forward to consuming this low quality, mind-altering, cancer-causing, toxic poison.

 

Reframe, reframe, reframe

You have the power to retrain your mind and rewrite your stories. Stop saying that you’re ‘treating yourself’ to a glass of wine – be clear that you’re treating yourself to a hangover, a night of disturbed sleep and a day of feeling like crap. 

Rather than telling yourself that you ‘deserve’ a drink, ask whether you deserve to feel lousy tomorrow. Do you deserve to drink more than you intend to, pass out on the sofa or wake up feeling tired and dehydrated? Is that the special treat you deserve? 

Put your energy into seeing alcohol for what it really is. Don’t romanticise or glamorise it. Don’t make it special – make it feel distinctly un-special.

For the women I coach inside my Getting Unstuck course, the biggest triumph is not “I’ve managed to resist wine all weekend!” but rather, “there’s an open bottle of wine at home and I didn’t even WANT a glass.” That’s what happens when you get clear on what is a treat and what isn’t.

 

Upgrade your treats

You should never feel guilty about treating yourself because it’s an important part of self-care. But now is the time to redefine your treats. Raise your standards and choose treats that genuinely make you feel good.

So what could you do? You could treat yourself to a new book, a long bath, or date night at your favourite restaurant. Maybe a treat for you is 30 mins watching TV, or reading a magazine and just letting yourself do very little.

Perhaps you’d love a day out with your family, a spa treatment, or an afternoon doing your favourite hobby. Maybe you’d like to treat yourself to a proper lunch break (rather than eating at your desk!) or a mid-week trip to the cinema, or that exercise class you’re interested in.

Make a list of what really feels like a treat for you. Focus on things you know will take care of you and make you feel great afterwards. Plan something now, schedule it and then do it!

 

Have a happy, hangover-free Halloween! x

 

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30 Comments

  1. Thanks for this kate – after a terrible weekend I really needed to read this tonight. I realised I don’t really give myself any treats. So i am going to plan some healthier treats for myself this week. Probably a bath!

    Reply
    • A bath sounds good! Keep going Lucy, onwards and upwards 🙂

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    • I am so depressed an sruggling didnt work yesterday do to hung ova. Im slippimg down into a dark place.. i am going to change i have to otherwise ill not survive

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      • Heather, let’s do this together! We can make this happen x

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        • Lets hope so hey we can support one another. I need support

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          • Heather, dude are you okay? It’s not too late! We can all support you!

  2. I agree – for me alcohol was always the worst treat ever! It seemed so appealing and almost innocent in the moment, but it never failed to make me feel awful the next day. I’m one month sober now and feeling really good.

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    • Congratulations on your month sober Jane – that’s fantastic. Here’s to many more hangover-free days ahead 🙂

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    • Great job.. ill be happy to do a week. I dont want to stop completely just cut down

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  3. Alcohol is no treat. I truly believe now that it has absolutely nothing good to offer.
    I treat myself now to a new book. Some make up. New boots last week! A rummage around the charity shops! Scented candles, and candle holders. A nice cake to have with my cuppa. My full and restful night’s sleep is a treat I have needed for years! There are plenty treats to be had and experienced that genuinely leave us feeling good, and I’m very grateful for them.

    Reply
    • I love the sound of your sober treats – great ideas!

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  4. Thank you Kate for this blog post…… So true on all fronts!! I had 90 days of sobriety and felt amazing! I lost weight my face wasn’t puffy and the dark circles under my eyes were disappearing. Slowly I have slipped back into old habits and feel terrible. So much wasted time feeling tired and irritable. I will focus on Reframe…reframe….reframe. Alcohol is a poison for me and not to be confused as a treat! Thank you again for the meaningful and thought provoking posts.

    Reply
    • Those 90 days of sobriety won’t have been wasted – they’re a great foundation to build. It’s easy to slip into romanticising alcohol, or giving it too much credit for fun things in life. And then before you know it, you’re wondering if moderation might work … and it rarely does! You’ll have learnt so much from this experience, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Onwards and upwards Carrie 🙂

      Reply
  5. My Husband and I have always been regular “treat” drinkers, but would find any excuse to have a “treat”
    We would collude with each other to convince ourselves we needed to feel relaxed with a beautiful glass of wine, however a glass usually turned into a bottle.
    We both decided to stop during October, and quit for 4 weeks, this weekend we both had new job offers so thought “why not” must have treat and then BAM, 2 days and 3 bottles of wine later we were grumpy, irritated at each other, eating crap to make ourselves feel good and finding that we had to overcome our willpower again.
    We’ve both decided that a few hours of “relaxation, and no thinking” is not worth it at all…. here’s hoping we can stick to it, our lives have always been social and most of our friends (many ex forces) are still big drinkers

    Reply
    • You can have an amazing social life without alcohol – if you’re spending time with true friends, you shouldn’t need a mind altering drug in order to enjoy their company, right?! You can do it. Your sober October was a great start, and now you’ve reminded yourself just what a terrible “treat” alcohol is. Here’s to some more hangover-free days ahead 🙂

      Reply
  6. This is kind of mind-blowing advice! Honestly, I’ve never thought of it this way and his has helped me immensely in my daily struggle to not drink. Great new tools for how to reframe and treat myself! I’m on a journey of self care and self love and always thought wine was a part of that haha! But now I’m seeing that it was actually part of self harm! Huge breakthrough. Thank you!!!!!

    Reply
    • I think that culturally, we’re a little conditioned to think that wine = self care. We do need self care, but as you’ve discovered, that’s different from wine! You might find this blog post I wrote a while back helpful: http://thesoberschool.com/self-care-mistakes/

      Reply
  7. Yoga is my new treat! Two weeks no booze though there’s plenty in the house, I don’t care for it. Epson salt baths and sleepy time tea do wonders after a work out. Onward and up ward!

    Reply
    • Amazing sober treats! Love the sound of all these 🙂

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  8. Kate Kate Kate, so happy to hear from you. I completed your class and reframed my relationship with booze. Just returned from a quick vaca. I enjoyed it. Wine was around me, and I had no problem saying no thank you. Bought some NA beer and all went well. Love my energy level and clear mind.

    Reply
    • It’s good to hear from you too Maggie! I’m glad all is well and you’re enjoying some alcohol-free vacations! 🙂

      Reply
  9. 94 days sober here, and I credit the new, TRUE story I’m telling myself, thanks to you, Kate, and other bloggers/podcasters/writers. One of my biggest eye openers is realizing how divorced I had become from knowing my own heart and what really makes me feel good, as you say. One treat for me, when I don’t have much time or energy and just want SOMETHING to replace the wine “finish line” at the end of my day: Light votives and take a long shower. Close my eyes if the bathroom’s a mess. Luxuriate. Smell the shampoo and soap. When I’m done, blow the candles out one by one and imagine stress and worry disappearing up in smoke. It works, mainly because I am TRYING to give myself a gift, which is so powerful. It really is the thought that counts, and it helps to know how many people are checking in at the Sober School to add their own truth and trials. Thanks, Kate!

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    • That sounds like such a lovely way to make the end of the day! Congratulations on your 94 days Lizabeth, that is AWESOME 🙂

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  10. Love how you connected that we are “tricking” our minds with the promise of a “treat” when in reality the treat doesn’t bring us joy or happiness. It’s an illusion.

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  11. Wonderful article, I really look forward to receiving them. I am 78 days alcohol free and feel on top of the world.

    Is there a certain amount of time that is supposed to be a turning point? My friend said 90 days… is supposed to be a turning point for people who are trying to give something up?

    Reply
    • It’s a bit of a myth that there’s a turning point – we’re all so different! Some research says 90 days, other studies suggest 66 days. But like I said, everyone is different. If you aren’t in the right place, or doing the right mindset work, it can take a lot longer for sobriety to truly click. Congratulations on your 78 days 🙂

      Reply
  12. Kate !
    This is my favourite blog of yours to date…it is soooo true what you say about alcohol actually being a way of punishing our bodies instead of a treat.I will hang on to this idea whenever I am tempted to have a drink.
    Thankyou so much

    Reply
    • Thanks Sarah – keep going! 🙂

      Reply
  13. I have been sober for 6 days now and yes I miss wine when I get home from work but I’m treating myself to not feeling the huge dread in the morningafter drinking. I also treat myself by not drinking and waking up with a fast heartbeat and anxiety at 3 am.

    Reply
    • Those sound like great treats Delyth 🙂

      Reply

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