3 Fears Keeping You Stuck (And How To Beat Them)

3 Fears Keeping You Stuck (And How To Beat Them)

Fear is a bitch sometimes. It’s a natural instinct, something designed to keep us safe and help us survive. It can be a brilliant internal warning system. But when it comes to sobriety – a major lifestyle change, whichever way you look at it – fear can often get in the way. It’s easy to find yourself trapped in your comfort zone by a misguided survival instinct that wants to keep you firmly in the place you want to get out of.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

I love that quote. We often feel fear around the things we really need to do. If we’re to move forward, we have to find a way of outfoxing that fear. Getting clear on some of the facts – the truths about sobriety – is a great place to start.

Here are three common fears about sobriety, busted:

 

black one“I’ll never have fun again.”

You have to get clear on what’s really generating fun in your life. Of course, we’ve all had nights where we’ve drunk a lot and had a great time. It’s the law of averages. Plus, there is a certain camaraderie that comes with taking a drug in a group setting. But, haven’t we also had nights that were terrible and boring, no matter how much alcohol was consumed? Nights where we got tired and maudlin and argumentative? Surely, if alcohol was a magic fun pill that guaranteed laughs and LOLs it would work every single time?

I think we have been trained (through adverts, popular culture and the people around us) to give booze waaay too much credit for the things that we provide ourselves. Having a good time isn’t about having the right drink in your hand – it’s got a lot more to do with the people you’re with, the mood you’re in, how you’re feeling, what you’re wearing, the music etc, etc.

When you’re not drinking, you become much more aware of how you really feel. So yeah, some sober nights might be crap, but that’s because life is like that sometimes. Some parties are better than others. There will be other times that are truly brilliant – and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that everything you feel is 100% genuine.

 

black two“I won’t have a coping mechanism.”

We think alcohol is a coping mechanism because it takes the edge off and helps distract us in the moment, at the height of our stress/anger/misery. But what we forget is that booze doesn’t solve problems. It certainly doesn’t make us feel better in the long run. Be honest – if alcohol really was a half decent coping mechanism then you wouldn’t need to be reading this.

Drinking is the equivalent of burying your head in the sand for a few hours. Sure, it provides a temporary escape from the realities of life. But when you sober up, those same stressors will still be there. If anything, they might have got worse in your absence – and now you have to face up to things whilst hungover.

Drinking puts you on an emotional rollercoaster that makes everything a little harder to deal with. The good news is that when you stop drinking, stress can become easier to deal with. Your head is clearer and you’re not hungover or distracted; you become better at tackling problems head on, which in turn reduces them in the long term. And you discover much better, healthier coping mechanisms. Whether it be exercise, sleep, meditation, talking or the occasional bucket of ice cream – they are all better than turning to wine.

 

black three“I don’t have the strength or willpower to do it.”

Think you’re not strong enough? No problem. You do not need the discipline of an Olympic athlete to stop drinking. (If sobriety was all about willpower then there’s no way I’d still be doing it.)

The main problem here is the story we tell ourselves about alcohol. And by ‘we’ I mean everyone – society, popular culture, our friends, family, the people who we love and respect. There is an ingrained belief that alcohol is ‘good’ and an essential part of life. When you view sobriety from that perspective, stopping drinking will always feel like deprivation.

So… what if you change your viewpoint? What if you start thinking about alcohol in the same way you think about cigarettes, or painkillers or legal highs? These are all addictive substances, just like alcohol. Some of them do more or less the same job. The only difference is that we don’t romanticise or normalise these addictions. We see them for exactly what they are.

You can change your thinking around this. Decide you’re going to be a non-drinker and then seek out the right tools, knowledge, support and advice. It does take work early on to shift your thinking and reframe your relationship with booze – but it can be done. 

 

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

What fears did you have about sobriety before you quit? How did things turn out? Let me know!

Have a lovely week,

Kate
x

 

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34 Comments

  1. I was afraid of being seen as an addict, a drunk. As having a problem. I was afraid of people judging me. I still am afraid of those things. But I’m more afraid of what would have happened to me and my family if I didn’t stop drinking. Thanks for your posts, Kate. I look forward to them every Monday. 🙂

    Reply
    • I completely relate to that – there’s still a stigma attached to drinking too much. It’s such a shame as I think it prevents a lot of people from getting help. I’m glad you stopped Sarah. Thank you for your kind comments!

      Reply
      • Yes ! Those are my exact fears . And it all made sense . Now I just have to follow through !!!!

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        • I truly believed that I was trapped- I knew I couldn’t function if I continued drinking but I was convinced my quality of life would be rubbish without it. Wrong. Years in, I am NOT going to pretend all experiences are better without, but the good ones are still good and the bad ones are so much better when faced for what they are, not through a fog of poison. And yes, sadly, there are always one or two who won’t cope with the changed you for a myriad of reasons- fears for their own drinking, insecurity, envy, or for parents/family the belief that by seeking help you have drawn attention to your addiction, showed yourself to be a failure as you couldn’t stop by yourself, washed the family’s dirty linen in a very public therapy session, blamed them for your problems- or all four. As your sobriety grows you’ll be able to accept this with grace tinged with sadness.

          Reply
    • I feel embarrassed that every time anyone sees me I have a drink in my hand or I’m itching to ‘get the party started’ before anyone else!!

      Reply
  2. I am two weeks sober and I am having a lot of mood swings and anger. I am afraid this is going to last, can anyone tell me if they had this experience and if it passed?

    Reply
    • I’m Feeling a lot of anger too- withdrawal or anger that was just being numbed by alcohol? Probably a bit of both!

      Reply
    • It is really common to feel irritable in the beginning as alcohol leaves the body and you adjust to not drinking. Alcohol also numbs your feelings so when you stop it can feel like your emotions have been turned up full blast. Hang on in there – it will get better!

      Reply
  3. 3 weeks sober in my 2nd try in 14 years and mostly I’m afraid I’ll lose my world-famous
    “patience of Job”.
    Actually I can already feel that happening.
    I was always the one who could handle a situation or talk somebody down.
    Seeing it in writing now makes me relize that had I not been around drinky drama I wouldn’t have had to be that person.

    Reply
  4. I was afraid that my friends and family would be unsupportive because I wasn’t ‘joining in’. Mostly this hasn’t been the case – they’ve been surprised but fine with it, but the person closest to me has taken it badly, at one point about 2 months in, telling me “you need to relax, so just have a drink and stop stressing about it”. I haven’t mentioned how difficult I’m finding it, or in fact anything about sobriety, in his presence since.
    I am proud to be 150 days sober, but feel that it is a private journey that I now have to face alone.
    I will say though that it has got easier as time has gone on, and I am now doubly proud, knowing that I have achieved this alone, and doubly happy because of the wonderful benefits it has brought me.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 150 days! I don’t know why, but there always seems to be one or two people that don’t handle this stuff well, or who say unhelpful things – it’s so annoying! I’m glad to hear the rest of your friends and family have been supportive 🙂

      Reply
  5. I’m not sure I never want to drink again – I just want to enjoy a glass of good wine and then stop.
    I agree that modern society and culture has a lot to do with influencing how we fell about drinking and I find myself a little shocked when, after a particularly stressful; day some well intentioned person will suggest having a large glass of wine. If it hadn’t been in my mind before that it certainly appears as a sudden need.
    I try to shake it off and go for a long walk instead, but invariably once the thought is there it is hard to shift.
    I do enjoy a glass of good wine but I have fallen into the trap of buying cheap stuff and slugging it back.
    I haven’t slept well for weeks and so I face this week alcohol free so far and am unashamed to say that I will just take each day at a time, but don’t promise to be sober forever.
    I often have great nights at parties and rock concerts without having a drink and so I know the benefits. I want to be in control of my drinking and resist the influence of others.

    Reply
  6. I have tried and tried to stop drinking .. I’m probably on the 20th try, but I’m day two into it .. I keep wondering if the sober life is for me and I know that’s the stupidest question.. But that’s what I’m thinking, and that thought alone makes me wonder if I’m really an addict.. The thought of never having another glass of wine seems like a big deal..

    Reply
    • Last week, I drank on a work trip the day before heading home. I must have not had enough water and/or food, I am not sure, but I must have had the worst hangover of my entire life. I had to sit at the airport, waiting for a delayed flight for hours, feeling like I was going to lose my guts. I thought to myself, “there is nothing I want more than to be completely sober every day from now on.” That feeling of my body almost crying in pain to itself was so sad and so painful. It is a continuous struggle for me to try to stop drinking, but that day I was pushed to the edge. The sober life called to me. It was gleaming and making the drinking life seem like the worst existence possible. I guess my point is, the sober life may sound hard, but I wonder if the drinking life sounds harder?

      Reply
    • Hiya, I have not touched alcohol for the last 8 days.because . . . I didn’t want to. I have wine and gin in which is my security blanket, just within reach but managed by my will power. I won’t stop forever but I’ve decided to go from day to day. I am motivated by the awesome feeling I get each morning when I wake up without a hangover. I’m able to see my life that’s unusual cos I lose so much in drunken haze. Thank you all for doing what I’m doing which helps me to keep going.

      Reply
  7. I’m almost 30 days sober!!
    At first I was scared about attending upcoming events that were months down the road, weddings, graduations, when I go to an all inclusive resort in the winter…then I realized those things were so far away, why am I worrying? Just by taking things one day at a time, I’m less nervous about it because I’m feeling so much better now by stopping! I’m not feeling 100% yet, but I’m getting there!

    Reply
    • Well done Michelle, gives me hope!

      Reply
  8. I love your posts Kate, you are so inspiring and always are right on point. I have tried to quit more times than I can remember now. I always seem to get to about 2 weeks and then something comes up and I’m drinking again and back in the cycle of trying to quit once again! After this weekend I have told myself I’m going to give it another shot, so here we go. I think I just need to keep reading your blogs every day. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Reply
  9. Fear is the biggest thing for me, it’s the fear of never drinking again, that it’s somehow going to leave huge hole in my life. How am I going to get “that” feeling. Although I really have no idea what “that” feeling is, sleepy, argumentative, depressed the next day, wondering if I’ve argued with oh this time. Finally have got past day three after months of trying. I’m now on day 6 of a dry September and then go from there. Feeling really positive so far which helps a lot. Reading these blog have helped me to keep trying and keep me positive that I can do this x

    Reply
    • Exactly – when you pinpoint ‘that’ feeling it’s not really all that great! Good luck Shan x

      Reply
      • Totally agree, it’s highly over rated. our imagination lulls us into thinking one drink will do it.

        Reply
  10. Thank you so much for this blog Kate.

    I attempted to give up drinking 3 years ago, however this kind of online support network-for a social drinker that takes it way too far, was not readily available (or at least not that i knew of), and I lasted 3 months before deciding that I would be ok to have the odd drink, convincing myself I had learnt so much from my time of sobriety that I would now be able to moderate my drinking. However 3 years later, I am back to the regular memory black outs, going home with strangers and roaming around the place with a slightly gormless look on my face-pretending to others that I am not drunk and that familiar ashamed feeling in the morning.

    It’s only been 2 weeks..but reading this blog and all of the comment from others I feel empowered and excited for the future. Above all the other endless reasons, I am most excited about reclaiming my self respect.

    Reply
  11. I love the fact that this is about changing your mindset, not white-knuckling through with the will-power thing. Once I realised that, it made all the difference to my sobriety. If I was doing this only on will-power alone, I’d be drinking. But being helped to change my mindset (through Kate’s course) and see that alcohol is actually totally unnecessary, that really really helped me!

    Reply
    • Thanks Ruth! It’s definitely all about your mindset! 🙂

      Reply
  12. Your post came at the right time giving me hope I can do this
    I’ve woken with a massive hangover after drinking last night & crazy as this sounds kept talking to myself “this is the last time so drink as much as you can” so today is my first day of giving up the wine witch. I’ve been here so many times but reading your post it feels different I can do this. Hopefully my lightbulb moment. I’ve finally woken up to how much damage I’m doing to my health, mind & future life ahead. Why do we abuse our bodies knowing how bad it is???

    Thank you for listening & big hugs to you for dedicating your life to helping others on their path to a sober life xxxxxx

    Reply
    • Thanks Taya. Make sure you write down how you’re feeling right now, so you can use it to spur you on. You can do this! x

      Reply
  13. These are such truths! I was afraid of losing the excuses.

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  14. Four days sober now, I cannot believe how I feel today, my face doesn’t look like I’ve been in the boxing ring, I have more energy than I have had in a very long time. My thinking process is clear and logical, no headless chicken approach to the day! Wow what a difference a great night sleep feels, coupled with no guilt and no hunting down the hidden empties, I feel the best I have done in months and months. I just hope I can get over this weekend.

    Reply
  15. I told myself this Oct 5th I’m not drinking anymore. After that I told my boyfriend, my sisters, mom and dad. Have gotten all their support and have truly inspired both my sisters and my dad. My one sister even subscribed to sober school his morning and we will have each other’s support here on out. It’s only been a few days and the long Thanksgiving weekend away will be a slight challenge but I’m feeling so excited and empowered. I’m feeling bad ass already. More “me time” to be had! Love this blog and want to thank you for creating it!

    Reply
  16. I tried the twelve step way last year after my first 3 day wine binger..it didn’t work for for me. I’m not a daily liquor drinking and haven’t faced any real consequences from it YET! I have turned to drinking 3 or more nights a week sometimes it’s one bottle sometimes 3…I’m trying again. I have a good career and a young son.(I use him being at his dad’s as an excuse to drink)..I have embarrassed myself in public and from my phone at home. I’ve been single for 6 years I know my drinking was a factor in scaring guys away and attracting drinking ones. This is hard, I’m 4 days in. My longest since I realized I had an issue was 6 weeks…I cry like I’m loosing my best friend. I’ve really enjoyed your posts. I don’t have anyone I can talk to about it as I have hidden it pretty well overall. I want more in my life..I’m 28 and I’m sick and tired of the chain. Thanks !!

    Reply
  17. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on feelings of jealously and bitterness towards “normal drinkers.” I seem to stare at everyone’s drinks in restraunts when I am sober. It’s an obsession almost.

    Reply
  18. I really enjoy this website and appreciate all the input here. I read Allan Carr’s book “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking”, which I have renamed my “Happy, Strong Book”, and that switched the flip for me. And I owned that book for years before I read it as I was kind of afraid of quitting. Why did I wait?! As others have stated, it hasn’t always been easy, but I am grateful every single day to wake up not hungover and not tempted to drink. Which is a statement I never thought I’d make. it is SO much easier for me to be a non-drinker than an “occasional” drinker, takes the energy out of it. And I think those we view as “normal” drinkers are few and far between. It is a slippery slope, and I suspect that many who appear normal are quietly struggling. 2 years for me this coming week! Woo hoo!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Denise, for your inspiring post! I so hope you are continuing to do so well.

      Reply

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