When I was trying to figure out how to quit drinking, I think I made just about every mistake in the book!
It took me ages to figure out what I was doing wrong and find a way to make sobriety stick.
If you’ve been struggling with your sober goals, or you’re finding things tough at the moment, this blog is for you.
I’m sharing a few of my rookie mistakes… and how you can avoid them!
Mistake #1 – Not being clear on why you’re doing this
Picture the scene: you wake up feeling tired and hungover. As you get ready for work, you promise yourself that tonight WILL be different.
Yet as the day drags on, and your hangover makes everything feel stressful and unmanageable, your thoughts turn to drinking again. By the time you get home, you’ve convinced yourself that ‘just one’ won’t hurt…
I must have gone through that cycle a thousand times. It was easy to make those promises and just as easy to dismiss them later.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to get really clear on your WHY. Stop being vague and start getting specific. Why exactly do you want to change?
Spend some quality time on this – it might well take you several days to make a proper list and write everything out. (I explain this process in more detail here.)
Mistake #2 – Putting sobriety at the bottom of your to do list
It was years before I realised that a) sobriety wasn’t going to magically happen without me dedicating some time to it, and b) it would be totally worth the time invested!
In the early days, alcohol-free living does require some effort and commitment. It just does. You need to allocate time to do the work that will help you make this shift stick.
I know that feels hard to do when you’re always short on time, but the great thing about alcohol-free living is that it creates lots of lovely space in your life. All that drinking, recovering from drinking and beating yourself up about your drinking eats up a LOT of time.
I have a student on my Getting Unstuck course who’s started setting up a new business and it’s only been three weeks since she quit drinking. That’s how much time sobriety creates!
I think many women are inclined to put sobriety at the bottom of their to-do list because they’re used to putting themselves last.
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. Self care isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity. Poisoning yourself with alcohol is not self care, but sobriety definitely is.
Mistake #3 – Paying too much attention to other people’s opinions
I know, I know. It makes sense to talk this stuff through with those closest to you. You respect their opinion and they know you best, right? However, when it comes to your drinking, the truth is that only you know how alcohol really makes you feel.
It’s difficult for friends and family to offer you what you actually need, which is an informed and neutral opinion. They might be worried about hurting your feelings. Or, if they drink a lot, they could be feeling defensive or concerned about their own habits.
By all means ask your loved ones for their support, but don’t rely on their advice or approval. Your sobriety is about you and your relationship with alcohol, no one else’s.
Mistake #4 – Giving alcohol credit for all the fun stuff in life!
This is the big one. I spent far too long treating alcohol like some kind of magic joy juice. I thought it was the secret ingredient that made life special. It isn’t.
It’s easy to overlook the fact that alcohol is a drug. If it was all we needed to have a great time, then we should get predictable results from it. But we don’t, do we? Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes we get into horrible arguments.
I think this Facebook meme is supposed to make you think ‘oh yes, alcohol is just so crazy and fun’ but it actually illustrates my point perfectly: alcohol does not always create good times.
Parties, drinks with friends, romantic meals, holidays, lunches in the sun… they’re all fun in their own right. And if you can’t enjoy those activities sober, why are you doing them?
The columnist Giles Coren is pretty blunt about this. He says, “Don’t tell me booze makes parties go with a swing. If you can’t enjoy a party sober, you should stay home and do origami. And don’t give me ‘it loosens my tongue’ because if you can’t talk without a beer in your hand you should stay silent, for you have nothing to say.”
Harsh but true, right?! (If you want to learn more about the fun myth, check out this blog here.)