I can’t tell you how many times I swore I was done with drinking.
I’d decide I’d had enough – it was time to stop. But then the doubts would creep in.
I’d start to wonder if I was overreacting. I’d find ways to justify my drinking and convince myself that really, there was nothing to worry about… Can you relate?
Nearly every non-drinker I know has been through this cycle at some point – where moments of clarity are followed by some serious, head-in-the-sand denial!
Here are 5 lies we tell ourselves when we’re drinking too much. How many resonate with you?
“I don’t drink every day, so I can’t have a problem.”
Society has a fixed idea of what constitutes problem drinking, but in my experience it’s just not that black and white. The women I work with tend to be super smart with good jobs and busy lives that look great on the outside. They are not your cliched, stereotypical problem drinker.
We need to stop using clumsy statements like “I don’t drink every day / I don’t drink in the morning…” Ultimately, problem drinking is about how you feel when you do drink. If you’re regularly drinking more than you intend to – and it’s making you miserable – then that’s all the information you need.
“Everyone is drinking this much.”
The problem with this is that too often, we only see what we want to see. We never really know how much other people drink. We don’t see what happens behind closed doors. Some people drink a lot in public but have nothing at home. Or it might be the other way around.
Often the people who talk the most about drinking consume relatively little; when they tell you they could ‘murder a drink’ they mean exactly that – one drink and not the whole bottle! In any case, alcohol affects different people differently. What is ok for one person may not be ok for you.
“My drinking doesn’t affect anyone else.”
It can feel as if your drinking is your own private matter. After all, you’re still doing all the things you’re meant to do; you look after the kids, manage a stressful job and pay the bills on time. You’re keeping the show on the road – and from the outside, everything looks fine.
Yet when you really think about this, other people are inevitably affected. Perhaps you have conversations with your partner that you can’t remember, or you’re too hungover to do the activities you planned with your children. When you’re drinking too much, alcohol touches every corner of your life.
“I’ll be able to stop, as soon as this is over…”
Perhaps you’re waiting until that birthday, holiday or wedding has been and gone. Maybe you’re holding off until you change jobs and feel less stressed. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll definitely get sober and stick with it – just as soon as it’s the ‘right time’.
Deep down, we all know that there’s never going to be a perfect moment to quit. Yet by kidding ourselves that there is such a thing, we give ourselves permission to stay stuck and not change. The truth is that you can quit whenever you decide to – there’s never a ‘bad’ time to let go of a habit that’s holding you back.
“It’ll be different this time.”
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yet somehow, with alcohol, we convince ourselves that this is exactly what will happen! So we try again and again to exert willpower over a brain-bending, mind-altering substance.
If you love the feeling that a few glasses of wine brings, then instinctively you will always feel dissatisfied with a single glass instead. It’s much easier – and loads better – to just cut out booze completely. (I wrote more about why moderation rarely works here.)