5 Lies We Tell Ourselves When We’re Drinking Too Much

5 Lies We Tell Ourselves When We’re Drinking Too Much

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.)

 

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36 Comments

  1. I wish your next course was starting earlier than July….like today all of the above comments are true for me. I stopped drinking for a couple of months and felt great. I became too blasé and have fallen back into the rabbit hole. Monday morning hang over starts day 1. This time I hope I stay AF forever.

    Reply
    • Hi Nicola, my Getting Unstuck 6 week course is a pretty intense programme, hence why it only runs a few times each year (I’m still teaching my April class right now!) I’d love to have you on the July course, but if you need some help in the meantime, why not take a look at my mini course, The Sober School Bootcamp? It’s a self study programme, so you can start it today if you wish: https://thesoberschool.com/bootcamp

      Reply
  2. Another great blog thank you! Since quitting a few weeks ago I have done some amazing things with my kids! We have tried new hobbies and been out in the fresh air loads. Proper QUALITY time together opposed to me feeling rough and them doing their own thing. Best decision ever.

    Reply
    • It sounds as if alcohol free living suits you! Many congratulations Suzanne – keep going 🙂

      Reply
    • The points are so true. Unfortunately for me I have time off alcohol and then convinced myself again that I can moderate

      Reply
  3. Pretty much all of these hit the note with me but especially #5. I keep hitting day 3 and thinking ‘I’ll just have a few tonight’ and then feel like shit the next day.
    I feel more resolved this time to quit though. I’ve started to journal how drinking was making me feel and it’s pretty bad, I don’t want this to be my life. I can do this life better, I can be present in it and aware of it.
    Thank you for your inspiring and encouraging blog!

    Reply
    • Best of luck with your alcohol free journey Michelle! If you need any help to make sobriety stick (and actually feel good about being sober) I’d be happy to help you. Here are the details for my online course: https://thesoberschool.com/course/ Registration is currently closed, but if you get on the waitlist, you’ll be the first to hear about the next class.

      Reply
      • I desperately need to reserve a spot in your next course!!

        Reply
  4. I’ve quit way back. Down to one glass of wine a night from 4-5. Still haven’t been able to let go of that one glass but really working on it. I just want to be alcohol free.

    Reply
    • Hi Cindy, making that final leap into sobriety will feel so good! I’d recommend you start analysing what benefits you think the drug is providing for you? When I coach women to stop drinking, we go through every single reason why they say they drink, and look at what’s really going on instead. We always discover that alcohol does NOT do what we think it does…
      If you need any help finding complete freedom, it would be a pleasure to work with you. Here are details of my signature coaching programme: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  5. I stop 18 months ago not 100 percent why, lots of reasons I guess. I am so pleased with myself, that’s for sure, at age 66 I do ask myself way it took me so long.

    Reply
    • Congratulations Angela! It’s never too late to quit – as you’ve discovered! Well done

      Reply
  6. Hey I’m doing pretty good at 3 years AF. Saturday. I had to pick up my husband after he had been golfing and drinking all day. He is 73 he left at 930 am and this was 830 pm. He could barely walk. Thankfully he called. Yet his reasoning was that there were a lot of people there drinking and celebrating he thought he needed to stay provide support as the restaurant has been talking about closing because of to few customers. That was s new excuse to me. Thought I should share

    Reply
    • That is a pretty bad excuse! Congratulations on your 3 years Mary 🙂

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  7. ‘ Bur I couldn’t face the tedium and the restrictions, the lack of joy and friendship , the stress relief ‘ WRONG on every count – wish I’d known sooner the joy and peace of long term sobriety

    Reply
    • Amen! That moment when you realise that everything you *thought* you knew about sobriety was completely wrong… priceless 🙂

      Reply
  8. For ever good reason I find to stop, I always find a reason to restart or carry on.All the lies you mention I have told myself.Another reason I sometimes use is “I’m 67, what’s the point? Well on a sane day it’s for many good reasons, for example I have a 20 month old grandson.Does this madness ever end?

    Reply
  9. There is another one!
    “I’m over 70 – made it this far so why stop?”

    Reply
    • True, I’ve heard many people say that. An easy re-frame is, “I’m over 70… why continue drinking this poison?” Here’s to making the most of our one and only life! 🙂

      Reply
  10. I still can’t stop and I need to for health reasons but still can’t find the strength

    Reply
    • Hi Suz, I’m happy to help you with this – I know it’s hard trying to do this on your own! My 6 week course comes with a busy (and inspiring) community plus coaching from me to help keep you on track. Here are some details of the next class: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  11. Number 4 resonates with me – 3 years ago there was a collision of crises. My job was very stressful (working with a narcissistic, Machiavellian sociopath), I was doing post-grad study, sole parenting, and then my mother was diagnosed with an illness that became an 8 week journey of hell for the family until her demise.
    I turned to health supplements, meditation and eventually antidepressants, but still went back and forth to the bottle, thinking “when this is all over”. Three years later, the details of the subsequent crises have changed but the behaviour hasn’t.
    My GP has been warning me for several months that my liver health is not great and last month the results were terrible. This alone has been the final catalyst to put the brakes on for a month. I wasn’t planning to give up forever, but maybe I’m kidding myself…

    Reply
    • What about taking a break from drinking instead? That is generally a far less overwhelming thought! If you need some help to take a break, you might like this old blog post of mine – these tips will help you get started: https://thesoberschool.com/stop-drinking-autumn/

      Reply
      • I’ve been on a break for almost a month and to be honest, I only miss it at ‘wine o’clock’!!
        Certainly don’t miss the morning-after-the-night-before sensations and I sleep so much better!
        Like you say – who wakes up and say’s”I wish I’d got trashed last night”??!!

        Reply
  12. Today is my 27th day AF,The first week was not easy, Specially since I have people that drinks frequently in front of me, one of them is my husband. I feel very good and dont want to drink again. I keep telling people I am taking a 78 days break, since everyone keeps asking. I love to have fun without drinking. I told my self all those lies so many times. I don’t want to look back, because is too hard to stop. It will be like if I already run 5 miles, and someone makes me go back and do it all over again when I have no more energy for it. I am 51 years old and only been drinking for the last 6 years of my life, more and more “SOCIAL DRINKING” enough time wasted.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 27 days Elvira! I’m really pleased for you 🙂

      Reply
  13. Thanks so much Kate for this blog. You are a gift from God.

    Reply
    • ❤️❤️

      Reply
  14. I have been trying to quit drinking for over 5 years now and keep failing. I don’t know what it is but I’m still seeing it as a treat when my working night is over. I work at night so coming home late and starting to drink is making me exhausted. I end up having a couple of days off then go back on it. I think I need to really pre-plan what I will do with the time and make myself do something different. Alcohol is making me so miserable. I need a hard kick up the bottom I think. I’ve read every book going and get inspired but it never lasts long. I so need to sort myself out.

    Reply
    • Jan, I’d love to help you with this! It sounds as if you could benefit from some ongoing support? Books and blogs are great, but when your mind is going down that ‘it’s a treat’ path, what you really need are people to turn to who can offer a different perspective right there and then, and snap you out of the mind trap. My 6 week course comes with coaching from me, plus access to my busy and inspiring online community. Here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
      Also – I think this old blog post of mine about not romanticising alcohol might resonate with you: https://thesoberschool.com/stop-romanticising-alcohol/

      Reply
  15. Thank-you for helping me stay sober today. Great points I am reading and re reading these 5.

    Reply
    • Keep going Tamara!

      Reply
      • I’m so thankful I found this website. It’s just the encouragement I need to keep going, I was starting to second guess my sobriety…but everything rings so true for me. I was fed up and ready to live alcohol free and I want to continue. Thanks!!

        Reply
  16. These are all so true for me! I really like what you wrote about what other people might think and that how I feel and think is much more important. That insight is very empowering. I’m sure from the outside, I seem like one of those together people, but I just looked at my done drinking app, and in 10 days, I have NOT consumed over 2 gallons of wine. I think about walking around with gallon milk jugs full of wine. For me, that is a problem I can be free of. Monday and Tuesday were horrible days at work, and I’m probably going to find out something stressful this afternoon, but the only thing I can do to help any of this is not drink. Work is definitely my main excuse to drink. I just can’t let my job control me. On Monday, instead, I just tried to think about all the positives in my life, and that actually helped!

    Reply
  17. I could be the person that says I don’t drink everyday so I don’t have problem, but I feel I need a glass of wine or two to socialize, or isn’t it relaxing to sip wine? I’m approaching 54 yrs old and have been drinking alcohol since I was 14yrs old. I don’t like how I feel the next day and would just like to socialize with people at events without feeling I need to some type of alcohol to loosen up.

    Reply

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