Sober Courage: Be A Rebel, Not A Sheep

Sober Courage: Be A Rebel, Not A Sheep

For many of us, one of the toughest things about quitting drinking is the idea of being different to everyone else.

Let’s face it: most people do drink – and most of us like to fit in!

Choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle means going against the grain. You’re doing your own thing and stepping out from the crowd… and that can be really scary at first.

If this is something you’re struggling with right now, I hope today’s video will inspire you to get out there and be AF and proud!

 

 

Key points:

1) Remember that you’re far more independent and bloody-minded than you think!

Perhaps you have an unusual hobby, a unique taste in music, or you’re passionate about certain social or political issues. When it comes to those things, I bet you don’t care whether other people agree, approve, or join in with you.

You are a lot more independent than you give yourself credit for. When it comes to sobriety, try and channel that same bloody-mindedness; you are not going to stay stuck in a rut just because other people might raise an eyebrow!

 

2) It won’t feel this hard forever. 

It’s official – you are not the only sober person on the planet. New government figures show that in boozy old Britain, 1 in 5 adults are now teetotal. So why does it feel as if everyone drinks?

It comes down to perspective. We all have a confirmation bias, so when we believe that ‘everyone’ drinks, we keep on finding more evidence that supports this theory. But when you stop drinking, you will soon start to spot other non-drinkers, or people who drink a lot less than you thought they did.

 

3) Being in a minority will set you up for good things!

Choosing not to follow the masses is a quiet act of rebellion. Once you’ve gone against the grain once, it’ll boost your confidence – and who knows where you’ll stop? You’ll be able to take on anything 🙂

 

How To Overcome Social Anxiety Without Alcohol

How To Overcome Social Anxiety Without Alcohol

We’re often encouraged to have a few drinks to loosen up and overcome anxiety.

Whether it’s to help us get in the mood at a party, or pluck up the courage to talk to that guy or girl, the message we often hear is: alcohol will help.

When I first quit drinking, the idea of socialising sober seemed unthinkable! I’m a pretty shy person and I used to rely on booze to get me through those situations.

So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that ditching alcohol actually reduced my anxiety. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But when you look at the science around this, it’s not actually all that surprising. Here’s why:

 

Science shows alcohol increases anxiety

What if the drug you rely on to calm your nerves actually made them worse? This study by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine shows that long-term drinking can increase our susceptibility to anxiety problems.

These findings tally with my own experience and that of my students. As a drinker, I was a lot more anxious in general, but I’d see a massive spike in my anxiety the morning after a big drinking session. I think the cool kids call this ‘hangxiety’. It was pretty horrible.

 

Over time you’ll need more and more

Tolerance is not your friend. If you’re convinced that alcohol puts you at ease, you need to be aware that over time, alcohol will stop working so well. Your body will build up a tolerance to booze, so you’ll need to drink more and more to feel any effect.

 

Alcohol never treats the problem

If your children felt too nervous to join in with the other kids at a party, would you give them a drug in order to help them conquer their nerves? I doubt it. You’d want them to figure out how to socialise on their own.

You’re in the same situation here. Drinking isn’t treating your anxiety – it’s just masking it for a while. That means you’re not getting the opportunity to grow your sober muscles and discover what the real you is capable of.

 

Tips for dealing with social anxiety, sober:

 

Flip your perspective

Rather than seeing parties or events as challenges that need to be avoided, try and view them as something to push through and rise up against. It’s like building muscle at the gym – you have to do the work and put some effort in if you want to get stronger.

 

Make a commitment to show up and give it your all

Promise yourself that you’ll listen, ask questions and be fully present. This makes you so much more interesting than the drunk person who just talks and talks and isn’t having a two way conversation.

View everything as an experiment – you’re simply on a fact-finding mission. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to show up and see what happens.

 

Celebrate and review afterwards

Observe how things felt. If it was a lot easier to make small talk than you imagined, you’ll want to acknowledge that – don’t gloss over it! So often the beliefs and stories we have about ourselves just aren’t true.

No matter how the event goes, celebrate with an amazing sober treat afterwards. You showed up and pushed yourself outside your comfort zone, and that means you are AWESOME! 🙌

 

What are your tips for overcoming anxiety and socialising sober?

I’d love to hear what works for you. Let me know in the comments!

 

Why Can’t I Cut Down Or Control My Drinking?

Why Can’t I Cut Down Or Control My Drinking?

At the height of my drinking career, I’d often wonder:

Why don’t I have an off switch?
Why can’t I control my drinking?
Why can other people have 1 or 2 drinks and then stop?

Back then, my inability to control my drinking felt like such a personal failing – a weakness.

Nowadays, things are different. Not only am I five years sober, but my views on all this have changed too.

If you’ve been beating yourself up about your inability to moderate, this blog is for you.

 

Why can’t I stop at just one drink?

A better question to ask is, why should you be able to stop at one? After all, alcohol is a powerful, mind-altering, addictive drug. It zaps your willpower and changes the way you feel. It makes you lose control.

When it comes to other drugs, we seem to understand this. We don’t shame smokers for becoming addicted to nicotine – we just accept the fact that it happens. We should be doing the same with booze.

You are not weak or broken because you can’t ‘control’ alcohol. Becoming addicted to booze is a completely normal (and predictable) side effect of consuming an addictive substance.

 

But some people DO seem able to control their intake!

Moderate drinkers do not have superhero powers or huge reserves of willpower. Instead, their drinking is likely to be controlled by other factors.

For example, some people don’t like feeling drunk or out of control. They actively avoid that sensation rather than chase it. For others, drinking just isn’t their poison – it’s not a coping mechanism for them. When they’re feeling down, they don’t turn to booze. Perhaps they have healthy coping mechanisms in place, or maybe they overeat or gamble or do something else instead.

Other drinkers will be seriously restricted by finances, responsibilities or the influence of those around them.

 

So is moderation something I should work towards?

Yes and no. If you’re honestly just beginning to evaluate your relationship with alcohol, cutting down is a logical place to start. But the chances are that if you’re reading a blog like this, you’ve already had a good go at moderating. (I bet you’ve tried a few things on this list.)

There’s no secret to moderation. There’s no magic trick that you haven’t discovered yet. If moderation was something that worked for you – on a consistent basis – and made you feel good, you would know that by now.

 

Here’s the big problem with moderation.

Cutting down, rather than cutting out, stops you from exploring sobriety properly. It reinforces the idea that you cannot truly enjoy life without booze.

Moderation makes a drug like alcohol seem extra special. And because you’re trying to be ‘good’, you’re never satisfied. There’s never quite enough and all your focus is on alcohol (the thing you’re trying not to have so much of).

Plus, moderating requires a lot of effort. It ain’t for wimps. You’re constantly having to make decisions. What will you drink? When? Where? How much? It’s much harder than just making one wholehearted, committed decision not to drink.

 

If moderation is off the table – but I don’t want to quit forever – what should I do instead?

It’s normal not to be ready to quit ‘forever’ as that is a pretty overwhelming idea. But what about an experiment instead? You only get to find out what sobriety is really all about when you do it and keep doing it… so why not take a break from booze?

Commit to going alcohol-free for a month or two. Give sobriety 100% (no ifs, no buts) whilst feeling safe in the knowledge that at a set point in time, you will stop, review and decide what happens next.

Maybe you’ll go back to drinking. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and fall in love with this awesome alcohol-free lifestyle. (I talked more about taking a break from booze in this video.)

 

Final thoughts

The days of me waking up and feeling sorry for myself are long gone, thankfully. I never feel as if I’m missing out by not drinking – I just feel relieved that I don’t have to drink anymore.

I don’t know anyone who’s struggled with alcohol and then morphed into a happy, carefree, moderate drinker.

However, I know a LOT of sober women who are living fulfilling lives after letting go of booze. They got their happiness back. And their freedom. Isn’t that what we all want?

 

4 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Hit Your Sober Goals

4 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Hit Your Sober Goals

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.)

 

My Biggest Takeaway From 5 Years Of Sobriety

My Biggest Takeaway From 5 Years Of Sobriety

I normally blog on a Monday, but today is an extra special day – I am celebrating 5 years of alcohol-free living!

It has gone sooooo fast.

I’ll always be grateful to that curious, little part of me that wondered if taking a break from booze might just be a good idea.

Initially, I set out to quit for 100 days. I promised myself that if it was boring, or miserable, or a bit too much like hard work, then I’d go back to drinking after my break – safe in the knowledge that I had at least given sobriety a proper test drive.

Back then, I had no idea that I’d fall in love with this alcohol-free lifestyle and decide to keep going… and going… and going!

Nowadays, you couldn’t pay me enough to drink alcohol. I just don’t want or need that poison in my life! 🙅☠

I’ve learnt so much over the past five years, but there’s one thing in particular that really stands out.

I was thinking about this as I was out walking this morning, so I decided to record a quick video all about my biggest takeaway from 5 years of sober living.

(It’s a bit rough and ready, but you’ll get the gist!)


P.S. If you’ve been thinking about quitting drinking or taking a break – and you’d like my help to make that happen – it’s not too late to join my stop drinking course, Getting Unstuck

It’s a six week class that will guide you, day by day, through everything you need to do in order to create an alcohol-free life you love.

The April class starts on Monday 9th and registration closes on Sunday at midnight. Click here for more details