Lessons From A Week Of Networking & Socialising Sober

Lessons From A Week Of Networking & Socialising Sober

I’m writing this from Orlando airport as I wait to catch my flight back to the UK.

It’s been a busy few days for me – I’ve attended two different conferences, one in London and one here in Florida. My head is spinning after a week of learning new things and meeting new people.

And to be honest, networking REALLY pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Small talk, chatting to strangers and meeting lots of new people is basically my idea of hell 😬

(The old me would definitely have drunk my way through things like this.)

If you’re struggling to get your head around the idea of socialising sober, this blog is for you. Here are a few things I’ve realised this week:

 

Socialising sober is something we all do – ALL the time!

We tend to associate networking and being social with bars and booze, so it’s no wonder it seems intimidating to do this stuff sober.

However, most of us do an incredible amount of sober socialising every single day, without even realising.

We chat with strangers in business meetings, catch up with friends over coffee, banter with our workmates or talk to people in our yoga class.

So why is it that when the clock strikes 5pm, we fall into the trap of thinking the only way to socialise is with the aid of a drug like alcohol?! It doesn’t make sense.   

 

People can seem more obsessed with drinking than they really are

I paid close attention to what people were saying during my trip. My conferences weren’t sobriety related, so I heard a lot of “We must go for drinks!” and ‘“Let’s catch up in the bar later” etc etc. In early sobriety, I would’ve felt alienated by all the alcohol references.

Nowadays, I realise booze is just part of the way we communicate with one another. Most of the time, people aren’t really saying ‘let’s get wasted’ or ‘you must drink alcohol with me later.’

What they actually mean is, ‘I’d like to spend some time with you.’ But it feels a bit awkward to say that, so instead we opt for something safe like “Let’s go for drinks!”

 

No one noticed what was in my glass

When I first quit, I often felt as if there was a neon sign above my head that said ‘Oi, over here, this person isn’t drinking!’ I worried that I wouldn’t fit in or people wouldn’t trust me if I didn’t drink.

Nowadays, I don’t feel so anxious – mainly because I’ve realised most people don’t notice, or don’t care, what’s in your glass.

During this trip, not a single person commented on what I was drinking. Not one. No one made me feel weird or different, it simply wasn’t an issue.

 

Most people don’t drink that much

I’ve written before about the way our culture’s changing, with teetotalism becoming more mainstream. At both events there was a big focus on going for drinks in the evening, but (in my opinion) no one seemed to be drinking all that much. 

Perhaps people just didn’t want to be hungover the next day. Whatever the reason, I think the old, boozy version me would’ve been very frustrated by how restrained the other drinkers were!

 

Networking is really tiring

It’s great to be heading home knowing that I genuinely had a good time – my emotions weren’t fake or chemically altered in any way. My head is clear and my memory is sharp, but I am SO tired!

In my drinking days, I’d totally ignore feelings like this – I’d just keep going, pushing on to the next thing and the next thing, relying on booze to help me switch off when it all became too much.

As a natural introvert I’ve realised it’s important for my self care to decompress after trips like this. I’m really looking forward to hermiting at home for a bit – and I won’t feel guilty about doing so 🙂

 

Let me know…

What are your experiences of networking and sober socialising? Do you have a great tip that would help me or anyone else in future? I’d love to hear how you manage events that push you out of your comfort zone!

 

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5 Annoying Things That Happen When You Quit Drinking

5 Annoying Things That Happen When You Quit Drinking

Deciding to quit drinking is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Initially, my plan was just to take a break for 100 days, but five and a half years later I’ve never looked back!

I decided to stick with sobriety because I felt so much happier and healthier without alcohol in my life.

Whilst sobriety has turned out to be (surprisingly) awesome, I can’t pretend it’s all been sunshine and rainbows.

There have been some challenging (and downright annoying!) things happen along the way. Today I want to explain how I’ve dealt with this stuff in case it helps you too:

 

1. Some of your friendships may change

Most drinkers surround themselves with other drinkers. Your decision to quit might make your old drinking buddies feel uncomfortable or self conscious about their habits.

How I deal with this:

I’ve realised that a true friend should want to spend time with you no matter what’s in your glass. If your relationship weakens when you stop drinking, it isn’t your sobriety that’s to blame – your AF lifestyle is simply shining a light on the weaknesses already there.

You do need to give people a chance to adapt and adjust, but if someone can’t get their head around you not drinking, don’t stress about it. Some relationships change over time. You will meet new friends – and the great thing is that in sobriety, they’ll get to know the real you.

 

2. People will say stupid things about you not drinking

I met a friend of a friend recently who noticed I don’t drink. “Why’s that then?” he asked. “It sounds really boring!”

How I deal with this:

It amazes me that people think it’s ok to say this stuff out loud! But other people’s reactions reveal everything about them and nothing about you. Personally, the way I respond depends on the mood I’m in – I wrote more about what you could say in this situation here.

The surprising benefit of dealing with this kind of crap is that a) it’s given me a slightly thicker skin and b) it’s made me far less judgemental of other people. Nowadays, I really think about how I treat other people who choose to live life differently to me.

 

3. Some people won’t want to date you

Just as some people will say stupid things about your sobriety, others might decide you’re not worth getting to know in the first place. Here’s an example of what I mean:

How I deal with this:

This kind of crappy text message might not feel like a gift, but it kind of is! This guy did me a massive favour by revealing his true colours so soon. 

There ARE lots of men who don’t care whether you drink or not (and I know this because I’ve dated them). If someone is weird about your sobriety, then the chances are they’re pretty judgemental and narrow-minded about a lot of other stuff too.

Sobriety doesn’t make it harder to connect with people, start relationships or go on dates. Honestly, all it does is help you weed out the weirdos a bit faster.

 

4. You might feel like an awkward teenager

After years of using alcohol to numb the edges of life and smooth over any awkwardness, sobriety can leave you feeling as if you’re walking around naked.

How I deal with this:

I think there’s something really amazing about just being yourself and not hiding behind a boozy comfort blanket. When you start showing up as you – and discover that people still like you! – it’s a massive confidence boost.

AF living forces you to go against the grain and be a bit different, and that sets you up for great things! I regularly hear from students of mine who’re doing really cool stuff in sobriety. I shared a few pictures here.

 

5. You wonder what you’re meant to drink

When I first quit drinking, I seemed to go to so many events where there were just two drink options: red or white. That was it!

How I deal with this:

I always remind myself that it is completely ridiculous for there not to be any AF options. What about people who’re driving or pregnant? Thinking about this helps keep things in perspective and stops me feeling like I’m being awkward when I ask for something else.

Where possible, be proactive and plan ahead. If you’re going to a party, take drinks with you that you know you like. If you’re heading out to a bar, see if you can find their drinks menu online so you know your options in advance.

 

Conclusion

I’m going to wrap this up by reminding you of something I wrote at the very start: stopping drinking is one of THE best things I’ve ever done.

Sobriety isn’t always easy but it IS always worth it.

In the grand scheme of things, the challenges outlined above are nothing compared to the horrors of drinking too much on a regular basis. And if you’re strong enough to deal with horrible hangovers, you can totally handle this stuff 🙂

 

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Going Alcohol-Free: Is It Really That Scary?

Going Alcohol-Free: Is It Really That Scary?

It’s nearly Halloween and all this talk of spooky stuff got me thinking about an important question: what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

When it comes to going alcohol-free, most of us are a bit scared. I certainly was. The thought of losing a crutch is bound to trigger a few fears.

If you’re not careful, those fears can hold you back and stop you from making the leap into sobriety.

Today I want to shine a light on 5 common fears about going alcohol-free, and explore how you could shift your thinking instead:

 

“I’m afraid of trying and failing.”

Whenever you try to do something big and brave like stopping drinking, there’s a high chance you’ll slip up and fall flat on your face. Failing hurts, so it can feel safer to not try at all, right?

A good reframe for this is to accept that you probably will trip up. After all, failure is part of success. It’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Avoiding change might feel safer because you avoid the risk of failure, however in the long run you are essentially still ‘failing’ because you’re still stuck. So why not take a risk and go for it?

 

“I’m scared of what people will say.”

We all hate being judged by others. Some people will have opinions about you and your sobriety and annoyingly, they’ll probably want to share them with you!

How I reframe this is by remembering that we are ALL being judged, all of the time. Right this second you’re making judgements about me and this article and 101 other things.

People will judge you whether you’re thin or fat, rich or poor, drunk or teetotal. My point is, if we can’t avoid judgement – because we’re all being judged, all of the time – why not stop worrying about it?

 

“I’m afraid people will think I’m boring.”

Behind this fear is the belief that choosing not to drink says something about us. To get some perspective on this, switch drugs and look at how you treat people who choose not to smoke.

Do you dismiss non smokers as dull and boring? Of course not! When it comes to other drugs, you don’t judge people for abstaining. So why should alcohol be any different?

The latest stats show that more and more people are choosing an AF lifestyle, so you’ll be in good company. Anyone who tells you that you’re boring for not drinking is either very insecure or a bit of an idiot.

 

“I’m worried about how I’ll relax and switch off.”

If you’ve come to rely on alcohol for stress relief, the idea of doing anything else can feel intimidating. Yet the truth is that alcohol doesn’t solve stress. (If it did, you’d be a really chilled-out person.)

When you’re drinking, you’re literally pouring stress into your life, glass by glass. You can find other ways to relax naturally – there are so many options! I’ve written more about this subject here.

 

“I hate the idea of calling myself an alcoholic.”

If the A word doesn’t resonate with you, then don’t use it. I never do. After all, you don’t hear many ex smokers calling themselves ‘recovering nicotine-oholics’, do you?

Going alcohol-free should be no different to stopping smoking or giving up gluten – you can do it whenever you like, just because you want to. Your decision to quit drinking doesn’t define you.

My online coaching programme is specifically for women who want a label-free, positive and inspiring approach to quitting. You can find out more about my next course here.

 

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

This is one of my favourite quotes and it’s certainly true of sobriety. When you push through your fears and take action, the pay-off is incredible!

Let me know in the comments which of these fears resonate with you the most. And if you’ve already stopped drinking, tell us how things have turned out for you – did any of your fears actually come true?! I know your experience will inspire other people.

Have fun if you’re celebrating Halloween this week! 🎃

 

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Alcohol’s Empty Promises (And The Truth About Sobriety)

Alcohol’s Empty Promises (And The Truth About Sobriety)

Once upon a time, booze seemed to be my answer to everything.

Need to unwind? Drink.
Need a confidence boost? Drink.
Need to feel happier? Drink!

I used to rely on alcohol for so much. It was a pick-me-up when I felt down and a reward at the end of a long day.

So when alcohol started causing me problems, I couldn’t get my head around the idea of quitting. I thought I’d miss out on too much.

Can you relate?

If you can, then keep reading – because there’s a mighty big secret you need to know about alcohol.

This socially acceptable, liquid poison never actually delivers on its promises. It never has the power to do what you think it does. Ever.

 

Here are 4 of alcohol’s empty promises… the things booze claims to provide, but sobriety delivers:

 

Happiness

Booze is a depressant. It provides a brief, artificial high, followed by a long, crushing low: a hollow, empty feeling which makes you crave more of the drug in order to end the misery.

Whilst it sounds convenient to be able to open a bottle and suddenly feel better, we have to remember that ‘happy’ feeling is false.

It’s a drug-induced, short term, fake happiness – a couple of hours at best. And the price you pay for that experience is huge; we’re talking days of feeling low and awful.

If you want to feel genuinely happy on a regular basis, sobriety is definitely the way to go. I wrote more about how to be happy and sober here.

 

Confidence

Alcohol has a numbing effect that makes it easy to ignore unpleasant feelings, like nerves or shyness. But whilst it can seem as if your cares fall away when you drink, it’s only a temporary effect.

If you’ve ever made a fool of yourself whilst drunk, you’ll know that actually, we need those inhibitions. And isn’t a shy, sober person far more interesting than someone who’s drunk and repetitive?

Sobriety forces you to be who you really are, rather than who you think you should be – and that does wonders for your confidence in the long run.

 

Comfort and reassurance

Drinking can feel safe and comforting, providing familiarity and escapism when things aren’t going well. But in reality, alcohol delivers the opposite of this.

When you’re drinking, you never quite know what’s going to happen, because you’re not fully in control of yourself. You’re far more likely to put yourself in danger or do something you later regret.

When you’re sober, you never wake up feeling shame and guilt as you wonder what you did last night. Instead, you’re fully in control – and that’s a sense of comfort and safety that’s hard to beat.

 

Stress relief

This is the big one. True relaxation is achieved by removing the source of discontent. Alcohol, by definition, just cannot do that. It doesn’t have those kind of superpowers.

All booze can do is numb your brain and your senses. That doesn’t relieve you of your stress – far from it! The stress is still there, only now you’re zombified and numb.

If anything, alcohol is a stress delayer. When you wake up at 3am – thirsty, hungover and unable to get back to sleep – that stress will still be right there, tapping you on the shoulder, needing to be dealt with.

 

Conclusion

Alcohol makes sooo many empty promises, but it’s up to us not to fall for these lies.

When you dig a little deeper, you can see that all booze provides is a temporary distraction – a brief diversion that can make problems worse. You deserve better than a fake, drug-induced illusion.

Sobriety on the other hand, quietly delivers EVERYTHING alcohol promises. Whatever it is you’re searching for at the bottom of a wine glass, you’re guaranteed to find it in an alcohol free lifestyle.

 

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Do I Need To Quit Drinking? 6 Surprising Signs

Do I Need To Quit Drinking? 6 Surprising Signs

Do I need to quit drinking?

Years ago, when I was trying to decide what to do about my own drinking, I used to google this topic endlessly.

I was never sure if I was overreacting or not – I wasn’t a rock bottom drinker, but I didn’t feel like a ‘normal’ drinker either. I was somewhere in the middle, in the grey zone. 

If you can relate – or you’re trying to figure out what to do about your drinking – I made this week’s video for you.

I’m sharing 6 surprising signs you probably haven’t thought about before… these are the unexpected clues that it might be time to take a break:

 


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A quick recap of the six signs:

 

1. You’ve always got one eye on the booze.

You know exactly how much is left in the bottle. You’re keeping an eye on what everyone else is drinking and wondering if there’s enough left; you often feel anxious about getting to the shops in time so you can buy more.

 

2. You’re very touchy about your drinking.

Perhaps a friend makes an offhand, jokey comment about your love of wine and you replay the remark over and over in your head. What did they really mean by it? You worry that other people think you drink too much.

 

3. You’re relieved when you know you’re going to be able to drink.

You often feel worried that you won’t be able to drink in the way you want, so it’s a relief when you can. You feel delighted when someone else volunteers to drive, or you get home early so you can have a few drinks alone.

 

4. You create lots of rules around your drinking.

Perhaps you make yourself wait until a certain time of day. Maybe you have rules about what you can drink or where. (If you want some more ideas for ineffective rules that rarely actually work, check out this old blog post of mine!)

 

5. There’s a lingering feeling of fear and unease.

You have this sense that something bad is about to happen, you’re just not sure what. Perhaps you’ve already had a few close calls or put yourself in situations that could’ve ended in disaster, with you seriously hurting yourself or someone else.

 

6. You’re here.

Asking yourself if you need to stop drinking is generally a sign in itself. If alcohol is making you unhappy, you have nothing to lose by experimenting with sobriety and taking some time off from drinking. (Need some help to do that? You can find more support here.)

 

Let me know…

How many of these signs feel familiar? Which ones resonate with you the most? Or perhaps there’s been something else entirely that’s made you question your drinking. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂

 

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