It can be really tough if your friends and family don’t understand why you want to quit, or worse still, they try and convince you not to bother.
In early sobriety, mastering alcohol-free living is challenging enough without the added pressure of someone telling you that you’re ‘overreacting’ or being ‘boring’.
So how do you deal with negative attitudes and pressure to drink when you’re still trying to figure everything out yourself?
Remember that it’s not really about you.
The way people respond is very revealing. It says everything about them and very little about you. Some people might feel threatened by your decision; perhaps they’re uncomfortable with their own drinking, or they’re scared that your relationship will change. Whatever the reason, it’s beyond your control, so don’t waste your time and energy worrying about it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt the hard way, it’s that people aren’t mind readers! If you’ve been a quiet, stay-at-home-drinker then the chances are they only know half the story.
People tend to respond with doubt and negativity because of their own limited beliefs. If you’ve been working on your sobriety for a while, then you’ve had plenty of time to get your head around the idea that alcohol is not the magical wonder drug it’s billed as. You know that alcohol does not have the power to make an occasion more or less special. You know that sobriety does not mean you have to live like a nun for the rest of your life. You know that … but not everyone is going to be on that page yet.
Let them know the impact their negativity has.
People are clumsy sometimes; they may not realise the impact their words and actions are having. Let friends and family know that you’re not asking for their approval, you just want their love and support. It’s hardly a big ask.
Be prepared for some changes.
Sobriety is a great filter for all the crap you’ve accidentally let into your world. It’s not always easy. You will almost certainly lose some people who were in your life solely because of alcohol; others may need some time to adjust. Maybe they’ll stick around, maybe they won’t. But the good news is that you’ll never lose your real friends. They will stay. Plus there’ll be all these other fantastic people who come into your life. You will meet new friends. (And the chances are, they’ll move in from the sidelines, where they’d been all along. You just hadn’t noticed them before.)
Accept that no one is really holding you back.
This is the big one. At the end of the day, no one is pinning you down and forcing you to drink. You’re not a victim. You’re not controlled by other people’s actions, thoughts or judgements. Sure, it’s great when you have the support of those close to you, but if they don’t agree with your actions that doesn’t need to be a block for you. Sometimes we just need to get a bit of perspective on this stuff. You are in control and you get to set the tone.
Got any tips to share?
I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with unsupportive friends. What’s been your experience? Please let us know your thoughts and advice in the comments below 🙂
Have a great week!