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! 🎃
Since I’ve quit drinking, I quit a job I was absolutely fed up with. I finally had the courage and a leap of faith to try something new. My stress is down, my anxiety diminished and I’m loving Halloweenie candy (just a little) instead of wine.
That’s great Holly! Here’s to having the courage to do brave things – and create lives that genuinely feel good. It sounds as if AF living suits you 🙂
Hi Kate, so enjoyed your blog about fear of becomong sober, and how I will be percieved.Tomorrow,I am starting is the first of November, but I am starting No.Wine.ber, my aim is to get through each day, then week by week, with the help of your blogs, I managed 104 alcoohol free days last year, until Xmas raised its ugly head.Thanks for being there.
I have been a teetotaler since Wednesday the 17th. Not only does it feel good that I do not “need” it but I don’t go home just to sit, ruminate , get depressed about whatever and drink, in the evenings I now knit or read – I am loving it
That’s great Beth! It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re not drinking, it makes such a difference to your mood and mindset. Keep going! 🙂
I started drinking when my dad died – never drank at home before then, didn’t even know how to open a wine bottle…let’s say I became a pro over the last few years. And it escalated when I ran into marital troubles, I used the alcohol to numb and run. Instead all it did was escalate by anger and I said things that so weren’t me. I had a concussion 8 months ago and was told no alcohol. I didn’t drink for 3 months and lost 10lbs. When I was given he go ahead I swore I wouldn’t drink again but it happened. One drink turned into 2…and then once a week was every night. Now I’m back on the path back to health, realizing alcohol makes me feel terrible, makes me avoid my fears and is of zero benefit. I know it’s just a crutch and habit because when I was scared for my brain health and recovery I didn’t touch a drop – and will do the same now!!!
It sounds like you’ve had a tough time. We seem to think alcohol will help and ease the pain and stress and then we realise that it really adds to it. I hope you can replace the habit with something you enjoy, breaking that habit was really tricky for me. Good luck, I know you can do it, you deserve to be healthy and happy.
I’m sorry to hear about your dad. It sounds as if you’ve been through a tricky few years and I’m sure you’ve learnt a lot from the experience of going back to drinking after some time off. It’s good to see you back on the road to alcohol-free living. Keep going Joely 🙂
The fear of being thought of as boring by friends and family resonates with me. At the end of the day though I know I’m not boring, and what they think really doesn’t matter. It’s what I think of myself that matters. I’ve been on one of Kate’s courses for the last four weeks and wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s not been an easy ride for various reasons but I’m alcohol free and feel so supported by Kate and the other amazing women with me on this journey.
Thanks for the lovely feedback Katie – it’s been great to see your progress! ♥️
The fear of life being boring, of me being boring, of self imposed house arrest, of the colour just draining from life and ultimately not being able to enjoy life either with or without alcohol. It isn’t , believe me- so many positives have happened since I quit
That’s great to hear. So many good things happen when you quit! 🙂
Felicity, this resonates with me too, “the color draining from life” is exactly how I feel it will be, however, not one sober person has ever said they lost the color of life, they all LOVE not drinking, so it’s silly that I can’t just take their word for it. But it is my fear that life will not be as fun, festive & exciting if I can never have a glass of champagne or share wine with a friend again. I can’t imagine planning a dinner party without wine. These illusions have held me back for years.
I stupidly worried that I would be boring but I realised that what is truly boring is people repeating the same stories over and over because they’ve had too much to drink. I also realised that those people aren’t important to me at all. I was worried about switching off at 6pm so I changed going to the gym in the morning to going at ‘wine time’. I’ve been af 9 months minus 2 days when I had a drink. They were good days because they reminded me of just how awful alcohol makes me feel. Stopping drinking alcohol was the best decision I’ve ever made, my anxiety and depression are a million times better and I am proud of myself for the first time.
What an inspiring post Amanda. Many congratulations on your 9 months!
Smart answers for all of these! The one that really kept me from stopping was fear of being judged. But you rightly point out that we’re often judging each other… Now that I’m on the side of sobriety, it allows me to be way kinder and compassionate to myself. I used to judge myself a lot for not being able to drink ‘properly’. I am so glad I’m not playing that no-win game. Great post Kate!
Thanks Jane 🙂
I’m just past my 3 month mark and I can honestly say I don’t miss alcohol at all! I did as Kate suggested, started with the 6 weeks and then carried on my from there, yes I admit I do have days where I think “have a become boring?” Or “wasn’t I so much more fun back then?” But now I wake up everyday feeling just – better – my daughter loves the sober me and yes certain friends I don’t see as much but it’s highlighted to me my true friends and I’d rather have those people than fake ones! I’m fortunate that I had one bad drink on holiday but it was only one, that’s all it took to make me realise that I was saying goodbye to the old me and hello to a new sober version, so if that makes me boring then fair enough but I’d rather be boring than be a pain the bum drunk!!!!
Congratulations on your 3 months Michele! 🙂
I am still looking for my husband to show care and concern by talking to me and asking questions about my ability to stay alcohol free – knowing how difficult it is – but he’s says nothing like I’m proud of you or how’s it going? Maybe cause the day I decided to get sober was because he was going to leave me so now I feel like I need his attention to how well I have been doing. I get full of anger and anxiety when I don’t feel like my husband even needs me…he doesn’t talk to me much, doesn’t share in conversation unless needed….I want so much more. These are the reasons I drank because wine became my new friend. I really need help in being totally comfortable with not needing his attention. We can go a whole weekend (often) without saying anything. I am the one who starts conversation and asks questions just to get talking going. I love to talk and share conversation and he doesn’t. This was not the case when we were dating 20 years ago.
Have you tried sitting him down and talking to him and tell him how you feel.tell him what you need? Ask him what does he need from you? Discuss how important this relationship is and find a way to get back to where you were
Thx and yes I have shared with him. He doesn’t like to talk about relationship. He only wants to talk when something he thinks is important
I understand how you are feeling. My husband doesn’t say much at all about my going AF. He had a lot more to say about me when I was drinking. He told me that I was brutal. But now that I no longer drink he never acknowledges it. We seem to have so much less to talk about. I am in the same boat as you. But Liz, I am proud of you and I do know how hard it was. Kudos to us. This is one of those times when we do get to float our own boats.
I think it was the fear of not being or having fun without alcohol but since I have been off it for the last three months the fear is well and truly gone…I used to have the fear after binging on drink over a weekend waking up on Monday morning and feeling so depressed but I am glad to say that depression has lifted and I don’t want to go back there ever again
That’s great to hear Michelle! Many congratulations on your sobriety 🙂
Thank you Kate
Thanks for sharing! I’ve been sober for one month and many of the above fears resonate with me. I began looking at them as challenges and try to get more excited about dealing with them. Not having alcohol as a ‘release’ means I have to feel whatever may come up. I try to look at this with interest and intrigue instead of dread. I struggle with the people think I’m boring one. I do think that some friends will view me differently and may not want to hang out in certain situations. Especially those friends that I used to drink a lot with. That’s frustrating but I’m trying to find new groups to get involved with that share common interests.
True friends will understand and won’t treat you different in fact some of my friends ask me how I go out now and not drink they said they couldn’t do it when I hear comment like that it makes me stronger and more determined to stay of alcohol and realize some nights may be harder to enjoy than others but it’s all worth it the next morning waking up with a clear head and remembering what you did
Day 16 for me. Someone at work today said “We will have to have drinks when this project is over”. My stomach instantly clenched and fear went through me. Then I talked myself down saying I don’t have to worry about this today and when the time comes I will have prepared myself to either decline or use my new tools. This weekend I declined because I was the “designated driver”. I also have stomach issues and this will be a good enough reason to shut people up.
It’s your choice, but you can still go out for drinks and celebrate the end of your work project if you want to – sobriety doesn’t mean staying at home and not having fun! See how you feel nearer the time, but remember – it really doesn’t matter what it’s in your glass. We’ve all had boring nights out whilst drinking, so we know that alcohol does not have the power to make a night good or bad – only you have the power to do that.
I have been alcohol free for 114 days. For over 20 years I was a heavy drinker and built my life around my next glass of wine. On July 9, 2018, I joined Kate’s Sober School and learned so much about myself and the reasons that I drank. Now I am happier, healthier, and I consider myself a sober badass. I was drinking almost 2 bottles of wine a night. So if I can do it you can too. Just commit to the 6 week course and see how you feel. I promise, you won’t be sorry.
You are indeed a sober badass Lynn! Congratulations on your 114 days – it’s wonderful to hear how much happier and healthier you are now 🙂
Hi Kate, I apologize in advance for such a lengthy comment. Your articles are so inspiring! I’m 31yrs old and I’ve abused alcohol many times. I’ve been hospitalized over a dozen times for pancreas related issues and Thankfully, I am completely healthy and have been given a chance at life still! I quit drinking when I turned 30 cold turkey after drinking every day for 9 yrs, but only lasted 1 month. This year, I quit again…but again lasted only 1 month and a half. I am now 3 days sober and looking forward to sticking to sobriety no matter what stressors come my way. All the comments are so helpful! I will make it a goal to read your blogs frequently to keep going!
Keep going Ash! If you need some help to make sobriety stick for good, my online course will give you lots of a step by step guides and support. Here are some more details about the next class: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Congrats Ash, I’m so proud of you. This is my first day and I’m scared as hell. But at the same time so excited to embark on this journey. Let’s keep supporting each other, it won’t be easy but we can do it.
Kate you should do a TED talk – you’re so inspirational –
Thanks Pam – maybe one day! 🙂
I think my biggest fear is that I can never have a beer again. I like the taste, except when I am sober for a while. Haha I guess I am also fearful of the change and the possible failure of not being able to be sober. I have been drinking for so long it is hard to imagine not drinking anymore. With that I also know that the change would definitely be for the positive in all aspects of my life.
I’m not to bad during the week days, it’s a Friday and Saturday I find the hardest. Tried moderating but doesn’t seem to work, and always need to finish the bottle of wine ! Suffered with anxiety and depression on and off since a teenager, (now 48) and recently mild OCD so I know deep down what the answer is so why is it so hard ?
Kate, love this list! This used to be my fear list. Now that I am over 900 days AF, do you know what my fear is? That I will go back to the unhappy mess I was? I will have the occasional nightmare where I have been drinking and I wake up thinking “noooo.” The fear of going back is worse! The things I used to fear about giving it up seem so inconsequential now! Thanks for the support and the reminder!
I’ve been thinking about giving up/cutting down for years and this is the best advice and support I’ve found so thank you Kate. You are helping me to reframe my thinking which is fantastic. I find I no longer think about wine everyday around 4o’clock, that needing to de-stress time from a day running around. I’m really happy about this. What I’m trying to reframe now is social drinking and getting through a weekend where our cultural norm is to have a drink, it’s the weekend. The only time it’s acceltabke not to drink is if you’re driving for some reason. Any tips for this would be gratefully received! Thank you x