Kate's Blog

No More Excuses! Try This Mindset Hack Instead

“The next few months will be so hard, it’s pointless trying to quit now.”

“And work’s so busy, I haven’t got time to think about quitting… I’ve got a holiday coming up soon… and I deserve a drink because I’ve been so good recently!”

I don’t know if any of the excuses above ☝️ sound familiar to you, but they do to me.

I know them well because… they were all MY excuses at one point!🤦‍♀️

I was great at finding reasons to delay doing something about my drinking. 

If you’re in a similar position, this week’s video will help.

Key points

The truth about excuses

Excuses offer short-term relief in exchange for long-term pain. You get the short-term relief of saying yes to the urge to drink and staying in your comfort zone. But then you’ve got the long-term discomfort of being hungover, feeling bad, worrying about your drinking and all the other unpleasant stuff that’s led to you reading this.

Excuses are normal!

When you take alcohol out of the picture, that process naturally triggers a lot of stuff, including all your excuses. Don’t be defensive or beat yourself up. Come at this with some understanding instead. A lot of the time, all that’s happening is your brain is trying to keep you safe. It doesn’t like doing new things because that seems unsafe. 

What is also true?

Excuses always make sense until you actually stop and think them through. When you take an excuse and examine it, you can always come up with more ways to think about things that feel believable and insightful. Consciously turn up the volume on the other side of the story – make the other side of the argument. 

What this might look like

Excuse: “Work is really stressful at the moment and I don’t really have time to focus on being sober or to learn how to handle this any other way.” 

What’s also true: Drinking itself takes up quite a bit of time. Working on your sobriety doesn’t have to take very long. Drinking is a stressful hobby, because you tend to create more problems. Alcohol interferes with your sleep and tiredness reduces your ability to manage stress the next day. There are other ways to care for yourself. There are sober people out there in the world with stressful lives – so there must be another way to manage this. 

Let me know…

What’s your top excuse for drinking? Write it in the comments below and then write down what’s also true. Imagine that your excuse is pitching one side of the argument and you’re now making a case for the other side. Don’t get sucked into one side of the story!

Looking for help and support to create an excuses-free, alcohol-free life you love? My Getting Unstuck course will transform your relationship with booze and yourself. Click here for more details.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


60 Responses

  1. About 6 weeks ago I read an article and the guy said “if I’d had a bad day at work I’d need a drink. If I’d had a good day I’d reward myself with a drink. There was always an excuse “. I looked at my “bad day at work” glass of wine and thought well that’s just so true. And stopped drinking. I used to drink every night, not enough to get drunk, but it was relentless. I’ve had one glass of wine a few weeks ago when I was out. It lasted me 2 hours. It’s like a switch inside me has finally been turned off. Feeling great

    1. Congratulations 🙂 it’s a good feeling when the realisation dawns and you can see what’s been keeping you stuck. That’s exactly why my online course is called ‘Getting Unstuck’ https://thesoberschool.com/course/ because I go into much more detail about the excuses we tell ourselves about alcohol and how to flip that switch. Keep going Cait!

  2. Excuse: I deserve a drink as I’ve done so well not drinking for the last 4 days and I deserve a reward.

    Truth: I’m scared. I’m lonely and don’t want another night alone watching Bake Off on my own without my ‘friend aka demon’.

    Reality: I need to be brave so I feel as good tomorrow morning as I did this morning.

    1. Rosie, I do hope you will find other ways to reward yourself for not drinking (which itself is great). To reward you with something that does not serve you sounds a little crazy. Get your favorite food, a cute keychain to remind you of your good work. Keep on the good work.

      1. I think the keychain idea is a great one Claudia. Not necessarily a key chain, but some small thing that you gift yourself and you can look at or hold to remind one that they’re doing themselves the best favour in every way

    1. Excuses are normal, so what’s the other side of the story? Drinking is stressful in itself and is a time thief; not just in the moment but the time taken afterwards to recover, beating yourself up and working through a hangover. It’s so much better to care for yourself differently and learn how to manage life without a crutch. Have a listen to this blog that I think will resonate: https://thesoberschool.com/drinking-is-my-reward-at-the-end-of-a-long-day/

    2. I know just what you mean Nicola. I stopped drinking long enough a couple of years ago to get all the benefits, more time, more sleep and therefore less anxiety, a clear head, so much more energy. Then I slipped back into drinking gain, the memory of what I let go and how good life was nagged at me for ages until I stopped again. All those great things are back again and as each alcohol free day goes by, the less I want that toxin. Affirmations help me heaps too. “I love the way I feel without alcohol, my body and mind are restored and healthy!”

  3. My excuse is that I need to numb my anxiety. The other side of the story is that I have lots of love and support in my life. I need to learn to feel my feelings and let them go. I have much to be happy about and need to focus on the positive.

      1. I been trying to quit drinking, i had a episode last night to where i broke down crying, im so tired being hungover, i don’t feel that im depending on alcohol, i guess i drink because it makes me feel good and i be bored, but i want to feel a normal and natural happy without being drunk. I don’t want to go into a facility though, so im at this point to where i don’t know to do. I just want my life from all this drinking, if i don’t completely quit at least cuttin back and drink occasionally, but stopping completely would be awesome though.

  4. Hi Kate, i have not had a drink for 3weeks now, i was waking up feeling like rubbish and very anxious, depressed and was feeling breathless when walking feeling much better now but can’t sleep properly any tips on how to get a good night’s sleep

    1. You’re doing all the right things for your health and better sleep will come in due course. When we have come to rely on alcohol to help us drift off, it takes a bit of time for the body to adjust back to natural sleep patterns. You can help things along by having a good bedtime routine; same time every night, wind down from screens at least an hour before bedtime (that includes phones), limit caffeine intake in the afternoon and evening, don’t eat a big meal too late, take a warm , relaxing bath. Hope that helps?

  5. I always think I’ll fail so I don’t set myself up to do so. So my excuse is go for the shortest option although I know I will beat myself up if I do! I get sucked into the quick fix part of this is I don’t want to hurt or annoy others and I delay saying no or letting people down. It’s exhausting. When it comes to me I have to put up with feeling awful most of the time. Not how I thought I’d live my life. I could look at it as a small step forward but I want to succeed and do more.

    1. As I say in the video, an excuse offers short term relief but ends up with you suffering in the long run. Successful sobriety takes some work in the beginning, but the benefits are so worth it and just keep on giving ❤️ Stick with it Jacqui!

      1. Excuses (plural ) , I believe are just words that tend to have us over-think. They try to justify our actions, no matter how wrong they are. So…..simply don’t think and don’t drink lol
        It works for me.

  6. All the chores and tasks are done so this drink will not have a negative consequence, and drinking with this dinner will make it special and more relaxing. It’s a sign that u am having some quality time with friends and family, and taking time with them. What is also true is that the people and good are more important than the alcohol with no negative consequences. It’s also true that taking time to make a special AF drink can help me linger at the table and make the time special.

  7. I always say to myself that I deserve it for working hard/ if I’ve had a tough day. Truth is though I could just relax in the bath, phone a friend and I’d feel much better about myself in the morning plus I am not a good role model to my teenage kids while I keep doing this.

  8. Hi Kate,
    My excuse for drinking is I have a very stressful job and am experiencing some really difficult problems within my family and i use alcohol as a coping mechanism.
    The other side to my story is my job will continue to be stressful with or without alcohol and the problems within my family are at the moment out of my control & I am unable to change this at the moment

    1. You’ve made a great start on telling the other side of the story here Sue. Drinking at that work stress certainly won’t make it go away… and it’s true that it will still be there if you’re sober. However the key difference is that a sober you will be able to cope with that stress better. Alcohol depletes our resilience to stress, making it hard to cope with life in general. The same goes for your family stuff. Sobriety can’t stop the bad stuff from happening, but it can certainly help you respond in a better way and take better care of yourself through the process.

  9. I did your course in 2020 and was AF for over a year and a half. My husband passed away when I was still AF. A few months after he passed away I decided I needed a glass of wine. Because of the stress I was going through after losing him I returned to drinking regularly again. His death was my new excuse to drink. I’m lonely and depressed and some distorted thoughts in my mind made me thinking drinking would help. It’s now been almost 10 months since Bob passed away and I know that drinking is not the answer. I decided to go back and do this course again on my own. I started today and then received this email. Perfect timing for me to hear this video about excuses.

    I know it’s going to be hard because my excuse will never go away, like being overwhelmed at work. I’m retired so work is not an excuse for me. But dealing with the death of a spouse will always be here with me.

  10. Excuse: I am lucky to be very healthy and therefore one or two glasses of wine after work are ok.
    Reality: I am very lucky to be very healthy and over 50% of the time one or two glasses of wine after work become a bottle of wine which will cause my luck to run out soon.

  11. love the taste and initial effect unless i go over the score…which to be honest can be a fair bit… then its anxiety

  12. Hi Kate. I think my main excuse is that it’s just never the right time. I always think I can’t focus on not drinking right now. I suppose what is also true is that this will probably always be the case, so now is as good a time as any will be.

  13. Habit! I need to replace a harmful habit with something healthy. My excuse – everything and anything from just picking up a bottle of milk and walking past a wine isle to having a good or bad day! Anxious if no bottle in the house and how I might feel later and have to go out, so try to only shop daily for one bottle – Weekends I can start early but rarely manage a whole 2 bottles, I usually pour some away – always thinking I’ll give up for good tomorrow. Always pep talk myself every morning and always buy a bottle on the way home! I did 3 months sober once! But a bit of family stress set me off again.

    1. You are not alone Julie, our habit brain is very powerful. We also forget that alcohol is an addictive substance, so if you try to cut down or cut it out, the cravings grow stronger to make you feed the habit again – vicious cycle. The other side of the story is choosing healthy habits and being more productive with your time.

  14. I just stumbled down my stairs (upstairs flat) to have a cigarette – this is not the person I want to be! I’ve drunk a bottle of wine and will go to bed after brushing my teeth and doing all the ‘right things’ but I will have spent the night drunk and done nothing worthwhile. will be hazy in the morning and ‘nothing changes if nothing changes’ – how many times have I said that to myself! I hope Kate can make me change.

  15. My excuse for drinking is that all my family and friends are drinkers and I don’t know if I could choose not to drink if everyone else is !! I quit for quite a long time in 2020. Easy because we weren’t socializing with family and friends. Once we got back together I enjoyed an occasional drink but soon was way out of control again. I also love the taste and enjoy the feeling. I also tend to drink when I am bored.

    1. The truth I’m hearing is that you’re not happy being out of control with your drinking and you’re bored? There’s some interesting thoughts to reflect on Marcia, don’t get stuck in one side of the story…

  16. I have been afraid to try to control my drinking, thinking that if I failed, I would have to label myself as an alcoholic. But I know I can’t carry on drinking to the extent I have been. It’s affecting my physical and mental health and also my relationship with my partner.

    1. The term ‘alcoholic’ can be unhelpful for some because it implies you are the problem which isn’t true. It’s completely predictable to become addicted to an addictive substance that we consume regularly and yet we blame the user, not the substance! We don’t do that with any other drug like nicotine or cocaine? We don’t call a smoker a ‘nicotineoholic’ but for some reason we use different language around alcohol – weird? I wrote a blog about the alcoholic label that I think will help Theresa: https://thesoberschool.com/am-i-an-alcoholic/

  17. I was sober for 2 years then, I found out about AF wine (nosecco) I started drinking 2 or 3 bottles a night, then I went on a night out (I had not been out in years I was too scared) I had a non alcoholic beer it was horrible. I ended up drinking and couldn’t stop. I was so ill I ended up in hospital, I have had 2 more drunken nights and am trying to stop again. I have severe Epilepsy anyway the drink stops my medication from working. I really need to stop again before it kills me.

    1. So the excuse is you didn’t like the alcohol-free beer you chose to drink. But the truth is there are so many others on the market to try and you do like Nosecco. Just a change in thinking makes it doable.

  18. Hi Ladies, I relate to ALL of you……I started to drink wine and eat comfort food in the evenings. After a few days I would stop, swear that I will not touch the wine again, but a few days later I start again. It is like some automatic response when I go to the supermarket, and I think well I live alone, it is lonely, I put on the Hallmark movies and sip the wine and eat. I dont want to do this any more. I want to break the habit. Yes, it became a habit. I feel very ashamed of myself. Any advice how to break the habit please? I would be grateful. I keep letting myself down over and over again.

    1. The first piece of advice is to stop talking so harshly to yourself – you will never shame yourself into stopping drinking or eating comfort food. Your body is craving comfort and your brain is craving joy and connection, so that’s where the work starts. Have a listen to some of my past students who completely get where you’re coming from and now enjoy a completely different lifestyle: https://thesoberschool.com/success-stories/

    2. I’m living your same life. I live alone, (with my cat) I come home to an empty home feel sorry for myself. Whether I was a good day or bad day, I deserve this glass of wine, which turns into two and three. Sometimes I dump the rest of the bottle out. Sometimes I drink it. Next morning I have to get up and go to work, and I feel horrible. Irritable, anxiety, tired, dull, etc.

  19. My excuse is to escape my stressful, overwhelming caregiver duties, but the reality is drinking just complicates it all, tires me out, adds anxiety, & just does not work!

  20. My main excuse is usually fatigue at the end of the day. If I have a drink (which always leads to more), it boosts my energy and makes me feel happy. But it is temporary and it just adds to the fatigue and mood drop the next day.

    In truth I know that I am dehydrated and hungry and yes I’m tired. But that can be fixed by scheduling a pick me up snack and a tea late afternoon before the wine witch appears.

    I keep thinking I have the answers to being completely alcohol free but I don’t. But I like the idea of training my brain to think new thoughts. Lately I have enjoyed water with a few ice cubes in it. I like the coldness and the sound of the ice cubes and the purity of the water. The hydration helps with fatigue and negative thoughts. My food actually tastes better when I am not drinking.

    Laura McKowen quotes in her book “We are the Luckiest” that 100% of those who become alcohol free just stop. They just stop it. I would like to keep that thought in my head. No matter what is going on in my life, there is nothing better than waking up free of alcohol and without a hangover.

  21. Hi Kate and thank you for such an easy, positive energy. I drink a bottle, or more, of wine every single night. While making dinner, eating, watching the news, etc. Not because of a heavy workload, exhaustion, unhappiness or for any one reason. Just because I can, and enjoy it, up until I feel tipsy and stupid for going overboard. I have a husband, a dog, and a comfortable safe home. But I always have known that I must be harming my health, swear every morning that this will be the day to quit. Well, we know how that goes. Yesterday I talked with my oncologist about ending a prescription medicine, and I found her staring at me with concern in her eyes and I realized that I was babbling, slightly confused and stressed. For a year or more I have been joking about old age, memory loss, senior moments, etc. and lately I find I actually am often confused, wobbly, uncertain. While this may indeed be early dementia, I know that the alcohol doesn’t help. Wow! Maybe I could feel so much better, more alert, less stumbling, less afraid of the future knowing I have done my best before it is absolutely too late. I would feel so much better about myself. This is day one. Towanda!

    1. You’re absolutely right Kathryn, removing alcohol can only be a good move health wise. It is linked to 7 different kinds of cancer, not to mention heart disease, anxiety, depression and even death. If you’d like some help and support to stop the repetition of Day 1’s, please join the next class of Getting Unstuck, my online course for women who want to create an alcohol-free life they’ll love: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

  22. Excuse: I’m not drinking tomorrow/next week, I’m going to cut right back next month, I might as well have one tonight.
    Reality: I will drink tomorrow/next week after all, and they’ll be an unforeseen reason not to cut down next month.
    Alternative argument: I know I will feel so much better if I start now, I’ll feel more motivated if I start now, I know if I go a few days without I often don’t feel much like it on my designated “drinking day” (somehow this doesn’t stop me, I have to drink on designated drinking days whether I fancy it or not – Why is this?).
    I really, really want to stay sober – I remember how good it felt to have energy!

  23. My excuse is that I am bored. I am a high energy person, and my husband is not. I feel like I have to dumb down my energy to match his. I used to not do that, but then my need to be active all the time drove him nuts. I am tired of not being myself. Found your site the other day. Can’t wait to start the next course in two weeks. I also feel like I need more tools to deal with staying sober.

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