Kate's Blog

Playing The Movie To The End – Are You Doing It Right?

When you’re tempted to drink, playing the movie to the end is a good idea.

This means forcing yourself to think about how things will really turn out, if you have “just one drink.”
(Because the truth is, it’s probably NOT going to be just one…)
This technique of ‘thinking though the drink’ can really help – if you do it properly.
But a lot of people don’t.
In fact, they do the opposite of playing the movie forward… 
In this video, I want to make sure you’re not getting this wrong too:

Key points: 

What ‘playing the movie to the end’ means

When you’re tempted to drink, stop and make yourself think about how things are *really* going to work out. It’s probably NOT going to be “just one drink”. So what does the end of the movie look like for you? 
How will you feel later in the evening? What mood will you be in? Will you sleep soundly? How will you feel when you wake up? What will you be saying to yourself? Is there anyone else who will be affected by your decision to drink? 

Don’t get stuck on the opening scene

Here’s what many people do without realising: they play the first 10 minutes of the movie over and over again in their head, but they never think past that. If you went to the cinema, you would judge a film in its entirety, not just on the opening scene. 
If you find yourself saying things like “drinking is so relaxing” then you’re not thinking past the beginning of the movie. Remember, your ‘drinking movie’ lasts for 24 hours, because that’s how long you deal with the fallout of drinking for. How much of that is ‘relaxing’? 

Which movie are you going to play tonight? 

You have two choices: you can carry on romanticising the opening scene and playing a movie that’s good for a few minutes and bad for 23 hours. You can waste your time, energy and brain power on that if you want to.
Or you can push play on a different film: the alcohol free movie. It might not have a great opening scene and you might wonder if you’re going to like it. But it will grow on you. And this movie has a very happy ending 😊
If you’d love some help and support to quit drinking, click here for details of my online course.

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. 


61 Responses

      1. I only drank at night so I really didn’t think I had a drinking problem. Last year I decided to challenge myself to the sober October challenge. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do dry January or stop drinking for Lent. That’s when I knew I had a drinking problem. I am an alcoholic! After watching your video I am on my 2nd of being alcohol free and is all thanks to you. I changed the movie!!! WHOOP! WHOOP!

    1. Listening to this has made everything crystal clear! Something has just clicked in my head! Thank you so much Kate …definitely looking forward to a Happy Ending xx

      1. Thank you for Playing the Movie Until the End. Makes a lot of good sense. I am choosing the alcohol free movie tonight!

    2. I’ve been having some success at moderation. Until yesterday. out for the first time in ages and I was definitely fixated on that first drink….. The movie was bad. I dont even remember most of it. Very disappointed in myself.
      I’m gonna try this technique. Looking at a 24hour chunk of time makes alot of sence.

  1. After listening to you last week I have had a sober w.end. By Jove I feel good, got loads done too! The movie story is so very true, the difficult bit is being strong enough to get through the start, once accomplished the rest is magical!!

  2. You look wonderful Kate! Your hair looks great at that length! Love the backdrop, so peaceful listening to the birds sing.
    I found that playing the movie forward is the most powerful aspect of when I was tempted to drink, I focused on what the remainder of the day/night would be like after the first 10 minutes of having a drink. I knew it would never be one drink and therefore I am quite comfortable with having alternative beverages now and don’t feel that I’m missing out on anything!
    I don’t miss the falling asleep on the couch, not remembering what had happened the night before upon waking the following morning. The guilt and shame of it all was something I just couldn’t shake until I figured out that I am someone who cannot drink and I’m really good with that! I am very confident about sharing that with anyone now, which wasn’t the case in the beginning. It is so freeing to know that I can have a great time without alcohol numbing the moment or memory. I feel free and alive and so very thankful for your amazing course, your kind and gentle spirit Kate and the support from an army of women, just like me. Forever thankful and grateful to YOU!!

  3. Thanks, Kate! love this message so much, and good to hear this reminder today after a few slips last week, feeling down but figure March 1st is a good day for a fresh start. Trying to stay positive.

    1. Lori, had a slip up weekend myself after doing so well all week. Let’s March forward and get to the end of the movie (see what I did there ?!?!)

      1. I didn’t think I had a problem because I don’t drink in the week but at the weekend I can get through six bottles of wine this is the first time I’ve admitted to how much I drink, my kids hate me drinking and I hate myself for doing it. Tonight is the first sober Friday night for a long time and the first of many. I’m so glad I found you on Facebook Kate. Thank you

        1. Hi Alison! I can relate to you in so many ways. I am a weekend warrior with my drinking as well. I binge drink my beer. Lots of it. I’m ashamed of myself and want so badly to get of this loop. Tired of the worry and shame and don’t want to be a poor example to my son any longer. I just came across this website and I’m hoping to make a lasting change. Good luck to you. It sounds like you’re off to a great start.

  4. This is such a great way of thinking through the decision to drink! I recently stopped cold turkey and feel so much better. Thank you for your words of encouragement. It keeps the goal on my mind. Bless you!

    1. Hi I’ve started my journey today 1st March, what you have said makes sense as I have done this before many times, I am very determined to see tge film to the end, thank you your support means alot.

      1. Congratulations on Day 1! I can’t remember where I read it, but it’s a fact: everyone has a “thing” – that one “Achilles heel” issue in their life. My mantra four months sober is: “My one thing is alcohol. It’s not fun and it’s not fair, it just IS.” I am actually learning to be grateful that it’s only alcohol, it could be so much worse.

    2. Thanks Kate, I’d heard of this technique before but the way you’ve just described it really resonated with me. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself earlier as I wanted to drink but had told myself no. Now I really don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m looking forward to an early night and reading my book. You’re a star!

  5. I definitely do this, it has helped alot with the cravings. Tomorrow I make it to 60 days AF (at last). X

    1. Why on earth have I never looked at this method before. Exactly me I would visualise that first opening scene pouring that lovely first glass closing scene empties rolling around the floor TV still on birds singing at day break me still on the sofa fully dressed. No more awful movies for me.

  6. April 1st this year will be 2 years sober for me! I wanted to quit drinking so badly, I would pray in the shower that I could quit when I was hungover even when I knew in my heart I planned on drinking again that night. I stumbled across your blog and it was a God-send. I didn’t know anyone “normal” or young like me who was sober, I truly thought it would be the end of anything happy or fun (what a lie!!). I was stuck in that first part of the movie because anything past one drink was never fun. 2 years later I’m no longer tempted to drink and know how incredible sobriety is! It has opened up my world. My husband quit too, even though he could always stop at one and I never could, and I’m so proud that our kids will see that you can be happy, relax, have fun, without drinking. Since that’s something our culture promotes so strongly. Thank you thank you! I still get your emails and love to check in here occasionally.

  7. At the minute I am struggling, been take of medication by my new GP. I had a car accident and I am sore. So using the excuse that the alcohol will help with the pain. I know it will not, I only wake in the morning feeling worse. So it will be an early night for a few nights till I feel better.

  8. This evening, I will be making the “life upgrade” choice of not consuming booze. And I’m excited about the lovely mocktail that I’ll have in place…..something bubbly, fruity, and girly with a twist sounds just right.
    Kate Bee, thanks for the reminder to “think through the drink”!

    1. Wow ! Totally made sense to me .I usually drink on a Friday ,Saturday & Sunday .I really want to stop but always seem to cave in .I’m fed up of taking the paracetamol and pretending I feel fine .So fresh start for me I’m really going to focus on playing the movie to the end .Thanks Kate B you truly are inspiring.

  9. I’ve had a weekend of drinking and waking up feeling awful… you are so right about this movie…. The opening scene is so nice and then it turns into a horror movie

  10. Love this analogy ! I’m starting week 2 of no drinks and feeling better already- this will help me remember the movie doesn’t end well, so don’t even start watching it ! Thanks !!

  11. Dear dear Kate!
    Thank you sooooo much! Everything I read in your site is just ME!! Wishing I had thought all this the evening before…

  12. Omg Kate Thank you for reminding this! When I first got sober and that I had cravings I never played the tape to the end but since I started doing that I’ve only had few relapses. It helps a lot

  13. I will have a sober evening only because I’m so hungover now. Anxiety foggy head.
    Been trying to quit for 20 years. Just don’t know how!

    1. Katey-I truly pray you remember to see the ending and believe yourself worthy. I come from a long line of drinkers and that’s all I know but I have been able to have a few nights of not drinking which makes the next time of not drinking easier. The decision to not drink is one moment in time. I’ll be praying for both of us to have more moments!

  14. Thank you Kate for this timely reminder. I really like the part about the 24 hours . Although i’m doing fine – think it’s about day 43- thinking about the whole picture reinforces my determination to keep going. I also think of the movie in terms of going back to day one….why would I do that?

  15. I really needed to see this today. I did all of 17 days without drinking before falling off the wagon. Feeling so disappointed in myself and feeling like a failure. But watching this video has been motivation to try again. Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

  16. This hit the nail on the head!!! I do that exactly. Just one more, just one more… Then the next morning comes and I’m kicking myself. Why can’t I have just one or two? I already do your suggestion, I just didn’t know it was a thing, but unfortunately I choose to watch the wrong movie. I’ve been getting better at only doing this on the weekends, mostly… THANKS Kate!!! It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one doing this exact thing!!! It will definitely make me think more before taking that “one drink”.

  17. Wow! I’m 3 months sober and eas just wondering why I dont drink!!! Playing “the Movie” has put me right back on track! I LOVE this theory thanks Kate that was brilliant and just what I needed on day 94 AF

  18. Today I choose AF and practicing playing the movie forward! I took the course in 2018 and remember finding this exercise to be powerful. Onward…forward to alcohol free…..and determination to never stop trying. Thank you Kate for popping up at all the right times and saying exactly what resonates with me!!!

  19. I’m so happy I chose to read your email and ans watch your video before heading out to get some wine. Completely changed my mind and forced me to look past the first one or two drinks and remember what it is always like later in the night and the next day. I had a nice cup of coffee instead. Thanks soooo much for all of your words of truth and inspiration.

  20. Today’s the day I decided to stop drinking during the week. I bought some adult coloring books to keep me busy and started back at the gym. Determined to get thru the week without wine!

  21. You told the movie story so well Kate!! I used to play this movie in my mind all the time and absolutely loved it. I haven’t been to the movies for quite some time now and having been listening to reruns of the ‘other’ movie – the one with the crap ending! Thank you – it’s time to change channel again.

  22. Thank you for giving me something to think about as I start this week. My life is going well at this moment and it’s easier to hear this message. Have a lovely week!

  23. I thought I was the only one with these Sam problems! All your comments are an inspiration! And Kate I cannot wait to do your online course!

  24. Well said! I’m hungover from 2 nights of hell from Binge drinking. I stopped at 2 tonight because I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I hope I think about this video tomorrow when I’m feelling better and choose not to drink.

  25. Wow this video is so powerful. I have been alcohol free for 20 days and I have to say the cravings are worse now. The message in this video has made me realise that the reason for this is because I have become less able to recall how I feel during and after an alcohol session. Watching/listening to this gives me the recal that I need. Thanks Kate

  26. An excellent analogy. I keep choosing short termism vs long term freedom from hangovers. Keep playing the trailer! Thanks Kate. I will persevere with a sober life…

  27. OMG I would have never have thought of it that way until I watched your video, thankyou so much tonight I will be watching the Alcohol free Movie for sure.

  28. Hi Kate, I am on your waiting list to start the Class and have been reading and watching your blogs for 10 days now. I’m 10 days alcohol free! I loved this video, change your mind, change your life, it is so true. Watching the movie until the end thinking is brilliant. How true, I’ve only watched beginning hundreds of times. Thank you for the new tool to help me continue on this path.

  29. Kate,
    I’m an October grad and happily AF today. However, I’m grateful for this post today because I was never very good at playing the WHOLE movie. I knew the beginning would be great and could guess at the end but remembering you have to endure the 23 hours in the middle – the obsessing, regretting, shame and anxiety – was a welcomed reminder.

  30. I’m going to have an alcohol free evening. I’m on day 2, again because I drank at the weekend.
    Lately, since lockdown 3 began i had been drinking every night but in February, as i approached a year since my dad passed away from cancer, I began to realise, again that i needed to do something. To change.
    So, its day 2. But I feel optimistic and excited about the future. I have walked 17000 steps today and am about to go to bed and watch something inspiring. I haven’t given wine a thought other than to celebrate another evening without being drawn by habit, boredom, or whatever trigger that might pop into my head on any given day.
    Thank you for this post. It will be useful. I know i will need help another time.

  31. Yep I keep thinking a drink which turns into many will solve everything. Then the re occurring consequences continue. To get past the first day each time is the struggle i dont want to feel.

  32. This last weekend my husband and I went out of town to celebrate his birthday and also to visit family in the California wine country. I knew it was going to be challenging as I recently hit my 5 months sober date. I wanted so much to have that one glass of champagne when we went out for my husband’s birthday dinner. I found myself bargaining with myself, trying to rationalize how 1 little drink was not a big deal. I was also pretty sure I would want to drink the next night too when visiting my brother who loves to order some nice local wines when we go out. I was really floundering and wondering if I was going to give in to the temptation. But I ended up using the strategy of playing the movie to the end. I knew I would drink too much if I was to start, and I reminded myself about the fact that my tastebuds had changed, and the wine would probably taste terrible to me at this point. Both of these tactics worked great. Instead I enjoyed an alcohol free weekend, stuck with it and was very much aware at how connected I felt with my husband and also very in tune with my feelings. The movie started out a little rocky, but ended up being a beautiful love story.

  33. Thanks Kate! This makes so much sense and I will be using this technique, along with the many other great ones you’ve shared. Feeling stronger, healthier and happier every day.

  34. Kate I love this description of how it goes! It’s so true and the times that I decide to turn that terrible movie off and find something better for me I am so much happier. I just need to remember to play it through every single time I want to drink

  35. Kate,,
    I needed this reminder. I’m an October 2020 grad and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. My AF journey hasn’t been flawless but 99% glorious. I drank a few days ago and I realized, while I thought about playing the movie beforehand, I didn’t put my heart into it. I knew I would regret it and how it would make me feel but I let alcohol win the argument in my head.
    I needed this post to help me play the movie properly to the end and to strengthen a tool I HAVE but haven’t been using well. Thank you.

  36. This was a helpful reframe for me. I had played it forward in the past, but was still getting caught up in the opening scenes. It’s the lingering anxiety and depression that plagues me, so yes, it’s definitely a 24 hour movie! I choose the AF one!

  37. I needed to hear this on a Friday. Weekend cravings nearly do me in. Too often I only play out that first or second drink. I tell myself the ending will be different; I’ll stop at two. But that’s never the case. I usually have three or four then suffer the consequences in the middle of the night (and following day). Thanks for this!

  38. I love the analogy of the movie. Playing the movie to the end is a great strategy for keeping yourself from taking that first drink. I love this tool and will use. Thank you kate.

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