What do you do when the idea of stopping drinking fills you with fear – but the thought of staying as you are feels just as scary?
I know what it’s like to be in that frustrating, limbo state, wondering how to move forwards.
On the one hand, you hate the hangovers – you’re tired of waking up at 4am and promising yourself that tonight, ‘it’ll be different’. But on the other hand… you can’t imagine not drinking. You just can’t picture a life without alcohol in it.
And then there’s the fear…
Fear of going for it and making a change. Fear of failure, fear of looking like a fool, fear of the unknown. And yet, there’s also the fear of not making the move. The fear of looking back on your life with regret. The fear of letting life pass you by, and knowing you were too afraid to do anything about it.
This messy middle – where you feel stuck between two equally scary options – is confusing, exhausting, and totally normal. The good news is that it’s also a sign you’ve reached a bit of a tipping point. In the words of Brené Brown: “The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.”
This week’s blog is all about the 4 things you can do to make navigating the messy middle a little easier…
“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it…”
~ Steven Pressfield
The rational, logical part of us knows that deciding not to consume ethanol is a wise decision; when you think about all the frightening health consequences of drinking, sobriety is considerably less scary than continuing to drink. And yet, the thought of going alcohol-free generates a sense of fear in the pit of your stomach.
The most important thing to know is that fear of sobriety isn’t a sign that you should stay as you are! Fear is a natural instinct, designed to protect us and help us survive. But there’s a big difference between the kind of fear that keeps you safe when you’re crossing the road, and the kind of fear that just keeps you stuck in your comfort zone.
Rather than letting yourself be paralysed by fear, use it as a sign that something precious is at stake; it means you’re working on something that really matters and you’re doing the right thing.
“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
~ Marian Wright Edelman
Your world is made up of the experiences you’ve had, the things you see every day, and the people you’re surrounded by. And it’s incredibly difficult to see beyond the edges of that world.
If you’ve been drinking for years and years – and you’re surrounded by people who love alcohol and romanticise it – then you’re bound to think that sobriety is dull, miserable or a last resort. But the truth is, you’ve only experienced half the story! If you think alcohol-free living is boring, the chances are you’re coming at it from the wrong place. You owe it to yourself to explore sobriety properly and learn about what alcohol can and cannot do.
You can start by reading sober memoirs and blogs – see what kind of lives these people have. What kind of mindset shifts have they made? Follow sober celebrities; are they having a terrible time, missing out on life? I don’t think so! Fill up your social media feed with people who aren’t obsessed with booze and who love alcohol-free living. (You can find me on Instagram here). Be open to the idea that life could be a hell of a lot better without alcohol in it.
“When your why is big enough you will find your how.”
~ Les Brown
Get clear on your why.
If you really want to make this change happen, you’ve got to get emotionally connected to why this is important to you. Keep those reasons front and centre every day.
Don’t just think about this stuff – write it down. I’m a big believer in getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. When it’s all in your head it tends to be a jumbled-up mess and it’s easy to forget.
Go into as much detail as possible. Don’t just put “I hate feeling hungover”. You’ve got to tease out the important, personal details. Maybe you hate being unable to remember what you said to your partner; perhaps your children have commented on your drinking and it stung.
Keep this list somewhere you can access easily. You’ll want to keep referring back to this.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
Start before you’re ready.
If you wait until you feel ‘ready’ to stop drinking, you’re going to be waiting for a very long time. Sometimes you have to force change to happen by taking action.
I’ve coached hundreds of women through early sobriety, and I’ve noticed that very few of them have experienced some kind of lightening-bolt moment. Rarely is someone 100% ‘ready’. More often than not, it’s about paying attention to a nagging feeling and listening to that little part of you that suspects life without alcohol might be better than life right now.
If you’re regularly drinking too much, and it’s making you feel miserable, then that’s all you really need to know. That’s the only sign you need. All you need to do is set a short-term goal and be prepared to take action. It’s all about baby steps – there’s no need to think about the big picture just yet.
Are you stuck in the messy middle right now?
Or perhaps you’ve just come out the other side. Either way, I’d love to hear how you’re pushing through it and what action you’ve been taking to shift out of feeling stuck.
What are you afraid of when you think about alcohol-free living? How could you use that fear to guide your next steps? Let me know in the comments below!
Have a great week,