“I’m not stupid. I’m not helpless. So why can’t I figure out how to stop drinking?”

This is something I used to ask myself a lot.

In other areas of my life I was proactive and determined; I was great at problem solving and finding solutions.

So when it came to sobriety, why was I so stuck?

If you’ve been asking yourself the same question, this blog is for you.

I wanted to share a few of the sneaky, inner beliefs that can trip you up and keep you stuck in the drinking cycle:


“I need a vision – a long term plan. I can’t start before I’ve got it all figured out.”

In many areas of life, long term goal setting makes sense, because most of us like to know what we’re working towards before we begin. But when it comes to sobriety, this approach can lead to so much overwhelm you never even get started.

Your mind races years into the future and suddenly, you’re worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. The thought of being sober forever is so intimidating you can’t bring yourself to get started.

How to get around this:

The trick is to move forward with a short term plan – one that gives you something to work towards, and lets you experience alcohol free living properly, without being so intimidating it feels unachievable.

Taking a break for two or three months is a perfect place to start, because it gives you the chance to overcome a few challenges and test drive sobriety properly, without you getting too freaked out about it.

Once your break is over, you can see how you feel at the end. Perhaps you’ll set another short term goal. Or maybe you’ll go back to drinking. Whatever the outcome, you’re in control and moving forward, step by (manageable) step.


“You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King Jr.


“I can’t fail. I have to get this right.”

To get ahead in school, you had to pass your exams. To get promoted at work, you have to hit your targets. In most areas of our lives, we’re conditioned to think that success = good, and failure = bad.

So it makes perfect sense that we’re not keen on trying something that exposes us to a massive risk of failure. When we’re so fearful of failing, putting up with the status quo can feel much safer (even if it is making us unhappy).

How to get around this:

The key is to reframe your relationship to failure. This doesn’t mean setting out with the express intention of drinking as soon as things get challenging, but it does mean not beating yourself up if something goes wrong.

When I think about my students, most of them have a string of ‘failures’ behind them. Perhaps they joined my course after struggling to quit alone. Maybe they ‘wasted’ a month going to AA meetings and getting nowhere.

But those ‘failures’ weren’t really failures – they were part of the journey. When you’re doing something great (and sobriety is great!) the chances are you won’t figure it all out the first time. You are going to fall flat on your face at some point. The important thing is that you get back up again.


“Failure is success in progress.”
Albert Einstein


“I’ve got to keep this a secret and figure it out by myself.”

No one else can run the race, take the exam or ace that job interview for you. I bet you’re used to relying on yourself and you’re proud of the fact that you can (usually) figure things out on your own. Your drinking is your business… right?

The thing is, your drinking isn’t just about you. It impacts every area of your life, from your health to your relationships. When you’re struggling with alcohol, your partner knows about it. Your kids pick up on it. Your friends notice something is off.

How to get around this:

Start looking at how you handle other challenges e.g. losing weight, training for a run, parenthood, learning new job skills… you get the idea. How often do you truly go it alone? Or do you look elsewhere for help, guidance and support?

If you’ve been struggling to figure this all out on your own, now is the time to get out of your own head and start thinking about where you can get some support. We all need a bit of accountability and an outside perspective at times.

Addiction thrives in isolation, so start inviting people in. If you’ve got friends and family to talk to, ask for their support. But if you’re not comfortable confiding in those around you, seek out help elsewhere – it doesn’t have to be face to face. (If you want to join my online community, there’s more information about my coaching programme here.)


“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Helen Keller


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