What’s the story you tell yourself the most often?
I’ve noticed that many of the women who are drawn to my work are very good at doing this:
– Judging themselves
– Telling untrue stories about their capabilities
– Thinking negative thoughts
– Beating themselves up
So… not exactly the kind of skills you’d boast about on your CV, right?!
Many of us mistakenly believe we can shame ourselves into changing our behaviour, but we can’t.
The real secret to change is to examine your thoughts and start telling the other side of the story…
I explain all in this video:
Beliefs are just thoughts we practice over and over
We can choose our thoughts and the story we have about ourselves. We can pick stories that are unhelpful and keep us stuck, or choose ones that help us take action and feel better.
Examples of story reframes:
“Lockdown means it’s too hard for me to quit drinking at this time.”
↪“Drinking through lockdown is also hard.”
↪“I’ve already drunk through two lockdowns and it didn’t make me feel good.”
↪“Not drinking is caring for myself. Caring for myself makes the tough times easier.”
“I’ve quit drinking but I still have all the same problems as before, so what was the point?”
↪“I’m an action taker who doesn’t waste time waiting for the perfect moment to come along.”
↪“I’m someone who can get stuff done despite having less than perfect circumstances.”
↪“I choose not to drink through problems and make things worse.”
↪“Sobriety will never fix all my problems, but it gives me the space to work on them.”
“I’m only doing well right now because we’re in lockdown and I’m not tempted by nights out.”
↪“I’m a pretty amazing person because I’m nailing my sobriety during lockdown – a time when many other people can’t even contemplate doing this.”
↪“I’ve figured out how to not drink at home. When the time comes to socialise again, I’ll be able to figure that out as well.”
Successful and happy sobriety isn’t just about not drinking. It’s about learning how to manage your mind and have a better relationship with yourself. These negative stories might feel true to you, but it’s only because you’ve practised them a lot. Your brain is used to looking for the negative.
What’s the other side of your story?
If there’s an unhelpful thought you keep dwelling on, how could you reframe that? What would you say if you were going to talk yourself up for once? How would it feel to choose a kinder thought? When you feel good, your chance of success increases.
💜 Need a dose of motivation? 💜
Grab a copy of my 20 affirmations to support your sobriety – they’re empowering statements to stand by when you’re questioning your decision to quit👇
I keep getting kicked by life and alcohol is my go to medicine.
My other story is I keep solving the problem and without alcohol Id probably be 10 steps further in life than I am
I’m capable of a lot more
You nailed it here Emma. I’d love to see how much progress you could make without alcohol holding you back 🙂
“I’ve lost a lot of friends since I’ve been sober!”
Reframing: “The friends I do have are trustworthy, and I’m not wasting time with people who do not have my back.”
I get lonely.
Reframing: “I have a better relationship with myself than I ever have. Priceless.”
I love these reframes Jane! True friends will want to spend time with you, no matter what’s in your glass. Sobriety is a good filter and helps you sort out the good friends from the rest.
I love this one: “I have a better relationship with myself than I ever have.” I’m gonna write it on the little affirmation chalkboard I bought myself!
The other side of the story for me is that alcohol free living is now a way of life for me. I no longer think or romanticize about alcohol, I see it for what it is, a negative substance that should be illegal, similar to heroine.
I enjoy my own thoughts and ideas and no longer feel awful the day after drinking, trying to recall what I said or did. Living my life without alcohol has been such a gam changer, there is no amount of money that would entice me back. I think not drinking is anyone’s super power!! I’m eternally grateful to Kate and her course and all my sober sisters out there!
It really is a super power! We’re capable of so much more when alcohol isn’t getting in the way, holding us back or making us feel rubbish 🙂
Outstanding post! Kate, you are taking this journey to another level with your deeper questioning of thoughts and reframing of negative self talk. These are tools for the long haul. Much appreciated. AF for almost 6 months. My longest test drive yet.
Thanks Patricia. Congratulations on your 6 months! You must be really loving that test drive! 🙂
It was my friend, my companion.
Actually it is NOT a friend. It is an evil enemy trying to take control. With a “friend” like alcohol, who needs enemies!
Thank you, Kate, for helping me see alcohol as the toxic substance it really is.
Soooo thankful for your course. Excellent!!
No problem Bonnie! And yes… what a horrible friend alcohol is. Letting us down, making false promises and interfering with the connections we want to have with real friends.
I too had been thinking that I have been successful in lockdown mostly because I haven’t had the social triggers that I was finding difficult to navigate while maintaining being AF. But looking at it a different way, I think I have used this time very productively, gathering personal insights and tools and gratitude for feeling so much better. I think, if put on the spot in the future, I will say I used my time in lockdown to finalize my divorce from wine.
Also, in hindsight, my pre-pandemic but AF socializing went pretty well- I was internally anxious, but still managed those occasions just fine- like a duck paddling furiously but appearing calm on the surface. Going forward with my new superpowers I anticipate an easier time of it.
I love what you wrote here about finalising your divorce from wine! You’ve achieved something incredible during lockdown. And when the time comes to go out again, you’ll be more than ready for it 🙂
Two of my colleagues are undermining me at work. What did I do wrong?
Two of my colleagues are jealous of all that I have achieved recently at work and trying to undermine me to make themselves look better. I rock and maybe my good work ethics and honest love for what I do will rub off on them.
I love this reframe Emma. Their behaviour is all about them, not you 🙂
The negative story I tell myself is that I have been a bad example for my children and by my example have encouraged them to drink. I have caused them worry and pain through my divorce and other actions, which has probably caused them to turn to marijuana and alcohol. If I try to tell myself a better story, I can only say that I have told them I love them and I am sorry for making poor choices when they were younger. I have told them I am doing the Sober School course and I am recommending some of the books on sobriety that might resonate more with 25 26 year old males. I can’t change the past and go back and be a better mom, but I can try to move forward with my relationships in a more positive way.
The best apology for the past is in changed behaviour. Right now you’re setting them a great example by showing them that there is a different way of handling life, and that it’s never too late to change something you’re unhappy with. You’re teaching them a valuable lesson Gretchen 🙂
This is so true! Trying to put a positive in front of the negative and believe in ourselves. I am hard and negative this is something I am changing with a clear head ! Day 1 AF.
Well done on your first day Susan! Have you listened to my pep talk? It will help you stay on track tonight. You can check it out here: https://thesoberschool.com/pep-talk
Life keeps throwing curveballs and hard punches and I am (was) self medicating with alcohol…..I needed it to ‘destress’ and ‘cope’
Reframe: life will always throw curveballs and hard punches…..as my wise mam always says it’s not about how much s@@t happens in your life it’s about how you deal with it! Thanks to Kate’s brilliant course it has enabled me to shift my mindset big time and see alcohol for what it is or more to the point isn’t!! It was only adding to my stress and making me fearful and played a big part in me losing confidence in my own ability to cope and problem solve ….I now trust myself to deal with life’s challenges in a sober and therefore productive and healthy way.
I love this Audrey! This reframe doesn’t just feel better – it’s the truth too. Well done.
I have been wrestling with my situation which is that whilst I am not an alcoholic I am alcohol dependent; and ‘need’ my evening wine to wind down. Not sure how I will cope being AF. After all it’s only a few glasses…?
I have been wanting to either quit or seriously cut down my alcohol intake for about 5+ years now… and since lockdowns began last year have beaten myself up constantly about not being able to do it, or that I can’t do it during lockdown because it’s too hard etc. all the usual excuses my self chat gives me… I watched one of your blogs last week and on Sunday decided, ok I am going to do it for the month of February – it’s only 3 days in so far but I am seriously going to give it a go and hopefully will want to extend… I have also gone on the waitlist for your April course!
It’s great that you’ve got started already Sarah! I look forward to working with you in April 🙂
I have given up smoking for the second time for obvious health reasons. However when it comes to trying staying sober, the story I tell myself is ‘it’s easier to give up smoking as it’s less socially acceptable and not acceptable indoors’ I try to reframe telling myself alcohol is equally bad for my health but somehow I just can’t convince myself enough in the same way. Advice please?
It’s true that smoking is less socially acceptable than drinking. However, that alone doesn’t affect your ability to change – your success isn’t dictated by other people’s expectations or cultural norms. I would shift your focus on to why you want to find freedom from alcohol. (I noticed in your comment that you use the word ‘give up’, which sets you up for a feeling of hardship and missing out). Why are you excited to choose a better way of life for yourself and be alcohol free? Put your focus into getting excited about this – it’s a much more powerful energy 🙂
Thanks Kate – great point that my success is not dictated by others or culture. The weekend mornings I do wake without a hangover I remind myself how much better I feel and how much more I get done so this will be my focus and work on what I want to achieve at the weekends – particularly in lockdown when the temptation is to grab a wine in front of the TV!
Sounds like a good plan Liz! It would also be good to have a think about what it is you’re looking for in that glass of ethanol… what are you hoping it will provide and how else could you get that same feeling?
This video sums up exactly why I signed up for your course. Thanks to the videos and articles on this blog, I quit drinking back in October. I knew I didn’t need the course to stop drinking. But what I discovered was that my brain was going to other unhealthy coping mechanisms instead. Over-eating. Over-working. Over-gaming. Anything to achieve the same numbing out I sought from drinking.
After already signing up for the course, I made the mistake of having a few drinks over Christmas, which very rapidly took me right back to drinking too much. So when I started the course in January, I really was back to day one. I knew I could do it on my own again, but I also knew I wanted to do it differently this time and that I needed help to do it.
At first it was more difficult to quit in January because I wasn’t allowing myself to replace one bad habit with another. I took your course because I knew you were going to help me through the kind of mental work you discuss in this video. There has been SO much good stuff! With your excellent guidance, I’ve been putting the work in, really allowing myself to notice what’s been going on under the surface, and following your suggestions on how to handle those things in a better way.
I feel I’ve turned a huge corner. I’m not drinking, over-eating, or over-anything anymore. In spite of truly frightening challenges with my son’s health, I’m dealing with things so much better. Instead of constantly telling myself, “This is so hard,” I started telling myself, “I’m strong. I can handle it.” And meaning it, because it’s true.
You talk about alcohol-free living as a life upgrade and that is truly what you’re teaching us to do. It’s not the white-knuckle, day-counting, sad abstinence of addiction programs. It’s about making a choice for a better way to live, because you’re worth it.
Thank you, Kate.
You really have turned a corner! This is fantastic. I love your shift from “this is so hard” to “I can handle it.” You have so much to be proud of – congratulations Dona 🙂
I’ve been sober for almost four years (yay!) and the story I wrestle with now has to do with my professional endeavors: “if I really wanted to be a business owner, I’d have been one by now”. I’m working on self-motivation and challenging those limiting beliefs!
I really enjoyed this post, especially the one about trying to quit during a lockdown. It is REALLY hard to stop drinking when so many others are using it as a reason to drink MORE.