There’s a stinky, uncomfortable truth that everyone experiences but no one wants to say out loud. So here it is:
On some horrible, embarrassing level, it’s easier to stay where you are and be miserable than it is to do what it takes to change your drinking and your life.
It’s a pretty uncomfortable idea, right?
But it’s the dirty secret that so many of us have harboured – and it relies on its embarrassing nature to stay alive.
There are probably lots of things you know you could do. You read about them here. And when you wake up in the early hours of the morning, tired but unable to sleep, you swear that you will do something about your drinking – soon. You promise to end this cycle of hangovers, regrets and remorse. You’re not happy and deep down, you know you can’t keep doing this to yourself.
But later, the motivation fades. You start to wonder whether it’d be better to put things off for a bit. Maybe you should wait until work seems less stressful, or you’ve been to that wedding, come back from holiday or – you know, you just have a bit more time.
It’s totally normal. Every single one of us has been there.
Personally, I know there was a part of me that quite liked being stuck, because it got me off the hook.
As long as I felt confused and miserable and frustrated, I didn’t have to put myself fully on the line. Even when I read something that resonated with me and made me think, ‘perhaps I could do that’, there was also a part of me that tried hard not to relate. I wanted to pretend that I was different. When change felt so hard, it was much easier to shrug and say, ‘that won’t work for me’.
It was much safer to stay in my comfort zone. It didn’t take any effort to sink into the ranks of people drinking too much after work, buying a few bottles of wine on the way home, posting memes about wine o’clock and declaring that it ‘must have been a good night’ because I couldn’t remember any of it.
Perhaps you can relate?
Changing your drinking certainly isn’t easy, but the good news is there are things you can do to make it less scary and lonely. And when you start to do that, staying stuck seems much less appealing.
The following two steps worked really well for me and I bet they will make a huge difference for you, too.
Surround yourself with people you can be honest with.
You need to build a tribe – a group of people who understand and support you, and can help you defeat that voice in your head that urges you to stop overreacting. The lovely women who take part in my stop drinking course always comment on how transformative it is to have the support of people who ‘get it’. When we’re feeling low, we need people who will lift us up, hold us accountable, offer advice, ideas, insights … this is your protection against the urge to ‘give up and give in’.
This week, have a think about 3 people who could form the basis of your tribe and ask them if they’ll support you in your shift. See what they have to offer. Maybe they’re friends, family, or people from other areas of your life. They could be a counsellor, coach, or someone you’ve met online – perhaps through writing a blog or joining a Facebook group. It doesn’t matter who you turn to. What matters is that you have someone there.
Ask yourself this question: What’s the worst possible thing that can happen?
When you’re trying to change your drinking, there’s a real risk that you’ll mess up, fail, or fall flat on your face. Sometimes we instinctively prefer to stay stuck – and miserable – rather than go through the pain of trying and failing.
One way to get around this is to face the worst possible outcome head on. Don’t just think about this loosely; tease out every single scenario that could go wrong and think about how you’d deal with it.
Next, flip things around and ask yourself what’s the worst that will happen if you decide to do nothing and keep your life exactly as it is? In five years’ time, will you look back and have regrets? What might your drinking look like if you don’t take action now? Make a list. What you’re trying to establish is what’s the ‘worst of the worst’. Is it going for it – or not going for it? I think you might be surprised what comes up.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Did this resonate with you? If you’re wrestling with this right now, let me know how you get on with the two steps above. What’s your answer to the worst case scenario question?
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the sunshine and have a great week!