When you quit drinking, friends and family can be keen to share unhelpful ‘advice’.
Sometimes it’s because they genuinely want to help. Other times it’s because your decision is bringing up stuff for them.
No matter what their intention, many of the things people say aren’t very helpful to hear.
And whilst we’re all adults here (so we can make our own decisions!) it’s still pretty off-putting when your nearest and dearest are convinced you’re doing the wrong thing.
Today I want to shine a light on 5 of the most unhelpful pieces of ‘advice’ you might hear if you quit drinking…
1. “Have you tried drinking a bit less?”
It’s hard not to roll your eyes at this one. I mean, doh – of course you’ve tried cutting back already! It’s one of the very first things you did, right? The chances are you’ve tried to moderate again and again, but nothing works consistently.
What really sucks about this question is the implication that you should be able to drink a bit less, if you kept trying, or if you were more like the person asking the question. But as I’ve explained many times on this blog (here and here) moderation rarely works, so don’t waste your time on it.
2. “Are you being realistic?”
Let me guess: you’ve finally decided to take a proper break from drinking so you can test drive sobriety properly. (This is a great idea, as I explain here.) And then all of a sudden, someone voices one of your deepest fears. Is it realistic? Will you be able to do it?
I think this unhelpful question comes from a well-intentioned place, but it ignores one important point: repeatedly trying to moderate isn’t realistic either! Trying to exercise control over a mind-altering drug that zaps your willpower is never going to be a recipe for success.
3. “But you’re not an alcoholic! You drink the same as me!”
Far too many people think there are just two types of drinkers: ‘normal drinkers’ and raging alcoholics. As long as you’re not in the second category, then you’re fine… right? This is totally wrong and unhelpful. You don’t need to wait until things get ‘bad enough’ for you to quit.
Keep in mind that the only person who really knows how alcohol makes you feel, is you. Your decision to quit might make other people feel uncomfortable about their own drinking, but this is not your responsibility. You can’t control this, so don’t let it hold you back.
4. “Is this a good time to be doing this?”
You want the honest answer to this question? No, it’s probably not the right time. In fact, it’s never going to be the ‘right time’ because no such thing exists. There will always be a reason to wait. There will always be a birthday or a holiday, an anniversary or a special occasion coming up.
The reason this question is so unhelpful is because part of you is already thinking it. So when someone else voices it too, it gives that line of thinking even more power. Don’t let that happen! Whilst there isn’t a ‘perfect’ time to quit, there’s never a bad time to let go of a drug that’s holding you back.
5. “Are you still going to be fun?”
This question is pretty insulting. The not-so-subtle implication is that you need a drug like alcohol in order to be interesting. As I explained in this blog post, the contents of your glass do not dictate whether you are fun or will have fun.
All this question does is reveal the limiting beliefs of the person asking it. It’s a discreet way of pressuring you to fit in and act as you always have done. Please don’t let other people’s discomfort keep you stuck, or repeating behaviours that are not working for you.
If you’d like some help to quit drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.