When you think of sobriety you will most likely feel afraid. After all, if drinking has been such a huge part of your life, the thought of never drinking again, ever, can be terrifying and that’s okay. The key to getting past your fear of sobriety is to reframe the way you think and feel about living an alcohol-free life and in this blog we will look at how to get past your fear of sobriety and change those thoughts.
First of all I want you to know that it is normal and natural to have these fears but also ask; are you going to let your fear of sobriety, your fear of a better, healthier, more authentic life keep you stuck?
The biggest fear we face when thinking about sobriety is the fear of the unknown. Yes your fears might be about specific things such as being boring or bored, failure, losing friends or not being able to cope, but really the main fear is sobriety itself and what that might mean or look like for you.
Watch this video about the 7 main fears of quitting drinking and what to do about them
How to get past your fear of sobriety
Whatever specific fear you have about sobriety or even if you are just scared of the prospect, the thought of it. The only way to get past your fear is to shine a light on it, accept it, examine it, and then work through it. Fear is natural and normal but it must never be an excuse to keep you stuck.
You might be reading this and hating where you are right now but at the same time, terrified of the alternative. However, if you continue to let your fears rule your life you will never break free of the cycle. It is time to manage your fears and put them into perspective so you can move on, get the support you need without fear holding you back.
Shine a light on your fears
What are you afraid of? I mean really?
Some of the women I work with in my one to one coaching program have told me they were scared of not being able to manage emotions, or losing their identity or being judged or shunned by friends. They are scared of not being able to relax or have fun without alcohol. But most of all they are scared of living life in the raw, being their true selves without numbing or hiding.
Write a list of everything that scares you about quitting drinking. From the small to the big, the trivial to the ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how crazy or silly it sounds. In Denise Duffield Thomas’ book, ‘Get Rich’ she talked about how she was scared of buying her beachside mansion in case it got swept away by a tsunami. Now ridiculous as it sounds this fear kept her from moving forward with her dream and she had to get past it in order to move on.
So, get all your fears out onto paper and into the open.
Accept your fears and know that it’s okay
So, you might be scared you won’t sleep very well or you’ll become a person who likes yoga and green smoothies. That’s okay, it really is. Don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up because you are worried that dinner with friends won’t be the same or that you might take up knitting to help you relax.
One of our main fears is that everything will change and this fear is perfectly understandable. In fact life will change but that’s the point, don’t you think?
It is okay to be afraid of the unknown, the new and the ridiculous. It is not okay however, to let the fear of the unknown keep you stuck.
After all where you are right now is not where you will be in a week, a month six months or year.
Examine your fears
Now you have pinpointed what is causing your fear of sobriety, it is time to examine those fears. Feel them, look at them, pull them apart.
Take your fears one by one and pull them apart. Look at your limiting beliefs, and where they come from and declutter those beliefs
For example, let’s look at the common fear that you will be bored. I can relate, I had no idea what on earth I would do with my time if it wasn’t filled with drinking. A whole weekend stretched out in front of me, with no idea of what to do with it.
If you are worried you might get bored or become boring look closely at where this belief comes from. Really dig deep and ask yourself why you are so worried. Then, perhaps more importantly, explore what you can do about it.
Start writing down ideas of what you can do instead, broaden your horizons and think about what you want to do instead of drinking. This blog post on things to do instead of drinking will give you some ideas.
And if the fear still lingers after you have discovered a whole host of amazing things you can do instead of sitting on the sofa all evening (drinking is actually a very boring activity, don’t you think?) ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen?
So you might be bored for a while, so what? Is it really the end of the world? Is being a little bored with people, or activities you used to do so bad? Are you going to let a little thing like that hold you back or are you going to do something about it?
Work through your fears
Explore where this fear comes from and why it is so scary for you. Ask yourself why am I so scared and what’s the worst thing that could happen?
I think you’ll find that actually, it will never be as bad as you think. Our members have faced many of their fears such as dinner with friends for the first time, going on holiday sober, having a difficult conversation and even dealing with grief and loss.
Each and every one of them have said that yes, it was difficult, yes it was painful at times, but actually it wasn’t half as bad as they thought.
And you know what? They all feel so liberated and empowered for navigating the situation sober and coming out stronger than ever.
Do you want your fear to stop you from experiencing that?
Practical tips to get past your fear of sobriety
We are human, we are supposed to feel things. It is actually not normal to numb out all of our feelings, despite what we have learned or have been told.
The only way to really work through your fear is to sit with the feelings, let them come and notice what happens to your thoughts and the physical sensations in your body. This is probably the most difficult thing to do and it does take time and practice. But it does get easier the more you do it and the stronger you will become.
Dealing with feelings of fear
If you experience a strong physical sensation of fear in your body then focus on where it is exactly. You can name the feeling, give it a colour or a shape and either imagine it getting smaller and disappearing, or in your mind, move it to your hands and fingers and gently shake it out.
Take the sensation of fear and notice where it is in your body and place your hands over the space and imagine bringing in loving, healing energy to the pain and feel it gently dissipate.
Change your thoughts. Did you know that fear and excitement produce the same physical sensations in your body? When you feel the fear say to yourself something like; “this is good, I am excited, I feel empowered, I feel strong”
Keep saying this over and over until you begin to feel better about the feeling. Eventually you will not be afraid of the feelings but see them as a positive step towards growth, something to embrace and yes, get excited about.
“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”
– Robert Tew.
The thing to remember is that you are worrying about something in the future that may or may not happen and it is the Wine Witch or Beer Monster or whoever you have in your brain that is trying to convince you that sobriety is a bad idea.
But you know better, you know different.
Everyone is scared when they start something new, it is normal and natural. I was terrified. But, I was more scared of staying stuck in the same old life, feeling guilt and shame, not doing anything and letting my dreams slip away with every drink I poured.
What is more scary? Taking the step or staying stuck?
Don’t let your fear of sobriety, your fear of change or your fear of the unknown stop you from living the life you deserve. Yes there will probably be difficult times ahead but there will also be some amazing times, you will experience things that you never thought possible.
Sobriety really is a gift that keeps on giving and you owe it to yourself to discover just how magical a life free from booze can really be.
I’d love to know what your main fear of sobriety is so I can help you work through it. Book a free 30 minute session and let’s talk.
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