Help to Quit Drinking – Play the Movie Forward

Usually when people come to me for help to quit drinking, it is because they are in an internal struggle. The push and pull of wanting a drink, yet at the same time, not wanting a drink. It is difficult to resist that pull of that first drink or the whisper of the wine witch. Often they say, ‘one won’t hurt’ or ‘I deserve a treat’ or ‘It’s the only way I know how to relax.’ The most effective way to get past this tricky part is to play the movie forward in your mind and I’ll explain what that means and how to do it in this post.

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Help to quit drinking – Play the movie forward

This is a fabulous technique and it involves a little visualization. The brilliant thing with visualization is that it allows you to see in your mind the outcome of a certain event. And if you use it often, you can practice going through all sorts of different situations. Including managing cravings, and having them play out exactly how you want them to.

So, back to how to play the movie forward when you feel tempted to drink.

Be honest here. Maybe you just romanticize the first drink or the first couple of drinks and stop there. You can see, taste, smell and feel what that is like, the relaxation, the celebration, the switching off that comes with the first glass or two. But really? Is it ever just one or two?

Because you have had experience of this before, it is quite easy to visualize what happens next, and that is what I want you to do. What happens after the first couple of glasses? Will you want another one, or two? Probably.

How does the rest of the evening pan out? Really go deep here and think about what you will do, what you will say, how you will feel and keep going right until the end of the evening when you’ve had more glasses than you wanted to.

Where will you end up? Passed out on the sofa? Falling into bed while your kids are still up? Will you make dinner, will you eat dinner? Will you maybe go a little crazy and let the wheels fall off?

Don’t stop there.

Keep going through the night. Will you wake up frequently to get water and go to the loo? Will those feelings of guilt, panic, dread, regret and anxiety pop up at 3 am?

Keep going.

What happens when you do wake up the next morning. How will you feel due to poor sleep? Will you struggle to get through the morning and the rest of the day with that feeling of low level alcohol induced anxiety? Will you put off the things you wanted to do because you just can’t be bothered?

Will you want to drink again?

Try the visualization again.

But this time when you play the movie forward, visualize yourself not drinking. This is the fun and inspiring part of visualization and when you can see the same situation played out with different endings (a bit like the Sliding Doors movie), it really brings it home just how much damage ‘one drink’ can have.

What will happen if you don’t drink?

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Go back to the start of your evening. Instead of picking up that glass, what will you do instead? Think about how you want to feel and imagine yourself doing whatever you can to feel the way you want to, without drinking.

Really see yourself going through your evening doing all the things you want to do, feeling calm, feeling good. Where are you? What are you doing? Maybe you are enjoying a walk or reading a book, perhaps you are in the bath or shower taking the time to care for yourself. Maybe you are chatting to a friend or enjoying a nice meal. Maybe you are with your children and really being there with them.

Whatever it is you would like to do instead, really picture it and connect to the feelings. Make the image bigger and brighter and notice how great you feel, enjoying your evening and not having a single drop of alcohol.

Don’t stop there.

How will you feel as the end of the night arrives, and you get into bed feeling tired but happy, relaxed, clear headed and ready for sleep. Will you read some of that book you’ve been putting off? Will you do that relaxing wind down yoga or listen to the meditation?

How glorious will you feel after tucking everyone in safe and sound and then climbing into bed knowing that you did it, you got through the evening without drinking?

Keep going.

Visualize the whole night. Will you sleep soundly? How will you feel when you wake up the next morning after a proper night’s sleep,  one where you don’t wake up in the night to get water or go to the loo feeling ashamed and still a little bit drunk.

How amazing will you feel when you get up knowing you won’t need a couple of paracetamol and a strong coffee just to feel normal.

What will happen the rest of the day? Will you have the energy and the motivation to do all the things you want to do? More importantly, will you feel the need to block out your feelings and fix the hanxiety with another drink?

Of course you won’t.

This might seem like a lot to do, but really it takes just a few minutes and the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Before you reach for that ‘one’ glass just pause and think about where it will lead.

I think you know where it will lead, but if you can, just take a moment or two to be mindful of what will happen. I love this quote by William Arthur Ward:

“ If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it”

– So think about playing the movie to the end and use your imagination.

– What outcome do you want?

– How do you want to feel, really?

You can choose the movie you want to star in, you can choose the ending you want to experience.

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If you’d like more help then here is a video I made for you all about how to play the movie forward.

Try it today and let me know in the comments how it helped. I’d love to know what happens when you play the movie forward.

1080 1080 Gayle


Hi, I’m Gayle. Mum, teacher, author and sobriety coach. A lover of words, tea and trees, my gift is helping you to quit drinking in a way that feels good so you can return to yourself and find your own Sober Bliss.

Written by: Gayle

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