What to do when you hit the wall in sobriety – One of our gorgeous members recently wrote, “I did 65 days last year and then sort of ‘hit a wall” and it was easier to drink again than to push through, I’ve always wondered what would have happened had I carried on. I’d be grateful for anything you have about what to do when you hit the wall in sobriety and how to get through.” This is such a common experience and I will of course say the best thing to do is to push through and keep going. But how do you do that?
What is ‘The Wall’?
The wall in sobriety is a bit like when you start working out. At first you feel really good, you notice the change in your body and outlook but then you hit a kind of plateau where it suddenly feels difficult or like you are not making any progress. This can be disheartening and you might feel like you want to give up because the initial high of exercising has faded, you don’t notice the benefits so much and maybe you are just bored.
The wall in sobriety is very similar and happens when you perhaps start to wonder what the point of it all is, or you feel like you have missed something amazing and think it has all been a bit of a waste. Or you might just be feeling bored, that life is just boring, and all the benefits you felt at first don’t seem that amazing anymore.
The recovery wall is also a bit like that feeling you experience when you are running and it suddenly gets hard. Everything in your mind and body is telling you to stop but you somehow find a way to keep going. Let’s look at how you can push through your own ‘wall’ in sobriety and keep going.
First though, I want to share this quote or mantra with you:
“I didn’t come this far, only to come this far”
Recognize and Accept
First of all it is important to remember that just because you quit drinking, it doesn’t mean that life is suddenly a bed of roses. I speak from experience when I say that bad things can happen and they will happen whether you are drinking or not. That’s life.
Recognize that what you are experiencing is perfectly normal and it doesn’t mean that you are doing it wrong. Life can get boring, you will get bored, frustrated, angry, or down and struggling, and that’s okay.
Accept that this is a normal part of the process and you are experiencing your own ‘plateau’ take this as a sign that you are ready to try something different, or take your recovery to the next level.
Change things up
If you are feeling bored, fed up, or struggling, then use these feelings to look at what is really going on. You may already know this but I spent two whole months sitting on the sofa eating cake and chocolate watching the telly. I walked my dogs but that was all I did. Pretty boring!
I did ask myself if this was it, is this why I put myself through this, so I could eat cake on the sofa for the rest of my life? No, not at all. That is what I needed at first but slowly, gradually, I began to realize that there was so much more out there and I began to explore.
I changed my morning routine, I tried yoga, I did my addiction therapy and life coaching training, I connected with new people, I started walking more and for longer and I began to look at all the wonderful things I could do with the extra time, energy, clarity and freedom that living alcohol-free gifted me with.
What do you want? What is bugging you about your current situation or routine? You don’t have to do anything drastic if you don’t want to, but you also can if you want to. I know people who, thanks to their sobriety, have written a book, started a business, taken up knitting, weight lifting, changed careers, gone back to school and a whole range of other wonderful things.
You don’t have to do any of this but you might want to start a new hobby, change your evening routine, start exercising or eating better. Whatever is causing this feeling of being stuck in a rut can be worked through. Be open to exploring, experiment, listen to your heart and look at what you might like to change, add, or even remove from your life. This post will give you some ideas of you’re not sure where to start.
Go back to the start
As you know, I am all about focusing on the positives of sobriety, the benefits, the possibilities and the empowering feeling of living life to the full on your terms, not being dulled or numbed from anything. However, if you are having thoughts of moderation, or maybe it wasn’t that bad, then go right back to the start.
Why did you start this journey in the first place? How was your drinking affecting you and making you feel, really? Be honest. Check in with yourself. How did you feel before you quit and just after you quit. Do you really want to go back to day one and put yourself through all that again?
If you did give in and have a drink, where would that lead? Would it really be just one? Would you be able to moderate or would you end up right back where you started? Play the movie forward, all the way to the end. See yourself in a week, a month, six months or a year. Where will you be if you drink and where will you be if you don’t.
Connect to your vision
Again, think about why you are here, but in the ‘Sober Bliss’ way! What do you want to do, how do you want to feel and what do you want your life to look, sound, taste, smell and feel like?
You quit drinking for a much bigger reason than hangovers, so connect to that. Start where you want to end. Where will you be in six months or a year? What can you see yourself doing, where do you want to be and how do you want to feel?
Clare Pooley, author of The Sober Diaries, had a vision of herself writing a book, she held onto that creative writing dream and connected to that dream daily. Do you think she would have written two bestsellers and be working on her third if she’d given in?
Don’t let the uncomfortable feelings and emotions of your wall in sobriety get in the way of what it is you truly desire. Find a way to bring your vision, your dream to your focus. You might want to make a vision board, write a big list or spend time in meditation. Whatever you want to do, be or have, you absolutely can – hold onto it and it will carry you through.
Gratitude is the most uplifting and loving emotion there is. If you are having trouble seeing or believing in the bigger picture then start with the little things that you are experiencing right now. What benefits of sobriety are you grateful for this very moment? Have a think. Is it better sleep, more energy, being fully present with your kids or saving some cash?
Do you feel better in the mornings, are you enjoying more free time in the evenings, do your clothes fit better, does your food taste better, have you made some new friends, found inner peace or have less clutter in your mind?
Being grateful and really appreciating how far you have come will give you such a wonderful boost. You are doing so well so focus on that. The beautiful thing about gratitude is that the more you focus on being grateful for what you have, the more of the good things you will experience.
“Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest most powerful way to effect change in your life — this I know for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey
Change your thoughts
While your thoughts can be very powerful, especially the negative ones, they are just that – thoughts. Your thoughts cannot make you open the fridge and pour a drink and you have the power to change them if you want to.
Also, you are not your thoughts and just because you might be experiencing some negative self talk or unhelpful thoughts it doesn’t mean you have to act on them. When you get into a spiral of negative self talk or find yourself overthinking things, it can be helpful to try and step away. Detach yourself, listen but don’t act. Are these thoughts your truth? Is your brain trying to trick you? Is what is going through your head what you really believe or is there another truer thought hiding in there?
Use what you have learnt or experienced in the past to help you though, understand that alcohol doesn’t ‘make everything better’ Gather evidence to support your reason for being here. Focus on the good things you are experiencing and try and change any negative thought to a positive. Don’t try to argue with your thoughts, just change them. I like to add the word’ but’ to any negative thought and then add a positive on the end.
For example, “This is too hard, I can’t do it – but I really want to try, so I will just get through the next five minutes”
Or, “Sobriety is boring but I feel better than I have in ages so what can I do to make it more exciting?”
You know deep down in your soul that you are in the right place and doing the right thing for yourself. You know that you have just hit a wall and that you will get through it. Use this deep inner knowing to help you take the next best step for you.
Feel inspired in your sobriety with my ’30 Days of Sober Inspiration’ E-book
Use your support network
I say this again and again and that’s because having support makes all the difference. It is the key to a happy, and fulfilled alcohol-free life. Alcohol is everywhere, you will always come across people who are drinking whether that be at home or among friends and family and yes, it can feel hard or lonely at times.
In order to work through the difficult times like hitting the wall, or indeed the good times, it is super important to have people who you can turn to, who get you and who will support you no matter what.
Find your people, and talk. Ask questions, share your thoughts and feelings and allow them to help you. This is what the same lovely member said after she asked the initial question about hitting the wall:
“The biggest difference is that I have this group and can share my thoughts and clear my head”
Asking the question in the Transform Support Membership, and actually, even just knowing that we were there to help and that she felt safe to ask and share in itself was key to dealing with this issue.
And finally, I want you to know that these uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing simply mean that you are growing, you are expanding and transforming, and while it might feel scary it is a good thing, a wonderful, amazing, marvelous thing actually.
Lean into it, embrace it and yes push through it because when you come out the other side – which you will, you are going emerge stronger and more fabulous than before.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes of all time:
“People quit as soon as things aren’t easy anymore, as soon as it gets painful…… They quit as soon as they see something in their minds that scares or hurts them. So they miss the good part, the wild part, the transformative part – the part when you push past the difficulty and enter into some raw, new, unexplored universe within yourself” – Pema Chödrön.
Have you hit the wall in sobriety? Leave a comment below and tell me how you are dealing with it. And, of course if you need some support and guidance then I am here, just reach out if you need to.