When I realized I had to do something about my drinking, I was terrified and I know I wasn’t alone in having those feelings. I work with people all the time who tell me that fear is the main reason why they struggle to take that first step.
I get it, it is scary when you think about removing something from your life that has been so deeply ingrained for so long. I also know however, that doing the things that scare us the most is what sets us free. You might find it hard to believe but it’s true. If you are feeling scared right now, I hope the information below will help.
1. I don’t know how to do it
This was me. Every day I would have the same conversation with myself, “tomorrow, I won’t drink,” or, “I’ll start at the weekend” I would always give myself a goal, a date when I would eventually stop but whenever that time came, after the holidays, after Christmas, once I’d sorted the kitchen, or finished painting – whatever, I just couldn’t do it!
Taking that first step is the hardest, they say that the most difficult thing about Yoga is getting on the mat and it’s the same when you give up drinking. Once you start it becomes so much easier. But unless you know how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to replace the bad bits with the good, what tools you will need, then the question, I don’t know how to do it will always hold you back.
The great thing is, you can do it and if you need help then I can show you how to do it. Start by signing up for the newsletter and find out what you can do today.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D Roosevelt
2. I’m scared I’ll fail
The only way you will fail is by not starting in the first place. If you go for a few days, weeks or months without drinking and then have one (or many) you haven’t failed. Before I stopped drinking for good, I had many attempts – six months here, four days there, a week, a day, two full years during pregnancies. But drinking again wasn’t me failing, it was me learning.
I learnt from the experience, understood why it had happened and what to do instead. Practice makes permanent, the more you try, the better you get, the more you learn and you can’t fail at learning. Think of athletes or artists, composers, inventors. Did they become brilliant after one attempt? No, they tried and they failed but they picked themselves up, used the experience and tried again until they did it.
People worry so much about failing with sobriety because they think it will mean they have a problem, that they will be worse than before. When you study for an exam or your driving test, you might worry that you’ll fail but you keep working at it, you keep going forwards until you get where you want to be, you don’t give up or just not bother to try because you’re scared you’ll fail – it’s the same with giving up drinking.
Sure, it takes effort and practice to start a new journey in your life but giving up drinking, whether it is on the first try or after 55 tries, is when you really start living and you can’t fail at living.
3. What if I become boring?
This is a point that comes up a lot. Thanks to the dictionary and popular phrases such as ‘sober as a judge’ people assume that being sober is boring. That is so not true! Here’s why.
When you are out with your friends, who is more boring – the person who repeats the same stories again and again, who is shouty, obnoxious and a little bit entitled or needs help to go to the loo and get home, or the person who is lively, having genuine fun, full of sparkle and zest and is generally interested in you and your conversation?
What is fun about sitting in a beer garden getting wasted all afternoon or drinking your evenings away slumped on the couch?
On the flip side, what is boring about enjoying doing things you generally love, using your time and energy for new pursuits or creative activities.
What is more boring – sitting at home skint because you can’t afford to go out or having the money to enjoy the cinema, theatre, to treat your kids, go on nice holidays?
If you keep drinking you will get bored and become boring doing the same things again and again. When you’re sober, you will never be boring, in fact, your whole world will open up for you. So, if you’re worried you will become boring – forget it, you won’t.
4. What if I lose my friends?
I too was scared of this happening, and it’s true there will be some changes in friendships especially if all you did was get plastered down the pup with your mates. People will be wary of you, envious even, and they may avoid you for a bit because of their own issues. You will realize that there is more to life than sitting around drinking away your evenings, and if the people you used to hang out with continue to do that, then you will naturally drift apart.
However, your true friends will still love you for who you are, whether you drink or not. I still do the same things I used to with my friends like have lunches out or meet up at concerts. I have a brilliant time and it makes no difference that I am not drinking and they are.
It might be a bit weird at first and the usual questions will come but that’s just one time, they’ll move on and so will you. I remember my first kids birthday party sober, I took my youngest to a friends house for a pool party and it was a lot of fun. Some parents were drinking and some weren’t – no big deal.
Then after dessert, the aperitifs came round which is a typical Spanish thing to do. I hadn’t really made an announcement about my not drinking so when I said, ‘no thanks I don’t drink’ the mums all asked me why. I just told them I was happier not drinking and that was that, we talked about something else. I meet up with the mums at other parties and still have a great time with the kids, whether or not I drink is not an issue for my friends.
In reality, you will probably make lots of new friends and these new friendships will be proper ones, not false bonds formed over too much wine late at night. These friends will be the ones you truly want to spend time with, whether it be day time activities like walking in the park, soft play with the kids, grabbing a coffee and lunch, or evening ones – the cinema, theatre, dinner whatever. They will honestly be there for you and not the booze which is so much nicer.
Find out what to do in this post what to do when you don’t drink but your friends do.
In short, you may lose some friends or rather ex-drinking buddies, some of your friends might distance themselves for a bit then come back, your true friends will remain true friends no matter what and you’ll make lots of new connections and form new deeper friendships.
5. How will I cope with stuff?
If like me, you used alcohol to cope with problems, stress, your kids or a bad day, then you become so used to turning to this crutch you can’t imagine how you will cope instead.
The thing with alcohol is that it only blurs out the problem, you forget about it temporarily – you think you’re coping but really you’re avoiding. The next day, the problem will still be there, the bad day yesterday was still a bad day – you’re drinking didn’t make it disappear.
Your kids will still, well – be kids. Having a beer at bathtime won’t suddenly turn them into little angels who never argue, break stuff, have tantrums and drinking through all of this just means you never really get to the bottom of the situation and manage it properly.
Worse still is, if you drink to cope with stuff, you just put it off and make it worse, you will also feel bad, from a, – the hangover and subsequent guilt and anxiety and b, – the fact that you didn’t do anything when you should have just exasperated things.
Shoving the letters from the bank down the back of the sofa while you drink away the worries won’t help you get back on track. Being in control of yourself, and having a clear head will.
I have bad days all the time, sure I am much happier sober but life happens, stuff comes up that you have to deal with or cope with.
However, since stopping drinking I have found lots of much better, healthier ways to handle tricky situations or problems. I meditate, I go for a run or a long walk, I drink tea or write the problem out.
You too will learn some brilliant tools for coping with life without the alcohol and we spend a lot of time in the program looking at new and healthy ways to do this. The beauty is that you will never again feel like a victim of the problem but will have the ability to tackle these things head on, resolve issues much quicker and not be afraid when stuff happens.
6. Will I be in recovery forever?
No way! Well, only if you want to and if that is how you want to see yourself and for others to see you. When I stopped drinking, I just didn’t drink anymore – simples. The same with smoking or chocolate or sugar or playing computer games.
When my oldest son got bored and stopped playing the PlayStation he didn’t become a recovering PlayStation player. Is he a recovering video gamer now, 4 years later? When you stop smoking are you a recovering smoker? No, the moment you stop, the problem stops.
Don’t use words like recovery or relapse as they suggest a struggle. You might have some tough moments, especially in the beginning but you will also begin to rediscover your true self. So instead of thinking recovery, think rediscovery.
7. I won’t be the same person anymore
It’s true, you won’t. You’ll be the best version of yourself that you can be. You will be your true self. And by stopping drinking and starting on the road to rediscovery, you will learn so much about yourself and begin to be comfortable within yourself. You’ll have so much fun and the only thing you’ll regret is that you didn’t do it sooner.
I’m interested to know what your biggest fear is when you think if stopping drinking? You can comment below or email me and I’ll help you overcome those fears so you can begin your journey to sober bliss. Please do check out my Youtube channel where I also discuss ‘Scared to stop drinking – 7 main fears’ and you will also find weekly inspiration, answers to common questions and gain an insight to what it is really like living a sober life.