See if you can relate to this story: It was a crazy weekend with lots of social gatherings. You made it to all of them, but you had more alcohol than you thought you would. Actually, you can’t even recall a certain part of the night. A blackout perhaps? Sigh. Really? So embarrassed. You hope you didn’t say or do anything stupid.
That’s it. You decide not to drink again. Ever. You can’t take this. You feel like you drink against your own will and you are done with this feeling. You can’t control your drinking so you decide to abstain. Yes, you can do it. And you will. You must.
A few days in and you are feeling good. You may even make it to Thursday or Friday without a drink. But then, your friends call to hang out at a bar. Or you are going to your favorite restaurant and want to order your favorite drink. But you promised yourself you wouldn’t drink again. Then you start to have some thoughts appear in your head like……
“I’ll just have 1 drink tonight. That’s not so bad.”
“Maybe I was over-reacting. I can control my alcohol.”
“I can’t imagine giving up alcohol for life. What was I thinking!”
“This weekend will be different. I am not as stressed.”
Sounds familiar anyone? Yes for me. And then I went on to have too many that whole weekend too. What? How is that possible?
This is a time to be curious. No judging, no criticism, no guilt or shame.
Through life coaching, I learned exactly why I would drink when I didn’t want to. And what to do about it.
The first step is bringing aware of the stories going on in our brains. Ask yourself “why” you are drinking. Our brains like to stop at the surface level of answering questions since it is easier mentally to stay surface level. For example, I drank “because I wanted to”; or “because I wanted my favorite cocktail”; or “because it has been a long day”. However, you must dig deeper than that. Keep asking “why”.
What is really going on? Is there a feeling I am trying to suppress or escape from?
This is a time to be curious. No judging, no criticism, no guilt or shame, please. Just simply ask why you are drinking at this moment. And what is your goal for your drinking that evening? The answer to the “why” is important so we can learn to be intentional in the future. It is part of the process of re-training your brain to reduce your over-desire for alcohol.
Some of my reasons for drinking…..
“I wanted to feel more relaxed.”
“I was restless and anxious, and drinking took those feelings away.”
“Everyone else around me is drinking; that’s what we do.”
Start noticing your why. Pay attention. This information can be used, in part, to re-wire your brain to break free from your past behaviors that feel so automatic.