(Tips from a twenty-something and one-year sober girl)
My answer was always “more”.
More drinks, more nights out, more clothes, more cigarettes, more parties, more meals out, more box set binges, more takeaway binges, more and more endless pacifiers. Why? Because the one thing I really didn’t want more of, was time alone with my thoughts and to face up to my fears.
“Just one more.” “One more won’t hurt.” “You deserve one more.”
… were all lies that I repeatedly told myself.
More hangovers, more missed calls, more wasted money, more unhealthy friendships, more mysterious drinking injuries, more antidepressants, more write-off weekends, and more shame followed.
But on the 11th August 2017, I made a decision that has since changed my life.
I decided to go sober.
On that day, there was a seismic shift in my mindset; Every ounce of effort that I’d been ploughing into being more popular, more liked, more fun, more cool, I began to aim in a new direction. The target; ‘enough’.
This took some training.
At first, it felt strange congratulating myself for turning down an opportunity to go out drinking. It took time to tune in to when I was truly tired, and I relearned how to put myself to bed. It felt awkward accepting that I was fun enough, and interesting enough, and worthy enough, without a skinful of wine.
Turns out that my new friend ‘enough’ was a good influence on ‘more’.
I started giving myself more opportunities and treating myself with more compassion. I began to believe that I deserved more truth, more growth and more purpose from life, and that I was more than capable of making that a reality.
And so followed months of more me-time, more cups of tea, more bubble baths, more self-love, and more early nights than ever before. No more ‘keeping up’, no more pressure to ‘get on it’, and no more lying to myself about what felt like a good time.
By letting go of my relationship with alcohol, I learned to revel in being more ‘myself’ than ever before.
It wasn’t easy. The physical craving was full-on to begin with… and I feel ashamed to admit that.
I stocked my fridge with 0% beers, Shloer, and tonic water. I binged on chocolate and strawberry laces on Friday nights, as my body cried out for that sugar hit she’d been expecting.
But over time, the cravings subsided, and it got more comfortable to just be. I could actually feel my feelings again, all of them, and I stopped relying on my safety blanket of numbness. I re-trained myself to deal with the sh*tty parts of life, but without covering them in alcoholic glitter.
Letting go of alcohol hasn’t always been simple. It’s taken work. I’ve said the wrong thing, I’ve slipped up, I’ve cried A LOT, I’ve given myself a tough time, and I’m still figuring it out.
There are some key lessons that have helped me the most. Whether you’re recently off the sauce yourself, or are just hungry for a positive change of some kind, I hope they’re valuable. Here goes:
1. Change your language, change your mind.
Change your language, and you can re-programme how you think about even the simplest tasks and challenges. Many frustrations are made even worse by the words we choose to describe them.
Try changing language of frustration into that of acceptance.
“I need more…” → into →“I have enough…”
“I just want…” → into → “I’m grateful for…”
It may feel stilted and unnatural at first, but try it, and see how much less frustration you hold on to.
Eg. Instead of “I need more time to cook this dinner”, shift to “I have enough time to make just a simple dinner tonight.”
Or how about switching from “I just want to cut loose and let my hair down”, to “I’m grateful for this time to myself.”
2. Be your own best friend.
I don’t mean cut yourself from everyone and become a hermit (that probably won’t do you any favours to be honest) but I’m talking about treating yourself the way you would treat your best friend.
Would you tell your best friend that they’re a useless f*ck-up?
Would you talk your best friend into destructive behaviour when you know they’re trying to take care of themselves?
Would you chip away at your best friend’s self-confidence by telling them that they need to be more attractive, have more friends, or make more money?
Didn’t think so. So stop doing it to yourself. Be your own best friend, be your own biggest cheerleader, be your own inspiration, it’s all good.
3. Embrace change, and prepare to let go.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s time to let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the change that you’ve initiated.
Letting go of old habits, old friends, and your old life will be painful as hell, and you are going to be pushed to the very brink of your comfort zone.
Let go with both hands, and prepare to be amazed by what you’re now able to catch..
It is ok to let go of what no longer serves you. Remind yourself of this as often as you can physically manage.
Get some freaking post-its and stick them on your fridge, your mirror, inside your notebook. Save all the cheesy Instagram posts you need to, and then some more. Set random reminders in your Google calendar, and email yourself the night before when you know you have a tough morning ahead.
“Have courage, and be kind”
If you have the courage to implement change, and can be kind to yourself along the way, then you’re well on your way to always being enough.
What have your experiences been with craving ‘more’ vs having ‘enough’? Let me know in the comments below.