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6th January is Epiphany Day. For some of us, the reasons to stop drinking literally strike like an epiphany. The sudden realisation of ‘what am I doing to myself!?!?!?’
But it’s not always like that, and nor is it always a rock bottom moment, or a ‘sort yourself out, or else‘ ultimatum from a loved one. Sometimes we’re just stuck in a cycle of daily or weekend binge drinking, and feeling remorseful and guilt-ridden.
If you’re stuck on the ‘be a drinker or get sober‘ fence, here are four reasons that you’re likely not to have taken action yet.
1. You’re in denial
Let’s face it, when it comes to alcohol the whole world is in denial. The advertising and drinks industry has seen to that. We can’t even venture out to buy a birthday card for a friend without alcohol swimming in front of us. With such normalised drug-taking is it any wonder that when we swig back the addictive poison on a regular basis we think it’s OK? The answer is, no, it isn’t any wonder. We swig it back with a clear conscience because the media world has told us it’s ok to do it. But this doesn’t mean it is ok for us.
If heroine was legal and promoted by an advertising industry and a highly profitable manufacturing industry then we would be persuaded to take that too. Seriously, we would! If that fills you with horror and you completely disagree with me, let’s explore that a little.
Ethanol (alcohol) is a chemical. It is highly toxic and therefore poisonous to humans. As a result it causes 7 different types of cancer, as well as heart failure, angina, high blood pressure, brain disease, pancreatitis… there are more health problems, but that’s a good list to be getting on with. As the 2nd most addictive drug on the planet if we are drinking regularly, then the stark truth is that we are addicted.
This means that we have been persuaded by norms in society and powerful and persuasive advertising to regularly consume a highly addictive, psychoactive and poisonous drug.
Being addicted to such a dangerous drug can never be good. The problems aren’t just related to our physical health and life expectancy, even though these are bad enough by themselves. The bigger problems are often due to the day to day misery that people unknowingly accept as a ‘normal’ part of life when they’re drinking.
It took me ten years to realise that waking up with anxiety and remorse as a direct result of drinking was not normal or necessary, and that feeling remorseful had a knock-on effect for my confidence, self-esteem and overall wellbeing. Alcohol destroys trust in relationships because it makes us behave in ways that we never would when sober. Unfortunately for our loved ones, they see us as the same person, whether we are drugged by alcohol, or sober.
All denial is due to either ignorance or fear, so what about fear?
2. You think it’s impossible (for you)
When I was drinking alcohol and had tried to cut down during the week, or to drink less when I went out, everything I did worked for a while, or worked to an extent, but stopped working, or often went wrong. I found myself drinking on a Wednesday after a bad day at work even though I had told myself to wait till Friday, or I was still drinking at a party at midnight even though I’d promised myself I’d stop at 10pm. All these tiny failures built up the belief that reliably controlling what I drank was a really hard thing to do, and the next level belief it that stopping doing it (drinking) completely would be impossible.
This meant that I was afraid of even trying.
- Failed attempts to guarantee to control what I drank, and follow my own rules means that…
- I can’t reliably control alcohol when I want to, which means that…
- I can’t really control alcohol at all, which means that…
- It’s hard to control alcohol, which also means that…
- I am a failure when it comes to alcohol, and am not strong enough to do it.
In our belief-chain, points 4 and 5 work together to cement the belief in our minds that controlling alcohol is hard, and beyond our ability. This builds up a fear of trying again, and failing, because this will only make us feel weaker, and less capable, and that leads to panic and hopelessness.
It’s kind of like trying to tame a lion and repeatedly getting injured and feeling bad about yourself. The best thing would be to just walk away from the lion. The problem is that when we are stuck in the alcohol trap we can’t imagine being able to walk away.
Having done exactly that I know that walking away is so so much easier than being caught in a constant tug of war between wanting to drink, not wanting to drink, and trying to control both urges. What a nightmare!
3. You can’t imagine life without it
Not only do we fear failure, but when it comes to alcohol, we also fear success. We fear being in a place where we have stopped drinking, and this is so ironic because the very freedom we desire is pulled back by our imagination that tells us we can’t do it. But it turns out you can, and this is why…
The easiest way to look at it is to think of yourself as two different people. There’s the uniformed person with the 1-5 beliefs listed above who is stuck in the alcohol con trap, and there is another person. The second person is informed, smart, and has completely different beliefs from the 1-5 above. The second person doesn’t want to drink and is superbly happy with that.
So what’s different between the first version or you and the second? The second version of you is informed, smart, and has learned a new set of beliefs. And it really is that simple.
4. You’re looking too far ahead
Between imagining what feels impossible and fleeting thoughts of the need to stop drinking permanently we overthink the problem and the trap that we’re in. The idea of stopping drinking forever is itself a barrier to taking action.
Forget the idea of forevers and nevers. Permanence it’s not needed to start, and it’s not helpful because it seems too much of a commitment to something we can’t yet imagine. Of course it’s going to freak us out!
What can we do instead?
If the 1-5 sequence above spells failure, then let’s change the sequence. We need to:
1. Set the intent to start, which means that we…
2. Start with education and learning, which means we become…
3. Open-minded to a shift in belief, which means we become…
4. Excited about what the learning and new beliefs will bring to our lives, which means that we…
5. Stop judging ourselves for failing to tame an impossible lion, which means that…
6. We grow strong and we succeed.
So there it is, 4 likely reasons that you haven’t taken action yet to accept or act on an alcohol problem. Today is Epiphany Day, and so if those 4 reasons make sense for you, maybe today is the day that you will set your intent to take the first step to discover a cool, trendy and healthy alcohol-free period in your life.
If you need help to take a break or quit drinking click HERE for details of my free Masterclass on overcoming alcohol addiction.
Hi, I'm Michela
I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!
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