Learning to trust yourself
If you have tried in the past to stop drinking and then started again it can be difficult to convince yourself that this time will be different. However, it will be different if you can begin to learn to trust yourself to commit to a life lived well sober.
Usually when we talk about trust, we think about it in terms of our relationships with others. We trust some people and perhaps not others. We rarely think about trust until or unless someone we trust lets us down. Then we question the basis of that relationship and the context in which trust broke down. We unpack what happened and move forward. We largely take for granted the trust we have in ourselves to act in our own best interests, so it can seem baffling and frustrating as to why we decided to become alcohol free only to start drinking again.
It really isn’t the case that you just don’t have the willpower to stop drinking as relying on willpower isn’t going to enable you to commit to a life lived well sober, it makes each day seem like an endurance test. What is required is investing time in deciding what you want your alcohol-free life to look like, continually reflecting and updating that (future) life as time passes and making the changes you have chosen to build a life lived well sober.
Initially that could simply mean that you want to wake up each morning feeling as if you energy and clarity. In fact it is sensible to keep your living well sober aspirations very simple initially. What is key is that you focus on those aspirations rather than focusing on the fact that you no longer drink. Remind yourself if a craving or trigger pops up that tomorrow you will wake up fresh and with clarity if you don’t pick up that drink and try and unpack the ‘why’ associated with the craving or trigger. Try to step outside the uncomfortable feelings and consider how they came to be. Hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness (referred to as the HALT acronym) are obvious culprits but so are particular people and situations.
As trust builds in yourself and your commitment to living well sober, the two become mutually reinforcing and you can start to reflect and add aspirations that will build the alcohol-free life that is right for you. In the early days that might be adding a few more daily activities (you naturally have more time available when you stop drinking), it might include taking up new hobbies or returning to things you once enjoyed. The key here is to act upon them so that the focus isn’t on what you are no longer doing but instead on what you are choosing to do to build a well lived sober life. Even on bad days which everyone has, when you might be very tempted to drink in the early days, in the misguided belief that it will make you feel better (but alcohol is a depressant??) focus instead on all those alcohol-free days you own where you trusted yourself not to drink and followed through on that commitment. Is it ever worth it to have to rebuild that trust in yourself again?
As time passes, if you can maintain your focus on what you have gained and will continue to gain, the alcohol-free days will build up and so will trust in yourself. Many people choose to count their AF days initially and set themselves milestones (100 days is a common first milestone) but this isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Whatever approach you take, your trust in your commitment to living life well sober is a massively authentic feeling which serves as the foundation for a life lived well sober.