So I read this post over on Positively Positive (a fabulous site for inspirational reading by the way) by Kate Northrup the other day titled “The Infinite Possibilities in Saying I Do”. It was about marriage (of course!) and you can go and read it if you are interested. But it inspired me to write this post. So this is a post about
making a decision regarding your alcohol abuse (or your drug abuse, or gambling, or shopping or whatever issue you are struggling with in your life). To keep it simple, I wrote about the alcohol, but feel free to substitute whatever fits. You can actually use the premise (as I did) to transform it about any decision that you are considering. So read on.
As a cognitive behavioral therapist, I am always working with clients on changing their thoughts and their beliefs. Beliefs affect your thoughts, thoughts affect your behaviors. So changing your thoughts and your beliefs changes your behavior.
When you are drinking, there is a constant barrage of thoughts and decisions that you have to make around your drinking. And if you are struggling with alcohol (or drug) abuse, these are the thoughts that go through your head. Every. Single. Day. And if you are on the fence about whether or not to stop drinking alcohol, you may have arguments in your head. Not thoughts that have changed your mind about your drinking, but ones that sure take up additional space in your head.
Am I going to drink today? (Maybe I shouldn’t)
Who am I going to drink with today? (Maybe I should not drink)
Where am I going to drink today? (Maybe I should just stay home)
How much am I going to drink today? (Maybe I will just have one)
How soon do I get to drink today? (Maybe I should wait until after 5)
How many times am I going to drink this week? (Maybe I should only drink once this week)
How much should I drink each day? (Maybe I should one have two drinks each day)
What do I say when someone asks me if I want to drink today? (Maybe I should just say no)
Why did I drink last night? (Maybe I shouldn’t have had anything to drink last night)
How much did I drink last night? (Maybe I should have only had three drinks last night)
What did I do while I was drinking last night? (Maybe I should have not had so much to drink last night)
What if you were to make a decision to stop drinking alcohol? If you were to get off the fence and make a clear decision, you don’t have to struggle with those questions anymore. You don’t have to have that conversation in your head every day. Because the answer every time is:
This one decision is freeing. It takes you down a totally new path. It gives you a lot of space in your mind and in your life. And it makes those questions above a non-issue.
Is it an easy decision to make? NO.
Is it difficult to follow through? YES.
Will you miss out on things if you make a decision planted in the space of an alcohol-free lifestyle? OF COURSE!
Deciding to have an alcohol or drug free lifestyle will change your choices over time. There will be activities, people, and places that do not fit into your new lifestyle. You may have to change some friends. You may have to change what you do in your free time. You may have to change the way you view yourself (drinker –vs- non-drinker). But there are things that you are missing out on now because your drinking (or your recovering from drinking) gets in the way. I would venture to guess that your drinking interferes with your free time activities, your relationships, your peace, and perhaps even your finances and your job. Imagine the freedom you would have if those things weren’t eating at you every day.
Making a decision to stop drinking alcohol (or using drugs) is difficult. Sometimes it feels lonely and isolating. But the changes that can happen from this decision will open up your life. Eventually your thoughts will take a lot less daily energy. And you will be able to use that energy elsewhere: for more constructive or creative tasks or activities that you used to like to do. Now that is freeing.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or codependency issues, Contact me today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation to talk about how we can work together or find the right person for you.