You know those thoughts that fly at you trying to convince you to drink or telling you you’re a boring sober loser? Those really unhelpful and distructive thoughts?
Here’s the thing. You have a choice not to listen to them. You have a choice whether to engage with them or not. And my suggestion is – don’t. Simply don’t entertain them.
Those thoughts come from the addicted part of your brain that is trying to keep you drinking. It is the deep crevices in your brain that have been hard-wired with false beliefs about booze being wonderful. It is the addict in you desperately trying to stay dominant. These dumb-ass thoughts will fly in to your brain and you just have to push them out.
Controlling your own thinking is a big part of getting sober I reckon. Especially early on.
Now if I ever have a sad pang (it does still happen but only very occasionally) I swat the thought away quickly like it’s an annoying buzzing insect.
“It’s such a bummer that I can’t drink at the party on Saturday night like everyone else will be”
SLAP!! Out of my brain. Piss off. Gone. I am not going to let that little sad pang turn into a wall of words bringing me down and making me feel worse. Push it out.
If I did entertain that thought, if I did let it sit there and fester, it would probably go like this….
“It’s such a bummer that I can’t drink at the party on Saturday night like everyone else will be. They’ll all be having so much fun. I’m going to be boring and feel left out. Everyone will think I’m a loser. I am a loser. I’ll probably get hassled for not drinking. I’ll be so embarrassed and uncomfortable. It’s going to be hell. God why am I doing this. Everyone drinks alcohol, why the hell am I trying to go against the grain? Maybe I should just drink and then I won’t feel like such a boring sober loser…. etc….. etc…..etc”
It’s all bullshit of course. No-one cares if I drink or not (or if they do it’s about them not me). I am not a boring sober loser. I can have a great time not drinking at a party if I choose to. Often worrying in advance about being sober at a party is way worse than the reality.
It’s our thinking we need to control. Think about what you are thinking about. Be aware of what you are spending time mulling over. Try to consciously recognise how much mental time and energy you are devoting to thinking sad, negative thoughts about not drinking. Try super-hard to NOT spend a lot of time going over those destructive thoughts. It takes practice but the brain is like a muscle and the more you practice not mulling over pangs the better you will get at it.
Imagine you’re at the sink doing the dishes, or standing in the shower.. and in comes a sad thought about not drinking… “I wish I could just have a drink tonight, I deserve it after the long hard week I’ve had…” recognize that that shitty thought has come and push it away! Think about silly stuff instead – “gosh look at the way the soap bubbles over my hand, wow how about that rain the garden sure needs it, golly isn’t this glass dirty I better clean it, hey maybe I should buy myself some lovely ice-cream later today, can’t wait to get back into that Netflix show… yadda yadda yadda la la la la la la not concentrating on you stupid dumb thought about booze!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I think one of my techniques right from day one was to try and not allow negative thoughts about being a non-drinker to dominate my brain. It is bloody hard at first because every fibre of your being is freaking out about alcohol being taken away.. .but work your brain.
It is your brain, you control it.
And it’s a fact. The longer you resist entertaining those sad woe-is-me thoughts, the less they fly at you. They get less frequent, they get weaker. And eventually they become as rare as hens teeth.
Good thing too… they have no place in a life methinks.
Love, Mrs D xxx
Oh Nomore, I do feel for you. Am only on Day 5. Too early to start losing friends, but worried about this. Already noticed that ‘best friend’ had forgotten. Only a big deal to me, I suppose. I do hope your friend does come round for a catch up and understands. If not, I hope your other friends will support you. Best of luck.
WOW I really needed to read that- thank you!
Newly sober after 30 years of hard boozing.
On day 48 & I’m constantly arguing with my
I’m off to our friends bbq tonight and it’ll be my first time there going alcohol free,I feel ready.
I’m 1 year alcohol free in a few days,and feeling good.
Oh I used to get mighty drunk at these bbqs,I had a ball but I always woke up the next day regretting something I’d said or done.
Life us so much more smooth now,I’m happy,peaceful,and very protective of my life now.
Going to have fun getting ready,nails all done,nice outfit,heels,gorgeous makeup,and I’m going to have fun.
Wihoo,bring on year 2 of alcohol free.
Happy new year x,o
I just saw you reply! A little late – haha – anyway thanks for it. I haven’t had a drink since jan 3 it feels good but also bad. I hate that I have to give it up. I am not an alcoholic however I do have a problem w the way I drink. I am not a very good moderator so I have decided that “nothing” is my moderation.
A timely reminder, Mrs D. I caught myself catastrophising today. I went to a bbq and stayed AF, but the hostess who is a drinking buddy did mind and aggressively questioned me until I just said I’m taking a break, that’s all. At some point I will have to tell her it’s more than that. Then another friend emailed to say she was going to be visiting soon and would drop by with a bottle of wine, “unless you’ve taken the pledge” I’m not sure what made her say that, as I’ve never discussed my drinking with her. Maybe just coincidence. So I just told her that I was indeed a wine-free zone, but that I’d love her to pop in and catch up. Nothing! So I spent some time in self-pity, feeling like I was going to be a friendless loser, even more isolated than I was while drinking. I know it’s unlikely to be that bad. I know that friends will get used to it. I know that I will be happier.
Morning Mrs D. I just wanted to thank you. Your words started my journey 3 years ago. I loaned your book and it really helped me to see and think In a different way. Unfortunately I had a 2 year relapse after a year sober. But I ordered a copy of your book for myself and am reading it again now. I am day 13 and I have got through Christmas, my birthday and New Year’s Eve completely sober. I had the best birthday I have had in many years. Thank you Mrs D !!!
That is a great picture, I love it
During a long period of (almost) sobriety 2 1/2 years before a recent 6 month relapse, I’d had three incidents of drinking, but each time stopped with just that one night’s drinking 2 – 3 glasses of RED wine. I had definitely planned it. I developed a longing for those feelings that I just didn’t want to resist !
My thinking was “hmmmmmm, I feel really curious now about how lovely that red wine would feel – warm, loose and melty ” or something like that.
Anyway, it was a feeling that I really missed, and I need to find a way to respond to my thoughts of longing so I can stay sober in the long term.
I don’t know how much my empathy is worth, but I know what you mean about those feelings of longing.
I had it last night, but listened to my inner voice – which said – “Don’t drink.”
I have 58 days of not drinking.
It would have been 60 but I couldn’t resist for 2 nights.
I was never that bad – in terms of no blackouts, rarely had a hangover – so it makes it harder because I don’t have those negative memories.
I do know that I was getting increasingly more dependent on it
Thank you! I needed that. First New Year’s without drinking…and I was kind of sad. Why??? I can’t think of one thing I’ve gained from even one drink, but I can think of so much that has been lost. I feel so good physically, emotionally and spiritually…why would I want to go back? Happy New Year, Mrs. D!
Great post, thanks for sharing,I’m starting again today, but so scared of the negative thoughts fighting in my brain,so I’ll use your advice to push them away.wish me luck. Happy New Year to all.
Excellent post and one I needed to read. Thanks!
Happy New Year.
I have been trying to give up drinking on and off for years. I am not a heavy drinker and nothing really bad has ever come of it but i hate the hangovers. I lose a day every time i drink due to fatigue and anxiety. I drink more than i intended to 8 out of 10 times. The longest I have gone without a drink is 30 days. I want to give it up completely in the new year but i dont think i can.
Have you heard the quote often attributed to Henry Ford ?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
It sounds like you are still ambivalent and haven’t yet fully made the decision, I wonder ? Anyway, all good wishes to you on this new year’s eve, whatever you choose to do.
I like this idea. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Lotta… I needed to read this today… : ) xxx
Great post Mrs D, compulsory reading.
As always great advice Mrs D. To help me I have created an alter ego I call my sober warrior. I imagine being dressed up like wonder woman fending off all those nasty little thoughts with my magic wristbands! Never fails to make me smile and so far has worked a treat. Might have even got the idea from you!
One time I read that to change those negative thoughts, try changing the channel, like a TV!
So I have a beauty channel, a nature channel, a travel channel, etc.
Distant your thoughts.