Until a few months before the 1st of January 2017, I was a pretty “normal” young lady when it came to my relationship with alcohol. Or at least in the circles I moved in at that time. I liked to drink socially, especially on a weekend, or a special occasion, or while on holidays. I never drank alcohol by myself and very rarely did I drink during the week.
I enjoyed drinking alcohol mostly because I thought it was fun. I loved the confidence I would get, the people I would meet, the conversations I had and the “fun” I would experience.
Like most however, I absolutely hated the way I felt the next day. I hated the niggling headache, the loss of memory, the guilt or fear over something I had said and of course, the lack of energy and my next day being spent feeling sorry for myself.
For months, I had been trying the whole conscious drinking thing, but I still found myself feeling pressure to drink at work events and then drinking more than I wanted.
Who knew all I needed to do was spend 2 weeks in New York City to come up with the solution?!
I don’t know if it was the buzz of the city, or the 2 weeks I spent getting clear about my purpose, mission and intentions for 2017 or simply the energy of a New Year or just the space I had from my usual every day life (or all of the above!) – but one morning in December 2016 I woke up, early as usual, in our cute little flat sitting above a $1 pizza shop in the Lower East Side, and I had my answer.
And #2017isfinewithoutwine was born: 12 months alcohol free & one public announcement. How could anyone argue with that?
From the 1st of January 2017 I flowed through my 12 month experience without alcohol with ease and I made way for the most transformative year of my life.
Today I wanted to share with you some of the key lessons I had through this experience AND what my decision with alcohol is going forward.
So what did I learn?
1. Changing behaviour requires a strong purpose.
I believe that my experience was so easeful because I was driven by a strong purpose. I had things to achieve, people to help and I didn’t want anything getting in my way. In addition, I was fed up with the role of alcohol in our society and I felt it was my social responsibility to draw attention to our unhealthy reliance on alcohol.
Did I want my children to grow up in a world where they might be socially outcast for not drinking alcohol?
2. It’s not people who are the problem, it’s alcohol.
I began to see for the first time the destruction alcohol causes to lives, families and communities. The way it changes people unpredictably. And yet when those people can’t keep up with alcohol and its effects, the ones who react poorly to it, the ones who become addicted to it, and the ones who are killed by it… society says there’s something wrong with them, not the alcohol.
I disagree, I think there’s something wrong with alcohol, the substance we drink to change us, to make our reality seem better, to make us feel… enough.
3. By me embarking on this experience, I gave others permission to do the same.
Of course all the people in my life who had also wanted to give up alcohol or reduce their drinking now had a reason not to. What was really interesting for me to observe though was that some of the people who were most resistant to my giving up alcohol, were actually the same ones to end up following my lead!
Which brings me to my next lesson.
4. Do not listen to anyone but yourself when you are doing something different to the status quo.
Do not wait for permission – no one is going to give it to you. Wait patiently instead for the tables to turn, as soon as the people in your life experience the benefit to them or see the incredible improvements you have made in your life – they will be thanking you for being brave enough to do things differently.
5. If you drink alcohol to have fun, your life is still boring.
Alcohol simply provides you with an outlet to either escape your issues (for a few hours) or to make you feel like your life is enhanced in some way. But what it doesn’t do is provide you with a lasting solution. Your issues are still there in the morning. So if your life is boring and you want to escape it or make it more “fun”, that same problem is not changing until you do something different.
A question I found a lot of power in asking myself was: Is your life so crappy that you can’t bear to be sober?
6. When you stop relying on alcohol for pleasure or fun, you start to rely on yourself and life gets a whole lot more interesting.
Removing any buffering tendency (a behaviour you use to escape), you pave the way to not only clear the way to find a real solution to your problem(s), but you also give yourself the opportunity to create a new state of mind and vibration.
If you increase your usual state of mind so that it is one that is really joyful most of the time, when you drink alcohol you just might find that you actually don’t feel as good as you do when you are sober. Alcohol is a depressant after all.
7. Being present is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Presence gives you the opportunity to establish meaningful connection with others, to consciously choose what you want to focus on, to have the awareness of your current emotional vibration and frequency and to act in alignment with how you really want to feel.
Alcohol checks you out, not in to your life. If your life is so great, why would you want that?
8. Some people in your life might flow out of your life when you stop drinking.
But don’t worry; this is only natural. Don’t take it personally. You want to create space for people who are aligned with your current vibration. When people leave your life, new people will enter. And environment is so important!
Do you really want to be friends with people who only want you around for your drinking company?
Also be prepared to be surprised about how you view some of the people in your life when you stop drinking. You might just find that their company isn't as great as you thought it was.
9. There are more people than you think who do not drink alcohol.
Once I announced my decision not to drink alcohol, I was really surprised to learn of many people already in my life who do not drink alcohol. I had just never noticed.
Also there are so many incredible organisations around to support you and I’m not just talking about AA. Places like One Year No Beer, Hello Sunday Morning, Girl & Tonic and so many others!
10. Yes, you will be more productive when you stop drinking.
I see alcohol as a distraction, as the new “opiate of the masses”. Distracting people from achieving. I mean take a look at most super successful people and you will find they rarely drink. Why? Because ain’t no body got time for that!
11. Be prepared to have those self-limiting beliefs and resistance flare up through other buffering behaviours.
When you remove alcohol, your mind will start looking for other external things to fill you up – while these might not be as dangerous as alcohol – they are still designed to check you out of your life, not in to it.
Which brings me back to #1 – you need to have a powerful purpose behind what you are doing so that you don’t transfer your escapism through some other means – like TV, gaming, eating, gossip – or whatever else you like to do to check out of your life.
12. Alcohol is a poison.
So why on earth in our health conscious world today are we consuming so much of it?! Let’s focus on the low hanging fruit!
So now it’s the 4th of February and the question of the hour is am I drinking again?
After 12 months of not drinking I didn’t have a strong desire to drink alcohol again, but I was curious about how I would feel. And if you know me, I follow my curiosity!!
So after 380 days (and right after the poor waiter literally dropped a tray full of Prosecco onto me), I had my first experience.
And here is what I observed:
- My old favourite, Prosecco didn’t taste so good anymore (the non-acloholic sparkling rose from Redemption Bar in Shoreditch was so much better)
- I felt like I wasn’t fully present (because I wasn’t, alcohol checks you out of your reality not into it)
- I got a head ache within 30 minutes
- I felt sick in my stomach
- I was dehydrated
- I got tired earlier than usual (like 5pm people?!)
- I much preferred the feeling of being sober
- Alcohol lowered my vibe – with all the work I had done over 2017 to live in alignment with my truth, increase my emotional vibration and frequency and make my life as FUN as possible, the experience of alcohol was not anywhere near as good as I feel when I am sober – success!
- I wished I had just gone sober
I walked away with an even stronger resolve than before that I neither want nor need alcohol in my life.
So needless to say, from that moment forward and at least for the foreseeable future, I am living my life completely alcohol-free!!!
If you want to get started on your no alcohol journey here are a couple of resources for you:
· Brooke Castillo 3 part Stop Over-drinking podcast series
And if giving up or reducing alcohol is something you are interested in and you feel that you’d benefit from some 1-1 support, you can also think about working with me over a 3 month coaching journey.
I recently had the pleasure of supporting one of my clients who had the courage to give up alcohol during our coaching series and here is what she said:
“With Leticia’s encouragement and support, I also did something I never thought was possible which was to go sober for over 2 months now and counting. I am so glad that I did, and once I wrote down all of the reasons why I wanted to stop drinking and how it would benefit me, the list that I compiled was so much longer than I thought it would be.”
Giving up alcohol can feel like a daunting task, but not when you commit to the process in the right way, are supported and start to experience all the incredible benefits. And p.s. if you haven't noticed already, living sober is becoming cooler every day.
Happy not drinking!