Have you ever tried to make a positive lifestyle change before? Depending on how you go about it, it can be overwhelming. The idea of just even considering the change can be overwhelming. Contemplating the idea of giving up alcohol can be one of the most overwhelming changes one thinks about. I know, because I lived it.
Many of us have the idea in our heads that when we decide to make a healthy change, it has to be perfect. We should go from point A to point B and should appear successful to ourselves and the others around us.
But for those of you who have attempted to make a positive lifestyle change in the past, how did it go? Was it easy? Seamless? Did it stick? Did you have the support you needed?
When I contemplated making a change with my relationship with alcohol years ago, I had a multitude of feelings and emotions erupt. I was scared, worried, and I didn’t have the confidence that I could overcome all of it and live my life without my substance of choice. I felt very alone.
I thought to myself, “How in the world am I going to live in this world without alcohol? It has been such a big part of me for more than half my life! I have gone through the years depending on it to help me get through social situations and decompress at the end of the day when I had a stressful day with my kids (which was very often). How will I move forward without alcohol – my support and friend?”
All of those thoughts instilled great fear within me, and it almost stopped me from even trying to change my relationship with alcohol. The thoughts swirling around in my head caused me quite a bit of resistance.
At the same time, part of me wondered what it would be like living my life without it since I had never given myself the chance to do it. I was curious about what it would feel like not to have the constant negative chatter and stress in my mind over my struggle with overindulging. The curiosity helped move me a bit forward.
What else did I do to help myself get past the fear? I started to take things one step at a time, one day at a time. When you think “I am never going to drink again”, of course that is going to feel completely overwhelming, and it’s going to shut your brain down from even wanting to attempt to explore your curiosity of what might be waiting for you on the other side. I stopped forward thinking when I had thoughts like “How will I get through my vacation or the holidays without drinking?” I made the decision to live in the present moment and understand that I have no idea how I will feel when those events come up. I allowed myself to go with the flow of life, and it helped minimize my fear.
The more time that went by without having a drink, the more my confidence rose, and I realized how much better I felt. I had developed so much more awareness around my situation and also realized I was able to handle uncomfortable situations without a drink in my hand. I finally came a point when I said to myself “Why would I want to drink again? I am feeling so much better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.” I knew I didn’t want to go back to ever feeling the way I felt before I took a break from alcohol. Giving myself the gift of getting curious and going alcohol-free for 30 days made me realize how much alcohol was sucking the life out of me and really helped me put my life into perspective.
I did not go from being a chronic overindulger to a non-drinker in one attempt. It was a journey for me to get where I am today, as it is for 95% of others who decide to shift to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
I went from making rules for myself around drinking that never worked to finally giving it up for seven months, only to go back to it again for another year and a half before finally kicking my overindulging habit for good.
That’s the thing about making a lifestyle change in life – it is rarely ever linear, and it is completely normal to have bumps in the road, being successful for some time and then reverting to the original way of living.
It’s also completely normal to have great fear in making the lifestyle change. Breaking it down into chunks and educating yourself on what alcohol is really doing to your brain and biology without telling yourself this is a “forever” change can help release the stress and overwhelm you may feel about the situation. It allows you to give yourself grace for where you are in your drinking journey.
Just like Annie Grace says “The only way you will know you are successful in never drinking again is when you are dead.” It’s so true! Why put the pressure of forever on the plate, of course it sounds so daunting!
Although I had many blips on my journey to make a positive lifestyle change and kick overindulging to the curb, I would not change how it went. The only part of my journey that I regret is that I didn’t figure it out sooner.
Every step of the process, I learned so much about myself and became much more aware of my situation and how it was affecting myself and those around me. My pros finally outweighed my cons, and I was able to make a life-changing decision with confidence. The amount of growth I have had in the past few years outweighs the growth I have experienced during the rest of my life.
Everyone’s journey of change is different, and it helps shape who we are as an individual and although it is sometimes difficult to understand, will help you grow as a person. Every step counts and that is what it is – all just steps in getting curious and moving in a different direction in life.