Have you ever heard that you can’t stop drinking with willpower alone? It’s true! But what does that actually mean? Of course, it takes willpower to stop drinking! You have to decide. You have to commit. You have to make living alcohol-free non-negotiable if you’re going to have any chance of staying sober. But willpower is a limited resource. Trying to live a contented alcohol-free life, with only one tool in your sober toolbox, and that tool being “willpower”, will get old really quickly!
The Problem with WILL – He’s there with us in the morning but slips away throughout the day.
I’m a morning person. I wake up ready to meditate and work out. I drink a green shake and make great plans for the day. In the morning I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to work on short and long-term goals. My thoughts are positive, it’s easy to see the beauty around me. Life is good. Even if the world looks like a dumpster fire, in the morning, I feel centered in the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer: Surrendering what I can’t change, willing to change what I can, and asking for guidance to know the difference.
That’s Morning Maggy.
By late afternoon, I’m usually dragging. Energy is lagging, maybe tanking. Anything and everything that went on during the day like bad news personally or globally, frustrations with my husband, time-suck interruptions, outcomes gone awry, God forbid putting off working out to the point where it didn’t happen, fires that needed to be put out, falling down some Internet rabbit hole and wasting precious time, failing to live up to all those great morning plans, frustrations, stress points—ALL the day’s negativities and tensions have piled up. My insides have collected mental and emotional debris like flypaper because I’m human and I’m not perfect or even sort of good at staying clear in every moment no matter what comes. Some days, I just feel vaguely low and other days my inner world feels like it’s weighed down with an f-ton of garbage.
That’s Afternoon Maggy.
Which poses a couple of very real challenges. I don’t really like Late Afternoon Maggy so it’s hard for me to “be with” her. The default is to escape from her, so that creates a danger zone where it’s easy to reach for the wrong thing to create a lift or a quick shift. The other big bugaboo is that thing about Willpower. My sails are out of wind, my locomotive has lost its stream, my car is out of gas, and I’m vulnerable. That’s why having a plan for the entire day and evening ALONG WITH a sober toolbox is so critical in early sobriety.
It’s just as okay to be dragging-her-arse Afternoon Maggy as it is to be bright and perky Morning Maggy. I can let go of loving the one and hating the other.
I’m sure that getting to know and learning to love and be with Afternoon Maggy will hold some unopened gifts. Which begs the question: What kind of helpful, positive things CAN we do or reach for in those low-cycle times when we’re feeling depleted and vulnerable? These are the tools in your sober toolbox. Will you meditate for a few minutes? Hit the yoga mat? Do some breathing exercises? Pick up a fascinating book you can’t put down? Play a GREAT recovery or comedic podcast while you do some dinner prepping? Take a short walk and connect with nature? Jump on a trampoline, hit a punching bag, or throw some darts? The possibilities are endless and it’s going to be different for all of us.
TODAY, I’m making plan that takes me right through the early morning, high-energy good times, into the crash of late afternoon, and on to a peaceful alcohol-free bedtime. If are joining me on a sober journey through today’s beautiful hills and lovely valleys, holler YES!
Now Lets get that Sober Toolbox Packed!
“Toolbox” is the buzzword around recovery groups. Maybe you’ve read about people building their sober toolbox? It’s a common thing to do in early sobriety or even leading up to stopping drinking, but some folks in recovery for years say they need to dust off their toolbox and bring it back out now and then. A sober toolbox is anything and everything that we use to support our sobriety plan and goals. It is the power in Will Power.
My sober toolbox is an actual physical box filled with tools. It is also a virtual toolbox filled with mental and physical tools and ideas to support my sobriety.
Let’s get specific.
First, if you don’t have a toolbox have fun building or purchasing a big box. Decorate and write on it anything that supports your sobriety. Craft stores have great boxes ready to use with all sorts of coverings on them in all kinds of sizes.
This “sober journey” is about you. Your sober toolbox should reflect you!
Now have fun filling it with quit lit books and articles about how to build a recovery program which speaks to you personally. Add other supportive tools.
My Actual Physical Sober Tool Box Contains :
My box started with all kinds of books about alcohol use and abuse and recovery. I had to move my box to a bookshelf because now over 2 years later I have 40 + books. My books now relate to areas in my life I want to grow such as forgiveness, understanding codependent relationships, healing the inner child …. I buy most of my books “used “ to fit my budget. (Actually, this allows me to buy more books !)
You can find a comprehensive library post with lots of reading ideas on our Boozemusings blog- the introduction is written by me:) just search Boozemusings and look up – Books to Help you Stop Drinking and Fuel Your Sober Momentum
I also fill my toolbox with journals. I wrote why I drank and why I wanted to stop. It has very personal experiences and regrets I experienced because of my drinking. One page is filled with people I have let down or hurt and how I can rebuild the relationships. Another page is a very graphic description of what physical symptoms my drunkenness and hangovers were like – including blackouts, fights, and bathroom grossness. I don’t want to ever forget what alcohol did to me. The booze monster wants you to forget! I don’t live in the past but I sure want to learn from it and not repeat it. I journal now on different situations I am stressed over and need to resolve. And I post regularly in our private BOOM community. It’s a great place to journal interactively and get support and ideas from other people.
I have a folder filled with quotes, pictures, and sayings I have collected from different places .. I use my phone to take a picture then print it out. On a difficult day, I go through my folder and choose a quote or inspirational picture and hang it up for encouragement. One time I was having a super difficult day. I took a quote and folded it in my pocket so I could press it and feel the paper whenever I wanted. It kept me grounded in my sobriety and I didn’t drink
I have essential oil’s, coloring books and markers, and bubble bath in my box.
I also have slow deep breathing instructions written down that calm me down when I have anxiety.
I keep this article with thoughts on Anxiety, Alcohol and Sobriety close at hand as well.
Put in your sober toolbox anything that you can go to and use to build your recipe for recovery. Whatever your higher power is maybe add something that supports you spiritually or inspires your soul. My bible and other Christian authors are in my toolbox and I have a gratitude journal for naming my blessings. It really helps my self-pity moods improve.
My Virtual Sober Tool Box Contains :
This BOOM Rethink the Drink community is a huge tool in my virtual sober toolbox. There are so many ideas on our public Boozemusings blog and inside the private blog of the BOOM community If you’re in here with us your toolbox will overflow with ideas and resources.
Real-world support groups, in addition to online groups and zoom meetings, can be a fantastic tool. AA is the first that comes to mind for most of us, but also check online for Life Ring, Refuge Recovery, Smart Recovery, Women for Sobriety and other groups that might have in person meetings in your area.
There are so many great sobriety blogs and websites that can inspire you. Check out Feedspot for a list of the top 90 sober living blogs. There are many more not included there but it’s a good place to start.
Ted Talks, documentaries, podcasts and youtube videos are great tools.
Exercise and music, Yoga classes, walk in park , screaming into your pillow is ok too. ( I say pillow because last summer I let out a scary scream of frustration in my yard and kids next store called the cops thinking I was in danger )
The point is to pick and choose what helps you in your sobriety. Search for tools that work for you.
Why even bother to have a sober tool box? It is so much work!
Trying to live a sober life with only one tool and that tool being “willpower“ will get old and rusty really quickly! Have a spirit of adventure as you work on your box. If one thing doesn’t help then find something else. Your sobriety depends on it. Changing course from being a regular drinker to living an alcohol-free lifestyle IS hard work so you need the right tools to back up that willpower that you woke up with. Your plan to stop drinking is noble! Be PROUD! but you have to have practical tools you can actually use to help you reach your goal.
Keep your sober toolbox from getting dusty, musty, and rusty by adding new items as you grow in your sobriety. Don’t wait till you have a horrible day and have nothing but willpower as a tool. Have that toolbox ready so you can battle the tricks thrown at you by the booze bitch with success!
I hope this gives a few ideas about how and why to build your very own personal wonderful and powerfully effective toolbox.
Happy toolbox building! It is totally worth the effort! I promise
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using
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