I’m starting a hypnotherapy course in October, and the reading I have been doing in preparation has taught me a great deal. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned, is how our daily experience is shaped by the stories we tell ourselves.
Nine years ago, having been sober for four years, I had decided that I should be ok having the odd drink and if I was wrong?…Well I’d just stop drinking again. Suffice to say I was very soon back to drinking every night. I couldn’t stop, and frankly didn’t want to!
For a long time I mistakenly thought that I loved drinking, but that what I didn’t love was the hangovers, the shame, and the dawning realisation that the only time I was really relaxed, was after a glass or two of wine. Even then I wasn’t truly relaxed, as I would be thinking about the second glass whilst drinking the first, wondering each time I opened the bottle how was it going to go…..I might be the life and soul of the party, or I might be a complete bitch. Chances were I wouldn’t be able to remember either way.
Fast forward 6 years and I was in a bad way. I was a complete slave to wine. I find that hard to believe now, but it is true. My joints ached, I was four stone overweight, I woke in the night sweating and with palpitations, and I was playing russian roulette with my health and my relationships. I woke up each morning and promised myself I wouldn’t drink that day, only to have a glass of wine in my hand by 6pm on a weekday, and lunchtime on a weekend!
One Sunday morning I woke up and knew I would never drink again. There had been literally thousands of mornings in my life where I swore I would never drink again but by the evening I would have a glass of wine in my hand. This was different. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I was stepping off the hamster wheel of hell that is drinking and whatever it took I was staying off. If I needed to go to rehab I would. If I had to kiss goodbye to friendships I would. I would do whatever it took! … and I only had one rule…..NO DRINKING!
My many previous attempts to stop had been scuppered by trying to stop drinking, lose weight, and begin a new fitness regime all at once. It was too much so I would fail. This time I did whatever I wanted and stuck to my one rule. I had chocolate for breakfast, spent the day in bed if I wanted or needed to and so on. Three weeks later I stopped drinking I also stopped smoking. Now, nearly 3 years on, I am 3 stone lighter, fitter, have found my passion, which is learning the Art of Classical Horsemanship, and I love my life! I am not anxious, I do not feel any shame, and my default setting of happiness is so much higher than ever before! Most importantly I do not miss drinking or smoking and frankly, you couldn’t pay me to do either of those things.
I used Allen Carr’s book “The only way to stop smoking permanently” to stop both drinking and smoking. I’d read it years before I actually stopped, but I finally applied his approach three years ago and I now realise that applying the teachings of his book allowed me to change the story I was telling myself. I went from telling myself that I couldn’t stop drinking or smoking and that doing those things was hard, to understanding that the first drink is ALWAYS a choice, whether it feels like it or not. I have written an entire post about how I got from here to there so if you’d like more details about how I stopped drinking please have a read of that.
What got me, and keeps me free from the shackles of alcohol, is the story I tell myself in my head. I am not an addict, I do not believe in using words like ‘relapse’, instead I consider myself to be someone who has a brain that is very sensitive and the only way to be free from substances is never to have them. Any time a thought about drinking, or how nice it might be to have a glass of wine on a hot summers day, pops into my head, I just recognise that thought as a bit of old programming and understand that it isn’t true. After all if drinking was everything it promises to be none of us would be here! We’d all be off drinking and having a lovely time of it !
Alcohol is a poison, a beautifully wrapped poison, and it kills people.
Now, rather then feeling envious of those who can drink, I feel sorry for people who are drinking to excess. I enjoy myself and am happy just because I am, not because I’ve had a drink. I feel amazing and I love my life!
So if you are struggling to stop drinking, or if you have stopped but you don’t feel free, then be aware of your thoughts. What story are you telling yourself? You can change your story today to one that supports you and your efforts and sets you free. What we believe is true for us. If you believe you can’t stop drinking you will be right, and if you believe you can you will also be right. If you believe in relapses then I’m sure you’ll have them. If you understand that there is no such thing as a ‘relapse’ and all that actually means is that you chose to pick up that first drink, which is always a choice, then I’m sure you’ll be successful in staying free from alcohol, as I have been.
I may put a few noses out of joint with my last paragraph but so be it. I know for sure that if I belived I have a disease and that a relapse was something that might happen to me at any time and is out of my control then there is no way on earth I would be free from alcohol and loving my life. In fact the language we use around addiction is so very important to our success or failure. I am free and I thank goodness every single day that I am.
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Alcohol is the only drug that people question you for not using. Rethink the Drink.