I’ve earned this.

Just one won’t hurt.

It doesn’t matter.

Everybody drinks.

It’s these sneaky little thoughts that work against us to keep our cravings alive even when our best intentions are to cut back our drinking. They are so persuasive! How do we get rid of them? A few ideas:

Become aware of your thoughts. This may seem obvious, but sometimes these little sneaker thoughts happen so quickly and automatically that we don’t even notice them. But every feeling (and desire for alcohol is a feeling!) is preceded by a thought, even if we can’t quite pinpoint what it is. Do some investigative work and see if you can trace it back.

Understand why these thoughts exist. Spoiler alert: it isn’t because they are true. Your brain is motivated to seek pleasure. The sneaky thoughts that haunt you today led you to drink in the past and delivered a fun hit of dopamine. Your brain thinks that if it keeps offering them up you will give in sooner or later. Eventually you will extinguish these connections, but until then, be ready for them.

Remind yourself that these thoughts are no big deal. They are harmless suggestions by your brain. They can’t force you to act. Watch them come and go without responding.

Replace them. Do a manual override of these automatic thoughts by choosing to think something that serves you better. Instead of, “It’s Friday, I deserve a drink,” try, “I deserve to enjoy my Saturday morning without a hangover.” Be patient with yourself here. The sneaky thoughts are so familiar they feel true. Your new thoughts might feel awkward and take some practice. Until they take hold it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and revert to your old ways of thinking.

Not giving in to these sneaky thoughts can feel uncomfortable at first. But so can dealing with the consequences of giving in. You may as well choose the path that gets you closer to your goal.