I have no self-control.

Is there a less empowering belief than this? It sounds like a fact and you have plenty of evidence for it. But let’s think about it… if your kid would lose an arm if you drank off plan, you would find a well of self-control to ensure that didn’t happen, right? Nevertheless, self-control can feel so, well, out of your control. Here’s why:

1. It happens so fast! Brains are habit-forming machines. Repeat something enough and it gets relegated to your lower brain where things happen quickly and below consciousness. When this happens, behavior feels automatic. But if you could slow-mo the process you’d see that it isn’t. You’re having a thought which is causing a feeling which is fueling an action. Practice interrupting this pattern.

2. Your follow through needs work. You make promises to yourself you don’t keep or you schedule something and don’t honor it. If a friend did that to you, you’d cancel the friendship, but you accept that nonsense from yourself. I get it – it’s hard to follow through on things once the newness has worn off. But doing hard things is how you change. Build trust with yourself one choice at a time.

3. Drinking is still appealing to you on some level. You still believe alcohol has something to offer you. It takes the edge off, enhances a positive experience, tastes good, etc. One of these thoughts is still knocking around your brain and creating a desire to drink that feels irresistible. Pinpoint that straggler and remind yourself why it isn’t true.

4. Your compelling reason isn’t compelling enough. What’s your reason for wanting to drink less? Is it exciting? You may have a lot of chatter in your brain as you try to cut back. “One won’t hurt.” “You can start tomorrow.” Your compelling reason needs to be sexy enough to shut that down and keep your eye on the prize.

Next time you are tempted to say you have no self-control, see if you can pinpoint what is really at play.