I DESERVE IT

I deserve it.

Have those three little words ever convinced you to drink when you had previously decided not to?

If so, what was the “it” you deserved?

Relaxation 

Escape

Relief from your worries

I agree that you deserve all of that, but alcohol isn’t the way to get it. For one thing, it doesn’t provide those things; it merely tricks your brain into thinking it does. 

And what does it leave in its wake? Headaches, disrupted sleep, disappointment, shame—a bunch of stuff you don’t deserve.

So next time that subtle, sweet-sounding excuse offers itself to you while you’re making dinner for your family, or after an argument with your sweetie, or when you’re thinking about how your kids’ school may not open in the fall, pause for a minute to ask yourself what the “it” you deserve actually is. Then challenge your brain to tell you all the ways you can get it without a drink.

WHAT YOU FOCUS ON, YOU GROW

You intend not to drink, but you keep slipping up.  

Your brain wants to offer you lots of unhelpful thoughts:

You’ll never be able to do this.

You’re weak-willed. 

What’s the matter with you?

Hear me now, believe me later:

You will be able to do this.

This has nothing to do with weak or strong.

Nothing is the matter with you. Brains are wired to learn habits. You can unlearn a drinking habit.

The skill you need to make the change – allowing urges to go unanswered – is already present in your life in ways you may not even realize. 

Maybe you don’t yell at your kids even when you are frustrated.

Maybe you choose to sleep on the decision to buy an expensive pair of shoes you don’t need and then decide the next day not to buy them.

Maybe you are stuck on a project at work and want to check Instagram, but don’t because you know you’ll lose focus. 

These are examples of you not reacting to the urges of your lower brain. You can borrow this skillset and apply it to your drinking as well. 

What does it feel like to not drink when you want to? Restless. That’s all. It’s uncomfortable, and you can handle it. You do it every day in hundreds of different ways. Give yourself credit. 

Even if you can only identify little seedlings of this ability in your life, notice it, celebrate it. What you focus on, you grow.  

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR TODAY?

I’m at the Oregon Coast with my kids and life is about as perfect as possible. At the moment I took this picture I could really feel that.  

Shortly after this picture, my mind wanted to return to the litany of worries I cycle through as I go about my day. 

Scanning for the negative can become a habit like anything else. 

We’re wired to search for danger. 

Worrying and complaining can seem productive. 

Sometimes it feels kind of good. 

But we rarely create positive results from a negative space. 

Thankfully, we can retrain our brains to take a more balanced view. 

For me, that looked like giving my brain positive questions to answer:

How is this helping me in the long-term?

What is good in this moment?

What unexpected and wonderful thing will happen today?

At first, answering these questions felt like work. Now it’s fun. Negative thinking is inevitable, but it’s so much easier to redirect my mind now. I feel less fragile. 

It’s not about being a Pollyanna. It’s about shifting perspective ever so slightly to get a different view. 

When my clients practice using questions to shift their perspective this way, they notice that the urge to “take the edge off” at night is fainter. The need for an escape starts to fade. They feel more engaged and excited about their lives. 

Our brains love to answer questions. If you ask it to look for the negative it will find it. If you ask it to find the positive. It will find it. 

What do you want to look for today?

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, BE WILLING

Change gets harder when enthusiasm fades.

I, for one, much prefer to feel motivated, certain, excited, and hopeful.  

But, alas, those fair-weather emotions aren’t always available to us. That’s okay, though, because they aren’t necessary for change. 

There’s one thing we need to be to get us through the current obstacle, set back, or stuck point, and that’s *willing.*

When all else fails, be willing. 

Willing tells you where you’re going.

Willing doesn’t need you to do it perfectly or linearly. 

Willing meets you where you are.

Willing doesn’t have a deadline. 

“I’m willing to believe this is possible.”

“I’m willing to learn from this.”

“I’m willing to keep trying.”