Disclaimer: These suggestions are for high functioning people who drink too much. My advice is not intended for those with physical addictions or medical conditions. Thank you for considering this advice!
READ BOOKS (Here are a few faves):
The Sobriety Solution by Jack Canfield and Dave Andrews
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Little Book of Big Change by Amy Johnson
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield
LISTEN TO PODCASTS:
The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
Take a Break From Alcohol with Rachel Hart
Experts on Expert with Dax Shepard
The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
TALK TO SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE: Reach out to supportive people. Sober friends. Encouraging coworkers and people at your yoga studio or gym or church or neighborhood. Find a sober role model to inspire you. Phone a positive, healthy friend. Talk to positive people. Listen to funny podcasts or inspiring talks. Spend time with healthy people, even if it’s a happy person on a podcast.
DO FUN AND EASY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Do something physical and fun. Dance. Swim. Aqua Zumba. Yoga. Look up your rec centers or go to a park for free. Get out and move. Join a group of people. Even if it’s restorative yoga where you go and lay on the ground with other people. Get out of your house and get moving with others. Get out of your house. Get out of your house. Sit on the front doorstep of your house if that’s all you can do but GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.
START OR CONTINUE A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE: Write your thoughts in a journal or sit and observe your thoughts. Try meditation. Use Insight Timer app, Calm app, Headspace app, or just spa music on Spotify or the radio. Buy a meditation CD or soothing piano.
START OR CONTINUE A CREATIVITY PRACTICE: Find a creative activity that is low stress and imperfect and messy and yet still interests you. Paint terrible looking pictures and scratch out awful drawings and play bumbling music or color in coloring books or write sappy poems or sing off key. Bake an imperfect cake. Do a puzzle. Dance like no one is watching. Guess what? No one is watching. Have fun with art and music and creativity.
What’s up superstars? Here’s my belief for you this week: You can take 30 days off alcohol.
Disclaimer: This blog is directed towards high functioning people who may drink too much. Is that you? Great! Read on… However, this advice is not intended for alcoholics or those with medical diagnoses or conditions.
Let’s do 30 days off alcohol! Ready?
OMG WHY??? Here’s why: You will learn a lot. Do 30 days as a learning experience. Here are 3 challenges you can look forward to (LOL) and 3 rewards of 30 days without a drink. At the end, I include a list of resources that will help you succeed. As I write this, I have not had a drink in over 30 days and I’m personally shooting for 4 months.
OMG WHY??? Because challenging yourself is fun!!! AMIRIGHT???
Wrong? Uh-oh. Then you are probably gonna give up. Why?
Challenge #1: You will doubt your decision.
Drinking is helping you in some way. You think it helps you feel better. It is actually an anesthetic that is numbing you. To be honest, I liked that about alcohol. I also didn’t like it.
That’s right!!! It’s BOTH AND. I like it AND I don’t like it. It’s helpful AND not helpful. And so, it causes doubt. Should I or shouldn’t I? I want to and I don’t want to at all.
Welcome to Challenge #1. To pass this challenge, you will need to make a decision to stop drinking and commit. You will need a strong, compelling reason to stop. Do you have that? Good. Then get ready to face the next challenge! Yaaaaaay!
Challenge #2: You will feel all your feelings. Even the “negative” ones.
I used alcohol to cope with emotional pain. Guess what? When I stopped, I still had the negative emotions and had to feel them. Noooooo, I don’t want to feel nervous. Nooooo, I don’t want to still be angry about the past. UUUUGGGGhhh not this crap again!!!
Yeah. Unpleasant dirt will come out of the pipes. You will want to create another bad habit to buffer your emotion. I ate more sugar when I first took breaks from alcohol. A sugar high is just another way to avoid feeling sad, lonely, angry, you name it.
Quitting drinking initially made me feel like a lobster without a shell. Tender, emotional, vulnerable, angry and frustrated. And then… I learn that I can feel all those feelings and be ok. Feelings are temporary. They carry important information. We can turn toward our emotions and listen and learn from them. Ready for that? Good! Now your final challenge!
Challenge #3: You will feel urges to go back to your old self.
If you have done something habitually for a long time, you’re good at it. You like your old patterns. Your well worn trail. However, during your 30 days, you want to do something NEW. Your brain will FREAK OUT and want to go back to the OLD. What this feels like is a very important urge to drink.
You will want that glass of wine. Like a toddler wants a candy bar at Target. Like your dog wants to play ball until it collapses. Like a smoker wants to light up after eating. You will have to feel that strong urge and allow it to pass. The urges will come and go. And go. And go. And eventually dissipate in intensity and frequency if you allow them to pass.
URGE TIME: Set the timer for 20 minutes. Sit down and write about why you want to drink. Sit quietly and breathe. Feel the feeling that comes up. Listen to what it’s telling you. Question its validity. Is it true? Soothe yourself and remind yourself of the compelling reason you’re doing this.
OK, now that you have the three major challenges you will face, are you still considering taking a break? Good! There are SO MANY rewards. There are superficial rewards like spending less money and feeling better in the morning and clear skin and better health. I am going to offer you some DEEP rewards for this month off.
Reward #1: You will make a promise to yourself and you will keep it and you will be proud.
When you faced Challenge #1, you had to reconcile why you weren’t drinking. For me, I want to feel proud of myself and my behavior. I want to be a role model since I am a teacher. I want to develop mental strength and the ability to handle difficult situations without alcohol. I want to be mentally strong. Those possibilities excite me.
In the past 30 days, I made that promise to myself. I kept it. I feel proud. That is incredibly satisfying and worth it.
Reward #2: You build emotional and mental strength.
Giving up a bad habit for 30 days is BAD ASS. You went to the gym with your feelings. You got on the mat with your insecurities. You turned towards your inner demons and faced them and had conversations. Those conversations were challenging and yet so rewarding because guess what?
YOU GOT STRONGER. You learn that you can feel sad and it will be ok. You learn that your sadness is asking for you to make a change and you can make it. You learn that your insecurities do not hold up to challenge. You learn that you are human and don’t need to be perfect or feel good all the time. You learn that emotions come and go like waves throughout your life and you can surf them.
You become a great surfer. You welcome all the waves. You are mentally strong. You stick up for yourself. You get on your own side. You have compassion for yourself and everyone else. You like this new you.
Reward #3: The low lows and high highs of your life become a wonderful mid-range.
Drinkers are fun because they laugh big and act wild. They seek high highs and peak experiences. And then they hide in their houses and cry. Or is that just me? LOL. Basically, drinkers like big pleasure and no pain. But when you stop drinking to manufacture false pleasure and stop drinking to anesthetize self inflicted pain, you realize that you were experiencing unsatisfying pleasure and optional emotional pain.
High highs. Low lows. Drinkers spend a lot of time around 1-2 and 9-10.
Without alcohol, you find a genuine, solid, satisfying and wonderful range of pleasure and pain. It is 4-7 most days, with some dips to 1 and some soaring moments of 10. The painful moments come, but less often and they don’t stay as long. The satisfying moments come more often and HOORAY! They aren’t laced with regret and shame and disappointment.
Life without alcohol is VERY satisfying. Interesting. Connected. Healthy. Really nice.
So there you have it, folks. Don’t believe me. Try it. Take 30 days off alcohol. Don’t white knuckle it. Learn from it and do some work.
Are you experiencing any of my 3 challenges? You can handle them.
Are you finding even more unexpected rewards? I’d love to hear.
Do you know how much I love you even if you continue to drink and never stop? It’s a lot. I love you a lot. I love you no matter what your bad habit. I have many other bad habits to face and learn from because I’m a human being with a human brain. And such is life. Interesting. Messy. Challenging. And so freaking satisfying.
Loving you out there. You can do this. You can do anything you want. Go try. Get in the arena. Face a challenge. Make yourself proud. XO
Do me a favor. I want you to go up to that person in your life who you pity or who you are worried about and look them in the eyes and tell them the truth of your thoughts:
“I often feel so worried about you. I feel sorry for you because you’re so out of shape.”
Then, stand back and watch the result.
Don’t be surprised if you get some rage, anger, or hurt responses.
Don’t be surprised if someone punches you in the face.
I’d secretly be a little happy if someone punched you (without lasting harm, of course) because their punch would tell you something very important that you may have forgotten:
People are powerful. And they don’t want your pity.
Don’t know what to do when someone you love is struggling?
Start doing this: Start believing in their incredible power to change.
I’m so sorry you are overweight and out of shape? OR:
I believe that if you want to get healthy, you will. I believe that you are capable of making decisions for yourself. I believe you can not only get healthy but become incredibly strong. I believe your journey will teach you courage, empathy, and perseverance. I believe that when you get healthier, you are going to inspire everyone around you. You are strong. You are capable. You can be a powerful role model and force for change. You will make yourself proud.
I’m so sorry you are sad and depressed? OR:
I believe that all emotions are valid. I believe what you are experiencing carries deep and sacred knowledge for you. I know you will learn from this. I know you will take your time and that’s ok. I know you will come through this with a strong heart and incredible empathy for others. I know you will become a powerful voice in your family, work, and community. You will inspire everyone around you. You will be a bright, unstoppable voice for change. You will make yourself proud.
I’m so sorry you experienced this tragedy? OR:
I know you are experiencing something that is beyond your control. I have no idea what that is like for you. I want you to know that I love you so much. I believe you will take as much time as you need to take to give yourself care. I know you will find a foothold and eventually feel better. I trust your decisions. I am here to help if you need me. I believe in your ability to come back from this. To use your experience to learn and grow. To use your experience to deepen your love and connect you to all of humanity that grieves and mourns. I believe you will come through this as a powerful voice for change. You will make yourself proud.
Hey, boo: People don’t need your pity. They need your encouragement. They need your support. They need your love. They need you to believe in the best version of them – even when they don’t believe in themselves.
You know what’s coming. You know what I’m going to ask you next:
Are you feeling sorry for yourself?
Should I punch you in the face?
LOL, oh my goodness I could not. And I am totally kidding. I actually think it’s great that you feel sorry for yourself.
Yay! Self-pity! Time to get curious.
Why are you pitying yourself? Let’s get really interested in that. It is ok. Turn towards yourself, look yourself in the eyes with love and listen. Listen to what you need. Listen to what you want. Listen to what is important to you. What would make you proud? What would the highest version of yourself say?
Future you is saying this: You are a powerful person.
Wait a second… Are you a powerful person? Oh, you don’t think so? Well, I’m not worried. I don’t feel sorry for you.
Beautiful, gorgeous, courageous, sometimes worried reader: I believe in your incredible power to change. Now, go make yourself proud. Loving you out there. XO
With giant tears in her beautiful blue eyes, a woman at the table said, “It’s just that I still love him. I still love my ex.”
We had just met at a dinner party, and she may not have been warned about me, but I burst out emphatically in response: “OF COURSE YOU DO!!! OF COURSE YOU DO!!! Who stops loving people???”
She jolted out of her weepy depressed state. Stared at me with her mouth open. I repeated myself: “Of course you do. You don’t have to stop loving him. Never. You get to love him forever.”
Her body relaxed as the thought slowly sunk in. Face, shoulders, anxious hands now incredibly relieved.
“Yeah,” she said. “I will love him forever.”
There you go. Better choice. Much, much better.
Love feels great. I love loving people. I don’t care if they love me back. I don’t know if they love me back. I may not always say “I LOVE YOU” but I think loving thoughts about people constantly. It’s none of my business if they love me back. I keep loving them.
I choose to love people because I can. Because it’s MY CHOICE. In MY MIND.
My exes are outstanding men. Smart. Handsome. Creative. Strong. Funny. Caring. Kind. Fascinating, interesting, important people. All 100% worthy and deserving of my love.
Well, you say, my ex treated me like crap. Yeah, well, I’m sorry to hear that. You can choose to hate him for the rest of your life. Or, you can think back to a moment he wasn’t crappy, and you can love him.
Well, you say, my ex did XYZ and on and on. Yeah. That sucks. You can choose to be angry and bitter for the rest of your life. Or you can think back to a delicious moment in time when you saw the best in him and you can remember that. And you can love him for it.
You get the point. You are intelligent and strong and smart. You know what I’m saying to you.
Love is a choice. It’s a choice that is always available. It’s a choice that always feels good.
Gods can unconditionally love you. Jesus Christ. Buddha. Mother Earth. And on and on. But we are human and we sometimes have a hard time getting past our humanity.
During breakups, I have been completely distraught. So full of frustration, anger, sadness. Why?
My love had nowhere to go. But it was still there.
We break up with people and still love them. We think of them for the rest of our lives. We share history.
Choose to love your ex.
Exes are incredible, amazing, important human beings in your life. They helped you grow. They helped you learn. They connected you to other people and experiences. They held you in their arms.
Life is long and most relationships don’t last forever.
But you know what? Love does. Love lasts forever.
I choose to love all my exes. Tell me: Can you think of a better choice? Me neither. I love you out there.
Heeeeey gorgeous people! WHAT’S UP dudes? I’m having a little party all up in my house, post-run, pre-breakfast, admiring my happy and very tired dog. And since I just did a workout, I’m going to put you through one.
Ready for some coaching? Good. Take out your notebook and a pencil. We are delving into the seven layers of why today.
First! Decide something you want from your life: Weight loss? Less drinking? More exercise? A new job? Better relationship?
Awesome. Write that on the top. I want to lose weight. Great start, my friend.
Now, here we go. You are going to ask yourself why 7 times. However, there is a catch! The whys are going to build on each other.
Here’s an example of mine:
I want to drink less to cope with my emotions.
Why? Because I want to be mentally stronger.
Why? Because mental strength is an important value to me.
Why? Because I’m a role model for younger people and I want to show them how to be strong.
Why? Because it will change their lives.
Why do you care about that? Because I care so much about helping people.
Why? Because I have struggled so much. I know how it feels and I want to be a helpful resource for those who suffer. I want to be a kind and compassionate guide.
Why? Because it would offer them relief and also make me so proud.
There you have it! 7 layers of why drinking less or not at all is important to me.
Sweetheart reader! You may now be asking yourself, “Why is it important to do all these stupid layers of why???”
Ah, great question. The answer is that, when you get to the seventh layer, you will start to uncover some pretty amazing motivation for accomplishing your goal. And when your resolve falters, you can return to the real reason you are doing what you do.
You’re not going to lose weight by shaming, restricting, and hating yourself. You’re not going to stop drinking because you tell yourself you’re an idiot who has no self-control. Negative thoughts and negative emotions never lead to positive results.
Want to get a positive result? Start thinking positive thoughts and feeling positive emotions that rocket fuel you to success.
Hey, boo! What do you want from your life? Cool. Now tell me why. 7 times.
Awesome workout today. Time to recover. I’m headed for a scramble and some toast. See you next week.
The title of this blog may feel like a harsh judgement, a declaration that I think drugs and alcohol are bad and if you do them you’re a bad person.
You couldn’t be more wrong. Most adults I know have enjoyed one or both and continue to do so and I completely understand why they do. With many years of hindsight, it makes so much sense why I have chosen to dabble myself.
Common wisdom says drugs and alcohol are bad. It’s not exactly true. They are very good. They are exceptionally good for many things.
They are awesome for dulling pain. They are awesome for escaping your reality. They are awesome for instant relief from the nagging truth.
Who doesn’t want that?
Yet here’s the longterm consequence of dulling, escaping, and relieving yourself from truth: You start living lies.
I’m ok with this. This isn’t so bad.
This is as good as my life will ever be.
It’s ok for that person to treat me that way. I probably deserve it.
What I want doesn’t matter.
Other people are better than me. Prettier, more athletic, smarter. Not me.
The statements above are all lies. And if you’re anything like me, then when you think them, you’ll want to drink. You’ll want to escape. You’ll want to peace out of your current reality. Because it’s a lie.
Here are the truths you may want to face soberly:
I can have a beautiful life.
My life will continue to unfold and grow in incredible ways.
I deserve to be treated well by myself. I can slowly stop being mean to myself. I can turn to myself in love. I can listen to myself with compassion. I can soothe myself no matter what. I do not expect other people to love me and adore me. I do that for myself and set myself free.
What I want matters more than anything in the world. I matter. My desires matter. My dreams matter. My presence matters. The way I walk in the world day to day matters SO MUCH.
No one is better than I am. I am a unique and incredible human being. I get to decide that. I get to look and feel good.
It’s time for me to wake up.
It’s time for me to face reality.
It’s time for me to turn toward my incredible power.
Hey, boo! Drugs and alcohol are always an option we can choose. I have chosen to drink away a lot of pain and grief and lies.
However, lately, I’ve been getting sober and clear about my need for dulling, escaping, and avoiding my life and my brain. I see what’s going on.
I often run away from myself because there’s a lionness inside of me. She likes to roar. She is big game beautiful and ready to rule.
That realization is sometimes scary as shit and sometimes terrifically exciting. Do I want to drink her away? Frequently. But she’s not going away. And she doesn’t like being told to shut up. It makes her louder.
Beautiful reader, powerful human: Suspend dulling, escaping, and running for a minute. Get still and get quiet. Tune in. Is there a truth that you’ve buried? What does it say?
Loving you out there. Turn toward the sober truth. Face it. Be courageous and brave. It’s time to listen to the wisdom of you. XO
Everybody loves a juicy drama. A weird diagnosis. A strange and twisted mind. A “syndrome.”
Disease. Disorder. Defect. Dysfunction. We have books full of them.
We love to think there’s something wrong with us.
There’s something wrong with me! I have a label! There’s a diagnosis! I feel better knowing that what’s wrong with me is legit something wrong with me!
Feels better to know you’re legit broken, am I right? Maybe…
Or is something about that totally wrong?
I work with a lot of powerful women. CEOs, JDs, MBAs, MDs, PhDs, sometimes even MD PhDs! And so many seem to think there is something wrong with them and their power.
Who am I to make so much money? Who am I to lead so many people? Who am I to take that job or ask for that raise? Who am I to have this amazing life? Do I deserve this? Why me?
“Imposter syndrome.” That’s what we call it. Because our culture is obsessed with drama and juice and dysfunction.
I understand the thing called imposter syndrome. I know what it feels like. I am just a fan of identifying it by its real name. Calling it out. Keeping it real and grounded.
Let’s drop the drama.
You are making an identity shift. That is all. And I’m glad. I’m glad you have imposter syndrome. It means you are stepping into a newer, bigger, extraordinary version of yourself.
And you’re scared. I get that. And it’s totally normal to be scared when you level up your life.
And you’re unsure. I get that. And it’s totally normal to be unsure when you haven’t done something before and you’re new at it.
And you’re worried. I get that. And it’s totally normal to worry when you’re promoted higher and higher and the stakes are rising.
Hey, boo. I get you. I am you. I get that you are growing. I get that you’re stepping into something new and badass and exciting. I get that you’ve been in a pattern for a while and now the pattern has changed. I get that change and uncertainty and the great unknown can stir up a lot of emotion and make you think there’s something wrong with you.
Let me say this gently, firmly, and loudly: You don’t have a syndrome. You are being called to a new you.
Do you want to take that call? It’s up to you.
How do you handle identity shifts? You face them. You bow to them. You thank them for the opportunity to grow. You feel the fear. You feel the insecurity. You cry your eyes out. You tremble. You soothe yourself. You get help from friends and family. You get professional help. You feel anger and resistance and you keep going. Only if you want to grow.
Growing keeps going. Tiny step forward. Sometimes back. Ugh! More emotion. Now forward again.
Breathe. Move your body. Take a rest. Have a break. Eat a snack. Get some sleep. Tiny step tomorrow.
You will want to turn around. You will want to go back. You will want to Netflix. You will want to slip back into comfy old you with the same old patterns and problems.
Face that. Feel it. Question your self-imposed limit. Question your comfort. Look forward again. Take another tiny step.
I love you!!! You don’t have to do any of this. Know that. Relax in that. Change is optional. You get to do whatever the hell you want with your one, precious life. Feel the truth of that land in your heart.
However, if you want to change, I invite you to NEVER let a made up “syndrome” stop you.
Keep going, love. Be courageous. I’m so glad your identity is shifting. It’s absolutely beautiful what is happening.
I see you out there. I’m saying hello to the new you. XO