Genetics. Labeling. Marriage. There are a lot of unknowns to navigate through when we venture into a life without alcohol. Scott Pinyard, This Naked Mind’s head coach, gets asked loads of questions every day and today he’s here to answer some of the frequently asked questions. You might even find that you’ve been searching for answers to these same questions.
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Why A Life Without Alcohol?
If alcoholic isn’t the right term, then how do I describe my current state? How do I express that, long-term, I can’t flirt with alcohol? It’s like a relationship. I can’t go back and start over. There’s always history to contend with. It’s not so much that it’s a label, but a descriptor of a very real aspect of my life. At the present moment, alcohol does not control my life. I’m not powerless against it forever, but right now, I’m in a wrestling match with it. How can I express this?
I’m Living A Life Without Alcohol
I can say this is absolutely true for me and for the thousands of people I’ve worked with that have come through our programs, this term, alcoholic, and what it means culturally, the meaning we attach to it, stops so many people from thinking, you know what? I want to change my relationship with booze because in our minds, in order to quit drinking, in order to go a direction with what we decide to do with our free time and with our celebratory time, that means we have to admit that we are alcoholics. That means in this category, this idea that there’s normal people and there’s alcoholics, and people don’t want to be in that alcoholic group, and so they don’t admit, “Maybe I want to make some changes,” and then they don’t make changes, and then they’re more unhappy. And so, this term, alcoholic, what does it mean? What do I say? How do I define myself? Is a great, great question.
First, there’s no need for you to label yourself. Like anything else, you’ve just changed your preferences. When you were a kid, you probably hated vegetables, and you didn’t grow up and then call yourself a vegetabler, whereas before, you were a non-vegetabler. The same thing is true with anything else in your life that shifts over time. It’s with alcohol, for some reason, we feel the need to have this label, and we’ve got to label ourselves that we’re either here or over there. Very simply, you’ve just a life without alcohol, and that’s a fantastic thing. If people want to ask you questions about it, I think in terms of explaining your own experience, I don’t know how much of a label you actually need. Telling people that you had enough… What I like to tell people is that over time, I thought alcohol held something that it didn’t for me, and I just got tired of it, and so I was done with it, but it was hard for me to stop. That’s a very simple way to describe the situation.
If you need a label, which is absolutely okay, you can say things. What we choose to say at This Naked Mind is, “I’m alcohol-free,” or just saying, “I don’t drink.” All of those things are absolutely, absolutely fine. If you want to express to people like, “I quit drinking,” if you want to draw that line in the sand, that’s totally fine, or you can just say, “I don’t drink,” and that could imply a bunch of different things. That could mean that you’ve never drank. It could also mean that you don’t currently drink, but expressing this in different ways without using that term, alcoholic. Instead, using the term and thinking about yourself in terms of someone who alcohol tripped you up, but then you’re dealing with it like any other issue in life.
I Don’t Drink
I like to frame it, personally, that I don’t drink. That’s just what I’ve always said, or what I’ve said since I quit drinking, not I quit drinking, not I had a problem or certainly not I was an alcoholic, and so I can’t. To me, it’s saying, “Look, I took a clean look at what alcohol was doing in my life, how it was changing things for me and how it was changing my experience, and I decided I don’t want it anymore, so I don’t drink.” That’s it. It doesn’t need to be this whole big, long story. So, I hope that’s helpful. I know it can be very confusing, especially when that term alcoholic is thrown around and all the baggage that comes with it. It can be very, very difficult for people.
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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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