A new year is upon us which leads many of us to reflect upon things we’d like to examine or change in the coming year. One area we often question but are afraid to look at too closely is our drinking. Society has told us that if we want to get curious about your drinking – we must have a problem with it. That just isn’t true!
It’s okay for “normal drinkers” to want to explore where and how much alcohol fits into their lives. You don’t need to be facing legal problems, divorce, or massive fallouts to want to shine a light on your drinking. No one questions when someone cuts out soda or red meat. Yet, announce you’re taking a break from alcohol and suddenly you’re the subject of trivia night!
People get uncomfortable when you get curious about your drinking because it forces them to consider their own drinking. It’s not you, it’s them. Everyone drinks alcohol and everyone has a bit too much at times. There are entire movies dedicated to the escapades around a night of drinking. Funny to watch but there was nothing amusing about the anxiety that would overcome me at 3 a.m. every single day.
I Gave Myself Permission To Get Curious About My Drinking
For the longest time, I too avoided looking at my drinking because it was “normal.” Everyone around me was doing the same thing but were they all dealing with the depression, anxiety, and feelings of disconnect that I was riddled with? That wasn’t really a happy hour conversation.
Finally, I decided that if this was normal, I needed to see what was on the other side of normal. I stopped asking myself ‘is this a problem’ and instead asked myself ‘is this good enough?’ I wasn’t an alcoholic but I was ready to get curious about my drinking.
These are the questions to ask when you want to get curious about your drinking:
1) What Benefit Do I Think Alcohol Is Giving Me?
Why am I drinking alcohol? What do I think it’s doing for me? Is it making me happier? Helping me relax? Is it making me more fun? Relieving my stress? What do I think alcohol is fixing?
2) Is My Belief From Above True?
Wouldn’t it be AMAZING if the answer to all of life’s problems COULD be found in a magic bottle? I wish that could be true, but I can tell you first hand – that magic wasn’t found in a bottle of alcohol. When I was honest with myself – which was hard to do – alcohol didn’t make me happier. Instead, I found myself more depressed except for about 20 minutes while the alcohol made me feel good. It didn’t take my stress away; my problems were still there once the buzz wore off. And no one found me fun while drinking. In fact, I was boring.
3) What Would It Take To Stop?
How much money would someone need to offer for you to stop drinking? If you’re hard pressed to find an amount that would make it enticing, your relationship probably needs a second look. For $100,000 I bet you’d be willing to give up pizza, doughnuts, or soda without a second thought. That hesitation to do the same around alcohol means the relationship is no longer healthy. Alcohol now holds the upper hand. This gave me a moment of pause for sure.
4) Where Did My Beliefs Come From?
When did I start believing I needed alcohol to fix things? Obviously, there was a time when I could have fun, relax, and do all these things without needing a drink. Societal conditioning and my own experiences caused me to shift my beliefs and start to associate alcohol with feelings. Is it the bar I’m enjoying or spending time with friends? Does alcohol relax me after a long day or does sitting down and allowing myself to rest? Breaking those associations can be mind blowing.
5) What Is Holding You Back?
From the moment we begin to wonder if we might be drinking too much, we already know the answer. If something is bringing you discomfort, you should let it go. So what is holding you back from letting go? In my case, I didn’t want to feel deprived without alcohol. I was terrified of a life of missing out. Yet, was I really enjoying my life when crushing anxiety kept waking me at 3 a.m.?! By reframing my beliefs, I realized that the only thing depriving me was alcohol and the joy it was stealing from me.
6) Can I Take A Break?
Instead of swearing off alcohol forever, can I take a break to examine my relationship with alcohol and my beliefs? Can I take 30, 60, or 90 days and work through the questions above? Am I willing to see what my life might look and feel like without alcohol in it? Join us in The Live Alcohol Experiment that begins January 1. You’re not the only one who wants to get curious about your drinking. Join others asking the same questions as you and searching for answers!
Let’s Normalize Not Drinking Or Drinking Less
Getting curious about your drinking shouldn’t be taboo. Go ahead and take a look at it, take a break and see what a life without or with less alcohol feels like. You don’t have to justify not drinking to anyone – it’s your life. What you might discover is that a life where you’re in control is just what you’ve been looking for.