Here at the DUI Foundation, we’re excited to partner with Carrie Armstrong, with the How To Be A Sober Girl blog. You can check out her blog here. Over the next thirty days, she has committed to a How To Be A Sober Girl 30 Day Kickstart campaign and we’ll be sharing her stories right here.
And without any more time, here’s Day Twenty One:
A lot of us struggle with the frustration that comes with not being able to stick to our word when it comes to not drinking.
We get drunk. Feel awful/guilty/scared the next day. Vow we will stop. Say that we absolutely mean it this time. Then literally forget any of these vows we make ourselves and go right back to drinking. It’s disheartening.
It’s also totally logical.
When you were a kid and you mum threatened to counteract any misbehaviour with grounding you-she had to follow on her ultimatum. The first time she didn’t? You knew you could adjust your behaviour accordingly and push things a lot further, because there would be no actual ramifications for your misdemeanors.
It’s the same with alcohol.
The first time you said you would cut down or stop? You probably did it. And it not likely to have been self-pressure that took you back to it. It would have been peer pressure. But as soon as that happened? Your brain knew it wouldn’t get grounded. And it set itself up for years of bad behaviour without ramifications.
And with every promise to curb our drinking after the initial broken promise, we simply weakened our brains trust and respect for us. The promise just got emptier and emptier.
It also has a sneaky way of crossing over from drinking into other parts of life. It’s why you might have trouble sticking to that diet, or keeping to a deadline. Why you pick up a hobby only to drop it quickly. An empty promise is an empty promise, irrespective or what is being consumed.
There will be at least one thing in your life that you’ve kept to. One promise you have followed through on. For some it’s a strong work ethic. For others it’s their marriage vows. Whatever it is? Consciously congratulate yourself on it. Yes it’s something you’ve never even questioned giving up because otherwise you would have, but it’s cast iron proof that you can be a consistent person.
Stop making empty threats. Which basically at this stage actually means stop threatening yourself at all. If you leave the threats alone for long enough? They do start to be effective again. You will follow through on it.
I spent years making empty threats to myself. And like anyone else who does this I lost the ability to threaten or punish myself at all. Because I never followed through. I’d lost the ability to. So I left it alone, for years.
I have to do these brain exercises at night. They are really important because if I don’t do them my body doesn’t work. This should be a massive incentive, but for some reason it’s not.I just get annoyed at the thought of them. And I got to a point of bodily crisis with it. Quite severely. So. I issued a threat to my body. For the first time in years. I told it if I didn’t do my brain exercises properly a night there would be no more tea drinking. This is serious stuff for me because I’ve been a tea drinker my whole life, bloody love the stuff. Anyway, it worked! My brain realised because I never give threats anymore, then this time I must be serious. And there you have it. Smooth sailing every evening on the brain exercise front, and the withdrawal of tea if I don’t. And I never forget. It never slips my mind like it would have done in my drinking days.
So. Stop the empty threats. Leave all threats alone. They may seem like an effective course of action, but they aren’t. They are just another example of what happens when a person takes action without attempting to alter their current unhelpful belief structure. Concentrate instead on putting some time into the different skills we have discussed so far. Give your brain a rest from all the ultimatums. That way if you ever do want to use them again, in any aspect of your life that you feel like, it will actually work!