In my last two posts, I talked about the very beginning steps that I feel are necessary on the journey toward easy sobriety. Making an honest and deliberate choice to begin your sober journey is probably among the most crucial. I believe the power of choice is from where you will garner the majority of your resolve when you meet obstacles standing in the way of your path. Making the choice to live sober, as opposed to doing it because you feel you have to, fills your spirit with confidence and strength which will afford you the stamina to carry on through what you used to perceive as challenges. Once you make that crucial choice to live again, it is then equally imperative that you arm yourself with the knowledge you need to feel confident and happy in your choice to walk a sober path. For me, it was the knowledge that we have been lied to for as long as we can remember about the positive benefits of alcohol consumption in our lives. For you, it may be something entirely different, but either way, you have to find a compelling reason to support your choice of sobriety; the knowledge you carry with you will be the armor you rely on to protect you on your sober path. Once you have made the choice and armed yourself with the knowledge to succeed in sobriety, it is time to begin living the sober life and that requires a shift in attitude.
Sobriety is a Lifestyle
Like any other lifechanging decision in our lives, sobriety requires a lifestyle change in order to negotiate the complexities of making such a significant change in our day to day lives. I will use the example of fitness to try and relate how a lifestyle change can positively affect the outcome of an attempt to live better or healthier. A perfect example is an age-old tradition of making resolutions for the new year. We have all made resolutions and we have all failed in those resolutions at some point in our lives and most likely those failures were in conjunction with a fitness goal. Why is it so difficult to start and maintain a fitness regimen for a new year's resolution? It begins with motivation. Are you wanting to workout more so you can look good for Summer? Is it so you can wear a certain type of clothing? Do you want to be able to eat junk food without feeling guilty? Whatever it is, if your reason revolves around external motivators, you will not hold the resolve necessary to maintain your resolution.
Bad habits are created over a long period of time which creates long-lasting core beliefs around why we perceive that habit as necessary for our lives. A fleeting idea to be able to look good on the beach this Summer is hardly enough of a motivator to maintain a six-month regimen of dedication to workout every day and eat healthier. Similarly, being tired of waking up feeling like shit is not going to be enough of a motivator to change the chemical dependency we have created in our bodies. The lifestyle changes necessary to make such significant changes in our lives run deep and require not only a desire to change but a belief that change is the only option. I don't mean this in a life or death kind of way either, although that may be true depending on the level of our addiction and our health; even then, that is not always enough of a motivator either. I mean this more in a core belief kind of way. We have to believe down in the deepest recesses of our soul that our addiction is no longer welcome in our lives. Notice how I am not using terminologies such as want, desire, hope, or wish; in terms of addiction, those terms are useless. We have to use terminology that supports the outcome. The terminology we use while walking our path, I believe, has a direct correlation to the outcome of our journey.
To relate back to the fitness analogy, try to remember a time when you successfully maintained a fitness regimen by saying something like, "I want to work out more." As a person who has vowed to live a healthier physical lifestyle, I can attest to the virtual impossibility of maintaining a work out plan by using such terminology. On days when I am not feeling like working out, I do not say things like; I should work out today, or I want to work out today, or I am supposed to work out today. If I say things like that to myself I will just as quickly justify why I do not have to work out that day. When I am not feeling like working out, I instead say this; I have to work out today. Is it true? Yes, because the lifestyle I have chosen to live requires me to work out a certain amount of time over a certain number of days each week. It is non-negotiable because I am a healthy and fit person. Similarly, we do not successfully negotiate sobriety by saying things like; I should not drink today, or I don't want to drink today, or I am not supposed to drink today. No, we say things like; I don't drink, I am strong, I live healthily, I am aware, or I choose life. Changing our attitude toward our goals and our beliefs about ourselves makes all the difference in the world.
If you want to live a physically healthier life, you have to believe it is a non-negotiable or you will not be able to maintain the rigor necessary to work out and eat well every day. Subsequently, if you choose to live a sober life, it too is non-negotiable. There is no middle ground. There is no maybe. There is no half-assed path to sobriety. Ask yourself this question, "Would I ______?" (Fill in the blank with the thing you would not do in any circumstance, whatsoever). Then ask yourself why you are so certain you would never do that thing. Whatever the feeling (not the reason, the feeling) is behind why you would not do that thing, that feeling is what you need to find to support your resolve to not drink. If you are struggling, right now, to conceptualize this possible attitude toward alcohol, that is okay, that is the process, that is your journey toward finding an easier path of sobriety. Keep searching for your reason, it is within you.
As I continue to walk down what I have touted as my easy sober path, I can honestly and unequivocally say that I have not once allowed myself the luxury of saying something like; I want a drink, I wish I could still drink, I miss drinking, or not drinking is hard. While each of us is a different human being and each of our experiences may vary, I cannot back down from my belief that sobriety can be easy, because that has been my experience. A few people have pointed out that my journey to sobriety has obviously not been easy as is evident by my year and a half of therapy and all the different ways I tried and failed to moderate my drinking. While this is true, it does not change the fact that this time, once I took my first step onto my sober path, I have implicitly enjoyed each step along this lifechanging journey on which I have embarked.
If you asked me, which nobody yet has, why I believe sobriety can be easy, it is because it has been for me, and this is why:
1. I honestly and without hesitation was ready to make the choice to live sober.
2. I sought out and found the knowledge that I needed to arm myself along my journey.
3. I changed my attitude and made lifestyle changes to support my sobriety.
Come back on Thursday to read the fourth reason why I believe my sobriety has been easy: the need to connect with and help others.