Updated: Jan 1, 2021
As we begin the infamous holiday season, in regard to sobriety, it is more important than ever to plan ahead, prepare for triggers, and solidify the support group you already have in place. If you are short on support, it is a good time to reach out and develop a quality network of people you can trust and rely on to help you through the coming months. There are many reasons why this time of year may be difficult for some of us. There are endless scenarios and situations not only possible but likely to affect our ability to stay on our chosen path. Of course, this is only true if we are not yet steadfast in our relationship with alcohol. I have said this many times before, but I will say it again anyway; our relationship with alcohol is a choice. No, I am not saying we chose to be addicts. I am saying our continued relationship with alcohol after we have become aware of a problem, is a choice. This choice directly affects our ability or inability to live well, achieve dreams, stay active, or live our best possible life.
In terms of momentum, I would like to approach this conversation from two different points. The first is how we maintain momentum in our normal daily sober lives. Since sobriety is so personal and individual, I will speak to this from my perspective. I will explain how I keep the momentum going on my journey. The second point, because it is so relevant right now, is how we can use or find our momentum as we approach the forthcoming holiday season. This is generally the time of year when we hear things like holiday cheer, hmmm, I wonder from where that phrase originates. Could it be the age-old tradition of toasting alcoholic beverages? Nevertheless, it is a time of year greatly associated with drinking and we need to prepare ourselves accordingly.
Day to Day Momentum
This morning, a new friend of mine in the sober community asked the following question: How do you keep the momentum going? She said, it seems so obvious at times why she does not want to drink, but the confidence quickly wanes and she finds herself back at square one. The problem with this question is it is very personal and individual. In an effort to try and reach more of you, I will first attempt an analogy I hope resonates with you. Then, I will talk about how I use the analogy in my day to day life.
Let's start by defining momentum. Simply defined, momentum means mass in motion. Newton's law states (loosely) an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest. An object in motion is the result of an external force applied to the object. As long as an external force is applied, the motion will continue. If the external force ceases, the motion will cease. What does this have to do with sobriety? A lot. For this analogy, the object is an addiction, the external force is an effort towards quitting, and motion is successful sobriety. If no effort is applied toward quitting an addiction, you will remain addicted (stagnant). When effort is applied toward quitting (force), successful sobriety (motion) begins. However, if your effort wanes so too does your sobriety. This is the "work" aspect of sobriety we often hear so much about. The follow-up question then is, how much work? Or, how hard is the work?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how we look at it, this is up to us. We have the power to determine the difficulty or ease of our sober journies. Ironically, not all levels of work are created equal. For example, if we approach our sobriety with a grin and bear it mentality, we are going to be exerting an enormous amount of effort or work toward our sobriety with very few positive results. On the contrary, if we enact something as simple as a change in perception toward our relationship with alcohol, the amount of effort or work toward our sobriety may be minimal but result in a much easier journey. While both paths may end up in the same place, the journeys may be vastly different.
Going back to the analogy of motion, as long as we are exerting the force (effort toward quitting) our sobriety will continue to be successful whether it is easy or hard. This brings me to the most important aspect of this analogy and our sobriety. Which, of the two examples of force above, are more sustainable? Remember Newton's law, an object stays in motion as long as an external force is applied to the object. How long can you grin and bear it? How long can you remain powerless? How long can you keep up the struggle of a one day at a time mentality? If you are strong enough to keep that up for extended periods of time, then good for you. Keep up the good work. If this sounds incredibly daunting and overwhelming to you, then I suggest finding a way to exert effort or work in a way that is more sustainable and with less struggle. This, of course, is personal and individual as well.
The effort or work I chose to exert toward my sobriety was actually quite effortless. I chose to evaluate and assess my relationship with alcohol until I understood and believed it no longer held any place in my life or the lives of people around me. I chose to change the way I perceived my worth, strength, and place in the world. I chose to believe in myself. Once I did these things, quitting alcohol was not only easy, it was inevitable. There was and is no world in which I can comprehend injecting myself with poison in an effort to feel good. It makes absolutely no sense to me any longer. Because of this belief, the work (force) I continue to exert has nothing to do with quitting alcohol. It does, however, have everything to do with fostering the best possible version of myself. This is not only easier, but it is also a lot more fun.
If you are not yet at a place where you feel comfortable with the impending holidays, I recommend doing some deep soul searching. If you are stressed about not drinking over the next couple of months, the work (force) you are exerting may not be in your best interest. Remember, hard work does not always equate to easy sobriety. If you feel you are working really hard and it just never gets easier, you may be doing something that doesn't work for you. What is the old saying? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Maybe it is time to try something new, look at things differently, change how you perceive what is happening around you, or simply ask yourself some different questions.
What does that look like? I recently wrote a blog about Finding Our Whys. Most people ask the obvious questions. Why do I drink? Why do I want to stop drinking? If your answers to these questions involve alcohol, you may need to dig a little deeper. In order to gain momentum, we have to learn the truth about why we need to escape, feel better, or more confident. When we find our truths, the work we do has less to do with getting through the day without alcohol and more to do with improving our relationship with ourselves, the world, and the people around us. The work we do involves finding our passions and setting goals. We do things to improve our mental and physical health. We live well and we seek to help others whenever we can.
The work we do in successful easy sobriety is fun. We do not dread it because we know with each positive step forward we are growing. We know with each new triumph comes renewed confidence. We know with each new achievement comes a sense of pride and a growing desire to achieve more. We know more than ever we deserve to feel happy and to be loved. We believe we are strong, courageous, and unrelenting in our pursuit of personal truth. The work we do in sobriety is a choice. We can choose the difficulty of our sobriety by choosing the type of work we do, not the quantity of work we do. We know once the positive momentum gets rolling all we have to do is continue to perpetuate the positivity that created the momentum, and we do not ever have to look back.
An object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion stays in motion. Which defines where you want to be this holiday season? I, for one, will be in constant motion.