As a person who used to drink alcohol at the end of each day, I was surprised to learn that becoming sober, requires a heck of a lot more change than simply putting down the wine glass. It turns out, it requires a total shift in the way you approach life - that is, if you are to be successful in your sobriety.
These are five things successfully sober people do, that may not have been their practice whilst drinking.
Tell the truth - People who drink make a habit of lying to themselves and others. Drinkers may be offended right now, (I would have been) but from what I know - it’s true. They tell themselves stories about how they work hard and deserve a drink, or that they don’t drink too much, or that they only had a few, or that they weren’t bad in comparison to someone else’s drunken spectacle made at the last dinner party or event. Sober people have the courage to be honest with themselves and others about where they are at, and where they want to be - even if this makes them vulnerable or subject to judgement.
Feel pain - Drinking is about numbing. It is a pain-killer, an avoidance tool, a way around instead of through. Drinkers are celebrating or soothing, but in all cases when drinking, you are numbing yourself from the full experience of your life. Sober people feel the pain, and go through it head on. The reason they can endure pain and come out healed is because they are sober; they are able to ground themselves and embrace the present moment. They can also appreciate long-term gain over short term pain. This is the opposite for drinkers - for them it’s about short-term gain. Of course, the pain keeps coming back long-term.
Build community - People who drink experience cycles of depression and anxiety. They are literally messing with stimulants and depressants in their brains, thus disturbing the delicate balance of hormones meant to keep us on track and able to function in the world. When we get depressed or anxious, we isolate ourselves. We suffer from cognitive distortions and become unable to connect with people in healthy ways. Sober people build genuine, supportive relationships with others, based on real common interests, happening in a clear and conscious reality. The joy that comes from these relationships is so much more genuine than the booze-soaked, miscommunications that happen in bars and around dinner tables where people talk, to hear themselves make a point -the same point, over, and over again.
Embrace change - Drinking is a routine that not only robs us of our daily joy, but it locks us into a routine where things just don’t change. We don’t have the energy to propel ourselves forward or to embrace something new. We can’t read, learn, exercise and achieve - when we clouded with booze. We can only drink more, and start over feeling crappy, day after day. Sober people create space for learning; they are creative; inspired and full of hope for the future. Change and evolution happen faster and easier for sober people.
Lead bravely - Brene Brown talks about what it takes to be a brave leader. She says it takes the ability to be vulnerable with integrity. I think it also takes sobriety. You need to be clear, honest and true to yourself and others to actually inspire others and take giant steps forward. Compassion, communications, honesty, integrity - these are all aspects of sobriety. Perhaps a great leader could be a drinker? But if I were making a choice about who to choose as a mentor or model, I know I would pick the one who is sober.