So Many People Make These Big Mistakes When They Start.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Suess
From the first time my wife and I went into a group setting without drinking, I didn’t have any qualms about it whatsoever. I supposed I was luckier than others because I had two previous three months stints of not drinking and had still enjoyed myself immensely.
Therefore, when Lena and I were invited to a bar with another couple, I knew that I could still have fun without alcohol with little to no problem. When the bartender came to ask what I would have, I ordered my usual sugar free red bull without a moment’s hesitation.
“You’re not drinking?” asked the male part of the couple.
“No,” I replied. “I’ve decided to take a bit of a break. It’s been three weeks, and so far, so good.”
I answered him without the faintest feeling of owing him any more of an explanation than that.
He didn’t ask any more questions, and all four of us proceeded to have a great night out together.
At the time I didn’t realize, but now, looking back, I understand that it was my attitude at this moment that has been one of the biggest reasons that I have been successful in staying alcohol-conscious for the past two years and why I don’t see myself going back ever.
Thinking about this a bit deeper, from this moment, there were three things that I subconsciously refused to do that has made all the difference in the world in aiding my success.
Lie about it to make others feel comfortable
I’ve read many books and articles giving advice on what one should do when put in a situation in which others ask why they are not drinking. There are a number of different strategies that people give to combat this, but the one that I could not wholeheartedly disagree with more is to lie about it.
Why should you?
You have made a decision that is very personal and something that you feel is going to improve your life. If that is the case, then in what world should you feel any type of shame about this.
I know some would say that it is only a little white lie about having to do something in the morning or taking some medication so others won’t feel weird about you not drinking.
My question in regards to this is why is it YOUR responsibility to make others feel comfortable about you not drinking.
In the famous words of Sean Carter (i.e. Jay Z), “What you eat don’t make me sh*t.”
Therefore, the decision that you made for what you are NOT going to put in your body should in no way cause concern for others who cannot deal with it.
If you not drinking causes them to feel like they need to look at their own drinking habits, then this is actually a good thing for them.
However, to lie about it and start the night lying to others seems like it would make the night overly stressful as opposed to enjoying it as you should.
Apologize for it
In the same vein that I don’t feel that you should lie about drinking, I also feel very strongly that there is no need for you to apologize to others about this.
When I hear stories of people saying they are sorry for not drinking, I think back to how bizarre it would be for someone to be at a party in which everyone is doing coke or scarfing down all types of unhealthy food and that person apologizing to everyone else that they are not partaking.
Your individual health is always yours to control and your decision to do whatever is important to you to ensure you are living the life you desire should never be anything in which you feel compelled to apologize.
You should have some sense of pride in not drinking. Not many people would have the willpower and strength to be in a room full of others drinking all around them and resist joining in.
Therefore, you should give yourself a pat on the back for being able to do so, not feeling any type of shame or sheepishness because of it. Revel in your strength…not apologize for it.
And this brings me to the final thing you should never do when you quit drinking and, in my opinion, something that will serve you in almost everything else in life as well…
Give a f*ck what others think
This one is near and dear to my heart.
For me, the decision to become alcohol-conscious was one in which I knew was the right decision for me at the time. After living a life of drunken nights and hungover mornings, I knew, first hand, what this type of lifestyle had given me.
No one else had lived in my shoes or experienced the things I had. And while I can say there were some things that I would miss from this lifestyle, the benefits far outweighed the negatives for me as I decided to explore a new path in life.
Therefore, to allow someone else’s opinions and thoughts on this decision for my life to have any bearing on how I felt about that decision seemed absolutely insane.
For that reason, my entire focus and drive had nothing to do with others and only to do with how I felt about my decision.
Everyone has to make the decision for their own lives and to allow someone else’s opinion to cause you to feel bad about a decision that’s personally right for you will greatly inhibit your ability to be happy in the long run.
In the words of the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
Alcohol had made me a prisoner for 19 years. I wasn’t about to leave one prison just to create a new one.