There’s a good chance you might fall into one of these categories.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein
Laying in the bed on Thanksgiving Eve (I don’t think anyone really calls it this, but it lays the right context for this story) with my girlfriend at 10 pm was the reason that I said I would NEVER give up drinking.
How could I?
Here we were, with nothing to do tomorrow except eat turkey and mac and cheese (mmm…mac and cheese) and we were laying down like a couple of old farts because she didn’t feel like going out.
I was still very much in my aggressive partying stage at the time at the ripe old age of 30 (maybe a bit old for as much as I liked to go out, but it was a lifestyle).
She was 37, and we had been dating about six months and were pretty serious. Serious enough that I had asked her to come home to meet my “moms” and family during Thanksgiving — the first girlfriend who had done so since college.
As she turned over to go to sleep, I found myself angry because I loved to go out and party all the time, and being in the bed with nothing to do when tomorrow was a “free day” seemed like a travesty to me.
It was this type of thinking that kept me drinking for the next eight years until I finally had the maturity to become the person I dreaded becoming only a few years earlier.
This was only one of three ways that I looked at my pre-alcohol-conscious life that prevented me from finally making the decision to change my lifestyle and start taking my ass to bed at a decent hour.
Most people who find stopping drinking difficult are probably thinking in one of these three ways.
The thought of not drinking gives you FOMO
This was the main reason I was so angry as I sat in that plush hotel room and thought about all the fun people were having out there in the world.
It was Thanksgiving for God’s sake! Who was REALLY out partying that night???
That was the way I used to think, however, as I rarely wanted to miss a chance to drink and just have fun if I didn’t have anything pressing the next day that needed my non-hungover self’s attention.
Up to that point, I had experienced a number of fantastic nights out on the town exploring the city and enjoying all that life had to offer.
For this reason, whenever I thought about the possibility of all that was going on out there without me, I often felt like I was wasting my life.
To me, the purpose of life was really to have fun. I mean…what else was there really?
I always wanted to end each day with the infamous words of Ice Cube on my lips, “Today was a good day,” and to me, a “good day” meant partying as much as possible and having a story to tell the homies that next day.
I was not alone in this feeling, and it is something that many more people experience nowadays due to social media’s hype on how much is always happening in the world.
From studies, about 56% of social media users experience FOMO, and I easily fell into this category. I seemed to always get a bit anxious when I wasn’t drinking, as I wanted to get out of the house and do something “fun.”
I always thought there was the possibility of me finally running into Brook Burke one night and realizing that I was the love of her life.
Alas, this didn’t happen, but it definitely kept me going out just in case it could.
You never know, right?
This mode of thinking prevented me from making this decision much earlier than I wish I would’ve in the long run.
You can’t be “yourself” without it
Many people experience anxiety on a number of different levels in certain situations.
So many of us look at anxiety as being an indicator that something is wrong with us when it is just our body’s natural way of protecting us in life.
Anxiety is what our body experiences when we are put in situations in which we are not familiar with and there may be a chance of some type of danger to hurt us.
This could be either physical, emotional, or psychological, and this is why we typically get so anxious in settings with new people in which we feel there is a chance we can embarrass ourselves in some way (why everyone HATES public speaking).
Therefore, alcohol is the tool that many people use to reduce our natural body’s protective mode of becoming anxious in these situations by lowering our central nervous system as a depressant and allowing us to just not care as much…or to put it a bit more eloquently, “Just not give a f*ck.”
When alcohol allows us to have this cool as a cucumber demeanor to go with the flow or be the life of the party, we automatically think this is our “true” self.
We tend to believe that this carefree, let me jump on the table, take my shirt off and swing it around like a helicopter (shoutout to Petey Pablo) is my true self as opposed to any other version.
It allows us to talk to someone that we like without any issues and say the things that we want to say to them.
Therefore, when we are able to experience these things while drinking and feel the freedom that it allows us to have, we automatically think we NEED it to become that person.
What most people don’t realize is that alcohol doesn’t cure anxiety in any way, but just masks it and actually prevents us from ever developing the ability to overcome it in the long run.
The reality is that you can still be that same person without alcohol if you choose to be, but it will be a bit more difficult for you to push past the natural boundaries and fear that your anxiety creates to put yourself out there more.
Alcohol becomes a crutch that makes you think you need it to be this person that you like being while you’re drinking.
The truth is, however, the only way you truly become that person is by putting yourself in those situations WITHOUT alcohol and then allowing your body to learn to be comfortable doing those things without.
This typically won’t become clear until someone tries it for the first time but so many people just never give themselves the opportunity to do so.
You won’t have anything to deal with stress in your life
Life can be stressful.
There is no doubt about that. We all have so many things that we are dealing with at times that it just seems impossible to deal with it all on our own without some type of external force to help us deal with it all.
Very similar to how alcohol doesn’t really help your anxiety but exacerbates it, stress is affected very much in this same manner.
We like to think that popping a cold one at the end of the day and relaxing on the couch is going to help us not think about all the sh*t that is going on in our lives, and that is somewhat true.
What this means, however, by not thinking about what is going on in our lives is that we are also not working out any solutions to fix those problems.
Alcohol can be an escape to get away from the reality of what may be occurring in our lives at that time, but it also takes away from our mental capacity to identify possible solutions to solve these problems and make our lives better.
There are so many other things that could help with relaxing other than alcohol, e.g., exercise (a great healthy option), food (probably not the healthiest in the long run but still an option), sex (definitely probably the most fun option)…there are a plethora of options at our disposal that we can use that don’t also impair our ability to think and work through possible solutions.
By identifying these substitutes, we will put ourselves in a much better position to be mentally healthier long term and not stay dependent on something that will only increase our stress in the future.
And while I can’t promise that changing your mindset on these three things will make stopping drinking absolutely easy, it will hopefully at least give you a little peace to stay your ass at home on a Thanksgiving Eve in the future and be okay with it.