Alcohol Cravings & Anchoring Your Thoughts
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
I remember last year there was I time I was trying sobriety again after many failed attempts. I had gone close to a month which was longer than I ever had before. At this time, sobriety was very difficult for me because I was in environments that kept me constantly surrounded by alcohol.
I was at a work function where we hosted our clients to a movie premier for "The Incredibles 2". I hadn't seen any movies in theaters in a long time, especially a kids movie. To my surprise there was a shocking amount of drinking in the movie. I wasn't expecting to see super hero cartoons casually sipping cocktails. This was a trigger for me. I remembered feeling so strong in my sobriety leading up to this and then suddenly during this moment I started to allow myself to weaken. I felt my heart start to race, my hands started to get sweaty and the thoughts of wanting to drink came flooding in. When I used to have heavy triggers like this, I would make up my mind on having a drink. Once I made up my mind on having a drink, it felt nearly impossible to change it. In that moment I felt "well if these adult super hero's can have a drink, why can't I"? It sounds so silly, but that's literally how triggers work some times. The movie made drinking seem so "normal" and I wanted to be able to drink like a "normal" person.
The reality is- there is nothing normal about drinking alcohol. It's a poison.
I hadn't yet fully given up my beliefs that alcohol had some type of benefit in my life. I still believed life was more fun with alcohol or that it helped me relieve stress and relax at the end of the day. Those belief systems were what held me back and allowed myself to be "triggered" in the first place. If I had given up those false beliefs, then being triggered wouldn't even be a thing.
I remember that night after the movie, I went home and decided how I wanted my night to go. I knew I had a choice, to drink or not to drink. Unfortunately, I hadn't been in control of my thoughts out the gates and allowed that little devil to creep in and take over. It felt easier to give in at that point. Now looking back, I try to pick apart and dissect those thoughts and feelings to get a better understanding so that it doesn't happen again. I try to figure out what was the difference in that moment compared to how I handle things now.
The difference is that back then, I had nothing I was fighting for. I didn't feel a love for myself, I didn't feel a love for my partner, I didn't feel a love for my job... I had let alcohol control my life for so long and it morphed it into a life I couldn't even recognize anymore. I could hardly even recognize myself. I wanted so badly to quit at times, but hadn't fully committed to changing my surroundings as well. We all drink for a reason, and mine was a deep unhappiness for where I was at in life and with my drinking and unhealed/unacknowledged trauma.
Quitting drinking feels easier this time around and it's because I've learned to anchor my thoughts and take control of them. I've come to realize that alcohol will always be around. It's so socially acceptable and a staple in our society, so I can't live life avoiding being around it (but will try to as much as possible). Instead of trying to constantly control my surroundings I learned that it is easier to control my own thoughts. When I am feeling any type of trigger, or having any type of thoughts that may lead to thinking alcohol had any type of benefit in my life any point I have to reel it back in and remember those are only false belief systems.
I've done a lot of the hard work to change my surroundings including cutting out toxic relationships, changing jobs, focusing on my spirituality, loving and respecting my body, setting boundaries etc. When you have more respect for yourself and your life it makes it easier to anchor your thoughts and remember WHY you quit drinking in the first place. When those thoughts come in, I remind myself of all of the things I don't want to lose now because of alcohol. I look at how far I've come and picture what my life would look like if I let alcohol back into it.
That helps me remember that it was all a lie. All of those reasons I told myself that I needed to drink were all lies. Just a heaping pile of bullshit. I didn't need alcohol to be happy, to have fun, or to relax. What I needed was healthy relationships, a safe space to heal and deal with my traumas, a job where I felt appreciated and respected, a connection with my higher power and a sense of purpose.
There's literally a reason for everything and sometimes we just need to take a step back and really start to peel back the layers in order to gain more clarity. Unpack all of those false beliefs and create new, stronger thought patterns.
We are in this together.
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