Every day we are faced with a multitude of choice points. The points where you decide which road you are going to take and its consequences.
Most days for me start with “What time do I get out bed?” and the consequences of, “If I choose the later time will I be late for work/ whatever”, on to, “Shall I wash my hair or can I get away with another day”, (with my fine hair it’s usually a, “No! Do it!”), and then the plethora of other choices we make during the day before we hit our pillows again.
All the years I was drunk, I didn’t even realize I had a choice. I thought drink had chosen me, that my alcoholism was the result of an unfortunate game of Russian Roulette in which I had spectacularly lost and that I just had to accept it, painful and desperate though that thinking was.
I remember crying tears of despair knowing that I would have given my eyesight to be the mother my beautiful boy deserved, that a physically disabled mother would have been better than the alcoholic one he had.
And honestly, that thinking was almost the entire reason I stayed in a trap of my own creation for almost 28 years. I had abdicated responsibility for my choices to a bottle of bloody vodka. A liquid that couldn’t speak, buy itself, open its lid and finally leap down my throat. I mean WTF! I actually believed that alcoholism had chosen me and that I just had to accept it.
Now I know differently, and here’s the thing about choice. It is the greatest gift we have as humans, our greatest cognitive skill. It offers ALL opportunities for change if we just own it.
From the day I understood that I had a choice, I was free from my drinking. From the day I understood that I chose what I ate and drank, regardless of the fears of the how I would live/cope/be without alcohol, those fears evaporated in front of my very eyes.
I allowed my fears in and they were like mists parting around me, I walked through them and they didn’t touch me! How could they, they were simply thoughts and memories, painful and difficult though some were, which I had a choice to either act on or ignore. Yes I felt unsteady and unsure, of course I did, I had used alcohol as a crutch for over half my life. I had used booze to protect me from pain even though it had become an even greater source of pain, and still I had felt I had no choice.
But I didn’t let that unsteadiness or any uncertainty of how I would cope affect my sober choice. And every time I stuck to my choice, guess what? I grew stronger, more resilient, and prouder of myself and, at exactly the same time, my fears weakened into a state where they could be acknowledged, comforted and understood, making my sober choice even easier. It will be the same for you, I promise x
The most empowering choice we have is our ability to chose who we want to be and how we want to feel. Make that one choice and all other choices fall into line to support it. Do you want to be slim? Choose to be slim and your food choices will follow. Do you want to be sober? Choose sober and your drink choices will follow.
If making one overriding choice feel too big for you right now, too ‘for ever’, make smaller ones consistently. Choose each day who you want to be, how you want to feel, and your choices to support it will fall into line.
When an old feeling of, “How will I cope in a stressful situation, when I am bored, lonely, out of my depth”, when you remember the pain of a broken childhood, heart, whatever your trigger is, comes, STOP. Pause. Breath deeply, fill your lungs. Hug yourself and remind yourself of who you want to be. Who you really are.
Let the feelings come and let them drift right on by. They will, all feelings do. And if sometimes unhappy feelings take longer to pass than you would like, be kind and gentle with yourself and know, with 100% certainty that all feelings are just thoughts that eddy and flow through our minds, that they are not physical and that you don’t have to react to them unless you to choose too.
To help you out, I want you to remember a really happy time, one that makes your heart sing.
Mine is my son jumping in to my arms when he was four, in our local swimming pool screaming ‘Geronimo’ as I taught him to swim. Even typing this makes me smile and shifts my ‘It’s too bloody hot in my office and I need to get out’ feeling”.
Take your heart singing moment and hold it tight. Step into it, feel it, hear it, see it and feel your body and energy literally shift to a happier place. Then make your choice.
My final words on the subject of choice are very important.
Your choice is not determined by anyone else’s view of us, your choice is determined by YOU.
You will often find yourself in situations in life that you cannot control, probably daily. These are external situations. However, only you can choose how you react to them, these are internals responses. Own that.
Stop saying to yourself, “He did/She did. He makes me feel/She makes me feel/I need it to cope/I need it to relax” and all the rest. When you own your responses and so your choices, everything, literally everything is yours for the taking. I promise you x
To find out more about my journey from alcoholism to peaceful sobriety, check out my book This Isn’t Me page.
To find out more me and working with me, check out my About Sonia and How I Work For You, pages. In fact, take a wander throughout my website, my aim to is to bring you the transformation I love every day x
According to Industry Today, in 2015 the weight loss & weight management industry was valued at, take a deep breath here, $158.2 billion. Yes, billion, and it is the ONLY billion dollar industry that doesn’t work!
Can you imagine any other industry that fails its customer consistently and still keeps growing?
Yet, even though we can clearly see its failure all around us, week after week, month after month, year after year, we pour our hard earned cash into its greedy marketing machine, the one that doesn’t deliver on its promise of our dream body and the life that we feel must come with it.
There are the pound smashing wellness clubs/resorts/retreats. There are beautifully photographed recipe and healthy lifestyle books, often bestsellers and, on the whole, excellent – although there is plenty of weird and unrealistic stuff out there too.
I have found that over 90% of the healthy eating plans are straightforward, sustainable, inexpensive and absolute time savers. Having a body we are rightly proud of and love is easy then isn’t it? Sadly, no, it clearly is not.
Then there is also the plethora of pound shedding products; low-calorie/low-fat/low-sugar ready ‘meals’, shakes, powders, pills and so the list goes.
As does the obesity crisis, a huge drain on the NHS and a source of immense pain to those who struggle helplessly with their body image. A crisis that daily grows bigger and bigger too (excuse the pun).
Why? We are not idiots. Most of us know roughly what to eat and how. We may need a few tweaks and a bit of sensible food information, but it really is not rocket science.
Here’s my YOUtrition 100% sure-fire route to shifting those pesky pounds.
“Eat wholefoods when you are hungry, cut down on processed sugar, drink lots of water and move more”.
Lesson over, super body achieved. No book, no class, no handing over of more cash that could better be spent on, well, just living.
So, what’s the problem? It is very simple. Not one of these super easy, super healthy plans even touch the sides of the real issue. It is not the food. It is not the drink. It never was.
It is the way we think and feel about the food, the drink. It is about what we feel it will relieve us of in tougher/sadder/tireder times. What pain it will allow us to avoid or take away. What comfort it will offer. It is all about our emotions.
I know I bang on about this, but from my own experience of alcohol addiction & recovery, no book, no support group, no intervention, nothing made any difference to my drinking, until, after 27 years, I changed the way I thought and in doing so I instantly changed my emotional default settings around the ‘comfort’ of drink. And that was it, I was done.
If you are not sold on my message, ask yourself this,
- “Why on a ‘good’ day can I stick with my healthy plan and on a ‘bad’ day I struggle and give in?
- “Why does the crap I know will further ruin my day seem the ONLY way to make myself feel better?”
“How do I feel this wine/cake will make my ‘bad’ day better?”.
“What am I expecting the food / alcohol, I am pouring into my mouth to achieve, when the problem I am asking it to solve is not in my stomach?”
The answers to these questions can’t be found in any recipe book, clubs or in food (no matter how healthy).
The answers are in YOU.
They are lodged in your emotions and until you address those emotions. Until you understand accept and resolve those emotions, you will continue to spend your money and repeat a cycle that you KNOW doesn’t work and feel worse and worse about yourself with every ‘failure’. Let’s stop this now!
This takeaway is part of my Coaching strategy, give it a go. It works!
Just before your next food/wine smash and grab, ask yourself.
- What emotion am I feeling right now that makes me want to eat/drink this?
Maybe you will say, ‘fed up’, or ‘bored’ or ‘lonely’. Maybe something else.
Drill down. For every answer you give yourself, ask yourself,
- “What does this mean to me?” and again, and again, until you get to the bottom line. There is always a bottom line.
Acknowledge the bottom line emotion, it needs to be heard and understood. And as you work your way down to that emotion, your attention will be focused away from your desire and your craving will start to fade.
Merely by questioning what you are truly feeling over and over again, you will gain a new understanding of your actual needs are and be able to properly address them (if you choose too). Your mood will shift and the craving will simply drift away.
Free 15 Minute Discovery Coaching Call
If you need compassionate support & understanding to change your emotional default settings around food and alcohol, check out my Breakthrough Mentoring & contact me to see how I can help
Love & respect xx
This Isn’t Me is the painful story of my journey into a heroin addiction and recovery, and then subsequent alcohol addiction that lasted over 27 years. It is about the horrifying shock of realizing that my alcoholism was impossible to overcome, even with all the available interventions and professional support I engaged with for over 15 years, when I had successfully overcome heroin with none.
It details the relationship between myself and my now 19-year-old son. About being a single mother and the absolute joy of the gift of him. A joy that turned into the crippling nightmare of severe post-natal depression, requiring in-house psychiatric care on two occasions, and my return to drinking and then self-harm to cope.
I write of my despair on realizing that I would die an alcoholic after being informed that my liver was damaged. Of the deceptions and self-disgust, of my complete desperation to be different.
And then it details the miraculous, magenta moment just over three years ago when I just stopped drinking. No last drink, I simply stopped. Of the “how” and “why” of my stopping. My sobriety is easy, and I do not attend any interventions or have any therapy or support. I just don’t drink. Even after my first sober, truly painful experience of loss of a loved one, alcohol did not enter my mind. I even have alcohol in the house, I just don’t see it.
It tells of my total commitment to helping my son heal as much as possible in a healthy way where his hurts and confusion are discussed and talked through, as and when he needs those conversations. I write about where I am now, where we are now in our relationship, our closeness, our friendship, our love and understanding.
Available only on Amazon. Click link here AMAZON, This Isn’t Me
“This book has saved my relationship with my son”
“I myself have been alcohol free for 6 years I don’t like the term in recovery. I cannot recommend this book highly enough written with such honesty and truth I can totally relate to. It has helped me to be more open with my children about our experience during my drinking days I really felt like it was written about me we are now going to start family therapy thank you Sonia.” Lisa
“I couldn’t put this book down. The author writes with honest simplicity about her journey through drugs and alcohol, never once seeking to shock or elicit sympathy, she Just tells it like it was. Pages written about her relationship with her son pulled at my heart strings and I felt her pride as he grew into an amazing young man. Well done. I think we can all learn about ourselves and whatever demons we battle from this book. I’ll certainly be thinking about my choices.” E Kirby
As the LIFE Recovery Coach, I now take clients through the same journey of powerful change, through my unique, 6 week Alcohol Recovery Method
If you would like to know more about how I can help YOU find peace and freedom from your LIFE Pain, contact me HERE
I am here to help xx
It’s 6 am and I am up and out in the garden with my Gorby Girl and a huge cup of green tea. I would like to tell you I am in my daily sober zen zone, that I have stretched and meditated, and am calm and focused on the day ahead. Except I am not. My puppy is running around barking at frogs, I have just spilt tea on my leg (it really hurts) and I am emotionally gearing myself up for a visit from one of my gorgeous brother’s who drinks like a fish. Happy Saturday!
Now as a formerly (drunk) mother, you may think that I shall be employing some form of majestic, iron clad willpower to resist the tidal wave of booze that is coming my way this afternoon. That I must be putting my emotionally protective soldiers in place, bayonets ready, to ward off any temptation. Maybe planning out my strategies and the conversations I might need to employ to stay in my sober zone. None of those are true.
I have willpower, an abundance of the stuff in fact, but I never utilize it to not drink. I don’t need to.
We only need willpower to resist doing what we desire, the things we do want to do, not the things we truly don’t. And because of our desire, it is the hardest, least successful method of long term change.
Last week was tough for me on a number of levels. I won’t bore you with details, but it ground me down and certain events caused me a great deal of emotional upset. For me, drink is off the table. It’s just not an option. There is no desire. Been there, done that, nearly killed myself, so no thanks. Cheesecake however holds center place. I think for the last 5 days out of 7, I have bought cheesecake to comfort myself. And on some levels it has.
We wouldn’t eat the crap, drink the booze if there was no sense of comfort gained, temporary though it only ever is.
However last night I went shopping and didn’t buy the cheesecake. I saw it, still wanted it and an inner tussle ensued. This time though I employed my PAUSE and in that pause, before my willpower was called into action, I re-thought the ‘why’ of my ‘need’ for cheesecake I understood and acknowledged the ’emptiness’ I was trying to fill, and let the thoughts of cheesecake drift away. Great stuff. I left the shop contented, in peace and went home happy.
However, had I actually allowed myself to enter into the internal dialogue, the fight of should I/shouldn’t I, the self-justifications versus the recriminations, I might have been able to walk away with my willpower coming out on top (doubt it though). But how would I have felt? Triumphant, yes (over ignoring a cheesecake……..!), but also exhausted, probably on some inner level upset that I was missing out and definitely fearing the next time I would have to employ my weary willpower.
But by recognizing my thinking of what I expected from this over sweet, processed sugar fest, by asking myself what I actually needed emotionally, by acknowledging how I was feeling and giving myself an emotional cuddle – I have even got into the habit of putting my arms round myself wherever I am and whenever I need it – I was able to let go of my desire, my ‘cheesecake want’ and move on without even asking my willpower to join my unhappy inner party.
At the risk of repeating myself, which I will because this point is so important, we only need to use willpower against something we desire.
Understand and acknowledge the emotional ‘why’ of your wants and desire is lessened, making choice much easier because you no longer feel you are missing out on anything. And when you truly feel you are not missing out, desire simply drifts away and willpower becomes redundant
Initially, in tougher time, at least to start with, desire may well come back, maybe in a different form, but the same strategy of understanding and acknowledging does work and you will build your truly comforting resilience muscle. So much more effective than any willpower.
So, this afternoon I will have my lovely, kind, funny and no doubt very drunk brother to stay. He will come back from the pub with my son – God help my precious boy – where he will, no doubt, have honoured our Irish heritage with a few ill thought out ditties before stumbling back here with vodka.
I will be sitting serene(ish) in my garden with my tonic water, struggling to understand his anecdotes. My willpower though unemployed in that moment, will be fiercely called upon tomorrow morning, as I am already weary with the knowledge that I will have to get out of bed and walk Gorby at 6am on a Sunday morning after only 4 hours sleep.
Love & respect
If you would like to know more about my journey to sobriety, check out my memoir, This Isn’t Me.
To understand how I help clients, take a look at my Working with Me page, and Practical Techniques for Recovery page.
Or join the Breakthrough Community Newsletter for regular updates and support
9am. Today is the day you won’t have that glass of wine at ‘Wine O’Clock’, usually a loosely acceptable 6pm. Maybe you drank too much last night. Maybe your waistband has more of a bite to it then the expected nibble. Only you know – although you may also have the creeping dread that others might also know too after last night……. Anyhoo. Today’s the day. No more booze.
11am. Nope, still not drinking tonight. Feeling better, a few strong coffees inside you, maybe a pastry to replace the lost carbs, a nice little sugar spike to lift you up. Better still, you were really on it this morning and ate something that has actually benefited you, think eggs or porridge. Whatever, your resolve is strong.
4pm. God you’re tired/bored/fed up, or even had a great day. For good or bad, a glass of wine is in order. You need and/or deserve it and, “What the heck, you don’t have a problem with alcohol and you’re only going to have the one (thankfully a bucket sized one with your new on-trend wine glasses….)
Sounding a depressingly familiar cycle? It was mine.
So, where has your resolve gone? The fact is that, even though you don’t articulate or acknowledge the thoughts, you feel you have no choice but to drink.
All the self-justifications you come up with are designed to hide the fact that wine has started to control you. Your ‘good reasons’ for drinking are trying to protect you from a knowledge that will cause you pain. It’s not you, it’s how our brains work.
Breaking News! Even if this cycle happens every day, you can change your drinking, and simply, when you understand how.
There is always a space, a pause, between your ‘I need a drink’ hijacked thoughts and the physical act of picking up the bottle, pouring a glass and then drinking it, and in that pause is immense power.
In that pause is who we want to be, the non-drinker in control of our actions, the more engaged parent and partner, with healthier self-esteem, self-respect and a looser waistband. In that pause is US.
Pausing before taking action changes everything, instantly.
I remember on the few occasions I was able to not drink, that I used the pause. I didn’t know it then, it came as one of my insights, but it resonates completely now and it works.
The truth is that I couldn’t have stopped my drink cycle once the bottle, not even the glass was in my hand, but I could stop before I picked up the bottle.
I could, and did, for some reason and out of nowhere, take a few deep breathes, remember through the storm clouds of my addictive thinking, who I wanted to be, acknowledge the damage my drinking was causing and understand completely that it would only make everything worse. I could even, and this is probably the most powerful part, grasp a glimpse of who I really was. And I could, in that moment, in that pause, not pick up the bottle.
Yes, I always felt shaky afterwards, but shaky with relief, not desire for alcohol. I clearly remember my watery, tearful smile of truimph in the mirror, but I didn’t understand what emotional acrobatics had taken place. And, as usual, the not knowing, meant not understanding and so I couldn’t move forward and repeat the cycle. I had no insight and no awareness. I do now.
Practice Your PAUSE
The next time the thoughts of “I need a drink” come. PAUSE. Ask yourself, “Why do I need a drink?”
Before you mindlessly reach for the bottle, the glass. PAUSE. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I do drink?” and “What will happen if I don’t?”
Recognise your thoughts for what they are. Yes, they are, for now, a habit, a repeated behaviour but you have the choice to act on them or not. They have no physical expression unless you give it to them. PAUSE
Recognise that the feelings/emotions you want to avoid, will pass. You know they do. They always do. PAUSE
Then breathe slowly and deeply, still your mind, let your thoughts drift to a beach, a sunny day, your children laughing, whatever makes you happy. This will change your emotional state. Hug yourself in comfort if necessary and remember who you really are, not how repeating your habit makes you feel. PAUSE, then act.
The pause allows you to think clearly, it allows you to see the urge for what it is and the reality of what it offers. In seeing your urges for what they are, simply thoughts, they become weaker, you become stronger and you will be free x
As with any new practice, PAUSING may feel strange, but it will also feel empowering. It does work and every successful pause makes the next one easier.
Love & respect
If you would like to know how I help clients, check out my Working With Me page.
If you want to know a little more about how I overcame 27 years of alcoholism, take a look at my book, This Isn’t Me
Click here for my Breakthrough Mentor Newsletter