To make lifelong change to any Unhappy Habit (to change the way you drink/eat/shop and all the rest), you need to accept where you are now.
Accept that you are lost and confused about what you do, without judgement or criticism. It simply is what it is, nothing more, nothing less, and you want/need/must change it.
You don’t even need to now the ‘how’ of the path you took to get there, that is truly not relevant.
Its ‘how’ you maintain the Unhappy Habits NOW that matters, the rest is just a journey into your ’emotional past’ that has often long since gone, which can be both painful and pointless, when it comes to moving forward, other than it holds valuable information that you can use if you choose to.
So let’s start with taking a little look at at the structure of our Unhappy Habits, of what they would look like if we could actually see them. And for this purpose, the analogy of an iceberg is perfect, as it represents both your physical acts and the emotional intentions that drive them.
Above the water is the smallest part of your iceberg, and make no mistake, that smallest part can be pretty damn big. Its icy tip symbolizes your behaviour and its visible consequences.
It’s what you see reflected back at you in the mirror.
It’s the weight you hate, the signs of your alcohol consumption, the dehydration and anxiety in your dull eyed stare.
It’s in the stress you see so clearly etched on you own face when you have drunk, yet again, in a way you promised yourself you wouldn’t. When you have eaten an amount, you promised yourself you wouldn’t. When you have spent money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need….
As well as the looks of hurt, confusion, and lack of trust that you see in the faces of your children and your loved ones, when you have done again, what you promised them you wouldn’t, as well as the lies, desperation and hopelessness that are the ever present companions of what you DO.
That cold white ice is the what you ‘do’ of your habit – what you put into your mouth, what you spend, and seemingly, very sensibly, when you try to make changes, that’s where we start. I mean, if something you are doing isn’t working, just do something else, right……….
So, you circle our visible iceberg warily, thinking through your options, taking into account what has and hasn’t worked before, maybe there is a new diet plan, a new quit drinking, inspirational, motivational, prayer book even, that might just work this time.
And with your new information, you attack your icy peak with our unprotected hands in an attempt to mold it in to the new, improved ice sculpture version of yourself, which sadly you have learnt to feel we can never really be….. because my God, you have tried before and always ‘failed’ to maintain your new ice shape.
The ice shape that is the slim you, the sober you, the one that just isn’t who you are right now.
And why do you feel you can never be this new version of you?
That’s easy. You have been practising your ice sculpting skills for years and they always ‘fail’ you.
At best you have been able to create a temporary ‘new’ you, but then LIFE and the ice starts to shift and re-arrange itself as you try desperately to shape it back into place, until with bloodied, defeated hands you give up and accept your drunk/fat/broke destiny, without even acknowledging how brave you were to try again.
And I want you to know and accept this now…..the very fact that you keep trying means that you are the bravest of the brave.
Ok, so deep down, long lasting empowering, relief and release giving change does not come from working on your icy peak….. Agreed?
So, logically, the only other part of your iceberg to look at is the huge, submerged and brutally ragged, confused mass that lies beneath the water, you inner world, that supports your visible peak.
Dark and seemingly unknowable, this is the foundation of your iceberg, and it is formed by what you have learnt to believe is the only truth about both yourself, and your habit.
What your habit brings to you. How you will without it, who you will BE without it, what you will lose, how you will cope, and added to that is your experience around your habit in the good times – and there were good times, because if you hadn’t experience the good, before you lost control, you wouldn’t believe in its ‘power’ to make you feel better.
And together, all of the above has solidified, been frozen into what you accept as your reality.
Do you recognise yourself here?
Do you recognise the feelings that come up when you try to approach change, even just in your thinking? Before you take any action?
Do you recognise the discomfort, fear, anxiety that always shows up first in the pit of your stomach simply at the thought of making changes?
Those feeling are the only evidence you need to know that you have a belief about what you do….it is the seemingly freezing cold, menacing, submerged part of your iceberg that you believe will rip at you apart both physically and emotionally, if you get to close to it, and so you flinch from even approaching it, dwarfed and cowed as you are by its unseen but definitely felt, size and power.
Many brave souls who have understood this truth still take up the battle, donning protective clothing and attacking the submerged iceberg with all the weapons in their personal arsenal. They launch missiles of self-hate, recrimination and abuse at its silent mass, they meditate, join support groups, read endlessly on their poison of choice, and hope that one of these explosives will detonate on impact, smashing a tunnel to freedom. And still, no, that doesn’t work either.
So, what does?
To melt any iceberg you simply have to raise the temperature of the surrounding water.
And in the case of your Unhappy Habit, I mean the temperature of YOU.
To choose to bring out your sunshine of compassion, forgiveness and love of YOU to YOU, and let it shine down brightly, warming the air and and in doing so, allowing in the light to the Self-Awareness that is key to any transformation.
Self-Awareness can only be found in an expanded state of you. In your state of harsh Self-Judgement, Self-Criticism & Self-Despair, you shrink yourself down into a tight knot of fear and pain, and no new awareness’s can come in.
You rehash old information, that constricts and confuses you further. You tighten the straight jacket of your mind and completely close down any opportunity to the intuitive learning’s from your heart, that give you comfort, trust and faith in you, and allow you to look at what you DO, when and why differently.
Every new Self-Awareness brings questioning to the boundaries of what you believe and your experience.
It allows for the possibility of a different view of the reality you had previously created, and a different view, is an expanded view, which allows for different strategies and different behaviours, easily.
And as your self-awareness grows, you learn to have confidence in yourself, to pause and breathe before you ACT your Unhappy Habit, to recognise the patterns you run BEFORE you act, and to create new ones that truly do offer the comfort and support you are looking for. That is your always and forever TRUTH.
And in doing so, your icebergs naturally melt BECAUSE you expand your understanding of both yourself and your Unhappy Habit.
As you grow, any confusing thoughts and beliefs, frozen for so long, take on a softer, gentler shape, allowing us the flexibility to gently challenge what you DO, what you believe it gives you as well as finally feeling and accepting what it takes from you without your inner battle, all of which gives you the magical, joyful opportunity to act and be who you were born to be, who you are meant to be, habit free, happy, healthy and HEALED.
And the gift of letting your iceberg completely dissolve, it that you are left with an untroubled expanse of water, peaceful and calm, with no need for us to do anything, just to ‘be’.
I hope this message gives you comfort and insight and hope. I hope it resonated with you – it is my truth, and it is yours too. And I hope that it takes you to looking at yourself and what you DO differently.
The ‘different looking’ is the start of your incredible journey back to YOU.
If you need help in understanding & changing any Unhappy Habit, please contact me HERE today.
My LIFE Recovery Coaching comes from a place of deep understanding and compassion of a former addict, a lost woman and Mother, who now lives in acceptance of who I am, who loves who I am, and who is daily HEALING.
Be kind and gentle with yourself.
PS. if you would like to know more about my personal journey, from Pain to Peace, and from Hurt to Healed, 28 years of alcoholism, to peaceful freedom, take a look at my internationally acclaimed book, This Isn’t Me, described by Ranvir Singh, of Good Morning Britain as “Beautiful and devastating” (click on the link HERE). I wrote it for my son, as an apology for his younger years, and as an attempt to explain the un-explainable and it was where I started my journey back to LOVE
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.
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