How to maintain commitment in your sober journeyMay 09, 2023
When I speak to people about drinking, they often say the same thing.
They’ve had some success with moderating or abstaining from drinking in the past but have reached a hurdle at some point and slipped back into old ways.
If this rings a bell, I’m here to tell you it’s OK – you’re not broken or doomed to repeat the same patterns forever.
You just need to approach things in a different way – to try a different recipe.
My recipe for staying committed has three main ingredients.
Take the first step
The first step is often hardest (as in it takes the longest to actually do). But it’s also the easiest. Rather than hoping the old ways you have tried will somehow magically start working (eg willpower), instead take a positive step in a new direction. Find a new teacher, follow a new path and stop trying to reinvent the wheel on your own, when others have conquered this problem before you.
Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect before you start
Guess what, they never will be! Instead, start in the midst of the storm. Start when you think you couldn’t possibly take on anything else, start despite your hesitations. Solving the problem of drinking too much will take care of so many of your other problems that any time spent working on it will be paid back in spades.
Allow yourself to suck at it to begin with
Allow yourself to make mistakes. Progress is achieved through trial and error, through experimentation and research, by staying curious and noticing patterns. It’s not achieved by setting a high bar and expecting to clear it at the first attempt.
Instead, let go of old tendencies to heap on self judgement at the first sign of a wobble and let yourself be a beginner again.
Those who succeed are those who are prepared to allow for failure – to welcome it even.
They allow themselves to be bad at meditation – to accept that while they might be an expert at work or at their favourite hobby, they’re not going to be an expert at meditation on day one.
They allow themselves to have setbacks with not drinking.
They allow themselves to learn.
What’s the secret sauce?
The secret sauce of commitment is to commit to the process and not make everything contingent on immediate results.
The secret sauce is to commit to a system that will work over time, even if the odd day-to-day goal isn’t achieved.
The secret sauce is to favour systems over goals. Systems are more durable as they allow for mistakes. And allowing for mistakes rather than taking your ball and going home at the first sign of trouble is what will lead to long term results.
You don’t have to master it on day one. Instead, understand it’s OK to make mistakes so that you can stay in the game long enough to make progress.
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