Congratulations! You have decided you want sobriety success!
You’ve suffered through the withdrawals, and now you have to face the trials of daily life. You’re scared, uncertain that you will succeed, and obsessed with the fact that you can no longer drink. In fact, suddenly it seems that there is a liquor store or bar on every corner tempting you to stop. Every thought centers around the fact that you can’t have a drink because you know that just one drink will demolish all hopes of sobriety success.
Or you could be one of the lucky ones that start their sobriety floating on a pink cloud, excited to be free of embarrassing drunken behavior followed by miserable hungover mornings.
But even for the lucky ones that motivation doesn’t last, and before they know it, they find themselves tempted to have just one beer at a party or a glass of wine after a hard day at work. During those times, it’s imperative that you arm yourself with a mindset that empowers your motivation for sobriety success.
How a Positive Mindset Helped my Sobriety Success
I launched my future in sobriety success with a traditional Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Immediately, I felt hope. There were a lot of things in that meeting that I realized was missing in my life. I found a community of people who had like experiences and would support me. I was encouraged to seek out my own form of spirituality, something that I hadn’t done in years. Furthermore, it provided me with an actionable plan that I could follow in the 12-steps.
Having tried to get sober before and failing, however, I was still skeptical, so while they told me to keep it simple, I still found myself needing proof. In my search, I discovered the benefits of having a positive mindset. According to the Mayo Clinic.
Those benefits include:
- Longer life span
- Decreased depression
- Decreased stress levels
- Increased resistance to illness
- Psychological and physical well-being
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Greater coping skills
Most importantly for me, however, is that it gave me the strength to overcome my addiction to alcohol.
Overall, I just felt better. Happier. At peace.
How I Improved My Mindset for Sobriety Success
My first action to sobriety success was to start a morning ritual of listing in a small pocket notebook five things I was grateful for and five positive affirmations to myself. If that is all you do, it will help because it will prime your brain, making the following mindset tips easier to adopt.
1. Change Your Expectations
When you expect to fail, the chances that you will increase. It’s important that you don’t let the negative messages rule your thoughts. It’s up to you to take control and learn to expect that you will succeed. Regardless of what you may believe, it is possible to control your thoughts, not your first thought, but definitely your second thought. In this case, it’s important to teach yourself to expect success. When you find yourself thinking, “this is too difficult. I’m going to fail,” turn that thought around and say, “this is easy, I can succeed.” While you may not believe it at first, over time that will change and you will know that failure is not an option.
When I first got sober, I bounced around as happy as can be. People kept warning me that I was going to fall off my pink cloud. I replied, “that’s okay. I’m learning to use my pink wings.” It felt arrogant to act so confidently, but I knew that my sobriety success depended on adopting an expectation of success. Find ways to believe that you will stay sober.
2. Visualize a Positive Outcome
When you aren’t sure where you are going, you leave yourself open to ending up anywhere. Close your eyes and imagine situations in which you are able to stay sober. See it as if it had already happened. Then ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I see myself in sobriety?
- What did I do to get there?
- What did I do instead of taking a drink?
- What did I say to the people I was with?
- How did I turn down that glass of wine?
- And what did I do when the urge felt too strong?
Write down the answers to these questions so that you have them available when you need to use them.
3. Be Proactive
Often we react out of habit when things go wrong. In fact, if you’re an alcoholic, you probably react out of habit when they go right as well. For example, when you have a bad day at work, you may end it with a drink to relax. On the other hand, when you have a good day at work, you will want to celebrate, also with a drink. Rather than react, be proactive by planning other choices in advance. Instead of reaching for the bottle, try taking a hot bath. it works for relaxation as well as celebration.
4. Remember the Serenity Prayer
Unfortunately, you will have bad days where you will feel the urge to control things that really are out of your control. During those times, remembering and applying the Serenity Prayer will remind you to step back and reevaluate the situation. Sometimes all it takes is a few seconds to reframe your thoughts. The Serenity Prayer provides a structure in which this can be done.
Use the first part of the prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” to help you identify those things you have no control over. Then use the second part, “the courage to change the things I can,” to identify the things you can control. Finally, the last part, “the wisdom to know the difference,” to remind you to accept whatever happens. After all, certain things will happen as they do regardless of your input, so there’s no need to trouble yourself over them.
5. Surround Yourself with Positivity
To begin with, you may want to take a look at the way you talk to yourself. If you have a lot of negative self-talk and say things like “I’m a failure,” or “I can’t do this,” you will only bring yourself down. Turn those negative statements into positive ones. Preferably, you could say “I am a success.” However, that may be too difficult at first. If so, try telling yourself “I can be a success” and work your way up to “I am a success.” Additionally, start reading motivational books or if you prefer, you can listen to audiobooks. I have discovered that motivational YouTube videos quickly put me into a positive mindset when I am feeling particularly down. Check out this video to see if it works for you.
One way to identify whether or not you have negative or positive self-talk is to make a list of your inner thoughts as they come to you. Then at the end of the day, look over your list and rewrite any negative thoughts, so they are positive. The more statements you have to rewrite, the more negativity dominates how you think about yourself.
6. Surround Yourself with the Right People
This is a fact many people don’t want to hear, but it is very important that you change the people you hang around. You may have decided to quit drinking, but the people you drank with probably have not. The activities they participated in will still involve alcohol which exposes you to temptation. The good news is that there are people who live sober lives, and they do have fun. In fact, those people may introduce you to new and fun activities that can replace your old behaviors.
7. Don’t Forget to Celebrate Your Sobriety Success
Every day you spend sober is a day worth celebrating. Don’t wait for the one month, three month, or one-year milestones to recognize your accomplishments. Small celebrations along the way will boost your motivation. Furthermore, celebrating your sobriety success prompts the brain to release dopamine adding positive reinforcement and encouraging you not to drink.
Maintaining motivation to stay sober can be difficult. Relying on the memory of your last hangover may not be enough because as time passes, that memory will fade. On the other hand, taking proactive actions and visualizing a positive future will have a much greater impact.
What You Can Do to Achieve Sobriety Success
Adopting a positive mindset can be easy if you know where to start. Unfortunately, like me, many people believe they have one when, in fact, they simply can’t see the ways in which they think and act in negative ways. This is where working one-on-one with a coach can help you achieve sobriety success. Together, we will dig deep into your thought process to uncover your true thinking, discover activities to help you shift your mindset, and celebrate as your sobriety date falls further and further into the past. Contact me today to get started.