Many people believe that once they succeed at something, they will be happy.
This may hold some truth, but putting happiness and fulfillment second can actually mean we are trapped in a way we don’t have to be.
In the beginning, we sometimes believe that we won’t be happy until we’ve achieved what we want to achieve – in this case, sobriety.
But sobriety has a huge number of milestones – in fact, an endless amount.
What’s important is that we believe in ourselves from the get-go, and this can actually help us get to where we want to be.
Think about it like this, imagine someone trying to get sober for the first time.
They might hold beliefs such as:
I could never go a month without drinking
I’ll never be able to get sober
Life will be worse without alcohol
I’ll believe I can stop drinking when I see it for myself
People will find me boring if I don’t drink
This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think that quitting drinking will make you depressed, miserable, and left out, this is likely to be how you will feel.
Self-belief is one of the things that helped me get over my initial mental block when it came to drinking.
For years, I had thoughts like ‘I’m not the kind of person who can be fun without drinking’ and ‘I won’t fit in if I don’t drink’ and ‘I can’t go out and do my favourite things without alcohol’.
But the truth was, all those thoughts were only holding me back.
It took a while, but I began to change my attitude about drinking. I put belief in myself at the forefront of my mind, and started having different kinds of thoughts.
This took reading a lot of quit-lit, following sober Instagram pages, joining sober communities (like this one!), and writing about my thoughts to see if they made any sense.
I quit in the end because I had an intervention, but I spent those first few days miserable until I realised:
If I don’t believe I can do it, I won’t be able to do it.
The power of the mind is incredible
So, instead, I started trying to think things like:
I’m not actually missing out without alcohol, I’m gaining things
I’ll re-learn who I am as a sober person and that person will be incredible
This is what I want for myself and my life
I have a support network I can access to help me
I believe I can do this
In those very early days, I downloaded a sober app and it asked me a question:
Why do you want to go sober?
This was what I wrote down:
‘I want to avoid shame. I want to be more productive. I want to be the person people think I am. I want to be healthier. I want to control my sensitivity and anxiety. I want to avoid suicidal thoughts. I want to be kind to those who matter in my life.’
Writing this gave me the power to be happy about my decision to quit alcohol.
Aiming for success doesn’t always lead to happiness.
But aiming for happiness often leads to success.
Our minds are incredibly powerful tools, and once I changed my outlook, I found it easier to think much more positively and believe in myself.
If I had told myself I was going to fail from the beginning, I’m sure I would have.
But I told myself I could do a month. Then another month. Then another month. And even after the ‘pink clouds’ and elated feelings faded, I had changed my attitude towards alcohol for good.
I realised I didn’t have anything to lose, only things to gain, and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that this is entirely true. I have gained so, so much from going alcohol-free, and my success and happiness now go hand in hand.
In this week’s premium podcast, Shaz and Ben talk about this and how putting belief and happiness first actually leads to success. It can be much easier to blip if we don’t believe in ourselves from the get-go, and we don’t want to set anybody up to fail. They'll be talking about some forum posts as well as Shawn Achor's book The Happiness Advantage. It'll be a great listen. Get involved!
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