3 Magical Mindset Shifts for Early Sobriety
In early sobriety, having the right mindset is everything.
Let’s face it, embarking on any big lifestyle change is bound to be challenging. Not only are we creating new neural pathways in our brain, but we’re also learning how to live again in many ways. That’s some big stuff!
It’s normal to feel terrified of all this change, and in the process, we can find ourselves imagining the worst.
Our minds can be incredibly powerful in helping us to overcome these fears and old patterns, and training our brains to focus on the positive can really supercharge our efforts.
In other words, having powerful ways to reframe our thinking can mean the difference between actually enjoying our sobriety journey, and sinking back into old habits and patterns that no longer serve us.
So how do we flip the switch?
Here are 3 of my favourite magical mindset shifts for early sobriety:
1. Ask the Right Question.
Have you read Tommy Rosen’s book, Recovery 2.0? I always enjoy reading people’s different perspectives and stories about sobriety, and I especially resonated with this quote:
“Here is a question I have been asked by almost everyone who starts down this path: “Tommy, is there some way you know of whereby I can drink a little…?”
My answer is always the same. “You are asking the wrong question. What you really want to know is “How can I be happy and free?”
Since you equate drinking… with happiness, you simply don’t want to let them go. And yet, when you take a look at your history, it is probably easy for you to see that your ‘habit’ with this thing has not brought you happiness, but rather a lot of pain and suffering.
How strange that you would like to find a way to continue something that has been so painful!”
I loved this so much.
Back when I was desperately trying (and failing) to moderate my drinking, I’d go around and around in my (hungover) head, thinking:
Well, it’s not like I’m a falling-down-in-the-gutter drunk, or anything. I haven’t lost my job, or crashed my car… Surely I don’t have to give it up completely?!
Turns out I was asking entirely the wrong question. The right one – the one that shifted everything – was:
What was I giving up by continuing to drink?
It was such a powerful reframe.
Continually asking, “Am I really that bad?” wasn’t the key to a new perspective or the happiness I craved.
Instead, asking, “Is this situation good enough for me, and the life I truly want?” allowed me to see everything through fresh eyes, and move forward in a whole new way.
Ask the right question. It has the power to change everything.
2. Surrender your idea of who you used to be
It’s funny how attached we become to our old ideas and identities. Every now and then, I notice that when Dom or a friend suggests a certain activity (like playing golf, ice skating, or camping), my immediate, knee-jerk reaction is, “No way. I’ve tried that and I don’t like it.”
And maybe I did try it once upon a time. But I was a different person then. I had a different outlook, not to mention, a very different hierarchy of values.
I really fell in love with this mindset shift when Dom and I moved homes a few years ago. Boy, did this move bring up a lot of angst for me. I was so excited about our new home, and yet… there’s so much change involved in moving house, right? Change of neighbourhood, local hangouts, familiar faces. There’s so much temptation to cling to the old – to reminisce and romanticise things that no longer serve us – rather than embrace the new.
I know I also did this in early sobriety, and I’m guessing at some point you’ve felt it, too. I mean, if I wasn’t the woman always first in line at the bar, ordering drinks for everyone and helping them have a good time, then who was I?
Indeed, so much of the emotional rollercoaster of early sobriety comes from the grief and struggle over letting go of our old identity.
If there’s one thing that’s true about sobriety, it’s that we change, grow, and evolve at lightning-quick pace.
Minds change. Hearts open. Quantum leaps take place.
As Cheryl Strayed put it so brilliantly:
“Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.”
3. Recognise that Growth Generates Happiness.
When I first stopped drinking, I often felt annoyed at how hard it felt. My inner teenager would pitch a fit for DAYS about why *I* had to be the one to change, while others stayed cozy in their comfort zones.
Slowly I realised that I had it all wrong. I didn’t have to change. I could easily choose to keep stubbornly plodding down the path I was on; a path that was making me increasingly unhappy.
Or I could think about how amazing it was that I got to change. That my heart had requested more from life, and what an incredible gift that was in itself.
Because, here’s the thing: although it can feel scary, uncomfortable and painful at times, over the long term, it truly is growth that generates happiness.
Not staying stuck. Or being afraid to be different from our friends or family.
Not consuming more drinks or food or clothes or electronics, or the myriad of other things our society tells us to consume in order to find happiness.
Not shrinking yourself to be the same person you were a year ago.
But, taking action. Solving problems. Overcoming new challenges. Boldly going deeper into your connection with other people.
Reaching your full potential.
So go ahead and grow, angel. Follow your heart.
Give yourself permission to change and evolve and become anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to be.
We get to do this.
P.S. Your mind is incredibly powerful in helping you to overcome old patterns, and training your brain to focus on the positive can really supercharge your efforts. Which mindset shift will you use today? Come share with me on Facebook or Instagram!
If you need some help to go deeper into your sobriety mindset, I have a ton of resources for you!
Start by watching a free special screening of one of our most popular coaching videos – Why Sobriety vs. Moderation.
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