a continuous area or expanse which is free, available, or unoccupied:
I have been thinking a lot about space lately. And, the more I think about it the more I share these thoughts in my coaching groups and with my clients and then the more I think about it; anyone else?
As I continue to evolve as a human and as a coach, I think about why removing alcohol from my life was such a game changer. And, I also think about how and why I was successful in my first attempt to stop drinking forever. Yep, I said it: forever. I had one previous attempt where I was planning to stop for one year. I remember telling one person and she was really supportive. I also remember making it to about 3 weeks and then drinking while on vacation. The next time I decided to stop was just one year later (ironic in a way) and this time I did stop and I haven’t had a drink in 2775 days, roughly 7 years and 7 months. One difference that I can identify is that I changed ‘taking a break from drinking’ to stopping. For me, I needed to create the space to do the work.
And, I think this is a key part of any change. I share a story in this week’s podcast about a client who was having her garage floor refinished. She shared that they had to move everything out of the garage, even the cupboards, in order to have the floors done properly. It reminded me of working on alcohol freedom. We often want to ‘refinish the floors’ without moving anything out of the way. When we try and do the work without first creating space we are going to have a mess and chances are things won’t turn out the way we wanted. Imagine the difference between trying to work on eating less while the fridge is stocked with your favorite unhealthy snacks. Can we do it? Maybe, but it’s a lot easier when we remove the snacks and stock the fridge with good food.
There are 3 kinds of space I share about:
For me, when I was drinking I really struggled with my mental chatter. My brain was filled with thoughts of drinking, thoughts of not drinking and with beating myself up. There was no free space. When I put alcohol aside, I created so much mental space! No longer did I have to think about how much I could drink, or try and calculate how much I had drank. There was no decision making when it came to the random Tuesday night. Suddenly, there was space. Space that allowed me to ask my brain a different question: what’s next?
For many clients, it is important to create more physical space. This can be boxing up all the wine paraphernalia in your house (who knew we had this much?) or giving away the martini and margarita glasses. For anyone who had had to box up a loved one’s belongings, you know how the space feels very empty after. This is similar to the feeling we are going for. When we create space we can fill it with a new espresso machine, or a host of sparkling waters and fresh fruit. Imagine having your bar area, a space that was previously filled with cocktail fixings suddenly alive with a candle, a plant and a mocktail recipe guide? This is the kind of physical space we can create to help change our thoughts and habits.
Emotional space is a biggie. This one can feel a bit harder to explain but if you have taken a break from alcohol or no longer drink, I am certain you know what I am talking about. This is where we let go of some of our ‘go to’ emotions, the ones that had us reaching for a cold one to self-soothe, and create space to ask ‘what am I really feeling?’. This takes time. We often have no space in our lives to process our emotions. We fill our days with responsibilities and deadlines and then wonder why we fill so flat and depleted… Creating emotional space allows us to pause and respond vs. react. This is a space we will want to keep creating for ourselves over and over again. This is where the real change happens.
Whatever you choose, taking it one day at a time or setting a firm decision, I hope you will consider this idea of creating space. I use the word ‘create’ or ‘creating’ intentionally because it is an action word. This process involves your participation and your willingness to explore a new way of being.