Today, I want to connect with those of you who might still be in the beginning of your journey to change your relationship with alcohol. And, you might be wondering, ‘do I really need to quit?’. You might even find yourself comparing your drinking with others and finding that ‘it’s not that bad’. The old way of thinking would have you evaluating if you had reached ‘rock bottom’ or if your drinking is ‘bad enough’. I want to offer a new perspective.
Rock Bottom – defined as the lowest possible level. It’s fascinating to me that this is associated with drinking and even more accurately with not drinking.
The connection with ‘rock bottom’ and alcohol comes from the 12 step programs that suggest one must be at rock bottom in order to embrace change. I find this puzzling; where else do we wait for something to become unmanageable before we decide to take action? For example, do we wait for our car to break down before we decide to repair it? And, what is defined as ‘rock bottom’? Is it enough if someone has a DUI? What if someone loses their job? If a family member suggests there is a problem, is that ‘rock bottom’?
I find it much more helpful and positive to think about asking a different question: rather than ask “is my drinking bad enough for me to quit?”, we can ask “Is my drinking adding enough good things that I should continue?”. This takes the focus off reaching a level of behavior and puts it into the context of an empowered choice.
I share in the podcast today that I had people in life who didn’t think my level of drinking, or my issue with alcohol was ‘bad enough’ to quit, that I didn’t have a ‘problem’. I am grateful that I stopped drinking before it became obvious to others that I had a ‘problem’ but I also recognize that the idea of needing my drinking to reach a certain level before I stopped kept me trapped for a long time. Society tells us what ‘normal’ drinking should look like – I now realize there is nothing ‘normal’ about drinking a toxic and addictive substance on a regular basis.
We now have new language to help us define our alcohol use and it doesn’t have to include ‘rock bottom’. Instead, we can think about AUD, alcohol use disorder and about ‘gray area’ drinking which allows us to explore our level of drinking on a spectrum and to make an empowered choice about how alcohol fits into our life and the impact it might be having.
Another way of letting go of rock bottom is to evaluate your readiness to change. In the coaching framework that I offer, I share the readiness to change to help clients understand the when and the why of how to change our relationship with alcohol.
Here are the 5 prompts to help you explore your own ‘readiness for change’:
The belief that change is necessary. This looks very different from I ‘could’ change, or I might need to change. It will most likely involve getting honest with how alcohol is impacting your life.
The belief that you can change. This is a place of empowerment; we must have hope and faith to move forward.
The belief that the change needs to happen now. I sometimes meet people who ‘say’ they want to stop drinking, right after that summer vacation, or their husband’s 60th birthday. This is a clear indicator of readiness – there is never a perfect time to do the hard thing, we just have to get started.
The belief that the change is up to you. Circumstances, someone else’s behavior, these are ultimately unimportant when we take ownership and responsibility. No one else can do the work for us.
The belief that the change you are making is for you. We can’t do this for anyone else. While the people in our lives and our relationships might improve, we must do this for ourselves first and foremost. This is where the empowerment and the responsibility come in; we are making a choice that improves us no matter what anyone else says or does. The reality is that when we change, not everyone likes the new version of us. If you are not in it for you, it might be easy to take a step back and reconsider your own goal.
If you are ready for change, I invite you to consider 1:1 coaching with me. I have two openings this month and that hardly ever happens! I would love to invite you to book a discovery call and find out if coaching would help you create a life you don’t want to escape from.
Find out more and book a call here: Complimentary Discovery Call