3 Important things to embrace are: Radical Acceptance, Radical Compassion and Radical Accountability.
Accepting that alcohol no longer serves you. Accepting that alcohol seems to be taking you down the wrong path or that alcohol only impacts your life in a negative way. Understanding that it does not make you flawed, or broken, that it is an addictive substance that has done its job.
Compassion, because all change should be rooted from self love and not self hate. Compassion for the fact that when you took your first sip of alcohol, you didn’t know where it would lead you. No one takes their first drink and expects to find themselves in an unhealthy or dysfunctional cycle years later. You did not know what you know now.
Finally, radical accountability, because at the end of the day it is you vs. you. When you are accountable to yourself, you will feel a strength you did not know you had.
Are these things easy to accomplish? Not necessarily. It is a process. It takes work. It takes a drastic mindset shift to allow acceptance, compassion and accountability. Not all parts of growth and healing are meant to feel amazing, quite frankly they can feel uncomfortable. Sitting in that discomfort, truly leaning into and pushing to the other side - that is where the magic is. So often we feel discomfort and our initial reaction is to go back to the habit we are trying to find freedom from. Our brain has developed a system and created a neural pathway, so without even thinking, we are back to where we started.
My last post was all about the power of acceptance, and as simple as it sounds, it is incredibly difficult but also life changing.
Alcohol is not only socially accepted, it is socially encouraged. To accept that your response to alcohol is a negative one, in a culture that glorifies drinking, is incredibly difficult. There is a stigma attached, you may feel flawed, uncomfortable and “weak”. There is shame, resistance, and this idea that “maybe I can moderate,” when in fact, who wants to moderate a toxic substance? When you learn the truth about what alcohol is and what it is does to you, you will understand that the idea of moderation is simply just elongating the damage you are causing to yourself.
Alcohol is ethanol. Period. Would you try to fill up your gas tank and pour yourself a glass? No. Would you try to moderate that substance? Also no. The more you are able to learn and educate yourself surrounding alcohol, the less you will romanticize a substance that does nothing positive for you.
Give yourself compassion alongside acceptance, because you did not know what you know now (or what you are able to learn about if you haven’t already). You also fell victim to a substance that literally did what it was meant to do: get you addicted.
All forms of accountability are good accountability, so please don’t think I am suggesting that an accountability buddy is a terrible idea. In the early stages, or any stages, people often get a huge sense of support and encouragement from having an accountability buddy. Like I have always said: use any and every resource until you find the ones that work for you. When I speak to radical accountability, I encourage you to get to a place where you feel a sense of acceptance and compassion, and that ultimately you realize you are hurting yourself. Yes there are others who get hurt in the process, but if you are constantly going and back and forth with yourself, it is you who loses trust in yourself. I had to change my mindset that no matter what I did, even if I was the only one who knew I took a drink, that was enough. I could not lie any more, I could not hide anymore, and ultimately the person I was hurting was me. So even if I had an opportunity to drink or if I surrounded myself with people who encouraged poor habits, at the end of the day I knew I was making a choice that I didn’t want to be making. I had to be the one who held myself accountable. No matter who else knew or was affected, I knew I would be letting myself down (and ultimately others as well). I held myself accountable and it became the most empowering feeling. Again: if an accountability buddy works, by all means do that, especially in the beginning. An extra set of eyes can be encouraging and I completely understand that. I just encourage you to know you can shift your mindset from a place of shame, blame and disempowerment, to a secure, confident and empowered place. It takes time, it takes work and it is not necessarily attainable overnight.
But it is possible.
It is worth it.
Be patient and kind to yourself. And understand you are not powerless, but powerful.