The opportunity: With the right perspective and effective strategies, you can celebrate without regrets.
The solution: Use these 4 tips to stay sober and enjoy your newfound freedom, plus know what you did the night before.
Tip 1). Remember What It Was Like
Toward the end of my drinking career, I wasn't the kind of guy you wanted to know after a few drinks. In fact, I didn't want to know me either. I had gone so far off course from who I knew I was deep down inside. The end was coming one way or another, and thankfully in my case, that meant eventually getting sober. Remembering how many times alcohol has been at the center of your problems in the past helps motivate you in positive ways to continue seeking progress in your life.
Tip 2). Don't Try to Do It Alone
None of us can get sober and stay that way for any length of time without the help and support of others. For me, that meant getting help from my amazing wife, family, friends, hospitals, institutions, 30 day in-house treatment facilities, mental health specialists, 12 step recovery meetings and sponsorship, and finally living in a halfway house.
The journey is different for every one of us, but one thing is the same. Doing sobriety on your own typically keeps you drinking, whether you want to or not. By asking for help, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of breaking through the denial of addiction. Surround yourself with friends and family members who understand how important sobriety is for you. Whether you go to a party with or without alcohol, be sure to listen to your own inner voice and keep your sobriety first and foremost above everything else.
Tip 3). Do What You Love to Do
One thing I love even more is playing guitar and singing. There were many times in my alcoholism that I would just look over at my guitar and know that I wouldn't be playing it for a while because my drinking was so heavy. In sobriety, I've reclaimed my passion for music and play almost every day, learning songs and techniques I never could have learned before. Playing guitar and singing reduces my anxiety, helps me to express things that only music can, and is a gift I get to share with my family and friends.
Finding ways to lower stress and increase your sense of self worth is essential to staying sober. What makes you feel good without adding anxiety or remorse? What do you miss that you used to enjoy doing? Think about what really makes you happy and do more of that.
Tip 4 - Do Something For Someone Else
Connecting with people inside the rooms showed me how to do the same thing outside of the rooms. I started listening to my wife more carefully, asking friends how I could help in their tough times, and giving my full effort at work. I found out that smiling and showing appreciation to others made everyone feel better, and kept the thought of a drink far away. This habit has become ingrained in me now and is probably the biggest factor in keeping me comfortably sober for the past 9 1/2 years.
Take time to think about small ways you can help others in your life. It can be almost anything, from giving someone a ride to a meeting, to volunteering, to throwing a ball with the kids at a party. The more you look outside of yourself, the more opportunities you will find to help somebody else. Who knows, you might end up a party someday with someone who looks and sounds strangely familiar - a person who can't stop drinking but wants to, even though they don't know how yet. It's the same person you used to look at in the mirror every day, who used to wonder the same thing, but who now has an answer that works.
"We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change."
- Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 83-84
If you would like help in taking your recovery to the next level, CONTACT me to schedule a free 30 minute session to see if coaching could be right for you.