the back of a woman in an art gallery looking at three paintings to show the importance of painting a positive picture of life sober

How to make life easier when you stop drinking

So, you’ve decided you want to stop drinking. Or, you’ve recently stopped drinking and want to stay sober. You’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and, although it scares you, you know, at some level, that your life and future is going to be a lot better without alcohol in it.

Imagine just for a moment that you can see your new sober life as a picture on a wall in front of you. Imagine that this picture is a bit tatty and frayed at the edges. It’s stuck onto the wall with Sellotape that’s beginning to peel away in places. Some of the paint on the wall is also peeling away with the Sellotape. The corners of the picture are bending out away from the wall and one of them has folded over so much that it’s covering part of the picture.

The content of the picture is pretty miserable: it shows that every day is a struggle; it shows fear and anxiety; maybe it has the words “alcoholic” or “disease” represented in there somewhere; it depicts a life of loss and deprivation, of missing out at parties and social events; it illustrates a life of endless cravings and denial; and it tells the story of someone fighting through their urges one day at a time.

Even looking at this picture is hard work. You might be feeling reluctant to bring it to life. You might even want to run away from it.

Now, let’s imagine another picture on the wall in front of you. This one is in a beautiful frame that is a piece of art in itself. You want to reach out and touch the frame and feel its contours and texture. The picture has been lovingly and carefully set on the wall in a position where the light hits it just right. The colours and finish on this picture arrest your attention and make you want to gaze at it some more. There is craftsmanship and attention to detail shining out at you from every angle.

This picture paints a different story: it shows that there is an element of work, focus and commitment in the early days of stopping drinking but it also reveals a life of freedom; it represents a non-drinker living life to the full, enjoying every day they’re given; it illustrates all of the benefits from living life sober in colourful detail; it shows improved relationships, career prospects and social interactions; it reveals all of the healthy choices they’re making for their body, their mind and their life; and finally, it depicts someone comfortable in their own skin, confident with their place in the world and living their dreams, fully liberated from what was holding them back.

This picture holds your attention because it’s presented beautifully and tells an inviting and compelling story that you really do want to dive into.

The picture you paint for yourself of what it means to stop drinking is the picture you will bring to life.

Paint the picture that is inspiring and motivating for you. Keep adding detail to it. Frame it well - make it inviting. When you pay special care and attention to the picture you're painting and how you're presenting it, you're more likely to want to jump into it and bring it to life. 

Pump up your motivation for staying sober by keeping that picture at the forefront of your mind. Get familiar with it. Keep adding to it and refining it. Remember it. Keep it with you. The more motivating and compelling the picture you paint, the more you'll be able to stay resilient and strong in the face of challenges and triggers.

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