Usually, people who have developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol are either running away from something or running towards something. Either way, they’re not happy with where they’re at right now or who they are right now.

Often, people report that they can stop drinking without too many traumatic effects. It’s the staying stopped that can be the biggest challenge. At some point, after the initial wave of motivation, enthusiasm and determination for a new sober lifestyle has crashed and doubt has crept in, some people find themselves reaching back for alcohol again as if they’re on automatic. It can seem like the easiest route to take when the road gets tricky or steep.

This is because drinking has become an unconsciously embedded pattern of behaviour. The unconscious part of our minds is responsible for 90% of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We’re only really consciously choosing what to do, how to think and behave about 10% of the time. So, it’s no surprise that when we’re not paying attention, the unconscious part of us takes over and reverts to familiar patterns.

In order to “stay stopped” more easily, we need to give the unconscious part of our minds some guidance and support. Or some instruction. We also need to get happier with where we are and who we are right now. The Go Get Sober Programme works by giving you tools, tips, techniques and activities that help you to get your unconscious mind onside and to learn to be happier with who you are so you no longer need to run anywhere.

One of the ways you can help your unconscious is by choosing to use healthy and helpful language. Did you know that your unconscious believes what you tell it? If you tell yourself often enough that you can’t do this (whether it’s stopping drinking or completing a marathon) you’ll believe it and you’ll start to live your life as if it’s true.

You can help your unconscious by replacing unhelpful phrases and words with more helpful ones:

I’ve got a problem with drink  could become  I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with drink and I'm changing it.

Notice that your unconscious believes what you say, so if you say something in the present tense (I’ve got…) it believes that this is true for you right now. If you say something in the past tense (I’ve had…) it starts to think that might not be true for you anymore.

Using tense is a powerful tool when you’re changing a deeply embedded and unhealthy habit. Instead of referring to a “problem”, you can refer to “that old problem” or “the problem I used to have”. The more you do this, the more your unconscious will start to file away that problem state as something in your past and no longer true for you. This, in turn, makes it much easier for you to create and stick with new habits.

Using the word “when” can also help to train your unconscious.

I’m never going to be able to live life sober – I feel trapped  becomes When I’m living life sober, I’ll no longer feel trapped.

Which one sounds more positive and uplifting?

By using the word "when" like this, you are implicitly assuming that at some point you will  be living life sober and no longer feeling trapped. This helps your unconscious to understand that this is now a possible, if not probable, future outcome. It then starts reacting and responding as if it's true.

If I stop drinking, I can get healthy again  becomes When I stop drinking, I can get healthy again.

Which one sounds stronger and more believable?

The word "if" implies that what is being suggested might never happen. How many times do you hear people saying "If I have time, I'll ...(whatever) " and you know the " ... whatever" will never happen. Your unconscious hears the "if" and understands that it's unlikely to happen. Whereas as soon as it hears "when", it starts creating the reality of the " ... whatever " and helps you make it happen.`

A starting point is to use the past tense when you’re referring to your old patterns of behaviour around drink and to use the word “when” when you’re referring to how you’d like to live your life. Simply doing this will help your unconscious mind to start shifting what it believes about what’s possible for you. And, this will make it much easier for you to stay stopped in moments of challenge.

Enlisting the power of the unconscious enables you to stay resiliently sober, which, in turn, gives you the opportunity to work through some of the issues that led you to an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in the first place and allows you to move towards a place where you can finally be happy with who you are.

Doesn't that sound good?

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