yellow daffodils

How I won some self-respect when I stopped drinking

It’s early Sunday morning, I've just returned home from a frosty run and the sun is streaming through the window onto the table in front of me. The daffodils I bought yesterday are starting to open next to my lap-top, I'm surrounded by yellow and gold and I’m content and energised. I feel good because I just raised my self-respect and fulfilment a couple of notches.

Last night, I went to bed thinking it would be good to go for a run in the morning but I hadn't really decided to do it. It wasn't a committed thought, it was more an "I ought to..." So, when I woke up, I spent about 30 minutes lying in bed, flicking through Facebook and putting off getting up - not really wanting to do a run but not finding many excuses not to.

In the end, I got up and did it. What finally decided me was the knowledge that, if I didn't, I would feel bad about it. My self-respect would dip and this would affect my mood and my self-confidence.

And, I'm now reaping the rewards of feeling good about myself. I've had a great outdoor start to the day: I've felt the warmth of the sun on my face, cutting through the cold wind; I've seen an old, blind rabbit, looking healthy and well, foraging around and peacefully enjoying a safe, quiet moment; I've seen and greeted a couple of dog-walkers and their dogs; I've waved hello to a field of sheep who stared at me like I was an idiot; and a beautiful horse came over to a fence as I ran past and I stopped to commune with it for a moment.

All these little things have contributed to a great start to the day and have given me joy.

If I hadn't have made myself get up and do it, I would be feeling "a bit off". I would probably spend some energy regretting it. I would have told myself off and would be trying to make up for it by slotting a run in during the working week which would have been an extra stress. My day would have been fine (hangover free as always!) but my self-respect would have been dented and this would affect my self-confidence.

I can apply the same principle to my drinking behaviours. Towards the end of my drinking career, on the days I stuck to my goal of not drinking, my self respect went up, I felt good about myself and my self-confidence was higher. On the days I caved in and drank, my self-respect plummeted.

This was because:

1) I hadn't stuck to my intention - therefore I had "failed"

2) It contributed to my belief that "I couldn't do it"

3) Which, in turn, contributed to me feeling worthless

4) I'd be ashamed of my behaviour when I was drinking

5) I'd be feeling guilty about things I'd said and done

6) I'd be scared of myself

7) I'd feel physically and mentally unwell

8) I’d be paranoid that my “failure” would be obvious to others

And all these things led to me feeling bad.

When you're doing things that build your self-respect, you get to feel good about yourself. When you do things that dent your self-respect, you erode your self-confidence and your chance of contentment or happiness. You prevent yourself from being the person you naturally want to be.

If you've stopped drinking and you find yourself tempted to reach for alcohol, remember it's not just about what the drink gives you in the moment, it's also about what drinking or not drinking will give you when the moment has passed. What you’ll get after the event, a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks later.

Choose to do whatever will increase your self-respect and will benefit you further into the future than just now.

Self-respect is a key factor to feeling good and being confident and happy. Self-respect makes it easier to like yourself and treat yourself well.

If you want some guidance on how to replace an unhealthy drinking habit with healthier habits that build up your self-respect, join our Guidance Membership here. For £29 per month (way less than I was spending on alcohol per week!), our Guidance Programme will teach you how to stop drinking and approach living life sober in a way that builds your self-respect and makes it easy for you.

What one thing can you do today to enhance your self-respect?

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