Before I stopped drinking, I was slowly poisoning myself.
In my professional life, I was very good at supporting and coaching others to transform their lives, to create the future they wanted and to be “the best version of themselves” (this is a phrase that’s starting to sound like a bit of a cliché now as it’s becoming more commonly used but I can’t think of another way of putting it and it’s also true). What I wasn’t so good at was looking after myself and meeting my own needs.
On the surface, I thought I was (I ate relatively healthily, I worked out, I was running a successful career and was proud of the son I had raised) but underneath I was suppressing, hiding or running from something with alcohol. I was living a life that didn’t work for me. My needs weren’t getting enough attention and the alcohol was allowing me to accept a version of life that wasn’t true to me or good for me. It was also damaging my body and my mind. On some level, I was unhappy. There was a part of me that remained unfulfilled and trapped.
This is often a common theme amongst people who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
This behaviour with alcohol symbolises some kind of sense of being unworthy of care and attention. If we took care of ourselves in the way that we take care of others, we wouldn’t be doing this to ourselves. I wouldn’t have wanted the relationship I had with alcohol for my son – I would have fought tooth and nail to prevent that from happening because I care about him so much.
So, clearly I didn’t care about myself in the same way.
When we show ourselves the kind of care, love and attention that we often show other people in our lives, it becomes so much easier to change unhealthy habits like drinking into healthier ones. And, so building this healthier and more loving relationship with yourself is a really important part of making the journey into a sober lifestyle easier.
Each module in the programme gives you steps that help you to do this (the audios are particularly good for this) but here’s another tool to super-charge building a better relationship with yourself:
Write a letter to yourself. In this letter you’re going to say:
• What it is you love about you
• What it is other people love about you
• What your strengths are
• What your achievements are
• What traits/characteristics you have that have helped you overcome adversity in life, have helped you survive
• What elements of yourself you would like to nurture more
• Why you are worthy of care
This will be easier for some people than it will for others. If you find it less-than-easy, imagine that you are writing to a very young version of yourself and celebrate all these things about that young version of you.
When you have written your “love letter” to yourself, you keep it somewhere safe, secure and accessible and you read it every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed.
You might want to repeat this process in three months’ time, in case anything has changed.
Do this and notice what starts to happen as the content and meaning of your letter embeds and integrates itself within you…