Someone recently commented that they were feeling frustrated that the joyous sobriety they were craving was still not happening. That they were still having to put effort into concentrating and working at not drinking rather than just unconsciously enjoying being sober.
This was four weeks into their new sober life.
Firstly, achieving four weeks of sobriety after years of habitual drinking is cause for huge celebration. A fantastic achievement! And very early days. I know that when I was four weeks in, I was still concentrating very hard on "not drinking" as opposed to breezily not even thinking about it.
The timing of the shifts and changes we all go through as we gain in confidence with our sobriety will naturally be different for everyone. For me it took until about four months of not drinking before my “new staying sober habits” had become unconscious. It was about three or four months in that I started going to evening events like pubs/parties/social occasions and not giving advance consideration to how I would “manage” being sober and was just doing it automatically.
It’s really important for us to go easy on ourselves every step of the way. Drop any expectations about what is supposed to happen and when, and instead get curious about what might happen, how it might happen and how you will be different. Remember that you're learning something new - you're learning the skill of sailing through life sober. Like any new skill, it takes practise, focus and patience before you master it.
Just notice how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and breathe through it without judgement on yourself. Many people who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol also tend to be quite hard on themselves. Learning to be kinder and less judgmental on ourselves is crucial if we want an easier route into sobriety. When we start to celebrate our every success and our every step and we take it easy on ourselves, we start to feel more motivated, confident and resilient. This makes it more likely that we will be successful.
For some people it might take one month, for others it might take twelve – there are no right and wrong timings here – however it works for you is how it is supposed to be. All you need to do is observe, notice, get curious as to how it is working. You have totally changed your behaviour and drinking habits and, just like learning to drive a car, you are having to consciously concentrate on how you are doing it before it becomes an unconscious habit that you don’t even have to think about.
Let’s go easy on ourselves and acknowledge the great work we have done, regardless of where we are on our sober journeys!