Today is Freedom Day here in South Africa – in honour of our country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
The journey to a fair and equitable society began.
So the celebrations got me thinking about another kind of freedom – the freedom from alcohol. It takes a period of sobriety to gain the perspective to look back and realise that in fact you have been “in prison” for many years.
Here are just 7 ways you will feel “free” if you ditch the drink:
- Free to fulfil your life’s purpose – lets start with the big one. Once you stop anaesthetising your brain, the mists will clear and your energy and creativity will return. It will take a while and you may have to go through a low period where you feel you have lost more than you gained – but just hang in there and the magic will happen.
- Freedom from anxiety and depression – so many of us drink to alleviate these conditions but in fact alcohol aggravates both. I spent years living with a knot of anxiety in my stomach but after a few months of sobriety I just woke up one morning and it was gone – yay!
- Freedom from cognitive dissonance – at the back of your mind you just know you should cut down or give up drinking but your subconscious has picked up plenty of “false beliefs” over the years (eg. I need to drink alcohol to socialise/have fun/relax). The result is that the conflict between your conscious mind and your subconscious puts you in a state of cognitive dissonance which feels like mild anxiety. The trick is to surface these false beliefs and turn them around. We do this at our workshops – if you can’t get to a workshop then pick up “The Naked Mind” by Annie Grace.
- Freedom from guilt, from losing stuff and from wondering what the f**k happened last night.
- Freedom from dieting – as a serial dieter I ate very little, exercised like mad but never hesitated to put away a bottle of wine a night. Since I ditched the drink I lost 4 kilos and eat whatever I like ? Now I know that the body recognises alcohol as a poison and won’t even think about burning calories until it has got rid of the life threatening toxin. Your body is highly intelligent and doesn’t care if you get fat – its priority is to keep you alive.
- Freedom to relax and enjoy restaurants -the focal point of my evening would always be the waiter. I would greet him, make eye contact, involve him in a debate about which wine to order and then never let him out of my sight. After all he was the source of more wine and the most interesting person in the room ? Now I can actually focus on the food and my friends instead.
- Freedom from failure – I spent a decade trying to “moderate” my drinking as I couldn’t contemplate a life without alcohol. I would manage for a while and then come crashing down again – feeling like a failure who had no “willpower”. One thing I didn’t know back then was that it is SO MUCH EASIER to quit altogether than to try to “moderate” an addictive substance.
So why not give yourself the very best gift of all this Freedom Day – ditch the drink and break free!