Layering your Sober Tools – with Belle


Belle got sober back in 2012 and was one of the first people in the Sober Space, one of the first to share her own story and to try and help others to make a change!

In this Episode

  • Belle was not interested in alcohol as a teenager, she’d actually noticed what it did to people and didn’t like what she saw
  • As she got into her twenties she started to drink the odd beer
  • Interestingly she would never buy a six-pack – somehow she knew it was a better idea to buy a single beer at a time
  • Way before she had developed any level of dependence she recognized that alcohol “spoke to her” as she put it
  • A decade later her consumption stepped up until she was drinking four or five times a week, three or four drinks at a time
  • As she hit 30 she found it harder to moderate
  • She started taking AF beers to social events and alternating between her alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • A decade later, she decided that she needed to take a break from alcohol to prove that she wasn’t an alcoholic
  • In her late 30s Belle got married and felt she had a “partner in crime” as she put it
  • Drinking wine with dinner at home and ordering a bottle when they were out didn’t seem at all excessive; they would order wine by the case and it felt very “grown up” and sophisticated
  • Belle’s husband drank the same amounts that she did but, in fact, he didn’t think about alcohol in the same way that she did
  • This realization actually didn’t surface until she quit when she realized that he could take it or leave it – he was a “normie” as she puts it
  • Belle was used to taking a few days off the booze now and then when her workload got heavy or she had to get up early but when she decided to quit for a month, she only got to 7 days
  • That was when it hit her that she might have a problem
  • Her second attempt at taking a month off alcohol also failed so she decided she had to approach this differently
  • A friend of hers sent her an anonymous blog from someone who was trying to quit
  • Belle loved the idea of blogging … and getting responses from people who were on the same path so she created a blog on WordPress and posted her first entry
  • She got an encouraging response the next day and found it “surprisingly helpful”
  • People were giving her advice and confirming that, yes, those first couple of weeks were hard and suddenly she realized she wasn’t alone
  • There was actually a roadmap to this sobriety journey!
  • Back in 2012, there were no real alternatives to AA or rehab
  • She had never felt “bad enough” for those options so imagined she would just have to struggle along as a grey area drinker
  • Her blog was such a revelation that she wasn’t alone in this and that there were other people out there who she could connect with
  • She blogged for a year and then started to offer online support via daily emails
  • I asked Belle for her personal benefits of sobriety and she listed sleep, being able to count on herself and feeling proud of herself – for making such a big change with a ripple effect
  • Her anxiety and irritability reduced and overall she was surprised at the positive impact this change had made on her life
  • She remains unconcerned about questions about her alcohol-free lifestyle as she feels that people are actually not that interested
  • If asked she just says, “I’m not drinking these days as it was affecting my sleep,” and finds that nobody ever takes it further
  • In 2016 she wrote a book called Tired of Thinking about Drinking which was the name of her blog
  • If you’re familiar with Belle’s work then you will know all about Wolfie – that was the name she gave the voice in her head urging her to drink
  • I loved Belle’s analogy about the toddler in the supermarket yelling for a doughnut … If you give him a doughnut he will just repeat that behaviour next time…
  • The trick of course is to deny the doughnut that first time and even though it might get noisy and embarrassing in the supermarket, the child is unlikely to repeat the behaviour
  • So we have to learn to say no to Wolfie – say no to that voice in our head telling us we can have a drink!

So what can we learn from Belle’s inspiring story…?

  • Just like Belle so many of us try to take a short break to prove we are not alcoholics!
  • I think that accounts for the popularity of Dry January… most people can grit their teeth and white knuckle it through 30 days using willpower alone but of course making a permanent change is about changing our mindset
  • So many of us realise that we do have a problem with alcohol when we try to take a break and find it really hard – that’s why it’s so important to take regular breaks
  • Belle uses the analogy of underwater swimming – she says we can hold our breath but we’ll only get so far…without tools, strategies and support it’s going to be hard for many people to clock up more than 7-9 alcohol-free days
  • We agreed that a 30-day break is just not long enough to learn anything or to experience any real benefits – that’s why we offer our 66-day Challenge which you can start any day in September – just go to the where you’ll see the info on the homepage
  • As Belle said it makes sense to take a challenge and quit for a certain number of days… and then extend it – that approach has worked really well for many of our members
  • At Tribe Sober we avoid the “F” word – the Forever word – it’s just too overwhelming – the thought of never drinking again – the answer is to do it in stages
  • As Belle said, our head tells us sorts of things when we try to quit… and that’s probably because for most of us, the dependence is psychological rather than physical
  • Only 10% of drinkers are physically dependent and those are the people who will experience serious withdrawal symptoms and need to go to rehab for a medical detox
  • If you want to learn more about this then go to the Tribe Sober podcast episode called “Are you physically or psychologically addicted to alcohol?” which was released on June 19th 2021
  • Even if you are only psychologically dependent, you do need to prepare yourself for a period of feeling unwell when you first quit
  • However, as Belle explained, it’s important to remember that only parts of each day will be difficult
  • You’re bound to wake up feeling good, and pleased with yourself, just as it’s very likely you’ll get to 5 pm and wonder why on earth you are doing this.. as that will be when Wolfie will be whispering in your ear!
  • Being aware of this ebb and flow will help you to get through
  • Another great tip from Belle is that if whatever we’ve done in the past to quit didn’t work, then rather than drop that method and try something else, we can “layer” another method on top
  • Think about Layering – if we’re cold, we don’t take off a blanket and put another one on, we add more blankets!
  • At the back of her book (Tired of Thinking about Drinking) Belle has 60 sober tools – people tend to pick the easiest ones….and if they don’t work they try others
  • So the secret is to keep those easier ones going and layer more on top
  • Belle used her blog to track her sober journey and would write every day…. she felt it was more powerful than journaling as she felt more accountable
  • That’s why she asks people to email her and let her know how they are doing… and that’s why we have our various chat groups where our members can post their ups and downs and get responses
  • Tips from Belle to someone who wants to make the change but is not sure where to start… read a couple of books, listen to some podcasts and then find a sobriety group that resonates with you
  • As she said, you don’t want a room full of people on day one … you need people at all stages of the journey.. people you can learn from and give you advice, people who will inspire you to keep going
  • We can offer you that at Tribe Sober so if you’re ready to dive in, get learning, connecting and get started on the roadmap then join Tribe Sober
  • Your can order Belle’s book and learn more about her Challenge on

More Info

  • Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

    Episode Sponsor

    This episode is sponsored by the Tribe Sober Membership Program.  If you want to change your relationship with alcohol then sign up today
    Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

    Help us to Spread the Word!

    We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

    Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

    We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

    You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

    You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

    PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

    1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
    2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
    3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
    4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
    5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!