In This Naked Mind methodology, we don’t subscribe to the Day 1 thinking that drinking or quitting drinking is an all or nothing commitment. In fact, we don’t really believe in imposing rules at all.
The societal belief is that there are two types of people when it comes to alcohol. That people can drink as much as they want without any repercussions – these are the “good” drinkers, the ones that still function in society and aren’t homeless in a ditch somewhere. And then the alternative is the “drunk” – the person who can’t have just one, that has hit rock bottom, and continually chooses alcohol over a meaningful life.
This belief system is engrained through other 12 step methods that fortify this idea that you are in control of your drinking until you aren’t. That once you “walk through the door” you can never go back. In my opinion, that is why there is so much fear and emphasis on the idea of counting days and tracking how long you have successfully used willpower and avoidance to overcome your lack of control when it comes to drinking. Everyone has heard the old adage – One day at a time.
And for some, that works, but for me – I wanted FREEDOM.
Fortunately, with so much more knowledge and research about how alcohol affects our physiology and what it is actually doing in our bodies we are able to see that there is a little more to the story than we have all been taught.
The truth is, alcohol is an addictive substance, and with repeated use over time any human being is susceptible to addiction. This is great news! It is not a matter of genetics or something that we are allergic to and therefore more likely to fall into the cycle of addiction. It means that we – human beings, made up of flesh, blood and bone – are all likely to develop addictive behaviours around alcohol if we continue to imbibe on this substance regularly.
Perfect example of this is TOLERANCE.
Our bodies build a tolerance to alcohol with repeated use. If you have read anything about addiction, it always talks about the need for increasingly more of the same substance to achieve the desired effect. We see this with food addictions, drug addiction, smoking – and drinking alcohol is absolutely NO DIFFERENT.
Think about when you first started drinking compared to now. Do you drink the same amount of alcohol to get drunk as you did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or even 20 or 30 years ago? Likely if you are a regular drinker, you can “handle” more. This is your body’s natural tolerance or immunity. Your body knows this toxic substance will be coming along and so with the first sip of alcohol for the day, comes a flood of hormones that work to bring you back to balance as quickly as possible (this is termed homeostasis, and is the natural regulation of the body through chemical processes).
So, what do I teach that is so different?
Well first, I don’t believe that quitting drinking starts with stopping.
Ummmm. Pardon me, can you repeat that – I don’t think I heard you right….. You are telling me that in order to control alcohol, in order to make alcohol small and irrelevant, in order to be able to go back to the “take it or leave it” place I want to be in SOOO BAD, I DON’T have to QUIT??
That is exactly what I’m saying. Kind of..
In my experience, it’s not about quitting drinking the day you decide you need to make a change. It’s about inviting in curiousity around sobriety and what it could mean for you. The people I know that have made lasting transformational change around their relationship with alcohol aren’t touting sobriety, but are more focused on feeling differently about drinking, and that just means getting down to the truth of how alcohol really makes you feel.
I’m sure if you are reading this you might be starting to question your relationship with alcohol. And if your anything like me, you just cannot identify with the word “alcoholic.”
Does this sound familiar??
–> I keep setting rules for myself; like how many, or how often, or what kinds of alcohol are OK. <–
See I too was working so hard thinking about all my rules, and I would be able to keep it up for a while, but eventually there would be a party or event and I would black out yet again and cause myself more pain and grief and I would be left saying, “What is wrong with me, why do I do that to myself, I should know better, I know I can’t say “no” – I know I don’t have an off switch!”
Here’s the thing that I find helps more people in a meaningful way than repeated “day 1’s” and willpower. I like to think of it as micro dosing on sobriety, and it is all about coming to this decision with a bit more self-compassion and grace. I mean we didn’t start having issues with alcohol overnight. For some of us this unhealthy relationship took years or even decades to cultivate. So why on Earth would we think we can just quit in a day with no other changes to help integrate this new choice?!
- the action or practice of taking or administering very small amounts of a drug in order to test or benefit from its physiological action while minimizing undesirable side effects
Micro dosing on sobriety is about getting curious and learning what is true for you by experimenting with drinking less in small manageable doses that don’t scare your brain into thinking you are never going to drink again!
Sounds way more fun than beating yourself up and wondering why you are still stuck doesn’t it?
In This Naked Mind methodology Annie has developed the PAUSE. The PAUSE is THE THING that helped her change her relationship with alcohol for good. The PAUSE is why this method is so different from anything that has been available until now. The PAUSE is taking some time to stop trying to quit and start learning what alcohol really does so you can make an educated decision on whether this is something you want to keep putting into your system or not. The PAUSE is when we start drinking mindfully and take the time to find out if drinking is something we enjoy, or if it’s just that our dopamine response has taken control telling us we “really like” this thing.
When we drink mindfully, we are still drinking but we are drinking a little bit differently. We are taking time to bring awareness of how we really feel throughout the drinking experience. We observe and journal about what we are feeling in our bodies, how it is making us feel and if the things we think about drinking are really even true.
Isn’t that what mindfulness is all about? Being fully present in the moment and using our 5 senses to discern what is really happening within us and in our environment.
Something really interesting that I learned on my own journey, was how much an alcohol-free beer helped to curb my cravings for alcohol while I was pregnant. You might know this, but when I originally quit drinking it was because I found out I was pregnant, and what brought me to This Naked Mind was this overwhelming desire to drink even though I KNEW I didn’t want to harm my growing baby. Alcohol was consuming my thoughts and I felt absolutely miserable and deprived.
That is, until I started to LEARN how to make alcohol small and irrelevant. When I learned how alcohol was controlling me, I knew it was time to reclaim my power and say FUCK YOU to booze. Now that I know how much better my life is, I couldn’t even imagine drinking like I used to. Now that I have made alcohol small and irrelevant, I am totally free. I feel absolutely comfortable with my choice in any situation and can be around alcohol and people drinking with no desire to pick up a drink. That is something I never would have thought possible. But that’s because I believed that alcohol was creating a BENEFIT in my life. And now it’s clear to me that it was just a lifetime of societal and familial conditioning that was making me think that.
When I started to get clear on how it was REALLY making me feel and why I thought it was a benefit, I was able to start to unravel these beliefs and see where they came from. And you know what – they weren’t even my beliefs in the first place.
Micro dosing on sobriety can look like choosing an alcohol-free option to bring to the party so you can begin to feel for yourself the difference of being in control or not. It could be taking a PAUSE and choosing to mindfully drink so you can begin to feel for yourself the effects of alcohol in your body. It can be starting to read up on people’s stories and connecting in online groups to see that you are not alone in this struggle. It can be starting to choose yourself first and figuring out how you want to show up in your life moving forward.
Quitting drinking doesn’t need to be painful, and in my experience the most meaningful way to quit is to actually stop trying to quit and just educate yourself on how alcohol is really showing up for you. Unfortunately, what every person I know on this journey figures out, is that alcohol is not the great friend you might think, but actually a devious and insidious addictive poison that hijacks our dopamine response to make us believe we enjoy it.
Micro dosing on sobriety might just be the next step to find everlasting freedom and learn how make that choice for yourself, and then stand in that truth.
No rules, no restrictions, just awareness and learning. Doesn’t that sound like something you can do for yourself?
As always, here for you with so much love,