When I decided to stop drinking I knew that I wasn’t going to go about it the traditional way. Alcoholics Anonymous didn’t appeal to me – I didn’t want to feel like I was depriving myself or missing out for the rest of my life. Plus why should alcohol continue to have such an important role in my life once I was no longer drinking? I couldn’t go away to an inpatient treatment center with my career and children at home. Instead I chose to educate and empower myself. I researched high and low and discovered a few things along the way.
1) You Need To Change Your Unconscious Mind First
Your unconscious mind is responsible for your desires. Science says that we have two separate thinking systems—the conscious and unconscious.
When deciding to make a change we tend to start with a conscious decision. There are things we do that are no longer a fully conscious choice in our lives. When you make a conscious decision to quit smoking, drink less, or adopt a new diet, it’s almost impossible to adhere to that decision, because your larger, more powerful unconscious mind missed the memo. What’s happening is cognitive dissonance – the mental stress or discomfort that is experienced by someone who holds two contradictory values, ideas, or beliefs at the same time. Your conscious and unconscious mind are battling with each other and you are being torn up by the indecision and guilt.
Unconscious learning happens automatically and unintentionally through experiences, observations, conditioning, and practice. Over time and through experiences, media and observations we’ve come to believe we enjoy drinking or we need a cigarette. We’ve managed to convince ourselves that it’s relaxing or allows us to have fun. We believe these things below our conscious awareness. This is why, even after we consciously acknowledge it’s no longer something we want to do, we retain the desire.
2) Liminal Thinking Can Help
Liminal Thinking is a process that basically breaks down all of these experiences and beliefs that we have created in our minds and reveals them for what they really are. One of the best examples I have of this was my belief that alcohol relaxed me and helped my anxiety. While I thought that alcohol as relaxing me, once I stated analyzing what happened after I drank I realized that alcohol was only compounding my stress and anxiety. Once I no longer had alcohol in my life not only did my anxiety improve – I was actually able to completely wean myself off of three anti-anxiety medications. Had alcohol been helping my situation, I shouldn’t have needed the meds while drinking.
3) You Need Support
Going against society and culture is hard. Everything around us says we should drink alcohol. It’s important to find support that will help you to stay alcohol free. That can be friends, online groups, family, running clubs, etc. Find the right network and path for you and make sure there are those that have your back when you’re thinking that maybe a drink just this once could help. It won’t and you know you’re happier without it.
The most important discovery I made though is that there isn’t a single right way to break free of addiction. That journey will be as individual as each of us and might include a combination of things. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do. Try things, see where you fit in, find out what speaks to you and go with that. If it stops working – try something else. Treatment options today are so expansive that most everyone can find a way to say sayonara to addiction and start living instead!
About the Author:
Annie Grace grew up in a one-room log cabin without running water or electricity outside of Aspen, Colorado. She discovered a passion for marketing and after graduating with a Masters of Science (Marketing) she dove into corporate life. At the age of 26, Annie was the youngest vice president in a multinational company, and her drinking career began in earnest. At 35, in a global C-level marketing role, she was responsible for marketing in 28 countries and drinking almost two bottles of wine a night. Knowing she needed a change but unwilling to submit to a life of deprivation and stigma, Annie set out to find a painless way to regain control. Annie no longer drinks and has never been happier. She left her executive role to write this book and share This Naked Mind with the world. In her free time, Annie loves to ski, travel (26 countries and counting), and enjoy her beautiful family. Annie lives with her husband, two sons and baby girl in the Colorado mountains.