Five simple steps you can take to retrain your brain and body to have high, sober self-esteem by using the power of your own mind, instead of alcohol.
Let’s face it — after a couple of drinks we all tend to feel more relaxed.
There are many people who drink alcohol purely to alleviate shyness as well as their social anxieties. However, if alcohol is something that you tend to rely on to get that ‘confidence boost’ then alcohol may become an emotional crutch which can lead to alcohol dependency.
The biggest issue for many drinkers is that they feel anxious about being in certain situations without alcohol in their bloodstream. However, the good news is that you can retrain your brain and body to have great sober self-esteem when you use the power of your own mind.
A lot of people don’t realize that self-esteem is something we need to learn.
We are not born with it and sadly over time, if life has been emotionally challenging, self-worth can erode. The challenge for many of us is to develop self-esteem without using alcohol as the method to feel better and improve our self-worth.
Underpinning low self-worth is the little voice in your head that I call ‘The Inner Critic’. With people who have self-esteem issues, the Inner Critic can be very loud. It can also discourage self-questioning which can inhibit any inkling of self-worth. A very quick and effective way to shut out this negative voice is to drink alcohol.
Many people don’t realize that they are not drinking for the sake of it; they are drinking to escape the Inner Critic.
Drinkers often worry about drinking too much. But the truth is that alcohol gives them some control over this unhelpful voice which tends to shut up once alcohol is consumed. Yet at the same time, alcohol can cause embarrassment and regret by encouraging actions that are out of character.
The Inner Critic might suggest that you have a few drinks to calm down when you meet someone new or when you find yourself in nervous social situations. But it will also reprimand you, the drinker, the next day for using alcohol as an emotional crutch. This can escalate into a vicious cycle as the drinker chooses to drink too much and too often in order to escape this voice.
The good news is that the Inner Critic is just one voice.
There is another voice to listen to that knows that self-esteem is possible to feel and experience. I call this the Intuitive Confident. We need to let this become the default thinking pattern rather than that of the Inner Critic!
Here are my 5 tips to improve sober self-esteem:
- Take five minutes before you start your day to lie or sit somewhere comfortable — Close your eyes and imagine seeing yourself walking into a room feeling calm and safe. Rehearse these sensations every day until they start to become familiar. Practice makes all the difference.
- When you hear your Inner Critic, breathe out and say an opposite statement in your mind — An example of this could be: It is my right to feel good about myself. Repeat this behavior especially when you are going into new situations to give yourself an extra boost.
- Socialize with people who are good for your self-esteem who don’t drink — This allows you to become comfortable socializing without alcohol in your bloodstream. It also helps you build a social network of non-drinkers.
- Keep post-it notes everywhere with positive statements — Write down words or sentences that best represent your improving sober self-worth. Create screensavers of friends and family to remind you of your support system. Keep these positive messages around you, so when you have an Inner Critic moment, you have something to distract you and move you into a better space.
- Keep an emotional diary — For a few weeks, keep track of how, where, and why your Inner Critic is playing emotional games with you. During this time, you will see how destructive it is and how much you need to shift away from this critical voice.
You may also enjoy reading Life After Addiction: How Mindfulness Improved My Way of Life by Cassidy Webb