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First of all, you are a rock star. You may not feel like it right now (especially if you decided to have one last blowout last night). But trust me: 101 days from now, you will have proven to yourself exactly how powerful, smart, sexy, resilient, and cool you are, no substances required.
Second of all, here’s how this will be going down (aka these are the rules). For the next 100 days, I want you to:
1. Think of yourself as a sober person. That is, somebody who does not drink alcohol.
2. Abstain from drinking alcohol.
3. Reply “yes” to any big social events (work dos, weddings, birthdays, etc.) where you would usually imbibe… and abstain from drinking alcohol.
4. Let at least one person know what you are doing and check in with them any time things get weird. Ideally in person or on a call.
5. Tell other people as much of the truth as you feel like sharing if they ask why you’re not drinking.
6. Respect other people’s drinking choices and ask that they respect yours.
7. Feel all your feelings (with professional help if needed—I’ve listed some resources in the back of this book).
8. Question every impulse, invitation, or expectation to drink and then seek to answer these questions with all the integrity you’ve got.
9. Join the “Sober Curious Book” Facebook group and share your findings there.
10. Keep reminding yourself why you’re doing this every step of the way.
The goal? Not only to disrupt the tired old drinking habits that led you here, and allow you to experience all the amazing benefits of living hangover-free, but also to completely rewire the way you THINK about drinking—creating the foundation for a lasting and sustainable shift in your behavior going forward. I suggest putting aside at least 30 minutes to read and reflect on each daily exercise. There are blank pages in this book for writing exercises, but you can use more paper as needed.
What I hope you will uncover along the way, are the keys to the life you know has been waiting for you on the other side of alcohol—and a connection back to the self you were before you ever felt you “needed” booze. All set? Then here we go.
What kind of life is waiting for you on the other side of alcohol?
What does it mean to be Sober Curious?
The clue is in the name. Being “Sober Curious” means literally choosing to question, or “get curious,” about every impulse, invitation, or expectation (on your part or in the eyes of others), to drink. This is not something we are taught in school. Common wisdom is that alcohol is a necessary component to a successful, adult, social life, that the biggest drinkers have the most fun, and that the hangovers are always worth it for the highs. When for most of us (even the “happiest,” most “fun” drunks), the story is usually far more complicated.
Going along with the dominant group think about alcohol without question is like allowing yourself to be brainwashed by the cult of drinking. Not that this makes you naive, weak, or an easy target—this cult is incredibly powerful and has got its hooks in the 70-plus percent of adult humans in the United States who drink on a regular basis. The other thing about cults, is that they make it almost impossible for people to leave—which is essentially the process you will be guided through in these pages. Seen this way, getting Sober Curious can also been seen as a reclaiming of your agency as an autonomous, free-range human being. Beholden to nothing and no one, and fully equipped to make all the right choices (about drinking and everything else) for YOU going forward.
“I have no special talent.
I am only passionately curious.”
Why am I even doing this?
The answer to this question may seem obvious to you. Perhaps you’re even rolling your eyes at me right now. You’re here because you want to change the way you drink, obviously. Because alcohol makes you feel like part of your insides have been hollowed out and filled with toxic swamp water. You’re here because you think you drink too much. Or you know categorically that you do. You’re here because you don’t like the fact that sometimes, or all the times, it’s really hard not to drink. Even when you promised yourself “not tonight,” and you know that even one glass of wine means tomorrow will be kind of a write-off.
Which are all good reasons to be embarking on this reset. But notice how they tend toward the negative. Have their roots in pain, shame, and regret. And while these emotions can provide plenty of motivation for making a change in your life, part of the Sober Curious philosophy is to focus on what you want as much as what you don’t. From initiatives like Dry January, to abstinence-based recovery programs, the message is often the same: you are quitting, missing out, removing, or denying yourself something. Today, let’s reverse the script to focus on all the positive things you are making space for in your life by not drinking.
Focus on what you want as much as what you don’t.
How do I want to feel?
Just as important as all the things you want to make space for in your life by getting Sober Curious are all the ways you want to feel. In fact, every “thing”—every activity, relationship, workout, creative project, etc.—has a feeling attached to it. A feeling you are also inviting in with your decision to question your drinking.
To be clear, alcohol is an anesthetic. A substance that numbs our capacity to feel—physically and emotionally. And there you were, thinking you were using it to feel more relaxed, happy, social, etc. When all it was doing was putting a numbing Band-Aid on your feelings of social discomfort, depression, or anxiety, for a few lost hours. For today, simply consider the possibility that you have the capacity to feel all the wonderful feelings that you want for free, meaning without paying the price of all the toxic side effects of booze.
Choose what to do based on how you want to feel.
What has me not drinking got to do with them?
Important: You signing up for this reset is about you and YOUR drinking choices. It is not about you passing judgment on anybody else’s drinking choices or trying to convince everybody in your life to get Sober Curious with you. But given that that some people may think you not drinking is a comment on them drinking, you may find that your choice sparks some interesting conversations over the course of the coming weeks and months.
Some people may act as if you’re ruining their night by choosing not to drink. They may say you’re “no fun.” Some may “confess” to you that they are secretly Sober Curious, too. You may even find that, without you having to say anything at all, certain people in your life also begin cutting back or choosing to abstain from alcohol. Or not! It’s all good. Your only job here is to just keep doing you.
“You change the world by being yourself.”
What am I drinking?
The past four days have been about preparing internally for this Sober Curious Reset. Getting clear on The Rules. Drilling down on your reasons for being here and mentally preparing for how to share your choice with the other people in your life. Now let’s look at one of the more practical considerations: what to drink when you’re not drinking.
This may seem frivolous. Surely what we need to focus on is the not exactly easeful task of removing booze from your life in a society where alcohol is regarded as the elixir of life itself, a “fact” we are reminded of on a regular basis. But where there is now a refreshingly crisp or rich and velvety hole in your life (depending, literally, on your “poison”), you’ll be amazed how helpful it will be to find something equally appealing to fill it. This means stocking your refrigerator with something cold and satisfying to reach for when you get home from work. It means having a new bar order in your back pocket that you’re actually excited about. It also means it’s time to get creative.
“We drink the poison our minds pour for us and wonder why we feel so sick.”
—ATTRIBUTED TO ATTICUS
And now, we meditate.
People talk a lot about the “tools” that help them stay away from booze, and meditation is one of the cornerstones of being Sober Curious. Many people think of meditation in the context of religion and spirituality, but on a purely practical level it is also a key component to developing the questioning, or observer’s mindset you will be bringing to your drinking during this reset.
More on why meditation another day. For now, the aim is to begin a daily meditation practice that becomes habitual. Automatic. Something you do without even thinking about it. Which means first thing in the morning is a great time to meditate, since doing it while you’re still half asleep means you’re less likely to talk yourself out of it. Given that you’re also more inclined to let things slide when you’re hungover, and that you currently have (at least) 93 hangover-free mornings ahead of you, now is the time to COMMIT.
Maybe (like most people, honestly) you’ve already tried and failed at this. It’s surprising how difficult it can be to take 5 or 10 or 20 minutes each day to simply sit and be quiet. Again, more on why something that seems so simple should present such a challenge another day. For now, just focus on getting it done.
“Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness.… When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.”
Is there anything better than a good night’s sleep?
There’s a theory that you can get addicted to anything that gives you energy—coffee, sugar, cocaine… the list goes on! Which makes sense. Why wouldn’t you want to feel more ALIVE? “More alive” means less “dead.” Alcohol on the other hand, along with other highly addictive narcotics (from the Latin narkoun, to “make numb”), such as opiates and benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax), take us the other way, down a velvety rabbit hole into sweet oblivion.
It’s not unusual for most people to use some combination of “uppers” and “downers” throughout the day—coffee in the morning, a cigarette after lunch, sugary snacks in the afternoon, a drink or two with dinner—either to help boost energy levels (feel more alive) or relax when it’s time to switch off. The issue not only being the addictive nature of these substances themselves, but also the extent to which relying on them disrupts your body’s natural ability to replenish and regulate your energy.
We have sleep for that, and perhaps by now you’ve already been enjoying what is many people’s favorite side effect of getting Sober Curious—night after night of delicious, deep, restorative sleep. Or perhaps it hasn’t kicked in yet. Given that alcohol is also the number-one self-prescribed sleep aid in the United States, with 20 percent of Americans “relying” on it to help them sleep (even if this tends to result in wakefulness throughout the night), it may take a little while to adjust. Trust that as the days and weeks go by, your body will find its natural sleep rhythm again. Before long, you’ll find you can’t get through the day without it.i
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
i Note for new parents: Okay, you hate this book right now. Just know that any amount of booze-free sleep is better than a full 8 hours’ of alcohol-induced sleep. Not to mention that a screaming two-year-old will always sound better without a hangover.
How do I want to start my day?
If you’re used to waking up somewhere on the scale of being hungover (with one being mild grogginess, to 10 being full-on projectile vomiting with no recollection of what happened last night), then chances are you feel like you begin each day hauling yesterday’s baggage out of bed. On the other hand, waking up refreshed and with a clear head, means starting your day with a clean slate. Think of the extra space this creates in your morning as a gift to yourself. An extra pocket of time that you get to fill with something just for you, and that will set you up for each day turning out exactly how you want. Here are some things to try:
• Journaling. About a dream, about your intentions for the day, or simply as a brain dump to clear out the cobwebs.
• Writing a to-do list. Include only the things that are a priority for YOU today.
• Prayer. In whatever format and to whom or whatever works for you.
• Making a proper breakfast. Something you find completely delicious.
• Yoga. And no need to rush to a studio—glo.com has everything you need for an at-home practice.
• A 60-second cold shower. The boost to your circulation is a natural high in itself!
• NO social media. In fact, how about you stay off the scroll until after lunch?
• Meditation. And I’ll say it again, this one is a must.
“The way you begin your day is crucial to the rest of your day.”
Why is it so hard to relax?
As the alcoholic fog begins to clear, you have hopefully been noticing how much calmer you feel. As if the cells in your body are beginning to settle, having been used to regular bouts of agitation in a cocktail shaker.
The weird thing is that this feeling may not be particularly comfortable at first. May even find you craving a drink! This is because many of us are addicted to the adrenaline and dopamine rush of constant stimulation and busyness. Of ticking things off to-do lists and processing information and consuming endless “stuff.” We also live in a world where we’re taught that being hypervigilant and always “on it” is how we control outcomes and get things done.
- On Sale
- Dec 1, 2020
- Page Count
- 240 pages
- Running Press