Question: I often wake up feeling awful after drinking too much the night before and think: ‘I will never drink again’ or ‘I’m going to take a break’. But by that afternoon or later that week I cave in and have a drink. Why am I so weak willed and how can I change this pattern?
Answer: Firstly you are not weak willed and this is an all-too-common experience.
You are battling the cost vs benefit of drinking. The cost is high in the morning when we are dealing with a hangover and feeling like crap.
But as the day wears on and we feel better, the pendulum swings. All it takes is a trigger – a stressful day, kids playing up, clock ticking over to 5pm or whatever it is for you – and the benefit of a having a drink becomes a greater incentive than the cost of the hangover the next morning.
So what can you do instead?
- Do not wait until 3pm (or whatever time you start thinking about when to drink) to make any decisions. As mentioned in my free PDF guide Four reasons why moderation is so difficult, every decision we make, whether big or small, saps energy from us. Decision making is exhausting and by the end of the day our ability to make good decisions has been depleted.
- Have a plan for what you will do to manage whatever your trigger is – and it has to be something that is feasible at that time. If you usually reach for a drink at a certain time of day or in reaction to a situation, have a plan for what to do instead. It has to be something that is achievable and enjoyable.
- Pay attention to the thoughts that go through your head when your inner voice goes from telling you ‘I’m never drinking again’ to ‘go on then – you deserve it’? Write them down or record a voice message for yourself. Start to see the patterns and tune into your self talk.
- Reach out to those around you for support. Let your spouse, friend or flatmate know what you’re doing and let them know if you need support. If you don’t have anyone in your life who you can confide in, search for online communities (look for #sober or #sobercurious) to find other people who will understand. It’s all about being accountable to someone.
- And finally, be ready for the craving. When you have an urge to drink, tune into what thoughts you are having and how they make you feel. Sit with this and journal about it if that helps. You’ll notice that cravings are short-term so will pass but the simple act of doing this will give you greater insight into your thinking around alcohol and will make the next time easier.
Know that you can do this!
And if you want support to reassess your relationship with drinking, you can set up a free 30-minute call with me to chat about the services I provide.