Here we go …

The first days of any habit change are possibly the trickiest but can also be some of the most rewarding. Why? Because you are working in a different direction to what you have been used to and it can bring a great sense of reward and reset.

We have all  been very quiet here at freedomalcohol.com cracking on with the day today routines of progressing life and enjoying the simple things but one key thing has changed … I have allowed alcohol back in to my life and this has proven to be a big mistake.

I’m not going to dwell on my time from September 2018 until now but rest assured it has not been as good as my time in early 2018 and the progress I made. Most of the positive moves reported on this blog have been undone quite quickly. Don’t get me wrong life is still good and I have moved into a new home, made some great new friends but there’s an underlying drag and tiredness. It’s time to undo this.

Indeed, July is a great month and time to change a habit. The trends like #veganuary and #dryjanuary and #gymmembershipuary have all passed and things seem a little more routine. Plus there are longer days and maybe even some more sunshine.

Whilst I am doing this I am also going to be recording some personal life habits that I now have implemented on a daily basis – and I will share these with you. I have currently got some changes going on at work and at home so we can also record these. Why – because I think they will help you in your first thirty days and you will be able to see how things can progress over the days and month of going free.

Join me on my freedom change day.

I hope my journey will serve you in some small way too.

I’ve been enjoying my holidays and ultimately my return to work.

Not abroad but at home – just relaxing, enjoying family and learning to slow down. During my shortish journey so far I am learning to enjoy the simple things in life and appreciate what I have in the here and now.

My daily routines are important and especially my weekly exercise which keeps my mind and body clear – it’s like undoing several knots in a shoe lace when I go for a run where the knots are my tension. You have to work at them but once they are cleared everything works much better again and it feels great.

I’ve seen art, travelled a canal, laughed a lot with my children, visited family, eaten beautiful food and all on the door step of where I live. I’ve done all of this with a new sense of purpose and presence that I would not have had before.

I really feel in the last few weeks that my efforts have started to pay off – of course for myself – but also for those who I surround myself with from friends, to family, to work colleagues.

I’m more relaxed than I have been (still with a sense of my natural character which is to gradually become wound up) – but I’m more able to identify this and act upon it using various tools.

I care less about things that don’t matter and more about the things that do … it’s all very cleansing (oh dear I’m going all VW camper van again).

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… but it’s true – I will just make sure I don’t over do it and put other people off!

I’ll need to keep an eye on what I call my life arenas (see previous posts) and I do struggle to maintain mindfulness practice on a daily basis – so another area to watch and practice.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

 

 

I have been spending some time thinking about what has really helped me so far on this little exciting journey of mine.

I’m not saying I have worked it all out yet but there are definitely some themes coming out which sit under different umbrellas – cue Rihanna ela ela ee.

I’ve been so busy that this post has taken me a number of weeks to write – sorry. Anyway, on with the learns:

(1) Acceptance or more dramatically and “flower-powery” – surrender!

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What do I mean by this? There lies in me a fundamental understanding and belief that something had to change for my well-being and those around me. A realisation that whilst I don’t have all the answers there is a way and that small voice that we all have inside us (yes you too – and no I am not loosing the plot) that can steer us in the right direction. It’s the little voice on your shoulder that says – those weren’t very kind words I used to my friend last week – or I should not have eaten that 1 KG chocolate bar! It’s quite clever really. Most times this little voice is really helpful – yes sometimes it tries to mislead us – but in one word I would describe it predominantly as being authentic. Authentic to yourself and not trying to create or build a character that you are not or an image which is not true. I realised this years ago – but it has taken me a little while to act! Alcohol simply doesn’t have a place in my authentic self.

(2) Movement and Breathing

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By movement – I mean any kind of movement. This could be a run, a walk a swim, a game of tennis – anything that increases your heart-rate and gets you sweating. It’s not new science but sometimes what is coming sense is not common practice. In my freedom this movement has been so important in making me feel good about myself and increasing the old dopamine (the brains chemistry that reward us an makes us feel good) – here is a link for a bit more on dopamine –

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-dopamine

A good guideline for the amount of exercise per week is 5 x 30 minutes every week – again remember if this sounds a lot it can be achieved in many different ways. Sometimes it’s better when you almost don’t realise you are doing it for example by playing a game of football with your children or taking a brisk walk taking in the scenery.

If you really struggle to move then just changing scenery can help especially if you are feeling demotivated – get close to some nature – it’s proven over and over again to benefit our well being.

(3) Be Calm – and yes Be Mindful

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Yes I am asking you to become a little Buddha like! I have found myself coming out with annoying statements to others like “breath” – which when someone is not conscious of my positive intent with saying such a thing can come across as £$ck&ng annoying – I must learn to be more mindful of my words!

It can seem very strange at first and again a little bit flower power however bare with it and you will be rewarded – little and often everyday. I’m not going to be able to communicate the “how” here efficiently or succinctly but there are far better sites that can do such a job like http://www.headspace.com.

Below is a link to some information on mindfulness. To be honest I learn about this everyday and my current focus is to do this more often more consistently but what I do know is is has a place to play in my everyday life.

https://bemindful.co.uk/evidence-research/

(4) Learn and Re-programme

Develop yourself through learning and action. I’ve constantly read, absorbed and (mostly) acted upon good advice and experience from others.

I’ve also learned that a lot of my movement forward in well-being is around understanding and recognising that I am have to re-program my automatic thoughts around how I perceive myself, what the true facts are around alcohol and how this impacts my decision making. This also applies to other areas of my life including perceptions on how I look, feel and act.

So develop a routine of learning and become wise about the facts around alcohol. There is so much misinformation out there because of the alcohol industry propaganda and also cultural and social expectations which are warped when you start to be able to see through them.

Just a word of caution though (and I challenge anyone who says they are not guilty of this at some point in their lives) – learning without action gets you nowhere.

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(5) Support

And finally and importantly – support.

There’s no excuses in this day and age to find people who will cheer you on. Whether it is close family, friends or something more recognised like Mind or SMART Recovery.

It doesn’t matter how positive or up for things you are you’ll need somewhere or someone to bounce off when things are tricky or you don’t know the way forward.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

Learn to embrace the struggle for where there is struggle often there is progress. It’s the famous “no pain no gain” saying – slightly reworded!

That’s the place where I have been this last week but it has paid off in my decision making. Sometimes we all have to make decisions that are the right thing to do but feel uncomfortable.

I’ve mentioned this before – a great model that shows this very simply is the comfort zone model. It looks something like this:

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Guess where you should place yourself for progress – yep that’s right in the green zone. This is where we learn the most about ourselves or move something forward and it often involves action.

You’ll find in your alcohol free life that you are doing this more often than not – especially if you are spending time looking at your well being as a whole. For example:

  • you might be improve your health by setting a challenge of couch to 5km or other physical challenge to move yourself forward.
  • you might have to have some tricky conversations with people about how you are changing and what you want to improve.
  • you might have to apologise for things from your past.
  • you might have to push though times of doubt and really sit with the pain or sadness or uncomfortable nature of some of your decisions.

The good news is that on the other side you will feel good about yourself and a sense of reward from you progress however great or small. It is through the progress and self reward that momentum is gained – reinforcing that living an Alcohol Free life is the right thing to do.

So why have I entitled this post ‘shamone’ – it’s simply because in the last week I have had to push myself on and say “‘c’mon’ Sam pull your finger out it’s time for more action!” Sometimes we all need a bit of positive self talk to enable us to move back on our journeys again wherever they might take us.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

The weeks are passing so quickly and I have been reflecting on the importance of our unconscious mind programming.

It might seem a somewhat sterile way to describe a human but our minds are an incredible computer that will either serve us to move forward to our goals or not.

It’s fair to say that I am still in the early days of being free from alcohol and therefore I am still in the process of re-training myself to deal with irrational and unhelpful thoughts. Allowing these feelings and emotions to swell up is not a very helpful thing and therefore it is vital that you are able to put them in place with rational responses.

Often what out minds are thinking subconsciously are consciously is irrational – sometimes this serves us and in the case of alcohol it often does not.

Below are a few of my thoughts and statements that might cause you or indeed me to want to drink. Under each statement is a more rational response. Have a think about some of the dialogue in your head around alcohol.

The unconscious minds statements / believes:

“I believe that Alcohol is the only way I can feel happy.”

This is incorrect because when I finished my run, had a laugh with my colleagues and drove a Mercedes AMG it made me feel very happy.

“I am feeling sick and tired and a little foggy – alcohol will alleviate this.”

No it won’t – alcohol will make me feel a little giddy for about 60 minutes, it will then make me thirsty and hungry and then I will want to eat. I will eat lots of food and fall asleep and wake up feeling very guilty and thirsty. I will then feel even more tired as over the days I repeat and fight the cycle of drink, eat, sleep repeat. I will therefore end up even more tired and foggy.

“Alcohol would make all this go away for a bit – I don’t care.”

Alcohol will not take “this” go away for a bit – it will take it away for a bit and then kick start a long-term battle of pain for you again as long as you believe it to have a benefit. The pain will feel like regret and all areas of your life will suffer again – health, relationships, spirituality, work, hobbies, aspirations. Alcohol will make you feel miserable again for a very long time.

“Life is boring without alcohol and I can’t celebrate or commiserate without it.”

Alcohol doesn’t enable you to celebrate – it’s the environment, people, surroundings and your own personal feelings that do this. If you were to sit alone in a room drinking alcohol you would feel sad and look ridiculous. You would not enjoy the alcohol on it’s own without any other stimuli – fact. It would seem pointless and a waste of time. Alcohol can therefore not be the drug that allows you to celebrate or commiserate.

“Alcohol gives me wings and makes me want to fly.”

Alcohol gives you love handles and makes you want to sleep.

“I can’t do this anymore I need a drink.”

What is “this” exactly that you can’t do – and how will alcohol allow you to do “this” exactly – Alcohol is not a magical potion that will solve “this” anymore – it will make you feel fuzzy, then gradually reduce your cognition and make whatever you are trying to do worse. For example if you have had a stressful day and not dealt with some conflict alcohol will not make the conflict go away – it will be their tomorrow but this time you will have to deal with it feeling even more depressed and with a hangover.

Have a think about some of the thoughts you have around alcohol and create a response that is far more closure to the truth.

I hope that this has served you in some small way.

Sam

ellis irrational beliefs - Google Search

I feel that there is a movement happening around well-being, health and freedom from alcohol.

Society may just be starting wake up to the fact that the old stereotypes of alcohol are indeed “old-hat”. The man on the bench with a bottle wrapped in newspaper looking lost and dishevelled is an image which no longer represents the heart of the matter. It also doesn’t represent how alcohol affects our society (particularly western society).

I see and hear through my readings and as I increase my knowledge of alcohol week on week that more and more people are nipping alcohol in the bud before it becomes a problem.

They are waking up to the fact that by consuming alcohol in any capacity has an immediate limiting effect on their lives. This intoxicating mild anaesthetic not only affects them in the short term but also over the duration of weeks that they consume it – it has a building up effect.

It’s not until they stop that they realise just quite the impact that this has had on them. When I refer to society I am talking about the majority of drinkers whether they are weekend party animals or daily two large glass of wine type personalities, whether they think alcohol is a problem for them or not. It is becoming more acceptable to take on a challenge of freedom and quit.

Government guidelines are themselves an inexact science as each individual will still be affected differently by this substance. The mere fact that most Governments provide a framework of limitation of this substance should be a cause for alarm.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could arrive at a place where stopping alcohol is a celebration and supported openly in our society – a little like quit smoking campaigns. The evidence I see for this is in the increasing amount of blogs, campaigns and books supporting this.

As I arrive at week 16 (reported a little late) I hope hat eventually we do arrive at a place that celebrates this freedom without questioning.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

 

 

… I watched a little chap at my daughters sports day persevere as he kept on dropping his bean bag over and over and over again.

He picked it up, put it back on his table tennis bat and dropped it repeatedly until he realised that something needed to change.

All the other little people had finished the race (most of whom cheated I might add) but he picked up his bean bag one final time and on this occasion he put his hand behind his back and walked as slow as a snail, step by step to the finish line in full control and with little emotion. That small change of pace, adjustment and perseverance meant that he completed the race not only adhering to the rules but also learning something along the way.

Pausing, reflecting and re-booting is a little like this little boys experience. When I write my next steps I find it helpful to think of this example.

You see fundamentally I have most of the right things in place to keep moving forward but this small reflection time is beneficial. I have my weekly routines, I’m looking at my health, I’m practising mindfulness and being more present than ever before – everything is generally aligned but there is just one thing I need to do right now and this is my next step.

Like that little boy I know what I am doing, I know the technique, I know how to progress my journey to the finish line but I just need to slow down and take my time. After all I’ve got the rest of my life – enjoy it.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

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I’ve reached a milestone in that I feel the need to STOP and reflect. Just like a computer that is running a little slow I need a clean up and a reset and my files defragmenting.

We all need that sometimes and it’s often centred around a lack of clarity or sense of direction and therefore reward from our personal progress.

I’m doing really well and I can’t believe that time is passing so quickly and how far I have come.

What is important to remember is just how far I have come during the last 3 months or so – my life quite literally has been turbo boosted like a retro 1980s Japanese super car that has been modified by some over zealous spotty teenager enthusiasts.

All it needs is some simple reflection time and I know one of the most useful tools is the lifestyle balance pie. I’ve mentioned this before but it really is a useful tool or in other terms the “wheel of life.”

Here is an example of a Wheel of Life that will then allow you to go away and maybe break down what areas you need to focus on what and what next steps you will have in these areas:

Wheel Of Life

Quite simply all you do is fill out on a scale of 1-10 your feelings on how each of your life arenas is going (where zero is really bad and 10 is fab and all sorted).

You can change the main titles but it’s really important that they reflect your key value areas in your life that will reflect in you well being.

Here is the embedded link so you can do the same too. Simply make a copy of the document for your files and change your Gradings and Value Titles.

Here’s the link:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vS8hHlkL__ZAe_wQ0PVrNk98IpTsUE4SCwxSg0NLbLuyWiPaF-QNReILXrzaJ5uWzokpm0LFJrftjfV/pubhtml

I’ll post shortly on next steps and how to co-ordinate these but a good place to start is by breaking down your three lowest scoring areas – so in this example it maybe friendships, adventures and hobbies.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

I’ve just driven a rapid 40 minute journey in my car – most of which I can’t remember. Despite this my mind has processed more in this short time than I am even consciously aware of.

The things that I have been able to identify on reflection sit in the categories of (1) planning for the rest of day (2) thinking about what I need to be prepared for for tomorrow (3) reflecting on my past week of mindfulness (4) anticipating what I will need to do to influence a person(s) / situation in the future (5) how I will install my latest music hardware (6) how I will respond to someone I had an emotional email from (7) …. to be honest I could go on and on – forget the categories – it’s just busy!

I know I’m no different to any other person on this little blue planet of ours who also posses an amazing 100 billion neurons in their brains. They too are constantly processes thoughts and being truely awesome (“awesome” a word used far too often to describe something which is rather mundane but in this case it’s true).

The human mind is phenomenal and what is even more reassuring is it’s plasticity complete with the ability to change and evolve new pathways over time. So this actually means we all have the ability to change our state of mind and thought patterns. The best way I think to bring this to life is to imagine a muscle. You exercise the muscle at the gym through weights and repetition and sure enough it grows. The same goes for our thoughts and brain.

Sometimes these thought patterns are helpful to us and sometimes they only serve to be negative but they all have the common them of being able to be altered. This leads me to the power of mindfulness and the power that we all possess that is choice. The choice to decide whether we start our day on a positive note, the choice to decide who we marry, where we work and what our beliefs are. And the choice to decide what we are NOT going to do.

So as I wrote last week on the trickeness of a moment where I wanted to consume the beautifully packaged poison – I now remind myself that change takes time and that is okay. It’s easier to put on weight than take it off. However with each repetition and exercise of the right thoughts I will continue to move in the right direction.

So this week I will continue to practice a quieter mind each day using headspace.com so I have more present (in the moment) journeys. And during the times when I might have a craving or feel negative I will little more reflection and acceptance of the moment.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

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Hey there … it’s perfectly normal to hit a wall. I’ve just searched the internet for “feeling flat when sober.” The return that came back was as follows:

https://soberistas.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/the-4-emotional-stages-of-sobriety/

It’s an old post but helpful to some degree – in fact the internet is amazing and very helpful as a tool – normally someone somewhere has experienced something you are going through!

Today is a fabulously warm sunny British day – the thermometer has reached 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) and the World (from my angle anyway) seems to have a smile on it’s face.

England has just kicked off their football match and everyone it seems is either locking themselves in their living rooms or heading out to the nearest bar to watch the match. I’m not really that into football however it’s hard not to become mopped up in the excitement and focus around the World Cup.

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I’ve just been shopping for tonight’s dinner goods and my thoughts are worryingly “alcohol loss” focused.

What do I mean by this … quite simply that I feel like I am missing out on not drinking.

So I’ve just stopped to ask myself some questions why?

I’ve also stopped to ask myself the question; where have you come from and why are you doing this in the first place?

I recall one of my earlier quotes from going free in week 1:

“Alcohol is the most powerfully deceptive drug on planet earth. You weakened its hold on you by quitting the first time around but you can’t kill it. Alcohol will never change. It will never get less harmful or be able to be controlled. Every time, you go back to it the outcome will be the same. It will smile nicely, tell you it loves you and then immediately try to kill you.” (Craig Beck, Alcohol Lied To Me Again, 2014).

Alcohol is currently smiling nicely at me in all it’s glory. I’m not here to have a battle with it – I’m simply here to remember what it is – beautifully packaged poison.

So what’s changed:

  • I’m currently on a break this week and it’s probably the first time I have had in a while to sit in my head quietly.
  • I’m in the process of buying a new property.
  • It’s sunny and I feel like I’m on holiday – well I am on holiday and it is sunny! Sun and holiday used to = beer.
  • There’s a realisation in my mind that the short term high and relaxation I got with alcohol is not achievable through other mediums at this time – for example running, writing, cooking or carrying out any other things I enjoy.

So what am I going to do to respond to this?

  • Pause – slow down and just quietly and mindfully ride through the next few hours.
  • Remember where I have come from – 3 months ago  was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My health was not the best (skin, weight, mental well being etc) and I could not see into the future. I was walking in the Matrix – stuck.

3 Months later and I:

  • I have progressed immeasurably both in mind and body.
  • I have attending and completed several well being courses / I have run up to 5 km / I am looking after my health better and taking vitamins / I am achieving more at work and at home (I have sold my house) / I have been there more for my children / I have spoken more to family / I have treated myself better …

Quite a list I think to give up – so I’m not going to.

I must remember when I look back on myself in 5 years time what do I want to see? I know what this looks like in my mind and I will spend time visualising this.

So in summary:

  1. Remember my “why?”
  2. Celebrate my successes so far.
  3. Visualise the future me …
  4. and one more not mentioned – spend time in the present through practising mindfulness.

Visualise:

Visualise what you want, where you will be and how it will feel and even taste and you have a powerful tool in your well ...

The benefits of drinking alcohol are no longer – there are none apart from the subconscious mind that has been programmed by the alcohol industry.

Feeling stronger.

I hope by sharing my experience I have served you in some small way.

Sam