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.

Screenshot 2018-06-28 at 19.07.59

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

 

It’s easy to keep on keeping on and forget to stop and think about your achievements- well it’s certainly the case for me anyway.

I’ve always been this way inclined when I have achieved something – just to let it pass and not really recognise it. It’s not intentional its just an innate feeling to want to keep moving forward – almost a case of “well if I don’t then things won’t keep moving forward.”

What I’ve come to recognise on this journey is that taking time out and recognising our achievements is so important – whether going alcohol free or something we have achieved at work/home or whatever. It’s how our brain is wired – and the more we recognise the little achievements and take note and allow ourselves reward the more likely we are to go on and achieve more – it’s scientifically proven.

One of the ways of helping of sit in the moment is to practice mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”

I am dreadful when it comes to my mind wandering and this has particularly been the case in these first few weeks of freedom. So I’ve committed myself to practicing mindfulness more on a weekly basis  – indeed this morning I got up and rather than reaching for my mobile, device or going to check my emails I consciously took a moment out to take in the new day. I went downstairs, opened up my french doors and stood outside silent in the morning’s chill. I heard the dawn chorus of birds, the quiet breeze and felt the expectation of the day to come. I won’t lie – my mind was already quite noisy and I did feel rather groggy this morning but it was worth doing.

Being able to bring myself into the moment will be an important tool in my coping mechanisms now and in the future – whether for preventing myself from returning to old habits or whether helping myself in tricky situations at home and at work.

Specifically when referring to going free from alcohol Mindfulness Based Relapse prevention is often sited. The following page gives a really good one page summary of what this is:

https://www.mindfulrp.com/

I love this image which depicts mindfulness so well:

Image result for mindfulness

This is from http://frvf.co.uk/resources/mindfulness/

Maybe it’s something you should try or at least have a go at. I am going to persevere with it during the coming week.

There are other tools available at http://www.headspace.com and they also provide a fab app for Apple etc.

In the meantime I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

 

I’ve just completed another 5 km in thirty minutes. I dragged my butt of the bed and stepped outside … one step, two step … jog, repeat and done. This is the reward of alcohol freedom – it’s here NOW.

The reward isn’t located in the future or in the past. All I believe we can do with the past is learn and apply our experience – it’s no good dwelling. It’s also unacceptable in my mind to remain stationary and not progress – even if that progression still involves a degree of alcohol – oh controversial I hear you say. It’s not really because anyone who is on a journey to maximising their potential through alcohol freedom will have started somewhere.

My learning journey of understanding why I need to move away from alcohol started years ago – not months. It has involved reading, building up my knowledge and carrying out experiments on what does and doesn’t work for me. I knew I needed to go free in 2015 for goodness sake and we are now 2018. However all the things that I have learned – especially where they failed I am applying here and now.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received when quitting alcohol for the first few days (and everyone’s journey is different) was to reduce in the first instance. I reduced my amount to below 10 units a night and was able to think more clearly and have more clarity to plan for my freedom day. It also aids with REM (rapide eye movement) sleep (the most restorative sleep) if you reduce your quantities of alcohol. So actually when my quite day this year I drank very little the night before and felt quite at ease on day one.

I’m definitely rambling today and I am not in flow – but I am happy and I know I am on the right journey.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

 

 

This little journey that we are all on was not designed to be easy.

It doesn’t matter whether you are stood on the corner of Regent’s Street selling papers or an entrepreneur unlocking a 10 million deal we all face our highs and lows, our challenges and revelations, our sadness and joys.

Breaking bad habits is no different – it takes perseverance, repetition and an acceptance that the short term discomfort is worth it in the long run. Sometimes this means that things can seem a bit mundane.

In order to break free from alcohol I have found in the last week certainly that I am becoming more accepting that I am going to have to repeat the mundane things in life. I am going to have to understand that sometimes this means that things cannot all be fireworks and deep blue Mediterranean seas. Sometimes I just have to work at repeating what is working and moving me forward and recognise the energy and power that this holds on its own. So in the case of last week it has literally been to eat, sleep, work and repeat my daily routines.

Of course there is more to it than this but what I am trying to represent is the treadmill that life sometimes is. It’s how I train myself to find pleasure and happiness in the simple things that will lead to success. The ability to pull myself back into the moment and accept that life does not permanently lie in the past or in the future. I have all that I need right here and now – this is where satisfaction is found and quite possibly excellence in delivering habitual change.

Image result for repeat habits

Things are definitely becoming easier for me and my new alcohol free habits are becoming well embedded. Sure I will continue to have the brain farts (several this week if not in double figures) but they are passing thoughts and are of little significance – So I accept them, don’t make too much of a fuss and let them pass. These are thoughts of “isn’t that scene on a summers evening with a glass of cold beer attractive” or “a cold beer would really help me relax right now.” I am not planning on these thoughts dissipating anytime soon – after all they taken a couple of decades to build so why would they dissipate overnight.

I think it’s a good sign that I’ve lost track of the weeks – Indeed think I’m a week behind blogging – sorry for posting late. “Why?” You ask. Because it means I’m less focused on counting the days from when I went free and more concerned about the life that I want to build in the here and now.

I hope you can relate to this in some small way.

Take Care …

Sam

 

 

 

I’ve been very clear from the start of my freedom journey that I would gradually make small changes to stepping in the right direction – not rushed or unmanageable but very achievable in their time, target and measure.

It’s all about gradually moving away from my old bad habits towards habits that serve me (and ultimately others) positively.

We’ve all seen the overweight runner out on a January morning after a skin full of food and drink during the festive period. We’ve all witnessed a yo-yo dieter who every so often goes on a full on diet overnight cutting out all the enjoyment in their life. I believe the problem with these approaches is that the overweight runner really doesn’t enjoy running and the reason your friend keeps putting back on the weight is because of their sense of loss – both of these approaches require significant will-power and I know now (after several significant attempts) that will-power does not work.

Consider this – is the runner that you see out every other morning for the whole year on your way to work really hating every minute of it – absolutely not – it’s part of who they are and they feel rewarded and happy by running. Yes it might take some effort some days but fundamentally they are enjoying the experience.

So , what about that person in your life who you are questioning – how have they managed to keep the weight off? I believe it’s quite simply because they are not experiencing loss rather it is adding to their life in a positive way – you’ll even wonder how they are able to consume that large piece of cake at the Christmas do (don’t kid yourself – no they don’t eat it every day!) but they don’t deny themselves the pleasure.

One common theme with all of the above does come back to habits – and making small changes that really are achievable so you don’t experience overwhelm in the case of running and severe loss in the case of dieting. The successful runner progresses in small steps and the diet changes maybe one or two things maximum at once.

In my case I’ve just completed 28 minutes of running today using the couch to 5 km app. You can find it here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/get-inspired/43501261

Image result for bbc couch to 5k

The progress starts with walking and running – maybe 90 seconds running and then 90 seconds rest and it gradually build up over 9 weeks to 5 km. To be honest I’ve taken a little longer than this and on the days where I have felt tired or a little rough I have just allowed my body to rest.

I’ve also been running probably on average just twice a week and again this has meant that it has taken longer – but I’m nearly their and really proud and most importantly happier.

I’ve had to control my need to win (this has always been a driver) which is probably one of the reasons I ended up here at freedomalcohol.com. I have this insatiable desire to push myself to the limit (it’s a pre-programmed historical thing) so I’m retraining this mindset to allow myself to be consistent over the long-term.

I hope this has served you in some small way and that my rambles make a little sense. With a full on work and family schedule – delivering the nations food and being the best engaged dad I can I can only devote a minute amount of time to this. However I know that this small investment is a critical cornerstone in my weekly habits.

Continue to persevere learn and grow – all the best.

Sam

 

Have you ever travelled to work only to reflect on arrival “how the hell did I get here!” … or engrossed yourself so much in a piece of work that time seems to have dissipated – “How did it suddenly become so late?” you ask yourself. We’ve all done this at one time or another.

The mind is so powerful subconsciously that it can work such miracles (and whilst I do not claim to be a professional or qualified) I do know that both these examples are a kind of hypnotism. This is not your show magician style hypnotism trying to make a grown man pretend to be a cuddly poodle (doesn’t give hypnotism a good name really) but your mind showing just how powerful it really is.

The fantastic thing about this is that as I practice my new daily healthy habits things become a little easier and more automatic – the alcohol thoughts are lessening and my “auto-pilot” for what I do next is kicking in.

I’ll give a very simple example – 5 pm 7 weeks ago equalled “thinking drinking time”  – specifically “thinking beer drinking time.” My thoughts now around 5 pm are focused more on “thinking dinner time” and “thinking cup of tea time”.

It is simply by repeating this habit that it is becoming more automatic and I am starting to attach normality to this. This is the wonderful power of the mind that no-one should under estimate. The ability to re-programme – put crudely – a bit like a computer.

This can be used in many other areas of life – whether at work, in our “playtime” in keeping control of our finances – building healthy habits and routines is programmable. “That’s obvious” I hear you say – well it may be but often common sense is not coming practice.

I challenge anyone to say that all their habits are serving them in a positive way and that there are no improvements that they can make.

So I’m feeling strong, a little tired and grumpy in the morning, but generally strong and for now I will continue to do what is working – which is exactly what I have just described.

I like the following very simple info graphic – this one is aimed at food and healthy eating but it can be adapted to any habit.

Image result for healthy habits

from eatable.com.au

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam

 

In 5 years time I would like to look back on myself and view in all it’s glory my first 30 days free from alcohol for ever.

I see a healthier, happier and more vibrant me – smiling back at myself at the new day that lies ahead. I recognise that life has its ups and downs but through all this my focus on my well being and serving others has paid dividends.

I reflect and I see myself as someone who is persevering, growing and learning everyday.

I would recommend whatever your life position around alcohol you try a thirty day challenge. As I celebrate this achievement I have the following things that I have learnt:

  • my health has improved including skin, nails, breathing, voice and heart (yes voice – I can hit higher notes with more clarity).
  • mentally I am in a better position more in check with my emotions (whether good or bad) and able to be level headed in tricky situations.
  • I’ve had more fun and adventures than in the previous months.
  • I’ve been more present for my family and a better dad.
  • I’ve progressed both my career (small steps) and my home life.

The list of detail of things that have improved could fill several pages.

It has really helped to work through four full weekends and to practice my new behaviours – moving away from my old bad habits.

Everyday I have been carrying out small new routines this has helped me move away from my old habits.

Image result for good habits quotes

This has been as simple as introducing some weekly light exercise (a walk) for example. Easily achievable but realistic steps that move me away from alcohol.

The way I see my journey as I sit here now is to put as much distance between myself and alcohol. Alcohol no longer forms part of who I am and cannot form part of anything I do in the future. Whilst I know that there will be times where I will continue to have to overcome barriers (for example going on holiday) these are far smaller than the great walls that lie ahead of me if I were to continue to drink – leading to my ultimate demise.

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

Sam

The sheer marketing and sales of alcohol is astounding when you look at it with a clear and factual mind.

“This propaganda was never as strong as the weekend I have just spent”

If this product (beautifully packaged poison as I refer to it) came to the Dragons Den today it would never reach the market because of its negative influences on our health and society in general. The Dragons would almost certainly see through the short term benefits and cut straight to the negative effects. “I’m Out” would reverberate around the room.

This propaganda was never as strong as the weekend I have just spent (and a very enjoyable one at that) where I went to a secret cinema in London. Everything about this experience was amazing – an immersive, sense tingling extravaganza where Blader Runner (the original) was brought to life by actors in a gigantic cinema before going to see the movie.

‘Epic is an understatement’ – MTV

‘A fully immersive, once in a lifetime experience’ – i-D

‘A truly innovative fusion of film and live action’ – Guardian

Aside from the point that I am about to make (which to be honest is also a true reflection of the 80s so I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way – complete with Bourbon and Atari adverts) I would 100% recommend going!

You can book tickets here: https://www.secretcinema.org/

Image result for blade runner 1982 poster

… the advertising and setting of the scenes in the 80s are drizzled and littered with a society engulfed in alcohol propoganda – from the Billboard adverts, to the bars and beautifully lit and silhouetted bottles of Bourbon. All to make you think that alcohol provides you with escapism, is the answer to your problems, is the stuff of hard men, is a place where gangsta deals are done …….

So I’m in week 4 of my 30 day challenge and chugging along nicely thank you. The visit I described above was actually very enjoyable and useful for me to prove that I can happily go out and enjoy myself without my crutch that would leave a hangover.

Indeed this last week I have:

  • completed some light exercise
  • updated my personal development plan
  • visited my family
  • went to see Blade Runner Secret Cinema

I’ve been emotionally again in a better place – and I feel my body is recovering (some days I am tired to be honest) but I put this all down to becoming healthier overall.

My routines include:

  • listening to podcasts https://brendon.com/
  • absorbing other peoples experiences of alcohol and lessons they have learned http://alcoholmastery.com/
  • reading informative books
  • nighttime mindfulness (but normally asleep by the time this has been completed – https://www.headspace.com/
  • and attending a weekly group

I will see how this pans out and what I need to adjust going forward but the key learnings for me are:

  • learn from your mistakes
  • have contacts with people who are experiencing the same thing
  • create time space (even if small spaces – 10 minutes)
  • anticipate events and plan for them (like how you will respond and react both emotionally and physically to situations.
  • gain support from those around you.

I will no doubt come to talk about these more in the future but for now I hope I have served you in some small way.

Image result for blade runner bourbon

Sam

 

 

 

A lot of what happens in our lives is about control – whether internally or externally.

We all, I believe, have a strong desire to regulate and influence our overall life experience. Then there’s the flip side to the coin of wanting spontaneity, surprise. change and the little miracles of excitement that just sometimes happen unexpectedly.

I’m guessing most of us have experienced one of those days where you wake up having planned absolutely nothing and it turns out to be the most exciting day of the year. The alternative being that something tragic or unexpected happens.

Somewhere in between I believe resides a happier medium and it is this that is so tricky to control. Indeed, there are just some things that we have to accept as being out of our control.

So, what if something unexpected happens and this effects my journey to alcohol freedom – you may rightly ask? A tragic event, a trigger – somebody shouting at me when I least want it.

I experienced this just the other day. I believe it is about how we choose to respond to this that is key. The meaning and response that you bring to such a situation is something I believe I have complete control over. It simply takes some practice to respond in a way that means that you remain headed in the right direction.

This last week I have continue to progress on my freedom journey and also my 30 day challenge. I’ve said this before but progress is significant without the beautifully packaged poison in my cupboards. Some benefits and activities this week from freedom include:

  • ongoing improved clarity of mind.
  • better use of time in the evenings.
  • being present for my children – where by present I mean “in the moment”.
  • swimming with my daughter and wife
  • progressing projects at work more briskly
  • better ability to deal with confrontational situations where I have been able to respond more level headed.
  • of course more energy

I have experienced some foggy mornings but I put this down to a recovering body and to be honest eating too late at night. I’ve tried to eat my evening meal earlier where possible but this cannot always happen.

I suppose the thing I remember is that the mild discomfort, for example in the morning, or the fleeting thoughts of “I would like a beer” do not outweigh the benefits of being free from alcohol.

One of my regular routines I have introduced is some form of mindfulness before bed and also where possible reading in the morning. I find this is a useful reset for the morning and “stop” for the evening.

I’ve not had as many cravings this week but my desire to drink does increase throughout the day. I’ve found the “Sober Technique” quite useful (although do not like the name of it. It works as follows:

S – Stop: Whatever you are doing immediately, albeit if you are shopping, out socialising, in doors etc.
O – Observe: your surroundings objectively. Imagine you are standing back from the situation like sitting on a wall observing whatever the events are unfolding in front of you but you are not a part of that scene.
B – Breath: Gently in through your nose and hold for 3-5 seconds and gently release your breath through your mouth, hold 3-5 seconds before you breath back in through your nose again. Repeat this action 5-10 times.
E – Evaluate: How you now feel and note how your perspective on the situation has changed. The external situation may of not changed but your thoughts and feelings are more likely have positively shifted.
R – Respond: Rather than react. You will feel more empowered to make a choice rather than panic and stress more in order to deal with yourself and the given situation. If you can at this point find a safe place for you that brings comfort. This may be sitting by a tree or near water, it may be a coffee bar or a particular room in your home or garden.

Image result for sober breathing

It all goes together but the most useful part I have found is the evaluating part. It gives you the opportunity to check in with you feelings and maybe question them if you feel strong enough.

Questions and statements I ask are:

  • what is going to happen if I continue on this route?
  • why am I doing this again (this is why it is so important to have an emotional “why” that you are connected to.
  • what are the benefits so far that I have experienced – I don’t want to forfeit these do I.
  • this too shall pass as it has many times before.
  • I am in this for the long term and the short term discomfort is worth the long term gain.

I hope this has served you in some small way.

Sam