Someone asked me an interesting question this week – ‘Do I feel a sense of shame when I tell people I don’t drink’.
My immediate answer was ‘HELL NO’ – In fact it is the complete opposite, I am proud of being sober and the positive changes I have made to my life, why on earth would I feel a sense of shame.
Then I thought a little more about the question and realised that many people probably do feel a sense of shame when they tell people the have quit, how awful is that?
The reason for this is because people outside the sober-sphere will often jump to conclusions and assume you must have had a serious problem with alcohol to have had to quit. Unlike any other drug, alcohol is the only one you have to justify not taking and as we know, there is a stigma associated to having an ‘alcohol problem’.
You never hear anyone feeling a sense of shame because they stopped smoking or went on a diet.
I want this attitude around alcohol to change, when I quit drinking I was so excited about what lay ahead of me. I had discovered something amazing and exciting, I was motivated and hungry to see what was on the other side of a life in the grip of my old friend Shiraz.
I know now that everything I hoped for (and more) is so very real, I have found true peace in my life, I am happier than ever before and my relationships with friends and family have improved more than I could ever have imagined.
Add to that the fact there are no longer any hangovers or regretful behaviour and I am experiencing the best sleep of my life and it leaves my wondering why there is a stigma attached to sobriety.
It is all down to the conditioning of society and the marketing by the big alcohol brands. So many people believe drinking is cool and is the ‘done thing’ and if someone can’t handle it they are in some way weak.
Well, I can tell you from personal experience, the complete opposite is true. Anyone who quits alcohol is not weak, many have been on tough journeys and among my sober-friends are some of the strongest people I know.
In addition, when we start talking about being sober it can make people feel threatened as it shines a light on their own drinking. This can result in an adverse or unwelcome reaction. This is why it is important to never judge or preach and allow your actions and experiences to do the talking.
I have no shame about being sober, I shout about it from the rooftops (as many of you know!) and I have found the more I talk about it, the more people get interested and want to know exactly how I have changed my life and found happiness.
I am sure there will always be a few people who think ‘he must have had a real problem with the booze’, but I don’t care and so what if I did. The more we talk openly about the dangers of alcohol and the damage it causes, the more people will realise that a sober-life is the right choice.
My 2019 catchphrase is ‘Sobriety is Infectious’ and it is so true. I have had so many people who have reached out to me and got really curious about what I am doing and I have seen many of them change their own relationship with alcohol as a result.
I started my sober journey to improve my life but it has touched so many other people, the Be Sober group now has over 2000 members and I am lucky enough to coach with This Naked Mind where I get to meet hundreds more incredible people on the path to true freedom.
As you go through your journey the same will happen and your actions will get people interested. They will see what you are doing and look at you like some kind of sober-superhero and they will want to know how you did it.
So don’t ever feel a sense of shame, be sober and be proud. And if anyone doesn’t like what you are doing or isn’t supportive, then it might be time to question whether they were a real friend in the first place.