RE 267: When Facing Crisis

Lucas took his last drink November 13, 2018.  This is his story.

On today’s episode Paul talks about crisis.  In some languages the word ‘crisis’ is coupled with the word ‘opportunity’.  Everyone experiences crisis’ in life, but we are the fortunate ones that are forced to reach out for help.  We are then in this together…think the movie, The Breakfast Club.

 

[11:15] Paul introduces Lucas. 

 

Lucas is 32 years old, was born and raised in the DC metro area.  He is married, no kids yet.  Lucas is a UPS driver.  He has a dog that they rescued from a shelter.  For fun Lucas likes to work out, go to sporting events, and concerts.

 

[17:00] Give us a background on your drinking.

 

Lucas started drinking when he was 13 years old.  By the time he was 15/16 he says he would routinely blackout from drinking.  It was at that time he started to realize that it was something he perhaps should look at.  Even though he was aware that he may have a problem at this young age his drinking continued to progress through his 20s and college.

 

Lucas said he really started to see the effect that his behavior had on his life in his late 20s, early 30s.

 

[28:44] How powerful was it to bring your wife along with you on your journey? 

 

Lucas said that it has been vital to his sobriety, that it was so critical because it (sobriety) has been such a hard, and courageous, thing to do.

 

[33:33] Talk to us about what you meant when you said, “moderation in all in my mind”.      

 

Lucas says that moderation is not an attainable thing for him, that it is a word that was made up to make him feel better and convince himself that he could continue to have alcohol in his life.  Once he realized that moderation wasn’t a thing it was freeing.

 

[39:55] Talk to us about quitting Adderall?

 

Lucas said that Adderall was something he started taking in college and not because he really needed it, but because he liked its mood-altering qualities.  Once he quit taking it, he realized that it actually was making him less productive and less organized.

 

[44:10] Walk us through a sample day in a life without alcohol.

 

Lucas said he is a creature of habit.  He wakes up, lets the dog out, reads meditation passages, goes to the gym, goes to work, goes home, sometimes reads, cooks dinner, visits with his wife when she gets home from work and is in bed by 10/11 PM.

 

[51:00] What is an excuse that you used to tell yourself for why you couldn’t quit drinking?

 

Lucas would tell himself that he didn’t have a problem.

 

[51:35] Rapid Fire Round

 

  1. What’s a lightbulb moment you’ve had on this journey?

 

When I realized how much time I was spending pursuing the feeling that I was never going to obtain again.

 

  1. What’s your favorite alcohol-free drink?

 

Lime flavored seltzer water.

 

  1. What are some of your favorite resources?

 

AA, my meditation books, and “In the Rooms”, which is online AA meetings.

 

  1. What is on your bucket list in a life without alcohol?

 

I need to travel the world.

 

  1. What parting piece of guidance can you give to listeners?

 

To remind yourself how vulnerable, dangerous, and susceptible we all are when we live in unreality.

 

You might need to ditch the booze if…

 

You find yourself asking if you have a drinking problem.

 

Upcoming Events and Retreats.

Recovery Elevator LIVE: Dancing with the Mind – in Colorado – June 11-14th, 2020

You can find more information about our event here.

 

The book, Alcohol is Sh!t, is out.  Pick up your paperback copy on Amazon here!  You can get the Audible version here!

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! – Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

“Recovery Elevator – You took the elevator down, you have to take the stairs back up.  You can do this.”

 

 

 

RE 266: Rule 22

RE 266: Rule 22

Renee took her last drink January 2, 2020.  This is her story.

If you have ever wanted to attend a Recovery Elevator event you should get yourself to Denver in June for the Recovery Elevator LIVE: Dancing with the Mind – June 11-14th, 2020.  This event will be, essentially, the closeout event for Recovery Elevator.  You can find more information about our event here.

On today’s episode Paul talks about Rule 22.  What it is.  Why it is important to make this rule a part of your life ASAP.

Rule 22 = Lighten up.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Laughter really is the best medicine.  Life is never as serious as the mind wants us to believe.

 

[12:00] Paul introduces Renee. 

 

Renee is 40 years old and live in Greendale, WI.  She is a hair stylist and is currently working at a children’s hair salon.  She is married and they have 2 kids, a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.  Renee also has a 20-year-old son from a previous relationship.  For fun Renee likes to hike, camp, go on vacations, paddleboard and jigsaw puzzles.

 

[17:25] Give us a background on your drinking.

 

Renee started drinking as a teenager, around the age of 15.  She says she did it to fit in and have fun.  She met her husband, in a bar, in her early 20s and they pretty much drank together every weekend.  It wasn’t until 2007 that Renee started drinking more than just on the weekends.  After getting married they were drinking 3-4 days out of the week.  Renee got pregnant early on and while she couldn’t drink due to being pregnant, her husband continued to drink.  That made Renee mad because she wanted to drink.  Renee did start drinking again, in the hospital, after giving birth to her children.

 

 

[20:30] Was drinking again, as soon as you had your baby, something that you had pre-planned? 

 

Renee said she could not wait to drink after her baby was born.    She did the same exact thing during and after her 2nd pregnancy a few years later.

 

[24:18] Why do you think your husband came clean about his drinking?    

 

Renee said he told her because he couldn’t do it anymore.

 

[24:40] What was your response?

 

Renee was pissed off when he first told her.

 

[28:35] When did you both recognize that alcohol was almost the driving divider?

 

Renee says it was in October of 2019 when her husband told her about his drinking.  They started to put all the pieces together and realized that everything bad that had happened between them was caused by alcohol, in some way, or somehow.    

 

[30:40] Has there been a moment when one of you was about to drink and you had that conversation where you lean on each other, and you both made it through?

 

Renee said yes, that there had been a couple of those moments.

 

[30:05] Was January 2 a planned date?

 

Renee said yes, it was a planned date.  She went to work that day and was cutting hair with shaky hands.

 

[35:40] How did you get through the last 45 days? 

 

Renee says that they bought a new treadmill, have been binge watching Netflix, just finding things to keep their minds off of it.  But that it was really hard at first.

 

[38:53] How has working with a counselor helped with your anxiety and depression?

 

Renee says it helped a lot.  She didn’t have any anxiety after the first couple weeks.  It just started to get a little better and better until now, when she says she has none.   

 

[40:40] Rapid Fire Round

 

  1. What’s a lightbulb moment you’ve had on this journey?

 

I realized that alcohol has basically affected everything in my life.

 

  1. What is a memorable moment that a life without alcohol has provided you?

 

Recently we got a lot of snow here and we took the kids sledding.

 

  1. What is some advice you’d give to your younger self?

 

To try and surround myself with people who aren’t party people.

 

  1. What are some of your favorite resources?

 

Well definitely your podcast, lots of reading.

 

  1. What is on your bucket list in a life without alcohol?

 

We want to do a lot more traveling.

 

  1. What parting piece of guidance can you give to listeners?

 

If you are thinking about drinking, or if you are thinking that you drink too much, you probably do.

 

You might need to ditch the booze if…

 

You do a drunken cartwheel and wake up in the morning to find your whole hand is black and blue because you broke your middle finger.

 

 

Upcoming Events and Retreats.

Recovery Elevator LIVE: Dancing with the Mind – in Colorado – June 11-14th, 2020

You can find more information about our event here.

 

The book, Alcohol is Sh!t, is out.  Pick up your paperback copy on Amazon here!  You can get the Audible version here!

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! – Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

“Recovery Elevator – You took the elevator down, you have to take the stairs back up.  You can do this.”

 

“Nolo” Drinks, Kombucha and Non-Alcoholic Beers in Recovery

“Nolo” Drinks, Kombucha and Non-Alcoholic Beers in Recovery

In this article, I’m going to cover what a “Nolo” drink is, talk about NA (non-alcoholic) beers and kombucha. I’m also going to give my recommendation if you should stay away from these drinks or not since some of them do contain trace amounts of alcohol. 

Side note – I feel more influencers, bloggers, podcasters need to cover controversial topics in recovery. Should we avoid NA beers that still contain small amounts of alcohol, does cannabis plays in recovery, and where does plant medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, and ibogaine fit in recovery? 

In episode 170, I came out about my experience with ayahuasca despite knowing I would face some intense criticism, which I did. I still feel it’s an incredibly powerful resource, and not sharing it with the audience wouldn’t be true to my mission. 

Recently I heard from a blogger in this space who tried ayahuasca for the first time and they said it was the most powerful resource they have come across. I then said, “wow, I’m so happy with you, shoot me the link when you share your experience with the audience, I’m excited to read about it.” They responded with, I don’t have any plans about going public with it. I didn’t answer back, but my inner response was…. Weak. But I get it, I’m sure I’ll get some flack about the position I take with kombucha and non- alcoholic beers. 

Speaking of Ayahuasca, I’m hoping to get dates set up for another trip to Rythmia in Costa Rica for later this year or early next. Email me a paul@recoveryelevator.com if you’re interested in joining. 

As you may know, I have a book titled Alcohol is Shit, so it may come as a surprise for me to admit, there are some excellent uses for alcohol. 

What is alcohol good for?

1. It does have a place in the medical field. It does a great job of killing bacteria and sterilizing things. 

2. It’s a highly flammable fuel. It can power a car, a train, or a rocket. 

Apart from that, alcohol is shit. People are waking up to the fact alcohol is a class 1 carcinogen, and ingesting the poison can cause significant havoc on internal bodily systems. So a trend is emerging. People are drinking less alcohol. Especially younger folks. Also, consumers are switching to more non or low alcohol content drinks. 

People in masses are starting to recognize that alcohol kills 88,000 people per year in just the US alone, causes ulcers, sexual problems, Vitamin B deficiency, apathy, gastritis, malnutrition, nerve damage, liver disease, alcohol poisoning, acute making an ass out of yourself disorder, and a barrage of other things that nobody wants. 

People are consuming less alcohol

Sales of no or low alcohol beer (this is where the term “nolo” comes from) is up 30% since 2016. This trend is especially popular with 18-24 year olds. Another fantastic statistic with this age group is that the number of 18-24-year-olds who report they don’t drink at all, increased by 6% last year alone, to 23% in total. Wow, you get a lot of flack millennials, but good on you. 

According to the craft brewers’ trade organization, “Nolo” alcohol is set to be one of the driving trends of 2020. 

The report is forecasting that no alcohol, low alcohol, and “free-from” beers are set to be one of the fastest-growing parts of the market in 2020, with under 35s choosing low alcohol versions of drinks for a quiet night in or to accompany meals.

Consumers are more conscious of their physical and mental health than ever, and this has driven the fall in alcohol consumption, especially among young people.

Here’s another promising figure – Growth in beer sales is slowing, with total beer sales in 2019 rising by 1.1%, compared with 2.6% growth a year earlier. And The report also indicated a slight increase in the overall number of people who never drink alcohol, with 17% saying they were teetotalers, compared to 16% a year earlier. That’s roughly 3.5 million more people who don’t drink. 

I share this with you in hopes of reminding you that you’re not alone. That more people than ever are questioning the role that alcohol is playing in their lives. People are taking addiction seriously and recognize it’s not something that younger people even want to mess with. When millennials say “Yolo” they aren’t including alcohol addiction. 

People, just like myself and you, are consciously making the decision to not drink something that will make you less conscious, less alive, and less vibrant. I choose, and I know you do as well, vitality. 

NA Beers

Okay, let’s cover non- alcoholic beer. Legally, they can market it as non-alcoholic if it contains less than .5% of alcohol. So, non-alcoholic beer isn’t correct since it contains alcohol. Thank you, FDA. And you might need to ditch the booze if you just calculated how many NA beers you’ll need to drink to relive the glory days. Now, good on you Heineken and UK Based Smashed Lager for making a true 0.0 NA beer.  

Now before I give you my opinion, my stance on NA beers, lets first cover why you want to drink an NA beer. Is it the taste? That there are small amounts of alcohol? To blend in? To not be asked why you aren’t drinking? Personally, I never drank beer, wine, or hard liquor for the taste. I drank for effect. I can think of about 74 other drinks that taste significantly better than NA beers, all of which don’t contain alcohol. 

Soda water, with a splash of cranberry and a lime wedge, is at the top of the list. Another one is called the “Dustimosa.” You take a couple of sips out of a La Croix, or Buble can, and then fill back up with cranberry, orange, or grapefruit juice.

This is how I treat NA beers. I don’t drink them. Not because I don’t want to flirt with the idea of trace alcohol amounts in my system, but I prefer the taste of other beverages. Now there have been several times when someone hosts a party, and they get me a six-pack of NA beers. Out of generosity, I’ll always have 1. One time, someone got me and my friend, Dusty, he was interviewed in episode 206, Busch NA’s to play flip cup with everyone so we’d feel included. 

My stance on NA beers, unless it’s a true 0.0% – stay away. You can find better tasting alternatives, and you don’t want to rattle the cage. It’s not worth it. I once heard a story from a guy who’s wife only allowed him to have NA beers in the house. So each night, he would go into the garage and drink 25-30 NA beers… 

Again, my unequivocal stance is, stay away from NA beers that contain trace amounts of alcohol. If you end up having all six beers in under an hour, there’s a good chance you’ll feel it, and crave more. 

Kombucha

Now let’s cover kombucha. What is kombucha? And why is it so popular in the US right now? According to Kombucha Brewers International, kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that’s made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). This solution of tea and sugar produces various compounds, including alcohol and acetic acid, the primary flavor of vinegar. 

Kombucha helps support healthy liver function and assists the liver in the detoxification process by making fat-soluble toxins water-soluble. A recent study found recovering alcoholics with higher gut bacteria diversity were more successful at staying sober. There is a strong gut-brain connection, and drinking kombucha strengthens that connection by increasing the number of healthy gut bacteria. 80% of serotonin is created in the gut when healthy gut bacteria and function are present. 

I also want to mention, if you had a sandwich or burger for lunch today, you most likely had more alcohol than a Kombucha. Burger rolls have almost 1.3% alcohol, and a ripe banana or pear has about .4% alcohol. How far down do you want to draw this line in the sand? 

With kombucha, my take, my stance, my opinion is… Have a kombucha for lunch. Greenlight. But make sure, if you’re at a kombucha brewery, it’s less than .5% or ideally 0.0%. I feel the health benefits outweigh the risks with a kombucha. Plus, for some reason, the thought of chugging 12 kombuchas at lunch makes my stomach stir. 

What sometimes sneaks up on me with kombucha is the caffeine. If I have one for dinner, it usually keeps me up at night. So keep that in mind. 

To go a little deeper with this article, the overarching problem isn’t alcohol. At first, it is when we are physically addicted. But after it’s been out of the system for a while, it’s about finding healthier ways to regulate inner discomfort without an external substance like wine, beer, spirits sex, shopping gambling, or kombucha. Awareness of what’s happening internally is significantly more important than avoiding kombucha.

 

RE 265: The Strategy of the Comfort Zone

RE 265: The Strategy of the Comfort Zone

Janine took her last drink October 6, 2019.  This is her story.

If you have ever wanted to attend a Recovery Elevator event you should get yourself to Denver in June for the Recovery Elevator LIVE: Dancing with the Mind – June 11-14th, 2020.  This event will be, essentially, the closeout event for Recovery Elevator.  You can find more information about our event here.

On today’s episode Paul talks about your comfort zone, why it’s important to have one, why it is so important to get outside of it, and how it is possible to get too far out of it.  The true authentic you doesn’t exist in your comfort zone.  Stepping outside your comfort zone even once, makes it easier that you’ll do it again.

As for ditching the booze, here are some strategies in regards to the comfort zone.  Instead of quitting forever, aim for one day, or 50% of the days in a month.  Burning the ships?  Go at your own pace.  90 meetings in 90 days too much, aim for 1 a week, then 2 a week.

 

[20:00] Paul introduces Janine. 

 

Janine is 32 years old and is from Pensacola, FL.  She is married and has a 9-month-old daughter.  Janine is a former kindergarten teacher.  For fun she likes to go to the beach with her family, walking her dog and spending time with her daughter.

 

[24:00] Give us a background on your drinking.

 

Janine took her first drink when she was 17-years-old and she immediately loved the feeling it gave her.  Through college she feels she drank like every other college student.  Janine says her drinking didn’t take off until she started her teaching career, and that gradually over the years she was drinking more and more.

 

When she met her husband, and knew that it was something serious, she says she knew that she was going to have to do something about her drinking.

 

 

[26:45] Talk to us about the methods you used to try and control your drinking. 

 

Janine said she tried them all.  Switched from liquor to wine/beer.  Still getting backout drunk after switching to wine she tried drinking a glass of water after every glass of wine.  Not drinking during the week, but even when that worked, she was still getting blackout drunk all weekend.

 

[28:15] Was there a time when fear came in and you didn’t think you could stop? 

 

Janine said yes, that that is exactly what happened.

 

[30:30] Can you tell us a little about postpartum depression?

 

Janine said for her she felt like she lost some of her identity, her whole life now revolved around another human being.  She had days when she would look in the mirror and not even recognize herself.  Her emotions were all over the place.  Janine ended up going to her doctor and getting on antidepressants, but was still drinking.

 

[35:00] Tell us what happened next. 

 

After trying to modify, by having no alcohol in the house, Janine said she went and bought 2 bottles of wine and drank them one night after the baby was in bed.  She got blackout drunk, sent strange texts, and spent the next day crying and filled with anxiety.  She couldn’t deny it anymore, she knew she had a problem and couldn’t control it.

 

Later that day her dad, a recovering alcoholic himself, called Janine.  She says his first words were, “I just felt I needed to call and hear your voice.”.  Janine said she just lost it and opened up to him for the first time.

 

[40:30] What was that first AA meeting like and what happened after that?

 

Janine said she was terrified to go that first meeting, but that after the meeting people came up and were very friendly.  She said she was also comforted by the fact that there were other teachers there.  She was still feeling like her life was over that first week.

 

[44:14] Was there a challenging moment when you wanted to drink, and how did you get past it?

 

Janine said she had several in the beginning.  She said when those times came up, she would call a friend, or call her sponsor.

 

[45:25] How has the relationship with your husband changed? 

 

Janine says her husband fully supports her and has also quit drinking.  She feels like their relationship has gotten a lot deeper.    

 

[54:30] Rapid Fire Round

 

  1. What’s a lightbulb moment you’ve had on this journey?

 

I would say when I made that last attempt to control my drinking by not having alcohol in my house

 

  1. What is a memorable moment that a life without alcohol has provided you?

 

Spending my daughter’s 1st Christmas completely sober.

 

  1. What’s your favorite alcohol-free drink?

 

I am a big fan of water.

 

  1. What are some of your favorite resources?

 

I enjoy this podcast; I don’t get to attend AA meetings as much as I would like but I also enjoy reading.

 

  1. What is on your bucket list in a life without alcohol?

 

I am actually thinking about taking up blogging.

 

  1. What parting piece of guidance can you give to listeners?

 

If you know in your heart that you can’t control your drinking anymore, don’t listen to the lies that your mind is telling you.

 

 

You might need to ditch the booze if…

 

You get blackout drunk while watching Dateline.

 

 

Upcoming Events and Retreats.

Recovery Elevator LIVE: Dancing with the Mind – in Colorado – June 11-14th, 2020

You can find more information about our event here.

 

The book, Alcohol is Sh!t, is out.  Pick up your paperback copy on Amazon here!  You can get the Audible version here!

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! – Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

“Recovery Elevator – It All Starts from the Inside Out.  We can do this.”

When Quitting Drinking, You’re in the Ring

When Quitting Drinking, You’re in the Ring

I’d like to zoom out a bit and talk about the journey for a moment. There is no one size fits all approach to ditching the booze, but I think most of us can agree, there can by trying times. You often hear on the Recovery Elevator podcast from myself and interviewees how incredible a life without alcohol can be, which I can attest to. Still, the pathway can be complicated at times, and for reasons unknown, more challenging for some.

There is a comfort knowing you’re not alone. That you’re not the only person on the planet, who struggles with alcohol, which is how I felt when I first began my journey early last decade. There is also a comfort knowing that collectively, people find this pathway hard. The pains and painful moments are all part of it, and you’re not alone. Keep in mind, of the roughly 100,000 genes we inherit, not of them is the addiction gene, and you can reverse this progression. 

Right now, since you’re reading this, it places you in the ring. You’re an active participant in the game of life. You’re in the center of the ring, and not up in the grandstands observing. And you’re an absolute badass, for purposefully placing yourself in this ring where there’s a good chance, almost certain chance, you’re going to get dirty. Smacked, kicked, punched, rolled over on, and a lot of other unpleasant things. This isn’t you saying, well, I’m open to failing, it’s you saying, I’m going to fail as many times as I need to be successful.

I admire each and every one of you for consciously choosing the enter the ring. Seriously. It’s impressive. I applaud all of you for continuing to listen to the podcast even if the message hasn’t quite “hit home” yet. 

Now, to be fair, by electing to be here, living life on planet earth places you in the ring, so everyone is more or less in the ring. But your decision to move forward in life without alcohol, to address what’s holding you back in life, places you in the center of the ring and not way up in the upper decks as an observer. Your conscious decision to depart from the booze, from what provided relief, from what used to make your job, anxiety, depression, shame, guilt, winter, your neighbor Tom, and individual relationships bearable places you front and center of the ring.

You might be saying, “wait a second Paul, I haven’t told anyone about my decision to quit drinking.” Well, even if the only ship you’ve burnt is with yourself, which is where it starts, you’ve still taken the most essential step in your life. This is what makes you brave… courageous… valiant… daring… vulnerable… adventurous… and a bold leader.

Now you may have heard courageous and vulnerable in the same sentence, and that’s no coincidence because they are the same damn thing. And Deep down, you know, the only way out is through. And to go through, you get cracked open, in the most beautiful of ways. It’s almost like a vulnerable sandwich. First, we must be courageous enough to be vulnerable. Then we must be courageous again to address the vulnerable parts. The vulnerability sandwich. I like it, I will personally be adding some horseradish mayo or honey mustards. I’m a huge sauce guy. 

Now let me describe what the ring looks like… Imagine a bull ring from Spain. One that Ernest Hemingway would write about in the “Sun Also Rises.” When you stop running, turn, and face your fears, you just made the conscious decision to place yourself in the center of the ring. Now, as I said before, everyone is in the ring, but you just came down from row 55, which is near the top and are now inside the ring. You can still get shoved around while sitting in the top row of the stands, and there’s a slim possibility you’ll to confront a bull, but by sitting way up there, you’re well in the comfort of your comfort zone.

Apart from the occasional shirt getting launched up there from a t-shirt cannon, not much happens. It’s a bunch of people who are living behind screens which have mighty thumbs and can type whatever they want. Up there, where you used to be, It’s called the sidelines of life. Where all you have is talk, inaction, and empty goals. How does that saying go? Talk is inexpensive? Talk is a bargain? Talk is of lesser quality… Talk is cheap. Got it. 

So here you are, inside the ring. You look down to find your shoes are covered in dust. You suddenly feel smaller. Things don’t smell quite right. And you see large bulls running around. You see swords, bows, and arrows, spears, dinner parties where alcohol is flowing freely, your best friend Aaron is offering you a vodka cranberry. You don’t have things figured out. You recognize it’s only a matter of time before you get your ass kicked.

As I mentioned last episode, it’s not about avoiding these ass-kickings in life; it’s about getting up and back into the ring. I think I’ve done a fair job of accurately describing what this journey will be like. I cover this specifically in episode 250 titled “Is Sobriety all Unicorns and Rainbows.” Sure, after alcohol, a new life awaits, one without crushing hangovers and self-loathing, but when in the ring, there will be challenging days. Moments you don’t think, keyword think, you’ll be triumphant, but you are. You find the strength because it’s there. I know it’s there. It always has been. 

Let me read one of my favorite quotes of all time for you. One that I had framed and hung up on my wall before the very FIRST episode of Recovery Elevator podcast dropped on February 25th, 2015. I remember looking up at the framed quote on the wall, them uploading episode 001 to iTunes and then said to myself, “Oh shit, here we go.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt. 

I think Teddy does a damn good job of summarizing just what level of Ninja status you’re at. You’re in the ring, which is all that matters. Now the thing you’re probably saying to yourself is this. “Teddy’s right. I don’t care what others think about me.” Say it to yourself, it sounds good. It feels good. But how come when we get criticism, it usually stirs up a whirlwind of emotions in some part of the body? You’re like hang on, I just told myself, I don’t care what others think about me, but how come there’s a knot the size of a grapefruit in my solar plexus? It’s because we’re wired as human beings to care.

We are genetically hardwired to care what others think about us. The reason why is we need a tribe. We need a community to survive. Okay, so here’s where I can add comfort. Criticism is normal. In fact, it can be a barometer knowing you’re on the right path. How does it go? Haters gonna hate, hurt people hurt people… Blah to them. We’ve covered countless ways on this podcast to stay grounded, to no let others affect your energy, but let’s be honest, some of it still hurts. It always will, and that’s alright. Allow yourself to feel it, and I can promise you with a capital P, alcohol will only create another, more ferocious critic.

Now, who’s the critic? Who’s the person saying you’re not worth it, or you don’t deserve this, or don’t even try because you’ll never make it? It’s not who we think it is. Stick with me for a second here. 

The spectator, or the critic we’re thinking about, the one we imagine sitting in the stands, heckling from above, in the comfort of their seat, is mostly quiet. Why? The spectator respects you, admires you, is almost envious of you… for your decision to be the most authentic version of yourself because deep down, they want the same. They want you to succeed. Sure, you may get the occasional cackle or low blow from above, but even they are saying, “go, go, get back up and get it, girl. DO it. Show us how. Lead the way.” They all want you to find traction on this journey. 

The loudest critic

So who is the critic when you’re in the ring grappling with alcohol? Who is the one that places the most seemingly impenetrable walls on your path? Wait for it… It’s you. I’m 99.99% sure the worst critic is you. The constant voice hurling those vitriolic painful volleys and insults is coming from you, or the voice inside your head. 

So this is good news. You can’t control disapproval from the outside, and well, you can’t really control the thinking on the inside either, but with awareness, you start to rewire this inner critic to be your inner cheerleader. Your biggest fan. A coach when you need it most.

The way you do this is becoming more conscious than ever of the unconscious self, and when thoughts come across the mind that says, “Michelle, let’s not even try, we won’t make it.” Say, “thank you for your input,” That’s it. That’s the equivalent of a tomahawk throw into an opponent in the ring. With awareness, and one departure from those unhealthy thoughts at a time, you begin to tune out this critic, you stand tall. You move forward in life without the poison called alcohol. 

You can do this, I know you can. You’ve been doing the heavy lifting for quite some time now. You are up to this task, I know you are. Come on, we both know you are. Being in the ring is scary at first, terrifying, but with time, you’ll find comfort there. Even enjoy it. Welcome it. All of it. 

Keep in mind, you’re the one with dust on your face, or for us, sometimes with puke in your hair. It’s you that’s in the ring, not the external critic. You’re the relevant one. 

Keep trying, you’re so close

When Quitting Drinking - Sober Travel

Check out this video of this you gal who can’t be more than 4,5 or 6 trying to jump up onto a block. She keeps trying and keeps failing. This block is hitting her in the chin, she’s falling over, but she keeps getting back up into the ring. And then, after heaps of jumps, she gets it. Just like you will. 

I got the idea for this episode after I got a couple of emails from listeners who were ready to give up. To accept defeat and exit the ring entirely and surrender to a life of drinking and misery. HANG WITH ME. I’m going to ask the readers a question.

Was there ever a moment when you could have sent that same email when you were ready to quit? Hang on,,, okay, every single reader who has ditched the booze or is in the process just nodded their head. SO, if this is how you’re feeling at the moment, know it’s completely normal, some call it the dark night of the soul. Which means you’re so close. So promise me to stay in the ring, for as long as it takes. Do you know who else is in the ring with you? Me, and let me tell you, the other side… is much closer than you think. 

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