Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching can help women with all of these issues:

Pathways to Health
Stress and Anxiety
Life Transitions
Go Alcohol Free
Children’s Hypnotherapy
Menopause
Hypnotherapy for Menopause

Menopause

sober

Getting off the roundabout of self destructive behaviour

One of the most common experiences that my life coaching and hypnotherapy clients talk about is a feeling of being out of control and – even when they are aware that certain behaviours are self destructive – they find it very difficult to break the patterns.

Whenever we engage in any self-destructive and addictive behaviour – such as drinking – there’s a sense of a loss of control. The other day, I was on a roundabout. It was one of these roundabouts with tons of lanes – and I was in the wrong lane. I ended up having to go round the roundabout twice before I got into the right lane (side note – I get confused driving sometimes, especially if I’m stressed – getting treatment for a driving phobia is what originally encouraged me to seek hypnotherapy treatment!). Anyway, back to the roundabout with all the lanes, and while I was on it, in the wrong lane, I felt like I couldn’t get off it. It felt like I was being controlled by the roundabout.

When we engage in self-destructive behaviour, such as drinking, it can feel like we’re on a roundabout and that we’ve lost some control. Imagine that somebody says or does something hurtful to you, just as you’re pulling onto the roundabout. Despite knowing which exit you want to leave at, you’re suddenly confused – you’ve forgotten which exit you need to take for your own good. You’re on the roundabout and you’re being pulled to the wrong exit – a route which is taking you away from where you wanted to be. Being on the roundabout feels scary and out of control.

Let’s retrack to the beginning. You knew which exit you wanted to take but something happened on the roundabout which affected you, so instead of taking that exit you went round a couple of times and then went off the wrong exit.

Let’s imagine that your drinking cycle is like being on a roundabout. You wake up in the morning and resolve that you will stay sober today, no matter what comes your way. You’re resolved – no matter what anyone might say or do to you, and no matter how hard your day is – to take the roundabout exit that says ‘sober’. But, at some point between leaving your destination and taking the ‘sober’ exit, something happens so that you choose not to take the ‘sober’ exit. You stay on the roundabout. You figure you’ll either get back to the sober exit or take another exit, which will probably take you back to the sober destination…or maybe it won’t…eventually you take the exit which leads to ‘alcohol’. Let’s face it, as soon as you dithered about taking the ‘sober’ exit, even though you had some vague idea you’d end up at the sober place, there was a likelihood you would end up taking the ‘alcohol’ exit.

It’s very easy to get thrown off track while you’re on the roundabout, just as it’s very easy for your resolve to stay sober to get thrown off track because of the events of the day. It’s easy to let your emotions take over from your logical brain. So how do you stop it happening and make sure you take the exit that you need to?

1.       Resolve which exit you’re going to take – which exit will enable you to follow your desire to stay sober?

2.       Identify the point at which you might get led away from taking that exit. Is it early on in your day, or later. What specific situations will make it more likely that you don’t take the sober exit? Will it be something that a particular person says or does? Will it be a particular time of day? Identify these circumstances which are bound to crop up and which may easily mislead you BEFORE they happen.

3.       Be aware that taking that exit might be hard – but you can do it. You’ve identified it’s the exit you want to take. It might take some effort to stick to that exit, but you need to resolve to do it, no matter how hard.

4.       Be aware of what happens if you don’t take the correct exit. Take a moment or two to think about the consequences. What happens if you let yourself lose control, be misled and end up on a route you really don’t want to take?

5.       Remember – humans are creatures of habit. It’s far easier to take the old exit that you’re used to taking, but it’s also very possible to take a new exit – it just requires effort and resolve.

6.       Finally, once you’ve taken that new exit, see how good it feels to have reached your desired destination for the day. How much better does it feel to have chosen to be in ‘place sober’ than to have been dragged to ‘alcohol junction’?!

 Hypnotherapy and life coaching can help you not only to identify self-destructive patterns, but to break them. Sometimes just having the support of an independent life coach or hypnotherapist can be enough to help make sure you take the right exit for you.

Why am I addicted to alcohol? And how life coaching can help

Many therapeutic interventions to help people stop or cut down their drinking focus on behavioural issues, such as setting clear goals around drinking, finding replacement behaviours to drinking and focusing on a future without drinking. Whilst all this is very helpful, I also think it’s important to ask the question, ‘Why am I addicted to alcohol?’. Because if you don’t ask this question – and work through getting to an honest answer – you’re going to still have the same underlying drives which caused you to drink to excess in the first place. No matter how good your strategies to stop or cut down your alcohol consumption are.

 

The simple answer is, alcohol is an addictive substance. And, of course, this is true. Alcohol tricks the brain, leaves the body craving and fools the mind into wanting more and more. Anyone can, in theory, become addicted to alcohol. But not everyone does. So what else is going on in terms of addiction?

 

When I first went for therapy, I didn’t specifically go about my drinking and, in fact, I was in denial about the level I was drinking and the impact it was having on me. I went about my anxiety, the fact that I was holding myself back in life and my poor coping mechanisms. What emerged from my wonderful life coaching and counselling sessions was that…I didn’t really like myself, and I didn’t know how to cope with life. Drinking allowed me to be more sociable, to keep going when I felt like dropping and to hide the pain and hurt I felt around certain people and situations instead of being able to assert my needs.

 

Why was I addicted to alcohol? Certainly there was the physical addiction – when you’re hung over, groggy, fatigued, aching muscles and everything else that accompanies drinking, the one thing you want more than anything else is a drink to (temporarily) sort you out. But I was addicted to it as a coping mechanism. I was psychologically addicted as it quickly and effectively solved my problems for a few hours.

 

With my life coaching clients, I spend some time looking at why they became addicted in the first place and why they continue to be addicted and I make sure we move away from simply focusing on alcohol as an addictive substance. Addiction of all kinds, including alcohol, is strongly associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) (see here https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/ace-questionnaire for ACE questionnaire). Having a higher ACE score is clearly linked with higher incidences of alcoholism. If you experienced adverse effects in your childhood, you are significantly more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol later in life.

 

So what to do with that knowledge? The past is past…Except that it’s not really – not if its still informing how you act in the present. Not if your coping mechanisms and choices are guided by things which happened in your childhood. By examining what happened in your past, you are able to make the links, to discover that you’re not a bad or weak person, and to realise that your actions today have been influenced by what happened to you much earlier in life. It doesn’t mean you’re apportioning blame or saying, ‘’Well, I had a crap childhood – no wonder I drink these days!”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about taking control, identifying the factors which contributed to your drinking addiction, working through any issues which may have started in your past and which continue to drive your drinking. My work with my life coaching clients is always more effective once we have done this type of deep work which means that looking to a future is based on much more solid foundations.  

3 ways to kick start sober living!

When I stopped drinking, it was the first fortnight which was the hardest – and the first few days were downright horrible. I remember walking from my house to the bookshop, which was about a mile away, feeling grim – but determined to see if I could get hold of a book on going sober (which turned out to be a really good idea). I was about day 3 in to my alcohol free adventure, and it felt like more of an ordeal than an adventure at that point. I came home, lay on my bed, shed a few tears of self pity and then opened up the book.

When you’ve been drinking pretty much every day – even if it is just half a bottle or a bottle of wine – your mind and body craves it. It takes a while for the alcohol to leave your system, so even if you’ve not been a heavy drinker you feel a physical craving to top up those levels. You might feel exhausted and your sleep may be very disturbed. You might have aches and pains. The temptation to have a drink to alleviate all this is huge! Here are three tips to help you kick start things.

  1. Find a replacement habit (big clue, it doesn’t have to be a ridiculously healthy habit!). When you stop drinking alcohol, there’s a gap. For me, it was a huge, cavernous hole. Eventually you want to get to the point where you can sit with that gap, explore your life and be able to stay with the discomfort of your feelings but in the very early days, it’s useful to replace your drinking habits with another habit. The mistake some people make is thinking that this habit has to be super healthy. ‘I’m no longer going to drink every night at 6.00 – I’m now going to have a detox drink and go to the gym’. If that works for you, fine – but for many people this is too much of a leap, too soon. My replacement habit during my early sober days was mug collecting (exciting, I know!). I figured that I was saving at least £5 a night on wine so I would go to the supermarket and buy a mug. Sometimes I’d treat myself to something else – a scented candle, some flowers or some nice soap – and these little treats made me happier about stopping the wine. Some suggestions include having nice long baths, finding a good yoga class, going to the cinema one evening or getting out and having a coffee. It’s up to you to fid your things and – as long as it’s better for you than drinking booze – go for it. doesn’t matter if it seems silly or pointless (or if you end up with an awful lot of mugs) – use it as a means to replace one behaviour with another and reward yourself into the bargain.
  2. Be selfish. Sober living is a huge step – one which is going to allow you to live a life you didn’t even know was possible. You need to put yourself first while you make these changes. Being selfish has a whole load of negative connotations but think of it like this – you are looking after yourself and putting your own needs first. What could be wrong with that? You might feel empty and grumpy when you stop drinking. Make sure you look after yourself. You might hurt and offend other people with your decision to stop and they may be people who are close to you. Don’t let yourself be made to feel bad or be manipulated. This is your life. Other people are free to act in the way they want to. If you choose to stop drinking, that’s up to you. It is no one else’s business except yours. You need to stick to your ground and do what’s right for you. If that means avoiding certain social activities for a short while then that’s what you have to do. If it means offending someone, then feel free to offend. This is too important to ignore your own needs.
  3. Nurture yourself. Whilst your coming to terms with the physical and mental changes which are taking place, you might feel like giving up sober life – because it’s so much easier to keep drinking alcohol. Sleep deprivation is a very common problem for people who have stopped drinking. Although alcohol severely affects the quality of sleep you get, you’ll have been used to sleeping in a certain way for a long time. When you stop drinking, there’s a complete overhaul in your sleeping patterns. Many people find they’re hardly getting any sleep in the early days. If this is you – make sure you rest when you can. If you’re so tired you can’t cope with work, treat it like a sick day and have a day to catch up. Remove those responsibilities which drag you down. Curl up under the duvet with a good movie if you need to. Share with your family and friends what you’re going through. Read inspiring books. Find a tribe which will support you – there are some great Facebook groups out there such as Dry January and Beyond. Find a life coach or counsellor who specialises in working with alcohol addiction – reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, bravery and commitment.