Imagine you are a computer.
Then imagine all of the things you have in your life are open pages on your computer screen, for example work, family, relationships, thoughts, emotions, habits, etc.
Then think of what happens to your computer when too many screens are open at the same time. It is slow, sluggish and doesn’t work to its full capacity. See where I’m going with this?
Is it any wonder that in the modern world we get overloaded and come unstuck, using drugs and alcohol to escape into a world where none of that matters anymore??
Behind the Soberfish scenes, I’ve been attending sessions with Becki Houlston, a life coach based in sunny Bournemouth. Becki uses a system which involves identifying what exactly is slowing us down, ‘clearing’ those open screens running in the background and uses how the nervous system responds to gauge when the screens are cleared.
You could be forgiven for thinking ‘oh she’s definitely lost it now’ and ‘not more mumbo jumbo’ but I believe this shizzle really works.
Our sessions began with a fairly informal chat about my life in general. I found Becki really easy to talk to and explained about the past year, about past relationships, about where my life is at right now and where I plan to be in the future. I had also completed some forms before the first session so Becki had an idea of what I was looking to achieve.
Several things became obvious quite quickly.
One, I tend to feel uncomfortable and get defensive if I don’t feel ‘safe’. We discussed my forthcoming trip to Thailand and I was explaining how I was getting freaked out about whether to take a rucksack or a suitcase or which hotel to stay in or where to go. Becki made me see that I need to find the middle ground that made me feel safe/comfortable about my decisions rather than obsessing about the minor details and that I should be getting excited about my trip rather than working myself into a frenzy!
Two, that despite being fairly goal orientated, I wasn’t working towards any particular life goals. I explained that I had worked towards my Soberversary during 2017 and not really focused on anything beyond that. Becki suggested it was now time to make some goals to encourage what I wanted to come into my life rather than focusing on what I didn’t want.
And three, my speciality, overthinking. I’ve always been the same, analysing a situation beyond recognition and coming to my own, (often wrong) conclusions about what other people are going to think, say or do. Overthinking is an exhausting trait and clouds everything in its path. It was time to shut it down.
Becki asked me to stand in front of her, arms straight by my side but relaxed, and with my eyes shut, repeat ‘I am weakened by overthinking’. The ever cynical me expected to feel nothing but instead I felt my body gently sway backwards. The movement was very subtle but it was there. I then repeated the sentence, feeling the sway again. For me, the sway backwards indicated ‘weak’ and the idea is to keep repeating ‘I am weakened by overthinking’ until the sway switched direction to forward and therefore ‘cleared the screen’.
As the procedure is being completed, Becki is watching how the nervous system responds to the commands as the movements can be very slight. They can also be very exaggerated depending on the size of the issue and some people have been known to fall over! The larger the issue, the harder it is to clear. Overthinking dominated most of my first session and probably needs shutting down on a fairly regular basis!
So how do I feel now? Well, I must say I do feel more focused on what is important and I do feel lighter after a session. As an impatient person, I expect immediate results but understand this isn’t always possible. Perhaps impatience needs to be my next ‘screen’ to be cleared?!
I will be returning to Becki for more ‘clearing’ in the New Year and highly recommend her services. Becki can offer one to one sessions either in person, on the phone or via Skype, so distance is not a problem. This technique can be used on many different issues .. if other techniques haven’t worked for you, why not give this a go?
The absolute key to success is meticulous planning. Personally, I avoided situations where there was going to be copious amounts of alcohol. If you were on a diet, you wouldn’t hang out in McDonald’s would you?
Download podcasts .. I particularly enjoyed the Recovery Elevator (I’m interviewed on episode 125) or The Alcohol & Addiction podcast. It really helped me to listen to other people’s stories.
Buy treats. We just lurve rewarding ourselves! Giving up one thing will mean replacing it with something else. That’s the way we are made. My vices have swung between Elderflower cordial to Curly Wurlies to Magnums. Yes, I know they’re full of sugar but I gave up drinking & smoking at the same time & I’m still losing weight so WHATEVS.
Join online groups such as Club Soda Together or Alcohol Explained. These groups have been my lifelines. Lots of people just like YOU with a common goal in mind. Brilliant!
Buy your favourite alcohol free tipple. Drink it in a wine glass if it makes you feel better. If you have to drink alcohol free wine & beer, do that. If that triggers you, don’t do that. Do what is good for YOU! Get some books. There’s hundreds out there to help you. Flood your mind with sober thoughts.
Recognise your trigger times and arrange to do something. If your trigger time is Friday night, go to the cinema & eat popcorn. If it’s Sunday evening, go out for a walk. You have to fill trigger time with something else or the nagging thought will win.
You cannot do the same things & expect different results. If you expect sit in front of the tv night after night & not crave a drink, you will be disappointed. Soberdom is not just about not drinking. It is about changing your lifestyle, breaking a habit, doing something different. Try writing down how you feel, or calling a friend and talking about it or join online discussions. You have to change YOU if you want to succeed.
Wishing you all the luck in the world!
YOU CAN DO THIS XX
RE 125: Focus on the Action and Not the Results
One of the most powerful episodes I listened to http://www.needyhelper.com/the-alcohol-addiction-podcast-episode-52-kim-sandhu-on-his-addiction-mental-illness-and-recovery
Sometimes, I feel like Sobriety is a bit of a cult, a bit like a religion, a bit like a secret club that until you truly embrace it, you can’t quite understand it.
Sobriety has literally given me my life back. Recently, several people have asked me whether now that I’ve reached a year off the sauce, I could just ‘have the one’ or whether I’ve considered moderation? The categoric answer is no.
If I had been in an abusive relationship and escaped, would you ask me if I was ready to return?
If I was a smoker and had given up, would you ask me if I felt ready to have ‘just the one’?
If I was a heroin addict, would you ask me if it was time to shoot up?
I have never claimed to be addicted to alcohol however I see my relationship with it as very unhealthy & with symptoms not dissimilar to bulimia. I rarely had ‘just the one’ unless it was a bottle. I was often sick the following day. All day. Alcohol made me emotional, self loathing, anxious, do stupid things, make stupid decisions, sleep less, eat more. You know the score. I have no desire whatsoever to go back to that.
Last Christmas was tough because Christmas is mostly about repetition. Most years, Christmas follows the same blueprint as does the alcohol consumed. At no other time of the year would I drink Bucks Fizz or Port or Baileys but for one day of the year, in it all went.
This year, because I already had a sober Christmas in the bag, it was much easier because my Christmas blueprint has already started to change from years gone by. With a years sobriety behind me, I can honestly say I didn’t think about alcohol at all. I don’t miss Bucks Fizz or wine or after dinner drinks .. or the hangover.
It is hard changing a habit of a lifetime. But it’s not impossible. When you were 5, you weren’t getting hammered on Christmas Day so you need to go back to that! Children are the ones who get the most joy out of Christmas and they’re sober .. we all need to go back to our roots.
If you are questioning your drinking habits or saying the immortal words ‘I’m never drinking again’, why not try and make that true? I can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Take control. Get your life back. Be brave. Get sober.
‘The Shamanic Journey is the ancient method of the shaman that can be used by everyday people for healing, personal growth, and to connect with nature’
If you’d said to me a year ago, I’d be trying out different therapies, attending meditations & gong baths & considering yoga as my New Year Resolution, I’d have told you you were mad.
I would’ve also told you that you were mad if you’d suggested I’d become alcohol free for the rest of my life and just look how that turned out.
The main thing I miss about drinking alcohol is ‘getting out of my head’. When I say that, I don’t mean drinking myself into a black out state but actually taking a break from myself and stopping the internal chatter.
You see, I have a very busy brain. I always find it hard to just ‘be’ in the present, always thinking ‘what next?’, always looking way too deeply into any given situation and always overthinking to an overwhelming degree.
Through trying different therapies and activities, I’m looking for something that shuts me off from every day life, just for an hour or two, that gives me space from all the things that we worry about. I want to go somewhere lovely, somewhere peaceful, somewhere I actually shut the f**k up.
I get a fair amount of headspace from walking in the fresh air, listening to my audio books, my mind distracted from mundane normal life. I also love the way gong baths take me to another place for a small snapshot of time. But I want more.
A few weeks ago, I was invited by a special friend to attend a Shamanic meditation for 12 ladies on 12/12. Double numbers have great significance as does the number 12. I had no idea what a Shamanic meditation was and kind of didn’t want to know beforehand so that the experience was totally brand new and so that I didn’t have a chance to become cynical about it! All I knew is that I’d be going to a friends house in my comfies and needed to bring a blanket, a pillow and some water.
When we arrived, we all took a place on the floor or couch in a large room lit dimly by the lights on the Christmas tree. Our host for the night explained that she would be guiding us on a Shamanic journey and asked us all to share what we were expecting from the evening. It was a great ice breaker as, although I knew most of the women, I didn’t know them all. By sharing our expectations, it also connected us all in the room, ready to begin our journey.
Meditation involves a lot of deep breathing. Before Soberdom I would’ve been utterly self conscious in a room full of people breathing in and out loudly. But breathing is helpful and soothing and takes you to a meditative state and so breathing is what we did.
Our host advised that she would be taking us to a place of nature, like a wood, and we’d journey through it until we found our ‘power animal’. We were asked to observe how the animal behaved and continue on with the animal until we found a hole or a door or likewise to lead into the spirit world. This journey would be accompanied by drumming at different speeds at different parts of the journey.
Honestly … I won’t lie … my brain screamed WTAF (what the actual f**k)!! Power animal? Hole in the ground? Drums?
But I was curious. There was a possibility this may give me what I was looking for and … you never know til you try right?
So the meditation began. I saw a wood with bright light, mainly turquoise, and I continued on until I reached a clearing. I had a distinct thought that my journey was mundane & predictable. ‘Just’ a wood and ‘just’ a clearing. There was a fire burning in the clearing and I chucked a few names into it, hoping they would burn away for good, and carried on. I was conscious I was supposed to be looking for my power animal and expected to see a tiger or a lion or a jaguar but instead saw a non-descript green snake hissing at me. Again, I was thinking ‘oh great, all I get is ‘just’ a wood and now I get ‘just’ a snake’. Brilliant.
When the meditation finished, I felt so very relaxed and calm but also short changed as my fellow roomies talked of eagles & owls & wolves as their power animals. They talked of snow and hearts and water and music. I ‘just’ had a snake and some blue light.
But, once I explained what I had seen, it transpired I didn’t ‘just’ have a snake. I had one of the most powerful animals of them all as the snake represents healing, rebirth, transformation, shedding of skin. Ironic eh?! And the blue light was representative of the hottest part of the flame, of fire, of healing.
I felt bad. I’d dissed my snake & I’d dissed my journey when in fact I was terribly privileged to have seen what I had seen. I then realised that my Shamanic journey had been very representative of my life at the moment, that I feel my life is very samey, that I think other people are having better journeys than me and that I’m not seeing what I have in front of me as special and lucky. What a wake up call!
My overall feeling after the meditation was ‘I need to do that again’. It was kind of trippy and kind of chilled and kind of cool. I’m fascinated at how all of our journeys in the room were so different and yet so representative of our lives. This can’t be mumbo jumbo right?
My advice to anyone struggling with their own mind is give it a go. What do you have to lose? The answer is nothing but you may gain a new pet (power animal) and a couple of hours peace.
Christmas. A time of peace & goodwill to all men. Or a bloody logistical nightmare. You choose.
Believe it or not, when we were small, we managed to have a good time without alcohol. We managed to put up the tree without having a sherry & managed to party without a Prosecco. We managed to get up on Christmas morning full of joy rather than green at the gills & full of woe. We managed to get so excited on Christmas Eve without the aid of a beverage and be happy just in the knowledge that some big bloke with a beard was gonna make all our dreams come true. If only that bit were true.
Instead, somewhere along the line, alcohol became the uninvited guest. A glass of sherry & a brandy laced mince pie for Santa, sherry whilst you put up the tree, brandy in the Christmas pud, Prosecco to celebrate doing the wrapping, port in the innocent cheddar cheese, gin in the advent calendar. Jesus (pun), the list goes on.
There literally is no escape. And this is all due to marketing companies knowing exactly who to target at this time of year. The stressed ones, the sad ones, the ones at the end of their tether. The shy ones, the nervous ones, the ones who don’t know when to stop.
Here’s an interesting fact. You don’t need alcohol to do any of the things you think you do at Christmas. Ironically the tree goes up better if you’re not half cut, and the Christmas dinner is better if you’re not so hungover you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t buy as much crap online if you’re not swaying in front of your computer and you don’t hate Christmas as much if you’re not constantly hungover.
One of the consistent worries of being sober at Christmas is what other people will think. Why exactly do you care what other people think??! Surprisingly, some people don’t need alcohol to have a good time and using the excuse ‘but it’s Christmas’ shows their insecurities more than yours. You have made a monumental decision NOT to poison yourself because some London marketing company told you to do so! Be bloody proud of that! Be the ultimate rebel against a society with a twisted brain!
One day, being drunk will be as alien as being sober. When the big cats understand our country is actually a nation of (legal) drug addicts and something must be done. It will (hopefully) be sooner than we think. It’s not easy being sober at this time of year but it is possible. Give yourself the biggest gift of all and do it for your health, your wealth and your happiness.