What does it mean to be sober curious?
When I first heard the term ‘sober-curious,’ I didn’t know what it meant. It seemed obvious enough, but was it really that literal?
The answer is YES. It means to be curious about what it might be like to not drink alcohol.
For those ready to take a break from drinking or just curious to know what life could be like without alcohol, this is the perfect place to start. It has a feeling of ‘not being tied to the idea, but just curious.’ It takes the edge off. It’s dipping one pinky toe in the water to test it out. No commitments, just noticing.
If sober-curious is testing the waters, can it be effective long term?
YES! By ‘testing,’ it allows the mind to relax into exploring a lifestyle without alcohol. This often leads to extended periods of remaining alcohol-free.
Often, this is a new feeling that hasn’t yet been experienced in quite some time. It opens up possibilities that were not there previously. It’s a feeling of an ‘awakening’ as some have noticed.
That all sounds great, but what if you’re scared to try it? What if you’re not sure how this could work in your life? What will your friends think? How will you have a social life without drinking?
If I would have known of this simple term, ‘sober-curious’ when I was contemplating slowing down my consumption, I would have had a different mindset. I wouldn’t have been so afraid of trying life without alcohol. I was scared to have a social life without it, thinking my friends would be weirded out or something. That thinking is what kept me stuck. It was my thoughts that were creating a web of lies in my head. They weren’t true, but I didn’t know better.
The solution is in how we think.
Here’s an example of how one might perceive this concept:
We believe being sober-curious is a temporary experiment.
We decide to try it because we know there is no commitment. No harm, no foul. We simply are testing. So, we go without alcohol for a few weeks. Noticing how we are feeling, we like this newfound freedom and clarity we are now discovering. We decide to keep going. The thoughts around this idea of feeling great are producing fantastic results. This keeps the momentum going, and we feel powerful with this new way of living. The findings reinforce the belief that we can be successful, even if it’s temporary.
But what happens when life gets in the way, as it always will? What happens when we have a difficult time with something, and we naturally want to numb those feelings again? We reach for what worked temporarily in the past; alcohol. We are successful in numbing the pain, but this leads us back to confusion and uncertainty. It is within this period of time to remember our new found freedom of trying the sober-curious lifestyle.
It’s within those moments that we need to shift our thinking back to what was previously working. We like the idea of it being temporary, so we try the sober-curious lifestyle once more. We keep building on this one day at a time.
One might even compare sober-curious to being in training.
When we train for something, we cognitively know that there is an end goal in mind. If we stumble or fall, we get back up and keep going. We surround ourselves with the support we need and we invest in having the best tools in our tool belts.
Here are some things to try:
- To be ‘sober-curious successful,’ you need options when you are out in public. It is recommended to have an idea of what you might like to try. If having just iced tea, water or soda isn’t enough (I don’t blame you!), you might want to try some crafted mocktails, fruit-flavored seltzers, tonic water with lime or grapefruit, non-alcoholic beer, and a myriad of other combinations.
- As mentioned in a previous blog, “Mindful Drinking, what is it?” sober bars are popping up across the country. It’s a slow beginning, but they are coming. For those sober-curious, this is excellent news! If you are lucky enough to live in a city that has a sober bar, check it out!
- See a previous blog entitled, “How to Have a Social Life with No Booze”. In this blog, we talk about the preparation needed before a night out on the town.
- Keep a daily journal. Writing down your successes and trip-ups will help to reinforce what’s working and what’s not. Seeing your own handwriting and reading your words is like reading sacred scripture. Nothing is better than seeing the patterns. Be sure to be crystal clear on your feelings. It’s your thoughts and feelings that drive your actions so don’t miss this important step in journaling.
Remember, you are human and not perfect. It will take some practice and time to figure this out. When you take the pressure off of trying to be perfect, it will propel you into a new reality. You will experience success easier and faster. No need to white knuckle it or count days. You’re just experimenting, right?
Go ahead, test it out! Dip your toe in the sober-curious pool!
My guess is that you will like what you will find.