A question all sober-curious drinkers dread is, “why aren’t you drinking”?
The silent gulp in the throat, the spinning thoughts for a convincing response, and the deep insecurity of exposing oneself is enough reason to say screw it and give in.
The societal pressure, overall acceptance, and expectation of drinking alcohol can be overwhelming to those trying to moderate or abstain. Wherever you go, there it is.
As a former drinker myself, I experienced comments such as:
I bet you were so much fun drunk!
Did something happen that you’re not drinking?
Are you pregnant or something?
You can have just one, right?
Wait, you mean you don’t drink at all?? Wow.
Are you ready for some cold hard truth?
The only people who ask these questions are those that are concerned with their own drinking, not yours. It’s their insecurity about themselves, it’s not you.
Another truth? NOBODY CARES that you aren’t drinking. They just don’t, unless it’s those worried about themselves, as stated.
We get caught up in what others might think. Some of that might be:
Will they know I might have a problem?
Will they think differently about me now?
What if I don’t get invited anymore?
Will I loosen up enough to be considered fun?
Are they judging me?
What if they tell others?
Our brains are similar to a search engine, like Google. When you ask your brain a question, you will get an answer. It’s how we are hard-wired. And we produce an average of 50K to 70K thoughts a day!
The problem with that is the brain doesn’t always produce answers that benefits us. As a matter of fact, it will oftentimes conjure up a story that isn’t true. How many times have you formulated a crazy story in your mind about something only to find out it was not accurate at all? You realize it was “all in your head” and that you were wrong. It happens a lot.
So what can you do when you’re faced with societal pressure to drink?
- Stay true to yourself. If you’ve decided to moderate or abstain from drinking, it’s important to see it through.
- Simply say, “I’m not drinking tonight.” No excuses, no apologies, just that you aren’t drinking at that moment. If you want to add in because you have an early day planned for tomorrow, great.
- Make a plan before leaving the house or being social. Know your surroundings, the situation ahead, plan what you will be drinking as an alternative, have an exit plan in place, and enjoy your time knowing you’re in full control. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Be a doer, not a wisher. Also, see How to Have a Social Life without Alcohol.
- Have confidence in your decision not to drink. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself.
- The moment a thought or story comes into your mind, ask if it’s true or is it just your mind playing a B-rated search engine again? Practice and use the SABER Method* for these moments.
If you find that you give in and drink, the important piece is to ask is what were the thoughts and feelings surrounding the decision? Did you allow the pressure of what others think get to you? Was it embarrassment? Something else?
By asking good questions, you will get good answers. Keep questioning the drink. Stay true to yourself.
“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be”.