Club Soda member Caroline Cawson shares with us her advice for when you fall off the wagon …
My drinking goals are cutting down and I’ve been on this journey for a few years now. Experience tells me to expect ups and downs and I’ve found that being extra-kind to myself after the downs is much better than punishing myself for not achieving my goals. Here are 5 things that help me that you could try:
1) Tell yourself ‘there are no such things as mistakes, only opportunities to learn’. A dear mentor of mine who died recently taught me this. She always thought that dwelling on mistakes is a waste of time and energy and that it’s much better to allow yourself to be human and imperfect. Simply review what you’ve learnt from the experience and move on.
2) Be kind to yourself, not punishing. You’re much less likely to fall off the wagon completely this way. After all, you’re a still a work in progress, still learning what makes you tick and what pushes your buttons. I find it helps me to have a checklist of things I can do for myself that feel kind. They’re usually about nourishing myself – healthy food, a good swim or a chat with a friend.
3) Know that lapses are human and normal and to be expected. If you plan in advance ways that you can cope when you go off track, chances are you’ll be able to negotiate those slippery slopes more confidently
4) Focus on all the skills and experience you already have from dealing with setbacks (whether drinking-related or something else). What helped? How did you get through it? If you panic here and think you lack some skills to cope with being off-track, write down what it is you need to learn. Then go and get help learning these skills. Talk to other people. Experiment with a different way of dealing with stress. I like to think of this stage as ‘cleaning out and updating your toolbox’
5) Use this episode as a chance to review your drinking goals. Maybe they’re not right for you at the moment? Perhaps they’re unrealistic or too punishing? You can always change things, re-design your goals and remind yourself that this doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Stay in control and celebrate all the successes you’ve had so far. A blip doesn’t have to mean a crisis……
Worried you might fall off your wagon? Read more about planning for pitfalls for when your goals go off track.