How quitting drinking improved my confidence…

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.

Dalai Lama

  It’s ironic, don’t you think, that I used to use alcohol to gain confidence and as a result lost all my confidence. I couldn’t accomplish anything without alcohol. Or so I thought. People used to assume that I was confident because I was outgoing and could hold a conversation but really I was frantic on the inside. If I wanted to talk to the opposite sex then I needed a few drinks to make it happen. I would need so many drinks that I would say or do something stupid. Which would kill the mood. I would take it personally and my confidence would slip a little. The cycle would start again. 

My lack of confidence affected other parts of my life too. I was so uncomfortable with who I was that I felt like an imposter who would get found out at some point. I believed my lack of ability would be discovered. I lived waiting for a tap on the shoulder from some shadowy figure stating that the real worthless me had been discovered. My anxiety was for nothing though as it never came.

This lack of confidence was what held me back for a long time. I didn’t push myself because I thought I wasn’t capable of achieving anything. When I had to quit drinking I thought I would fail because that is what I always thought. My inner chatter was negative and derisive. I had to learn to get a handle on my thinking. One of the things that helped me out was an NLP book on confidence. I used mindfulness meditation to increase my self-awareness which enabled me to change the narrative that was circulating through my mind.

Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.

Venus Williams

Slowly, I started to test myself. I set goals, small things at first. I saw each day of sobriety as another accomplishment. I used that accomplishment as the bases of my self-belief. For example “if I can not drink then surely I can have a go at XYZ?” I mean quitting drinking had taken years but now I was doing it.

I changed my diet and started walking. I started to feel better about myself. This helped build my confidence a little further. I had held onto a negative self-image for a long time. The change in diet and exercise made me feel more comfortable in my skin.

I started to read more books on mental health, self-improvement and Buddhism. But I had to put the things into practice. I treated these as small goals. So I would meditate for 5 minutes. Or walk a certain distance. Or read so many pages of a book. If I didn’t do it then I would do it next time. As long as I tried next time. I didn’t give myself a hard time. I’d been doing that for years. I’m just a human. I stopped focusing on perfection and started focusing on progression.

I had to keep an eye on my posture, my inner monologue and I had to correct them until they became natural and I started to feel better on a regular basis. I started to take control of my life in a way that I never had before. Whilst I was drinking I was trying to cling to things. The harder I clung, the more I squeezed, the smaller the things I had to cling to would get. As my confidence grew I learned that things come and go. To go easy. To deal with things as and when they arose. It was a stark difference from the mad panic I lived with before. A good example is when I used to write when I was younger, I was ashamed. I thought it was a shit thing to do and people would take the piss out of me so I used to rip them up and put them in the bin. When I first wrote a blog about sobriety many years later, I was sure it would get ridiculed but I did it anyway because I thought I had something to say. I didn’t get ridiculed. Quite the opposite. The difference is that even in the face of potential criticism I still went ahead. I dared to do something. It might seem small but it was a big difference.

The same goes for quitting drinking. Doing the opposite of what people expect takes strength. That strength can be built upon to achieve other things. It just takes a bit of work. Also, the work has to be done to maintain sobriety. It takes a little bit of fight to not capitulate to outer pressure. It also takes a little bit of self-awareness to identify temptation.

Imagine, how you would like to think of yourself? How would you like to look at yourself? If you don’t think of yourself like that already then it is time to get to it. I am not talking about swaggering arrogant vacuous narcissism. I am talking about pragmatic self-worth measured against a real value that comes from proof via accomplishments.

Maybe there is a little bit of bullshit in the beginning; “fake it until you make it and all that,” but as long as it used to develop real self-belief it is fine. The problem is when the illusion becomes reality.

If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

T. Harv Eker

As my confidence grew I became more comfortable leaning into my fears. I started risking failure in the pursuit of progression. To get where I wanted to be I had to take a chance. The week after my rock bottom I had an interview for a promotion I had been told to applied for by my manager. I was sweating profusely. I was convinced it had gone horribly. I got the job. I couldn’t believe it. I said that ” it was a gimme. The manager already knows me,” it was nothing to do with my knowledge or ability. I couldn’t believe that he would have faith in me because I didn’t have faith in myself. I had to change that. I had to work on my self-belief.

“You don’t make a person less anxious, you make them braver”

Jordan Peterson

I had been miserable for years due to being unable to pursue my dreams through fear. Overcoming fear takes courage. Courage comes from confidence. Confidence can be developed. I know this because somehow I managed to break the habit of a lifetime and pursue my dreams. If I can do it then so can anyone. It just takes small steps to overcome obstacles.

For example, when I was going on holiday to Cambodia, a friend phoned and said; “I heard there are a lot of pickpockets. What will I do if I lose my passport?”

I replied “Why are you worried about an outcome that may not happen? We will deal with any situation if and when they happen.”

It turned out that there was no need to worry. Nobody lost anything and we had a great time. There are some risks in everything. Anxiety makes the risks seem a lot greater than they are. The whole may seem daunting which is why I break things down into more manageable chunks. This is only possible due to the work I have done before. My mind still is more than capable of going off on a tangent. It is just that now I can notice it and bring it back to reality.

To maintain sobriety, I tell myself that all I have, mentally, physically and emotionally, is owed to quitting drinking. Thanks to that I put the work in and feel contentment. Self-hatred is just a can of beer away if I want it. Why would I? Why would I build a utopia in my head only to burn it down again? Self-sabotage is the behaviour that held me back. Confidence is the antithesis of that.

Charlie.

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