[Coaching Call #019 is now available! Today's Topic: A Male Perspective - Fixing A Marriage, Communication, and WAY More Sex.
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Awesome Laura asks: “I still find myself hanging with people who drink and “party”. I’m interested in getting away from that to find stimulation from other things in life. The thing is, I’m very much persuaded by people drinking around me, there is no need to twist my arm. I would prefer to meet people who are healthier (not so heavy drinkers, smokers, partiers, etc).
I know the drinking is a symptom of emotional issues etc. But obviously I can’t and am not looking to fix that for them. I also know that it’s much of the reason I’ve used alcohol. And I am working towards “fixing” that in me. Sometimes the best thing for ME to do is just stay away from certain situations. However, there is a sport I enjoy playing sometimes that attracts partiers and it’s a sport that can be played while indulging. (Ever hear of disc golf?) So I find myself not going to the course to play in order to stay away from temptation.
As a result, I become isolated. I’m social so I always eventually reach out to the people I already know and go out to socialize and get into behaviors I’m working toward dropping. Is there a way to change my vibe so that I can play disc golf and be around these people and not even feel like indulging?”
Behaviors are manifestations
First of all, our behaviors and actions are manifestations of our vibration, just like everything else in our reality. Even the thoughts we have access to have to be a match to our vibration. This is why, when you try to change a behavior like drinking alcohol or eating junk food without changing the vibration that causes it, you revert right back to bad habits as soon as your willpower runs out. So yes, if you want to change your drinking habits, you’d be wise to do it vibrationally instead of just declaring booze off limits and trying to stick to that. I’d like to point out that this post is aimed at recreational drinkers who want to cut down, and NOT alcoholics. I’m going to be addressing decreasing the amounts of alcohol consumed and the social issues of going out without drinking. If you have a serious addiction, you’ll need to follow a different plan of action, which this post won’t address.
Why we drink
Let’s face it. Being drunk is fun. Alcohol has livened up many a dud party, and is probably responsible for more relationships and babies than any other substance on earth. It lowers our inhibitions, makes us more confident, and gives us permission to have the fun our fears won’t normally let us have. And if we do something embarrassing, we can always just blame it on the booze. It’s a built in excuse that pretty much everyone will accept. When we’re on the sauce, it’s easier to talk to people, to dance with that hot guy, to believe he might actually be attracted to us, and even to do naughty, naughty things that we would never admit to doing in a sober state. In short, alcohol is a great way to surpass all those BS rules that we, our families and society have placed upon ourselves and just let go. In that way, it’s actually quite useful.
Only, there’s obviously a price to pay. Several actually:
- There’s the hangover. Some of us are more afflicted by this than others, but the bottom line is: Overindulge and you’ll suffer. The liver can only handle so much of the poison before it cries uncle. Alcohol dehydrates us, lowers our blood sugar, causes unbelievable headaches and has been known to induce projectile vomiting.
- When you normally don’t let yourself be Who You Really Are, and you suddenly take the lid off the pressure cooker by having a few drinks, the resulting sudden release can lead to some really embarrassing behaviors. You become the equivalent of a horny troop of sailors on shore leave after a year at sea: Completely out of control. This is when you see normally conservative ladies doing a topless dance on bar tables, generally nice guys groping and openly letching after women on the street, drunken declarations of love to ex-boyfriends, pacifists getting into fist fights, and much mooning of bosses on YouTube.
- Oh, and there’s the whole waking up next to a dead hooker in Tijuana, surrounded by the cast of The Jersey Shore thing. Not that I’m admitting to anything.
In other words, while drinking can be a lot of fun, we’ve all had the experience of at least slightly overdoing it and regretting it. Sometimes horribly. Then, we vow to never drink again, or at least to only drink very moderately, which works for a while. Until it’s our birthday or a wedding or there’s a really hot guy who makes us totally nervous and then the shots get lined up again and even though we know we’re going to pay the price, we figure it’ll be ok because really, it’s just this once and we have a really good reason.
But, what if we decide once and for all that we just don’t want to play that game anymore? Do we have to become hermits or weird hippie tree huggers who drink nothing but warm water with lemon and preach to anyone holding a cocktail that they’re poisoning their temple, man? Is it possible to have a good time without drinking? And more importantly, is it possible to go out and have fun with others who ARE drinking when you’re not, without feeling like an anti-social weirdo?
My personal experience
I used to drink a fair bit. I never had the tolerance of my Irish friends (who I’m convinced were born with an extra liver, just saying), but there was a time when I could put away a couple of bottles of wine in an evening. Over the last ten years or so, as my vibration kept rising, my alcohol consumption steadily decreased. First, I cut out all hard liquor and switched exclusively to wine. Next, I made sure I drank copious amounts of water with my wine, to stave off dehydration. It took less and less alcohol to induce the dreaded hangovers (the last one I had was off of one glass of wine), but I also started to feel unwell the night of the drinking if I overdid it. It became easier and easier to just have one glass and then switch to water. I simply didn’t want more. Now, I drink a few glasses of champagne and white wine per year. Yes, per year. I drink when I want to and as much as I want. I just no longer want to most of the time. Do I miss it? Not one bit (again, I’m not depriving myself; I just don’t want it).
But there were some transitionary steps to go through as my partying psyche had to adjust to my non-drinker status.
As your vibration rises, your drinking will decrease
I’m absolutely convinced that my alcohol consumption decreased as a direct result of my work on my vibration. I’ve seen the same thing happen to several friends and colleagues of mine. We didn’t just cut down, we almost completely lost our taste for alcohol.
Basically, alcohol offers a means of escape from our every day prison – a prison constructed of rules we think we have to live by. We don’t get to be happy, we have to endure loads of suffering, life is hard, you have to compromise, shove your emotions aside and just man up, etc. But when you take away the reason that the escape is necessary, when you let yourself out of prison, the drinking loses a lot of its appeal. Suddenly, you become much more aware of the detrimental effects (like, that it makes you feel like death warmed over), and you no longer consider them worth it. Sure, wine still tastes good, but after one glass or so, it really kind of ceases to matter. That woozy, buzzy feeling is no longer something all that positive. You prefer to be sober and connect with people, and have real, non-slurred conversations. You realize that being sober and feeling really good is better than feeling bad and getting some relief through alcohol. This is not something that happens overnight. It takes time. And yes, you can speed the process up by actively working on the fears that are encouraging the drinking, but it’s still best to do this incrementally and not cold turkey.
Getting out of prison means giving yourself permission to be your authentic self more of the time. It means stripping off the defensive masks, releasing fears and letting yourself have fun in your sober state. It means honoring how you feel, not caring so much what others think of you, and doing what makes you truly happy and fulfilled. When you do that, you have nothing to escape from and the motivation to drink, which is almost always fear based to some degree, just goes way.
Don’t just cut out the booze
If, on the other hand, you simply try to stop drinking using willpower, you’ve just cut off your means of escape from prison. That’s going to cause a backlash. That’s when you generally go on a bender, drinking WAY too much and doing horribly embarrassing things. Become happier and more authentic, give yourself permission to be yourself all the time and the drinking will naturally decrease. Give it time, honor your body, notice how you feel, and you’ll realize when the price of getting drunk becomes higher than you’re willing to tolerate. In short, there is a reason you drink too much. Eliminate the reason, and the drinking will go away naturally.
So, let’s say that you’ve been working on yourself and you have less and less of an urge to drink. You’re ready to just switch to water or juice or whatever, but you don’t really want to give up your social life. Well, you don’t have to. It is possible to go out and have fun and NOT drink.
But, won’t everyone think I’m a weirdo?
I struggled with this for a while. I live in a culture where alcohol is a huge part of life. The Spanish love their wine and cocktails and a lot of my friends are still quite fond of the sauce. But, I found that the more secure I got about my status as a non-drinker, the more people just accepted it. So, when I first switched to water, I’d get a lot of stupid comments and questions. In fact, some people would actually get upset that I wasn’t drinking with them, as if that played any part in their ability to enjoy their buzz (apparently, it did). My refusal to drink made them feel as though they had less permission to escape. Either we all escape together, or none of us really can.
What’s more, I was also moving more and more towards natural foods at the same time, so sodas and fake juices were out. Usually, water is the only thing I’ll be willing to drink in a bar. I’ve had men walk away from me in disgust when they offered to buy me a drink and I requested water (I guess they weren’t confident in their ability to woo me if they couldn’t get me drunk…) People in Barcelona don’t really drive, so I couldn’t even use the designated driver excuse. I was routinely asked if I was an alcoholic. That would’ve made sense. After all, why would anyone simply choose not to drink? That’s just absurd!
All of these manifestations were a direct result of my own social insecurity with how I was going to be perceived as a non-drinker. After all, there had been a time when I would’ve reacted quite the same way to someone not drinking. Why couldn’t they just have a glass of wine to be social? What was wrong with them?
But nothing was wrong with me. I was simply choosing to do what I wanted to do. I wasn’t condemning anyone for their drinking. I didn’t mind if they got drunk. I just didn’t want to. And the more I made peace with the idea that it was ok to drink and ok to not drink, that both choices were equally valid, the more people just accepted my non-alcoholic water guzzling and just left the subject alone. In other words, I had to decide for myself that both choices were valid, that it was truly ok and not weird not to drink, and then everyone else did, too.
Having fun around the drunk
I haven’t given up my social life just because I gave up the drink. In fact, I routinely go out with people who order alcoholic beverages. I’ve come to realize that it really doesn’t matter what each of us is drinking. We’re there for the company, the fun, the experience, the conversation, the atmosphere. I don’t need alcohol to enjoy that (unless the place sucks, and then why would I want to be there?) But I have developed a few strategies that make it easier:
- I often put my water in a highball glass with a slice of lemon and a straw, or even a wine glass. It makes me feel more festive. After all, I’m out having fun. Don’t be shy to ask the bartender for what you want. And yes, you can toast with water. No angels will lose their wings if you do.
- I’ve found that a big reason that non-drinkers don’t have fun around the drinking is that they tend to judge everything the drunk do as juvenile or ridiculous. Don’t do that. I do my best to just say yes to everything, the way drunk people do. I’ll talk to anyone who comes up to me (at least for a few minutes). If someone suggests a club, I say “Hell yes! Let’s go!” I dance and enjoy the music. I actively put myself in a good mood and decide to enjoy myself. You may not have realized this before, but it’s a decision you can make. Think, “I’m going to have fun tonight” instead of “I guess I’ll be the only sober one. How awkward…” Part of why drunk people have so much fun is because they just go with it. I don’t have to be drunk to do that. Only, I can have the good sense to stop before I get to the Tijuana border…
- There does come a time when everyone around me goes from funny drunk to sloppy/stupid drunk. That’s my cue to go home. After that point, it just kind of gets gross and no one really needs to see that.
- If someone does give me cheek about why I’m drinking water (it happens rarely now), I simply ask them, calmly and confidently and with a smile (not confrontational), “Does it matter?” No one is ever going to admit that they can’t have fun if you don’t drink, even if that’s how they feel. Then, if they see that you’re having just as much fun as the drunk people, they’ll relax about it completely. In other words, no one will think you’re weird if you’re having fun. The weird thing would be to go to a bar, not drink and be a total dud. That’s what’s making them most uncomfortable. They don’t think you can let go and have fun without the booze. Show them that you can and there will be no weirdness.
Being the one sober person partying with drunk people does take some confidence. I’m generally so outgoing and upbeat, I really don’t need alcohol to help me become more social. That helps a lot. But that comes with the territory of losing your social fears. And again, my decrease in alcohol consumption wasn’t the result of a decision to cut down, but of a rise in my vibration. I do still occasionally drink – I haven’t given anything up. Only, I’ve found that when I do, and I only drink when I really feel like it, there are no negative consequences. I don’t get really drunk (I stop easily before I get anywhere near that point) and I have no hangover. But should I ever drink when I don’t really feel like it, out of obligation or some other limiting thought, my body has a very different reaction (hence, a hangover off of one glass of wine…).
Have you noticed a decrease in your alcohol (or other substance) consumption as you’ve become happier? Does alcohol affect you differently now? Share in the comments!
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