Note: This is a guest post from Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.
If you are trying to simplify your life, you might start with decluttering and paying off debt, or reducing busyness and discovering how you want to spend your time. Those are the things I focused on in the beginning too.
As I removed things that didn’t add value to my life, I found more opportunity to notice other things that didn’t add value to my life.
I want to remove the things that remove me from my life. So in January, I decided to stop drinking alcohol for a while. You can read the whole story here.
7 Things I Noticed When I Stopped Drinking
1. I sleep better without alcohol.
I never really believed that drinking helped me sleep better even though those rumors were out there, but I didn’t realize how little it took to disrupt my sleep. Even just one glass of wine (ok two, I rarely had just one) would interrupt my sleep.
2. I drank more in social situations because I felt uncomfortable.
As an introvert, attending conferences, parties, and other events made me feel uncomfortable. I’m not shy, but I’m not very outgoing or comfortable in big groups. Drinking helped me to be more extroverted, but that’s not who I am.
I remember feeling relieved at a friend’s wedding a few years ago when they weren’t serving alcohol. I know if they had, I would have indulged to feel more comfortable, been overly social, exchanged phone numbers with people, made plans and then would have woken up regretting those decisions.
3. When I was drinking, I was ignoring my core values which made me feel sad and guilty.
My core values include honesty and authenticity. It’s been important to me over the last decade to connect with my heart, become the real me, and trust myself.
When I was drinking, I could feel the real me slipping away after a few sips. I’d become more outgoing and eventually I’d think or say things that I would never think or say sober. The next day I’d feel bad about what I may have said, not to mention the hangover I was nursing.
P.S. The older I got, the harder the hangover.
4. Other people’s stories inspired me to examine my relationship with alcohol.
Long before I stopped drinking, I read memoirs about people who stopped drinking. Some lost everything before they realized alcohol was the problem and some had less dramatic journeys (like mine). Even though there were differences, there were similarities too.
And because people I admire like Brené Brown, Gretchen Rubin and my sister shared their stories about giving up alcohol for different reasons, I considered it for myself. Sharing our stories; what we know and what we’ve learned helps us and others.
5. People’s reaction to my not drinking says nothing about me.
When people hear I’m not drinking, they are mostly supportive and either curious or defensive. The reactions range from letting me know they’ve questioned their drinking to defending their relationship with alcohol. See the comments here for example.
If you feel defensive, know that I’m not sharing my story because I question your drinking. I’m sharing it because I questioned mine.
While no one has specifically confronted me about why I quit, I can imagine that they may be wondering if I had a problem with alcohol. I did. It wasn’t the hit rock bottom kind of problem but alcohol became a problem for me, one I didn’t want to deal with anymore. What people are thinking isn’t usually based on my relationship with alcohol though, but theirs. It’s just how we work.
6. Maybe it doesn’t matter what you call it.
The reason I didn’t stop drinking ten years ago is because I thought, “If I don’t have a problem, I can keep drinking. If I’m not an alcoholic, I’m good.”
I’d take the quizzes and seem to be in the clear. I’d compare my drinking to people I knew who I thought did have a problem, and my drinking looked ok.
But maybe I was asking the wrong question. Maybe instead of comparing my drinking and asking, “Am I an alcoholic?” I should have been asking, “Is alcohol adding value to my life?” or “Does alcohol make me the best version of me?”
7. Life is simpler without alcohol.
The similarities between simplicity and sobriety are fascinating. Both lead to less decision fatigue, better health, less spending, and deeper connections.
I noticed these things and other benefits listed here about 100 days after I stopped drinking. That’s when I decided to quit for good. I didn’t intend to stop drinking permanently but I could not ignore the benefits. I can’t dismiss how well I sleep, how good I feel, and how much more free and more me I am without alcohol. And the goodness of life without alcohol continues to reveal itself.
Am I an alcoholic? I don’t think so but it doesn’t really matter to me. I didn’t need that label to stop, to realize that alcohol did not add value or goodness to my life. Alcohol removed me from my life and I removed alcohol so I can show up for my life.
Courtney Carver writes about living and dressing with less at Be More With Less. You can also connect with her on Instagram. Registration for Courtney’s online course, Soulful Simplicity, is currently open.