Tis’ the season for holiday parties. If you are trying to be alcohol free, the big question many of us will face is should we attend the parties or should we stay home and avoid the situation entirely? It really depends on how you are feeling. If you are a little shaky about being around alcohol and feel that you may drink, then it is better not to attend. However, with a good plan in mind you can be prepared for most unexpected situations you may encounter.
If you have numerous parties to attend, just concentrate on one at a time. There are many types of parties, as different guests will attend different functions, so each party may require you to prepare for each one individually.
Begin by imagining yourself at the first party. Picture the guests, the atmosphere, the crowds, the drinking, and the smells. Feel the excitement. Picture yourself having fun without alcohol. Allow the focus of your visualization to be about the fun. If you don’t know how to do that yet, picture everything but the alcohol; start there. In your mind, can you see anything that could trigger a craving for alcohol? Say for example that someone who you really don’t want to run into is at the party. Picture yourself handling that situation. See, that was easy. Using your imagination navigate through the entire evening.
Now it’s time to dress up and look like a million bucks. Be proud of who you are and how great you look. There is nothing like sobriety to bring out rosy cheeks, sparkly eyes or a devilish grin. If you look good you will feel good and you will exude confidence. Even if you don’t feel confident-fake it. “Act as if ye have faith, and faith shall be given to you. To put it another way, fake it till you make it.”-Aaron Sorkin. If you look confident you might as well be confident.
So you decided to go and now you’re at the party, what to do? Mingle! Don’t hide in a corner. It’s a party! Try and open yourself up to allow people in. You may just meet your next best friend, or you may find someone with the same interests that you have. It may be easier to be a good listener, than to do the talking and this can offer positive results for both you and the other person. Take a step outside your safety zone, as you may realize it may not be so safe. Allow yourself to be interested in the people around you, you will start to relax and have more fun. If the party has planned activities such as a live auction or karaoke, help out or join in. Don’t forget to dance.
No is a complete sentence. Have you ever noticed that people feel compelled to give more information than they’re asked? Here’s a classic example: Q: “Do you know what time it is”; A: “Yes, it’s almost 10 o’clock.” Clearly the question was answered after saying “yes”, and although in this scenario it might be considered rude to not give a more elaborate answer, I think you get the point. It would seem that our need to explain everything may stem from our rationalizing the guilt we harbor. Yet you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. You can refuse a drink and leave it at that.
If you feel that you need to excuse why you are not drinking, plan what you are going to say in advance. This will help you from feeling awkward or embarrassed. Some people have no problem telling friends that they have quit drinking. Believe me that they will be happy for you. Here are a few suggestions that you can utilize should you feel the need to offer an answer. You may choose to say that you want to look after your health. Or you may choose to something more flippant and say, “I got all my drinking done in the past 20 years.” Another position to take is one that will not only give you a suitable answer, but put you in a proactive position, “I’m designated driver tonight, so I’m going to skip the drink tonight.” Who knows you may force someone else to think twice before they get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking. Regardless of the tone you choose, playing out scenarios ahead will help you feel more comfortable and secure with yourself.
Another tip, is when you step up to the bar to order a non-alcoholic beverage, know what you are going to order in advance. Order something that you enjoy and ask the bartender to make it look festive. I like ginger ale and cranberry with a twist of lime in a fancy glass. My husband enjoys virgin Caesars that are made with clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce and spices. So get creative!
Consider these points before you head out:
- Don’t arrive at a party hungry, thirsty, tired or angry. Any of these circumstances can trigger a craving. Once a craving is activated it will change the way you think. Some people call it “stinking thinking”. It’s when the alcohol identity tries to tell you that this time it will be different, and that this time you can drink without consequences like everyone else.
- Hydrate throughout the day. Try and drink at least 8 glasses of water.
- Grab some quiet time, and try to get some rest at some point in the day before you head out. Give the body and the brain a chance to slow down.
- Make sure you eat something nutritious to level out your blood sugars. This will keep your moods from becoming erratic.
- If you feel angry, I wouldn’t recommend going to the party at all. Anger is another mask for craving, only slyer and more creative. Anger can get you drunk so fast you won’t even know what hit you. Almost as bad as the getting drunk is the anger, as we tend to personify anger validating it as a credible scapegoat.
- Have your own vehicle, or have a plan so that you leave the party when you want and on your terms. It’s all well and good to car pool, but if you are on shaky ground with alcohol, you really want to be able to leave when you start to feel agitated or uncomfortable.
- Always keep enough cash on you for a cab or other emergency. (I also like to keep another set of house keys hidden as well.)
If you are really having trouble staying clean and sober alcohol, you may need support. I watched on The Biggest Loser where a participant said that he knew what he needed to do to lose weight, but was unable to do it. Now that he had a trainer, he did so much better and in fact wouldn’t have succeeded without that support. Sometimes all a person really needs is someone in their corner to help them through. If you have had your moment of clarity and really need to stop drinking, then get some help. Moments of clarity come at the most unexpected times. Whether it is Christmas, New Years, Easter, summer holidays, or other occasions; if you want to stop drinking get a coach or support system. Start enjoying your special moments without alcohol. Start enjoying yourself, it may take learning some new perspectives, but you’re so worth it.
After all that, get going to your party and have fun!
For more information or access to FREE EBOOK “The Breakthrough Plan for Your Alcohol Addiction”go to http://www.debbiethecoach.com. Deborah C Morrow is a personal coach, author and speaker.
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