I feel frustrated when I see other newly sober people picking up new hobbies and past times. I'm not interested in training for a marathon, making sourdough bread or crosswords. I don't want to spend hours training, I'm not keen on baking and I haven't done anything creative for years.
What do you suggest.
FF, New York
Thanks for asking your question. If you hang out in the "sober sphere" for long enough, you'll see and hear the conversations around how much more time you get back in your life once you stop drinking. There's no doubt about it - Alcohol is a massive time thief. Shopping for it, thinking about drinking it, the way nothing productive or creative gets started, worked on or finished once you've opened the bottle and of course, the time spent nursing hangovers or low level brain fog. Yep, alcohol will steal your time.
During the pandemic there was a surge in sales of jigsaws, puzzle books, board games... we took to picking up old creative activities, like cake making and decorating, sewing, knitting, crocheting, bread baking, painting, drawing and a squillion other things. I was glad to see friends picking up old activities and reacquainting themselves with something they loved but I felt frustrated. I wanted an actual hobby, and I couldn't find one that I enjoyed. I just couldn't stick with one thing. I did art at A level and I consider myself to be creative. So why couldn't I just pick up tools and get on with something?
I was so frustrated. Then I stopped worrying. I let go of some old stories. I allowed in some new thoughts, feelings and emotions. I was ready to rethink what I wanted.
This is what I say my hobby is now... "trying new stuff." I know that's not a snappy, easy to understand little title like knitting, but it works for me. I love trying new stuff. Over the last few years I've made jewellery, made a macrame plant hanger, painted with acrylics, embroidered, collaged, Kintsugid, coloured, made clay models and more. I love trying new stuff. I don't have to be brilliant at anything, which the perfectionist in me is delighted about, I can play, I have freedom to explore, and either love it or put down and move on. I let go of expecting fabulous outcomes and create for joy. I either explore from equipment I have at home or borrow from friends. I buy kits from Etsy or similar or ask for them as gifts. Sometimes I go and join classes for one day with other creatives or at adult education centres. I don't care about the cost because I'm not spending my cash on alcohol anymore. Get a piece of paper, write down a long list of ideas and start trying them one by one.
I hope that helps you.
Sarah Sober Coach
Dear Coach Sarah
I want to commit to a long stretch of sobriety but I've got so many social events lined up this Spring and Summer it feels like an impossible task. How did you get over the idea that there would always be some reason to continue drinking?
Thank you for your email
(sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)
My excuses as to why I couldn't have a break from alcohol were many and varied. What it really boiled down to though, I think, was a case of being stuck. I had a fear of trusting myself, and a lack of clarity around what I really, really wanted for myself. In my first summer sober, I had all of the excuses around festivals, weddings, barbecues, pub gardens. And my reasons were absolutely based around the fear of both not trusting myself, and also what other people were going to say. I knew that if I gave myself the tiniest tiniest window of opportunity not to stick with the goal that I'd set myself, it was all over.
To get clear on what you want, it might be best to think about the long term first, who is the person that you're becoming? What are your longer term goals? As far as your family is concerned, your work is concerned, your finances are concerned, there are so many different areas in life where alcohol has a massive impact. If that's too big for you, roll it back a bit. What are you looking for yourself in the next few months or so? And if that's too much, then bring it right down into the present moment. What are you looking to get out of this week in your life? How can you make your life better this week without alcohol in it?
Through that first summer sober, I was able to see each event as a stepping stone to the next one. Once I'd got free through an alcohol free wedding, I knew in my heart, I'd be able to do an alcohol free festival. Once I'd got through an alcohol free festival, pub gardens, were going to be easy.
Getting totally clear and then trusting yourself helps you to see those excuses for what they really are. Helps you to put those excuses aside and say, these are not my stories. This is not who I am. I'm clear about what I want and I totally trust myself to go for it.
If you can't 100% Trust yourself at the moment, who are the people that you can gather around you? Who will be able to cheer you on? Who will be able to hold you accountable? Who do you need to share your story with so that they understand how much this means to you?
Take some time to think about that long stretch of sobreity you want, take apart the excuses that might hold you back and then move forward one tiny goal at a time.
I wish you well with it
Sober Coach Sarah
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