Reverse your thinking – focus on what you want​

 

An excerpt from A Happier Hour, written by Sexy Sobriety‘s Rebecca Weller. Sexy Sobriety is an online life-coaching program designed for women who are ready to take control of their lives and unleash their authentic selves onto the world.

Back when I was in my corporate ​job, we were encouraged to take a ‘Defensive Driving’ course that involved performing a variety of manoeuvres on a race track. In one of the exercises, we were instructed to speed up and then slam on the brakes and avoid hitting a particular safety cone. Despite our best efforts, we all hit that cone.

We tried the activity again, but this time, rather than focusing on the cone, we were instructed to look for a safe place to steer the car. Same distance, same speed, same brakes; just a different intention and focus.

​We were stunned. Every single one of us avoided the cone.

Our instructor explained that if something or someone jumps out in front of you, the worst thing you can do is look straight at it as you’re trying to avoid it. You need to focus on where you want to go, rather than where you don’t want to go.The lesson was powerful and I often found myself telling clients about it. Time and again, I noticed that when we focus on our fears, we often smash into them. And if we’re not focusing on where we really want to go, how can we expect to get there?

When it came to drinking, how many times had I given myself a lecture about not making a fool of myself, or letting the night get too messy, only to find that’s exactly where I’d ended up? Too many to count.

I thought about the next three months and everything I wanted to do, see, hear, taste, and experience in that time. Above all, I thought about how I wanted to feel. I wanted to feel playful, with confidence that was authentically me, not poured from a bottle. I wanted deeper connections, less anxiety, more space, more love, more potential. I wanted transformation, dammit!

I didn’t want to undertake a challenge that would make me miserable, and I was determined to make this experience a positive one. Sensing that overwhelm was not my friend, I decided to start with just two words of intention that inspired me most. I opened my journal to a fresh page, and wrote, My Sobriety Experiment.

My biggest fear around sobriety was that I’d never have fun again, so I decided to start with the big one. On the next line, I wrote, Playful. I thought about what playful meant to me. Creativity, fun, spontaneity, mischief, joy. I tapped my pen against the page, thinking about what I could do to feel that way without booze. I brainstormed on the page:

Choose love over fear. Trust. Believe. Tell jokes. Send funny messages to friends. Create fun, easy recipes. Schedule time off-line. Watch comedies. View each day as an adventure. Try new things. Take beautiful photos. Invite friends to lunch. Paint my toe nails. Create. Share. Skip. Giggle. Dance.

I took a deep breath as I reviewed my list. See? I told my inner critic. That doesn’t sound so bad. I turned the page and chose my next word, Radiant. I thought about what that word meant to me. Sparkly, healthy, glowing, connected, blissful. Obviously, just skipping the alcohol would guarantee that I felt infinitely more radiant, but what else could I do? I jotted down everything that came to mind:

Go to bed earlier. Stretch at sunrise. Juice. Run. Go to yoga class. Offer help. Eat fresh, whole foods. Feel sunshine on my skin. Splash around at the beach. Picnic in the park. Keep a gratitude journal. Meditate. Write. Create. Eat dinner by candlelight. Choose quality over quantity. Phone friends and family. Listen. Practice random acts of kindness.

I reviewed my lists, and started to feel tingles of excitement about this little adventure. Inspired, I switched on my laptop and created a secret Mood Board on Pinterest. I wanted something pretty I could look at on my phone whenever I felt wobbly; images to remind me how I wanted to feel, and why I was doing this. Why I wanted to change; what life might be like without this unhealthy habit; the kind of person I could become if I were free of its clutches.

Like a woman possessed, I spent hours clicking around the internet. Nutritious food, women doing yoga, women running on the beach, women splashing around in the ocean, click click click. Job done, and feeling marginally better about the whole endeavour, I decided to go one step further. I had a feeling this challenge would be one of the biggest of my life and I’d need all the safety nets I could possibly create.

For my birthday the previous year, Dom bought me the large vision board I’d been swooning over for months. It was gorgeous, with a huge expanse of white space to pin pictures, and a beautiful wooden frame, painted white. He’d kept it a surprise, filling the board with photos from our travels and other meaningful souvenirs. He snuck it into our study before coming in to meet me and a huge group of friends at a bar in the city. Naturally, because it was my birthday, I got rather silly indeed, downing cocktail after cocktail like it was the eve of Prohibition.

Dom had planned to surprise me with his thoughtful gift when we got home that night, but my actions robbed him, and myself, of the chance. I was a drunken mess and didn’t even remember the cab ride home. The next morning, when he took me into our study and showed it to me, I felt wretched with guilt and stupidity.

Now, I took a deep breath and lifted the board off the wall. It was time for an update: to the board, and to my life.

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