Day 18: Saying Yes

“If you must say yes, say it with an open heart. If you must say no, say it without fear” – Paulo Coelho

What if, for the sake of this Dry January, instead of saying no to a drink, you were committed to saying yes?

No is a powerful word.  It presents us with a boundary.  It is clear and defined.  In this case, saying no to a drink gives us something to define our choices by.  No is a line not meant to be crossed. An over and done decision, there is no need to flip flop, to agonize over your decision.   

Alternatively, a constant no can also wear us down.  If we focus on what we are not having by committing to a dry month, we may feel as though we are being deprived.  We may feel we are missing out.  We may feel we are saying no to the things we think alcohol gives us: relaxation, connection, safety, a mental vacation, uninhibition, joy.  For many of us, we are juggling a lot in our lives, we are all coping with a lot, and drinking is an accessible way to temporarily tune out a demanding and uncertain life. 

I know for me, for the longest time I confused joy and relaxation with something I needed to earn, not something I inherently deserved.  “If I clean the house and do the laundry and take my son to his friends and pick-up groceries and get everything ready for work tomorrow, then I can do some yoga/read a book/go for a run.”  Evening would come and I still hadn’t finished my to-do list.  In addition to feeling like a failure I would feel overwhelmed.  I would start to be resentful.  No matter how hard I worked, I felt I still didn’t earn my joy.

In these moments, you know what saying no gave to me?  Saying no gave me the opportunity to rebel.  I would rebel against the perceived expectations of myself and others and say, “Screw it! I’m having a glass of wine.”  Unfortunately, the habit often grows from this point of resignation and rebellion.  Drinking as a replacement for other human needs only leads to dissatisfaction.  The thing is, these human necessities are “soft needs” in that they are not the essentials of food and shelter, so sometimes it might be easy to think we can get by with out them.  We may be depriving our lives of what we really need to feel well and be well because we think, for whatever reason, we don’t deserve them.

If you are feeling urges to drink this Dry January, don’t say no to a drink.  Try checking in with your needs first.  You may find after checking in with yourself, the non-drinking choice is more appealing than the drinking one.  Establish what you need, and make your decision from there.  

Feeling anxious and overwhelmed?  At first, you may think you need a drink, but maybe you just need a break, and that’s OK.  Give yourself a break.

Ruminating on a big mistake you made at work?  You may think you need a drink, but maybe what you really need is someone to say you are loved despite (and probably because of) your imperfections, and that you will be OK.  Ask for the love and support you need.

So, instead of saying no to drinking this Dry January, try saying yes to all the things that give you true and lasting reward and contentment.  May I suggest creating a Saying Yes List?  A common strategy when embarking on a prolonged period of abstinence is to create a list of all the reasons why you want to reset your drinking habits.  Maybe, instead of reasons, or in addition to reasons, make a list of all the things you are saying yes to.

You are saying yes to the thrill of creativity.

You are saying yes to the awkward excitement of intimacy and the bonds created by being vulnerable with another person.

You are saying yes developing resilience in the face of intense emotions.

You are saying yes to resting when you need to rest, and yes to moving your body when you need to move.

You are saying yes to being gentle with yourself.

You are saying yes to living a beautifully imperfect and precious human life.  Saying yes to ourselves gives us the courage and permission to be ourselves, fully and deliciously.

Post Submitted By: Lisa Hamilton