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Day 24 – Facing Fears

“Bob Diamond: Being from Earth, as you are, and using as little of your brain as you do, your life has pretty much been devoted to dealing with fear.

Daniel Miller: It has?

Bob Diamond: Well everybody on Earth deals with fear – that’s what little brains do… Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything – real feelings, true happiness, real joy. They can’t get through that fog. But you lift it, and buddy, you’re in for the ride of your life“
– Dialogue from the movie Defending Your Life (1991)

First of all, you’re doing great! Now let’s talk about fear! I included the quote above, from the movie Defending Your Life, because that movie beautifully illustrates the effect that fear can have on our decisions. If you’re like me, you’ve probably daydreamed about what you could achieve if you lived without fear. And if you have abused alcohol regularly in the past, there’s a good chance that you’ve done so to deal with anxiety. Unfortunately, some studies have shown that long-term, heavy use of alcohol could actually increase your anxiety. Check out the results of a study at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine: In the study, the poor drunken mice find themselves more and more fearful, while the control group of teetotaler mice learn to cope with a scary prompt.

If you don’t have enough reasons to reduce your alcohol use, this is a good one! Living with far less – or zero – alcohol, you will probably find more peace.

However, no life is without stress and anxiety. After Dryuary, a significant part of your plan going forward must involve those triggers. It might be helpful to sit at a notebook or computer and jot down some thoughts that scare you. Here are some common fears:

Failure – Can I stay sober or moderate? Or will I fail again? Will alcohol cause me to lose my [job/relationships/stuff]?
Truth – Can I face my demons?
Pain – If I acknowledge the truth, will it hurt me?
Embarrassment – I’d rather pretend I wasn’t sloppy drunk all those years, just having fun.
Loneliness – How will I cope without alcohol, my best friend?
Intimacy – If I let the drunken wall down and show my real self, will others accept me?

After you’ve written about your fears, write about how you might cope with these fears in the coming months.

Failure – If I fail, I will try again. I will get closer and closer to the life that I want.
Truth – Lying to myself and others has been a heavy burden. The truth will set me free.
Pain – I am strong, and I can handle it.
Embarrassment – Everyone else is just as embarrassed about their own social faux pas.
Loneliness – There’s a whole world outside my door.
Intimacy – I want others to accept me for who I really am, not for who I pretend to be.

Now for specific triggers. I want you to think of some situations where you tend to want a drink. Imagine yourself dealing with these triggers without alcohol.

For example, consider uncertainty about your job: Imagine you get a poor performance review, or hear about impending layoffs. What are some healthy steps that you could take to deal with that anxiety? You could brush up your resume and look at job websites. What else?

Or if you suffer from social anxiety, how will you practice being in social situations while sober? You could try smaller groups first, or get to the party late and leave early. What else?

Before I leave you to fill your notebook with scary sobriety triggers, a word about myself: I am a work in progress, not always dealing with anxiety in a healthy way. But I do the best I can, and practice, practice, practice.

Post Submitted By: ~ Hazel