Day 17: The Inner Critic: How To Keep It From Undermining Your Dryuary

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ― Louise Hay

Thinking about having an alcohol free January?

The thought for many drinkers going alcohol-free for a month may seem daunting because four weeks seems a long stretch. However, going sober for a month is incredible not just for your liver, potential weight loss but your emotional wellbeing too!

A lot of drinkers don’t realize that the most common resistance to doing Dry January comes from that niggly voice inside your head that I call the Inner Critic. It is the voice that plays havoc when it comes to improving your general health and wellbeing. It’s the Inner Critic that suggests failure before you even begin.

So, let’s dive deeper into what this pesky voice is really about.

This voice is the part of the brain that forewarns us about any impending threats or potential moments that may make us feel vulnerable. These vulnerabilities could be boredom, general anxiety, including social shyness, through to stress, loneliness, and lots more! This inner part also has an entire memory bank of every time the plan of going sober for a month hasn’t been successful.  

Let’s face it… It doesn’t take much for stress to creep in a day or two after going sober. Then the next thing is your Inner Critic suggests that you’re going to give in, or it says ‘I bet you’re not going to make it through’ and then you feel anxious and worried that you might fail. This makes you feel scared and, bingo! a self-fulfilling prophecy may occur.

It’s like it has a crystal ball, but the truth is, it doesn’t at all. The Inner Critic is working on your history of how you have coped, so at any slight inkling of these vulnerabilities, in a nanosecond it scans your mind and says ‘You need to drink!’ It’s not that it is the truth, but rather it is because your mind is familiar with this emotional response and it will continue to play this out until the mind learns how to cope with vulnerabilities another way. It marries these emotions to how you dealt with life before.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the Inner Critic goes away when we drink alcohol. In other words, it’s not the alcohol that is the issue; it’s the thinking before the drinking that is the problem. We drink alcohol to run away from this negative inner voice. What is also important to note, is when we are bored, tired or feeling lonely, the Inner Critic tends to be much more vocal. It’s these exact moments when it creeps in, so it’s no surprise drinking is a good quick fix to shut this voice out for a while. However, we know it comes back with a vengeance the next day when you wake feeling under par and annoyed that you didn’t commit to your dry January. Then the vicious cycle of feeling like a hopeless case or a sense of having no willpower kicks in, and before you know it the alcohol is becoming consumed and Dry January plans go completely out the door.

But what if there was another way of committing to Dry January and seeing success even before you attempt it?

The good news is the Inner Critic is just one voice. There is another part I call the Intuitive part that has a very different approach to Dry January. It is the part that inspired you to think about it, and it is the part that enjoys looking after you. The trick is getting it to be more present and more vocal than the Inner Critic.

Some top tips for achieving this are:

  • Lie or sit somewhere warm and safe and imagine going through January feeling happy, confident and motivated about having an alcohol free month. See yourself dealing with your life without alcohol in your bloodstream.
  • Keep motivational songs ready to play when you feel an urge to drink kick in.
  • Any Inner Critic comments, breathe them out and put them into an imaginary cloud and blow it away.
  • Keep post-it notes on your desk, beside your bed etc. that remind you ‘I am enjoying Dry January!’ Or ‘I love being alcohol-free!’
  • Stay away from friends who might try and coerce you into drinking. Remember, they are secretly jealous of you.
  • Do something daily that encourages sober self-esteem such as exercise, watching a funny movie or hang out with someone who is doing Dry January with you.

The goal of sticking to Dry January is to embrace it without self-doubt. So, before you start, remember, the Inner Critic is a habit you can train yourself out of and breeze through the month sober and enjoy it!
 
Post Submitted By: Georgia Foster

Georgia Foster is an alcohol reduction expert who has a Dry January program. Please see www.georgiafoster.com
 
Suggested NA beverage: Hibiscus Mocktail