When I got sober in 2008, it was hard to rebuild my life at first. Killing bad habits and adjusting your life around the avoidance of them isn’t easy. It is a daily effort in making all the correct choices and no longer allowing the addictions to run your brain.
Getting sober is hard work but once you’ve made it through about thirty days you start to get into more of a routine and rhythm. However, I’d be lying if I said that urges, cravings, temptations and old thinking patterns aren’t a pestering occurrence.
As with any bad habit, substance related or not, we always face the possibility of returning to our old ways so it’s important to have mechanisms in place to keep us stabilized and rooted in the changes we are making.
One practice that has kept me sober when this happens is always asking myself, “But how will you feel tomorrow?”
Meaning if I give into the voice that’s trying it’s hardest to bring me back over to the dark side by saying: a drink sounds good, or let’s get high, or one drink one line one bump won’t hurt, or it’s just a sip, I shine my little light and bring myself full circle by asking the one simple question that has singlehandedly helped me stay sober: “But how will you feel tomorrow?”
Imagining how disappointed in myself I would be and what a devastating, shameful and defeated feeling I would have if I drank or used always helps me to say no to that nasty voice of the darkness.
Because let’s be honest, if we really think about the consequences in the form of our feelings after the fact, we know our real, deep-down truth.
Having the self-awareness to stop & think about how we will feel as a result of our decisions is so powerful.
Initially, I had to ask as well as answer that question and root myself in saying no quite often. Reminding myself of how I would feel in the aftermath of a drink or a line of coke has kept me sober because I know I never want to feel that form of shame again. I never want to allow a substance to make me feel bad about myself. I never want to feel like I let myself down in that way ever again.
Every so often the urge or justification will come up if I’m at a celebration like a wedding or birthday where there is champagne involved and the voice will tell me that “it’s just champagne,” “a sip won’t hurt you,” “it’s polite to toast,” or whatever fine variation of a twisted rationalization it can come up with.
In those moments I quietly remind myself that it’s not worth the guilt and shame I’ll feel tomorrow for giving in and cashing in all my (sobriety) chips. And oh wait, “I never even liked champagne in the first place, but nice try,” is what I say to the nagging voice of darkness.
So, whether you are living in sobriety, attempting to or simply trying to quit a bad habit, keep that question in your back pocket and always ask yourself, “But how will I feel tomorrow?”
If you know the feelings won’t be favorable and you can put yourself into the future by starting to feel them ahead of time, then that will help you to abstain from whatever it is that you’re trying to quit or change. This will help you to avoid relapse in what ever form it is for you and will keep you from feeling the negative feelings towards life and yourself that come with it.
Learning how to shine this kind of light into the dark corners of my sobriety has been instrumental in keeping me sober as well as helping me to bring more awareness into how I actually want to feel. I hope you are able to bring this practice into your life and use it to create and sustain the changes you’ve been hoping for. Namaste.