One of the most difficult aspects of getting sober is learning to deal with fear.
Fear can prevent us from even getting off the starting blocks. I get lots of e-mails from people saying something along the lines of "I really want to quit drinking. I know I have to quit drinking. But I'm scared. Scared of failing, scared that I'll be miserable for ever, scared of living life without my favourite prop..."
That first hurdle is so daunting that, for many people, they can only scale it once they've reached 'rock bottom' (which is a place none of us want to get to).
Once we've overcome that initial fear we then have to learn how to cope with on-going fears and anxieties without our favourite method of numbing the edges, and that's really hard. We're totally out of practice at doing fear (or any emotion, actually), in the raw.
If any of this is ringing any bells with you, then check out this great YouTube clip of Will Smith talking about overcoming fear (click here).
Will concludes with the words on the other side of your maximum fear are all the best things in life.
And you know what? He's right!
Think back to some of your best days. Your finest moments. Maybe your wedding day? The day your first child was born? The time you won that huge contract, launched a new business or landed a book deal. The day you climbed a mountain, jumped out of a plane or ran a marathon.
What preceded those days? Fear, right? Or, at least, anxiety.
If you'd sidestepped that fear, you never would have experienced the brilliance of the other side.
Well, that's all very well, but even when you focus on the end goal, even when you know this is something you have to get through, it still doesn't mean it's easy, does it?
So, try this advice from the latest book by the brilliant Amy Cuddy:
Amy says that the secret to not only dealing with anxiety, but making it work in your favour is to reframe it in your mind as excitement.
In a recent study by Alison Brooks, when people were given a challenge of singing, speaking or doing a maths challenge in public, those who took a moment to reframe their anxiety as excitement outperformed all the others.
And, funnily enough, fear and excitement feel very similar, don't you think? There's that butterfly in the stomach sensation or, in my case, the nest of squirming vipers.
I've been trying this out. Every time I feel scared, I make myself think This is so exciting. There is something amazing on the other side of this hurdle. It's going to be fabulous.
It really works.
So, if you're still at that I know I need to quit but I'm really scared stage, then try thinking this instead: I'm so excited about starting on this challenge, because life on the other side of it is going to be INCREDIBLE!
And it will be....
Love SM x