Sunday, 5 June 2016

Fear and Hope

I have a list of things I come across that interest me. Little acorns that might grow into something, or might not.

I looked at the list this morning, and one of the things I'd written down was fear and hope.

I have no idea why. I can't remember what I'd read, heard or seen that prompted me to write those three words down, but they seemed, for some reason, important.

It got me thinking. There are two key reasons for change, for being able to pluck up the courage to do something hard, to take a leap into the unknown - fear, and hope.

If you're trying to persuade someone to scale a twenty foot wall, you can tell them that a rabid dog is racing towards them, and scare them up it, or you could tell them that a pile of cash waits on the other side, and encourage them up it.

But we are really, really good at ignoring fear.

Every time I picked up a packet of cigarettes in my smoking days I was faced with the words SMOKING KILLS, written in bigger and bolder type every year.

It didn't make me stop. Nor did all the pictures of diseased lungs and people in hospitals gasping into oxygen masks.

We are so good at thinking that's not going to happen to me.

The same was true of drinking. I read all the statistics about cirrhosis. I was very aware of the government guidelines. I walked past homeless, hopeless drunks every day of the week.

I was so good at thinking that's not going to happen to me.

The fear has to get really, really bad. The rabid dog has to be close enough to bite you on the arse before you start thinking oh God, it has happened to me.

(And even then you get huddles of people sharing cigarettes outside the Marsden Cancer Hospital, and sneaking hip flasks into liver units).

It struck me that fear doesn't work. Not until you've totally reached rock bottom, and even then it might not. Because, by then, what have you got to live for? What's the point?

Then I remembered a quote from somewhere. Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.

I thought it must have been from a Shakespeare play. Richard III? Henry V?

I googled it. Turns out it was President Snow in The Hunger Games. I'm not as erudite as I'd hoped.

But he's right. Because what, finally, got me to quit wasn't fear of all the dreadful things that might happen, but hope that life could be better.

I read Jason Vale's book: Kick the Drink, thinking that it might help me cut down (ha ha). And Jason painted a picture of an alcohol free life that was not only possible, but happy!

Until then, I'd honestly thought that life without booze could only be lived as a boring pariah, venturing out from time to time to stand in church halls, reliving gory details of my past to a bunch of strangers.

Jason Vale made a sober, teetotal (such dreadful words!) future look exciting.

And then I found the soberverse, and lots of real women like me who'd actually managed to quit, who'd come out the other side and weren't just surviving, but were thriving.

And that's what worked for me. Not fear. Hope.

(They should replace all those useless warnings on cigarette packets with the words YOU CAN QUIT!)

So, if you're still trying to frighten yourself into quitting the booze, then stop. Don't think about all the awful things that might happen if you don't quit, think about all the wonderful things that will happen when you do.

And if you you've made it over the obstacle course and into the sunny, sober field of fluffy bunnies, then go spread HOPE.

Love SM x


  1. You are so right, as always, but I do think fear stops us doing things, and so can be a very negative force. Fear of failure. Fear of making a fool of yourself, so you don't take a risk and improve your skills/job prospects/etc. I think fear of failure is why many of us don't actually limit our food intake when we want to lose weight, because we visualise ourselves suffering for x [insert number] weeks and being the same size at the end. I think the same is true of giving up booze. So I think we have to do two things: one, as you say, think about what you will gain - the hope; but two, small steps (I'm sure you've mentioned this before) - the whole problem can seem insurmountable, so we do it one day at a time (yes! you have said it before!).

  2. As always... An awesome post. Thank you!!

  3. Lovely post. I like this one Fear= False Evidence Appearing Real. xx

  4. With me it is hope that I haven't done myself too much damage but there is a healthy dollop of fear about dying from liver failure if I carried on. Drinking 50/60/70 units a week is going to have an impact sooner or later. The positive side is no liver unit and better quality of life.


  5. Danger is very real but fear is a choice..... Will Smith ❤️

  6. You've hit the nail on the head. So true. Last weekend I saw two drunks sitting on a bench drinking in the morning and having an argument that was going in circles. I wanted to say to them ' life doesn't have to be like this, it can be better', but I didn't have the courage. The cigarette label you came up with is genius. It would work way better than pictures of gangrene feet.

  7. I absolutely agree with this. Some people do seem to be motivated by fear, but that doesn't work for me as I feel I need to banish the fear, not stay away from the danger. But hope for a better life is what finally worked. Great post! xo

  8. I'm so glad I've found your blog, you write beautifully and have put into words so many things I've just thought about.
    I was 91 days AF when I decided a glass of wine at a party would be a good idea. Before the week was out I was waking up in the night with panic attacks. Never again! I've learnt my lesson with a little bit of fear of what this crazy poison does to my brain but also with a lot of hope that it will be OK, in fact it will be great without the booze. Xxx

  9. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Great book. A must read if any of you haven't already. Happy Monday!

  10. Another great post...I read feel the fear and do it anyway, 20 yrs ago...the result was 19yr old twins.....the light of my life....a game changer for me was doing a sky dive,,I am terrified of heights...and was seriously worried I would have a stroke, I survived, loved it,,and use it whenever I start to wobble about something....well if I can do that..etc,,,.I dug it out again this day 73 AF....but now I have to address the main reason I was drinking...still feeling the fear ATM on that one..more work to be done....

  11. I loved this post. I definitely quit because of hope....fear never did it. Hope keeps me AF, fear doesn't phase me!

  12. Exactly! Thriving, ain't that the trooth