Life Is Short So Make It Your Own
Magical things happen when you start walking the path of an alcohol-free existence. One such thing is the process of properly getting to know yourself – busting through all the fantasies and stories you have always told yourself, the belief systems you’ve accumulated over the years; the habits and patterns of behaviour that you think constitute the real You.
But none of the above equates to a reality - it’s all merely an interpretation, our own and that of other people, of what we are, who we are, how we are seen by the world and by ourselves. And more often than not, when we drink so much and so often that it detrimentally affects our self-esteem, it also has the effect of warping our self-image. We focus on the ‘bad things’ about our selves, the stuff we regret and are ashamed of – these become our defining characteristics, so instead of just doing ‘bad things’ we begin to believe that we are ‘inherently bad’ people.
And that just isn’t true.
When you put the bottle down for long enough and start affording the true version of yourself a chance to shine, you will begin to appreciate that you probably aren’t a bad person; in contrast, you are almost certainly very nice. Not selfish, not uncaring, not hurtful. Maybe shy and a little awkward, but not horrible in any way – not the bad seed you always thought, deep down, you were. And once you wrap your head around this truth and get used to not despising yourself, THEN you can begin to embark on personal development; refining your rough elements and working on fulfilling your amazing potential.
One thing I have learnt that is SO important to everyone striving to lead a happy and content life is that you absolutely, 100%, no deviations or excuses, must be authentic as you go about your daily business. You need to be yourself, allowing every last wonderful facet of your quirky and unique personality to come to the fore. Walking in the path of another’s shoes is so profoundly damaging to your soul, so don’t do it. Learn how to be YOU. As Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life”.
This journey of authentic living starts when you stop doing things that other people expect of you but that you don’t really feel comfortable in doing. It gathers momentum when you spend time rediscovering your inner child, remembering and reintroducing to your everyday living all the stuff you loved to do as a kid – baking, writing, reading, playing a musical instrument, painting, bird watching… whatever it was that got you excited as a child, devote some time now returning to it and see how it makes you feel.
Practise cultivating a sense of individualism – what clothes do YOU want to wear? What look do you want to have? What rituals can you introduce to your life to give it more meaning? Which friends make you feel rooted and safe? Which ones make you feel uneasy, threatening your confidence?
When you aren’t drinking, berating yourself for drinking, recovering from drinking and planning your next drink, you will have the time and emotional energy to invest in your personal growth and development. You’ll be better able to pinpoint your good points and bad points, and all the parts of your personality that you are most proud of. Embracing this kind of authenticating journey is not self-indulgent – it’s a process that will enable you to lead your best life.
And what better gift could you give yourself this Christmas?