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This word is hurting you

This word is hurting you

After multiple failed attempts to quit drinking over the course many years, I discovered one of the biggest impediments to my success was related to one simple, small word. Eradicating it from my vocabulary was instrumental in helping me maintain the will power to finally stay dry over the longer term. Perhaps you know this already, but for me it was kind of a big deal. I had to quit relying on the word 'try'.  

I used to say I'm going to try to quit drinking... I'm trying to not drink for a month... I'm trying to wait until the weekend to drink. The word put me in a murky place -  somewhere between I am, and I am not. It's as non-committal as a first tinder date. It's confusing to your mind. Are you drinking or are you not drinking? That's what my mind needed to know. It needed resolve. 

Have you ever sent out an invite to a party and a guest responds with a message that reads: I'll try to come. We all know what that means (and it's annoying as hell.) Translated, it reads: I don't want to come, but I will if nothing better comes along and I feel like peeling myself off the couch that night to see you. So, imagine what your mind thinks when you say I'll try to stop drinking. It's like, whatever... Get thee to a LCBO and uncork me a Pinot Noir asap. 

I'm not saying the word, itself, is bad. But, if you're going to own your behaviour, the word 'try' simply doesn't work. Once I realized this, I quit using the word as much as possible, especially when it came to drinking (and RSVPing for parties). Think about the difference in these two statements:

I am trying to stop drinking this month 

vs.

I am not drinking this month

One is wishy washy. The other is powerful. There is no room for argument. 

Now the next thing your mind will do is question your commitment to NOT DRINK for a long period of time. It's one thing to say you're not drinking for 30 days, and another thing all together to really, unequivocally believe it. I'll admit that was a tough one for me to deal with initially. But then I realized that it's really quite simple. I understood that by eliminating the word try, I was forced to focus on the present moment. That's because any phrase that uses the word try is inherently referring to the future. When you're describing the present moment, there is no try. There just is. Consider this: you aren't trying to read this blog post right now. You ARE reading this blog post.  

When I first quit drinking, I would wake up in the morning and tell myself: today, I am not drinking. 

I would come home from work, start making dinner, and tell myself: right now, I am not drinking. 

I didn't focus on anything but the present moment, and I found it was a relief to not have to think about tomorrow, or next week, or next month. (Full disclosure: I still struggle periodically with the idea of never drinking again!)

The key to staying on the path of clarity is being in the here and now. That is the place where I find the strength to say no to alcohol, and yes to clarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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