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  • Lisa Atkins, LCSW & Deborah Scarborough, LCMHCS

How to Change Your Drinking: Finding Your Compelling Reason to Change

Reason to change your drinking

Hey there! Have you ever found yourself waking up with a hangover, feeling lost and wondering how you ended up in this cycle of drinking too much? It’s like you’re battling with yourself, feeling adrift in your own body, and desperately seeking a way out of this loop. Well, let me tell you, you’re not alone. Many have been there, stuck in that same struggle, feeling like they were at war with themselves.

Trapped in a Cycle

You know that feeling when you’re going through the motions of life, but everything feels off? Whether it's drinking too much, overeating, overspending, or any other habit that doesn’t align with who you want to be, it’s like you’re trapped in a cycle that’s hard to break; chained to your habit. And the worst part? You know deep down that this isn’t how your life was meant to be.

The Missing Piece: A Compelling Reason to Change

So, why aren’t you changing? Why does it feel like you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? It all boils down to one simple thing: lacking a compelling reason. Sure, you might think you have a reason already – like being tired of hangovers or wasting your life – but if it hasn’t propelled you into action, it’s not compelling enough.

What Makes a Reason to Change Compelling?

A compelling reason isn’t just something that sounds nice; it’s something that excites you, something that makes you say, “Yes, I want this!” It’s what drives you forward, even when the going gets tough. Because let’s face it, change isn’t easy. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone, and facing discomfort head-on, and that’s where a compelling reason to change comes in.

The Comfort of Habits vs. The Discomfort of Change

Here’s the thing: change requires discomfort, but the habits you’re trying to change offer comfort. Whether it’s reaching for a drink to ease stress or turning to food for comfort, these habits provide a quick fix. But in the long run, they leave you feeling worse off. That’s why you need a reason that’s more than just nice – you need something that can sustain you through discomfort.

Judy’s Journey to Finding a Compelling Reason

Meet Judy. She used to tell herself, “I just don’t want to be hungover anymore,” but it didn’t feel compelling enough. Then, she realized, “I wanted to be someone I could be proud of. I wanted to trust myself, to be a role model for my kids, to achieve my fullest potential. These reasons sparked excitement and determination in me, driving me forward on my journey to change.” Judy discovered the power of Identity-Based Goals. In other words, what made her Compelling Reason to change compelling, was that it became entwined with her identity. She had a vision for her Future Self; of who she wanted to be and began to align her actions; her choices and decisions with that version of herself.

Common Mistakes in Finding Your Compelling Reason

Now, let’s talk about some common mistakes people make when searching for their compelling reason to stop drinking.

Mistake #1: Thinking Your Compelling Reason for Change Will Do the Work for You

Your reason might inspire you, but it won’t take action for you. You’re still the one who has to make the choice to change. In order to change, you have to be willing to keep taking action. You must be ready to confront discomfort directly. Refusing a glass of wine in the evening, opting for a non-alcoholic drink at dinner with friends, or socializing at a party without alcohol all demand initial resolve in the presence of discomfort. This challenge is particularly true with alcohol, given it’s an easy fix to change how you feel and it gives your brain a big reward.

Mistake #2: Believing Your Compelling Reason for Change Is a Cure-All for Discomfort

A compelling reason for change won’t make discomfort disappear; it’s just a reminder of why you’re facing it in the first place. If you want to change the habit of drinking, you are going to have to deny your brain the reward it is expecting and invariably that will cause discomfort.

Mistake #3: Thinking You Only Need to Connect with Your Compelling Reason for Change Once

Your compelling reason to change needs to become a part of your life, something you reconnect with regularly to stay motivated. We recommend you have it written down and you revisit it every morning when you wake up. With your compelling reason in mind, you can make decisions all day that align with your vision for yourself. Remind yourself daily of who you want to be; who you are becoming and asking yourself what would that version of yourself choose to do in every given situation.

Connecting with Your Compelling Reason to Change

So, how do you keep your compelling reason front and center in your mind? By spending time with your future self – the person who’s already achieved what you want. Envision what life would be like if you no longer relied on alcohol or other habits to feel fulfilled.

Continue Reflecting on Your Future Self

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What would my future self be doing?

  • How would she feel about herself?

  • What would she spend her time thinking about?

  • How would she handle negative emotions?

Taking Action Towards Change

Remember, your compelling reason to change your drinking is like a guiding star, illuminating the path ahead. But you’re the one who has to take the steps to reach your destination. Think of it like climbing a mountain – your reason is the motivation that keeps you going when the journey gets tough.

Conclusion: Your Journey to Change Starts Now

So, what’s your compelling reason to change your drinking? What drives you to break free from old habits and embrace a new way of living? Take some time to reflect on what truly excites and motivates you. And remember, change starts with a single step. You have the power to rewrite your story and create the life you’ve always dreamed of. So why wait? Start climbing towards your summit today. Your future self is waiting for you at the top.


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