Since the beginning of the year I’ve been experimenting, probing and toying with alcohol and, more specifically, my relationship with it.
Whether I want it in my life a little, a lot or not at all. Whether it gives more than it takes. What the motivation and intention behind my evening red is. Whether it moves me closer towards the things I want – or further away.
So far, the results (like the drinks) have been mixed. I’ll be writing more about this but, for the moment, the conclusions and lessons are still evolving. But there has been one interesting revelation that I am willing to share now.
I have become keenly aware that our narratives – the stories we tell ourselves (and others) about ourselves – are directly related to our happiness and success.
Personal narratives are formed in our past and they steer our future. We can have them about all sorts of things – our love lives, health, careers, motivation or even just ability to cook a good roast. They’re made up of experiences, beliefs and personal preferences and – here’s the important part – our narratives can be a potent catalyst for action or inaction.
Let me explain, using my relation with the plonk as a case study.
Whenever I have tried to quit alcohol in the past I have started by basing it all on the previous chapter. You know the one that goes a little something like this;
You’re Em the party girl. You love champagne. Heck, your wedding theme was champagne. It’s part of your charm, your quirk, your hot messery and charisma. It stops you being so damn awkward and it makes you rap Mr Boombastic like an absolute boss.
Sure it’d be nice to quit – but alcohol gives you confidence. Plus, how are you going to relax after a long day without a glass of red?.
That is one god-awful pep talk.
Now imagine if I let go of those old plot lines for a moment. Skewed the focus a bit.
Em. Yep, you’ve had some fun times on the wazz. And sometimes it’s appropriate and deserved. But you don’t need it. You never did. Think about the amazing conversations you’ve had, the laughs with your friends, the early mornings that feel less fuzzy and the fun with you family? All without alcohol. In fact – when you think about it – the overwhelming majority of your favorite moments have been without alcohol. And some of the worst have been with it.
It was fun at the time but now it’s time to move on and up. To be the better version of yourself. To do what feels more aligned with who you are now, as apposed to who you were when you were 21.
This new way of looking at my narrative – of choosing the evidence that supports expansion rather than contraction – changed the whole experience of fostering good habits. It didn’t feel like a drag. It felt empowering, exciting and exhilarating.
I realised all those “reasons” I was using to support my bad habit, were actually excuses to avoid my own potential.
Maybe you have a few of those “reasons” (ahem, excuses) yourself? False narratives that are standing between you and what you really want. Maybe it’s that you don’t have enough time to start your business, you’re not a good enough writer to start your blog, you’re not fit enough to start running, you’re too old to fall in love again. Whatever it is.
Maybe the answer to changing your life is as simple as gently closing that previous chapter and start writing yourself a new one. Accepting that it was perfect for the plot, it was great for the character development but now it was time for a change of setting. As Seth Godin said;
It’s painful to even consider giving up the narrative we use to navigate our life. We vividly remember the last time we made an investment that didn’t match our self-story, or the last time we went to the ‘wrong’ restaurant or acted the ‘wrong’ way in a sales call. No, that’s too risky, especially now, in this economy. So we play it safe and go back to our story
Our past is comfortable, familiar and easy and when we are about to make life-changing change, we subconsciously look for the stories that facilitate us staying small. That make it okay not to try.
But the reason you are on this earth is to grow and evolve and change things. Maybe all that’s standing in your way is an outdated story that you need to stop reading yourself.
You are the writer of your own narrative. Throw in some plot twists and surprise yourself.
(P.S. My Mr Boombastic is even better sober).
What narrative do you need to let go of? Write it below and then let’s celebrate gently closing that chapter (or slamming it shut if the mood strikes!)