Quitting Drinking & Overcoming The Fear of Failure
The second most common explanation I hear from people to justify not taking action over their drinking is fear. The fear of taking a chance but not getting the desired result of happy sobriety.
I understand why drinkers feel like this. For the longest time we cling on to the belief that ‘we can stop anytime we want to’.
To try to stop and to fail robs us of this supportive belief. It’s all just a part of the denial process. We can’t cope with the prospect that we are not in control of the drug anymore and so we do nothing to avoid getting the confirmation.
Head In The Sand?
This is a bit like not opening the credit card bill so you don’t really owe the money.
The excuses and reasons to avoid taking action are endless and all of them are baseless or if you prefer, false evidence appearing real.
None of those excuses are a valid reason not to quit drinking poison for fun.
They are all just pieces of graffiti that are sprayed on the walls of your comfort zone.
As we approach the edge of the zone we notice that there are lots of brightly colored and aggressive looking warning signs. They scream that there are danger and risk beyond this point and for your own safety you should go no further!
The mistake we all make is we focus on the warning signs and not on what lies beyond them. It is true that if you try to stop drinking and fail you are going to feel bad about yourself.
The Fear Of Failure Mistake
Really, I understand why someone would have this fear of failure and see that a way to avoid this pain is to not attempt to quit in the first place.
However, you have to step outside of yourself and see the bigger picture here. Instead of thinking about how you will feel if things go south. Think about how your life will change if you nail this and kick this filthy drug out of your world.
Get super clear about what that scene would look like. Imagine yourself as an 85-year-old man or woman who lived the remained of his or her life free of the attractively packaged poison that caused so much pain and suffering in their early life.
Make that image big, bright and beautiful in your mind.
Next, imagine you are laying on your death bed at age 65…
You never took any action over your drinking and carried on with the addiction for fear of failure.
Alcohol stole all your money, destroyed your family and eventually you got so ill you could no longer work and provide for the people you love. You are dying, a poor broken man or woman and all the people you love and care for are having to sit by and watch you die.
All because you were afraid to fail.
Well, guess what, by backing away from the edges of your comfort zone you got the very outcome you were trying to avoid!
This mindset does not just apply to alcohol addiction. I want this to be a tool to release you from the life-limiting loops created by fear. When we use the word fear we normally apply it to situations where we wrongly or rightly predict that we are at risk of harm.
For example, standing on the edge of a tall building generates a sensation of fear and anxiety so we become acutely aware of what could happen if we act inappropriately in those situations.
We can be afraid before a job interview because we have become attached to an outcome and don’t want to experience rejection followed by the loss of that outcome. However, fear isn’t always this obvious or dramatic but it can still be hugely limiting in our life.
When people go on a diet they start out with good intentions and a desperate desire to improve the way they look and feel.
An honorable pursuit.
Overcoming The Fear of Failure
But why do nearly 95% of them not only end up putting back on all the weight they lost plus an additional few pounds for good measure?
The answer is the fear of failure! At the start of the diet, the pain of looking in the mirror or not being able to squeeze into their favorite denim anymore creates low-level fear.
For example ‘what if I just keep getting bigger’, ‘what if I have nothing to wear at the party’, ‘what if they start calling me names at school’ etc.
So, we start the diet motivated to move our chubby body away from the fear. Then we lose a bit of weight and the original fear subsides but it is often replaced by a new concern.
You see, we enjoy our tasty treats and takeaways in front of a good movie.
Suddenly we feel like we are depriving ourselves of some of the fun bits of life.
We fear that if we carry on being strict with ourselves we are going to be short-changed by life and have less fun. Thus begins the yo-yo diet routine that dominates the life of so many.
I am writing this section of the book in the business class cabin of a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Austin, Texas and even here fear is present.
I am not talking about worrying about the plane crashing or running into some scary turbulence. I have been on board for just two hours and so far I have been offered free alcohol at least half a dozen times.
I can’t drink alcohol because it has a nasty habit of trying to kill me.
If you have read my book Alcohol Lied to Me, you will know that I had a near two decade-long battle with the booze and I became teetotal about six or seven years ago.
I don’t have to struggle to stay away from drinking, no part of me wants to go back where I was but there is an element of fear at the back of my head every time the air hostess comes down the aisle with the drinks trolley and I turn down a very expensive French Bordeaux and instead ask for a cheap glass of water.
The northerner in me feels like I am getting ripped off. I feel like I am getting much poorer value for money than the guy next to me who has so far knocked back $100 worth of wine and brandy.
I am 99% certain that I won’t buckle in the name of value but I am acutely aware and afraid of that 1% that still lingers at the back of my mind.
The fear of failure is present on a daily basis and in a myriad of ways.
We are taught to be careful, to listen to fear and respond accordingly and the vast majority of society obeys this unwritten law. The result is a safer, more boring & less fulfilling life.
This is the world of the Average Joe and the Average Jane – safe and steady but beige.
What I am encouraging you to do is respond to fear in a highly counter-intuitive way. Instead of seeing fear as a warning I want you to see it as an opportunity light blinking on the dashboard of your life.
Essentially, if you are afraid of it then you must do it!
The ego uses the past as a reverse projector in an attempt to control the uncontrollable.
The fear of failure is liberally applied to all areas of your life in the hope that it will keep you safe if completely unfulfilled.
You are alive but miserable, that’s good enough for the evil clown.
The Evil Clown & The Ego Are Friends
The ego doesn’t particularly care how happy you are, its primary focus is trying in vain to avoid the inevitable final act, at whatever cost.
What I am about to ask you to do is acknowledge that one of your tenants is insane and while you can’t evict you can decide to stop listening to his/her insane ramblings.
From this point on the fear of failure should be seen as the screams in the night of your troublesome tenant. All the predictions of doom, gloom, terror, and trauma are nothing more than a desperate illusion.
Start living in the knowledge that the only moment that exists is this one, right here and right now. The past and the future do not exist and they never will – this is it and this is all there will ever be.
Now Or Never
There is a percentage chance that this nineteen-year-old Boeing 777-200 aircraft will crash before I reach Austin, Texas – should I just stop writing now just in case?
No of course not, because right here at this moment I am alive and as long as that situation continues I have a message to get out there.
Why not make today the day that you stop putting this off and take action on dealing with your alcohol addiction.