When I first embarked on the journey of cutting back and stopping over drinking I thought it would be easier to just hide away and sort things out in my head first before I joined in on social gatherings. I'm not saying there was anything wrong with that, it just wasn't realistic long term.
I came to a realization when a thought came to me that I was hiding when I was drinking and now my brain wants me to hide when I'm trying to get healthy and make changes in my habits. I was hiding how much I drank and now I'm hiding when I stopped over drinking. Both scenarios are riddled with shame.
The biggest shift happened for me when I started to talk about my "taking a break and cutting back" to others. I was craving connection with others and I grew tired of the isolation. I looked shame in the face and stood up to it by talking about what I was doing in my life. I shined a light on the shame because we all know shame lives in the shadows and it can't grow and fester if we shine a light on it.
We are creatures that desire connection with other humans. We thrive off of each other. The Holidays are upon us and there are a lot of social gatherings ahead. We look forward to the Holidays because we want to have a great time and make the best, cherished memories for ourselves and loved ones. The best thing for you to start doing now is to prepare and have a game plan for the up coming Holiday events.
Just as when we try to negotiate with ourselves about the right time to take a break (now is always the best time) we are also negotiating with ourselves how to maneuver around alcohol at social gatherings. Your brain is going to push back and convince you to start another time when things are "easier". Your brain is going to say it's too hard to do anything different now. Your brain is always going to look for the easy path (remember the motivational triad = seek pleasure, avoid pain at the least amount of effort?).
I told myself there will always be alcohol at parties and if I want to go to parties the only thing that I could manage is my mind.
Here is the how:
Commitment- 100% all in. NOT 99% with thoughts that run through your head saying, "we'll see how we feel once we get to the party".
Plan ahead- Load up your "tool box" on how your going to handle your mind ahead of time. If you have no plan then you'll not have your own back.
Belief in yourself- Use thoughts that will motivate you. Not thoughts that leave you feeling deprived. It's not that you can't have a drink you've have just decided not to have a drink.
Every change you make toward stopping over drinking you are making a new neural pathway to change your behavior. This is not a sprint, it's a marathon with a lot of training involved.