For most of my life I’ve felt a bit lacking when I compare myself to other people. I know I shouldn’t do it, but it’s easy to pick fault, especially with ourselves. I’ve always done it, but nowadays, I am at least aware of it. I notice myself judging myself and I try to let it go.
It’s easy to make assumptions, and to believe other people are more confident than we are, but we’re all the same underneath, under our armour and our hard exteriors, under the shields we put up to protect ourselves. I don’t think even the toughest people are that tough underneath, although sometimes they need to project the image that they are.
Recently I did an assessment for some online training and it made me realise what a perfectionist I am. We had to grade the qualities with the value we held them in and my list was surprisingly long. Much longer than I thought it would be. Seeing it on paper like that made me realise what a lot of pressure I put on myself.
It got me thinking about my insecurities and I decided to try to change them around…
- I might be anxious a lot of the time, but it shows I care far more than I should about a lot of things.
- I might not be the thinnest, but my husband loves me, and my body is strong now. It also gave us our four wonderful children, and is capable of running long distances.
- I might not know everything, but I’m pretty clever and can be very dedicated to learning something when it suits me.
- I’m hyperaware which can be annoying, but it also means I notice the little things going on around me. I’d probably make a good detective!
- I feel like I’m not doing enough or I’ve let people down, but that’s because I always want to do the best I can, all the time.
- I worry about what people think of me, but that’s because I want to be recognised for getting things right.
There are so many ways we can choose to look at ourselves negatively, but if we flip them, we can see that they generally come from a good place. There isn’t a nasty bone in my body, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. I guess what matters is the way we deal with our mistakes and slip ups. A few years ago I started following a blogger who really said things as they were. She was unashamedly herself and it was refreshing to see someone who wasn’t perfect just being herself without making excuses. It reminded me that no one is perfect. No one really can be, but it’s hard to apply it to yourself. But, I’m working on it.
Things happen, even when we don’t want them to, but what we can do is to make the best we can from our circumstances. So that means not just being kind to others, but treating ourselves with kindness and compassion too.
As a country the UK has quite an ingrained love affair with alcohol. It’s joked about often, used to reward achievements or hard days, for successes and for failures. Most evenings out will involve it, as will a lot of afternoons in the sun.
When it can be enjoyed without excess, or when it can be used without a reliance building up, it is an enjoyable way to spend time. For a lot of people, that is no longer the case and I for one, am extremely grateful for my sobriety. Especially considering how hard it was to get here!
The problem is, that alcohol affects everyone differently. Those of us with an addiction were not born with a warning to be careful in case we build up too much tolerance and drink too much, too often. It’s ever present in our culture, in fact, it seems more normal to drink than not to, which is weird considering it is ultimately a poison. But then, things change, a lot of people smoked when I was younger. Advertising for cigarettes was common place and yet, now that has changed. Maybe one day, it will for alcohol too.
For now though, we can be aware. For those of us that don’t drink, that means not slipping back into old habits, not romanticising the idea of a drink, even though it’s easy to, but remembering how hard we have worked for our sobriety. For those of us who do drink, it’s about remembering our limits and not getting carried away.
There are so many ways in which drinking can affect us -
- It can affect or numb our feelings. Often one of the main reasons for having a drink is to help us cope with a stressful situation. This could be a long term stress, where we drink regularly to cope, or more short term, perhaps after a particularly hard day. A downside of this is that the feeling can be addictive. We can search out that feeling of relief but that often comes with an increased price and that means more to drink. We also need to remember that while drinking provides a quick fix, there are other longer term solutions out there that don’t have the same side effects.
- Depression and anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant. While it may calm and numb, it also can make us feel anxious or depressed. It is thought in the UK that there is a strong link between those with anxiety and those with an alcohol dependency. Serotonin is a chemical relating to our mood which is affected by regular intake of alcohol and this imbalance can cause us to drink more as things get a bit squiffy. While some people drink to feel that they are boosting their confidence and aiding their anxiety, actually it affects our brain chemistry and our neurotransmitters. This means it’s not only our mental health that is affected, but we may be less balanced and more likely to make rash decisions.
- Relationships. We’ve all said things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment, but when we drink, it lowers our inhibitions resulting in confrontations, arguments and in extreme circumstances violence. It’s not just at home that these problems can occur, or even while we’re drinking. It’s likely that the effects of alcohol will affect our day to day lives, our reliability, our reactions and our health. It can end up making us a bit of a liability in the relationship stakes.
I read an article from Sky News recently which I found extremely worrying. It seems that perhaps without our normal routines in place, a lot of people are drinking more, or relapsing. Of course this affects the individual, but given the close proximity we have to each other in lockdown, it is also affecting families more than ever before. Children are trapped at home, without even the reprieve of school to go to for some space and safety. It’s good that there are charities in place to support those who need it, but I do worry about the damage that has been done already, and the relationships that might be damaged beyond repair.
I’m not saying everyone should stop drinking and commit to a life of sobriety, although it you want to, you should! The clarity of mind, is something I never thought I’d experience. What we can do is to look at our alcohol use and the way we live our lives, to see whether one is perhaps affecting the other, and make an informed choice. I like to remember that #soberisnotboring!
Thanks for reading.