2019 is the 20th anniversary of me stopping drinking and gambling. Back in 1999, I was 25, newly married; I had a chronic gambling problem combined with memory loss and regular blackouts from the binge drinking.
My life was spiralling out of control. It was a new year, and I had just spent Christmas Day vomiting in my Mother Inlaws toilet after getting blind drunk on Christmas Eve. I knew, just how to make a good first impression!
I decided to stop drinking and gambling. I had known I needed to do this for about three years. But could never commit to it. So, my new wife and I spent a dry New Year’s Eve at home watching tv. I was miserable and bored. This feeling got worse and worse over the next three weeks, and by the end of January, I was back drunk, in the casino.
Will power was never going to be enough. If you want to create lasting change, you must change the way you see yourself.
Six months later I hit rock bottom, I was fired from my job, my wife had caught me cheating, and the debt collectors were closing in as my massive credit card debt exploded.
Around this time, I was lucky enough to read two books that helped me make a change. Beechy Colclough is a no-nonsense, straight-talking ex-alcoholic and his book is called the Effective Way To Stop Drinking. The other book was Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol.
The combined message of these two books, along with a lot of therapy, helped me change my outlook on myself and my addictions. It became about “choosing not to do something” rather than “giving something up”. This distinction was hugely important for me.
I felt I was no longer missing out. I began to feel empowered. My self-vision slowly changed.
I started to see myself as the kind of person who chose not to drink and gamble. It was liberating, and the change stuck.
Of course, some days are harder than others. Addiction is a coping response to emotional feelings. These didn’t go away, and I had to learn different coping strategies. But I’m happy to say I’m here, 20 years on, still choosing each day not to drink or gamble.
If you are seeking to make a change in your life, then focus your thoughts on changing the way you see yourself. The answer lies in changing your mental picture of yourself. You need to see yourself as the type of person you want to become.
I hope you will give this a go. It will help you reach your goals. Remember we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.