When I decided I needed to stop drinking it was a scary prospect. Why? Because despite the fact that I consciously knew alcohol was no longer my friend, I still craved a drink. I had two competing thoughts in my head; a desire to stop drinking which was at odds with my continued cravings for alcohol.
This internal conflict was painful and stressful. I would make myself promises (no drinking until Friday, I will only have two tonight, no hard liquor, only red wine), which I continued to break. I was unable to understand why I couldn't easily control how much alcohol I was drinking. Internal division and the recrimination that comes with being unable to keep my promises tore me apart. This was so painful that I would find myself drinking more in order to turn off my brain, shut down the internal struggle.
Why is this? Why did I both want to stop and want to drink at the same time? The answer is because even though I had consciously, willfully determined I wanted to stop drinking, my unconscious mind had not gotten the memo. Unconscious learning happens automatically and unintentionally through experiences, observations, conditioning, and practice. We've been conditioned to believe we enjoy drinking. We think it enhances our social life and relieves boredom and stress. These thoughts are subconscious. Even after we consciously acknowledge that alcohol takes more than it gives, we retain the desire to drink.
The unconscious mind is not logical; it's all about feelings. It is the source of love, desire, fear, jealousy, sadness, joy, anger, and more. You see this in many ways. For example, you don't consciously decide to fall in love. If you are in a bad mood it is difficult to consciously think "I am going to be happy" and turn your mood from gloomy to sunny.
When you make a conscious decision to quit or cut back on alcohol, your unconscious desires remain unchanged. You've created an internal conflict. You want to cut back or quit, but you still desire a drink and feel deprived when you do not allow yourself one.
Your Unconscious Mind at Work
Unconscious beliefs can be difficult to change. The first step is consciously realizing that alcohol is not everything you thought it was. This realization that you want to stop drinking makes you examine the reasons you drink and wonder whether they are truly valid. The best way to change your unconscious mind is to shine the light of consciousness on your ingrained beliefs.
We can change our unconscious belief that alcohol is the "elixir of life" to fit with our conscious desire to stop drinking. In order to do that we must bring our unconscious experiences, observations, assumptions, and conclusions into conscious thought. This allows your unconscious to change.
You must examine all the reasons you drink. Make a list and begin to deconstruct why you believe these things to be true. Do you feel alcohol is vital for social occasions? Is that really true? Aren't social occasions enjoyable no matter what? Think of parties before you drank, perhaps as a child. Don't you remember enjoying yourself?
Perhaps you drink because you love the taste. Again, examine the validity of this. Did your first drink taste good? I know my first drink tasted awful, in fact I remember working hard to acquire a taste for alcohol.
What about stress relief? Maybe you drink to relax. In reality, is there anything in alcohol that actually relaxes you? Relaxation is defined as not having any cares or worries. Alcohol compounds your worries and rather than providing stress relief. It is often a source of heartache.
But surely alcohol makes you happy. Does it really? Alcohol dulls your senses to the point of inebriation. How can you be genuinely happy when you are not coherent enough to enjoy it? I am sure you have heard the saying, "It must have been fun, I don't remember it." How can it really have been fun when you don't remember it?
By critically examining your reasons for drinking you will realize that alcohol does nothing for you and that you are truly better off without it in your life. This brings your unconscious cravings and desires in harmony with your conscious desire to stop drinking and suddenly being alcohol-free becomes a joy rather than a sacrifice.