In a new YouTube video, Leon Sylvester, who makes content about his experiences of sobriety and first principles thinking, shares a technique that he has found useful in managing alcohol cravings since becoming sober.
“I used to live my life at the mercy of a craving,” he says. “Every single time I tried to stop drinking using willpower, it would always end up being the craving that beat me.”
At the beginning of your sobriety journey, Sylvester believes that it’s important to understand the reasons why you are committed to changing your relationship with alcohol. “I always say stopping drinking cannot just be about stopping drinking. You have to have something that you’re aiming for. You have to have a ‘why.'”
Sylvester recommends writing a list of all the reasons you want to stop drinking, separated into two columns. In the first column, ‘Pain’, list all of the negative consequences of drinking you have experienced: hangovers, shame, the financial and emotional cost, etc. In the second column, ‘Pleasure’, write about the life you want to experience without alcohol. For example, improving your health or relationships.
“Understanding your ‘why’ is a powerful precursor to stopping your alcohol cravings,” he says. “When you have a vision, it can really help motivate you to start looking for solutions to your problem.”
Building these foundations into your mindset, he says, is hugely helpful in stopping thoughts about alcohol before they turn into cravings.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with thinking about drinking,” says Sylvester, explaining that it’s what you do with that thought that matters. “If you’ve taken the right approach to stop drinking, you can take this opportunity to remind yourself you’re already free… Most people that try to stop drinking think about alcohol, and then think that they’re missing out on something.”
“The main problem wasn’t the craving itself, it was the belief that alcohol provided genuine pleasure in my life,” he continues. “When you start to feel like you’re missing out on something, that’s when the craving starts. And the only way to get over the feeling of being deprived is to remove the reasons why you think alcohol provides value in your life.”
By reframing your thinking in this way, Sylvester claims he is able to dispel any potential alcohol cravings in a matter of seconds. “You simply bring awareness to the thought, and then change your mindset around what’s going on.”
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