Stop being ruled by your fears

Here’s are some of the fears I had about what would happen if I stopped drinking:

  • Dating will be impossible.
  • Life is just going to be so boring.
  • People will think something is wrong with me.
  • I’m always going to stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Socializing will always be awkward.
  • This is going to suck.

I lugged around these fears with me whenever I was trying to make a decision about what to do. To me, my fears were more than just predictions of what my life would be like. They were the God’s honest truth about what was waiting for me if I stopped.  

My fears were more than just predictions of what my life would be like. They were the God’s honest truth about what was waiting for me if I stopped.

My fears weren’t just what-if scenarios. I accepted each of these fears as a fact and then made my decisions accordingly.

How do I know this? Because if anyone ever tried to challenge one of these fears and suggest that maybe, just maybe it wasn’t entirely true, I had all the evidence in the world to prove that they were wrong.

If anyone ever tried to challenge one of these fears and suggest that maybe, just maybe it wasn’t entirely true, I had all the evidence in the world to prove that they were wrong.

To me, my fears were unquestionably true, but they were also what was standing in my way. How then was I supposed to move forward?

I had to try to prove the opposite could be true. Not that it was true, just that an alternate version of reality could potentially come to fruition.

Here’s what I did. I put all my fears down on paper and then flipped each one into an opposite thought that seemed at least plausible. For example, “Socializing will always be awkward” became “In the long run, socializing could potentially feel less awkward.” I didn’t jump to “Socializing will be a blast” which I never would have believed was possible.

Once I had a believable, alternate thought, I tried to find evidence for it.

This wasn’t easy. I was committed to the idea that, if I didn’t drink, socializing would always be uncomfortable for me. But I wanted to change, and I had to start somewhere. Slowly, I started coming up with ideas.

  • I socialize with people during the work day when no one is drinking.
  • Socializing is a skill that I can improve.
  • Usually, things feel the most awkward for the first 30 minutes. If I can make it through the initial weird get-to-know-people phase, things usually feel a bit better.
  • If I can work on not being so caught up in worrying what people think of me, I usually come across better.

Practicing having alternate thoughts didn’t immediately fix everything, but it did start to chip away at my belief that my fears were facts. Sometimes, that’s enough to envision a different future.