How will people react when you stop drinking?

One of the most important things you can and should do when tackling a drinking issue is to realize that nobody is judging you.

Better stated, you shouldn’t care if anyone is judging you, even if they might do so.

Most people go about their daily lives concerned they are being judged and focus more on what people might be thinking about them rather than on their own purpose and goals — and it stifles many people.

It’s a much healthier outlook to simply realize that most people aren’t judging every move you make in life, and even if they were it shouldn’t make a difference to you.

That’s an empowering mindset to employ and once you get a handle on it you’ll take a great deal of pressure off yourself that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Why make it harder for yourself harboring a perception that people are going to have opinions about what you do or what you decide not to do. Who cares? You can even take it one step further and realize it’s really none of their business either.

Okay, so you’ve embarked on a journey to cut back on drinking either to reach control or to stop completely. You’ve signed up for treatment and your drinking pattern is adjusting downward. Drinking episodes are spacing out more and the volume of alcohol you drink is less with each episode. You are going through the process of extinction.

You’re showing up with friends at dinners or house parties, or at happy hours, and you’re simply not drinking as much. You’re saying words and phrases like “I’ll pass” when someone offers to buy a round, or “I’m trying to cut back,” or more plainly, “I quit drinking.”

How will these friends and acquaintances, or family members, react?

Indifference

With most it will be with indifference. The conversation may go something like this:

Friend: “Would you like a drink?”

You: “No, thank you, I stopped drinking.”

Friend: “Oh okay.”

That’s it. “Oh okay.” And their attention shifts.

Intrigue

Now you may run into folks that are intrigued. They will ask “why” you stopped or are cutting back. And they may pepper you with related questions such as whether you had a bad experience before, whether it’s been difficult, is this just a phase, etc.

When you get the “why” question is when you employ the mindset of realizing that nobody really cares, but they’re just curious.

In other words, don’t feel you need to explain and justify your decision. In fact, some of the “why” questions may be put to you because the person asking the questions is contemplating cutting back or quitting as well.

Support

Another common reaction is to support you. Example:

Acquaintance: “Do you want a drink?”

You: “No thanks, I quit a month ago.”

Acquaintance: “Oh cool, I bet you save money and feel healthier — I should stop too. That’s awesome!”

By the way, a small hint of what we discuss in our accelerator videos, in module three, is that you should be cultivating a good community around you and cutting loose those people that don’t support you in the things you do. Those that aren’t in your corner. Those that don’t respect you and your choices. It’s called setting the correct boundaries. Cool people stay in your life. Toxic people get a bigger boundary. The test is whether they add value to your life.

Adversity

The last reaction you’ll get is adversity, and you can simply dismiss that reaction as coming from people harboring their own shortcomings and attacking you to compensate.

Aside from some mild teasing as being about the only acceptable negative response to cutting back or stopping drinking, anyone who persists in attempting to roast you for your decision is acting juvenile and controlling, insensitive and lacking in social awareness. If it persists call them out on it and consider adjusting your boundaries with that person.

Cutting back or stopping drinking is like deciding to finally get around to exercising regularly and eating a better diet. Only good comes from it. As such, it aligns with the knowledge that nobody is really judging you about the decision, and even if they were you shouldn’t care. After all, it’s your life and not theirs.

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