Boozy to Butterfly

Partying Sober

June 01, 2021 Episode 12
Boozy to Butterfly
Partying Sober
Boozy to Butterfly
Partying Sober
Jun 01, 2021 Episode 12

If you're ready to stop overdrinking I bet you've thought about what life would be like socializing without alcohol and I would also bet your outlook was less than desirable. This week Emily talks about how to gain confidence when foregoing that alcoholic beverage at parties as well as how to answer that question, "why aren't you drinking?" Do people really care that you're not drinking? Listen in to hear what Emily has to offer on these topics.

Looking for more support on your stop overdrinking journey? Head over to to sign up for my free 10-day training course. 

If you're ready for private coaching, email me at [email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

If you're ready to stop overdrinking I bet you've thought about what life would be like socializing without alcohol and I would also bet your outlook was less than desirable. This week Emily talks about how to gain confidence when foregoing that alcoholic beverage at parties as well as how to answer that question, "why aren't you drinking?" Do people really care that you're not drinking? Listen in to hear what Emily has to offer on these topics.

Looking for more support on your stop overdrinking journey? Head over to to sign up for my free 10-day training course. 

If you're ready for private coaching, email me at [email protected]

Episode 12: Partying Sober

Hello everyone and welcome to episode 12. In this week’s episode I’m going to talk about partying and socializing sober whether it’s something you want to try periodically or permanently as part of your stop overdrinking journey. I recently had a dear friend visit with me who was once part of my party lifestyle. Well, she is much more than that but she was always there with me during those party days. She still drinks and admittedly gets drunk on occasion and I, as you know and she knows, do not. 

We don’t live in the same city any longer so we don’t get together much. But it was interesting spending time with her and going to dinner because I was able to observe my brain and see how it responded in these different settings with her where I normally would have been drinking in the past. I saw thoughts occurring, unintentional thoughts, about if she was going to drink, what she was going to drink, how much was she going to drink, was she not drinking because of me, should I ensure that she feels comfortable drinking; I reviewed the drink menu with her and talked about how good some of the drinks sounded. I realized I was more interested in what and whether or not she was going to drink than I expected. I normally don’t have these thoughts when I’m to dinner with other people, but with her it was so automatic. She ended up getting a light beer and we had a great time catching up and reminiscing about all the stupid things we did in our twenties. 

It got me thinking, though, about all the triggers you might encounter when you go to a party or wedding or socialize sober and how your brain is going to react. It’s going to definitely create many unintentional thoughts. So let me share how to navigate life alcohol-free and a few tips for your next party.

The first thing I want you to realize is the first 15-30 minutes of most gatherings are awkward, unless you’re well lubricated with booze and your cognitive brain has lost most of its cognitive abilities. You will feel a little awkward, other guests will feel a little awkward (not because you’re not drinking but because it’s human nature), and your host is doing their best to not feel awkward and make sure everyone else feels comfortable (again, not because you’re not drinking). Humans are like dogs where we have to sniff each other out a bit first before we play. Now, if you’re around long-term friends, you may not feel this way in general but if it’s your first gathering where you’re not drinking, you may.

So just remember that the awkwardness and discomfort wanes. It will disappear and you’ll get through it. Don’t read into the awkwardness as anything more than it is. It’s really not a big deal. Kids do this, too. When they first meet, they’re shy and a little standoffish and reserved, but once they get past that moment, you’d think they would’ve known each other forever. You’ll get there, too. And the best way to go from awkward to fun is with my next tip…ask questions and chat.

Take these sober moments as opportunities to start sharpening your social skillset. Learn or re-learn how to socially engage. You have the power of alertness and awareness this time so you will be able to socialize much better than when you’re two sheets to the wind. It won’t feel natural and you won’t feel as though you have an advantage, but you do. 

When you’re not drinking, you can stay focused and hear responses and ask relevant follow-up questions. You can stay on topic and use your cognitive brain to add thought-provoking discussion to any conversation. You’re not worried about where your drink is, if it’s almost empty, what you’re going to drink next, and getting something to eat quickly before you get too drunk too soon. 

And what’s amazing about socializing sober is you remember the conversation and the person to whom you’re giving your undivided attention to. That person is going to feel how genuine and interested you are. To have a conversation with someone these days where they’re actually paying you undivided attention and listening and asking follow-up questions is sadly becoming rare. They’re going to feel your kindness and you will make a lasting positive impression. And it’s like riding a bicycle, once you force yourself to do the Q&A with people, it starts to feel very easy and natural. You might even be surprised how much you enjoy getting to know someone on a deeper, more meaningful level. 

Think of social engagements as opportunities to sharpen your skills; the skills that weakened as you over-relied on alcohol to do everything for you. Take that nervousness and make it nervous excitement. If you get little butterflies in your stomach just remind yourself that it’s just energy in the body. And you can take that energy and use it as fuel for positive interactions or you can take that energy and make it negative, and let it overcome you like a cave woman frozen in front of a tiger. 

Just remember, all your primitive brain really knows is danger or safe. So when you start to feel nervous or anxious, remember that you get to decide if it’s really dangerous or not. Maybe it’s only 10% scary and you know you can power through 10% scary. You remind your cave woman brain that you’re not facing physical danger and she’s going to be fine. Even if you need to repeat this to yourself, do it. This is part of those positive affirmations I discussed in episode 10. 

So let me talk a little bit about the drama your brain is going to create and what you can do about it. First, if someone offers you a drink and you don’t already have an alcohol-free drink in your hand, you can say yes and ask for something alcohol-free like club soda and lime, or a soda, or just water. You can also say no, not yet, or not now, I’m still deciding. Your brain is going to make this into a big deal and it’s really not. 99% of people are not going to care if you’re drinking. And I’ve been to so many occasions where 100% of people didn’t care if I was drinking.

Your brain is focused on you and how other people are perceiving you but their brain is focused on them and how other people are perceiving them. You’ll be surprised how little people really care about whether or not you are drinking alcohol. And I hear this time and time again from my students…they get so nervous about interacting sober and what to say and what to drink and how to answer people’s questions and voila…no one cares.

So what do you say when people ask why you’re not drinking? I get this question all the time. First of all you don’t have to really say anything. I just say I prefer not to drink. Just let your response be natural and don’t put to much emphasis on this question…it’s not loaded, it’s just a curiosity. Your previous preference would have been TO drink so it’s a natural question for someone to ask. If people ask any follow-ups, I share candidly that I’ve gotten to the point where for me, the costs of drinking outweigh any benefits. I really don’t deep dive into my life story or how alcohol is a toxin and causes cancer…because who wants to hang out with that girl? 

You might even be surprised to hear others say that they wish they could give up alcohol. And to this, I usually respond, yea, I know it’s hard. I don’t offer help or jump in and tell them, you can! I just want them to know that I know cutting alcohol out of your life can be hard so if they’re struggling, they know they’re not alone. 

People will notice your composure and your confidence as you get better and better at socializing sober. Those that are starting to question their relationship with alcohol will seek you out. They’ll be curious to know more about your story and that’s when and where you can share how you decided to stop overdrinking. But I wouldn’t recommend showing up to a party, announcing you’re not drinking, tell everyone alcohol is poison and they’re unenlightened and then expect people to be drawn to you. 

But think of how you want to respond to that question ahead of time and think of your response as if someone asked you why you’re vegan or why you got divorced or why you don’t eat sweets or why you chose an electric vehicle. They really don’t want your life story or an education, and if they do, you don’t have to give it to them. You’re under no obligation to explain yourself. But remember, very few people are really going to care that you’re not drinking which brings me to my next point…the people who do care.

There may be those people in your social circle who you’ve socialized with for years that may be a little obnoxious or a lot intrusive about your new choice. They may question you a little deeper or overreact to your decision to not drink. First, let me offer…so what? Who cares? Their reaction is a reflection of their journey and need to make alcohol an important part of not only their life, but life in general.

And, you might be able to relate to this person because this may have been you at one point in your life. Consider having compassion for this person because they’re likely unknowingly looking for support for their overdrinking. If alcohol is so important to them that’s their problem, not yours. They may have to confront overdrinking one day when the time is right for them but until then, you can share that you just don’t like the side effects from alcohol any longer…it’s just not worth it anymore. If they continue you can tell them, you know, I just don’t know what you want me to say, I don’t want to drink all the time anymore. That’s my preference. You don’t have to be defensive or explanatory, but you can be candid with the fact that the benefits of drinking less outweigh the costs of drinking more. 

Okay, so what else is your brain going to do besides fearing the confrontation of why you’re not drinking? Well, similar to my experience with my friend’s visit…it’s going to create unintentional thoughts. And just as I shared that I was observing the thoughts occurring, you can practice and learn to do the same. 

Unintentional thoughts are meaningless. Your brain finds an association or a trigger and generates a thought to cue you to take a memorized action. Those associations and triggers can be something you see, something you hear, smell, taste, or an environment. This still happens to me on occasion when it’s a beautiful day outside, which isn’t all the time in Cleveland. 

When I was a drinker, on beautiful days, I often would spend time on restaurant patios with friends drinking enjoying the weather and the energy of all the people out socializing and drinking and having a good time. So every once in a while, when it’s been dreary and rainy and we get a break with a gorgeous sunny day, my brain will cue an unintentional thought of a patio drink. And as soon as it floats into my radar, it immediately goes away. It wasn’t like that in the beginning, though. 

In the beginning, you’re going to identify with some of those unintentional thoughts. You’re going to feel like they can control your actions. So it takes practice and confidence to know that they are meaningless and they don’t control you. It takes practice to just notice them as if you can see a thought bubble above someone else’s head. And the thoughts may not just be coercion thoughts to give in and drink, they may be fear related to not fitting in with the group. You may be monitoring others trying to determine what they’re thinking about you and let me assure you that if you’re acting odd not drinking, observing others behaviors and not participating or socializing, you’re going to feel odd.

Once you identify with these unintentional thoughts, they get expressed in your behavior. So the unintentional thought isn’t the problem, it’s believing the unintentional thought that becomes the problem. You start to think this thought is an uncontrollable energy inside you that dictates your behavior, that it should override your cognitive desire to stay alcohol-free for the evening. But thoughts are just thoughts. Witness them as if they are separate from you because they are.

For instance, you may believe that alcohol made you vibrant and energetic and witty. First, beliefs are just thoughts you think over and over again. You think you find evidence to support them, too but you’re actually creating the evidence. You’re taking the thought and making it a reality. 

The only thing alcohol does it give you a dose of sugar and lowers your inhibitions. Alcohol’s a depressant which actually slows down parts of the brain and depending on how much sugar was in the drink, it’s very likely you could experience the same boost from a sugary nonalcoholic drink. 

But the point here is that if you BELIEVE that alcohol is what gives you energy and makes you funny, you’re going to be lacking when it’s removed, which only means you’re not even going to try to see who you can be sober. You’re either going to give in a drink, or you’re going to shrink up like a wallflower. And in the beginning, it’s going to take conscious effort and practice, but just like anything else, it gets easier until it feels natural. 

Know that you can be witty without alcohol, in fact, more likely wittier because you have your amazing cognitive function. But your thoughts can hold you back by making you feel self-conscious. If you believe you can’t be humorous without alcohol, you won’t be. You’ll falsely reinforce this untrue belief. If you believe people are judging you, you’re going to shutdown and not engage in conversations. If you believe you can’t have fun without alcohol, you won’t. 

Question all your beliefs to remove that old way of thinking that is limiting your potential. Those thoughts are your primitive, cave woman brain wanting everything to stay the same, even if it’s not in your best interest. All those thoughts can do is either cause you to do the same, keep overdrinking or create a lack of self-confidence and both of those outcomes are in your control. 

Self-confidence is something you can build by exposing yourself to new things and reviewing the outcomes with the most important outcome being that you didn’t die like your cave woman brain feared you would. So primal fear is a big factor in our actions or inactions but it’s out of context. So you have to show her the proof that you didn’t lose your life because you talked to someone sober. Ultimately you can build a great amount of self-confidence when you learn to feel all the hesitant, resistance emotions but take action anyway. You can feel any emotion and know that you’re not going to die. You’re not going to judge yourself; you’re not going to criticize yourself; you’re going to have your own back.

When you don’t feel confident it’s not because you’re not drinking, it’s because you haven’t made an agreement with yourself to openly feel any feeling and experience any experience free of judgment. The key to change is that perfect brain of yours. The brain provides the overlay on your lens. It creates the filter through which you see the world. The problem is when the brain is unsupervised it paints a Picasso. It’s very dramatic and busy. But your reality is whatever you want to create. You have the ability and control to have a fantastic, fun day or evening no matter where you go. Your mind can be your cage or your mind can set you free.