Since I stopped drinking (7 months ago yesterday) I have been having a bit of an existential crisis.
I feel like I need to work out who I am without booze in my life so that I can live in alignment with my authentic self.
I have been drinking alcohol since I was 13/14. At that young age I would go to the pub with my friends and get served! It was only at the weekends but we would drink to get drunk. The older I got the more alcohol crept into my life.
I’m now 39 and over the years I have drunk myself through relationships and break-ups, through weddings and funerals, my parents divorce, my sisters death, after tough days at work, to celebrate promotions, new jobs, birthdays and Christmases.
Alcohol has been my trusted friend for 25 solid years but I now realise that friendship was actually pretty toxic.
Alcohol is a depressant, it is a drug, a toxin, a numbing agent. While successfully numbing myself through difficult times I only recently realised that alcohol was dampening down my joy as well.
Sobriety has given me clarity to see that I have never truly been living life. I’ve always been blunting my experiences down with alcohol.
So here I sit, sober. Different. Clearer. Without the filter of alcohol. And it makes me think…. who even am I?
What do I want from life?
How do I live as this version of Sophie, without fear, without ego and how do I learn to live honouring my authentic self?
Where do I even start?
Well, as with all things I decided to start my search on the internet. I found a few different websites that had activities to help with establishing my values and interests etc., and took a notepad away on holiday to work on it.
The first article I looked at encouraged the reader to look at their VITAL signs.
- V = values
- I = interests
- T = temperament
- A = around the clock activities
- L = life missions and meaningful goals
- S = strengths
The first point, ‘values’, seemed too big a topic to start with so I moved on to the second one, ‘interests’.
I had recently listened to a podcast with Jay Shetty. I’m not 100% which one but I think it was Russell Brand’s ‘Under the Skin’ podcast.
There was something really useful Jay Shetty said about getting to know who you are as a person. It was essentially, and I am paraphrasing wildly, but if you want to know what your interests are and the sort of person you are, look at your bank statements to see your actions.
This way you can see where your money is going and the actions you are taking in your life. This tells you the sort of person you actually are, not just who you might aspire to be.
So when it came to my interests I didn’t want to write an aspirational list of my interests, I wanted to see if I put my money where my mouth is. I wanted to identify the activities I am actually doing, because if I am dedicating my time and money to them, then they are clearly my true interests.
My list looked something like this:
I reflected on the list I had just made and felt like it was worth taking a few moments to think about how different that list is now to what it would have been 15 – 20 years ago when my money would go on big nights out, booze and partying. Back then wasn’t conscious about reducing my waste or being vegan and would waste money on fast fashion, eating out and drinking. My lifestyle was incredibly different.
These days personal development and self-care are a consistent feature throughout my interests and actions and I am very proud of making those positive changes in my life.
I moved onto the next one one the list, ‘temperament’.
Temperament; this describes whether you are introverted or extraverted as well as if you are a details person or bigger picture. I have done Myers-Briggs analysis for work and I am an ENFP.
Those letters mean I am extraverted (E), that I prefer to take in information looking at the bigger picture rather than detail (intuitive = N), I make decisions with my feelings (F) and I am perceiving (P) in how I like to live my life. Perceiving means I lean toward leaving options open and taking deadlines as suggestions rather than fact.
Over your life these aspects of your temperament will change, leaning you towards opposing answers to the 4 sections at different times of your life. I last did the Myers-Briggs test when I joined my company 6 years ago and looking at it now I’m think ENFP may not be exactly right for me as I lean towards ENFJ as well, but so long as you understand you won’t always be rigid to type, because we are dynamic beings that change and flex over time, then it can be quite useful.
Around the clock activities: asked whether you are an early bird or a night owl.
Honestly quitting alcohol has made me slightly more of a morning person than a late night person, but I think the term early bird would be pretty generous for me. I wake at 7 most days, sometimes earlier if work requires it, and I get up at around 8 on the weekends. I like to be in bed by 10pm but often it’s actually 11pm. I’m sure if I went to bed earlier still I could potentially get up earlier but there is no real need as things currently stand in my life.
Through these activities I was beginning to get a sense of my interests, temperament and daily activity.
Next time I will talk you through the other VITAL signs and the answers I gave as well as some other personal development activities I found helpful.