Raise Your Standards, Not Your Glass

How living alcohol-free has helped me elevate my expectations & priorities in every area of life.

There is no way I could have imagined how much giving up booze would transform my life. Sure, I’ve been on my a-game both physically and mentally; a level of vibrancy which was not my reality as a drinker. However, I would have never dreamt that giving up alcohol would be the best decision I ever made...and one that would become the catalytic mechanism for growth and higher standards in all other areas of my life.

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In sobriety, I am more clear about what I want and desire in my personal and professional life; I'm focused on and dedicated to eliminating barriers to getting what I desire. And, most importantly, I have been able to tap into an inner guidance system that has accelerated my growth and allowed me to see possibilities I might have otherwise considered rather impossible. Granted, I have had to do a lot of self-work; which has required a lot of time, energy, focus, and perseverance.

As a result, I see the world through a different lens. This new lens also came with a higher set of standards for how I choose to spend my time, and with whom. I have a very firm grasp on what is really important in life...and what satisfactions are temporary.

Here are just a few of the ways living alcohol-free has helped me elevate my expectations in every area of life:

I’m dedicated to living in my authentic truth.

Being sober has given me the mental capacity to think and feel at a higher level. Even though I was saving all of my drinking for the weekends, you’d be surprised how long the mental effects of alcohol stay in your system even after the perceived physical effects have subsided. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I can see that what I presented was a dulled down, generic version of myself. What’s sad is that I, like many other people, thought that drinking helped me be more carefree and comfortable. Yes, drinking lowers your inhibitions, but when you numb the dark, you also numb the light. I see now that I was absolutely not presenting the truest, most authentic version of myself during that time (which I wrote about in more length in this post). Living fully sober has allowed me to tap into something inside of me that drives me to be an even better version of myself (what I’ve experienced can be best explained by the passage I share in this post).

I have heightened awareness of mediocrity.

I believe it’s possible to drink and have a great, productive, fulfilling life. However, I observe that the way most people use alcohol encourages them to lower their perception of what they’re capable of. During my drinking days, I found myself often doing things because my actions seemed normal. However, I’m no longer interested in striving for “normal”; I realize now that there is so much more beyond that. I now have a deeper understanding of my own capabilities and an unshakable desire to reach my full potential. I believe that everyone is born with something special and amazing in them, but that often we get caught up climbing the ladder that is in front of us, just because we feel it’s the right or “normal” thing to do.

What I’ve realized recently is that I don’t want to spend my entire life climbing the ladder that’s in front of me (be it personally or professionally) just to realize it’s leaned against the wrong wall. Instead, I choose to evaluate and analyze; to look inside and better understand myself and what gifts I bring to the table and be comfortable letting the Universe guide me. While I’m anxious to get to the next rung on the ladder, I know that taking pause to reflect is better than climbing just to go through the motions. I am very clear that I’m meant for something extraordinary. I am thankful to have the time and capacity now to sit with myself and come to a more true understanding my desires and gifts and learn how I can express both uniquely.

I understand my opportunities for abundance; and am cautious of those who don’t.

This is a tricky philosophy to explain. I realize this because I didn’t understand or have an appreciation for abundance mentality for quite some time (what I’m talking about goes beyond the “ask and you shall receive” mentality, by the way).

Truly, it wasn’t until I stopped drinking that I came to the realization that I had capabilities which I’d failed to recognize before. I know that with the right mentality and focus, I can attract amazing opportunities into my life. I have watched it happen in ways both small and large. It’s tricky to explain because most people would describe this as luck and I have little explanation for the miraculous way some things occur when I’m in proper alignment.

What I do know is that there are a couple of different types of people I will encounter. There are those who are neutral or supportive of my journey. These people either ask few questions or ask to know more and cheer me on. There are also those who underestimate or fail to understand. I know my job is not to spend my time convincing anyone (I've tried this route before and find it's rather unproductive and usually builds barriers instead of bridges). While I can still have an appreciation and respect for those whose viewpoints don’t align with mine, I find it’s best to distance myself from the type of energy they put out. Although I’ve put a lot of emphasis into knowing myself and standing in my truth; it’s still easy to get caught up in the negative or disbelieving stories of others which only distracts me from what I know I'm able to achieve.

I’m more focused on being present and mindful.

Giving up alcohol has been the catalyst for recognizing and either minimizing or eliminating other mindless, numbing activities from my life. At the least, I’ve been able to acknowledge the things I do on a frequent basis that are subconsciously aimed at distracting me. I’ve recognized habits like binge watching television, using food for soothing rather than nourishment, spending money mindlessly, and scrolling or swiping on my phone as activities I engage in with the purpose of “numbing” or escaping from my own head. While I don’t intend to eliminate all of these things from my life fully, having a simple awareness for how I’ve used them as a distraction has been a game changer. I now spend less time “zoning out” and more time “tuning in” (meditating, reading, listening to podcasts; or simply being active), which has helped me become more self-aware and resilient in everyday life.

I’m dedicated to growth and I seek for that in other relationships.

It’s become clear that the path I’m on is rather unusual (particularly for people in my age range). I hold a deep appreciation for my current friendships which have allowed me to grow and expand and have been amazed at how some friendships have evolved during my journey (of course, some have shown to be less sustainable, and that’s okay). While I know I won’t be able to find full synergy in all of my relationships, I do seek to build close connections with like-minded individuals and have made my focus on building fewer, stronger friendships.

This determination has also helped me get clear on what I’m looking for in a romantic partner. I know that my presence adds to the life of those I choose to spend time with (romantic or not). Romantically, I am a woman who has the intention of building a strong partnership focused on mutual growth. I intend to build a strong relationships that accelerates growth for both of us. I have a lot to offer, but I also expect the same level of commitment from my partner. I envision a relationship where strengths compliment weaknesses and we are both challenged to live to our fullest potential as a result of the relationship. I did a lot of journaling about just what this looks like a few months back (perhaps I’ll share this piece someday when I’m feeling really vulnerable). The result was a description of a relationship focused on mutual growth, healing and transformation. A relationship others were drawn to for its high-vibe qualities, a partnership where we mutually encourage and support one another to achieve at our highest. A lot of introspection has allowed me to recognize these characteristics quickly; a level of clarity I didn’t quite have before.

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You might be thinking, could I have elevated myself to this higher standard while still drinking? Of course, anything is possible. However, the ease at which I’ve been able to understand and commit to what is best for me in sobriety has been absolutely incredible. I know, with complete clarity, that I am meant to make some important contributions to this world and feel that the benefits I receive from being alcohol free are what have allowed me to commit to the higher standards I’ve set for myself now.