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S2 EP3: Redefining Fun: Living a Fulfilling Life Without Alcohol

Are you ready to break free from the grip of alcohol to create a life that you’ll absolutely love? This episode features Coach Caroline, a seasoned sobriety coach who’s been there and done that. Caroline has helped countless clients reevaluate their relationship with alcohol and achieve sobriety, and she shares her practical tips on how to shift your mindset, find the right support, and uncover the joy and friendships that come with sober living. Whether you’re already sober, sober-curious, or a grey-area drinker, this episode is packed with insights on how to live a fulfilling life without alcohol.

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Victoria: Hello and welcome to Season Two of Hello CoachCast. I’m Victoria Mills, and in today’s episode, we are going to be discussing how to overcome the negative self-image of being bored without alcohol. Our guest today is Caroline Mosher. A sobriety coach with five years of experience working with people who have an alcohol addiction are sober, curious, or are grey-area drinkers now, that’s an interesting subject.

Caroline helps her clients reevaluate their relationship with alcohol and achieve sobriety. Having personal experience with alcohol addiction, Caroline has firsthand skills to help turn down the noise in their heads to get out of overwhelm. She focuses on her clients getting clearer about what they want in their lives and helping them create lives that they absolutely love.

Many people worry that they may lose friends and never actually have a fun night out again without alcohol in their lives. So, in this episode, I’m very much looking forward to talking with and hearing about insights, tools and strategies to help listeners overcome their fear of becoming sober and being seen as boring.

So welcome, Caroline.

Caroline: Thank you so much, Victoria. Thanks for having me.

Victoria: Gosh, where do we tackle this particular topic? This is, I think this is a fantastic discussion to have. I’d love to start with sharing a little bit about your background and your interest in this.

Caroline: Sure. As you mentioned, so I have lived experience with having an alcohol issue and, for me, this topic is really what stopped me from taking that first step to get sober for so long. I think many people who live with that thought of ‘Do I have a problem or don’t I?’ For myself, I don’t class myself as an or I didn’t class myself as an alcoholic, but I definitely drank a lot too much and it was affecting my life.

And. It realistically took me about 15 years of having that knowing before I took that first step. So I think this topic that we’re talking about today is so relevant because it affects a lot of people. They have that fear of losing friends and not having fun again. And that’s what delays them from taking such an important step in their life.

Victoria: I’m curious, speaking to a lot of people when we were in lockdown for two years when there were meetings happening, I. Was in lots of conversations where people were actually starting to drink sooner in the afternoon. And with the research that I have come across, particularly as we were in lockdown for essentially two years, that the increase of drinking, obviously alcohol, has increased and quadrupled, within that time.

I’m curious to see whether your clients around that time had also increased and called out and reached out for support. Did you see an increase in that time?

Caroline: Absolutely, and predominantly, for me, it was in women. And I think a lot of people have that stereotypical vision of someone that is an alcoholic or drinks too much as generally being more of a male issue and waking up in the morning and having a drink where it doesn’t have to be like that.

There’s a lot more females that are now drinking more, and problem drinking to get through the day. We’ve got overwhelm, we’ve got mothers. You’ve got that whole ‘mummy wine’ culture where it’s really put out there. Yeah, I saw something the other day, an event that I got invited to, and it was sponsored by ‘Mummy Water’, which is a new wine.

So things like that as, you know, society, that the alcohol companies are really trying to make it more mainstream, but it’s causing a lot of issues and definitely COVID. We saw a huge rise, and I do work with people from government departments DASA, which is drug and alcohol SA here and they have had a massive spike since Covid, and it’s still affecting their services now.

Victoria: So tell me, how does alcohol and the need for alcohol drive a negative self-image and/or I’m probably gonna throw a spanner in the works here, alcohol, you’ve had direct experience, Caroline, sorry. You know firsthand that often we self-medicate and alcohol is only one thing that we can use as a device to self-medicate, self-numb. Avoiding issues that probably need to be talked through as opposed to drinking them away. How does that relate to self-image and what are some of, the problems that people are facing today that they’re using alcohol to potentially avoid addressing?

Caroline: Absolutely. personally, I feel like we are, we’re trying to, at the moment, child rearing and especially during COVID, you don’t have that outside support for women especially. And we’re trying to work from home, raise our children, study and keep on top of everything.

And I feel like underneath, the need to drink, to numb what is going on, to numb the overwhelm and to numb the stress of life these days… we get caught in this anxiety, shame spiral. We drink too much, and then that fuels the anxiety. We wake up with more shame, more anxiety, and then you drink to numb it.

And it really is this cycle that just keeps going. And it’s very, very hard to take that first step and to admit that and step out of it because you have to sit in those uncomfortable feelings. Early sobriety, it is hard. It’s not an easy feat. But with support with the right support, there are ways to get through it.

Victoria: I’m curious. What are the signs and symptoms if someone was listening to this, that you could help share from your own experience where it might be a good time to reach out and have a conversation with a wonderful coach such as yourself, to help them take that first step? I’m just wondering, often, we know, or we may feel uncomfortable or we feel that we’re not quite in alignment.

But sometimes when someone has direct experience – appreciate that, this is very much your area of passion – to be able to help join the dots for some people who may deep down know that they have an issue with alcohol and are afraid or are reluctant to be able to take that first step. What would be some of the warning signs that you could share from your own experience and also the coaching that you have done with your other clients?

Caroline: I think just having that thought of, do I have a problem? Generally, I would say yes, there is a problem there. If that keeps coming up for you, then that’s usually the first sign. Definitely not being able to have alcohol-free days. No. the recommended is three alcohol-free days, a week.

If you are, you are well intended to do that and it’s a struggle for you, then I think definitely reach out. I really feel that we don’t have to hit rock bottom to get help with this. There are services out there that people feel like, oh no, I’m not that bad.

Or, I’m not gonna go sit in a meeting or things like that. So, they don’t then start to get the help that they need. But, we don’t have to get to that rock bottom. There are ways and support out there that will meet people where they are right now.

And that’s why I mentioned the grey area drinking, gray area. Do I have a problem or don’t I? Well, generally yes you, you probably do. If that is a thought that comes up for you often, but it’s never too early to get help.

Victoria: What are some of the common concerns that your clients have had when they are contemplating perhaps making a change and reduction of alcohol? What have been some of their, the big callouts of concern or things that they think about that they’re not quite sure if they do reduce drinking and alcohol, it’s going to have an impact? What are some of those areas?

Caroline: Losing friends and loved ones is a big one that comes up for a lot of clients, that life will be boring without alcohol, that they will come across as boring. Will they ever be able to have fun again? And just definitely having that feeling that people will look at them in a different light. I think we’ve got such a – Australia has such a drinking culture. You know, we drink to celebrate, we drink to commiserate, and people think, ‘Oh, how am I gonna be seen?’ And you know, there’s, that phrase out there that ‘never trust anyone that doesn’t drink’. Things like that, that are just so inbuilt in our culture here.

But really sobriety is becoming more and more widespread. We’re seeing a lot of sober bars open up that do mocktails. There’s a lot of sober activities out there from where it was even for me, being seven years ago from when I first got sober. I’m really… I love it. I’m seeing new things pop up all the time. So there, there are ways to have fun.

Victoria: Caroline, I’d love to hear more around concerns that when people are thinking about whether it’s right to have a conversation with a coach such as yourself who has deep experience in this space, what are some of their fears or anxieties, concerns around if they were to remove alcohol, what would be the impact or the fear of that impact in their life?

Caroline: Sure. I, I find the biggest fear that I hear from clients is. Wouldn’t life be boring without drinking? Wouldn’t I be boring without drinking? And a huge fear around losing their friendship groups… even partners a lot of people in relationships, they may drink the same way. And they worry about that. What sort of an impact is that gonna have on the relationship that I’m in?

Victoria: And so how, I’m curious how did you navigate that space? Because obviously, this is something that you have personal frontline experience in, which brings a deep level of understanding, when coaching clients, what were your concerns as you were navigating this path into, let’s call it, you know, yes, I’m gonna use the word sobriety, but it’s about being clearer, it’s about being more focused. There’s lots of upsides when we don’t consume alcohol. And I’d love to hear what your, what some of your journey and insights and little golden nuggets that you could share with us.

Caroline: Sure. When I first started to come to the realization that I had a problem I had spoken to my then-partner at the time and he was like no, no, you’re fine. You know, you, drink just like everybody else. You know, He didn’t see an issue. And that then made me continue on the way that I was for quite some years.

But I always had it in my mind. Um, I’ve always been very driven, but I really had just had enough. I’d had enough of feeling unwell in the morning, feeling rubbish during the day. The shame that goes along with it, you know, a lot of, a lot of people, they don’t talk about that side of it. And when you drink excessively um, you know, there are things you say and do that cause this shame spiral.

Like I was saying before of, the anxiety and the shame that just continues and continues. So, for me, it wasn’t like I went out and got drunk and did something stupid. It was I woke up in the morning, I had just had enough. I could not continue any longer. And the reason that I really got into recovery coaching is because I didn’t find anything that fit me to support me during the early days.

There was one website which was Australian-born really, it was a little bit like a like a Facebook for, people that are getting sober. So you, connect, you have a profile page, you connect with people at the same stage as you. I was on there every day. But I didn’t know about coaching then I didn’t know that there’s all these beautiful support groups out there. And not, we have this vision of, oh, there’s sort of one way to get sober. And people think, oh, I don’t fit there. You know, I don’t fit going to meetings, or, that’s not for me. They’re not my sort of people.

There are so many different pathways and patchworks to recovery now. And I feel like I, had to navigate that myself. So I wanna be there for people and help them so that they don’t feel like they’re, like they don’t have support. I was very lucky. I was in a new marriage with my husband, my now husband, and he was absolutely wonderful and so supportive.

And even three months after I had stopped, he just saw huge changes in me and my life. And he was not a problem drinker, but he said, you know what, I’m gonna stop as well. So now we’re doing this journey together, which is just wonderful.

Victoria: So how in your own journey and the clients that you are coaching, how does the journey of the potential reduction of alcohol have on their self-image, and sharing some of the insights of how people’s perception of self has changed as a result of making the decision to remove alcohol.

Caroline: Yeah. It’s a good question. I feel. That sort of across-the-board, early sobriety is quite challenging. Especially the first couple of months. You feel like you’re not doing anything, you feel boring. You need to avoid those situations. Putting yourself in triggering situations, which could be going out with your core group of friends or your partner to activities that you’re used to doing.

But really, I. I say to my female clients, imagine that you’re pregnant. When women become pregnant, they, okay, I can’t eat this. I can’t eat that. I’m gonna take look after myself. I’m going to nap. Early sobriety, you need to put 110% into your sobriety and caring for yourself. And I, I know people have this fear of becoming to be seen as boring, to be bored.

We are so used to alcohol really numbing our anxiety. So we are dealing with that as well, we’re dealing with high anxiety but it doesn’t last very long. And once you’re over that, it is far from boring. It is, it’s really the complete opposite.

Alcohol dulls your senses. So, it’s quite interesting for me now that when I’m in, I still see my, the same friends. I still do a lot of the same activities.

But I have a different approach to it. And when conversations start to repeat themselves and you think, oh no, this is not for me. It’s time for me to go home now. So I feel alcohol doesn’t make things more interesting. It really can numb your mind so that things that would otherwise have bored you, you are now able to tolerate. So it’s really changing the mindset.

Victoria: It is, and certainly having the… being able to identify that this is part of an old perception of who you think you are with alcohol and changing the relationship with your perception of self. To go on an exploration of who am I behind all this? Because with that cloak, you know, with that clarity and that focus, you can’t avoid the truth conversations anymore, because you are so clear in the brain and all your faculties are there.

I often think, you know, I mean, I’ve coached a lot of high-performing, high-anxiety CEOs and it has been one way, alcohol as well as other addictions, have been one way to cope. However, what happens when they think that they’re coping themselves, their families and their lives around them are actually falling apart because of the destruction of what alcohol brings into that environment?

And it can be a very tough road, particularly for those in relationship where someone is not a high-functioning alcoholic, but is happy to have one or two glasses of wine on a weekend or a night. And they’ve got a partner who then has decided to put their hand up that I need to do this and go cold turkey.

I’ve coached couples through this and it can be a very interesting and windy path for those that have chosen sobriety over the ones that do like to still have an occasional. Where does their line of support finish and end? I.e., do they also need to come on the journey, rather than really fully support, you know, their loved one?

And it’s a decision that is a very interesting journey that, I’ve seen many relationships navigate and come through at the other side, with flying colours. But often when you are dealing with those stressed executives, CEOs, managers, or anyone who is dealing with anxiety and stress, alcohol has become, a norm.

It has become a societal acceptance, which is where it adds a complexity for people to then be able to go, actually, you know what, I actually don’t want that in my life anymore. Because, to your point, then comes up the next layer of anxiety of ‘How will I fit in? Can I go out, can I still sit in a restaurant where there’s someone next to me drinking?’

And to be able to move through and navigate the triggers when they come up and it takes, I do believe an exceptional team, such as a brilliant coach, to have someone in their corner to continue to keep them inspired and also alive. Not in alive of the physical sense, but alive on their journey, alive to know why are they doing it and what’s the benefit?

What’s really driving the change and to be able to unpack, and I think that’s the magical invitation and opportunity that we have when we are dealing with clients that have some addictions. And now when I use that term quite loosely because there are some that absolutely require medical intervention, but I’m talking more about high-functioning addicts.

Caroline: Yep.

Victoria: Whether it’s, you drinking a little bit too much. But Australia, I know that this is a general, a sweeping statement, it’s, you know it’s has been part of our culture. You know when we go out, we live in such a magic place. We’re outdoors and getting together with friends, family, and all the rest of it, and it has become normal.

So, it’s the journey of coaching. I’d love to hear how you have supported your clients through that change of the discovery of creating a new.

Caroline: Hmm. Absolutely. Really the biggest thing is changing the mindset. And as I say to clients, you know, I used to my response was to people well, why don’t you drink anymore? Oh, I can’t drink, you know, I, um, I have a problem with alcohol. I completely flipped that now, you know, now I say, oh there’s so much behind the alcohol industry. I think once you start delving into it and you start seeing what it really is, and that there are some of us that can’t just stop at one, myself included, and how the alcohol industry can really prey on that and the culture.

But then also, getting clients to find new and exciting and creative things in their lives. And honestly, every client that I have coached, sobriety has had a list of things that they’ve always wanted to do. They haven’t had the time. It’s all seemed too hard. You know, I’ve got one client at the moment that’s doing her counseling degree that she’s always wanted to do.

It’s, having the time and the space and the energy and the clear mind to be able to go out and achieve those things. And once, clients start to see there’s this new and exciting life out there full of fun and adventure it really, it speaks for itself.

Victoria: Absolutely agree with all of that. Love to hear what have been some of your outstanding results that you have had with clients on that journey of clarity and focus and sobriety.

Caroline: I have coached someone who is now studying for her recovery coaching certificate, so that’s really wonderful. I run activities as well, sober activities, and I have really been so inspired at how many young women are now taking up coaching, and not getting to that point of alcoholism that say I did or other clients I have that are mid-forties plus.

Starting to see younger women come through and, um, just becoming sober in their twenties and just reaching for the stars, you know, achieving all these things that they’ve always wanted to achieve. Getting their health and wellness back. Finding new, fun, exciting friends, travelling, having the time and the money to be able to travel that there’s just so many, there are so many wonderful stories.

Victoria: I always, in my own journey as a coach prior to Hello Coach, I often find that the conversations that I’ve had with my own clients over that time, it is an incredible journey to go on to get to know yourself with a clear state of mind. And what I mean by that is ultimately the decisions that we make become our motivators and underneath our motivators are reasons. To ultimately make these decisions. And I think for a lot of my clients, and I think for a lot of people, I believe it’s the ultimate expression of self-love, and having a deep respect for who you are as a human being, your body, your mind, your soul, and to know that you are more. And that you have more and can achieve more.

And it can be an incredibly healing journey when someone decides to become sober. And it, you don’t need to be, you know, a diagnosed alcoholic to choose to be sober. Um, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink myself, for now, close to 18 months, and I’d be lucky to have had a drink once a month anyway.

But I found that I have a clearer mind. And it’s, it became, has now become a part of my health regime and we’ve all got different motivators along the way and it’s being able to help, I think, unpack that with a coach. And I see Caroline, the work that you offer people in the space that you hold.

Because if you are unable to connect with the motivator and the why, then you’ll fall off the wagon, so to speak. And that’s the beautiful magic journey that I think comes from firstly being curious, is this something that I’m, I want to do, I’m willing to do, just to take the step, to be able to explore it, I think is the ultimate gift to yourself and to see where it takes you.

And yeah, again, going back to it’s finding a new normal… that just becomes your way of life.

Caroline: Absolutely. I love that.

And one of the things I often say is, you know, I’m in recovery from alcohol, but I’m recovering towards self-love. Because what you said about self-love, that is the absolute key. That is the absolute, the core of it. It’s the highest form of self-love that you could give yourself.

Victoria: It is, I mean, ultimately anything that harms yourself, and the collateral damage of how then the impact of it affecting other people around you, it’s what I call sometimes it can be a dark night of the soul. And it can be very sabotaging behaviour traits to walk with every day. And like most human beings, we create change motivated by pain or pleasure.

Most of the time it’s being able to move towards a more harmonious state in our lives. And look, I’m always, I’m such a huge fan of having an extraordinary coach in our lives because we truly champion, people towards having a life that they truly love. And if you’re missing that self-love ingredient, it is the catalyst for everything that then permeates beyond that.

Caroline: Absolutely.

Victoria: So any summary, love to hear your top three insights, tips that you could share with our listeners today if you are thinking about making the step towards a healthier journey.

Caroline: Absolutely. What worked for me personally and that I find works for a lot of clients is just immersing yourself in that world of sobriety. It is very hip. You know, there are very cool people out there that have an amazing podcast. There’s so many great books. For me, it’s audiobooks that just completely immersing yourself.

I changed my whole social media feed really to positive people that are sober. There’s a lot of face-to-face groups out there that do really fun sober activities, you’ll meet interesting people. There are really adventurous things that you can do. And then absolutely working with a good coach to guide you through and really, be your cheerleader for you and support you on the journey.

Victoria: So, if I could do a quick summary of that is if you hear the inner calling, say yes and reach out and have someone in your corner such as a wonderful coach. It would also be then to give yourself permission to go on a journey to really get to know yourself without alcohol. Take the goggles off and be able to look at yourself in the mirror with clarity and ultimately deep love for who you are as a soul, and being able to unpack and create new routines, daily structures and habits that support you in their decision, your choice, of being sober.

And I loved what you said before, Caroline, that it is a choice that we make and I think it has a wonderful systemic, you know, I call it the ripple impact, where you make a decision and often gives others the permission and space to also follow and make very similar decisions when you debunk, demystify the potential perception of shame, whatever it is that you’re carrying around that might have been holding you back from taking this step forward. So amazing insights. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us today. It’s been, a pleasure to have you on the show.

Caroline: Thank you so much for having me. You know, I really want people to know that you don’t have to give up your old life. You can have new and exciting adventures without alcohol, but you can also learn to enjoy the old ones in new ways. So, I think that’s really important as well.

Victoria: Absolutely. Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of Hello Coach Cast. If you have enjoyed the content, we would love you to subscribe like, share, or leave a review on your favourite podcast platform. Also, if you’d like to work on improving your self-image and you’re ready to take the step forward on creating a healthier lifestyle, and you are wanting to become sober, or reduce drinking, then obviously Caroline would be available. And you can find her on hello-coach.com. Thank you again for listening, and we hope that you’ll join us again next week.

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