The 1000 Days Sober Blog

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The Awareness Trap


You just want control of yourself again, and having this little conversation with yourself isn’t always going to help you change. You talk yourself out and give yourself leeway. You might also believe that this is just a one-time deal, but this is where the relapse begins.

To distinguish these dialogues within yourself, it is important to know the difference between change talk and sustain talk. Change talk is any argument you self-express for modifying your actions, while the latter is your rationalisation for maintaining your current behaviour.

Preparatory change talk indicates your thoughts about actually changing but having no expression to execute it. When you perform a preparatory sustain talk and convince yourself that you’d do better next time, you will most likely fall into the trap of not having any commitment to behavioural change.

Additionally, tricking yourself into believing that you will not drink by the power of sheer will is an example of mobilisation sustain talk. It is when you persuade yourself to not actively translate your behaviour into actionable steps. 

These types of conversation, when partnered, is a deadly combination for your path to success.

Here are some of the reasons you present and argue with yourself:

  • Enjoying meals with your family and friends in a restaurant won’t be the same without the free-flowing booze.
  • You don’t drink as much as others do; you consider yourself as a casual drinker now. You, maybe, have changed and deserve just one sip.
  • It’s fine if you skip doing your ‘STRIVE Methods for Addiction’ assignments once in a while because you recognise how changing yourself isn’t going to happen overnight.
  • Working does not distract you from drinking. You can have control of your actions even if you do not get yourself busy.

Being able to admit that there is resistance in your actions is a critical sign of awareness. However, when you succumb to the idea or illusion you created to comfort yourself, there is a tendency to reuse that narrative and sustain your current behaviour.

Over to you.

Where do you see change and sustain talk show up in your language when it comes to being someone that doesn’t drink alcohol?