I recently connected with Annie Grace on Hello Sunday Morning platform to chat about her book This Naked Mind, which is rapidly doing the rounds and becoming an incredibly effective book for individuals who are trying to stop drinking.
I enjoyed reading the book a few weeks ago at the time when I decided to go back to my alcohol-free ways (after a rocky period of moderation). I simply could not put it down, and found it such a wonderful refresher for me in aligning back with all of the reasons why I feel my life is so much more enriching without alcohol in it.
So here we go – my chat with Annie Grace!
I really identified with the concept of ‘spontaneous recovery’ in the book as this is what I went through. One day I just woke up and I was done with alcohol. Do you classify your recovery as being like this? Or did it take many tries and fails before you got to the point of stopping?
[Annie] I feel my epiphany about alcohol was perfectly in line with the phenomenon of ‘spontaneous sobriety’ that I discuss in my book. I knew that I had a deep internal conflict between my emotional desire for alcohol (feeling like I was missing out without it) and my logical and practical desire to drink less – or stop all together. I felt that my desire to drink were coming from below my conscious awareness – because they were emotional – yet my conscious desire was to not drink. I felt that if I could re-program my unconscious mind to where it was before I ever drank, I would be able to let go of alcohol painlessly. I spent about a year researching all the reasons I drank and how exactly to speak to the unconscious mind. Then one day it all clicked. My emotional desire for alcohol was gone. Poof! It was as if my desire to drink had been surgically removed from my brain and I had no desire whatsoever to drink. That was almost 3 years ago – and I still feel the same! So yes, ‘spontaneous’ perfectly describes my experience. And once it happened I did not go through any tries and fails.
What was your ‘tipping point’ when you decided to stop?
[Annie] As mentioned above it was more of an epiphany moment than anything. I did not put limits on myself during my period of research into alcohol. I simply decided to list every single reason I gave for drinking (it makes me happy, it relaxes me etc.) and went through them one by one to prove if they were objectively true or not. Once I got through them all it was so clear that there was no benefit for me in alcohol and that stopping was the only logical thing to do. Through the research, my unconscious mind was reprogrammed to the point where I no longer felt any emotional desire to drink; in that moment everything changed.
The tipping point when I decided I needed to stop drinking happened when as I was returning from a business trip in London. I’d been out drinking late the night before with some colleagues, but I had to wake up early to get to the airport and I felt awful. I stopped at the hotel restaurant and, desperate to take the edge of my hangover, ordered a mimosa. The waitress told me that it was so early they weren’t yet opening the champagne. But I was so desperate that, although I had never drank hard alcohol in the morning (it was one of those lines that I figured if I didn’t cross then my drinking habits were still OK), I ordered a vodka and orange juice. I rationalized by telling myself the OJ made it a ‘breakfast drink’. But the reality was that I was drinking vodka at 6 in the morning… and I drank a few before heading out to the taxi.
I got to the airport feeling awful. Shameful, physically rotten and worthless. I sat down on a bench, finally unable to avoid reality. Drinking vodka at 6am was something I never thought I would do. I was headed back home to my family – my husband and two small boys. I knew I would arrive home a shell of myself. It’s bad enough to be jet-lagged but I’d compounded it with late boozy nights and no sleep. They deserved the best of me and I was giving them the worst. That was the point when I knew I had to change and so I set out to figure out how.
The book is very convincing and effective, and is almost written in a way that is hypnotic in repetition – do you utilize hypnotherapy as an approach in the book?
[Annie] I read a book called ‘hypnotic writing’ which was very helpful as I was drafting the book but I have no other experience with hypnotherapy although I am curious about it as I’ve heard it can be quite effective.
How has your life changed since publishing This Naked Mind?
[Annie] I had a baby recently, that is the biggest change. But I realize you are asking the question in regards to the book :-). I’ve been able to leave the corporate world and focus on writing second book which I hope to publish soon, although my expanding family has meant things are progressing slower than I had hoped.
I think the biggest change is all the amazing letters I receive from people whose lives have been changed. It’s not only that their lives have changed, but they are also taking the message of freedom from alcohol forward into others’ lives. Witnessing the ripple effect has been truly incredible.
What advice would you have given yourself in your twenties if you could go back in time?
[Annie] I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that we go through the pain and difficulties we endure to learn and help others. So while I wouldn’t change anything, I do wish I had been told about the dangers of addiction. Our society romanticizes alcohol to such a degree that I was a bit blindsided when I began to feel I ‘needed’ a drink to socialize (especially when I never had before!). I was simply uneducated about the dangers of one of the most addictive substances on the planet and I wish I had known the dangers in advance. I feel very passionately about educating others about these dangers; I’m happy to give away digital copies of my book so that the message can be spread far and wide! If any of your readers want a free copy they can grab it here: https://thisnakedmind.com/free-tnm-book/
It feels like there is starting to be a shift in the way society is viewing alcohol – more of a consciousness and even a ‘coolness’ associated with alcohol-free living. Has this been your experienced this in the last few years or are we forever doomed ;)?
[Annie] I agree! I have witnessed such a beautiful shift in consciousness around alcohol and I think we are just seeing the beginning of a new movement. I think the key is to approach the idea of living alcohol free as something we want to do, choose to do and are proud of instead of a sad consequence of over indulgence. Not drinking has gotten such a bad rap that people immediately feel sorry for you when you say you don’t drink. I think in the last few years more people are truly impressed and excited about the idea instead of coming from a place of pity and I believe that has a lot to do with how we approach it. I don’t feel sorry for myself – in fact I am thrilled for myself! I discovered the dangers of alcohol before it reached a truly critical point and I have found so much freedom, joy and happiness in an alcohol-free lifestyle. People are waking up to this and it is an amazing thing to witness. But again, it’s all about the mentality- not about never getting to drink, but about the joy that comes from never having to drink again!
What are some of your guilty pleasures you have discovered in alcohol-free living? (i.e. coffee and ALL the cake!)
[Annie] I also love coffee. I have always been a huge fan of iced tea – both black and herbal. And my go to drink is soda water, with a splash of cranberry and fresh lime, it is truly delightful!
Find more info on This Naked Mind at www.thisnakedmind.com and follow the Facebook Page.