Ever worry what your friends, colleagues, family will say if you tell them you’re not drinking?

You’re no fun anymore.

Why aren’t you drinking? Are you sick?

Come on! At least have one.

Pretty much all of my overdrinking clients tell me they worry about what to say when others ask they why they aren’t drinking.

It seems like we need an excuse. I’ve used many.

“My stomach is bothering me.”

“I’m taking medication and I’m not supposed to drink.”

“I drank before I got here.”

“I’m still hungover from last night.”

Sometimes an excuse makes us feel more comfortable. We don’t want our friends to think we aren’t fun anymore. We don’t want our coworkers and colleagues to think we’re too uptight or can’t handle ourselves.

Why is it that we need to feel better about what WE think others think about us?

It’s like we’ve become such people pleasers and are afraid of being judged or not liked by others that we need to have everyone else like and approve of us by thinking we are just like them.

Part of us wants to drink for others so we feel like we fit in.

I’ve had friends gave me a hard time when I ordered club soda. “Don’t make me drink alone,” they said.

More often no one paid attention or seemed to notice.

The more I didn’t order alcohol around others, the easier it got.

Friends got used to me drinking less and that sometimes I didn’t drink at all. If anyone did ask, it was only the first time I opted not to drink and they didn’t bat an eye or say anything about it the next time we were together.

If you think about people you know who don’t drink, do you think less of them because they don’t drink? My guess is whether you like them or not has much more to do with their personality than what and how much they consume when you’re together.

The other part of this is I realizedI was more worried about what everyone else thought, when I should have been worried about what I thought—of myself.

I stopped (mostly) drinking because I was tired of waking up at 1 am unable to sleep because of the wine I’d had earlier. I was tired of being groggy and hungover half of my weekend when I worked so darn hard all week.

When I started paying more attention to what was important to me, and what I thought about myself, I started caring less about whether people judged me for how much I drank.

It feels good to know when I decide how much I will have, or not have, at an event or social occasion, I’ve got my own back and will stick to my plan.

I learned to count on myself and in the process came to respect myself more.

And I got back my Saturday and Sunday mornings.

—Julie Ernst, CCJD

P.S. Visit www.julieernst.com to take my free course: Stop Overdrinking in 3 Steps.