Sober Ambiguity: 13 Confusing Phrases




Ever wonder why you don’t understand sober people?

Today’s post is a mini-lesson in making sense of applying another’s advice, suggestion, or philosophy to your recovery.



What they say:                                 What is means:                               What it doesn’t mean:

It’s all about you Put your recovery first if you want to stay sober You are better than everyone else and we should follow you
It’s not all about you Stop thinking about yourself all the time You’re insignificant and unimportant in the equation
Live in the moment Don’t worry about drinking tomorrow or tonight. Focus on staying sober right now Blow off commitments and don’t make any plans
Recovery requires planning Learn what you can and cannot do sober, learn triggers You need to learn Excel and prepare a spreadsheet if you want to succeed
Be of service to others Stop thinking about yourself so much Do everything others ask you without question
Put yourself first If you don’t get and stay sober you’re risking everything Your needs are the only ones that matter
Trust your instincts Quiet your mind and find a peaceful answer You should drink if your instincts tell you to do so
Don’t trust your instincts Your best thinking got you into your current situation, try something different, anything different You know nothing
Be honest Begin practicing telling the truth Hurt another’s feeling with harsh words/opinions
Restraint of tongue Just because you think it doesn’t mean you need to say it, keep you mouth shut for a while Silently let others treat you like a doormat/poorly
Find the truth Look for the loving solution Your truth is everyone’s truth, make sure everyone knows your truth
Fake it till you make it Keep positive and grateful for what you do have Lie to others about how good it is
It’s a disease You have a choice to work at your recovery or not You are stuck with your life as it is today and it’s not your fault

Once I was determined to be done drinking,

there was plenty of time to figure life out—me out.

Who do I want to be today?

Do I have the tools to be or do that?

How do I acquire them?

Life is so much bigger than alcohol.


This post was originally published in June 2013 (varied version)

13 Responses to “Sober Ambiguity: 13 Confusing Phrases

  • Stellar, as always, Lisa.

    The jerkbrain can *always* find an interpretation that meets its sick needs. The sanebrain has to fumble around sometimes, and wonder if “getting advice” (like from a sponsor, or a group, or a book) is the ‘sign of weakness’ the jerkbrain whispers about.

    Sometimes just having an external source to touch base with can give the sanebrain the power it needs to keep me on the path.

    Many thanks.

    • That’s one of the things I love about surrounding myself with mentally disciplined people. They can always help me, call me, on my BS.

  • catlinwellness
    9 years ago

    Great post! That alcoholic brain of mine wants to twist those phrases to either keep me above or below. The extremes are egotistical in nature and keep me from the vulnerability of being present..and that is not what recovery is all about. Thanks for the reminders 🙂

    • Same with my brain—still. I thought that by now I’d be done with all this learning. Not the case. My head can still find ways to show me I am better or less than. Thank goodness I can give those thoughts to God and let my mind be healed.

      ps. How is your coaching practice?

  • 😀

    “You need to learn Excel and prepare a spreadsheet if you want to succeed.”

    I cracked-up at that one Lisa.

  • Reblogged this on sobrietychick and commented:
    Awesome interpretation of what we tend to say during early sobriety and what it means vs. what it sounds like it means. Thank you sober 🙂

    • Thank you soberchick. I must get over to your blog and see where you are in your journey. It’s a great community here on the sober-blogosphere. Many supportive people. Lisa

  • And then there is the paradoxical embodiment of addiction transitioning into recovery. The bookends; “surrender in order to gain your freedom” and “give it away in order to keep it”. We can go on and on on..right! Within this realm, I heard this one in a meeting the other day that resonated – “if you can’t talk it out, you’re going to drink it down”. To that I add “or eat it down”. I hate that one as it still fools me today!

  • I really appreciated your visit on my new Facebook page!! Thanks a whole bunch 🙂

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