The Oxymoron-isms Of Sobriety



Ever wonder why you don’t understand sober people?

Confused by sober vernacular?

Struggling to identify concepts or principles shared by your mentor, coach, sponsor, or sober-cyber pals?

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 we are done with the boozing we have plenty in life to figure out. No matter where we are in life there is room to grow. Do some growing today.

Take the focus off of not being able to drink and put the focus on how you want to live.

Who do you want to be today?

Be it.


Lisa Neumann is the founder of SOBER ID Life Coaching. Learn more about what you can STILL learn to: get sober, remain sober, and flourish.


Bi-weekly e-coaching straight to your inbox. Sign up here.

No Responses to “The Oxymoron-isms Of Sobriety

  • What a wonderful blog post, Lisa! We have bookmarked this “dictionary” and will refer folks to it regularly. There are so many ways to hear the message you want to hear in the simple guidance of recovery “sayings.”

    When depressed, angry, lonely, etc., we’re so often apt to “hear” the wrong message, so that we can justify (to our hurting selves) dismissing or ignoring these suggestions.

    • It rarely amazes me when I have new clients who truly misunderstand/misinterpret what has been shared/taught/suggested by another (or suggested by me—for that matter). I know that’s why I like having (blogger) friends that are new to sobriety. It reminds me of the conundrum of early sobriety. Who do I listen to? Who can I trust? What do I believe? etc. Glad you liked it. Always my pleasure to see RecoveryInst over here.

  • Another awesome post, Lisa, and much needed. There were (are) so many cliches and sayings in sobriety, and many seem contradictory to each other. I know when I was new to sobriety, my mind automatically jumped to that third column, What it Doesn’t Mean.

    Laughed at “You need to learn Excel and prepare a spreadsheet if you want to succeed.” I was Excel Queen, thinking if everything was organized and detailed, then I could control everything. Uh, yeah… not so much.

    Loved it! C-

  • This is wonderful. Knowing self is the difference between being (sober) self and using excuses..

  • Love this on so many levels. I quickly read through your chart there and kind of said “yeah yeah I already know” and moved on. But I came back to this and really read it. And it’s amazing how many of these things that “yeah yeah I already know” meant a lot more on subsequent reading. Things like the restraint of tongue really hit home for me. Looking at all these things in your list, I see a lot of wisdom in them. These are things I need to constantly remind myself of. And reading this today has been a blessing for me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you for this.

    Love and light,

    • Paul, Working with newcomers within the program and within the walls of my coaching I experience so much lack of understanding. It took me a long, long time to understand what these meant. AND I continue to grow within the different levels of awareness. I believe program people refer to this as “peeling the onion.” BTW: I grow every week as I place a post. Feeling the Love and Light. Thanks for always sending it. L&L back to you, Lisa

  • Thank you for this post. Not only does it serve as a dictionary of sorts, but a list of reality checks. I can see myself referencing these items often to see where in the spectrum I’m currently falling and what can be improved. Thanks again!

    • M.R. I love that you came over. I have recently been to your site as well. And you commented … yeah! I love when we have the courage to comment for the first time. 🙂
      Onto the comment: I love how you see the “spectrum” as you read the chart. This little “spectrum” tool has been a saving grace for me. I have learned that everything in on a continuum. When I wrote my book I shared about Universal Laws. One of them being The Law of Polarity. Learning this simple tool allowed me to see where I was on the continuum. I learned that I needed to slide my perception rather than chase away feeling/situations I didn’t want to deal with. BTW: I still use this as a reference. TY for coming over.Lisa

  • I definitely take “don’t trust your instincts” too far and take it to mean I know nothing. I used to not make any decisions because my best/worst ideas came to me when I was drunk and I didn’t trust them. Now, I sometimes get paralyzed by indecision because I can’t figure out if I know everything or nothing at all! I guess it’s about taking the risk to just do something, even if it’s not within my comfort zone. Great post Lisa!

    • Karen, I chuckled when I read this comment, I so relate. If there is anything I have learned as a coach is that everything I “want” is outside my comfort zone. Everything. Otherwise I’d possess it already. For me, the “instincts” are the most challenging. Sometimes I’m just not sure who’s doing the talking. So in all my wisdom (haha) I sit on a decision within my comfort zone of safety. (Sometimes quickly, sometimes, slowly) xox

  • I like how this breaks down each message so the good intent is exposed. ie ‘trust your instincts’ and ‘don’t trust your instincts’ aren’t as contradictory as they first sound. You even suggest a way to listen to instinct. What a great cheat sheet.

  • So glad that I finally have time to comment on this post, I hate waiting this long! I am so with Karen on this one, the first that jumped out at me are “don’t trust your instincts.” To this day when I have a decision I go round and round about it… are you sure this is the right thing? Maybe you are listening to the same instinct that got you drunk? No, because I ran it by so-and-so. But what if so-and-so doesn’t get it either? What if listening to so-and-so is part of that same instinct?

    Same problem with “putting myself first”. When is taking time for myself okay, and when have I crossed the line into selfishness? This is particularly true in the present moment, now that I have two very vocal, very opinionated people around 24/7, competing for my attention. So I make decisions… you will go here, and spend time, so I can get things done, and I’m back to paragraph one train of thought.

    Sorry for the mini-rant, this obviously touches a nerve (just did the same thing over at Paul’s blog). Here’s the progress on these issues: I am better at acknowledging them, in the present moment, turning them over to God the best way I know how, and, once I make a decision, letting them go, rather than obsessing about the right-ness or wrong-ness of the decision.

    Progress, not perfection, right?

    Thanks, Lisa, for once again being a superb resource… I will pull this chart out again and again!

  • xnavygal9916
    11 years ago

    Great Great!! I have another oxymoronism to share with you. I have consistently heard this over and “Don’t take someone else’s inventory!”…”Stick with the winners!”…lolol omg thanks again, xojen

    • OM … that is amazing. I NEVER put those two together until I read your reply. I love it! Now I am on a mission to start collecting these little gems. Please share more with me… I’m still laughing at this one. xox

  • xnavygal9916
    11 years ago

    {{Get some acceptance….yo dude; we keep what we have only with vigilance!!…}}

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    11 years ago

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