Exercises To Achieve Your Ideal-Self

Our “ideal self” is who we want to become. It’s an image of ourselves that we develop over time. Our ideal self could come from what our parents taught us, what we admire in others, what our society promotes, our own values, or all of the above. Aligning the way you are with the way you want to be is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s a really helpful exercise in motivating yourself to keep going. So, let’s try it.

If you’re having trouble visualizing what your ideal self looks like — that’s okay! Making out that model version of ourselves takes time. Below I’ll lay out two exercises, both of which are best practiced with pen and paper. This way, you can always refer back to your notes and reset: Where do I want to go again? Right. This is how I’ll get there.

First, let’s do some visualization. Put a face to your ideal self.

And as this ideal-self,

  1. How would you describe yourself? Name 3 adjectives.
  2. What is your life like? Name 3 adjectives.
  3. What does your relationship look like with alcohol?
  4. Where are you living?
  5. Where are you working?
  6. How would you describe your relationships? Your family, friends, partner(s)?
  7. How do you show up for others?
  8. How do you show up for yourself?
  9. What values are you living by?
  10. What opportunities do you have for growth?

Next, let’s determine how you can get there.

Grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions:

  1. How important is it to you to achieve the ideal self?
  2. What is your ideal relationship with alcohol?
  3. When are you planning to make the changes necessary to achieve this ideal self?
  4. What resources and opportunities do you have that will help you work toward your ideal self?
  5. What hurdles do you anticipate? How can these be part of the growth process?
  6. What factors inform your vision of your ideal self?
  7. Who do you know that is similar to your ideal self?
  8. What single, small behavior can you improve as the first step toward your ideal self?
  9. What’s a feasible way to chart your progress? A daily journal? Weekly check-ins with a friend? A sticky note on your mirror with a goal of the day? The month?

There you go! Now you should have a better idea of your ideal self, and how you can become more YOU. These lists will change over time, and you can re-do this exercise as many times as it’s helpful. I recommend every few months.

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, there’s a teaching that I’d like you to think of during moments where you’re lacking motivation: “I’m doing the best I can, and I can do better.”

Push yourself to grow, and be patient with yourself along the way. Do this by creating an action plan that takes it day by day.

And keep in touch! Join me in the Monument Community, where I moderate a couple of online alcohol Support Groups and explore our Personalized Treatment options to learn about how alcohol therapy can help you change your drinking. I’m rooting for you!

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Monument Nominates YOU To Write A Letter To Alcohol

Everyone has their own complex relationship with alcohol. No matter what that looks like, we should all be able to talk about it free of judgment. But we know that’s not always an easy thing to do. It takes a ton of self-reflection, a lot of bravery, and often, some encouragement and support. So we’re on a mission to empower as many people as possible to get talking. About the good, the bad, and everything in between. And if we’re successful, people will know that there is an infinite spectrum of how we relate to alcohol and that if they’re looking to change that relationship, they’re not alone.

Enter, #DearAlcohol.

We are inviting YOU to reflect on your relationship with alcohol by writing alcohol a letter. Whether it’s a breakup letter from years ago, a letter about needing space, about wanting different things, about finding your way back to each other, we’d love the world to hear it. Someone just might need to.

Here‘s how you can get involved.

Write a phone note/send a text: Write your letter in your phone notes and take a screenshot. Or send a text to yourself. Post it with #DearAlcohol in the caption on Instagram, and tag @joinmonument.

Share a photo: Post any photo that represents your relationship with alcohol (past or present) on Instagram. Include #DearAlcohol in the caption on Instagram, and tag @joinmonument.

View this post on Instagram

Dear Alcohol- You deceived me. You made me believe I needed you to be fun, sexy, and likable. You made me think I couldn't handle stress, grief, or disappointment without you. You made me feel like I couldn't celebrate life's joys without you by my side. You made me act like a different person by taking away my inhibitions designed to protect me. Our break up was hard, but I am so much happier now. I've forgotten your taste and your smell, but not your lies. And we will never, ever get back together. 𝓙𝓮𝓷𝓷𝓲𝓯𝓮𝓻 Visit @joinmonument to learn more about the #dearalcohol campaign, designed to raise awareness around the fact that everyone has their own complex relationship with alcohol, and no matter what that looks like, we should all be able to talk about it free of judgment. #endthestigma • • • #transformationtuesday #breakup #soberlife #alcoholfree #soberliving #beforeandafter #thenandnow #addiction #sobriety #shareyourstory #notashamed #soberissexy #livingmybestlife #recoveryherway #transformyourlife #sobermom

A post shared by 𝓙𝓮𝓷𝓷𝓲𝓯𝓮𝓻 (@recoveryherway) on

Write an old-fashioned letter: Write out your letter to alcohol. Post a photo of your handwritten letter on Instagram. Include #DearAlcohol in the caption on Instagram, and tag @joinmonument.

Make a graphic: Type your letter into an Instagram Story and save it, or create a text graphic in Canva. Include #DearAlcohol and @joinmonument in your caption.

View this post on Instagram

#dearalcohol , It’s been 13 years since we broke up, but I think about our relationship often. From the first time our lips met, I knew you would forever change my trajectory. When we consumed each other, I felt my roaring insecurities dampened by your force. There was this weightlessness in the way you made me feel like the kind of man the world told me I needed to be. One day, I woke up to beer tinted oceans of anxiety that sipped away my shores. You became my air, and slowly I forgot how to breathe on my own. When we separated, my whole body craved just the scent of you. Over time I learned to live beyond your shadow. I found swirling love in a circle of your exes, who promised me that I could be whole again.

A post shared by Sans Bar (@sans_bar) on

Share anonymously: You don’t need to go public to reflect on your relationship with alcohol! Share your #DearAlcohol letter in the anonymous Monument community forum, and browse other stories.

Get creative!: Participate however feels right to you.

By sharing your story with the world, you’re helping break down the stigma, and build up people who might need the motivation to reflect on their own relationship with alcohol. Hopefully it feels good for you, too.

If you’re looking for more support to change your relationship with alcohol, join thousands of people making a change in the Monument CommunityWe’d love to have you.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

How I Developed A Nighttime Routine While Isolated And Alcohol-Free

When I stopped drinking, I had strange, repetitive dreams — like planes crashing around me and not breaking — and I woke up frequently in the middle of the night.

Like many folks in early recovery, I struggled with depression. I stayed up late and craved alcohol when I should’ve been sleeping. I felt exhausted and outside of work, I spent most of my time alone, hanging onto what energy I did have like a sponge.

COVID-19 isolation was the incentive I needed to take my sleep habits more seriously. Creating a nighttime routine has improved my energy, and I feel more empowered to take better care of myself. It’s not perfect, but it’s one I can stick to.

So, here’s a bit of guidance for sleeping better during recovery. And, to help organize your bedtime ritual, try my guide at the end of this article. Let’s create a more sustainable nighttime routine starting tonight!

Why good sleep matters in early recovery

Your previous night’s sleep can change the entire course of your day, and if mistreated long enough, nature will slow your body down for you. Mark Wu, M.D, Ph.D, a sleep disorder specialist and neurology professor at Johns Hopkins, explains, “Your body can’t force you to eat when you’re hungry, but when you’re tired, it can put you to sleep, even if you’re in a meeting or behind the wheel of a car.”

Sleep is a lot like water: the body needs it to function, and works better when we have enough. In early recovery, though, it’s common to experience disruptive sleep patterns. Our worries tend to magnify when alcohol cannot distract us, especially if we’re used to drinking before bed.

But when you find what works, good sleep improves both decision-making skills and detail orientation. It also increases your focus and calms your stress.

Adjust your beliefs about rest

During recovery, it’s common to exchange one unhealthy habit for another. Personally, as a longtime night owl, I’m slowly breaking the curse of being illuminated in the dark by my laptop.

In order to adjust any of my unhealthy nighttime habits, I had to reframe what I believed about rest. For example, rest can look like any of the following, and always leads to a good night’s sleep for me:

1. Calling someone I trust

I love phone calls. If it’s getting late and I need an ear, I know who I can talk to for support. These are folks I’m closest to, and after years of friendship, they know how to ease what stress I’m spewing over the phone. I always feel relieved and ready for bed.

2. Listening to meditative singing bowls

I found this Tibetan singing bowl video years ago, and it’s a fail-proof resource when I really can’t sleep. It’s nine hours long, so it can accompany you through a full night’s rest, or if you’re working from home and want a soothing space during the day.

3. Adjusting my room temperature

Keeping a level head goes out the window when my body is too hot. A hot room interrupts your sleep stages and your body’s natural cooling process. On the other end of the spectrum, a room that’s too cold isn’t great either. Oftentimes, too cold of a room simply makes it difficult to get to bed. So, finding what a balanced temperature looks for you is key. For me, the moment I cool down my bedroom a bit, I go from stressed to calm in a matter of minutes.

Make your nighttime routine stick

When I try something new, I like to think about what I’ll gain if I commit, fully. The same applies when creating a nighttime routine. I think about how much better I’ll feel if I get to bed just 15 minutes sooner than the night before.

When adjusting to new habits, it’s good to experiment, start simple, and settle on what feels right. If you’re looking for a little structure, see if my guide helps!

Set an alarm for 15 minutes. Answer the following five questions, and then reflect on healthy activities you can manage before bedtime. A few of my favorite activities are below.

August Sleep Questions

  1. How many hours of sleep do I get right now?
  2. What overall factors prevent me from getting better sleep?
  3. What would I like to do more often before bed?
  4. How would I like to feel before bed?
  5. How would I like to feel when I wake up?

Soothing Activities I Enjoy

  1. Prayer or meditation
  2. Playing my keyboard badly!
  3. Watching anime

Set another alarm for 15 minutes. List your sleep goals for the next month and create a plan for how you can achieve them. Check out my list for August:

August Sleep Goals

  1. Work toward long-term 10:30pm bedtime goal
  2. Detach from technology after 10:30pm
  3. Start journaling about my relationship to rest

August Sleep Challenge

  1. Fall asleep by 11:00pm from 8/4 to 8/7. (My current bedtime is 11:30pm.)
  2. During the same week, put my phone and computer in the closet by 10:30pm
  3. Journal about rest for 5 minutes everyday during the challenge

Record your experiences — any changes in mood, restfulness, or adverse effects — throughout August. You can keep a note on your phone or in a notebook and title it “My Nighttime Routine: August.” If daily upkeep sounds overwhelming, remember that one sentence counts, and one day, you’ll be looking back at your steady commitment to making long-term progress.

If my guide helps you regain control over your sleep regimen, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. With a structured plan, my hope is that your outlook for tomorrow looks clearer, calmer, and a lot more rested.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Can I Drink In Moderation? Ask Yourself These Questions.

As a therapist specializing in substance use, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, can I moderate my drinking, or should I quit altogether and be sober? In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The path to changing your relationship with alcohol is deeply personal. What I’ve come to find is that no matter which route you take, it’s important to look at the heart of your question: what are you hoping to get out of this journey?

Below, I’ll lay out five questions that I’d like you to reflect upon. And after reflecting, I’m confident you’ll feel closer to understanding which approach to changing your drinking best aligns with your hopes, needs, goals, and intentions.

First, how does alcohol impact my wellness?

Usually, when we’re in an unhealthy relationship, we lose sight of its impact. We develop a blind spot of sorts. A tool I often share with my patients to access that blind spot is the eight dimensions of wellness chart. Each dimension represents an aspect of wellness that alcohol use can affect: emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, physical, financial, and environmental. My general rule of thumb is that if it has affected four or more areas, you’ll need to put a significant pause on drinking, and strongly consider goals for sobriety. The greater the impact drinking has on your life, the harder it will be to moderate it. Whether you decide to stop drinking entirely or not, I encourage you to check back in with your chart regularly. Ask yourself: Do these dimensions look any different?

And if not, how can you course correct?

This chart can also serve as a way to visualize goals and guide you in taking action. For example, perhaps you’d like to improve your social sphere. That might mean having socially distanced coffee with a friend once a week or giving yourself permission to share openly with your community about your drinking. This wellness chart can be a vision board: what would you like to improve in order to live a healthier and happier life?

When it comes to deciding to moderate or stop drinking, think about how those choices will affect your chart. Can you achieve those goals with alcohol in your life?

How do I go for a swim?

Stay with me.

Are you someone who prefers to dip their toe in the pool or do you cannonball right in? Do you dive or do you sink in, one step at a time, to keep your head above water?

There is no right or wrong answer. Whatever your answer may be, getting a solid sense of our patterns can help us make a sustainable change. When our approach to change matches with our inherent patterns and tendencies, we are more likely to achieve our goals. Deciding whether to dip your toe in the water (moderation) or to dive right in (quitting alcohol cold turkey) takes recognition of our nature. It’s also important to note that your approach doesn’t necessarily equal your endpoint. You might want to start moderating to reach an ultimate goal for sobriety because easing into things works best for you. You might stop drinking entirely because you take comfort in yes-or-no decision-making but find down the road that you can successfully moderate.

You are not locked into any given path.

What do I feel attached to?

As you examine your relationship with alcohol, take note of your attachment to it. Ask yourself this: What space does alcohol occupy in my life? What has it given me? What has it taken? What do I want from alcohol? What do I believe I need from alcohol? If it were a person, who would it be? A friend? A partner? How would I define this relationship: safe or dangerous? Kind or unkind?

The benefit of personifying alcohol is that it can bring greater clarity to its function in our lives. The bigger the role alcohol plays, the more challenging it will be to control it. If alcohol plays a leading role in your life, that might mean sobriety is a more attainable goal. If it’s more of a supporting character, perhaps moderation can work for you both.

Taking a look at that attachment and asking ‘is this relationship net-positive or net-negative,’ is a useful tool for assessing if this is a relationship worth sustaining, and to what degree.

What do I value?

With my patients, I frequently suggest writing out a ‘values inventory.’ Exploring our fundamental values system is a great way to get to know ourselves even better. Let’s start by dividing a paper into three columns.

  1. In the first column, list some concrete values you hold. For example, I value compassion.
  2. In the second column, next to each value, write out how it shows up in your day-to-day routine. For example, because I value compassion, I strive to give each patient my undivided attention during session.
  3. Now, in the third column, write out the whyWhy does this value matter to you? For me, compassion matters because I want others to feel safe and heard.

As it concerns alcohol, inquire about whether your values are being met. Living through your values is an excellent indicator of how you can best honor yourself in your journey to change your drinking — whether that’s by way of balanced alcohol intake or none at all.

And last but not least: Do I believe in myself?

Believing in yourself is the most important part of continuing your growth in any stage of this journey. Whether you set goals for sobriety or moderation, you have to believe that you can achieve them.

Changing your drinking requires honest self-reflection and self-compassion. Think back on these questions, and evaluate if the sobriety or moderation path is best you right now. And also remember that paths intertwine, loop, and cross. This journey is not always linear, but it is worth it. Believing in yourself is setting yourself up to succeed. I know you can do this, and I believe in you.

If you want to stay in touch, join us in the Monument Community, where you can connect in the anonymous forum, and attend therapist-moderated online alcohol support groups where we tackle challenges related to changing your drinking. I hope to see you there!

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.