Goodwill Hunting

“It’s about willpower Baby. You have to set yourself a limit. Decide beforehand how many drinks you’re going to have or what time you’re going to leave and be strong enough to stick to that limit.”

How many times have I heard or said this? I used to talk to my friends about my ‘drinking problem’. I would say that I didn’t know what was wrong with me and could not understand why I would allow myself to overdo it time and time again. I searched for a reason to explain why I was so weak-willed when all my drinking buddies seemed to be able to stop whenever they wanted to. They knew their limits. Why didn’t I?

But none of us understood what was really going on with me. We mistakenly saw my abuse of alcohol as only about willpower.

But it’s not about willpower.

For anyone with a problem with alcohol it comes down to a matter of goodwill.

Goodwill toward oneself.

It’s about recognizing that we owe it to ourselves, to our dreams, to our lives, to figure out why alcohol is a problem for us. It’s about recognizing that we should have our own highest good at heart. Why shouldn’t we be better, kinder, more loving, nurturing, compassionate and understanding towards ourselves?

Long lasting changes are only possible when the driving force is rooted in self-kindness, self-compassion and self-love, as opposed to self-criticism, self-denigration and self-loathing. The first set of characteristics are rooted in love and the second set are rooted in fear – fear of not being good enough, fear of not being loved, fear of failure. Yes, we know these fears intimately, don’t we?

Most people think that being able to give up drinking is dependent on willpower, but it’s not about willpower. It’s about having a solid foundation rooted within the positive intentions of self-love, of goodwill towards oneself. Willpower is rooted in struggling, which can tend to be fear based. The foundation of change has to come from a place of self-love, of trusting that we deserve to be healthy and happy and that we can be.



  1. I really think you’ve nailed it! i love the idea of goodwill to self rather than willpower… And learning to love ourselves in recovery is possibly the hardest work we do. Finding my sense of self-worth and value was huge when I did because I had to learn who I was without hiding behind the alcohol. And can I ever relate to the idea of “I’m just going our for two or three drinks” that ended twelve hours later… Fabulous post – thanks!

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