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March's Book: This Naked Mind by Annie Grace

This Naked Mind was recommended to me by a dear friend in what she felt helped guide her on a journey to spontaneous sobriety (more on that later). After 2020, I felt like 2021 needed a face lift, or more importantly, my lifestyle choices needed some serious transplant surgery, STAT! It was going to be a big undertaking, but I chose to try and lead a life in 2021 filled with choices assisting me to endure the darkness of life/world and enter into practice of purity. The first to go was alcohol. I wasn’t necessarily an everyday drinker. I, like the 87% (YES, YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT, isn’t that number staggering) of the population, drank to “relieve stress,” “be less tense and more easy going,” etc. Pick your myth (again, more on that later). So, at the recommendation of my friend, I began reading this book 3 weeks into my own spontaneous sobriety.

The author, Annie Grace, grew up in a log cabin w/o running water or electricity just outside of Aspen, Colorado, where she and her family exited to, abandoning urban life for a simpler life – allowing her father refuge and an entry way into his own sobriety from alcohol. As an adult, Grace obtained a Master’s degree in Marketing, and at the age of 26 was named the youngest Vice President of a major multinational company, where she also started her drinking career. She was responsible for marketing 28 countries. She did all of this while also drinking 2 bottles of wine per night. This lifestyle could only last so long, eventually bringing a harsh truth and the start of mega personal journey for Annie – sobriety. She set out on a path filled with appeared deprivation and societal stigma. The good news is, she did it, and leads a happy painless life without alcohol, one she promises is better than her previous one.

Before I give you the full deets on the book, know this – this book is for people curious about stopping drinking, possibly thinking about stopping drinking, or ready for spontaneous sobriety and looking to live life without alcohol. Maybe you’re curious about how society and marketing has condition you toward having certain beliefs surrounding alcohol. If any of the above pegged your interest, pick up the book. And if reading isn’t your think, download Audible and give the book a listen.

The title of the book says it all. It’s almost questioning us – what would we be if we weren’t conditioned? What would we feel if drugs or alcohol didn’t shade our mind?

Can we truly embrace our naked mind and be who we were before we were trying to be someone else?

Throughout the book, Grace discusses her own journey to spontaneous sobriety. The book is structured nicely, imbued with influences from psychology, science/medicine, philosophy and marketing. Grace goes on to explain the hurdles of sobriety you may face in your naked mind, while evening out the challenges with the plethora of benefits to stopping. Every other chapter in the book is what she has termed “Liminal Points.” During the Liminal points, Grace breaks down each and every MYTH we’ve been conditioned to believe about alcohol. That’s right, she uses science, medicine, marketing and psychological to debunk the proclaimed benefits. Here are a few of the MYTHS she clears up:

  • · Drinking is a Habit

  • · Drinking Reduces our Anxiety

  • · It helps me loosen up and have Better Sex

  • · It is Liquid Courage

  • · Drinking Makes me Happy

  • · It’s Vital to Having a Social Life

  • · I Need to do it to Fit In

  • · I Enjoy it, it Pairs well with food

One of my favorite lines is when she debunks how well wine pairs with food and asks the question, “Do you dip your steak in your red wine, like you do cookies in milk!?” Woah… Or when she debunks wine connoisseurs with studies where so said wine savants fail at telling the difference between a $20 bottle and a $200 bottle…

Another big concept she discussed is termed spontaneous sobriety.

Huh? Yes, stopping drinking without any formal inpatient or outpatient treatment, rehab or AA Meetings (all of which, I will say, are great options in seeking help). But her journey began with “just” a choice, to give up alcohol. She goes on to describe what we in psychology have defined as cognitive dissonance. See a direct quote from her below.

“The conflict that comes into play when you want to quit drinking is cognitive dissonance – the mental stress or discomfort that is experienced by someone who holds two contradictory values, ideas, or beliefs at the same time. It is very difficult to be happy or at peace when we do something part of our brain doesn’t agree with. With spontaneous sobriety it’s about changing our very thoughts and beliefs when it comes to alcohol. It’s undoing the conditioning that alcohol is our friend, that it helps us handle stress and improve our lives. It’s taking away the idea that you will be losing something when you quit drinking. It will make you unhappy. You’re going to lose your happiness.”

She also goes on to talk about the stigma of NOT DRINKING alcohol.

Something that really stuck with me was that alcohol is the only drug you have to explain as to why you’re not drinking it.

Notice the next time you’re with your group of friends and someone doesn’t drink and just take note if someone asks why. I can almost assure you we don’t do this with any other drug. Another sticking point was her message about the majority opinion VS the minority opinion and how we often side with the majority. Why? Well, because it’s easier – the risk of standing out is too great, so we’d rather fit in. Often times, though, the innovation, the knowledge, the inspiration exists within the minority group because they’re not functioning in fear, popularity, etc., but in their own personal truth.

If any of this struck a chord with you, give the book a try, even if out of pure curiosity. If you’ve read the book, let me know your thoughts below!

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