Amanda Malcolm-Brown is all about balance. A veteran of the hospitality and nightlife industry, alcohol has been ever-present in much of her life.
After realizing alcohol was preventing her from reaching her full potential, Amanda adopted a moderate, balanced, and intentional approach to alcohol she calls "mindful drinking." We met Amanda at a mindful drinking event she helped organize, and we recently had the chance to chat with her about her journey with alcohol. This is our conversation.
What was your relationship with alcohol like before you decided to make a change?
Having an alcoholic father, my relationship with alcohol started before I ever even drank it. For many years as a child, I spent weekends going to AA meetings with my dad, hearing countless stories about how alcohol led to rock bottoms, and watching my dad struggle in his recovery. You'd think that I would have chosen to stay away from the stuff, but it was quite the opposite; I started drinking regularly when I was 14, and at age 15 I started my 20+ year career working in hospitality and nightlife. When I wasn't busy bartending or managing operations at a restaurant or bar, I was DJing at a nightclub —I was living and working in a world where excessive drinking and partying was not only the norm but was encouraged.
What led to you deciding to change your relationship with alcohol?
While I for the most part appeared to be a "functional" drinker on the outside, I always knew that my lifestyle and drinking patterns were taking a toll on me in more ways than one. I knew that my mental and physical health was suffering and I knew that I wasn't even coming close to reaching my potential as a human. I knew that I was capable of so much more and that I was never going to get there if I continued drinking the way that I had been. I was sick of feeling anxious, depressed, tired and disappointed in myself.
What did you hope to get out of altering your use of alcohol?
I wanted to feel good and be happy, naturally and authentically. I wanted to see who I was and what I was capable of without the constant alcohol abuse. I had seen glimpses of it, but I had never made changes long enough to really truly see what my potential was.
Has choosing to be more mindful about your drinking had an effect on your life? If so, how?
Absolutely! I consider myself a "mindful drinker" and it has definitely been a journey to get here. A journey that has required many bouts of sobriety, lots of deep inner work, healing trauma, and a commitment to always prioritize my health and happiness. It has required me to live more mindfully in general and I believe that it will be a lifelong practice. These changes have led me to become a happier, healthier and more balanced version of myself. They have allowed me to overcome things that I never thought I would and become the version of myself that I always deep down knew I was capable of becoming. I was able to start a business that has allowed me to travel and become location independent —I'm currently living in Bali —and I know there's so much more to come as long as I stay committed to my practices.
Do you ever feel pressured to drink by other people? What do you do in those sorts of situations?
I am now at a point in my life where I no longer feel pressured by others, but I do still feel pressure from myself. There is still deeply-rooted programming that tells me I'll be more fun, have more fun, or feel better if I get drunk in most social situations. In these moments I have to check in with myself and notice that these are just old thought patterns creeping in. Nowadays I usually choose to only have 1-2 drinks or not drink at all because feeling good and performing my best tomorrow is more important to me than a night of "fun".
What do you do in situations where drinking is expected, such as parties, etc?
One thing I do before going to a party or other drinking situation is get clear on how I want it to go and WHY, and I ask myself questions like: How am I feeling right now/what is my current mental state? How will drinking effect that? What do I have going on tomorrow? How do I want to feel when I wake up? Am I okay with being a little hungover or do I want and need to be performing at 100%? Is drinking today or tonight going to keep me from doing things that are important to me tomorrow? I then make a decision and visualize the event going the way that I want it to. I visualize specific moments such as ordering sparkling water from the bar, turning down shots, leaving the event a little early and having a ton of fun.
How do you deal with people questioning why you’re not drinking?
I confidently own my decision and remain honest. Usually I say something along the lines of "I am planning to workout in the morning and don't want to feel like shit when I wake up," or, "I have a client call tomorrow and need to be clear headed for it." I've also found that saying "nah, i'm not drinking tonight," works just fine. I tell my clients: if the people you're surrounding yourself with are not supportive of you drinking less —or quitting or taking a break —then perhaps its time to seek out new friends that are more aligned with your goals and the life you are trying to create.
Amanda now works as a certified health and lifestyle coach who is passionate about helping people become healthier—mind, body, and soul. Amanda focuses on helping her clients transform their habits, ditch their vices, connect with themselves, and fall in love with life. To learn more and connect with Amanda, you can follow her on Instagram.