It's STILL DRYUARY Mini-Series

If You've Already Drank Off Plan

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DRYUARY Mini-Series


In this episode of the “It’s Still Dryuary” mini-series, Molly Watts explores the benefits of alcohol abstinence, highlighting how multiple alcohol-free days can lead to an improved mental baseline. Reflecting on her own experience, Watts shares feelings of lightness and happiness after two weeks without alcohol, emphasizing the importance of self-compassion when facing off-plan drinking during Dry January. She delves into the challenge of overcoming ingrained habits and negative self-talk, explaining how the brain can confuse discomfort with pain, leading to self-limiting beliefs. Watts encourages listeners to practice curiosity and compassion to overcome cognitive distortions like all-or-nothing thinking, mental filtering, and emotional reasoning, ultimately urging them to prioritize alcohol-free days and approach their dry January journey with curiosity and compassion.

This is the alcohol minimalist podcast. And this is a special series. It’s still dry you Arey. I’m your host, Molly watts. Let’s get started. Hey, hey, welcome back to the alcohol minimalist mini series. It’s still dry you weary. If you haven’t already listened to them, you can find three shorter episodes already released this week that are dedicated to helping you manage your mindset and get you through the messy middle of the month. If you’re listening to this on the day, it’s released, it’s January 18. We are now officially on the backside of the month. And I hope that if you’re a regular daily drinker, you’re beginning to really notice some of the benefits that are happening. One of the earliest things I recognized with multiple alcohol free days, not this particular dry, you worry about my first dry, you worry that I really did a full 31 days, one of the earliest things I recognized was an improvement in my overall mental baseline. I simply felt better mentally. That’s saying something because January in Oregon is definitely not my favorite month. It’s gray, it’s rainy, it gets dark so early, it’s cold. I’m just saying the weather is not very helpful for my mood in January. And I feel a little lighter. And that’s true even now even now and I you know, full transparency. I’m recording this while I am down in Arizona this year, this year, second year in a row that I’ve come down to Arizona during dry January. Last year, I talked a little bit about my my mental state going in because I like realized that I wasn’t going to be quote unquote able to drink that was the thoughts that my mind offered up this time. None of that mind drama. I didn’t even think about it. I just was excited to get down here escaped Oregon. before my flight my original flight was canceled. It actually was canceled on the day that on Saturday, the day that I was supposed to fly out because of snow and ice in Portland. So we went a day earlier and I got to I’m down in some beautiful 65 degrees sunny weather, it makes me very, yes, it’s happier. So of course I’m feeling lighter. But regardless, even before that, even last week, in Oregon, my mind was just feeling. Like I said whenever I string together many multiple alcohol free days, I remember it I always recognize and very appreciate the very significant way that it makes me feel. And I remember it specifically from when I did my very first full dry January, four years ago. Now after two weeks, most people will begin to see a very noticeable improvement in sleep. And I will say I think that it’s important to remember that alcohol is just one part of your sleep equation. It’s an incredibly important piece. But it’s also possible that you can have disrupted sleep cycles, even when you’re alcohol free. And if you’re not getting good sleep, I want you to make sure that you are looking at all the other areas of sleep hygiene, because alcohol isn’t isn’t going to help it get better. All right, that’s one of those, those things that we need to question. It’s a it’s just simply not true. And I hope though, but for many people I know for me, one of the first things I realized I got a 90 sleep score in my sleep tracker during the month of dry January that I’d never seen before. And it’s also possible that you might not be focused on all the positives during dry January. If you’ve spent if you’re spending your time reprimanding yourself for Off Plan drinking. That’s what we’re talking about today. How do we reset for this back half the month and boost our motivation to prioritize alcohol free days for the next 13 days. If we’ve already had some Off Plan drinking, I tell you what, whether it’s for this month, or if you’re actually interested in creating sustainable change around your drinking, this is the most important skill that you can build. Because here’s the secret. It’s not only normal to have off planned drinking, it’s actually an opportunity to grow and change faster. I promise. If you choose to be curious and compassionate with yourself and not use the circumstance as a reason for why you cannot succeed. If you had off planned drinking, and decided that Well, I screwed it up screwed it up. So I’m done. Right. If you if you’ve already thrown in the towel, I want you to reconsider. During the course of this week, we’ve talked a bit about the different parts of the brain and how we need to use our goal oriented future focused prefrontal cortex to override our lower more primitive brain when it comes to sticking to our dry January goals. We’ve acknowledged that it can be hard. And that’s it’s it’s specially hard when we have ingrained habits around alcohol. But we’ve started to talk about that higher brain and that lower brain. And part of something that you should understand about your primitive brain, your unconscious, that lower brain is that it can confuse the discomfort of changing habits with pain that needs to be avoided for your survival. All right, once your brain commits, drinking to habit, it is invested in maintaining the habit because that’s what you’ve trained it to do. Those old self limiting beliefs come in thoughts like see you can’t do it. So you have an Off Plan, drink and your brain throws out, see you can’t do it. It means that the habit then stays intact. The brain conserves its precious energy, and it protects you from the pain of change, which your lower brain equates with your survival. But of course, the thought isn’t true. It’s simply a thought that you’ve had and you’ve practiced for years, and challenging those old self limiting beliefs, questioning them, and ultimately changing how we talk to ourselves. When we don’t do what we’ve promised ourselves, we will do. That’s the key to resetting, when we’ve drink Off Plan. When we direct compassion toward ourselves, and our Off Plan, drinking, it really means that we’re not going to allow ourselves to participate in the negative beatdown that most of us are very accustomed to doing. All of the feelings of disappointment, regret and shame. Those are fueled by our thoughts. When we think things like I can’t do it, I’m never going to keep to figure this out. Something’s wrong with me, why can’t I keep my promises? I’m so weak. Of course, we feel all of those negative emotions, including feeling pretty hopeless about our ability to stick to our dry weary goals, right. And there’s a part of you that believes that if you are hard on yourself, you can whip yourself back into shape. But ask yourself, How well has beating yourself up worked in the past, when you have the thought, I’m never going to figure this out. It feels really hopeless, right? I know that thought, because it’s definitely a thought I used to have to. What I know is that feeling hopeless is not the emotion you need to help you take positive actions. When you feel hopeless, you are far more likely to just throw in the towel and say screw it, I blew it for the rest of the month. hopeless people don’t finish strong. The way that you don’t end up in that camp, the hopeless camp, you’ve got to look for thoughts that are fueled by compassion and curiosity. It happens when you believe that there is a path forward for you. And the way that you get that belief is by practicing curiosity and compassion. When we stop beating ourselves up, we remain hopeful, and our brains are open to taking that next step. The problem is, of course, that we’re very used to thinking negative thoughts about ourselves when we over drink, when we drink Off Plan, especially if we’ve made a goal of not drinking, right? It’s the most well worn neural pathway that exists that beat down path and the thoughts feel very, very true. In psychological speak, these thoughts are called cognitive distortions. cognitive distortions are a highly misleading way of thinking about yourself and the world. So check in with yourself and see if you notice that any of these beat down thoughts fall into one of these common categories of cognitive distortions, number one, all or nothing thinking. So absolute words, like always, and never our key here, you heard me say them for in examples of the thoughts, I can’t do it, I’m never going to figure it out. That is an example of all or nothing thinking. These two overgeneralization you’re using this specific event to mean something about yourself in general, again, you have an Off Plan drinking event and you decide to use it as evidence that you are simply not capable. You use one event, and you make it mean everything about yourself. Number three, mental filtering and discounting the positive. These two things kind of go hand in hand, you ignore any positives, like the positives of making the commitment to dry January, having successful alcohol free days making plans ahead of time you discount any of that and focus solely on the negative. Positive was you, you know, like I said, made a plan and that goes right out the window and you only focus on the fact that you didn’t stick to it. discounting the positive goes further than ignoring and you think thoughts like having a plan doesn’t matter, since I’m not capable of sticking to it. Right? Another cognitive distortion, magnification and minimization. Similar to mental filtering and discounting the positive, you magnify the negative meaning of going off plan, and you minimize the positive of having a plan in the first place. Right? I want you to think about that. I hear it. So often we make going off plan mean everything and the fact that we had a plan mean, nothing. All right, that’s a cognitive distortion, and you got to be aware of your thinking. And another one, the last one here of these cognitive distortions, emotional reasoning, this is kind of a backwards way of interpreting your emotions, not believing that you can change them with your thinking and seeing your emotions as valid validation. I want you to hear that again. This is a backwards way of interpreting your emotions. So putting full emphasis on the emotion and not believing that you can change them with your thinking, seeing your emotions as validation, I feel hopeless, so things must never be going to get better. Does that make sense? That is a cognitive distortion. If you feel hopeless, you put all stock in that feeling instead of realizing that the feeling comes from your own thinking and that you can change feeling hopeless, by changing your thoughts. Now, that’s compassion. What about curiosity? What does it mean to be curious about our drinking decisions? Curiosity means that we’re going to ask ourselves questions, to understand what happened when we decided to drink Off Plan, we are going to become a scientific observer of our thoughts, feelings and actions to determine what was going on. We have to use our Off Plan drinking as data. All right, we accept responsibility for the result, the Off Plan, drink, and we work to uncover how we could have changed our thoughts in the moment during the the decision to drink because it didn’t just happen. We made the decision. What could we have changed to get a different and better result? We handle this without shaming ourselves. And we are committed to truly understanding our behavior. We are scientists and we are analyzing the data to learn from it. That’s what curiosity means. Compassion means that we’re not going to talk to ourselves in a beat down fashion. We’re going to really hold space and look at what’s happened. And we’re going to use curiosity to analyze it. As with any thing, positive habit that you’re trying to incorporate into your life, changing how you respond to mistakes and setbacks, requires practice and intention. This isn’t something that just happens overnight, because you have got a very ingrained habit, I promise of negative self talk, especially when you drink Off Plan. You will need to purposefully redirect yourself when your brain wants to spit out thoughts like you know better. You’ve got to challenge yourself to use these missteps as an opportunity to learn. Be compassionate, be curious, can’t keep going. The only way that you don’t succeed at dry January is if you simply quit trying. All right. Even if you’ve had multiple Off Plan days, the only thing that’s stopping you from finishing strong is your thoughts. Let’s choose curiosity and compassion. And then figure out how you can show up differently today. Let’s prioritize alcohol free days for the next 13 days and see what happens. Tomorrow, we’re wrapping it up with Oh no, it’s the weekend and other thoughts that we have about celebrating or relaxing rewinding, rewarding ourselves and how that all wraps up with alcohol. As a reminder, I’ve talked about it earlier this week, but I have just opened up my schedule for my new 12 week one on one coaching program. This is a very limited opportunity. And if you’re looking to take what you’ve accomplished in dry, you’re very into sustainable change for the rest of your life. Especially if you’ve had a lot of Off Plan drinking and you’re finding it hard to stick to your dry January plans. I would love to have a conversation with you. Email me Molly at Molly watts.com Or go check out www dot Molly watts.com/work with me. That’s what I’ve got for you today. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for spending the week with me. I look forward to talking to you one last time during this bonus series.