EP #13

My Intuitive Drinking Toolbox

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly emphasizes the use of real science and individual cognitive processes to reshape one’s connection with alcohol. She encourages the audience to download a free ebook on alcohol truths from her website and mentions her weekly live sessions to address questions and support individuals in altering their relationship with alcohol. Molly discusses the concept of intuitive drinking, highlighting the importance of cultivating a healthy relationship with alcohol that aligns with personal well-being. The episode delves into the significance of understanding the behavior map results cycle in changing drinking habits and creating a serene association with alcohol. Molly shares practical strategies, including planning ahead, measuring alcohol intake, and gradually reducing the number of drinks, all while emphasizing the importance of mindfulness and making decisions based on long-term goals. She discusses the incorporation of alcohol-free days, challenges traditional views on moderation, and stresses the need for a rational choice in returning to abstinence if moderation doesn’t work. The episode also explores handling off-plan days, self-compassion in the face of mistakes, and the impact of self-limiting beliefs on transformation.

You’re listening to breaking the bottle legacy with Molly watts, Episode 13. Hi, I’m Molly, after a lifetime living under the influence of family alcohol abuse, spending more than 30 years worrying about alcohol and my own drinking, believing I had an unbreakable daily drinking habit, I changed my relationship with alcohol forever. If you want to change your drinking habits than breaking the bottle legacy is for you. My goal is to help you create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, past, present, and future. Each week all focus on real science and using your own brain to change your relationship with alcohol. Nothing has gone wrong, you’re not broken, you’re not sick. It’s not your genes. And creating peace is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome or welcome back to breaking the bottle legacy with me, your host, Molly Watts coming to you from well, it looks to be a better and better day, every time I look out the window. I’m actually recording a bunch of podcasts this morning. And I gotta tell you, the first session did not go too smoothly. I had a lot of struggles. And thankfully, I have a great editor who will clean all that up and helped me out. But wow, I wanted to be so productive and it was just struggle. Anyhow, this episode is all about what I call my toolbox for changing my relationship with alcohol. And before I get into that, I want to share some insights from an article that I read. I shared this with my Facebook group. Oh, which reminds me, I forgot my housekeeping care. See, I told you a struggle. Number one, if you have not already picked up your free ebook of alcohol truths, how much is safe, please go to www dot Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a why watts with an s.com and grab your free ebook today. Also, if you have not joined our private Facebook group, it is searchable. Go to Facebook groups look for change your alcohol habit. And please come join us. It is a great spot for accountability, inspiration, motivation, more science that I share. And I’m trying to go live in there every week now to answer questions and to help people change their relationship with alcohol. And I would love to have you there. So please come along. In that group I shared this week this article, it was all about intuitive drinking. And I loved it because this whole term, I guess intuitive drinking is kind of new. And it parallels what people call intuitive eating. So dietitians have come up with a non diet approach to to eating to dieting called intuitive eating. And it’s very popular and focuses on tuning into your body’s hunger and fullness cues. I think that’s brilliant, right? And likewise, intuitive drinking is quote unquote, having a healthy relationship with alcohol and finding ways to incorporate it into your life that feel good for your body. And this is that was Karolina gozar, who is a registered dietician, nutritionist. And so I thought that was really wonderful. And I love the idea of intuitive drinking. And it really does parallel I think, with my concept of creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol, right? It allows us the freedom to make choices that are right for you and for your own body without shame and judgment. And it also makes you less likely to have a binge, right, because excessive drinking is something that would it binge episodes would increase our risk for advanced liver disease. And so once you start getting that into your mindset, and being mindful of it, it makes you naturally intuitively want to manage and change your relationship with alcohol. So anyways, I’m going to link that article in my show notes. But I shared it with my group and I just loved it. So I wanted to talk about it briefly here. All right on to today’s episode. So today’s episode is titled, what’s in my intuitive drinking toolbox? And I did that for a reason because I think oftentimes we sort of equate intuitive intuition with something that comes to us naturally, almost like instinctive, right? But I would say that intuitive really is all about our prefrontal cortex. And being mindful as opposed to our limbic system and The instinctive type of reactions. So I believe that intuitive actually aligns with being more mindful and having a plan and, and having tools in place to create the kind of relationship that you want to with alcohol. And in the last two episodes, I really focused on describing and defining the behavior map results cycle and understanding and how that understanding the process of the result cycle that my thoughts create my feelings, and my feelings drive my actions, how applying that to my drinking habit, was really what changed it for me, and has created this idea of a peaceful relationship, not only with, with my own drinking, but also with my relationship with my deceased mother, and with my past as an adult child of an alcoholic, understanding where my thoughts create my feelings, and my feelings drive my actions, that has really been critical and pivotal for me in terms of changing my relationship with alcohol, I believe it’s a meta skill that you can apply to any area of your life, that you seek to change habits that don’t serve you. And definitely is what has helped me most fundamentally, in becoming who I am in terms of creating this peaceful relationship with alcohol. But along the way, and in combination with mastering that behavior map results cycle, I definitely had some logistics and strategies that I used. And I think it’s important to share those because not only understanding and looking at old thoughts and choosing new thoughts, and practicing the, you know, changing those thoughts that led to my feelings that helped me not want to drink them away. I also had to understand that to create better thoughts, I probably needed to change a lot of things in my brain. And by using tools that I used, that’s also a part of the process. So these are the four tools that I say, are in my intuitive drinking toolbox number one, creating a drink plan. Number two, preparing ahead for falls, and reviewing Off Plan, drinking days. Number three, education on alcohol science. And number four, community and motivation. All right, let’s look at each of these individually. And really to be someone who creates a new identity and become someone who has a successful peaceful relationship with alcohol, you need to use the executive function area of your brain to create a plan for the future. All right, that prefrontal cortex. And planning ahead is a tool for training our brain that we’re committed to the future to long term goals. And we’re not at the mercy of the reward center. And our primitive brains focus on avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. When it comes to alcohol, we have to bring our decision to drink into the prefrontal cortex and plan ahead of time, what to drink, and how much to drink. Planning ahead of time means that we aren’t reacting in the moment, we aren’t listening to permission giving thoughts that don’t align with our long term goals. We aren’t choosing to drink a drink that we haven’t already planned on, our adult brain is in charge, not the toddler or the child. Now, the process of planning doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does need to happen when you are first. And I and truly this is probably the area that I get the most resistance from people talking in our group and talking to me is that the idea of planning ahead for drinking feels very foreign to them feel something very uncomfortable, because they’ve so often use alcohol in the moment, right and make those decisions in the moment and they’ve used it as a reward. They’re very resistant to plan ahead when they want to drink. But it’s absolutely imperative. And it was definitely a very much the first step in tandem with learning the behavior map results cycle for me, that had to happen. When you’re first starting, I suggest that you meet yourself right where you are now, not where you think you should be. And maybe you even need to take a couple of weeks and simply track the number of drinks that you have each night to know where to start. And that’s okay too. Whatever the number of drinks, you will have write them down at least 24 hours ahead of time. For me, I found that planning the week ahead was the easiest for me. I could look ahead to social events, anticipate the weekends and celebrations. And I used an app on my phone I used Google Keep which is just a note keeping app. And I simply wrote down the day, the date and the number of drinks. Some people would say that you have to write down for 12 ounce IPAs, or four or five ounce glasses of Cabernet. But I would leave that decision up to you. Again, this is about creating your own intuitive drinking relationship your own peaceful relationship with alcohol. For me, I knew my intentions. And if I drank 316 ounce cans of light beer, I also knew that it added up to four drinks, not three, and I counted it accordingly in my plan. If you don’t measure your wine pours, you may want to figure out how much your regular glass holds. This is all about being mindful and making decisions that are based on long term goals, and not as a result of our toddler brain saying I want it and answering that urge. Once you have practiced writing a plan and following it, the next step will be to reduce the number of drinks you’re having. For me, that process took about a month before I was ready to try cutting down on any given day. And I can’t emphasize enough that making a plan in and of itself won’t change your habit in a sustainable way. Changing your thoughts around alcohol needs to happen in tandem with creating a drinking plan. Your plan will be based on your own goals, as well as your own level of alcohol consumption currently, but no matter where you’re starting there, where you’re starting from. It’s an important concept that you need to apply. There’s important an important concept and that is the concept of kaizen. Some people call it continuous improvement. But either way, it’s about making small changes and improvements every day. Your daily question should be what is one small step I can take today to be better, your focus will be doing about 1% Better, secure in the knowledge that those small steps will add up to your more significant goals. And here’s the thing about continuous improvement. It feels kind of boring. There’s no overnight success, no instant gratification, no magic bullet. And it’s never just one and done. The changes you make might be so small that they are barely noticeable. But just like compound interest, they add up over time. All right, I talked about last week about James clear and atomic habits. And he talks about getting 1% better. And he actually shares a graph and I will share that image in my show notes that image of that graph from atomic habits that you can see on the graph. What happens when you get 1% better every day. And it also actually shows you coincidentally what will happen if you get 1% worse. So 1% Better isn’t an exact measurement. It’s just a reminder that the steps should be small. And after you’ve worked on following your doable plan, it’s time to look at reducing the number of drinks you’re drinking, start with one day per week and plan for two instead of three on that one day, or whatever your number is, in the next week, add in another day that you’ll reduce. No, it’s not going to happen all at once. But trust me, at least for myself, this was a much more sustainable way. And it’s a proven way to change your identity when you do incrementally 1% better, and become someone who has a peaceful relationship with alcohol. So throughout all of the first year of my journey, I simply worked on reduction and sticking to my plan to drinks. I was a beer drinker I am a beer drinker. And for me another successful strategy for reducing was mixing non alcoholic beer with full strength beer to effectively cut down on the alcohol by volume. I would drink two half and half beers, but altogether it would only be one real beer. And even though I never tried this strategy with wine I know other people have. And I’m sure that it would work too. It works too. And while I’ve never been a huge drinker of mixed drinks, I did try reducing the shot size in a margarita. And that worked just fine too. In fact, quite honestly, you know, pretty quickly I became a very happy virgin Margarita drinker because I think they taste great. I know there is controversy, at least in recovery circles about drinking non alcoholic beverages. Addiction experts contend that non alcoholic beer can trigger cravings. And I hope that you know by listening to the podcast, you may already predict what my thoughts are going to be on this. First of all this podcast and I’ll say it again is not intended for anyone who has developed a physical dependence on alcohol. So this is not a recovery discussion and let’s be clear about that. But for the rest of us who want to change our drinking habits, I believe that you are 100% capable of determining whether or not drinking non alcohol Look drinks works for you. And this sentiment is actually echoed by hams. I talked to Kenneth Anderson on the podcast, go back and find that podcast and you can hear Kenneth himself. But Kenneth was the founder and executive director of hams. It stands for harm reduction, abstinent and moderation support. And in his book, how to change your drinking a harm reduction guide to alcohol. He says that the disease theory of alcoholism tells people that their brains are their own worst enemy, and that they must ignore what their brains tell them and follow the 12 step program, no matter what harm reduction says that it’s your right to change your mind about abstinence from alcohol, and choose to attempt moderation or harm reduction. Instead, it’s always possible to make a rational choice to return to abstinence from alcohol, if moderation or harm reduction does not work out. And so I would say that that, again implies I’ve found that non drinking non alcoholic drinks is enjoyable and helpful in me to me in changing my relationship with alcohol. And so I will leave that decision. You’re in your very capable hands, right. So by the time I was ready to incorporate alcohol free days into my strategy, I had already reduced my daily drinking habits significantly. Most days. By that time, it was only one drink, with two drinks on the weekends or at social events, and occasionally planning for three. At that point, I felt like my next step for my continuous improvement was to add in alcohol free days. And much like my first steps in planning my drinks ahead of time, I simply picked one day per week to be alcohol free. It coincided with a new activity. It was an evening class for me at my local community college. And I realized that even that one day, presented me with multiple opportunities to work on my thoughts about alcohol. This is vitally important. Many days during my journey of 1% better, it was simply becoming aware of my old thoughts and practicing new and better ones. While my actions on the outside might not have looked dramatically different. What was happening on the inside was continuous improvement. The plan was actually the easy part of the process of writing a drink plan taught me that I could make decisions about alcohol and stick to them. It also provided plenty of opportunities for me to figure out what happened when I went off plan. And to be sure tool number two, preparing ahead for falls, is included in the toolbox because I know that you will fall. One of the biggest differences in my thinking now revolves around the times that I don’t follow my plans, and how I show up for myself when I stumble. So over my decades long life, I have given up on so many dreams, goals, diets, jobs, previous books, you name it, from the outside, people wouldn’t necessarily see that, as I appear to have been, quote unquote, successful in many of those areas. But I’m here to tell you that it’s very true. It wasn’t until learning and mastering the behavior map and the result cycle that I understood how many times I have allowed my past missteps and mistakes to prove that I could not succeed. And so I gave up trying. This was certainly very true when it came to breaking my drinking habit. Every time I failed to moderate fail to stick to a break, my thoughts immediately went to self criticism and confirming my own self limiting beliefs. My first thought was very typical. See, you can’t do it followed quickly by you have that genetic predisposition to alcoholism, so this is probably as good as it gets. I wasn’t savvy enough to recognize that those thoughts were just programming that had been running in my unconscious brain for years. That kept me stuck. Another thing you have to understand about your primitive brain your subconscious, is that it confuses the discomfort of changing habits with pain that needs to be avoided for your survival. Once your brain commits drinking to habit, it is invested in maintaining that habit, because that is what you’ve trained it to do. Those old self limiting beliefs, thoughts like see you can’t do it means the habit 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 the thought isn’t true. It’s simply a thought you’ve had you’ve practiced for many years, challenging that thought, questioning it, and ultimately changing how we talk to ourselves when we don’t Don’t do, what we’ve promised ourselves will do, is the key to changing your relationship with alcohol. So here is what I would suggest to prepare for the times when you go, quote, unquote Off Plan, we’re going to avoid all the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda as, as well as the blame game, when we drink more than we intend to. We’re going to first write down what the plan was, and what we actually drank. We’re going to write down where we were, and who we who we were with. We’re writing down facts here, simply and clearly no judgment. Next, we’re going to look back and uncover the thoughts we were having when we chose to drink more than we plan. Remember, there is always a thought some of the common ones for me were, I had a hard day. I just want one. I deserve it. I’ll start again next week. I just want to have fun. When you uncover the thoughts you were having. Were you justifying something? Were you excusing something? Were you blaming something? In the future? When these thoughts come up? What could you choose to think instead? Here’s how planning ahead for falling and planning for those thoughts might look. The thought comes up, I had a hard day. And then I’m able to say but drinking doesn’t solve that. What are my thoughts about my day that might need to change? I just want one. There’s that demanding toddler brain of mine chattering again, my adult brain knows what I really want. I deserve it. What I deserve Miss primitive brain is to feel what it feels like to keep promises to myself. I’ll start again next week, is just a thought I’ve used to keep me stuck in my habits. And this time, I’m aware of those self limiting beliefs. I just want to have fun. But drinking more than I want to is actually not fun at all. I create fun with my thoughts, not with alcohol. So write down any patterns you are noticing what can you do next time the pattern comes up to think, feel and act differently. Write down the most important thing you learn from your Off Plan drinking. You have to commit to this process with curiosity and compassion. And it’s essential in creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol. We are learning and making progress towards long term goals. And understanding that the patterns we’ve established take time and intention to change is important. Instead of giving up and believing that our mistakes mean that we can’t change, let’s decide ahead of time that we will be analytical and observational. When we stumble, quit expecting yourself to be perfect, just because you’ve decided to change your drinking habits. On the contrary, plan ahead for the falls and commit to evaluating every single one. All right, the third tool is not just one tool, it’s multiple tools. And with exception, with the exception of this podcast, they are not created by me. And there’s no shortage of literature on alcohol and what what you might call quit lit as it’s called. And reading books and learning was an important part of the process for me. In addition to reading books about alcohol, I also read books on cognitive behavioral therapy, books on personality habits and motivation. My advice here is to get recommendations from trusted sources and dive in. I’m going to link a few of my favorite Quizlet books in the show notes. Not all of them that I read, because quite honestly, that would make the show notes about six pages long, I’m sure. But I will both podcasts, books, and some communities and coaching programs that I investigated and that I think are very solid, I will go ahead and put in my show notes. All right. Where I have participated, I will make a note of that as well. And hopefully you can just take some of this information and apply it but building up your education on the science of alcohol is critically important. At least it was for me, because it helps me make better decisions about alcohol. It helps me remember to use my prefrontal cortex and not give into my toddler brain. And definitely, podcasts, like I said, are are I think great because you can multitask right? So you can go out for a walk and listen to a podcast. It’s just such a great tool. So I’ll link some of my favorite podcasts as well. The fourth and final tool in my toolbox is community and motivation. And for sure, I believe that the most beneficial part of recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous is the community aspect. And that’s been confirmed to me by other AAA participants. And definitely in my episode, when I spoke with William Porter, he talked about the importance of community. And while I can’t subscribe to the 12 steps, and have definitely, within this podcast, I hope that I’ve convinced you in some way that your brain holds the power to your relationship with alcohol, alcohol does not have the power, you are not power less, which is what the 12 steps, the very first of the 12 steps mandates that you understand that you are powerless over alcohol. And so obviously, I don’t subscribe to that at all. And hopefully, by listening to this, you’ve come to believe that as well or you are beginning to believe that I certainly do believe that there is value in finding your tribe. So whether it’s my Facebook group, or somebody else’s, or a small group coaching program, or an accountability partner, being around people who are like minded and focused on changing their daily drinking habits, will help you create your peaceful relationship with alcohol easier and faster. And so in addition to the books and podcasts, I’ll definitely link my own Facebook group. I’ll also include the link to William Porter’s Facebook group in alcohol explained because I think it’s a great one, and moderation management, another great Facebook group that I will encourage you to check out as well. The bottom line is you don’t have to go it alone. And you will soon find that there are a lot of other people who are willing to learn right along with you. Now, this discussion of support brings up something else that I think is important to address. And if you’re an adult child of an alcoholic, you may already have a family that has a strong history with alcohol. And perhaps like mine, drinking was and is a part of family gatherings amongst my sisters and their families. Regardless of your decision to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, it’s likely that your family or friends will not be focused on changing their own drinking habits, it may feel like the people closest to you are the most resistant to you changing. And let me assure you that. First of all, that’s a very common scenario. When you’ve consistently shared drinks together, maybe even over decades, ching ching, your habits may challenge your family or friends to question their own habits. Now, you’ve all got, you know, now that you’ve got all of their primitive brains reacting and trying to avoid the pain of change, as if their survival depended on it. And that just presents another opportunity for us to practice the behavior map. And the results cycle as we choose thoughts that help us feel empathy for our loved ones. Instead of expecting their unwavering support, we simply understand and see their actions with different thoughts. And here’s how that might look. Okay, so here’s the circumstance, you’re attending a holiday gathering with family where alcohol is being served. You’ve planned ahead of time for one drink, which you’ve already had. Your brother offers you another one which you decline and he controls, teases repeatedly attempts to make you have another. Maybe you hold your ground, maybe you drink Off Plan. Either way, you have a choice about how you want to feel with regard to your brother. One, you can choose thoughts that will make you feel angry and unsupported. Number two, you can choose thoughts that will make you feel empathetic and patient. There are obviously other options on how you might feel but you get the idea. The circumstances and your brother’s actions don’t dictate how you feel. They don’t force you to drink another drink. It’s always your thoughts that determine your feelings that lead to your actions. This truth and your fundamental acceptance of the result cycle retains the power to change your life squarely in your control. Do not give your power away to anyone else. by blaming your family or your friends or your spouse, for not supporting your goals. To feel motivated and positive. Find the thoughts about your family, your friends, your spouse, and create those feelings. For some people the fear of what people will think about them and their decision to not drink keeps them stuck in their habit. Thoughts like how can I say no? Or How will I explain cause true fear and anxiety for people. And this fear about what other people think is actually rooted in another survival instinct in our primitive brains. Our primitive brains evolved to associate our emotions with necessary actions for survival of our species. And generally speaking, this means avoiding pains seeking pleasure conserving energy. For our archaic ancestors, the Neanderthals, being a member of a tribe was literally a matter of life and death. And as humans have evolved, we’ve become more socially connected. Mammals are more socially connected than reptiles, Primates more than mammals, and humans more than other primates. What this suggests is that becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival. In a sense, evolution has made bets at each step that the best way to make us more successful is to help us to make us more social. So if your tribes culture, ie your friends or your family’s historic use of alcoholic get togethers and holidays, is to drink and potentially drink to access, not participating in those traditions could leave you feeling isolated and excluded. Of course, it doesn’t have to the fact that your loved ones may drink more than you isn’t the reason for your feelings, right? No, it’s always about your thoughts. Being around people who are drinking and choosing to follow your own plan is a great opportunity to practice new thoughts. Even deciding to see it as an opportunity, instead of a test might require new thoughts. In my own journey, getting the support of a life coach during the first six months was incredibly valuable. And I dedicated myself to learning the tools of the behavior map and results cycle and applying it to my drinking and really to my life. And I also went ahead and got certified as a life coach that I could write from both the perspective of my book as from both the perspective of a student and a teacher. And I will say that you need to decide if coaching is something that will help you change your relationship with alcohol. For me, someone who was skeptical of life coaches before my own change in my relationship with alcohol, I simply hope that you will consider all resources available to you. And I will also include a couple of life coaches that focus on creating peaceful relationships or changing your relationship with alcohol, they don’t do it quite the same way or talk about it. Same way I do but close. And I’ll link those in my show notes as well. I hope that understanding a little bit about the tools that I have in my intuitive drinking toolbox, what I have created in terms of my peaceful relationship with alcohol came from one creating a drink plan to preparing ahead for falls and reviewing Off Plan drinking days. Number three, getting educated on alcohol science. And number four, creating community and being a part of community and staying motivated. Those were the four things that in combination with the behavior map and result cycle have allowed me to create this peaceful relationship with alcohol. Again, I know that’s a lot of information in this episode. But I hope that it helps you I hope that it it gets you started on the right path. And if you’d like a little more information and a little more help, I encourage you to come find me in our Facebook group and I will be happy to provide more input on creating that peaceful relationship with alcohol. All right. Take care my friends, have a great week. Choose peace. Thank you for listening to breaking the bottle legacy. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Take something that you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com