EP #144

Sober October Series: Buffering with Alcohol

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly Watts shares her journey of overcoming alcohol abuse and finding peace with alcohol, inviting listeners to join her in the “Sober October” challenge with helpful tips and a free podcast listening guide. She explores the concept of buffering, where people use alcohol and food to cope with emotions, urging for better mind management skills. Watts discusses the psychology of addiction, highlighting the deceptive allure of false pleasures and the importance of self-awareness in breaking free from unhealthy habits. With empathy and encouragement, she empowers listeners to confront their emotions and create sustainable change in their relationship with alcohol.

Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habits. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from well, it’s a transitioning Oregon. It’s raining it’s been raining yesterday was quite rainy. It’s raining a little bit this morning. But ahead on the forecast. There are eights as the first digit of the temperature on Friday and Saturday predicted right now. And eight in October. That means at 80 degrees or more here on Friday and Saturday. Let’s hope it holds true. I you know we’re a little far out for Oregon quite honestly, most of the time they change it by the time we get there. How are you doing? How is more sober October going. This month, I’ve got a series to support you. In however you’re doing a more sober October. And it’s not too late. Right? Every choice is a chance to vote for who you are becoming. So start today and decide to drink less or not at all. All month long. I’ll be adding to this sober October series. And I hope that it will inspire you motivate you and help you keep going. I actually also decided to create something new to help people navigate this show, especially when you’re first listening to it. You can go to guide dot Molly watts.com. That’s guide dot Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a why watts with an s.com and grab the alcohol minimalist podcast listening guide. It’s got 15 curated episodes to help you start this process of changing your relationship with alcohol. I hope that doing more sober October is just the beginning and you use what you accomplish this month to put you on the path to sustainable change, really for the rest of your life. Right. So check out the podcast listening guide. If you’re new around here, it’s totally free. You can find it at guide dot Molly watts.com. I actually have also this week, a couple of prize winners. That’s right. If you are again new to the show, I do prize winners every other week, you can get entered to win a prize simply by leaving a review of the podcast or of my book. You can leave a review of this podcast anywhere you listen to it. That includes audible that includes YouTube, that includes anywhere, obviously, Apple podcasts, you know, if you’re listening on Apple podcast, can I just ask you you’re writing your app anyway, just go in there and leave a review. If you haven’t already left one. It really helps people find the show. And that’s what this whole thing is all about in terms of why doing prizes for your reviews in the first place. Right? I want to encourage you to help me spread the word in an organic way. There are two prize winners the first prize winner is coming to us as a random prize winner and that random prize winner is actually left a review on YouTube. And this is for the person who left that review is I cannot say this properly correctly. But it’s for Leia is Santiago for 193 Kerr lair is Santiago 4193. And if that sounds like you or if it is you, please email me Molly at Molly watts.com. And let me know that you are the prize winner and I will send you out some alcohol minimalist swag. The other prize winner is one that I select. This is not a random drawing. This is a contest because I’m selecting the review based on my own merit I guess or what I decide and this person is this person who wins the other prize this way is a Sherman 68 as Sherman 68. And this is what a Sherman 68 had to say. So good. I never thought that I could be someone who could leave a half finished glass of wine. But I’m able to ask myself Do I want that and really be able to walk away? Thanks, Molly for this podcast. You’re very welcome. Ashman 68 And thank you for listening. Again, email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And I am happy to send you out your alcohol minimalist swag. One more quick announcement before we get into this week’s show. Quick message for the ladies. My friends and fellow coaches Monica Ryan Nagel and Cassie Christopher both who’ve been guests on the show are partnering together this month for a three week program during October. Specifically for those of you who struggle with body image. These two women are people whose work I not only value, but I 100% know to be excellent information. The program includes a 90 minute workshop happening this Saturday, October 7, so you’ll want to get registered right away. I’m putting the link in my show notes to join body image repair and resilience. And I hope if you’re looking for more peace with your body, you’ll check it out. All right. Now on to this week’s show. And coincidentally, it might be related to body image for some people, especially if you’re like me and sometimes turned to food as a coping mechanism, instead of or in addition to alcohol. Today, we’re doing a deep dive on buffering. Now I’ve talked about buffering before on the podcast. But I’ve never done an episode focused solely on it. And I think it’s a great topic to dive into, especially during more sober October. So what is buffering? Buffering in the context of human psychology involves the conscious or subconscious effort to dampen or mask one’s true feelings, thoughts or reactions, in response to various situations. And it can manifest in several ways. And of course, overusing alcohol or overeating are very common ways that buffering does manifest. Buffering refers to the practice of suppressing or deflecting emotions, thoughts or reactions, and often is a means of coping with stress or discomfort or difficult situations. buffering is something that humans do that keeps them from fully experiencing their lives. And humans buffer when we don’t want to face the facts, where we don’t want to experience negative emotions. So understanding that you’re using alcohol or food as a coping strategy probably isn’t too mind blowing, right? Most of us are aware we are doing it. And our first instinct might be to feel ashamed, embarrassed, or frustrated with ourselves discouraged. And here’s something I want you to understand. We’re gonna go deeper into this. But your lower brain is literally hardwired to seek pleasure, and avoid pain. And you most likely developed these coping strategies before you knew better, possibly with something like food. You didn’t when you were young, and you simply weren’t emotionally or physically mature enough to really make that cognitive leap. You may have developed a tendency to buffer with food, for example, because it worked, right, provided comfort. I don’t know if you know how many of you have listened to me talk over the course of this podcast. But I share in my book that I had a developed a habit from an early age of of comfort and being from chips and soda and so chips, you know, potato chips still to this day, they’re there. They’re like kryptonite for me, I say. But I mean, it’s definitely I developed a comfort strategy around those. Then when you were older may be going to your first parties and people were drinking to feel less awkward to feel you know, that that social, a little bit more brave, the social lubricant that alcohol is right to feel less insecure, all of these negative emotions that you wanted to avoid. And you might have decided to have a drink. And again, it likely helped, especially in the short run. So there is no reason to beat yourself up about buffering, right? Because it’s very common, and it’s very much a part of our human nature. Instead, we can just see it as kind of an outdated method and now we’ve got capacity and we’ve got better knowledge when you know better You do better, right? We’re learning how to become better mind managers, better thinkers, so that we don’t rely on buffering. Now, there are other ways that buffering can can be manifested that may be less visible. And those can include things like emotional suppression. People often suppress their emotions to avoid appearing vulnerable or to maintain a sense of control. For example, in for example, someone might hide their sadness during a challenging moment to avoid showing weakness, right. Another type of buffering is just simple avoidance. Buffering may involve avoiding situations, people or topics that trigger discomfort or negative emotions. This avoidance can prevent individuals from confronting or resolving any underlying issues. That’s why we want to work to not do it. And then denial is a common form of buffering where individuals just refuse to acknowledge or accept their emotions or circumstances. And this can obviously very much hinder personal growth and problem solving capabilities. A just a quick break to talk with you for a minute about Sunnyside. You’ll hear me talk about it on the show often, and it really is my number one recommendation for a mindful drinking app. People use this tool in my groups in my classes, and they tell me all the time, how much they really appreciate the fact that Sunnyside is a very positive reinforcement. And what I mean by that is that when you track your drinks, and let’s just say, you planned for one drink, and you ended up having to, if you’re honest, and you track that second drink, you’re not going to get a message that shames you in any way or reprimands you, you’re actually going to get positive reinforcement for tracking a drink that you didn’t plan on, and some ideas of some suggestions for going and grabbing a snack or getting some water. Sunnyside is like having a coach in your pocket. And I love that you can try it for a 15 day free trial go to www.sunnyside.co/molly to get started today. For the purpose of this conversation, we’re going to talk about the buffering that people do when they over consume. For many people listening here, it’s the decision to over drink. But we’ve likely all experienced overeating or at some point in a buffering way. Maybe you’ve overshot a little retail therapy, maybe you’ve zoned out on tick tock videos for hours on end, are just other forms of consumption buffering. And part of the reason that these options appeal to us is because we are constantly bombarded with messages that associate all of those things with pleasure, right? In addition to not wanting to face negative emotions, we are inundated with messages that suggest that we are entitled to feel happy in to seek this kind of pleasure all the time. And let’s face it, there’s a lot of money to be made on pleasure, right? The pleasure of eating, drinking and spending money. Big companies take advantage of our natural inclination. And take advantage of that lower primitive brain that is seeking those three things to avoid pain to get pleasure and to conserve energy becomes a perpetual issue in our lives. As pleasure seeks more pleasure, right? The more we purchase, the more we want to purchase. The more we eat, the more we want to eat. The more we drink, the more we want to drink. It’s easy to see how and why our brains might believe that they should always escape negative emotions and get pleasure because it’s so immediately available to us in so many ways. One of the reasons people resist changing their drinking habits and or fear giving up alcohol even for like a more sober October is because they don’t want to have to give up pleasure. What I want you to consider is that our brains reaction to alcohol is really a false pleasure. And a false pleasure is something that your brain has an excessive reaction to that it really truly isn’t evolved to handle. And therefore that’s why it has a negative consequence. For example, when we concentrate grapes into wine and drink it, right as opposed to eating a grape, we give our brain an extreme burst of dopamine. Now our primitive brains love that burst of dopamine and with out intervention from our logical prefrontal cortex, that false pleasure fuels our desire, which leads to many of us, and like me for decades to develop habits that don’t serve us. And the companies who are making money on the food who are making money on the alcohol, they have a vested interest in keeping us consuming, even over consuming right. Now, maybe you’ve heard this. But when you eat junk food, you may think you are eating just a handful of chips, a cookie or a few candies, but you’re actually eating something that has been chemically engineered to make you want more of it. When you eat these foods, you’re not only up against the food itself, you are up against food science experts, brands and companies whose sole purpose is to create foods that people will love, and what more of so they can make a profit. The time and energy that companies put into creating junk food are about more than just creating something that tastes good. It is a precise science that considers addictive behaviors, large studies, marketing practices, and finding the exact combination of taste, texture, color and design to get you to eat more. Food manufacturers spend millions of dollars to create products that reach the quote unquote, bliss point. And that is the point at which the ingredients are optimized to deliciousness to keep you coming back for more. The bliss point of food is the exact balance of salt, sugar, fat and flavors that isn’t too much but isn’t too little, and leaves your brain craving more. In fact, this is just one of the many tools that food engineers use to create these very addictive forms of processed food. Now, I talk a lot in my programs about creating awareness for your brain. I’ve shared the quote many times, all change happens on the other side of awareness. Most people are operating by default, they are not challenging their thinking. And they believe that if they were to give up all the junk food, the alcohol, the impulse buying, that they’d be giving up all the pleasure they have in their lives. Now, is that you? Have you gotten into this more sober October thinking that you’re giving up all the fun without alcohol? Are you trying to replace the buffering you might have been doing with alcohol with food? Ask yourself this question is lumping together a bunch of false pleasures really create happiness? Is it actually fun to consume all the things, especially when we over consume, right? It’s really not that fun at all. And I often have this conversation with my students and clients when we are uncovering all the stories, all the unconscious thoughts they have about alcohol. And so often people will tell me that alcohol helps them have fun, yet where they’re having the conversation in the first place because alcohol is no longer fun for them. It’s a source of worry and anxiety, and drinking is creating negative consequences in their lives. It’s ironic right? Now, if you’re someone who’s buffering who’s consuming a bunch of highly processed foods, or drinking alcohol or maxing out your credit card with online shopping, ask yourself is that rush of pleasure worth the negative consequences? Our brains are tricked into believing that whatever our buffer of choice is, that whatever delivers that initial pleasure, our brains think it’s the answer to avoiding negative emotions. But, and this is really the upshot. We end up feeling so much pain because of the consequences of over consuming that after the initial pleasure has subsided, many of us wish that we didn’t have alcohol or junk food or credit cards in our lives at all. Buffers only provide a temporary release, and those negative emotions always come back harder than they started. In the very first episode of this podcast, I said that one of the keys to changing my relationship with alcohol was that I no longer use alcohol to try to buffer away negative emotion in my characteristics of an alcohol, minimalist graphic, which you can see in my private Facebook group, by the way, if you want to check it out, always a link in the show notes. I say that as an alcohol minimalist that an alcohol minimalist doesn’t turn to alcohol. All to numb away negative emotions. Another way of describing buffering. And I genuinely believe that buffering with anything is simply something we want to stop doing. Here’s what I can tell you. When you stop buffering, you will feel pain, you will feel the pain of boredom, the pain of stress, the pain of feeling restless, and any other pains, buffering or avoiding emotions like these does not make them go away. It just masks us, it makes us not feel it or see it temporarily. We pretend it’s not there. But it is, of course there. And it’s there for a reason. We have thoughts, and we need to examine them, we need to examine what is causing our feelings, we can handle the feelings when we take the time to explore them and to see what is going on. So you’re going to feel discomfort and these temporary pains when you stop buffering. But this is important, the pain is not hazed by the lack of buffering. I want you to hear that. Again. If you’re feeling bored, or stressed or restless this month during more sober October. It’s not because of the lack of alcohol. We need to uncover and look for what thoughts are causing the feelings of boredom or stress or restlessness. When you stop buffering, you can start seeing exactly what is going on in your mind, which is causing those feelings, which is determining the action that you’re taking. When you choose to stay conscious, you can evaluate those patterns in a way that motivates sustainable change. You don’t want a life that you need to keep buffering from right. Being able to create feelings on purpose and choose the narrative of our lives. That is what giving up buffering is all about us this month to explore your thoughts to allow your emotions to be their life is 5050. And that’s okay. Don’t buy into this idea of false pleasure and that we’re better off consuming our way through life. Now, don’t forget, if you’re a new listener, please check out the podcast listening guide at guide dot Molly watts.com. And until next week, choose peace my friends. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this episode and put it into action this week. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less hum join me in making peace with alcohol. It’s my six month online course and group coaching program designed to help you build sustainable change. Give me six months and I’ll help you create peace. Check it out at www dot Molly watts.com/join That’s Molly with the why and watts with an s.com/join I’m joined me today