EP #145

Sober October Series: Moments of Decision with Alcohol

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly Watts candidly shares her journey of overcoming familial alcohol abuse, highlighting the pivotal role mindset plays in achieving lasting change during Sober October. She underscores the importance of challenging automatic thoughts during decision moments, urging listeners to prepare for such instances to reshape their drinking habits. Watts confronts the notion that alcohol is necessary for enjoyment during social gatherings, advocating for a shift in perspective towards genuine sources of fun. Drawing from her own experiences, she emphasizes the transformative power of mindfulness and coaching in breaking free from alcohol addiction. Encouraging her audience to challenge ingrained beliefs and embrace new empowering ones, Watts stresses the significance of planning ahead for potential setbacks, viewing each stumble as an opportunity for growth rather than defeat. With wisdom and resilience, she guides listeners towards forging a peaceful relationship with alcohol through intentional mindset shifts and sustainable change.

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. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from it’s been a glorious Oregon around here. Absolutely beautiful, at 85 degrees this weekend on the way to not quite 85 but sunny, warm, dry, and just amazing. So bright, the colors, the blue sky, all the yellow, orange green leaves as they’re turning this fall. And oh my goodness, I just am so grateful. The rain is coming this week and then more next week. So hey, it’s been a good run. And this may be the turning point for all of us Oregonians I’m prepared for it. I hope you’ll hear me complain, you know you will. If you are new around here, I always start the show off with a weather report from Oregon. So I guess get used to that. And also want to invite you to pick up the podcast listening guide to the alcohol minimalist podcast listening guide. I pulled it together so that people that are just new to the show and are learning how to navigate changing their relationship with alcohol. Choosing to be an alcohol minimalist, could do a quick download of 15 episodes that are curated that are really designed to help support those early stages of change. You can pick it up at guide dot Molly watts, not calm that’s guide dot Molly watts.com. Check it out if you’re new. All right. on to this week’s show and I am continuing on with a another installment of my sober October series I’ve chosen to do the whole month we’re doing a sober October series really to support people in their efforts for a more sober October, but also to help you hopefully transition what you’re doing this month into a permanent and sustainable change that you really want to keep doing for the rest of your life. Because I say it all the time. That’s the kind of work we want to do the work that we want to keep doing for the rest of our lives. And this episode is all about your mindset. Because believe it or not, despite the tips, tricks and tactics that you’re all trying, despite creating doable drink plans, or alcohol free day planning, despite taking actions like buying non alcoholic beverage alternatives, maybe not having alcohol in your house, avoiding going out for happy hours, you name it. All of these things may help you achieve the results that you want for a month like more sober October. But without addressing mindset, they are really short lived. Without changing our thoughts and rewiring our neural pathways. These actions may help us make it through the month, but they aren’t going to lead to sustainable change. We have to change our thoughts, to create different feelings to take different actions to get different results in our lives. If we want long lasting, sustainable change, it always involves changing our thoughts. And I want to delineate that a little bit more for you because it’s not just changing how we think about alcohol like oh alcohol so great, as opposed to oh, alcohol is a toxin. Right? It’s not that kind of thought change. It’s about really important is changing our thinking during the moments of decision. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today. The moment of decision. I was group coaching on Saturday inside making peace with alcohol and one of my students commented that it’s hard to stay mindful, especially after they have had a couple of drinks. And I said yes, it’s absolutely harder, because alcohol by its nature inhibits our logical prefrontal cortex. Right? That’s a part of its effect on our neurotransmitters. It’s harder, but it’s not impossible. This idea that once I start I just can’t stop is simply not true. And it’s a thought that isn’t useful for you, as you try to change your drinking habits. And it’s often an unconscious story. It’s an unconscious story that we’re not even aware is happening. And it’s fueled by the powerless narrative, which has been perpetuated by the recovery industry, and specifically a for decades, and we’ve been so conditioned to believe it, to believe that we are powerless over alcohol, so that when it feels difficult to stick to our plans, we don’t even challenge that thinking. We just accept it as true. And that’s that kind of moment of decision thinking that I really want to focus on today. I asked my group if there had ever been a time when they had had two or three or even more drinks, and they decided to stop drinking. And they were all nodding. Of course, they all had experienced that I’ve experienced that you’ve experienced that. We’ve all experienced a time when after even having a few drinks, we chose to stop drinking. Yes, it’s harder. And we can do hard things are thoughts about our ability to change our drinking habits, in that moment of decision are such a critical place where we can impact change. Now, what do I mean by the moment of decision, moments of decision come after, we’ve decided to work on our relationship with alcohol and change our drinking habits. We’re practicing more mindful drinking, we’ve begun to practice making doable drink plans, we’re becoming aware of our thoughts and how they fuel our feelings which lead to our actions. And we’re feeling empowered, until a moment of decision comes up threatening to undermine our confidence and create feelings of doubt. Here are three common moments of decision that we need to prepare for, we need to anticipate, and ultimately we need to challenge and change our thinking around in these moments to create a new relationship with alcohol. Number one, here’s what I hear often. I don’t want the fun to end by clients tell me they’ve created doable drink plans for nights when they go out with their friends there. And then all of a sudden ordering a non alcoholic drink when everyone else is keeping the party going feels more difficult, feels impossible. And it feels more difficult. Let’s think about this not because ordering a non alcoholic beverage is actually more difficult, right? So let’s just take the data, it is not harder to say, I’d like a Diet Coke, or I’d like a non alcoholic beer than it is to say I’d like another glass of wine. It’s not harder, right. But it’s because of the moment of decision thinking that it feels more difficult. When we think I don’t want the fun to end and we equate alcohol with fun. It’s in that moment of decision when we can choose to stick to our plan or drink Off Plan. That is the thought that we need to challenge and change. The first thing we need to ask ourselves is my favorite challenging question. And that question is simply is that thought true? Is it true that the fun will end if we don’t keep drinking alcohol. And actually, I’d argue it the other way with my brain, it’s probably more likely that I won’t have more fun if I keep drinking. It’s well covered territory on this podcast in my own brain that once we pass a blood alcohol content of higher than 0.055% We have reached the maximum therapeutic benefit of alcohol and every subsequent drink every tick upward of our blood alcohol content. All we’re doing is risking the negative consequences of overdrinking which are not fun at all. Now, I’m not encouraging the alcohols bad for you logic here. I’m simply asking you to challenge your own thinking when your brain is telling you that drinking more will be fun. And sticking to a doable plan when you’re out with friends will end the fun. You need to ask yourself, is it even true? Right? Second, ask yourself what else is true? What else is true? Is that what makes going out with friends fun is your thoughts about it. Choose thoughts that focus you on why you like spending time with the people that you’re with. Choose thoughts that help you feel appreciative of the atmosphere of the food, have the sights and the smells. Spend time really listening to conversations and appreciating your ability to connect. What makes the event fun is how you think. Not choosing to over drink, right? In that moment of decision, we need to be willing to challenge our brains when the thought I don’t want the fun to end comes up for us. Is it even true that Off Plan drinking will be fun, number one, and number two, what else is true? Just a quick break to talk with you more about sunny side. Did you know that Sunny Side uses science to help you reach your goals by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers that you have. Number one, the power of creek commitment. Each week you set an intention for the week ahead. That includes a tracking goal, a drink goal and possibly a dry day goal. Number two, the power of conscious interference. You’ll learn the habit of tracking each day as soon as you finish it, which creates a mindful pause before you start the next day. And number three positivity. We know that this is a big step that can be tough at times. Right. And that’s why Sunnyside offers coaching through SMS and email to give you support advice and motivation, you can check out a free 15 day trial at www.sunnyside.co/molly. That’s www.sunnyside.co/molly. was another number number two, another moment of decision that requires us to challenge our thinking. And it’s our automatic thinking that comes up often for daily drinkers like I was, especially when you’ve planned for an alcohol free day, this may be happening quite a bit for those of you that are daily habit drinkers and they’re trying to prioritize alcohol free days in a more sober October. call it an urge call it a craving. But the thought that is there fueling it is it’s no big deal. I can have a drink. It’s not like I’ve got a real problem with alcohol. Wow, do I know this permission giving thought so very, very well. This thought was responsible for keeping me stuck for a really long time. It’s a slippery thought that is again, fueled by the unconscious black and white thinking, which has the same origins as the powerless narrative back in the recovery industry. This idea that only people who have real problems with alcohol should change their drinking habits. And real problems are reserved for people with severe alcohol use disorder. And in that moment of decision, it sounds logical. It sounds like the truth when you are saying it’s no big deal. I can have a drink, I don’t have a real problem. When it’s so easy to not challenge that thinking. We have to be willing to challenge it and to get specific with ourselves on why we desire change. I talk with my clients about having a list of many reasons, making them strong and revisiting them often. Why do we need many reasons, because in that moment of decision, we need to turn our attention to the many places in our life that will benefit from changing our drinking, and not just lol ourselves into complacency because we haven’t hit rock bottom. When you actually list out all of the reasons you have for wanting to change your relationship with alcohol, you’ll realize that quote unquote real problem or not, you have so much to gain across many different areas of your life when you change your drinking habits. The thing is that I stayed stuck with this thought for a long time because I didn’t recognize how much time and energy I was expending worrying about my drinking. I didn’t think it was a big problem because I didn’t understand what peace felt like. And I was all too quick to not prioritize being alcohol free, even if it was, quote unquote just a drink. I routinely drink after deciding to be alcohol free for the day because I would talk myself into believing that I didn’t have a real problem. When your brain starts throwing out that story, I want you to First see that thought for exactly what it is. It is the kind of thought that keeps you stuck in a habit that doesn’t serve you. Tell yourself that choosing to be alcohol free Today Tonight is a part of a bigger story. And the only way you write that kind of life story is by experiencing the benefits of alcohol free days. Revisit the many reasons you have for creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol and find one that resonates with you in that specific moment. One that will help you challenge the old type of thinking with a clear purpose. Choose a thought that is a vote for who you are becoming not for who you have been. Number three, this last moment of decision is one that some of you are probably again facing right now. Let’s call it the throw in the towel scenario. This is that moment of decision that happens when you decide to say screw it, I blew it. And instead of overdrinking by just one glass of wine, you finish the whole bottle. This is when you planned on doing a more sober October. But by October 10, you’ve had a few off planned drinking days, and you decide that the month is ruined. So you decide to use it as evidence that you’re not capable of change, and you quit trying. In my book breaking the bottle legacy I talked about the need to plan ahead for Off Plan drinking, and to expect the missteps. You have to commit to using each misstep as an opportunity to learn and to not allow yourself the choice of giving up. From the book, I say, quote, We are learning and making progress toward long term goals. While understanding the patterns we’ve established take time and intention to change. Instead of giving up and believing our mistakes mean we can’t change. Let’s decide ahead of time, 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. moments of decision are coming at us all the time. It’s why the term decision fatigue is part of our vernacular. It’s why the sober only folks will tell you that it’s easier to just not drink at all, because you’re removing these moments of decision. So you won’t get worn down with decision fatigue. I see the opposite of side of these decisions as equally true. Every time I navigate a moment of decision successfully, it creates confidence for me. Every time I don’t I get to practice curiosity and compassion, which has been such an area of growth for me. If you’re looking to change your relationship with alcohol in a permanent, sustainable, long term way, here’s the truth. It takes time. It takes intention. And it takes a willingness to change your beliefs about alcohol. How do we change beliefs, we practice new thoughts, and we just keep thinking them. That’s all a belief is it’s a thought that we’ve kept thinking over and over again. When we change our thoughts, we change our feelings. And when we feel differently, we take different actions. When we act differently, we get different results in our lives. We get to decide who we are becoming and it does not matter who you were last week, last month or last year. If that’s not who you want to be in the future. We are capable of change and we do it by changing our thoughts in those moments of decision. Would you like to learn more about working with me? If so, shoot me an email Molly at Molly watts.com. And let’s talk about which path best suits you and your goals. I have options for self paced learning as well as one on one coaching. And I’d love to talk with you about how you can create sustainable change. Keep up the good work. Keep your more sober October going. And until next time, choose peace. 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 and become someone who desires alcohol less harm 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 a why and watts with an s.com/join I’m joined me today