EP #147

Sober October Series: Using Curiosity to Change Your Drinking

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In this episode of the “Sober October Series,” Molly Watts shares her personal journey of breaking free from family alcohol abuse, adopting an alcohol minimalist lifestyle, and advocating for curiosity as a key tool for transforming drinking habits. She not only discusses her own experiences but also provides a recommended reading list for those looking to delve deeper into the topic. Drawing from sources like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” and Dr. Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal,” she emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and compassion in navigating changes in alcohol consumption. Through her insights, she encourages listeners to explore their own beliefs, prioritize self-discovery, and foster sustainable changes in their relationship with alcohol, ultimately promoting a mindset of curiosity and personal growth.

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 well, it’s a little bit cold here in Oregon. Maybe that’s because I’m just experiencing the big difference between the 90 degree weather that I got to enjoy down in LA this last weekend. If you’re in the Facebook group, you saw some posts for me I was down in LA getting to see this Steelers beat the rams. For those of you that don’t know, I’m a big football fan I am and also went to Universal Studios and got to wander around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which as a Harry Potter fan was was really fun. And it was like 90 degrees. 80 degrees. Super beautiful down there. And I’m back here in Oregon now and it’s it’s a little cold. It’s going to be wet too. And I guess that’s October. Are you in the Pacific Northwest? So this is our last week of more sober October, How’s it been going for you? I hope well, I hope that you’ve been prioritizing some alcohol free days adding in even one is if you’ve got none before, then that’s something that we’re working on is adding in alcohol free days. For a more sober October, you don’t have to do you haven’t had to do the whole 31 days. I’m on track for my 25 days. And I did enjoy a couple of drinks down in LA last weekend. And, you know, that’s exactly the way that I want to include alcohol in my life as in a minimal way and be able to enjoy it in small amounts, which I did. And then back to mostly alcohol free living, which is completely possible. And anyone that tells you that it’s not possible. I know that it is I have many people that work with me that are on my Facebook group that have told me that listen, just listen to the podcast that share input with me and give me send me emails and let me know that it’s working for them. So do the work and it works right. As a refresher as a support of more sober October. I’ve done a sober October series here on the podcast this month. In week one, we talked about buffering with alcohol. And in week two, we talked about moments of decision with alcohol. And last week, it was resistance and reluctance to change your drinking. And I’ll link all of those episodes in the show notes. This week, in this last of the sober October series, I’m going to be talking all about curiosity and using it to change your drinking. I was listening to one of my favorite books recently, I have a few of them by the way. And as a side note, if you’d like my recommended reading list, again, pop over to the Facebook group alcohol minimalists change your drinking habits because it’s right there in the guides my recommended reading list. And I have a few that I’ve listened that I listened to on repeat, including chasing cupcakes by Elizabeth Benton. I’ve referenced this book often on the podcast as well as had Elizabeth on the show a couple of times. And I reference it in my own book. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the inspirational quotes that I use right at the end of the book and something that really just stuck with me from Elizabeth’s work. And that is the Rumi quote. That is why do you stay in prison when the doors are so wide open? And that’s really what I felt like my daily drinking habit was a prison. And this book really, Elizabeth’s book really helped me it was a part of that. And I tend to favor audio books these days. I have chasing cupcakes in both formats, but what I specifically like about it is that I can jump into any chapter and each one really stands alone as a motivational lesson. And it reminds me that as I’m changing and my life circumstances shift and evolve, that even something that I’ve heard before may resonate in a different way, or simply deepen my core beliefs. And reinforcing again, the power in my own brain in choosing my thoughts and practicing new beliefs, and chasing cupcakes, just feels good every time I listen to it. And I love that about that book. Another one of my favorite books, which has nothing to do with behavior change, by the way, but I wholeheartedly believe it’s a book everyone should read, and maybe even listen to because I really love it in audio. This book is called Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande. And for anyone who has an aging parent, it’s especially powerful. And I first read it when I was beginning to see changes in my father in his later years. But honestly, I think it really helped me think about the finitude of my own life. And what mattered most to me. And that helped me inspire change, right? It’s so well written. And the audio version is masterfully read. So I encourage it. Now, back to the episode at hand, because neither of those books is the one that I was actually listening to, that sparked the subject of this episode that came from maybe you should talk to someone. And it’s a book that I read for the first time last year, and I have dipped back into here and there, but recently decided to re listen to the whole book. Now, this book is part humor part autobiography. And part reference, though it is a work of fiction. It details the work of a therapist, as we track a handful of her patients through the course of their therapy. And then the therapists own journey through therapy sessions with her counselor. And throughout the book. And again, it is a work of fiction, but it is definitely, you know, there’s definitely elements of her own story in it. And it’s humorous, and people, everybody that I’ve recommended it to just loves it. But throughout the book, the author references learned techniques and practices of a therapist. And in this particular chapter that I’m going to talk about, she shares about a patient who she felt unable to help. Now she Dr. Laurie Gottlieb, the author writes, If you’re not curious about yourself, counseling will not help you. She describes the patient Baca saying everyone has blind spots. But what’s notable about Becca is that she seems to have so little curiosity about herself. I thought about that statement as it applies to both coaching and changing your relationship with alcohol. And that statement, if you’re not curious about yourself, counseling will not help is equally true when you apply it to poaching, or just behavior change, you will not be able to create sustainable change in your drinking habits. If you’re not curious about yourself. If you’re only curious about what’s wrong with the world, or what’s wrong with your partner, or what’s wrong with your kids, or your job, or anything else, and you’re not curious about what’s going on inside of you, you will not be helped by a coach, by a therapist, by a counselor, by a book by a podcast by any type of tool that your person or effort that you’re making to change behavior. Now, if you’ve listened to this show, for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me talk about curiosity and compassion when it comes to Off Plan drinking. We cannot change when we are stuck in a shame cycle, and living in regret and disappointment with ourselves. Because we didn’t stick to our plans, or we had an episode of binge drinking. So I’ve talked about using curiosity and compassion often in those scenarios. When we are rehashing the past, or we were focused on what our decisions around alcohol have cost us this kind of ruminating and feeling bad and punishing ourselves for our bad behavior. It never works for long lasting change. And that’s where I often talk about using curiosity, right, and compassion for ourselves. Now, sure, you might be able to restrict yourself and not allow yourself to drink for a day or a week or maybe even a month. But without feeling compassion for yourself. And being curious about the why Off Plan drinking happened. really changing your relationship with alcohol for the long run won’t be successful. And like I said, this is definitely a big part of what I mean by using curiosity to change your drinking. But it’s more than just being curious about mystery. So are setbacks. 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 Cree 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. And it’s also more than being curious about the science of alcohol. Again, if you’ve listened to this podcast, you know that I’m a big science nerd. And really diving into the science of alcohol is something that absolutely helped me challenge my old beliefs about alcohol with some truths, right. And being able to change my belief about both beliefs about alcohol helped change the feeling of desire that I had, that was fueled by my old way of thinking. And I also have a lot of natural curiosity about the brain. And that’s been important too. I am fascinated by neuroscience and learning all about neuroplasticity, and how capable my brain was of changing itself. Understanding that I had literally trained my brain to desire alcohol, and I could retrain it to desire something else was empowering. And again, a very big part of how I broke my daily drinking habit. But again, the curiosity I want to talk to you about today is more than being curious about neuroscience or science in general. If you really want to change your drinking habits, if you really want to become someone who desires alcohol less, if you want to become an alcohol minimalist, you have to be curious about you. In that chapter from maybe you should talk to someone. This is a quote that I’m going to read and she’s talking about therapy. And I’m telling you that if you’re seeking counsel from this podcast, from my book, from my coaching, the same words apply, just substitute the word coach or counselor for therapists or coaching or counseling for therapy, okay. But I want you to hear what this quote says. Therapy is hard work. And not just for the therapist. That’s because the responsibility for change lies squarely with the patient. If you expect an hour of sympathetic head nodding, you’ve come to the wrong place. therapists will be supportive, but our support is for your growth, not for your low opinion of your partner. Our role is to understand your perspective, but not necessarily to endorse it. In therapy, you’ll be asked to be both accountable and will unravel. Rather than steering people straight to the heart of the problem. We nudge them to arrive there on their own. Because the most powerful truths, the ones people take the most seriously, are those they come to little by little on their own. I love that i i again, if you just substitute coaching or counseling in there, what I’ve learned what I’ve found is that when I am coaching with people, they have to get to that truths, the things that they believe on their own. And when they take those things to heart, when they really understand and become curious about themselves. That’s when true change is really going to happen. It’s about what you uncover about yourself and whether or not you choose to accept it or challenge it that will determine your success at changing your relationship with alcohol. When I say what you uncover about yourself, I will add that I am not talking about clinical diagnoses or past traumas. In my book, I am very clear and I will be here as well. If you are experiencing mental illness that is keeping you from being able to perform typical daily routines, like disrupting your sleep, your eating your work, or if you have experienced substantial trauma in your past that is still impacting you in your current life. In either of those scenarios. A trained per professional who is skilled in those areas is an appropriate choice for the rest of us who are able to basically navigate our lives, but we’re wanting to change our behaviors and improve our lives, we have to be willing to explore our thoughts, our feelings, and uncover the connections that drive our actions. If we only want to focus on changing the action without understanding our thoughts and our feelings, if we’re not curious about our thoughts and our feelings, we cannot create sustainable change. In my coaching programs, my first meetings with people include this same type of work, I encourage people with written prompts to uncover some of the old stories they have about themselves. Some are self limiting beliefs, some are core beliefs that serve them. Well. We have to dive into these thoughts to begin making the connection, and to see how those beliefs are determining the actions that we’re taking or not taking. Being curious about ourselves is at the root of changing our drinking habits. What do you believe about your ability to change? What do you believe about your life? What do you believe about your partner about your job? About your kids about your family about your friends? Are you willing to be wrong about all of those beliefs? Are you willing to change what you’ve previously thought and create new beliefs? Are you curious to see how your thoughts are fueling the feeling of desire to drink? At the end of the day, we don’t change our drinking habits by focusing on adding in alcohol free days for a month. Yes, it’s a great start. It’s a great practice to prioritize alcohol free days. And if you want to create sustainable change, you will need to get curious about your thoughts, and about how your thoughts create your feelings, and about your feelings, determine the actions that you’re taking. If you don’t want to do that work, if you want to hold on to the blind spots, you’ll likely keep turning to alcohol to solve for your emotions. Now, trust me being curious about yourself can be hard work. And it’s also the best work I’ve ever done. Because it’s allowed me to break what I consider to be an unbreakable daily drinking habit. And it’s taught me that my reality is 100% shaped by where I focus my attention, and the thoughts and the perspective that I choose to think. I hope that you have had a really great, more sober October, I hope that it has helped you see that by creating more alcohol free days in your life. It allows you to have a better relationship with alcohol. And I hope that you’re really looking at this as an opportunity to start working on sustainable change. I want that for you. I’ve continued to want it for myself, and it’s really truly the best work I’ve ever done. That’s all I have for you this week. My friends. It’s a short episode, coming back from a long weekend and I hope that it serves you well make it a great end of October and I will see you next week in November. 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 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.