EP #151

Undoing the Urge to Overdrink

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly Watts opens up about her journey to break free from family alcohol abuse and adopt a minimalist approach to alcohol consumption. She emphasizes the importance of responsible drinking, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving, urging listeners to limit alcohol intake to maintain a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Sharing personal experiences of managing stress during Thanksgiving gatherings, she highlights the power of mindfulness and empathy in handling familial expectations. Watts delves into strategies for interrupting urges to overdrink, advocating for self-compassion and utilizing tools like the Sunnyside app and the “PB and J” technique to identify and manage triggers effectively. Through her insights and experiences, she encourages listeners to embrace gratitude and cultivate a healthier relationship with alcohol, even in the face of challenging emotions and memories.

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 cold and clear, Oregon. I was in Colorado this last weekend down in the Denver and Boulder area. And wow, I gotta tell you, it was just stunning. It was warm. It was like 60s and clear and very dry, cold cold in the morning. But eautiful and I really enjoyed it don’t get down there very often. So it was super fun. Came back. And you know, it’s been okay around here. I’m really hopeful because last year on Thanksgiving, it was a gorgeous day. So I’m hoping that we’re gonna get that repeat this week. So how are you how is November going? Around here we’ve been doing no binge November. And we’re of course applying that to alcohol, but really anything that you might binge that has negative consequences. And for alcohol. Remember that a binge is anything more than three standard drinks for women and more than four standard drinks for a man. And we’re gonna go with the CDC is definition for timing. And the CDC simply says on an occasion, the N i A tries to get specific with the timing, and BAC and includes blood alcohol content with their definition. And by doing so I think it just gets a little more confusing and possibly a little more permissive in some people’s minds. So for simplicity’s sake, a binge for our accounting would be four standard drinks for women on any one day and five standard drinks for men on any one day. Now, the thing about over drinking is that even if you’re not raising your blood alcohol content up over the 0.08%, which is a part of the definition from the NIA, when you drink four or five standard drinks, you are definitely disrupting your neuro chemistry, it will cause you to experience anxiety, you will be disrupting your sleep cycles, you are overtaxing your liver. And it can cause things like irregular heartbeats and in an inflammatory response in your immune system. So there’s really no beating around the bush on this, folks, when it comes to alcohol. Less is definitely better. Being a minimalist is definitely better. And there’s never a time when over drinking is going to be good for your health or your well being. And I’m highlighting this really specifically on Thanksgiving, and maybe other holidays. Because it might be easy to lower yourself into the idea that you’re drinking a higher number of drinks. But you’re stretching that out over a long period of time. Right? How many of you start drinking on a holiday like Thanksgiving earlier than you typically would because you’re making food together and you’d maybe you have mimosas in the morning and you keep on going through wine in the afternoon and then you’re drinking cocktails in the evening. If you do that your BAC might not raise up to that 0.08% Over time, but the amount of alcohol is still over drinking and it’s still a binge by our definition. If you’ve if a woman drinks, four or more drinks and a man drinks five or more drinks, I bring that up because we’re really focusing on no binge. So as you go into tomorrow, if you’re listening to this on the day that it released as you’re heading into Thanksgiving, if you’re here in the States, I want you to keep this front and center. We’re going to go a little deeper into overdrinking because much like overeating. Over drinking is something that we can when we limit it, right. When we reduce the number of times it’s happening when we limit overindulging. We can really move the needle on creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol really for life. So Let’s talk about Thanksgiving a little bit. It’s a holiday that I have a bit of history with. I don’t think I’m alone there. I hear from people all the time that Thanksgiving is a source of real stress for them. I don’t know, maybe it’s because the meal lasts longer or the cooking and the timing of the meal can certainly add stress. I know that used to be the situation for me, I literally used to believe that I couldn’t make it through Thanksgiving without drinking to excess. And the story that I held on to was that I needed to drink starting at home before I even left my house, before I got to my mother in law’s house. And it was because of her stress and anxiety. So she was the leader of Thanksgiving dinner, and she put a lot of unnecessary pressure on herself and everyone else for the meal to come out perfect. And timing was really highly important to her. And then how we all responded to her cooking was typically very important as well. And here’s the thing, I’m not going to tell you that I always enjoy my mother in law’s behavior on Thanksgiving, even though I typically cook most of the dinner now, still, to this day, I wish that she could not get herself so wound up. But the difference is that I realized that how she feels and how she acts is 100% the result of her own thinking. And it’s also 100%, her choice, how she feels acts, and I don’t allow her thoughts, feelings and actions to change my own. I used to I used to blame her actions on my feelings. But that’s not the way it works. I get to choose what I make her actions mean to me, and I can do that with my thoughts. If I don’t want to be stressed out, then I can choose thoughts that helped me feel empathetic thoughts that helped me focus on all the things I really love about Thanksgiving, including some of the recipes that my mother in law has shared with me. And I choose to be grateful for all the hard work and how it feels to have my family together. I manage my mind. And it helps me so much to navigate the day so that I don’t feel like I want to over drink. But honestly, that whole scenario is different than how overdrinking may manifest for many of you. Over drinking will happen on an occasion like Thanksgiving or really any time because you haven’t mastered yet the different places that you need to to interrupt the cycle of overdrinking. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I’m calling it a cycle. You could say a pattern of over drinking a habit over drinking you can call it binging and if you’re binging routinely then this is an episode that I really want you to listen to, to save and to go back to and maybe even share it with someone else. Everything I’m talking about here you can apply to anything that you’re over indulging in. So if you know someone who’s working on they’re overeating or overspending or over gaming or over gambling whatever this might help them to. Just a quick break to talk with you more about sunny side. Did you know that Sunnyside 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. We’re going to talk about three places where you need to learn how to interrupt the urge to over drink. But before we get to those, I want you to hear this. I hope that this conversation that we have today will help normalize urges for you. One of the biggest problems people have with urges is their own thinking and making having an urge some sort of crisis instead of just a normal part of the learning process. It’s 100% expected that you will keep having urges. Sorry, newsflash. Bad news right? Do I still have urges to over drink, I just don’t make them mean that something has gone wrong. I have urges to drink Off Plan. And that’s totally normal. When we’ve developed a coping mechanism, or we have just old ingrained stories and beliefs that we’ve practiced for years around alcohol, and about what alcohol can do for us, then of course, our brains are going to try to keep throwing out thoughts that create the feeling of desire, which is really all the urge is right, it’s the feeling of desire, and it’s totally normal. And we can learn how to lessen that feeling of desire and how to handle urges better, so that then they eventually happen less often. Okay, the first place that you’re going to need to interrupt the urge, counter intuitively, counterintuitively, the first place, you’re going to need to learn how to work with your urges is after the fact. That’s right, the very first place you need to learn how to deal with an urge to over drink is, after the urge has happened. And you’ve done the deed, you’ve woken up with a headache, a dry mouth, and you really can’t remember exactly what happened when you were going to bed. Immediately, you start having thoughts like, oh my god, I did it again. Why can’t I ever learn my lesson? This is really the first place that we’re going to interrupt our past pattern. In my piece and power framework that I teach in my online course and group coaching program, this is where the Off Plan plan comes into play. You really have to get good at using compassion and curiosity to reflect on and learn from what happened. And this is where so many of us stay stuck because we cannot stop beating ourselves up with our missteps. If you want to stop over drinking, I promise you the first place you need to change is after you’ve over drank and being willing to do that differently. So you wake up the morning after you look around, and you’re feeling physically kind of cruddy. Okay? You have two options. One is to feel sorry for yourself. And to beat yourself up to promise yourself, you’ll start over all the other crap that comes up from overdrinking. And when you do that, you don’t learn anything about yourself about what you could do differently next time. beating yourself up means you don’t use curiosity to investigate what’s going on in your life, to set yourself up for a scenario where you are wanting to over drink, right? To understand what was happening that made you want to over over drink. And you’re also not figuring out what set yourself up for being so emotionally worn out that you couldn’t reason with yourself in the moment, right. There’s another option. And the other option is to not beat yourself up. And in that moment is say, this is a place that I can interrupt the cycle. And I do not have to beat myself up. This is something I want to change. It doesn’t mean something’s wrong with me. I know that I usually in the past have gotten upset with myself. But I am determined to solve this for myself. And the only way to solve a problem is to look at that problem problem with an analytical mind and keep working it until I solve it. So that’s the first place you need to learn to interrupt urges after the fact. But it’s not the only place we have to be willing to interrupt the urge process in as many points as possible. And we work on those points one at a time until the cycle starts to slow down. And eventually those urges become much fewer and far between, like mine are now they are almost comic relief for me. I get amused with the fact that my lower brain tries to throw out some old crappy idea of what’s going to help me feel better in the moment. And it should be good. It should be good information for you to know that you’ve got lots of points of interruption for urges. Because in the beginning, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking and people that are new to this work that they have to stop over drinking in the moment after they’ve already started drinking. And they’re focusing all their energy on stopping over drinking once they’ve started down that path. And I hear it all the time. I’m fine not drinking but once I started just can’t seem to stop. When we think that’s the only way to stop over drinking is by stopping ourselves when we’ve already started. After we’ve had a couple of drinks See, that really makes the work harder. And it seems harder, right? When you realize that you have lots of different interruption points, lots of places where you can interrupt urges, you’re going to find that you have way more power and control, you’re going to have multiple points where you can win. And then the urge cycle can’t operate because you’re constantly removing pieces and parts, and eventually the cycle falls apart, right. The second place that we can interrupt urges is where we catch ourselves before the urge happens. And I want you to think about that. To me, this is one of the most powerful places to be able to stop yourself from eventually over drinking. Because when something’s already in motion, right, when you’re drinking, when you’ve started drinking, and you have the urge to over drink in that moment, it does take skill and determination and understanding to stop that over drink in the process. You can get there, it’s just not the first place nor the second place to start working on your urges. Now, a lot of us get stuck in that thinking, well, once I start binging it’s all over. Once I started binge, I might as well finish. I’ve screwed up the day, I might as well screw up the week, right? Here’s another Newsflash, it takes no skill to think like that. And it also won’t help you stop over drinking in the future. It won’t help you figure out why you’re wanting to over drink. So if you want to choose those thoughts, go right ahead or better decide to be a grown up and say that you know that it takes skill, it takes mental acuity, it takes compassion. And it’s going to take a whole new version of me to catch myself. When I’ve cord, the third drink and my plan said to and, and even when you’ve drank in most of that third drink, it takes a whole new version of you could pour the rest of that drink down the drain, and say I don’t have to finish this. I can stop right now and get to work on figuring this out. I can feel relief and pride knowing that I stopped. And tomorrow, I’m going to go look at it and dig a little deeper. The last one is perhaps the trickiest. It’s what I call when you feel like over drinking. All right, I say trickiest. The second one is really probably the hardest. As the urges happening. The last one is when you feel like over drinking before you’ve started drinking the deal. And I hear this from people, right? It’s like I knew ahead of time that I was going to over drink. That’s what the comments that people make. I knew ahead of time. What is it that I really want you to pay attention to and get really good at understanding what your body does. When you are about to over drink. I want you to identify the actual emotion that is happening, that is most likely to lead to over drinking is that when you’re stressed or tired or bored, or wanting to keep the party going. When you start feeling whatever it is for you. That’s a sign that you need to pay attention. Whether it’s stressed or tired. And all of these things when I start feeling that I know that I need to pay attention. And that’s when I know I need to take action to help myself so that I can avoid over drinking. You want to get familiar with what that feeling feels like in your body and be able to describe it to yourself. I’m feeling stressed. My heartbeat is faster, my shoulders are tight, my stomach’s uneasy, whatever it is interrupting that feeling proceeds and over drink. And it’s the third place that you want to learn to change the urge cycle. Once you’ve identified the feeling, then it’s the thoughts that you’re going to want to look into. You have to understand what are your thoughts that you think right before you start feeling that urge to over drink? Sometimes it’s just little ones, right? That’s those little ones it’s going to taste good. This won’t matter. I just liked this one who cares? Now I know it’d be great if our brains like had a big alarm that went off and said, hey, you’ve had a really hard day, I’m just letting you know you’re going to be thinking that an extra drink would would help you take the edge off. So be careful because you’re about to over drink. But of course our brains don’t do that. Instead, when we’re feeling the struggles of being a human, our lower brain typically has learned that it can talk you into behavior that sounds good in the moment, but doesn’t actually really solve for the emotions that you’re feeling. Now one of my favorite tools to help identify those thoughts and feelings is the PB and J tool. And I’ve talked about it here on the podcast, I share it in the Facebook group, you could find it over in my private Facebook group, or you can email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And I’m happy to send it off to you, the PB and J. I know it’s hard work to interrupt the urge cycle, it takes time it requires practice. And I hope you take what I said. And go through the phases of these urges. And see all the places where you can identify and know what’s happening right in those places. I also want to tell you that there’s probably more to it, there’s probably a root cause that’s behind your desire to overtake. There’s usually something going on for all of us, when we’re breaking through this, this process when we’re starting to understand this work. And if we notice that our urges aren’t starting to go away, if we’re like doing all the things, but it feels harder than it should be. There’s probably something going on behind the scenes. And that’s where we really have to be willing to explore our thoughts and our feelings, if we want to stop over drinking for good. All right, my friends, I hope you take something away from this episode that helped you tomorrow, if you’re listening on the day that it’s released, whether it’s another drink or an extra scoop of mashed potatoes, take a moment to pause and see if you can interrupt the urge cycle. For the US audience. I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. I mentioned that I’ve had a lot of stories around Thanksgiving. And in 2022 I added possibly the most challenging. In 2022 My dad passed away on Thanksgiving night at my house. After a truly beautiful day. I choose to focus my attention on Thanksgiving, to my profound gratitude for having my dad in my life for as long as I did. I am profoundly grateful for all of you for listening for being here for wanting to do the work on changing your relationship with alcohol. I hope you have a very blessed holiday. This one’s for you. Cray que curry. You are missed and loved every day. That’s all I have for you this week, my friends. 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 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.