EP #159

Dry January Series: Alcohol Core Belief #2 - Alcohol Makes Things More FUN

alcoholic minimalist podcast

listen to



In this episode of the Dry January series, Molly Watts delves into strategies for overcoming alcohol abuse through mindfulness and self-awareness, drawing from her own journey and discussing the impact of alcohol core beliefs on Dry January goals. She emphasizes the importance of uncovering unconscious beliefs about alcohol and their influence on desire, particularly how beliefs about alcohol’s role in fun are deeply rooted in social experiences and media messaging. Watts argues that true fun isn’t solely derived from alcohol but rather from our thoughts and beliefs, shedding light on how alcohol affects perception and offering insights into challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about alcohol. She encourages listeners to challenge their core beliefs and work towards changing their relationship with alcohol for a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

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 was finally a dry and cold or again today. It’s been icy, snowy, windy, rainy, all of it the last week or so we had quite a bit of snow. I wasn’t here I was in Arizona full transparency for most of it. But even on Friday, when I was back, I couldn’t get into my office. It was just a mess out there. And I’m really quite glad to see the ice go. I know many Portlanders were without power for many days. And that’s just no fun. It’s no fun at all. So yeah, but today was there was some sunshine I saw and it was pretty mild and rain of course in the forecast because it is January. Hey, speaking of this is dry January air dry, you weary series continues. And we are back with more on alcohol core beliefs. So this is going to be all about alcohol core belief number two this week, we will finish up next week with the dry January Series. And then we’ll continue on with alcohol core beliefs because we’re not quite getting it finished. I was going to try to make these last two episodes about two core beliefs. But honestly, they were just getting too long. So we are doing just one and it’s fine. If it goes past dry January, right? you’ll stick around your listen, I hope you will. How is dry weary going for you. By the way? Are you finding it easy? Has it been more challenging than you anticipated? Have you changed your original goals? Well, whether or not the month has gone as you expected, I guarantee you that the results that you are having are driven by one thing, and that is your AC B’s right not your ABCs but your AC B’s. I introduced the idea of alcohol core beliefs two weeks ago. So if you haven’t already listened to episode number 158, I recommend you go do that first and there I went in depth about alcohol core belief number one, as well as all of them I just outlined what it was. And before we get to today’s show with alcohol core belief number two, I do have a couple of prize winners. And just as a reminder, if you would like to be entered into a drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you got to do is leave a review of the podcast or of my book breaking the bottle legacy wherever you listen to podcasts, wherever you might have read the book and I will find you and add you in. I do one prize drawing that is random and one prize darling that is selected every other week. And today’s winner for the random selection was Mrs. Like Mrs. But Mrs. You left a comment on Spotify. And you are the random prize winner for this week. The chosen prize winner this week is Christina H 73. Christina H 73. If that is you you left a review on Apple podcast saying this is exactly what I was looking for. I feel that I need to break a daily habit and this is perfect for just that reason. I’m glad that my work is resonating with you Christina H 73. Both Christina H and Mrs. Mrs. All you got to do is email me Molly at Molly watts.com and I will send you out some alcohol minimalist swag. All right, let’s talk about another alcohol core belief. All right. I think that like I said these independent episodes are really necessary because I think these are so important, and each one really deserves its own focus. And a quick recap on how I’m defining core beliefs as they apply to life, and then as they apply to alcohol, we have core beliefs about many parts of our lives. And they are fundamentally important because they often fuel our automatic unconscious thinking. core beliefs are strong, long term beliefs that help a person understand how the world works and who they are. These beliefs begin forming in early childhood, and they influence a person’s personality, decision making and mental health. These beliefs act as rules for managing our relationships and our daily life. And the connection between our core beliefs, and how those unconscious thoughts can often fuel the feeling of desire for alcohol is really key. We have to be willing to uncover those unconscious stories, and bring them into our conscious thoughts and challenge them with new thoughts that over time will become new beliefs. A core belief about alcohol is just a thought that you’ve practiced over and over again, with time and repetition. A thought like alcohol helps me unwind becomes core belief number one, that alcohol helps me relieve stress. And we talked about that two weeks ago when we introduced this idea. Again, back in episode 158, I will link it in the show notes. core beliefs are often reinforced by our experiences, our family, our friends, our culture, even where we live. And this is true for alcohol core beliefs, as well as our main core beliefs. We have a lot of external agents that reinforce our core beliefs. That’s certainly very true for alcohol. Our families often do our friends do advertising does social media, television, the movies, the messages that our brains have literally been absorbing, since long before we ever picked up our first drink, create our core alcohol core beliefs. Now, again, why are the alcohol core beliefs so important? Here’s what I believe. I believe that you can take action and abstain from alcohol for a day, a week, a month, even years. And I’ve watched people do it without changing their core beliefs about alcohol. And what that means from my perspective is that they’re close. But they’re not all the way there in terms of achieving a peaceful relationship with alcohol. When you change your core beliefs about alcohol, that is where peace truly resides, we have to be willing to uncover those unconscious stories, bring them into our conscious thoughts and challenge our alcohol core beliefs with new thoughts that over time, then become our new core beliefs. The connection between your core beliefs and those unconscious automatic thoughts that fuel the feeling of desire is key. Now before we break down alcohol core belief number two, I want to remind you that I created a visual aid and worksheet for you. To help you define what your dominant alcohol core belief might be, as well as some of the automatic thoughts that are there supporting that belief, you likely have more than one alcohol core belief that is fueling your desire. And in my experience, there is typically a dominant belief and then secondary, less rigid beliefs. And the alcohol core belief mindmap will help you uncover them. You can find it at www dot Molly watts.com/mind map. So alcohol core belief number two, alcohol core belief number two is pretty simple. It’s alcohol makes things more fun. Boy, do I see this core belief at work so often when people are finding it hard to change their drinking habits. And I get it because this belief is so ingrained in our society, that it feels very true for us. If a Friday night out, stirs up thoughts like I am ready to drink and have some fun. That is alcohol core belief number two, absolutely running in the background of your life, and becoming aware of the belief and understanding what fuels it and what helps it is really the first step in helping to disempower it. This belief probably started when you first tried alcohol. Most people experienced alcohol first in social settings like parties or with friends. I know for me, I definitely snuck alcohol in my teens. And then when I went to college, it was just a very normalized part of weekends to drink. It seemed very much a part of the fun. Even though I often spent daytime hours on the weekend, feeling hungover and terrible, I never questioned or challenged the idea of whether or not it was worth the fun, quote, unquote, that I had the night before. Because it was widely accepted typical of what everyone else was doing. And with repetition, every weekend, I was deepening and reinforcing this alcohol core belief that it was the alcohol that was making things more fun. And it’s really easy to see how our earliest social experiences with alcohol fueled disbelief. And then it is reinforced everywhere. advertising, social media, television, movies all over the place, we are sent the message that alcohol simply makes life more fun. We’re constantly getting the message that drinking is going to make things more fun, it’s going to enhance things, it’s going to make things better, it’s going to make them more special. When you think about it, advertisers are not trying to sell us fermented grapes or barley, right, they’re selling us an experience. They’re selling us fun in a bottle or a glass. And so it makes sense that we really truly believe that alcohol makes life more fun, because we’re just bombarded by all of these messages that are literally created to resonate with us to to evoke those emotions in us. Now, let’s actually look at what having fun really means to us. What does having fun mean to you? Fun is really anything that we find amusing or enjoyable or entertaining, right? So maybe you think of other people or parties or hobbies or outings or activities as things that are fun. But the question really is, if those things are fun, what makes them fun? What makes a person or a party or a hobby or an outing, or an activity amusing or enjoyable? And that’s where most of us don’t really spend any time thinking about this answer. We don’t think a lot about our own thinking. When I asked you what makes something fun. Most of you will say the thing itself is what makes it fun. Jane is just a really fun person. That party was really fun, going hiking, watching a football game, whatever it is. Those are the the activities themselves are creating fun. But the truth is that the circumstance of watching a football game does not create fun. Now, all of you know I’m a big football fan, right? so hear me out here. We do that with our thoughts about the football game, which is why not all of you are football fans, right? Because you don’t think it’s fun to watch a football game, or whether it’s hiking or a party or even Jane, the person that you tell me is a really fun person and her personality. You have thoughts about these things about the people in your life. And that is what creates the feeling of fun or enjoyment or amusement or contentment or happiness, whatever whatever you want to call it makes you happy what makes you feel excited or amused or engaged when you’re experiencing these events? What makes you feel those feelings are your thoughts? That is how the behavior map results cycle works. There is always always always a thought that fuels our feelings. Hey everyone, just a quick break to talk with you about Sunnyside. Now you’ve heard me mentioned Sunnyside many times before. You’ve heard me talk with Nick and E and the founders of Sunnyside and I just want to share with you why I am so passionate about this company. They are way more than just a drink tracking app. They are really about helping people create a mindful relationship with alcohol and they stand for a life that is about having more, not less. Right. There are more rested mornings more days when you’re feeling your absolute best when you have more energy and positivity. Sunnyside is not there to tell you to never go out to never drink but they are there To help you enjoy your life and to wake up and be ready to be your shining best, it is not an all or nothing approach. It is friendly, it is approachable, and it is absolutely judgment free. They want to be a solution that fits into your unique lifestyle. And I think that’s exactly what they’ve created. You can register for a free 15 day trial, go to www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started. That’s www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to try Sunnyside today. Now we talked a lot about neuro chemistry here on the podcast. And I want to acknowledge one of the trickier parts of challenging this alcohol core belief number two, that alcohol just makes things more fun. Alcohol can make you appear to be more fun, and it can make an event seem to be more fun. And it can change our perception in a couple of different ways. Because of its impact on our neurotransmitters. The first thing that happens with alcohol is that we do get an influx of dopamine to our brains. And dopamine is the neurotransmitter that really kind of creates the feeling of enjoyment. And it’s the first way that alcohol can kind of trick us right or change our perception. The second part of that equation is that dopamine actually dampens or turns down the volume on our negative any negative feelings or any stressful feelings or any anxious feelings that we might be having. So if you go into a situation, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, awkward, you name it, whatever it is, and you have a drink, you are going to experience some of the neuro chemistry with the dopamine and the GABA and glutamate, all of these things are going to take a dampening effect in your brain, which you may mistake for more fun, right? When you don’t, when you feel less negative, you feel more fun. Does that make sense? Another way that alcohol can change your perception of either of yourself or have an event that you’re at is because it does interfere with our logical prefrontal cortex where processing and consciousness is centered. So basically, it’s going to quiet your inner critic. And that is how you become less inhibited and more fun. So it’s quieting all these negative thoughts. And that is why these initial feelings of euphoria and Alesund inhibition make us believe that it’s the alcohol that makes things more fun. That makes sense. The effect in our brains, of course, is fleeting. And as I’ve mentioned many times before, it only happens at very low levels of blood alcohol content. And when we chase that buzz, we end up with a higher BAC, that makes negative consequences far more likely to happen. And not fun at all, right? Here’s the important thing about that brain reaction. It’s not the same as the emotion of enjoyment, or contentment or fun, right? And whether or not you are truly fun, or whether or not an event is truly fun, actually only has to do with one thing. And that is your thoughts. You have just gotten used to counting that initial brain buzz as fun and relying on that influx of dopamine to change how you feel about a situation or about the about yourself. And you have done that so regularly, that you don’t even bother paying attention to what you’re thinking. When you start noticing your thoughts, you can quickly see how your own thinking is responsible for how you’re feeling in whatever situation you’re in. Being aware and noticing that is the first step. Then you can begin practicing creating new and different feelings on purpose by directing your thoughts and focusing on the thoughts that you need to create feelings of fun of enjoyment of happiness. Another aspect of this core belief is believing that the reverse is also true. So not only is it that alcohol makes things more fun, but also we tend to believe that without alcohol life, or at least me I am no fun. Life is no fun or I’m no fun. So do you see how Those are two different things, believing that alcohol adds to more fun. And without alcohol. You can’t have fun life is no fun. Those are the two kinds of different sides of the same coin. Right? Now, I’m not someone who is naturally one of those Footloose, kind of fancy free people, I think a lot. And I’m more of a stillwaters kind of run deep kind of girl. And alcohol definitely used to help me turn down the volume on all of those analytical thoughts. And so it seemed like I was more fun when I was drinking, I did believe that what I wasn’t considering, and what you’re probably not considering, is really what makes you fun, right? We are fun to be around when we are more open when we feel at ease when we’re curious when we’re being adventurous or positive. When we’re not stuck in our heads, when we’re not fixated on all of our own shortcomings or our problems when we’re not complaining, when we’re not too serious, right. We’re usually fun when our focus is outside of ourselves, when we are engaging with the world around us. But most of us don’t have a good idea of how to do this on our own. Because we don’t even recognize how much we are driving our personality in our behavior with our own thoughts. We don’t recognize the role that our thoughts have in creating how we feel. And you really have to understand this first, to begin to change not only your relationship with alcohol, but your relationship with yourself, your relationship with the world. And here’s the truth. And this may be hard to hear. But if you think you aren’t fun, when you don’t drink, you are probably right. You probably aren’t that fun to be around. Now, I’m not telling you this because it’s an indictment of who you are. I’m telling you this so that you can start really paying attention to your thoughts, because without realizing it, you’ve probably become very, very good and practiced at thinking a lot of unfun thoughts. Just notice your inner dialogue, the next time you go out and go to an event. And notice that dialogue when you’re getting ready, or you’re headed there. Or when you arrive, pay attention and tune into it. And you’ll see you are probably I bet, overwhelmingly negative or skeptical or anxious or critical or on, you know, just basically unfun thoughts that don’t fuel, a feeling of remaining open and positive. And I get it because I did it for a long time, too. I was convinced that if I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t fun. And here’s the thing, I was probably right. But it wasn’t because I was because I wasn’t drinking it was because I was stuck in my head, thinking all these negative thoughts about how I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to say. I was always looking for something in my external environment to relieve how I felt. But again, I wasn’t fun. Because I didn’t have fun thoughts. I wasn’t being curious, I wasn’t enjoying, I wasn’t engaged with the people around me. I was 100% stuck in my own head. And when you do that, you don’t feel very fun. So you have to start paying attention to what you’re thinking and notice your thoughts. And notice how they’re making you feel, especially if they’re making you feel kind of miserable. You definitely want to challenge those those unfun thoughts, because that’s how you’re going to challenge out the alcohol core belief number one, that alcohol is what makes things more fun. If this is your dominant core belief that alcohol makes things more fun. I really want you to do two things this week. Number one, I just want you to notice how tied up alcohol and fun are in your world. How tied up is your perception of yourself and the events and the things that you do and whether or not they’re even worth doing. If alcohol isn’t included. And it’s okay if you’re listening and thinking yeah, that’s me. Fun and alcohol really do go hand in hand for me. It’s okay. I don’t want to beat yourself up about that. It’s totally normal. And you need this awareness. You need to understand how much You have relied on alcohol to be fun, and how much you rely on a drink to enjoy an activity in order to take the first step to learn something different instead of that, okay? You have to become aware of it to change it, we cannot change what we cannot see. I also number two, I want you to be on the lookout for the unfun thoughts that are in your brain that are keeping you stuck in your head and created creating negative feelings. I say it all the time around here, I used to be the most dramatic person I knew. I had so much unfun thinking. And I want you to ask yourself, to really ask yourself when you have one of those thoughts, that seems really true, but it’s also really negative. Ask yourself, what else is true here? When you notice an unfun thought, I want you to try to focus on what could you think instead, that would make you feel better in this moment? And even if you can’t get to the feeling of fun, like you’ve never, you know, you’re like, Yeah, I know, I’m not gonna feel fun about this. Can you start turning down the volume on those thoughts that are making you feel kind of bad? Can you do that without alcohol? How are you feeling about your alcohol core beliefs? Do you believe that you can change those core beliefs? I asked that a couple of weeks ago, and I’m going to ask it again. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And let me know. And don’t forget to pick up your mind map. Don’t forget to leave a review of the podcast or of my book breaking the bottle legacy if you’ve read it. And as a reminder, if you want to figure out if working with me on a regular basis is something that might help you extend your dry January into sustainable change for the rest of your life. Then go visit WWW dot Molly watts.com/work. With me, I’ve got three ways that I work with people and it’s easy to figure it out. I would love to help you learn more about that. All right, my friends, I will be back next week with alcohol core belief number three. And then that will be the end of our dry January Series. But we’ll be continuing on with alcohol core beliefs into February. And I hope that you will stick around and and continue to listen and continue to work on changing your relationship with alcohol. That’s all I have for you this week, my friends. Until next time, choose peace. Hey, thanks for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this week’s episode and put it into action. 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. I work with people in three ways. You can learn about them over at www dot Molly watts.com/work with me, or better yet, reach out to me directly. It’s Molly at Molly watts.com. We’ll jump on a call and discuss what’s best for you. This podcast is really just the beginning of our conversation. Let’s keep it going.