EP #57

Transitioning from Dryuary to "Normal Life"

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode of Breaking the Bottle Legacy, Molly encourages listeners to use the Dry January experience as a launch pad for introspection and questioning thought patterns associated with drinking habits. The episode delves into the significance of transitioning out of Dry January and adopting a new normal. Molly introduces the concept of 30-Day Challenges, emphasizing their effectiveness in creating lasting change by providing a manageable time-frame. The discussion challenges the misconception that habit change takes exactly 21 days, drawing from the book Psycho-Cybernetics. Molly addresses the potential challenges and psychological impact of not completing a challenge, emphasizing the importance of transitioning out of the Dry January mindset positively. The episode offers insights into building confidence, setting low-risk limits, and using scientific knowledge to reshape thoughts about alcohol. Practical tools are provided for breaking drinking habits, including planning, self-education, and finding alternatives to cope with emotions.

Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I am 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 used 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 habit. 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. I am your host Molly Watts coming to you from a dark kind of cold little cloudy, little sunny little rainy, Oregon. It is the last day of January. Last day of dry you weary for those of us that are doing it and how has it been going for all of you? This episode’s gonna drop on February 2. So we’ll be done by the time this comes out. And I hope you had a great dry you weary experience. I had a fantastic dry you weary? And if you listen to last week’s episode, you know it isn’t because I was perfect. Yes, I had a drink during dry you airy. And okay, let’s be real. It was only one glass of wine. And over the course of a month. Certainly one glass of wine is less than what I typically drink. And by anyone’s standards, except maybe the sobriety only folks. It’s a pretty successful effort, right. But as I shared, it really isn’t about the amount I drank or that I drank at all, but how I used the experience, to see my thinking and take my peaceful relationship with alcohol to a new level. Even me who if you’ve heard this show for any length of time, you know that having a peaceful relationship with alcohol is what I’m all about. I learned something about my brain and my thinking, and how ingrained some of that thinking still is, despite all the work I’ve done to change my drinking habits and to change my relationship with alcohol over the last couple of years. And we’re going to talk more about that during this episode. But before we get there, I want to encourage you to keep going to keep using this month as a launch pad to get curious about your relationship with alcohol and really question all the thoughts you have that fuel your drinking habits. If you’re looking for a little extra support, I want to encourage you to join my private Facebook group. There’s always a link in the show notes. But you can also just go to Facebook and search alcohol minimalists and request to join the group is a great place to keep educating yourself on the brain, a great space for some camaraderie and shame free support. It’s a soft spot to land for improving yourself staying motivated and sharing your own journey which can really help other people too. So check it out. Okay. On to this week’s episode, which is actually all about transitioning out of dry weary to quote unquote normal life. And with normal life for most people that have been doing dry January, that likely means going back to a life that includes alcohol. So today, I’m going to talk with you about what that means and how you can take your experience in dry weary to really find dare I say it a new normal quote unquote. Sorry, I can barely say that after the last two years without cringing, but you get the idea. So why are challenges like dry you weary so popular? And do they really help us change our habits? As the story goes, a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. So at some level committing to a 30 day challenge can be positive in that it’s a start, right. More than that it’s a kickstart because it’s a commitment to a period of heightened focused on a particular behavior like drinking alcohol. Let’s look at some of the aspects the positive aspects of a 30 day challenge like dry, you were. So definitely having a defined timeframe. So the fact that it’s 30 days, one of the biggest problems with new year’s resolutions is that they are opened ended. So your long term goal might be to consume less alcohol, eat more whole foods exercise more consistently. But the notion that you’ll never drink again, never eat processed food again, or never skip a workout can be overwhelming. A 30 Day Challenge is a manageable timeframe, which improves compliance and consistency, which are crucial for creating lasting change. So that’s a really positive aspect of a 30 day challenge is that defined timeframe. Another really positive aspect is that 30 days is long enough to start seeing results. So first of all, just dispel this myth, there is no magical timeframe for creating lasting habits. There is a lot of misconception that it takes 21 days to change a habit, which comes from a book back in the 1960s, called Psycho Cybernetics. And then there was another study that showed that it was 90 days to make things more permanent. And so then, proponents of the 90 day study said the 21 day study was was not right. And so now then they kind of like put those two together, and now they come up with 66 days. But the bottom line is, both of those studies, there was a huge amount of variability, ranging from like 18 days to 254 days. So regardless of the timing, we know that positive reinforcement is key to making a habit stick. And there really is no definitive timeframe, but 30 days should be long enough for you to see some results. And because you’re doing it re enforcing consistently over 30 days, it’s a good start to making a new habit. A 30 Day Challenge also gives you an opportunity to assess and adjust, right, because a 30 day challenge often features a more intense focus on one area of life, then typically you plan on doing or is necessary for the long term. So that 30 Day complete, dry you weary may not be what you’re planning on for the rest of your life. But it helps you incorporate new aspects of the habit. And you can adjust it then to be more sustainable and integrated into your lifestyle. Just that opportunity to assess what it looks like to be completely alcohol free for 30 days and then adjust accordingly if you want to. Or if you if you find it to be even, you know better than you expected, then maybe you’re going to want to maintain that. All right, some of the cons of 30 day challenges now. I know that I’ve seen this in dry you Harry, it’s probably one of the most common places this happens. But 30 day challenges can lead to rebound behaviors later. depriving yourself of something you really want is not always a recipe for long term success. And a 30 day challenge may help you kickstart a behavior change that you truly believe in. But it’s not going to work if you’re counting the days until you go back to what you were doing before. And obviously dry. You’re weary is a classic example of that. For some people, there can be pathways to long term reductions in alcohol, but for many others, they this is just a thinly veiled counterbalance to overindulging during the holidays before dry you every comes. And also when February hits. Prohibition is over and people enthusiastically maybe over enthusiastically return to previous behaviors. But definitely I know a few people I know myself included, I over indulge, especially that last week between Christmas and New Year’s and I kind of have I mean, I definitely could feel thoughts. They’re like, well, I’m going to be off all you know, I’m going to be taken dry weary. Not like I overdid it with alcohol. I just kind of overdo it with food, I overdo it with a lot of things. So that kind of thought process really isn’t productive for sustainable change. And I think maybe the biggest problem with challenges like dry you weary might be, quote unquote, failing. we’re drawn to this promise of success and social support during challenges. But we tend to fail alone. And when we fail alone, we retreat back into our old patterns of negativity and self deprecating behavior. When we can’t complete a challenge, those old tapes start to replay in our minds, you know, you’re a quitter, you’re a failure. You’re not good enough. I knew you wouldn’t do it. Why can’t you be more like her? You know, the one that actually completed the challenge. And this keeps us Dark in dangerous patterns of negative thoughts and perpetuates behaviors like self sabotage, punishment, and self hatred. And really, these are the, these are the poisonous kind of thoughts that are completely detrimental to creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol. And for creating lasting health to our thoughts, those negative self talk thoughts can be some of our biggest enemies. And they’re definitely something that is a risk for these 30 day challenges when you quote unquote, fail or don’t complete successfully, the 30 Day Challenge. So whether or not you successfully completed 31 days alcohol free, or not, transitioning out of the mindset of dry you weary is important. If it’s a negative mindset, because you weren’t successful, that’s okay. And also, if it was like I made it, I did it, and you feel like the goal was achieved. I want to encourage you to go deeper and use this experience to help you really change your relationship with alcohol for the long run. So let’s talk about how that might look. Last year in 2021, it was my first time doing dry you weary and it really set the stage for the rest of the year. First of all, like some of you, I had that thought that I proved to myself that I could do it. And you know, that was a big deal for me in 2021, I could do it. And for all of you that made it through this month, I talked about this last week, you got to experience maximum effort and maximum benefit. And that is a great feeling. But it’s just the beginning of showing up for yourself in a new way. I remember how it felt I was kind of shocked. But it also made me feel all kinds of confidence in this new relationship with alcohol I was creating. Admittedly, I had been doing the thought work and working on my relationship with alcohol for two years. So I went into dry you weary with a different set of tools. And it wasn’t simply about getting through the month. But it was the first time I had successfully taken an extended break since 1999. So I definitely celebrated that. This year. Even though I had one glass of wine as as mentioned, I felt even stronger. I felt completely confident and wasn’t worried about the month at all, it truly seemed to fly by which was not the case last year at all. So how do you how do i or you take the confidence and strength into normal life, you know, like next weekend and the Superbowl and St. Patrick’s Day and your brother in law’s birthday? And, and and right? What I want you to remember is that the reason you did dry you weary wasn’t to prove to yourself that you could take a break from drinking. Okay, I know you maybe thought that that was the case. Maybe that’s what you thought you were doing. But if you dig down, I think most of us who choose to do dry, you’re weary or damp you weary as it may have turned out for some of us do it because at our core, we want to have a more peaceful relationship with alcohol. And for me peaceful means that I don’t have anxiety and worry about my drinking habits. It means that I’m not using alcohol to try to change how I’m feeling. And it means that I stick to low risk limits. I don’t know what peaceful means for you. But I can tell you that whatever peaceful means for you, you need to get specific and clear on what it is. Do I believe that how I define peaceful is a good definition. Well, yes, I do. And if sticking to low risk limits, which as a reminder is no more than seven standard drinks in a week for women and no more than three drinks in any one day. And no more than 14 standard drinks for men. And no more than four in any one day feels peaceful for you, then it’s a great goal for transitioning from dry you weary. Now for those of you who might not feel as confident coming out of dry, weary, maybe you quote unquote, failed and you’re having some of those negative thoughts and questioning your ability to change. Here’s what I want you to know. I want you to see those thoughts for exactly what they are those negative self limiting thoughts. Those thoughts aren’t truths. They are just the thoughts that you’ve practiced over and over and over again. You’ve repeated them to yourself for you years. And all they are is thoughts that keep you stuck, that you use as evidence to try to tell yourself that you can’t change. What’s true is that you are capable of change. And now you’re learning a new way of thinking and you’re changing your drinking habits from the inside out. Becoming an alcohol minimalist is so much more than simply counting drinks, or taking an extended 31 day break from alcohol. Yes, I talk about low risk limits, because if we are going to include any alcohol in our lives, we need to be mindful about it. And as I have said, on the podcast, many times, the only conclusively safe amount of alcohol from a physical health perspective is zero. I’m not delusional about that I’m realistic with myself. And I know that I enjoy including alcohol at low risk levels in my life, and I am comfortable with the risks to my health that I’m taking. That is peace. It’s not ignorance, it’s a decision. For some people I have worked with, they find that being completely alcohol free is where they are at peace and I 100% support that. Being an alcohol minimalist means that you are willing to do the work of figuring out why you’re drinking. And seeing that alcohol doesn’t solve doesn’t answer anything, doesn’t answer any feelings or create or solve for any feelings that we’re trying to solve with it. We drink because we want to feel relaxed. But the science shows that anything more than wandering for most people, for some people, even one drink will have a noticeable negative after effect. But for most people, they can drink one alcoholic beverage and not have rebound anxiety, anxiety. But more than that, and we are just setting ourselves up for feeling more anxious, as the alcohol leaves our systems not relaxed at all. So we drink because we want to feel relaxed, but it doesn’t help us. We drink because we think it helps us get to sleep. But in reality drinking, doesn’t, it does. It helps us get to sleep faster, but it disrupts our sleep cycles. So the impact is that we are sleep deprived. And that can be a chronic issue too. That leads to lots of health problems. So again, you have to question your whys, you have to ask yourself if the reasons that you’re using to fuel your drinking habit, are they true? If you can find out the truth and you ask yourself and you use science, you’ll see that the things that we’re thinking and the thoughts that we have that create the desire to drink, really don’t hold water. We drink because we believe it makes us more fun or less inhibited. Again, there is a very limited therapeutic effect when blood alcohol content is capped at 0.055% or below. And that’s when you have that increased euphoric feeling and less inhibition. But more than that, when your blood alcohol content goes above that, which is from drinking more, and the negative consequences start to outweigh any limited benefit. So and really, let’s face it, do you really have fun when you are over intoxicated and start to slur words and stumble? Not to mention how you feel the next day. It’s no fun at all. So think a complete thought if you’re telling yourself that you have a lot of fun when you drink alcohol. Really ask yourself is that completely true? Right? Fun is created by our own thinking. And you can choose thoughts that make you feel bored, uncomfortable or awkward at a party. Or you can find something other than alcohol to focus on that makes a party enjoyable, like good friends, good music, good food, however your dry you where you went. As you transition back to regular day to day living, you will have to decide what peace looks like for you with alcohol. And you will have to decide that alcohol isn’t a real solution for changing how you feel. Once you know what you want your peaceful relationship with alcohol to look like. I encourage you to utilize a toolbox which I talked about about in both in my book and in episode number number 13 of the podcast. The tools are straightforward and designed for helping you break the habit of drinking that you’ve already got this great kickstart from from participating in dry weary. I’m not going to go in depth on these today. But as a reminder, the tools are number one, make a plan ahead of time write it down. Number two, plan ahead for how you’re going to handle Off Plan drinking and commit to compassion and curiosity not beating yourself up. Number three, keep educating yourself on the science of alcohol on neuroscience on psychology and self improvement. And number four, find a tribe find a group that supports you and is choosing to work on this habit to or is choosing to work on the thought work, right? These are the practical steps. But it’s that thought work and changing your thinking. That is really the secret sauce, you have to want to do the thought work, you have to want to understand the why you are drinking and question all of those thoughts, so that you will want to use the tools in the toolbox when the time comes to use them. So a 30 day challenge is just that. It’s 30 days. It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning, it might have been not a great beginning. It might be a wonderful beginning, but whatever it is, it is just the beginning and use it to create a new normal, new normal. You know what I mean? Use it to create a new relationship with alcohol. That’s all I have for you, my friends this week. Until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible. You have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com