EP #79

Alcohol & Trauma with Beej Christie Karpen

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode of the “Alcohol Minimalist” podcast,  Molly announces a prize winner for the alcohol minimalist swag before diving into a conversation about trauma with a life coach and alternative therapist from New York City. The discussion delves into the various forms of trauma, including single incident or capital T trauma, chronic trauma, family inherited trauma, racial trauma, and Holocaust trauma, emphasizing that trauma isn’t solely confined to major events but can be rooted in various experiences. The conversation explores the impact of trauma on addiction and the different ways people respond to traumatic events. Watts and Karpen emphasize the importance of understanding the body’s responses to trauma, highlighting the significance of support, love, and connection in the healing process. This episode also delves into the relationship between trauma and alcohol consumption, distinguishing between habits picked up in college and more chronic patterns often linked to underlying trauma. Molly and her guest emphasize the need to explore the root causes of drinking habits, moving beyond external tools to address underlying thoughts and emotions.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. 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 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 with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from a little bit cloudy Oregon, but it’s been doing this thing where it’s cloudy in the morning and then burns off and it’s beautiful in the afternoon and evening. Yesterday was just awesome in the afternoon and evening. So I think that’s what it’s gonna do. And I’m good with that. If we start the rain pattern again, you all know I’m going to start whining, so hopefully that’s not the case. So before we get into this week’s show, first I have a prize winner of some alcohol minimalist swag. Remember that if you want to be entered into the drawing for the alcohol, minimal swag, all you got to do is leave a rating or review a rating if you leave a rating, you’re gonna have to send me a little note that says you did it because I don’t know I can only see the numbers I can’t see who left it. But if you leave a review, I’ll be able to read it and see who left it. And this review comes from s j d 0618. So if you are s j d 0618. This was your review. I stumbled upon this podcast and is just what I was looking for. I struggled with binge drinking weekend warrior life of the party, the party girl, I’ve been this character so long I have been convinced this is who I am. I don’t want to or can’t believe the story of no alcohol in my life. There are times I only have the single drink. Thank you for helping me to start to realize I can change my party girl story. And so appreciate SJ D 0618. Your review. If you SJ D 06181 A send me an email Molly at Molly watts.com and let me know who you are and where to send your alcohol minimalist swag. I will get that out in the mail to you. And so for anyone else, all you got to do leave a review of the podcast or leave a review of the book anywhere you listen to it anywhere you find the book and you will be entered to win as well. Today on the show I am continuing the alcohol and series and this week’s topic is important. I am talking with Beach, Christie, Karpen all about alcohol and trauma. Beach has been on the show before I connected with beach through moderation management. She is a life coach and an alternative therapist out of New York City and recently added to her very long list of training and certifications with becoming an ifs practitioner and we’re going to talk about that a little bit more as well. Be she’s just wonderful and I always love having conversations with her around alcohol and understanding our own feelings. She’s just fantastic. And we wanted to get together and have this conversation because So many people who are turning to alcohol are victims of trauma. And so this is alcohol and trauma. And here’s my conversation with Beach, Christie Karpen. Hey, good morning beach. Thank you so much for being back here on the alcohol minimalist podcast. The last time you were here, I think it was still called breaking the bottle legacy. So welcome back to the show. And I’m really, really, I mean, I It sounds odd to say I’m excited about this conversation, because it’s, it’s a deep conversation. It’s an important conversation. But I am really excited. And I really appreciate you taking the time to be here. Thank you, Molly. I’m, I’m excited to be back here too. And, yeah, we picked a really nice light topic for today. Right for a Saturday morning. It’s just it’s super, it’s super light and easy. But no, it’s not. But it’s so important. Yeah. And I think one of the things that is important is to lighten it a little and normalize it a little. Yeah. You know, because everyone carries some trauma in them. Yeah. So we’re talking about trauma we’re talking about, this is a another in my series of alcohol and conversation. So this is alcohol and trauma. And I wanted to have this conversation, because as I shared with you, before we got started, the statistics are pretty staggering 70% of people who are being treated for substance use disorders, report being victims or survivors of trauma. And so, trauma, like we said, and so we want to get really into it first about defining exactly what trauma is, because there are a you, as you share have shared with me, there are a lot of different versions of trauma. And it’s important to understand that and so, talk to me a little bit about how we can even go about defining trauma. Well, there’s so many different types of trauma, basically, really, I mean, there’s, there’s single incident or capital T trauma, people refer to, like, an acute stress disorder where something happened, right? There’s chronic trauma, like kind of pervasive trauma of growing up in a situation where you didn’t feel part of things or you had a caregiver who was for whatever reason not able to connect with you in a nurturing way. You know, there’s, that’s, that’s more like relational trauma Complex PTSD, that would be called developmental trauma with what goes on as you’re developing. And so there, there’s a lot of trauma that people carry around people walk around with, that they have no idea is they wouldn’t even define as trauma or know that it was trauma and and if it’s if it weren’t enough that we might have our own trauma. It also turns out that we can inherit trauma from our parents or grandparents and on the line, right. There’s intergenerational trauma. There’s a wonderful book called it didn’t start with you by Mark Wolin on that topic, family inherited trauma, racial trauma, a couple of books on that my grandmother’s hands, rest of America, the inner work of racial justice by Rhonda McGee, we have Holocaust trauma that many people carry from their, their ancestors or relatives. And now we have pandemic trauma, which will be giving and giving for many generations, I have no doubt. So I like to say to people, unless you skipped over childhood, you probably carry some kind of trauma with you. Right? Yeah. And so maybe maybe a lighter word would be stressors or something like that. And because trauma can carry out a big heavy implication. And sometimes it really is, and sometimes it’s stuff that you don’t even realize is trauma or traumatic. Or you just override it, overwrite it overwrite it, you know, no, that was when I was a kid, no big deal, you know, and you don’t realize how it’s still in your system and still living with you. Right? So I think there’s Yeah, and so you kind of hit there, right? There’s, there’s, there’s different kinds of trauma. And, and I think people want to just put it into that box of, Well, I I never had a big incident, right. I never had that. Something happened to me, that I can point back to and say, That was traumatic, right? I mean, like, if you don’t have that, right, then you sit there you may wonder, Well, is there trauma? Do I have trauma is there you know, so I think one of the reasons I think you said to me and I really loved this is one of the ways that we can really check in with ourselves or really understand how important it is to uncover if there’s trauma in our lives is really how We’re how we’re functioning in the world, you know how how we’re feeling? And so talk me out a little bit. Yeah, well, the important thing to know about trauma is that it’s not in the event. It’s not. It’s in how the nervous system responds to the trauma. That was what I learned in day one of my three year somatic experiencing trauma training, it is not in the event it is, and it’s an it’s a response in the nervous system. So different people respond to trauma in different ways. We see this in true crime all the time, right? Oh, I can tell he’s the murderer, because he didn’t look upset. Right. And maybe that person’s response to trauma is to go into a free state. And this is why many different people can experience the same traumatic event and have very different responses to it. 911 is a great example. I was thinking that you’re in New York City. So obviously, that’s a really pertinent and powerful example, because people had a wide range of responses to that. That’s right. And so I think that’s important too, because it’s important to not judge what your response is, right? Not judge, if you’re having a traumatic response, a bad response, a good response, you know, whatever. It’s just being in tune and really understanding if you are not, I talked about this in my book about when people are turning to alcohol, to try to buffer away stressors, or you know, things that way. So if we’re separating the two, right, if you’re really struggling with just basic living, like, can’t get out of bed, can’t keep a job can’t do all that there’s probably some sort of trauma that is there that you are not, you know, you’re not in touch with. And even as something as simple as having a strong reaction to something, having a strong, you know, if you find people or a lot of times saying, Oh, you’re overreacting it’s probably because your systems responding to something, it’s not actually happening, something that’s from the past that your body’s still holding. So okay, so let’s talk about that. Some of the common responses to trauma. So yeah, so we’ve that whether or not we recognize trauma as the as the instigator, what are some common that this may be one of those things where, if you are experiencing some of these things, you can look back and it or you might need to do some discovery? Yeah, I would say if you find yourself being or people telling you, you’re overreacting, you’re oversensitive. Your emotions are very strong. Or if you’re a person who is just kind constantly in the kind of go, go, go, keep going never rest. It’s kind of state. All of these are fight flight or freeze responses, right? To Trump to trauma. And other other responses might include flocking, finding others who will justify your point of view. Oh, my gosh, you’re right. He’s such a jerk. never should have said that to you. You know, that’s a trauma response and not a bad one necessarily. Right. Right. Right. Right. fawning, dissociation, submitting, responding, say your boss is being difficult, and you’re having kind of a reaction to it. Instead of maybe standing up to him and discussing it, you might Oh, you’re right. Okay. That could be Yeah, yeah, that could be a response or submitting or like, just just giving in to whatever it is, you know, dissociation where you’re just kind of like, okay, I’m not here. Right. And so again, this can sometimes be a good response can sometimes can be helpful. But the chances are, you know, that your nervous system is responding. I’ll give you an example from my own life, I noticed that every time I would go into a doctor’s office, I would get really cranky. And kind of mean, and this is, you know, tell my clients, is it like you or me, not you can’t get a picture of it. And when I kind of dropped into my body and asked, okay, what’s going on here? What, what am I responding to? That’s not actually happening. And I remembered being in a very traumatic situation when I was six years old in a doctor’s office, and where the agency was completely taking for me. My body was handled in a way where I didn’t have control over it. My mom turned away there was and that was what was getting activated in my system. Every time I walked into a doctor’s office, I would feel like I have this lack of agency, this lack of control this like Don’t tell me what to Don’t touch me to, you know, kind of thing. I And I realized once I realized that I could kind of Sue that younger part of me. That’s okay. That’s, that’s not what’s happening now. You’re right. You know, right. Yeah. You know, I talk a lot about the fact that the past only exists and what I think about it today. So it’s like, that’s kind of the same thing. It’s like, okay, yes, the but you have to be able to sometimes articulate and understand where it comes from first. And then you can sue that then you can like, or, you know, use that more present mind to be able to say, okay, you know, this isn’t what’s going on. Now I am in control, I have this. So in that unconscious part of the brain, it’s kind of important, because that’s a little bit about where addiction and trauma coincide right in that right, lower nonverbal part of the brain. Correct. It does not live in the reasoning part of the brain that the prefrontal cortex and Mr. Spock logical part of the brain, if it did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Right, right. And trauma, trauma, trauma and addiction live in the same part of the brain. They live in the limbic system, the amygdala. And now it turns out that with Stephen Porges, polyvagal theory, you realize that there’s a vagus nerve that connects the whole thing, the brain all the way down to the digestive system. So that the body is very much involved in the trauma response and in the addiction response. And I see I see addiction as a response. Honestly, I see it as a response to trauma. Yeah, well, I think that’s the absolute truth. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that I love, like the work of Dr. D. Jaffe is like, it’s not we can’t we abstinence, like focusing completely on the activity and trying to stop drinking isn’t where we need to focus our attention, we need to focus our attention on what’s causing the pain in the first place. That’s why 70% of people who are being treated for substance use disorder are, you know, are reporting that they are victims of trauma. So it’s obvious that the very there’s a high correlation between the two, I think, too, but that’s kind of what why I wanted to have this conversation. That means there’s a whole bunch of us whether or not we ever develop a physical dependency on alcohol, there’s a whole bunch of us that are turning to substances, alcohol, you know, anything else to try to buffer away these, these traumatic experiences from whether they be from childhood or even, you know, in our adult lives, right? Absolutely. This part of the brain that we’re talking about is really very kind of simple part of the brain, right? It’s not that bright, right? It’s kind of like, okay, see alcohol drink it feel better. Remember where you got it? Right, do it again, trigger behavior reward brief, really briefly, right? Do it again. So like addiction expert of Judson Brewer wrote this book called the craving mind. And he talks about Dr. Jazz been here before you know, love him, love him, I’ve studied with him. That reward center of the brain learns where to go to get more, right and it thinks the more I get, the better, I’m going to feel. So there’s this trigger behavior reward thing that happens. And then, but then we add in the results, right? I feel crappy, I hate myself, which leads directly back into the trigger. And my shame leads right back into the habit loop. And whether we’re shaming ourselves or someone else’s shaming us, so when a family member or partner criticizes your drinking, it’s unlikely that your prefrontal cortex is going to get activated, it’s going to be this other part of the brain, right? It’s not going to be the prefrontal cortex that says, yes, okay, you’re right, I’m going to drink less. It’s more likely, the criticism will activate the emotional part of the brain, and activate that shame cycle. So you go right back in, and oh, my god, I gotta drink now I feel shame. You know, no, that’s what’s happening. So a lot of the time, but that is what’s happening. Yeah. And I think it’s really important. I talked about all these parts of the brain all the time, you know, the limbic system, the, the prefrontal cortex, I really think it’s important for people to understand how their brains work in this sense, because it really helps you if you understand that, I mean, just even creating awareness of the fact that you have this limbic system that is activated all the time, you know, in this from the our, evolutionarily, it was set up to do this, right, it will help us survive. And so it’s, I personally found for me, it was very important to once I understood all of this, that it helped me to, to drop into the prefrontal cortex when my brain was sending out that message of, hey, this is a really good idea to keep drinking. My brain might, you know, I could go oh, wait a minute. There’s that preference. You know, there’s that that reward system just firing again, it actually isn’t true. It’s not a really good idea to keep drinking. All right. And the ability to bring on that prefrontal cortex I think is harder for people who have suffered more and certain types of trauma. Yeah. 100% That’s yeah, yeah. I mean, a good way to develop that prefrontal cortex is meditation practice, because that actually is scientifically proved, through brain scans to grow that part of the brain are activated, you see that people who, you know, they’ve done these brain scans with people, like, never meditated. And then, eight weeks later, 20 minutes a day meditation, and there’s lot more activity in the prefrontal cortex, a lot less activity in the amygdala. So you’re actually able to be less reactive, fascinating and absolutely wonderful. And I love that you brought that up. I know that, that Judd Brewer talks about that a lot about the meditation part of it. And you teach, by the way, folks, I’m going to link it in the show notes. But BJ has a meditation of free meditation class every Tuesday, right? Yep. Every Tuesday morning. 830 to nine Eastern. Yeah, 830. Eastern, and you can drop into that. So I appreciate you sharing that. Because I know that for me personally, meditation is really hard. But it is a skill. And it is something that you can develop. And it’s something that you can learn. And just like she just said, it’s scientifically proven to increase your brain’s behaviors and prefrontal cortex. I mean, this isn’t, and I love it, because it’s, you know, it’s available to you, you’re, it’s not a drug. It’s not, you know, you get to do it with your own mind. And I work that’s right. And this is something that meditators have known for 1000s of years, but now science is getting on board and going yeah, actually, you’re right. Yeah. And now the Western world goes, Oh, science proves it. Okay. Even though if you do it, you’ll know you don’t need any science telling you because you suddenly notice that you’re not as reactive and you’re able to kind of take those pauses and respond more skillfully. When situations come up that are activating. upsetting. Yeah, and PS I because this is that harkens back to my, my previous podcast, but it’s also actually proven to extend longevity too. So there you go, folks. So for those meditation averse people, there’s there’s a book called meditation for fidgety skeptics, I forget the author, oh, my gosh, find that. Yes. And there’s actually a course weekend being offered at omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, this summer, I can’t, I don’t have the dates. But that might be something for people to attend. Because some people, especially if there’s a high degree of trauma, they really have a hard time sitting with themselves at first, especially. And the old fashioned Buddhist way, was it the month ahead with something or whatever. Very, very old school and they just don’t do that anymore, at least not in this country. But in now, the thinking that there’s a lot more trauma sensitive mindfulness being taught to meditation teachers and yoga teachers so that people understand that it’s not easy for everybody. And it’s okay, if you can’t sit with yourself, it’s just too much at first. And so you can learn other practices. And I talked about this some sometimes in my meditation class, you can learn what we call informal informal practices that you can do throughout the day, rather than sitting, if that’s too much, or you can do walking meditation very slowly, just being aware of your feet. Tick, not Han talks about the walk as though your feet are kissing the earth. I love that. So you’re just paying attention to the feel of your feet on the floor, or the feel of your breath. If that’s not too activating for some people it is. And simple, simple things like every time you washed your hands, which you know, we do a lot of now. We’ve all learned trauma washes, yeah, right. Every time you wash your hands, you can take that as an opportunity to notice, where does the mind go? When I’m not present with it. When I’m not present with this activity. It’s the same thing on the meditation cushion. That’s what you’re teaching yourself. Like, oh, my mind goes there and you bring it back with friendliness. It’s not like you’re beating crap at yourself, because you can’t stay in this meditative state. Right? So anyways, so a practice could be washing hands, noticing, oh, my mind’s going into planning or planning or worrying about what I have to do or you know, complaining, you know, why did you say that stupid thing last night or whatever it is, it’s going in these places. Instead, you can just say, okay, for right now, we’re just going to be with this activity. And just tell the mind that it’s okay, you can rest we’re just going to be here now. And you become very aware of like, what does it feel like to wash your hands and it’s actually kind of a pleasant experience for most people. Yeah, yeah. I love water. So like, to me I’m like, that’s a I mean, for me water is my What is my soothing? My soothing noise? It’s my soothing, you know, to be sensual experience of exactly. I just like water, right? So I can imagine washing my hands being something that I can definitely practice with my with meditation and I’m definitely one of those fidgety skeptics. So I have to, I have to get it. I mean, that’s not I mean I want to I know it I understand it intellectually, it’s just hard for me so well, that’s a little bit easier in groups, I would say to if you can go to a live meditation class or take a class online like mine, or something, and you know, there are other people that are doing it. And you know, the 10 The tendency is different. You thinking like everyone else is sitting there becoming the Dalai Lama, and I’m the only one with this crazy busy mind. But the fact of the matter is, everybody has a crazy busy mind. And one of my meditation teachers, David Nicktoons, this is if you sliced open the head, the heads of all those meditators. It would look like a botch painting inside, right? Yeah. So you don’t know what’s going on with other people. And you can assume that a lot of stuff is in the practice is simply it’s a practice of returning it’s not a practice of staying in some constructive state. It’s the practice of noticing with gentleness, not where does my mind go when it’s not here? No. Okay. Then isn’t that kind of funny. Maybe you see a little humor and where your mind goes, and then you bring it back and you say, oh, for right now, let’s just see if we can stay here for one or two breaths before it wanders off again, with training a puppy, right? And left that training. Puppy wanders off, you don’t beat up the puppy. Okay, come on back here. And maybe it stays a little bit longer than next time. I used to teach a lot of classes in corporations and actually had dogs wandering in and out of the, the meditation room sometimes. There you go. Yeah. And so I would use them. Okay, come here. And sure enough, the puppy would turn around and face the class and perfect puppy, meditator pose and be all calm and then and then in a second later, we go off and get interested in something else and it’s just like the mind. So you just bring it back with that same kind of humor and gentleness. I love that. Hey, everyone, just a quick break in the show to talk with you about Sunnyside. Now you’ve heard me talk about Sunnyside on the show before. I’ve had Nick and in the founders here as my guests. I am just so impressed with them. They are deeply mission driven. They are building a service to help millions of people create a healthier relationship with alcohol with no pressure to quit or feel guilty. So you know they are very aligned with everything I talk about here at alcohol minimalist. I wanted to share with you some thoughts and comments made by people in my group and my clients who use sign a site. I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised. I have used a few tracking apps and despise to them. But the support the daily check ins and the plan. Yes, the plan. I signed up for three months yesterday and actually looked forward to the check in today. I have no doubt this tool is a step forward for me. I just want to thank you to everyone who recommended Sunnyside in this group and all of your advice throughout, I’m having the best start to a week of moderating Since I fell off the wagon in January, you work the plan, and it works. Thank you everyone. Now you don’t have to take my word for it. You don’t have to take their word for it, I want you to check it out for yourself. Go to www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started on a free trial today. So talk about how people can kind of explore their own relation between trauma and some of the things that they might be using to buffer away those traumas. I don’t want to I don’t want to say addiction because we don’t typically talk about we can talk about addictive behavior because drinking obviously is an addictive behavior. But my general you know, this podcast is dedicated to those people who are who are using alcohol, maybe in a habit habited way or I know for myself personally, that I definitely developed a habit of over drinking because I was not because I was just like, I mean yes, in my early days, I used alcohol just you know, as a party as a party thing. But then over time, it became something where I was using it on a daily basis to try to buffer away the stress of the of just of life, you know, yeah, I wouldn’t again, I wouldn’t go back as for me, I wouldn’t say there was there was trauma, at least in that big tea sense of the word but definitely trying to buffer away and I think there’s things you know, beyond alcohol, people tend to turn to food, sex, drugs, gambling, technology, social media, gaming, etc. Yeah, yeah. So what do they all these things have in common is they take you away from where you are, right? They put you into what you’re into some other state. So a way to explore this for yourself, for people who are listening, I mean, you Molly, sort of like I’ll take, I’ll take all the therapy online, you can give me right here, you just do it. So So an exploration might be thinking like, what? What took you away from where you were as a child? When things felt stressful, what soothe Do you maybe it was chocolate chip cookies, and maybe it was gaming, maybe it was something else that kept you out of the house or kept you out of the situation you were in? And not necessarily bad things? Maybe you got really interested in something like sports or music. So it’s good to just kind of explore what you know, what, what did I did do with gentle curiosity? Where did I go? And then maybe you were mentioning? I mean, there are different types of drinkers too, right? I mean, some people tend to go more for the social drinking, as you were saying, when you were younger, you know, are more of an alone drinker, or we have crossed over artists who tell I love crossover artists. That’s like, yeah. So with social drinking, I often, and I work a lot with parts work with ifs, which we talk a little bit about if you want, but I often hear we’ll hear someone say like, I feel like a part of me still thinks I’m 18. You know, this will be like a 50 year old saying that. And, and so sometimes parts of ourselves do get stuck in the past. And a time when we felt like we needed that for survival. So then you might ask yourself, Okay, well, what was going on when I was in college or whatever, that that partying, part of you might have developed more strongly. And maybe that part showed up at a time when you were feeling lack of connection, and you’re isolated, and you really wanted to feel accepted by people, you know, and then it became habitual. So that might be that might be a pattern of a social drinker. I’m not saying it is, but it’s just like, that’s how you would do the exploration. And with the alone drinking, you know, it might be a depressed or lonely part, isolated part that you’re trying to they’re numb. And then when you go back to like, what, how did I try to soothe myself when I was when I was eight, or when I was little, you know? And you’re kind of ask yourself, it’s amazing how much wisdom we have we when we stopped to listen, there might have been when you’re eight and your mom was wasn’t present for you know, couldn’t be with you or wasn’t able to be there for emotional reasons or work or whatever it was, wasn’t nurturing when you needed her. So maybe you found solace in taking a bag of chocolate chip cookies to the treehouse or something. And maybe, maybe you found solace in video games, I like to teach people that video games are a gateway drug. So it’s always interesting to look at what’s underneath that behavior. Like when did something in you start seeking ways to change how you were feeling? Ways to take you out of however you were feeling into feeling some other way? Yeah, that is super powerful. Because I think that’s, you know, one of the things I talked about all the time is about the fact that it’s that feeling right, where we typically are using something to change how we see it as a way to change how we’re feeling. I mean, that’s really the driver, right? It’s not the if there’s no other reason for us to to take whatever it is that we’re we’re turning to we’re doing it in an attempt to change how we are feeling. Exactly. And yeah. And that’s another thing that the meditation and my fitness practice teaches us is to stay remember that pup night stay stay. It’s okay to stay with what you’re feeling. It’s okay to just sit and see how see if you can tolerate it. If you can tolerate a little bit more than you might think. Yeah, does it mean that if it starts to really overwhelm you, then no, but just see, just out of curiosity, do some experiments. Can I sit with this a little bit longer than I thought? Yeah, I talked about allowing the feeling just allowing it to be there. We don’t have to try to change you know, it’s okay. I mean, and I think that’s also really important I talk I talk a lot about life’s 5050 You know, there’s good and bad we have to allow the bad to be there we can’t just want to not feel any you know any negative emotion in this world that’s just not realistic in our so when things become you know, overwhelming then it we’re talking about a different a different issue. Yeah. You know, in a day to day world in a in our in our lives, we are all going to experience good, bad, sad, mad. Yeah, we want to experience it all right. I mean, that is the full human experience when we’re able to express and allow all of our emotions to be there and and I really try to encourage people to that, you know, you’re capable of handling any, you know, most emotions. Now, I wouldn’t say that, again, I don’t someone who’s who’s experienced significant trauma, or has that big capital T and acute trauma, or something that’s pervasive. I, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in saying, You know what I mean, there that that requires extra work. And that may require therapy in that room may require some additional tools? Definitely. So, I know in our we asked, you asked, thankfully, in both a couple of different my group and in the moderation management group for some people, if they had some questions about this. And one of the questions was, does chronic stress have the same impact as acute trauma in addiction? So do you what do you want to say about that? Well, um, I think acute trauma is to find a single incident trauma, I’m not sure if that’s what they were referring to. But chronic stress, I would put in the same category as pervasive trauma. So you can call it stress in college, it would be easier to call it stress, perhaps, maybe you’re in a work situation or home situation where you’re constantly in a state of hyper arousal or hyper vigilance because it doesn’t feel safe. So we’re not necessarily talking about physical safety, but also emotional or psychological safety. And that can definitely have a strong and strong impact as acute or single incident trauma. And so basically, yeah, what were you know, I think what we’ve we’ve both said all along the way here is that there’s, you know, statistically, it’s proven that that trauma leads, you know, whether it’s, I mean, a single incident trauma or pervasive trauma, this is a there’s a high correlation between the two and addiction. I mean, that’s, that’s just the way it is 70%, according to statistics, and so, for anyone even you know, so that just means that anyone that is that starting to see a, an uptick, or if you’ve, you’ve noticed your and maybe the pandemic, this is a really good tie into pandemic, because the pandemic, drinking, you know, drinking has been on the increase, right. So if you’re seeing an uptick in your own behavior and an uptick in your own drinking, you might want to look and see what if there is some sort of impact that might be having some kind of chronic stress that’s happening. Yeah. And I think the pandemic really pointed to how people’s trauma responses are in their right how their nervous systems respond to trauma. So like, yes, you could say that right now we’re in one big collective trauma, right? We’re all in the trauma vortex together, but we don’t all respond the same way. And we love to criticize other people for responding different ways. But our nervous systems respond very differently. And this often reflects, as you’re saying old patterns of how our nervous systems respond to trauma. So if you think about how you responded, and again, that Umali only, but how, how we respond to trauma, how you responded to trauma in your past, you might notice that it, it follows a pattern how you’ve responded to other traumatic events in your life, how you responded to the feeling of unsafety, or uncertainty as a child. And some people become very insular. And there might be an old response from when they were kids and felt danger, you know, would they kind of curl up and hide somewhere? Other people went into survival mode, I put myself in that category. Oh, all my income went away. Okay, let’s see, what can I do create, and I created the conscious drinking workshops online, to not just create income for myself, but to help all the people who are struggling, who also couldn’t afford therapy at that point, because you know, they’d lost their jobs. But all the people that were struggling with over drinking, by teaching the mindfulness techniques and tools that have helped my clients, so my go to response to trauma survive and help and when I think about how did I respond to trauma as a child, it was fight, survive. You know, some people went into denial, maybe when their systems became overwhelmed as kids, their go to response was to pretend it’s not happening just disassociate from it right? Then others became paranoid believing it was a conspiracy and maybe the pandemic made them feel unsafe enough to resort to an old pattern or belief from childhood, maybe as children. They were perpetually gaslighted by a caregiver for example. Right, many different responses. Right. And I love that you said that and I really do think that yes, we don’t want to shame people for whatever response they’re having. Right? I think there’s a I talked about this before on an episode about, you know, this, this whole trigger warning. There’s actually been stuff The on the whole, I think the reason that I am always trying to be careful about the big T vs little or you know, whatever chronic stress is because I don’t ever want to offend somebody who has had one of those truly single incident dramas where it’s very, you know, I would never want to, I feel like I don’t ever want to invalidate something really, truly horrible that happened to someone with what I would call my very minor, you know, trauma. I mean, I just don’t, I think that’s why there’s a tendency for people to want to, to Gradiate trauma so that we don’t, at least from my perspective, I don’t ever want to, to, to intermix, or to take away from some of these really terrible, horrible incidents in their lives. And try to liken them to the, to even the chronic stress that I, you know, sometimes feel from, but I guess it’s not, I mean, I don’t know that that’s what I’m hearing you tell me is, you know, it’s really more about what the body’s experiencing. And if somebody has chronic stress, a pervasive, it really, you know, especially, there can be a lot of things that have happened due to the pandemic to people right, or, or that that could cause a response for them. I don’t know exactly what I’m saying. They’re kind of talking about, you know, what I that’s post traumatic stress response for sure. Yeah. And I think what you’re saying, from what I understand in Yeah, I agree, I agree with you don’t want to take away or minimize, I guess, minimize, thank you, someone who’s had a very serious single incident event or serious multiple incident events. And at the same time, it’s important to recognize that, as I said, at the beginning of the call that trauma is, is not in the event as much as it’s in the nervous system’s response to the event. So I think there was another question on that Facebook page that was kind of about that. The one about the auto accident? Yeah, there was some The question was, I know some young people whose mother died in an automobile accident, in which they were also passengers. I wonder what can be done to help them stay off the path of addiction as they enter their teens and beyond? The husband takes the kids to movies, games and out to eat. They haven’t received professional help, though. So that was the question. Yeah, that was the question. Yeah. And I think I responded, first of all, so sorry. Yeah. To read that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just no words. Right. And as far as the question of how to, you know, keep help them stay off the path of addiction, I would say that most. Even though most addiction is rooted in pain and trauma, not all trauma leads to addiction, interestingly enough, right. So a lot of it depends on how their nervous systems processed the traumatic event, and how their nervous systems are, you know, it’s kind of nature nurture kind of thing, how their nervous systems are set up in the first place. And people respond very differently to the same traumatic event based on their nervous systems and their own conditioning, and experience, their past trauma, etc. And a lot depends on how quickly they get support, and what type. I was wondering if they have access to a good trauma therapist. And also, often the addictive patterns are formed early in life. So if their habitual response to stress or trauma is to soothe with food, for example, they might be more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs later to soothe similar pain, or post traumatic stress when it arises. And again, just the sooner they receive some kind of support, the better to help them navigate this, because if people feel seen and supported, even after any kind of traumatic event, the chances of recovering without a lot of post traumatic stress are much higher. And thank goodness for this person’s husband, the person who wrote the email, they’re just friends, I think, taking taking into movies, games and things that she said, Because the more love and connection they feel, the more likely they are to recover more quickly, the more support they have. So I think that that’s a really, you know, I want to make sure that we touch upon this and I in the last question we’re going to touch on is, how do we know if our drinking is related to trauma? Or if it’s just an unhealthy habit that we picked up? But one of the things I want to really make clear to people as we as we answer this question is, no matter what it is, whether you have trauma or whether it’s just an unhealthy habit, there’s hope for there’s hope for you. There’s hope to change not only change your drinking habits, but there is hope. If you have trauma, that you can survive and that you You can you mean that you can resolve you can become, you know, someone who feels their emotions and enjoys life. And there is there are tools, there are therapists like beach, there are people that are there. And the the, just because once you figure it out, even if you figure out that, yes, I have some some trauma that I need to deal with. You can, you can and you can do that anytime you can take action, and you can really change your life. So the question specifically was, how do we know if our drinking is related to trauma, or just an unhealthy habit that we picked up? Yeah. And that does sometimes take a lot of exploration. But I’d say that it can depend on how chronic the addiction has become. If it’s just a habit that you picked up in college and you weren’t particularly attached to it, you might find that it’s pretty easy to drop. The majority of people who are problem drinkers, believe it or not, if we define that as habitually drinking more than the NIA guidelines for healthy drinking, right, the majority of those people recover with no intervention at all. When you think about college drinking, most people just aged out of it, they get serious about their careers, you start a family, or whatever they get focused elsewhere, right, alcohol doesn’t really fit in in the same way. Or at least not over drinking, the ones for whom that habit lingers, and it becomes more chronic and difficult to break, I would say that there’s more likely a larger degree of trauma underneath, and an under ability for the person’s nervous system to process that trauma without help, not meaning they can’t do it. But as you said, you can do it with help you can learn how to regulate your own nervous system. So when I work with problem drinkers, I find it’s most effective to parse out the habit from the trauma response and work with each separately, right. So the habits stuff, you learn a lot of that and you can go to moderation management, go to moderation.org go to their meetings, you’ll hear a lot about how people work with their habits. And you know, no pre gaming delay, delay, delay, right food first drink other stuff in between, there’s a million of these tools you can use. So what I find is effective is working with the internal and the external tool. So those tools, the external tools, great. And it would also working with, you know, getting to know your system, your nervous system, how can you learn to self regulate it? You know, it’s a lot of what we’ve been already discussing in this call. So do you think it’s important to understand why we first started drinking? Or is it just this was a question from the group? And I actually really liked this, it’s important to understand why we first started drinking, or is it more important to just start cutting back? Yeah, and at first, I want to say I’m so thankful for the people that wrote in these questions, because they’re really good ones. And I’m sure they’re not the only ones that are right. Yeah. So. So the reason it might be helpful to understand is because it’s easier to heal something when you when you know what it is, you’re healing. So if you discovered that you started drinking to fit in, for example, as we talked about earlier, you might ask yourself, Well, what was important about that? Yes, we all probably wanted to fit into middle school in high school. And we all felt like we didn’t, you know, no matter what. But if you ask yourself, what was important to me about fitting in what was underneath that desire, you may find that underneath that there might have been a feeling of isolation or loneliness, or I’m somehow less than, and that’s in my opinion, no, that’s sort of where the trauma is. So if you’re able to get in touch with that younger part of you, then you can offer healing to your younger self. You know, what can you offer that child and kind of go back, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and see if you can get in touch with that younger part of you, as your wise adult self. And ask, ask the child what what do you need? What did you need? And maybe the answer comes back, the child needed to be heard or listened to maybe they needed a hug, maybe they needed to just be taken out of the situation. One of my clients, I did this with him, and he was like, he wants to go outside and play ball. Like, okay, take them outside and play ball. Maybe they needed to sprout wings and fly away, doesn’t matter if it even makes sense. But you can have a reparative experience then, with this younger part of you that still like let’s face it, we are ourselves at every age. We’re it’s all still in there. And then we can heal it as your wise adult self, you can go back and give the child the experience they needed. Bring the child into the present with you and let them know they’re okay. So, if you don’t do that investigation, you might find you’re more likely to be having to white knuckle it quite a bit because you’re just working with the external tools. Right? Yeah, I talked about obviously, you know, I talked about that all the time I talked about it’s our thoughts that lead to our feelings and then the actions right. So if we just focus on the actions, which is basically what you’re saying, if we focus on the tool, and we never back up to the feelings and to the thoughts that are causing the feelings we can Not to actually change the habit, we can’t change what’s actually what’s going on, we can’t change our, our reason for drinking, right? So we have to have the, we have to, we have to understand it all, if we really want to have in my opinion, and I think in yours, too, if you want to have true sustainable change, if you want to really, you know, I talk about being an alcohol minimalist, and I just my episode last week was on creating that peaceful relationship and what peaceful means. And yeah, you don’t get you don’t get to a peaceful relationship, it unless you’re willing to do this type of inner work. Yeah, and ways to get to that peaceful, maybe we could do another podcast on this. And we talk about how we heal all of the parts, because this is important that people have these parts of themselves that they’re at war with all the time. And that creates a lot of not peace, right? And so when they Yeah, so when they can start to. And this is where the IFS work comes in. So handy, is getting to know each part individually and healing it. And you know, this group goofy as it sounds, Frank Anderson, who’s one of the leading psychiatrists who works with ifs will say, trauma blocks, Love heals. Yeah. Right. So if you can love every part of yourself, no matter how much you don’t love it, they find a way through deep work to create and that’s how you create a peaceful experience within yourself is to get to know your parts and get to see and be able to send them love or see the humorous side of them. I’ll often when I hear my inner critic, I’m like, Oh, hi. Welcome. That’s really kind of funny that. Yeah, exactly. Thank you for your thank you for your observations. Thanks for your feedback. Right, so So I have a much friendlier relationship with my critical parts than I ever did before. That helps tremendously. Oh, we are definitely doing another episode. Because these are like one of my people that love them. And I love talking to you. And I cannot wait to learn more about ifs. Folks, tell us really quickly because we will we’ll do another episode on this. But what it is you just got recently certified this year in a new she’s got you know, a laundry list of credentials, folks. So if you want to check it out all you heard her links on the website, but I’ll link it in the show notes. But tell us about this most recent certification. Well, ifs trans stands for internal family systems. And it’s really it has nothing to do with actual external families, it has to do with the parts that live inside ourselves and act as certain have certain roles, right. So we have the the kind of wounded parts, which they call exiles that shot child parts, and then we have the self which feels great, fine, self is fine. And then we have the protector parts. So the protector parts usually fall into two categories, and one is proactive and manager parts who kind of manage our lives and keep everything okay, we’re feeling okay, okay, feeling safe gonna do this. And then there’s the, what they call the firefighters, which is the reactive parts, which show up when a situation doesn’t feel safe, or doesn’t feel okay. So, to tie this into problem drinking, you might say, the manager shows up to say, Okay, have a drink before the event, you know, calm your system. And then you can proceed and go into the event. The man, the firefighter would be the one that you’re in the event, you see someone that for what an X or something, like, oh my god, I’m gonna drink. And the firefighters is okay, here. Here’s how I know how to fix this. Right? So, I mean, it’s kind of a funny way to look at it. But these are basically the main categories, right? The people, the parts of us that manage our lives and the parts of us that react to stuff. Yeah, it’s a simple way of looking at it, but it’s a work that’s very deep, complex process of learning it but but you can learn it on all levels. Really. There’s a book that’s super simple. It’s like, looks like a child’s book. It’s called we all have parts An Illustrated Guide to Healing Trauma with internal family systems so that if people are interested, yeah, that will, that will link that in the show notes too. But yes, let’s do another ifs podcast because I’m sure I’m deeply interested. And I know if I’m interested, other people are so we will we’ll we’ll fire it up again, folks. So another episode with Beach, Christie Karpen and on that note, though, we will this one has gone on and we are live On because we can never stop. We can’t just, you know, we started talking and like I said, we you and I could probably talk for hours and we’d be like, Oh, yeah. And yeah, and then it’d be like No kidding. Oh, no doubt. Oh, wow, that was two hours. That might be a long podcast. Exactly. Have a very happy Fourth of July. We’re recording this right at the beginning of July, and it’ll come up. It’ll come out just after that, but I appreciate you taking the time B’s, and everyone go check it out. All the links will be in the show notes. To learn more about and especially if you are someone who feels like trauma is really needing to be addressed in their lives, I highly recommend talking with beech and figuring out another one of her offerings that might be helpful for you. Thank you, Molly. It’s just wonderful to talk with you again. And and have a as my dad would have said, have a glorious fourth. Thank you. Thanks. Take care. 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