EP #127

Is What You're Doing Good Enough to Change Your Drinking Habits?

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In this episode of the Alcohol Minimalist podcast, Molly discusses overcoming family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety about her own drinking, and the challenges of breaking a daily drinking habit. Molly introduces the idea of a “doable drink plan” as a tool for sustainable change, challenging the belief that abstinence is the only way to transform drinking habits. She emphasizes the importance of aligning actions with long-term goals and questions the narratives perpetuated by the recovery industry. The episode also highlights the value of conscious interference, curiosity, and compassion in the journey towards healthier drinking habits. Molly encourages listeners to embrace small steps and aims to debunk the notion that a doable drink plan is not good enough.

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 well, my friends. It is a perfect Oregon. That’s right. Perfect. I said it. I don’t even know what it feels sorry. For those of you that aren’t living in the Pacific Northwest right now, because honestly, it has been amazing. It is right at the top of the high 70s low 80s a breeze. And this morning I’m looking out at right blue sky. It’s gonna get hot today. I think today’s the hottest day of the week. It’s gonna be a little hotter than that not as perfect today. But I’m telling you for the last week or so. It has been epic around here. So thank you weather gods. We all know that I appreciate the sunshine. Hello, welcome. Welcome back. And I before we jump into the show, I have a prize winner this week. I looked on if you’ve listened to the episodes a couple of weeks ago, I talked about the fact that I’d really love to get up to 100 reviews on Apple podcasts. Specifically, we’re up to 97 now, and I do have a special prize for whoever leaves that number 100 review. So if you haven’t left a review of the podcast, especially if you haven’t left it on Apple podcasts. And that’s where you listen, you still have the possibility to be the big winner of the number 100 prize. This person wasn’t number 100 this person did leave and review on Apple podcasts back last year. But you are my prize winner this week. That is Jenny bro 93. Jenny, bro 93. You weren’t really last year, but hopefully you’re still listening because you are this week’s winner. And this is what Jenny burrow had to say. Molly is a wonderful and positive speaker who shares excellent insights for those looking to moderate their drinking. The messages are thoughtful and give hope to those of us who have felt powerless over alcohol. This podcast is helping me make great changes. Jenny, Jenny, bro, that is fantastic. I love the fact that it is helping you make positive changes and I want to make sure you hear that. It’s you that can make those changes. It isn’t anything that I do for you. It is all about you taking those actions, listening, learning and implementing and I love it. So thank you so much for that kind of review. If you would like to be entered into some to the drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you got to do is leave a review of the podcast anywhere you listen to podcast, you don’t have to leave it on Apple podcasts. That’s just where I’m trying to get the up to the one hundreds So anywhere you listen, you’ll be entered into the drawing anywhere that you read the book if you have read the book and you can leave a review of Have it breaking the bottle legacy, you can leave a review and you will be entered in. And then you just email me. So Jenny, email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And I will send you out your alcohol minimalist swag. So are you looking to make some real progress this summer? If so, if you would like to really make progress towards changing your relationship with alcohol, I would want to invite you to join me in my more dry July challenge. I have partnered with Sunnyside for this event. And it’s a great time for you to try Sunnyside out if you’re not already using it because you get the whole 31 days of July free. And that’s double the free period that they usually offer. And so it’s a great opportunity to give it a try and see how it works for you. For me, I’ve built a plan this year to be 70% alcohol free, which I’m really loving by the way. And part of my plan includes doing, quote unquote, more dry July. So it’s not a completely dry month for me, but it is 21 of 31 days dry. That’s what I’m doing. And if you go through the Sunnyside app with me, you can choose from different goal options, including fully dry. So if you want to do a totally dry July, that’s of course available to you. Or if you want to dry do dry work nights, like Sunday through Thursday. Or you can even plan for just half of what your normal consumption is. Okay, so that’s a completely more dry July option. It’s just completely customizable. And so I want you to stay tuned, because the link isn’t quite live yet to join. But it will be soon. And I’ll be sharing that here. So come with me. Let’s do more dry July. On to this week’s show. Ready. I’ve titled this episode is what you’re doing good enough to change your drinking habit. I titled it that way. Because I really want to dig into some of the old stories and beliefs that you have about your drinking, and how they tend to fuel the idea that whatever you’re doing isn’t enough to create sustainable change. This episode is especially for all my perfectionistic thinkers, and those of you who still carry a lot of shame around for old drinking patterns or events that are still coming up for you. While you’re doing this work of changing your relationship with alcohol. Here’s what I see happen. So often as people begin to do this work, they literally convinced themselves that what they’re doing isn’t a complete 180 from their current drinking, then it’s not good enough, and then this plan isn’t going to work for them. If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, you may have heard me talk about the doable drink a plan. It’s what I talk about all the time in my programs. And I recommend really in the beginning, meeting yourself where you are at to start. And that’s a sticking point for people. This is what I want you to understand that sticking point isn’t really about the tactics and the actions like the making a doable drink plan. It’s really about the thoughts, fears and sentences that come up in people’s brains about what they’re doing. It’s our brains that tell us it isn’t good enough, you’re not doing enough to change your drinking. Actually a little aside here. This is really why coaching can be such a valuable tool, we aren’t always able to challenge our own thinking ourselves, especially in the beginning, because so often our thoughts are coming up unconsciously. And we’re just accepting them as true this and did that for years. So I totally get it. And another side note on this, if you’re not already in the alcohol, minimalist Facebook group, I really invite you because this is a place where I’m very active in the group. And oftentimes when people post in there, I share coaching comments to challenge remind encourage them and help them see their own thinking as they are working on change. And the Facebook group is a free resource. So I just want to invite you it’s not exactly like other Facebook groups. It’s similar in terms of creating a community of like minded people who are very supportive and who are interested in moderating or mindful drinking. Not my community has that and there is coaching. It just makes the group a little bit different. It’s definitely supportive, definitely motivating, but it’s also constructive and instructive. At least I believe it is. I hope so. Okay, back to the point of your thoughts around what you’re doing to change or what you’re not doing right? These it’s not good enough thoughts can be sneaky, because instead of showing up very clearly, like beating myself where I’m at isn’t changing anything, right, which is just a version of it’s not good enough. They can also show up, sneakily like this one drink won’t matter. I can drink this because it won’t matter. What’s the difference between two or three drinks, it really won’t make a difference, right. And I have to tell you, this is one of those ideas that kept me stuck for years because in the back of my mind, I believed that the only way to really change my drinking was to take an abstinence break. And because I didn’t believe I could do that, I did nothing to change. I stayed stuck, because I did not believe that I could take a break. And I believed that the only way to be successful in changing my habit was to take that break. I believe why the idea of a doable drink plan and taking small steps, setting doable goals with alcohol specially seems counterintuitive to people comes from two primary places. First, it’s the long standing narrative fueled by the recovery industry, that the only way to change your drinking habits is to abstain with the focus on the action of abstinence, right. So this is a long standing decades, decades long, embedded belief that that we grew up with, that’s really just a part of our the background of our thinking. And then of course, too, we use our own past failures to change. And we use those missteps and Off Plan drinking as evidence that we’re not really capable of doing that work, right, we’re not really capable of abstaining, or that we’re not really capable of changing. And so to avoid the possibility of Off Plan drinking, the answer of abstinent seems like a good better solution, because anything short of abstaining is not good enough. Now, to be clear, I’m certainly not opposed to abstinence, right. I’m not opposed to taking breaks from alcohol. And I’m not suggesting that it isn’t right for you to want to take a break. However, I want you to make really sure that what you’re doing aligns with your long term goals, and you’re not doing it from a place of fear or doubt that you’re not capable of sustainable change without that break to get you started. Especially if your brain like mine was 90% sure that you won’t be able to complete that break, right? Because, again, when you feel that way you don’t do anything is most often the result. And I will also acknowledge that there is some science in terms of the dopamine reset that your brain gets from taking an extended break. You can hear more about that in my conversation with Dr. Otto Lemke in episode number 97, which I will link in the show notes and from her book, dopamine nation. Now the science in terms of studies is actually fairly limited even that Dr. Lemke shared, but she also shares from her own personal personal professional experience treating people with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder and quote unquote other addictions, right, because there’s she treats people with different dependencies. And she really is obviously a very big advocate of a 30 day break. And I’m also a big fan of breaks for experiencing tons of physical and psychological benefits for sure. We just have to be careful with our own thinking behind any action we are taking in the name of sustainable change. We have to question whether or not we’re doing it with the right intention and with the right story and narrative that actually fuels sustainable change, right. You all know I’m a science girl and that is why I am so proud of my partnership with Sunnyside. Sunnyside has great data based on their user experience and they also have great science techniques behind what drives the program in the first place. Users of Sunnyside in their first 30 days experience on average a 29% reduction in drinks. They avoid 1500 calories and they’ve saved over $50 each month. This is because there is science behind the program Sunnyside helps you reach your goals and stick with them long term by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers. One is pre commitment. You intentionally make a plan ahead of time and we talk about making a plan all the time here on the podcast. Number two is conscious interference and you’ll learn that the habit of tracking each drink helps you decide about it. Number three is positivity. We know this is not easy sometimes right? And we all need a little boost. I try to be a boost And Sunnyside is a great boost via text message or email to keep you motivated. So if you haven’t already checked it out, I invite you www.sunnyside.co/molly To get started on a free 15 day trial today. The narrative around alcohol misuse has always been very black and white. And even though it’s almost become trendy to be quote unquote, sober, curious, there still exists in our collective psyche that if we can abstain successfully, if we can take that 30 Day alcohol free break without caving into desire, then we’re okay. We don’t really have a problem with alcohol. If we can’t do that, the flip side says it’s, it’s because then we, of course, believe that we’re different, right? That we’ve developed alcohol, just use alcohol use disorder. And we really need to be sober, but we can’t do it. So those seems to be the you know, that’s how the pendulum swings, right? It’s a catch 22. Here’s what I want you to know. The problem most likely isn’t that isn’t that you’re not doing enough to change. In either scenario. It’s what you’re thinking about what you’re doing, that needs to change. I want to say that, again, it isn’t about what you’re doing or not doing. It’s about what you’re thinking about when you’re doing that that needs to change. The problem is that the moment you start taking small steps, steps that are quote unquote, doable, simply because they’re what you have been doing, they can still be some of the hardest things to do. Why would that be? It’s not because the actual doing is hard, right? Because if I say meeting yourself where you’re at, and you’re writing down a plan that that is the same amount that you’ve been drinking, that shouldn’t be hard, right? The doable plan is, quote, unquote, the softball plan, according to my husband, it’s supposed to be easy for you to do. But instead, our brains scream that it’s not enough. And it makes what should be easy, feel really hard. As I mentioned, the unconscious narrative we’ve all grown up with is that that the only way to fix an alcohol problem is to abstain from alcohol. You know, this drives our unconscious thinking. And even if we don’t identify with old school definitions of alcoholics, which to be clear, again, this podcast is not intended for anyone who believes they have developed severe alcohol use disorder. And if you’re unclear on what that means, there’s always a link in the show notes to the NIH a for you to get more information or professional help. Now, I knew for myself that I wasn’t an quote unquote, alcoholic, like my mother, I say it like that alcoholic, you know, like my mother, because that’s what we used to say. That’s the terminology we used to say. Now, we don’t really say that anymore. But I knew that I wasn’t physically dependent on alcohol. I also knew I wasn’t doing things like hiding bottles, I didn’t need to drink in the morning. But I still have a lot of them. There isn’t shame and guilt around my drinking habit that made it seem different than other habits that didn’t serve me. And the societal narrative that I’d grown up with. And my experience with my alcoholic parent, worked unconsciously in my brain and created my own story. That to be different than to my mother to be good. Right? I simply needed to not drink. simple in principle, but never simple for for me to accomplish, because I couldn’t get myself to not want to drink. And I also always used my missteps and Off Plan drinks as proof that I couldn’t successfully change my drinking habit. And it again, underscored why abstinence felt like the necessary sake, right? If I simply took alcohol out of the equation, then I would never be tempted to go off plan, right. And this is definitely something I hear from people who I work with. And what I want you to consider still is that the problem isn’t that drinking alcohol will cause you to be tempted. It’s your thoughts around alcohol that still need to change. Can you have a drink and decide not to have four or five more? Yes, you absolutely can. Can you have four alcohol free days every week and include alcohol in minimal ways? The other three? Yes, you absolutely can. Even though alcohol changes our brains functioning when we drink it, this is absolutely possible. But again, that isn’t what the narratives we’ve grown up with tell us. And that’s the kind of that unconscious thinking that we’re working against. So how do we get to that point where I’m talking about like these things that are absolutely possible, we get there by working on our thoughts, and actually changing our neural pathways that have created a habit pattern for alcohol. This is the reason for the doable drink plan at its heart, okay, inside my program, making peace with alcohol, which if you’re keeping track was supposed to be available at the end of May, is just about ready to launch. And inside, we dig deeper into the neuroscience and understanding more about the brain, including neuroplasticity, which is exactly what we’re talking about, when we’re talking about rewiring our neural pathways. And part of that rewiring is what we think about our plan. Because I want you to hear me doing enough is not an amount. It is a relationship with what you do. It is how you think about it. And it is so important that we start realizing that we need to have a new conversation with ourselves about what we’re doing, and that we are doing enough to change to create sustainable change. I really understand these thoughts because when I first started doing this work, there was a big part of me, that did not believe that a doable drug plan was going to be enough. And that’s why those first actions are some of the hardest to do and to keep going. Because not because they’re big drastic changes, right? But because your brain will want to tell you it’s not enough. Well, you know, what a lot of us do, when we don’t think what we’re doing matters or that it isn’t good enough. We just stopped trying right there we give up. I did that for decades, I just didn’t even start. We talk ourselves out of trying anything more because we convince ourselves, it won’t work. Instead of telling yourself that story, here’s what I want you to do. Today, I want you to commit to making a plan, I want you to make it a doable plan. A doable drink plan is one that today you are 80 to 90% Sure you will stick to I want you to make it ahead of time, not in the moment, not when the desire to drink is already a part of the equation, I want you to aim for making that plan 24 hours ahead of time, I do not care if that number is higher than you think it should be. It’s good enough to change your drinking, if you simply make the plan and stick to it. Sometime soon, you will be ready to make that plan a little less than what it is today. I promise you, the biggest killer of sustainable change is not the amount that’s in your glass, or the number of glasses you’re currently drinking. It’s not what’s going on outside of you. It’s not your friends. It’s not your family. It’s not your past failures. It’s in the moment, when you’re gonna take that next small step, and your brain tries to tell you that it’s not good enough. In that moment, I want you to see that thought and I want you to say to yourself, it’s okay that I think that it’s not good enough. I’m going to do it anyway. I’ve told myself before that what I wasn’t doing wasn’t good enough. And I know that you hear me right? You’ve you’ve said those things to yourself too. When you see that thought when you see yourself telling yourself that what you’re doing isn’t good enough. Remind yourself, you’re learning how to take small steps. And those small steps will create big wins and do the step anyway, say I see myself I see my thinking. I know that I don’t think it’s good enough. But I’m willing to be wrong. And I’m going to take the step anyway. All right, my friends. That’s all I have for you this week. Next week, I’m going to dive a little deeper into the thinking behind the Off Plan plan. So we just talked about the doable drink plan. Next week, we’re going to go behind the Off Plan plan. We’re going to take a look at curiosity and compassion and why it’s so hard for some of us to not beat ourselves up with our mistakes. This is another part of the framework. I will be teaching inside making peace with alcohol when it gets here in June. I hope it’s getting here in June. I’m putting it out there it’s gonna happen. And this framework that I’m talking about is a key to sustainable change. Alright, until next week, my friends, 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