EP #169

3 Things You Need to STOP Believing About Alcohol

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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This episode is about changing one’s relationship with alcohol to create a peaceful and mindful approach to drinking. The host, Molly Watts, shares her personal journey of overcoming alcohol abuse and anxiety about drinking, and she introduces the concept of being an “alcohol minimalist” – someone who removes excess alcohol from their life to live more fully. She discusses the importance of challenging three common beliefs about alcohol: 1) that one’s drinking isn’t a big problem, 2) that one likes alcohol and doesn’t want to give it up, and 3) that changing drinking habits will be really hard. Watts emphasizes the power of managing one’s thoughts and beliefs, using science-backed strategies to break old patterns, and taking small steps towards change. She also offers free resources and coaching opportunities for those interested in exploring a more mindful approach to alcohol consumption.


Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habits. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from it’s a stunning Oregon right now. Yes, that’s right. We’ve had again a string of sunny days, we hit 65 or so yesterday, it’s on its way to 70 today. I gotta tell you, there is just nothing better than sunny spring days in Oregon. The trees are all in bloom, the cherry blossoms. Go check out online a picture of the Portland waterfront during the spring, the cherry blossoms. It’s just an incredible, incredible time of year when it’s sunny. Okay, it’s it’s incredible around here when it’s rainy to which it is a lot of the time during the spring. But we’re headed into April. And right now. It’s stunning. So welcome to the show. Welcome back and welcome to Alcohol Awareness Month. As I noted last week, April is Alcohol Awareness Month, Alcohol Awareness month was initiated back in 1987 to address the need for increased awareness and understanding of alcohol related problems. And really, it serves as an opportunity to educate the public and encourage individuals who are struggling with alcohol abuse to seek help and treatment. And it was founded and that’s where its roots are right. It was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, NCAA DD, which does not exist in its same iteration anymore. But this was really the purpose of Alcohol Awareness Month The goal was to help people understand alcoholism and its causes. And during Alcohol Awareness Month, organizations and communities across the United States come together to organize programs and events that shed light on the impact of alcohol related problems. And these again, these initiatives aim to reduce the stigma associated with alcohol use disorder and promote understanding and empathy that’s really their goal. And while Alcohol Awareness Month definitely still has a leaning towards this increased awareness around alcohol related problems on a national basis, here on alcohol minimalist we’re going to use this month to create awareness of all the benefits of living an alcohol, minimalist life, and how it is possible to change your drinking habits and still include alcohol if you choose to. By sticking to low risk limits and not using alcohol to try to buffer away emotions. We’re going to dive a little deeper into awareness about mindful drinking, and why it can feel frustrating to understand all the positives of reducing your alcohol intake intellectually, but still stay stuck in your old drinking habits. Before we jump into this week’s episode, I have a couple of freebies that I want to bring to your attention. One is something that I think aligns with Alcohol Awareness Month. And if you haven’t taken the time to read it before, well, this would be a great month to do it. It’s the ebook that I wrote that is totally free, called alcohol truths. How much is safe? This ebook, if you sign up for it gets delivered to you via PDF. It’s 23 pages long and it has a risk reward analysis exercise that allows you to do some work right? This is just a Great resource. And the easiest place to grab it is on my website at WWW dot Molly watts.com/resources. So if you want to increase your baseline awareness this month, this ebook is a great place to start. another freebie, I’m hosting a free workshop on Sunday, April 21, at 5pm Pacific Time, that’s Sunday, April 21, at 5pm Pacific. And this workshop is going to be all about where to start the process of change. I’m going to outline all the tools I talk about on this podcast and in my programs, and give you the opportunity to ask me questions directly about how to implement. So if you’re feeling stuck, or you’re feeling like you know what you should be doing, but you’re just not doing it. This workshop will help you take a small step forward. You have to sign up ahead of time to be on the list. And I really hope that you will join me that weekend I’ll be doing the weekend alcohol free to honor Alcohol Awareness Month, and Sunday night I’ll do this workshop live to put an exclamation point on a great weekend, no to www dot Molly watts.com/workshop. That’s Molly watts.com/workshop. To get registered. All right, one more piece of housekeeping. And that is some prize winners. I have prize winners every other week. All you got to do to be entered into win some alcohol, minimalist swag is leave a review of this podcast or of my book breaking the bottle legacy where ever you listen to the podcast wherever you read the book, and I will find you and add you into the prize drawings. I have two prize drawings. One is my chosen prize winner. And the other is my random prize winner. So today for the chosen prize winner. It is props to DAX props to DAX, props to DAX, you left a review on Apple podcast, which says, This is it, exclamation point. Molly is so easy to listen to and has such great tips to keep drinking to something that is manageable. I love this so much. It’s exactly what I needed. I just started listening. And I’m so excited that there are so many episodes, I can go back and listen to. And then she’s got the heart, the heart hands. Thank you. Thank you props to DAX, I appreciate that. I am glad that you are finding the podcast really helpful. So email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And let me know it’s you and I will send you out some alcohol minimalist swag. My random prize winner left a comment on YouTube. And that’s another thing that you can do just leave comments. And it is at Janney underscore meal. At Jenny underscore meal, you left a comment on YouTube. If that is you, please email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And I will send you out your alcohol minimalist swag. All right. This week’s episode is a really important start to the month long Alcohol Awareness series. This episode is three things you have to stop believing about alcohol, to change your drinking habits. Now, right away, maybe you’re thinking this is going to be focused on things like not believing that red wine is good for your heart, or not believing that alcohol helps you sleep or not believing that alcohol helps you relax. And yes, those are three examples of the kinds of stories that we tend to not question in our own thinking right? Unconscious stories that tend to drive our desire for alcohol. Hey, you know I did a whole series on this to have you listened to the alcohol core beliefs episodes, I will list them in the show notes. They are episodes 158 through 163. And clearly your ACBS that’s what I call them. Your alcohol core beliefs are beliefs that I’ve said that you have to stop believing they are vitally important because they are deep seated unconscious beliefs that tend to drive desire. But without changing the beliefs that I’m going to be talking about with you today. And they are different than the alcohol core beliefs. You’re going to make change much harder for yourself, and even potentially not possible. Yes, that’s right. It could make sustainable change impossible if you don’t stop believing these things about alcohol. Pretty important right?
So here they are the three things you need to stop believing about alcohol to make sustainable change possible. And these are not in order of importance. They’re all equally important. Number one, my drinking isn’t a big problem, aka, it’s not that bad. Number two, I like alcohol, and I don’t want to have to give it up. And number three, changing my drinking is going to be really hard. Let’s talk about the first one, you have to stop believing that your drinking isn’t that big of a problem, that it’s not that bad. You’re probably thinking, Wait, how can it be such a bad thing? If I’m, if I’m believing that my drinking isn’t that bad that I don’t have a real problem with alcohol? Isn’t that a good thing that I don’t that I’m not, you know, feeling hopeless. This is why this is a problematic thought. I see it all the time when I’m first working with folks, when it comes time to actually do the work to not just make the plan but actually implement the plan to stick to it. All of a sudden, their brains start throwing out all sorts of excuses about why today is not the best time of day to be alcohol free, or how in the morning, the plan seemed doable, but by tonight, it feels harder to stick to. And almost inevitably, when I asked them, Is there any chance that they uncovered thoughts? Like it’s not like I have a real problem? My drinking isn’t that bad? Almost 100% of my clients say yes, I had that the height. When we hold on to this thought that my drinking is not that bad. We are believing this thought as if it is the truth. It isn’t truth. It’s just a thought that is fueling the habit. The reason it fuels the habit is because every time you think this thought, you throw out your plans and actions, and you go right back to your old drinking patterns. This is why learning how to manage your mind is such a big component of what I teach, you have to master the behavior map results cycle, you have to be able to write it down, you cannot just do it in your head, you have to be able to see how a thought like my drinking is not that bad, doesn’t just perpetuate the habit of drinking, it perpetuates itself. The more you listen to that thought the more it feel fuels, your desire to keep drinking, the more you will keep thinking it, the more you will be leave it you cannot just understand all of this work in your head and create change. I promise you you can’t because I tried to do it that way for a really long time, too. I understood intellectually, I believed in the behavior map results cycle. And I really liked the idea that there was this logical way to understand how my thoughts and my feelings and my actions were all connected. And I wanted to do it all mentally, I didn’t want to write it out. I told myself, I didn’t have time to write it all out. I really didn’t necessarily want to look at some of the things that I wrote down on paper because I felt kind of ashamed to be thinking or doing or feeling some of the things that I was doing and feeling unsafe and thinking. But you have to write it out. You have to get it on paper. I cannot tell you the number of times the people that I work with, I’ll be coaching them. And I always know when they’re not writing things down. I always know when they’re trying to just skip that step when they’re trying to skip the thought work. They’re telling themselves I can just do this in my head, I can manage things in my head. Well, you can’t you actually can’t You’re wrong. I was wrong. And you have to start seeing that, that you just have excuses, right? You have to see what they’re creating for you. And you can only see that when you get it down on paper can connect those dots between your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Just a quick break to talk with you more about sunny side. Did you know that Sunny Side uses science to help you reach your goals by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers that you have. Number one, the power of pre commitment. Each week you set an intention for the week ahead. That includes a tracking goal, a drink goal and possibly a dry day goal. Number two, the power of conscious interference. You’ll learn the habit of tracking each day as soon as you finish it which creates a mindful pause before you start the next day. And number three positivity. We know that this is a big step that can be tough at times. Right. And that’s why Sunnyside offers coaching through SMS and email to give you support advice and motivation, you can check out a free 15 day trial at www.sunnyside.co/molly. That’s www.sunnyside.co/molly. And when you write down this thought my drinking is not that bad. What I do not want you to do is waste time trying to convince yourself that your drinking habits are that bad. The point is not to validate that you have a quote unquote, real problem. It’s to understand that the thought my drinking isn’t that bad, is a thought that is keeping you stuck in your habit. It’s sneaky, and makes it sound like you’re not being dramatic, and it feels true. Like you’re not a drunk on the park bench with a paper bag you’re doing your life, you’re going to work taking care of the kids. If it were a real problem, it would obviously be bad, right? Here’s the truth, that thought is often responsible for you choosing to not take steps towards change. The thought isn’t true. It’s optional. Use that language when you catch yourself saying it’s not that bad. say that’s not a true thought. It’s an optional thought. And then do the work of sticking to your plan and taking an action that aligns with your long term goals. The second thing, you have to stop believing about alcohol. I like alcohol and I don’t want to have to give it up. So I did a whole episode on chasing the buzz around alcohol. It’s called It’s episode 126. I will link it in the show notes as well. And in that episode, I went into all the science of why chasing the buzz doesn’t work from a blood alcohol content perspective and why the initial euphoric feeling that we get from the rise in our blood alcohol content from 0.0% to 0.055%, is very limited. And yes, understanding the science of alcohol and the science of the brain is another piece of what I teach. And I absolutely think it’s an important tool in changing your drinking habits. But what I see from this line of thinking that I like alcohol, and I don’t want to have to give it up is that it’s steeped in the black and white narrative of the sobriety culture and recovery industry. It implies that the only way to succeed is to stop drinking and or to be successful at cutting back on alcohol, you will have to disavow enjoying alcohol at all. This thinking keeps us focused on all that I’ll have to, quote unquote give up if I stopped drinking, as opposed to understanding that alcohol is neutral. It’s what we believe about the alcohol that creates our feelings, not the alcohol itself.
I work with my clients very directly on challenging the ideas of what it is that they really like about alcohol. And again, much like the thought it’s not that bad. When we think the thought I like alcohol, it feels like a complete truth. We have to be willing to challenge that thought because it’s not the whole story. Most people I work with do not like how much time they’re thinking about alcohol. They do not like how much time they’re spending worrying about alcohol. They do not like the consequences they’re experiencing from over drinking. And it’s okay to enjoy the taste of Chardonnay. And to still remain mindful about how we’re including it in our lives. And I help people learn how to do that and think that way. One of my clients said to me recently, I don’t eat chocolate cake every night for a reason. wine should be the same way. Yes, you can like alcohol and still change your drinking habits. The last one is probably the most important of the three I if I if I have to be honest, at least the way that I think about it. And I know I said they were not that they were all important and it wasn’t in order. But you really have to stop believing that changing your drinking is going to be really hard. I’m going to tell you a couple of secrets about your brain about all of our brains really If, number one, when your brain throws out the thought that changing your drinking is going to be really hard, you’ve got to allow for the possibility that your brain is just wrong. You know, your brain is wrong about a lot of stuff, I want you to think about that. Every time that you have catastrophize things, say in the last, just maybe in the last six months, when challenging things happened in your life, did your brain immediately start telling you, you just knew it wasn’t going to work out? You just knew that, that somebody was going to be mad at you, or you were going to get fired over this mistake, or you probably weren’t gonna get a raise this year, or your kids were flunking out of school, or you’re never gonna be able to do something, I want you to start thinking about how often your brain is actually correct about some of these catastrophic thoughts and assumptions. When it comes to changing your drinking habits, your brain throws out those catastrophic thoughts like nothing will ever work, I’ll never get there. It’s going to take forever, it’s just too hard. And that it’s just too hard. It’s something that we like to say that we’re like, entitled to say. And it really just feels so awful, right? Yes, changing, it feels discouraging, it feels frustrating. And changing your drinking habits might take time, and it can feel momentarily hard. Here’s the truth. You don’t know how long it’s going to take. When I started doing this work to change my drinking, I did not have any idea how long it was going to take. I didn’t know if it was going to work. But I also knew that I just couldn’t keep going every day waiting for some magic version of Molly to show up and do all the things perfectly for the rest of my life. Right. I knew that that made no logical sense to me that that day was ever coming because I It hadn’t come before, right. And I finally decided that I was going to start with what I could do right now. I was going to meet myself where I was at, and it was going to just have to be good enough. And that was a very new thought for me. Rather than saying it’s not good enough, it might not work. It’s too hard. I chose the thought, this is good enough right now. Because as of right now, I can’t do more than this. This is what I’ve got. This is what my current belief system allows me to do. This is what I can do. This is doable. You hear the doable drink plan, right? This is what I can do so that I will not freak myself out. So we have to think about how often it is our brain is just wrong about things right. And believe me, your brain is just like everyone else is just like mine, it’s wrong about a lot of stuff. And you have to quit just listening to it. Tell yourself I’m not going to just believe everything that my brain throws out. The other thing I want to tell you is that we all have a lot of issues, we take issue with our brains, old stories and patterns. And we take issue with them coming up in our brains. People will say things to me, like I would change but it’s so hard because I quote unquote, keep thinking, I keep thinking it’s as if you have no option but to keep thinking what you’ve always thought, well, here’s what I want, you know, you to understand this process to rewire your brain, it requires that your old thinking comes up. Right? It has to come up first for us to be able to become aware of it. And then to decide that you want to think in a new way. You want to think in a new way so that you can feel a new way so that you can show up in a new way. And you have to recognize this isn’t how I automatically think and show up right now. But one day I want it to be I want this to be the new behavior for me. And so I have to change my old default, pre programmed, automated habited way of thinking. The stuff that our brains are used to thinking it has to come up and it’s not a problem. It’s not the problem that the This keeps coming up, it’s not a problem. And it’s not an excuse to stop doing the work. In fact, it’s the signal that you still have work to do. And if you don’t want to do that step, if you do not want to deal with your old stories coming up and changing them and rewiring your brain, you can’t create sustainable change. All you can do is use some willpower for a little bit. But then you’re going to get exhausted and tired, you’re going to say things like, I’m so sick of this, because you’re always forcing yourself to work extra hard to do things. Rather than doing what I’m telling you, which is what you’ve got to do. When your old thoughts come up, they’re going to come up, whether you want them to or not. So you might as well quit resisting it. And instead, tell yourself, this is just part of the process, all thing is going to come up, it’s going to tell me something. And my job is to say, that’s the way I’ve always thought, and I’m working on rewiring my brain. I’m going to do this action anyway. Even though it feels hard. Even though this feels true, this this thing that I’ve always believed, it might not be true. And here’s what I’m going to think instead. And on purpose.
This is what I’m going to do when no matter what my brain is saying. Because the only way for your brain to realize that it needs a new automatic line of thinking is that it has to watch you in action enough, doing something different. And you consciously telling yourself that this is what I’m going to do anyway. Because what I really want is this, I really want to be someone who desires alcohol less, I really want to be an alcohol minimalist. And it might feel hard right now. But that’s okay. One day, I’ll get used to this, this will be who I am. It’s not yet me today. And that’s okay. I can act like who I want to be. I don’t have to be her yet, today. You don’t need to shame yourself in this early stage of change where it’s emotionally a little bit harder to do these things. We just do them anyway. And it’s okay, we do small steps. We embrace those little steps. And after a while, you start seeing for yourself that things are okay, it feels safe to make changes, it’s easier for you to reason that it might not be as bad as you’ve been telling yourself. And then you can start stacking and you can do more, you are building trust with yourself, and you’re going to feel a whole new willingness, you’re going to be willing to try you’re going to be more curious. willingness and curiosity, require more emotional energy. And in you’ll get there and you’ll be able to make more changes. You have to get through the early phases. And you have to stop telling yourself that it’s going to feel so hard, forever, right? I want you to decide, who do you ultimately want to be. Because each and every day, if you talk yourself out of doing this work, you’re going to stay exactly where you are. And I know that for some of you, you don’t like exactly where you are without alcohol. And you’re only going to get to where you want to be if you’re willing to do small changes and just stop telling yourself that those small changes aren’t good enough that it’s too hard to do them. And if you start meeting yourself where you are, okay, three things, you have to stop believing about alcohol to create sustainable change. Number one, you have to stop believing my drinking isn’t a big problem. It’s not that bad. Number two, you have to stop believing that I like alcohol and I don’t want to have to give it up. And number three, you have to stop believing that changing my drinking is going to be really hard. If you would like to talk with me about how I work with people, I have free discovery calls. All you got to do is email me Molly at Molly watts.com. We’re going to jump on a zoom call and we will figure out which of my coaching offers might be best for you. And it’s again, it’s a free call. I love meeting you Well, it’s it’s really what brings me joy. So take me up on it. All right. I hope to see you on April 21. That’s a Sunday and sign up. Okay, my friends, that is all I have for you today. And until next week, choose peace. Hey, thanks for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this week’s episode and put it into action. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less. I work with people in three ways. You can learn about them over at www dot Molly watts.com/work with me, or better yet, reach out to me directly. It’s Molly at Molly watts.com. We’ll jump on a call and discuss what’s best for you. This podcast is really just the beginning of our conversation. Let’s keep it going.