Trying to Moderate Alcohol and Hoping to Abstain
In Episode 17 of Breaking the Bottle Legacy, Molly urges the audience to take a significant step toward altering their relationship with alcohol by acquiring a free copy of “Alcohol Truths: How Much is Safe,” which also introduces the acronym SAFE, representing Science guiding drinking decisions. The episode delves into the concept of trying to moderate and the challenges associated with setting drink limits. Molly shares her experience with tools like liminal thinking from “This Naked Mind” and emphasizes the importance of education on the science of alcohol. The discussion touches on the misconception of starting from “day one” after a lapse, encouraging reflection and analysis. Molly addresses the tendency for negative self-talk, drawing insights from a fellow coach’s experiences, and stresses the need to consciously decide on alcohol inclusion in one’s life.
You’re listening to break in the bottle legacy with Molly watts, Episode 17. Hi, I’m Molly, after a lifetime living under the influence of family alcohol abuse, spending more than 30 years worrying about alcohol and my own drinking, believing I had an unbreakable daily drinking habit, I changed my relationship with alcohol forever. If you want to change your drinking habits than breaking the bottle legacy is for you. My goal is to help you create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, past, present, and future. Each week all focus on real science and using your own brain to change your relationship with alcohol. Nothing has gone wrong, you’re not broken, you’re not sick, it’s not your genes. And creating peace is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome, or welcome back, whichever it is, you are listening to breaking the bottle legacy with Molly watts, that is me and I am speaking to you from the lovely state of Oregon. If you haven’t listened to before, it’s a pretty nice spring day here today. And I’m looking forward to getting outside taking a walk maybe and just not getting hit by any raindrops. So it’s good stuff. Today on the podcast first a little housekeeping. And that is to talk about if you want to take a great first step towards changing your relationship with alcohol. I want to encourage you to go grab your free copy of alcohol truths, how much is safe. I wrote this ebook to focus attention on the three areas of my life that I wanted to consider when I was deciding how I wanted to include alcohol in my life. And those are physical health, social health and financial health, we get a lot of confusing messages about alcohol being good for us and bad for us. And I want to encourage you to figure out how much alcohol is safe for you individually. Now safe is also an acronym for me in this book, and it stands for s science guide your drinking decisions. A your drinking decisions are adaptable, f your future goals align with your drinking decisions. And E your drinking decisions make you feel empowered. All right. Again, go grab the ebook, you just go to www dot Molly watts.com. And it’s a quick download. So I highly encourage that. I also recently shared an episode back in number 13, episode 13. I talked about my intuitive drinking toolbox. And if you listen to it, you know that the fourth tool in my toolbox is community. And I suggest that people find other people to support yourself to support you in changing your relationship with alcohol. And it can be difficult because many times your friends or your spouse, your family members are still drinking all around you. And I just want to tell you, you don’t have to go it alone. And I want to encourage you to join me in my private Facebook group. It’s private. So all of your posts and comments are only visible within the group. None of your friends, family, whatever will know you’re in there. But you can search it on Facebook, and it’s called Change your alcohol habit. That’s what the group is called. And I will also link that in the show notes. So grab the e book, come join the Facebook group, I would love to have you and help you as you work to continue to change your relationship with alcohol. So this subject of this week’s episode was actually inspired by a couple of groups that I’m involved with on Facebook, not my own private group, but a couple of larger groups. And it’s actually something I have noticed in many conversations with people as they are working on becoming either alcohol free or cutting back. And it’s this using the words I’m trying when it comes to moderation or abstinence. Now hear me this. I do not believe that true change happens overnight. And if you want to describe the process of changing your relationship with alcohol as something that requires effort that you are working on or trying to improve, then I’m all in on that 100% trying in the sense of expending effort to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. That’s fantastic. But creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol changing your daily drinking habits does not happen without a decision and a commitment to make that happen. There will be different strategies and tactics to quote unquote try within the process. But each one of those strategies requires a commitment and a decision to do that tactic. And it’s there that we cannot just try, we have to have the mindset that we will do. What I see in many, many posts and posts and people talking about is, quote unquote, trying to cut back or quote unquote, hoping that they can be good. So today’s episode isn’t going to address this weighty discussion of applying morality to drinking decisions, like the whole idea of drinking being good or bad, right or wrong, is at the root of many issues, with why people feel stuck in their drinking habits. But today, we’re really going to be talking about the mindset of trying to do something or hoping you’ll do something versus deciding to do it. When it comes to changing your relationship with alcohol, and reducing how much you are drinking, the thoughts of trying or hoping typically come up when people are choosing not to make a plan with their alcohol. Instead of deciding on a number of drinks ahead of time, making a conscious decision on the number of drinks a person will have, they choose to try to moderate or hope to abstain. I get this because this was me for a long time to not committing to a real number. But just quote unquote, trying to moderate felt safer, because one, I was actually ashamed to write down a number that I kept telling myself was too much. And number two, I was worried about not being able to stick to the number afraid of failing. So I just avoided having a number at all. And when I first decided to change my relationship with alcohol, writing down the number of drinks I was going to have was really hard. Because I believed that I shouldn’t be drinking as much as I was. And writing the number felt weak. And like I was allowing myself to keep drinking an amount of alcohol, that was too much. So I totally get this. I was really though just learning about managing my mind, of course, and had not yet mastered that behavior map and the results cycle. So when I had that weak feeling, I had to drill down and find the thoughts that were making me feel weak. The whole notion that I was allowing myself to do something that I should be restricting was another story that I had to uncover. When we have a habit that doesn’t serve us, whether it be drinking or eating junk food, or shopping or surfing social media, our first impulse to changing the habit will probably be to restrict ourselves, planning ahead for a higher than what it’s supposed to be. Number four, drinking feels counterintuitive, to changing your relationship with alcohol. The process of changing your thoughts to change how you feel to change your actions was really evident to me. When I uncovered those thoughts about writing down a plant number of drinks, I had to find those thoughts and challenge them with new thoughts and new ideas. Because, quote, unquote, trying to moderate or, quote unquote, hoping to be good, was not something that I’d found success with. It was not a strategy that was working for me. buying into planning ahead of time, and believing that a plan for drinking was actually going to help me reduce my drinking in the long run, required practicing new thoughts. I wanted to become someone who used her logical future focused brain when it came to including alcohol in my life, planning ahead of time took the decision out of my impulsive, primitive brain into my prefrontal cortex. Even though I wasn’t where I want it to be in terms of the number, I was making the plan ahead of time and training my brain to realize that I could make a plan and stick to it when it came to alcohol. I didn’t cut back at first, I simply met myself where I was. And meeting myself where I was wasn’t really a completely foreign concept to me. Several years before I made this change. I had listened to this naked mind audio program before it officially became a book. Annie Grace gave away the audio files free at first. And I was among those that subscribed. I just checked in the date if that was actually March of 2016. So five years ago, and three years before I actually made any real progress on changing my drinking habits. In fact, in 2016 it wasn’t actually for me that I wanted to listen to that program at all. But that’s another story altogether. What I liked about what she shared in those audio files was that you could keep drinking while you were listening to the book. It sounded almost as if the audio files were going to deliver messages in a subliminal way to my unconscious mind. Somehow, through listening to the audio, my subconscious would start to change. And while that was happening, I could keep drinking until I no longer wanted to. To be honest, that never really happened for me during that first go round with this naked mind audio files. And I don’t think I really understood the ideas in this naked mind when I first listened to it. And that was probably part of the problem. It helps to read it actually read the book in print, which I did in 2019. Now in this naked mind, Andy Grace focuses on bringing the unconscious messaging, we believe about alcohol into the conscious through a process called liminal thinking, defined by author Dave Gray. And this is what it says in the book. liminal thinking defines how through the conscious exploration and acceptance of new ideas and truths, you could influence your unconscious mind. This gives you back your ability to make rational, rational and logical decisions about alcohol, no longer influenced by illogical emotional or irrational desires, it will give you control and freedom by changing your understanding of and therefore your relationship with alcohol. I’ve talked on the podcast before about the prefrontal cortex, the adult brain versus the limbic system, or the primitive brain or toddler brain. And this is very similar to what Annie grace is talking about here. liminal thinking happens in our conscious mind, the prefrontal cortex, sub liminal, is what happens in our subconscious or primitive brains. She even says that we can influence our subconscious minds through conscious exploration and acceptance of new ideas and truths. Now while I agree with most of the liminal points in this naked mind, there are seven and I mean, there are eight, and I agree with seven of them. There are other parts of the book, which I simply can’t agree with, or they seem to contradict the actual premise of liminal thinking, which is that we are capable of reframing our beliefs to create change in our lives. We create change by deciding to believe new things. In episode 13. In what I told you about my intuitive drinking toolbox, I talked about my number three tool being education on the science of alcohol. And I actually should have said education on the science of our alcohol and education on brain science. Reading this naked mind was a part of my increased understanding of brain science, including neuroplasticity, and the different areas of the brain involved in habits. When I actually began to make progress. on changing my relationship with alcohol, I absolutely decided to believe new things. I didn’t try. I decided, the more I learned about alcohol, the more I learned about my brain, the more I realized that many of the beliefs I had orange, true. They were just thoughts I had practiced over and over and over again. Another reason I resisted making a plan in the first place was, and other people have shared with me that they resist making a plan ahead of time for drinking, is that they worry that they won’t be able to stick to the plan. Right, I did this to the fear of failure keeps them from making a plan. By just trying to moderate or hoping to be good. It keeps everything in shades of gray instead of black or white. And while I can certainly empathize with this way of thinking, it really illustrates the kind of all or nothing thinking that keeps people stuck in their habit of drinking. Setting a plan ahead of time and not sticking to your plan is not failure. It’s an opportunity to learn and to observe your decisions with compassion, and curiosity. I’m also going to bring up one thing I’ve also noticed people in these groups saying, and that’s when they say that when they mess up, they have to go back to quote unquote, day one. And if your goal is to be completely alcohol free, then that’s wonderful. And I’m here to definitely help you get there. I don’t find focusing on the days as something that helps me and having to go back to day one feels really defeating. So you’re not at day one. When you’ve been working on your relationship with alcohol for six months, put together a long streak of alcohol free days and then decide to drink. It’s not day one, especially if you take the time to reflect and analyze what happened, what you were thinking when you drank Off Plan. This is part of the journey part of the process, telling yourself you have to start again from square one feels really not good. And it also kind of sounds as if the stumble was unexpected. What I believe and what has made the real difference in results for me this time, was that I was prepared ahead of time for the missteps, and I was expecting them to happen. And I realized that every single one that did could actually be taking me a step closer to my goal of peace. If I chose to look at it that way. If I did the work, and by doing the work, then it meant that I began to stumble less often. Even now, knowing that I can have an occasion, when I drink Off Plan. And understand that it doesn’t mean that something’s gone wrong. And it doesn’t mean that something’s not working right. And it doesn’t mean that I can’t be successful. It just means that my human brain is doing what human brains do. When they are left unmanaged, we will fall into whatever habits we have established over time, and drinking is one that at least for me, was very ingrained. I couldn’t just quote unquote, try to do better, I had to plan for what I wanted, and evaluate what happened when I didn’t execute my plan. Now I have news for you, you are not going to change your relationship with alcohol into a peaceful relationship. If you are busy beating yourself up for Off Plan drinking. And I know this mount may sound a little woowoo. But I promise you that if you’re anything like me, you are probably a master of negative self talk, especially my fellow adult children of alcoholics, being highly critical of yourself is likely second nature. So much so that you may not even realize how often you say things to yourself, like, I know better. I’m an idiot, how can I be so stupid? Why can’t I be stronger? What’s wrong with me? Instead of using your fear of failure as a reason to not make a plan, decide ahead of time, what you’re going to do, when you don’t follow your plan. Commit to yourself that you will notice any negative self talk and immediately recognize and change it. Here’s the way I recognize and change negative self talk thoughts. I love this phrase because it literally works for every thought that is unhelpful. It’s this phrase. So the phrase is simply is just a thought. And I can choose a better one. When my brain throws out the you know better thought, which it does on the regular by the way. And when you’ve spent as much time as I have studying alcohol, or when you’ve chained trained as a coach, and you find yourself drinking Off Plan, the thoughts of you know, better come pretty fast and furious. And one of the things that I’ve come to appreciate from one of the coaches I follow who is a weight loss coach. And she’s successfully kept off 100 pounds for more than 15 years. And she has helped 1000s of women. And she still tells women today that she has to do this work every day, and that her brain will still throw out crappy negative self talk thoughts, and she has to shut them down. So when the thought I’m an idiot pops up in my brain, and I catch myself doing this, even in what seems like an innocuous way when it has nothing to do with drinking Off Plan like say, leaving my lock in my cars and keys in the car, which happened to me recently. Even then I don’t allow myself not to question that thought, because it’s such a slippery slope. When we beat ourselves up all day, when my brain throws out, I’m an idiot, I recognize it and say, is just a thought and I can choose a better one. Like, you’re not an idiot, just a human who made a mistake completely normal. I choose not to allow even small moments of negative self talk happen because it’s practice for the really big moments. When I truly want to believe the negative thoughts I’m having about myself. Building a habit of better self talk is required and requires a lot of practice. At least it has for me. Whatever works for you, and you’re going to find your own way of battling negative self talk, but whatever it is, when you drink Off Plan, I want you to use compassion and curiosity to figure out what you were thinking when you decided to drink Off Plan. We need to reflect and learn for the future. There is no failure simply a chance to know more about our brains and our thoughts that we need to work on. So we are not going to try to moderate. We aren’t going to hope to be good We are going to mindfully, consciously and deliberately decide how we will include alcohol in our lives. For me, I have become an alcohol minimalist, because that is where I feel best, and where it aligns with my long term goals. I have created a peaceful relationship with alcohol, past, present and future because I quit trying to moderate and made plans ahead of time. I committed to curiosity and compassion for when I didn’t follow those plans. And I changed my beliefs around alcohol, which helped me create the feelings I needed in the first place to make the decision to change my habit. That is all I have for you this week, my friends. If you have a question for me, or a subject you’d like to discuss on the podcast, please email me Molly at Molly watts.com. And until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to breaking the bottle legacy. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Take something that 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