When Learning Becomes an Obstacle to Change
In Episode 41 of “Breaking the Bottle Legacy,” Molly discusses the appealing autumn weather and invites participants to join a supportive group for a more sober October. She shares insights on low-risk drinking, providing guidelines and highlighting the need to be mindful of alcohol intake. Molly elaborates on her personal approach to a “more sober October,” reflecting on her motivations, expectations, and the impact on various aspects of her life. The episode delves into the importance of understanding the “results cycle” and the role of thoughts, feelings, and actions in behavioral change. Molly candidly recounts her past struggles with implementing self-coaching and the pitfalls of seeking quick fixes. She advocates for bridging the gap between knowledge acquisition and action, stressing the significance of making small, sustainable changes. The episode concludes by addressing the challenge of navigating the gap between learning and implementing change, encouraging listeners to approach their goals with compassion and curiosity. Molly shares information about her book, “Breaking the Bottle Legacy: How to Change Your Drinking Habits and Create a Peaceful Relationship with Alcohol,” and invites listeners to explore the resources available for creating a positive transformation.
You’re listening to breaking the bottle legacy with Molly watts, Episode 41. 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 to breaking the bottle legacy. With me your host, Molly Watts coming to you from a pretty epic Oregon, I have to tell you, it has been absolutely gorgeous here this weekend, the perfect fall weekends where it’s crisp and cool and bright in the morning and then gets up to about 70 In the afternoon, and the colors and the leaves and everything. The light is just gorgeous. It’s it’s absolutely stunning. And I just want to bottle it up and hold on to it because the rain is coming. It is definitely coming. And once the rain start here in Oregon in October, they just don’t stop for six months. So it’s kind of a more more kind of timeframe for us. And we try not to think about it too much. But you know, it’s okay, right now, it’s still that glorious time and, wow, I’m just treasuring it. So, welcome. And I want to say hello, it’s October. And over in my group, I’m actually doing more sober October. So I don’t know, if you are potentially not feeling ready to take a whole month off of alcohol. That was me for many. For many years, like two years ago, I would have told you that it was impossible for me to take a full month off of alcohol. Or potentially you’ve already you know, it your mid October few days into October already and you’ve already drank so the whole idea of a totally alcohol free month is not going to work for you. And you’d like to be a part of a supportive group where you could achieve a more sober October, come check us out. It’s called My group is called alcohol minimalists change your drinking habits. And I want to make a note here actually about the group, I see a lot of other groups and coaching programs that are focused on either exclusively for women or exclusively for men, a lot of them for women. And I just want to say that my group is for human beings, it’s for humans who are seeking to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. We are not exclusively alcohol free. But some people in my group choose abstinence. And I talk a lot on the podcast. And it’s always in my show notes about low risk drinking, and the guidelines for women and men and how they’re slightly different. And, you know, I also say it’s kind of like your own personal petri dish, every time you drink, you have to be cognizant of how much alcohol you’re ingesting right. But the ideas behind all of this are the same. And in addition to low risk limits, I want to work with you to help you not use alcohol to buffer away negative emotion. And that’s a big part of what I talked about here and in the group. So if that sounds interesting to you, please check it out. Link is in the show notes. And of course, you can search for it on Facebook in groups. Again, alcohol minimalists. So here’s what I shared with the group as to what I’m doing to make it a quote unquote, more sober October. For me, I usually have three to four alcohol free days per week. And I’m stepping that up to five alcohol free days, at least 24 Total alcohol free days for October. And I’m committed to no more than 14 standard drinks in the month. So do the math there and it’s basically two drinks a day. On the days I choose to to include alcohol. I’m also committing to one alcohol free weekend this month, and I have a few members who are going totally alcohol free and that is awesome. And I 100% support it. I have others who are not including spirits in their drink choices. Others who are increasing the number of alcohol free days like I am planning ahead for the days that they do include alcohol. So my son who’s actually doing the full sober October experience asked me why I do Just go all in and be alcohol free. And I think it’s a great question. I told him, You know, I am very comfortable with my peaceful relationship with alcohol. And I actually look forward to watching my brain work on its thoughts around drinking versus not drinking. I also already know I’m doing dry January in January, I love starting off the new year with a completely alcohol free month. And so for October, I wanted to improve on my typical months, and see and feel if I noticed any differences in my sleep, anxiety, skin, mental clarity on the nights I do drink. I also want to watch my thoughts on the nights that I’m not drinking. In fact, I already had this fleeting thought, when I decided to do more sober October and it was, oh no, no beer on Sundays or Thursdays during football games. Like it was somehow written in stone that I could only be drinking on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s an interesting thought right there. Right? And like, somehow, it wouldn’t be fun watching football without beer. Which, again, these are old patterns of mind, right? And my brain just wanted to tell that story that I’d feel deprived, like I was missing out on something. But luckily, because I’m aware of how the results cycle works in my life, and how my thoughts create my feelings. I just thought that saw that thought and said, Well, that’s a ridiculous thought, noting that I could clearly choose to drink on Sunday instead of Friday, right? And let’s really examine that I often just have like one beer. So really, is one beer, something to feel deprived about? Especially when I have like awesome non alcoholic beer choices? No, it’s not. Or I might even get excited about trying a new alcohol free beer. Some people have shared a couple with me in the Facebook group, that sounds really awesome. And I want to try them. So I could choose to be excited about that option. Right? It’s all up to me what I choose to think about my decisions, and how I feel is created by will, how I think about what I am doing. So today on the podcast, we’re going to talk about going into a little bit deeper parts of the results cycle. And I mentioned it just a minute ago. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, when I say the results cycle, then I would encourage you go back and listen to episode 11. Where I go into full explanation of the results cycle and the behavior map. I will just tell you briefly right here that the result cycle, talks about the fact it basically, is the thoughts, feelings and actions. It’s everything that comes into our lives, we have thoughts that create how we feel about it. And that’s how, what determines the actions we take. Right? So that’s the results cycle. And it’s inside of the behavior map. It explains basically everything that we do in our lives, right. So today, I am going to talk a little bit about some of the challenges and especially when learning is an obstacle to challenge or a challenge to taking action. Specifically, we’re going to talk about why people don’t take the actions that they want to take and what comes up with learning that keeps them from getting the results they have that they want in their life, I should say. So if you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, you’ve heard me describe myself as a science nerd. As someone who loves information and learning, and possibly even a lifelong No at all. Now I say that I’m a know it all in a tongue in cheek self deprecating way. Because if I’ve learned anything, as I gotten older, it’s that I what I don’t know, is a lot more than what I do know. And that’s definitely and how much there is for me to learn, right? The point of all of that is this, I fell into a trap that kept me stuck, and not getting the results I wanted in my life. And it’s the first challenge I want to make you aware of. So it doesn’t happen to you. Let’s call it the Learn at all trap. Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong, wrong idea. I fully believe that education and information was and is an absolutely critical piece for me for changing my relationship with alcohol. I needed to learn the science of habits To really understand the science of how alcohol interacts with the body in the brain, and I needed these things to help me fuel my logical brain, and to be able to question with factual clarity, those impulsive toddler brain ideas that came up and and still come up under understanding the different parts of my brain and how to use my prefrontal cortex to observe my thoughts. All of that was really important information and it was necessary. What I noticed, however, is after initially, I learned about self coaching, and the importance of managing my mind, after I’d read a couple of books on alcohol, including quit lookbooks, I started feeling good. Even though I hadn’t really done anything to change my drinking habits. It was like the learning was the action I was taking. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, I wanted to learn more about neuroscience, I wanted to learn about cognitive behavioral therapy, I wanted to understand everything I could about habits. I read and read, I found wonderful podcast, and I consumed all of this wonderful content, feeling very positive about all my new learning. But here’s the trap that happened to me. I replaced learning with actually doing the work of changing my habit. I didn’t really notice it at first, because like I said, I felt good, because I was learning. But in reality, there was a point when I really knew enough. And I was just delaying and resisting, putting it into consistent practice. It was fits and starts, I dive in, I’d feel motivated and string together a few good days, only to buckle at the first urge to drink, and decide that I needed to learn it a little better read something else to verify that what I was doing was the right way. And when I misstepped, I questioned the process, instead of questioning my own thoughts and the work I was putting in. I convinced myself that there was something I was missing, something I wasn’t understanding, and down the content, rabbit holes, I go looking for silver bullets and new shiny objects to fix what was going wrong. This age of information we live in is absolutely wonderful. There is so much great information available free or almost free. And it’s truly awesome. Hey, I’m here contributing to the free content with this podcast. And I work hard to make sure it’s good quality content. So I want you to get a lot out of it. I wrote a book, a book I’m proud of and something I truly believe will help people change their relationship with alcohol. But there comes a tipping point when you should honestly ask yourself, Do I really need to know more? Or do I need to take action? Another facet of this is feeling overwhelmed, right? Sometimes there is just so much information available to us. If we allow our thoughts to focus on the sheer volume of it. It can easily lead to feelings of overwhelm and confusion. And that’s another thing that happens to people right. Instead of focusing on one small thing. They they get overwhelmed and they allow themselves to to focus all their attention on how much information there is. And the answer is figuring out whatever thought you need to feel motivated to take one small action today to start moving yourself forward. Are you a fan of motivational speakers? Well, I always have been I’ve always enjoyed listening to motivational speakers from the time I was back in, you know, Junior High High School whenever the first one I listened to was and I’ve I felt I’m guilty of feeling all in motivated and determined at the end of one of those speeches or events. Feeling confident I could bottle the confidence and motivation that I felt in that moment and carry it on to the next day. The speakers would actually warn us to not waste feeling inspired without taking action. Right. And in fact, renowned self help guru Tony Robbins, someone that I always enjoyed and you know learned about in the 1980s. He talks about taking massive action. I’ll link one of his talks on YouTube about it because it’s worth listening to. But he uses this term of map, creating a massive action plan M AP massive action plan and how reaching your potential requires taking massive action. Here’s the problem. It felt good when I listened to Tony Robbins, but then I go home and I’d leave and I’d kept trying to figure out what my massive action should be. The massive action sounded like it had to be big, it had to be something totally different than what I was doing. So instead of meeting myself where I was at and understanding how my thoughts were driving my feelings, I’d focus all my attention on taking massive action, which I believe just meant something completely different than I was doing. So when it came to my drinking habits, it was rules, right, it was rules that I had put in place, only on the weekends, no more than two drinks ever, a seven day streak to prove that I could take a break from alcohol, whatever it was, and when I inevitably broke those rules, when I would break the streak, I allowed my failed actions to reinforce all the negative self talk that was fueling the drinking habit in the first place. What massive action really means I’ve come to realize and when I was successful with changing my relationship with alcohol, was it’s consistent action. I’ve shared before on the podcast, and I go a little more depth than in my book about having a plan. And having the plan in place is a plan of consistent action. It involves it evolves from having new thoughts about alcohol, but taking this action is key. Here’s what I wrote in my book. To successfully create your new identity to become someone who has a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you need to use the executive function of the brain to create a plan for the future. In fact, creating a plan ahead of time is a way of strengthening your prefrontal cortex muscle, so to speak. It’s a tool for training your brain that you are committed to the future. So long term goals are not at the mercy of the reward center and your primitive brains focus on voiding pain and seeking pleasure. When it comes to alcohol, we have to bring our decision to drink into the prefrontal cortex and plan ahead of time, what to drink and how much to drink. Planning ahead of time means we aren’t reacting in the moment, we aren’t listening to permission giving thoughts that don’t align with our long term goals. We are choosing to have a drink we haven’t already planned on our adult brain is in charge, not the toddler or the child. I want to clarify why this kind of plan is different than those old rules that I used to try when I was unsuccessful. First of all, rules, at least mine were usually done from a punitive or restrictive mindset. My rules were often done in the spur of the moment, in a reactive and temporary way, never with any real belief that they were going to become permanent. Making a plan now is a way of life and initiated from a place of goals and who my future self wants to be. The process of planning doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to happen. When you’re first setting up a drink plan, it should be first and foremost realistic. Meet yourself where you are right now, not where you think you should be. Maybe you need to even need to take two weeks and simply track the number of drinks you have each night even to know where to start. That’s okay too. Whatever the number of drinks, you will have write them down 24 hours ahead of time. For myself, I found planning the week ahead was easiest. I could look ahead to social events and anticipate the weekends and celebrations. I used an app on my phone Google Keep which is a note taking app and simply wrote down the date, date and number of drinks. Some people would say you have to write down for 12 ounce IPAs or four or five ounce glasses of Cabernet. But I would leave that decision up to you. For me I knew my intentions. And if I drank 316 ounces 16 ounce cans of light beer I also knew it added up to four standard drinks, not three and counted it accordingly in my plan. If you don’t measure your wine pours, you may want to figure out how much your regular glass holds. And really this is all about being mindful and making decisions that are based on long term goals and not as a result of our toddler brain saying I want it and answering the urge. Once you have practiced writing a plan and following it, the next step will be to reduce the number of drinks you are having. For me this process took about a month before I was ready to try cutting down on any given days. I can’t emphasize enough that making a plan in and of itself won’t change your habit in a sustainable way. Changing your thoughts around alcohol needs to happen in tandem with creating a drink plan. Your plan will be based on your own goals as well as your own level of alcohol consumption currently. But no matter where you’re starting there is an important con Step You will also want to apply. Some people call it Kaizen and others know it simply as continuous improvement. Either way, it’s about making small changes and improvements every day. Your daily question should be what is one small step I can take today to be better, your focus will be doing 1% Better secure in the knowledge that those small steps will add up to your more significant goals. There’s no overnight success, no instant gratification, no magic bullet. And it’s never just one and done. The changes you make might be so small that they are barely noticeable, noticeable. However, just like compound interest, they do add up over time. I’ll share with you in the show notes a figure that I share in the book from James clear.com. That illustrates what will happen when you get 1% every 1% better every day this year. Coincidentally, it also shows you what happens when you get 1% Worse, but we’ll focus on 1% better. And 1% Better isn’t isn’t an exact measurement, it’s just a reminder that the steps should be small. After you’ve worked on following your doable plan, it’s time to look at reducing the number of drinks you’re drinking, start with one day per week and plan for two instead of three on that day, or whatever your number is, in the next week, add in another day overdose. No, it’s not going to happen all at once. But trust me, this longer term more sustainable and prove is sustainable path is a proven way to change your identity and become someone who has a peaceful relationship with alcohol. All right, that again was from the book breaking the bottle legacy how to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. So I talked about the learning at all trap and how learning you know without taking action and how taking small steps taking action is how we get ourselves out of that learning trap, right? We talked about how focusing on large amounts of information available, the good kit can lead to overwhelm and confusion and those feelings can keep us stuck. And again, just changing that belief system and changing that focus onto one small step one small action. I want to share with you one more thing that can happen with recurrent regards to all of your learning. And I heard this from Elizabeth Benton on primal potential. And I’ll share the link in the show notes to her podcast, something that I listened to every week, and I highly recommend. But it’s what happens when we take in all this wonderful information and education. And we don’t take action. Elizabeth calls it the gap. The gap is actually the feeling that happens when you become aware of everything that’s possible for you. And yet you’re still stuck in your old patterns and habits. As you keep learning new things and not taking action, the gap widens, which can lead to you feeling defeated and worthless. You know, maybe that great thought you’ve had like, you know better? Why can’t you just do it? Here’s what Elizabeth says you need to do, you need to mind the gap. You need to grow your awareness of it. That’s always the first step. When you’re aware that you’ve gathered all this knowledge and the tools and resources you need, but you’re not taking the steps necessary to implement that information, you can actually start to bridge the gap. What you have to do is you have to choose to take action. That’s your true responsibility here, decide to close the gap through action. You don’t need a 30 day plan or a 90 day plan or even a seven day plan. You just need to take action for today. You can do it today you can decide to close the gap. What choices can you make today in the next hour to propel you towards your goal. With each small action you take you make the gap between who you are and who you want to be smaller. Here’s one more thing about the gap. It’s always changing. As your goals shift and you change your lifestyle to fit them the gap will get wider again. That’s okay. It’s normal. That the key is to continue to mind the gap and take new actions to close it again. If you start to feel feelings of self doubt discouragement, because you’re not taking the actions, you know you quote unquote should be taking recognize it and tell yourself I’m feeling this way because I’m in the gap. I want you to really hear this. Your feelings of shame and unworthiness and defeat. They do not define who you are. They are absolutely not a reflection of your character or your ability to change and grow. They’re just signals that the gap is widening. They provide an opportunity to mind the gap to evolve While you wait where you need to take action, and to reorient yourself to continue to pursue your goals. Take a moment right now to redirect your brain by asking it a question. What’s one small step I can take right now, small steps will also ultimately close the gap and transform you from who you are into who you want to be. Elizabeth says it is a real gift to desire to improve yourself. Not everyone has that desire. Some people are content to live their lives without changing at all. They’re not interested in extending to that outer edge of the spectrum. They’re not listening to podcasts, they’re not reading the books or attending the events and workshops. They’re not interested in growing. And so they’re not creating a gap. If you’ve created a gap, it’s because you are someone who wants to change their lives. You want a peaceful relationship with alcohol. And I know it’s completely possible for you to get it. You have to take action, small steps, consistent steps, looking for 1% better, and not allowing mistakes and missteps to destroy you. Choosing compassion and curiosity and stepping right back up and making a plan again for next time. Alright, thank you for being here this week. Thank you for listening. This is Ben all about when learning becomes your action of choice and how it can become an obstacle for change. I hope you’ve gotten something out of it. I will tell you that I know you’ve got at least enough that you need to know right now. And what you’d need to do now is take action keep going. If you would like to read the book of hi the way it’s available on Amazon in pretty much any country you might be listening to this from. And if this podcast is helpful to you in any way, it would be great if you would leave a review. It supports the podcast and helps other people find it. And it’s just a great way of sharing this content with other people so they can learn something to write. Alright, until next time, my friends 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