Sobriety or Moderation: Which One Will Work for You?
In this episode of the “Alcohol Minimalist” podcast, Molly introduces the upcoming release of the audio version of her book, “Breaking the Bottle Legacy,” and invites listeners to access two free chapters on her website. Drawing inspiration from various sources, including podcasts on weight loss and behavior change, Molly addresses the negative thoughts and self-criticism prevalent among those over-consuming substances. She challenges the common narrative of forcing oneself into sobriety, advocating for a shift from self-restriction to understanding and managing one’s thoughts to change the habit. Molly highlights the importance of accepting oneself and recognizing the power to choose positive thoughts, ultimately influencing feelings and actions. She rejects the notion that sober living or moderation alone can solve emotional challenges, emphasizing the role of thoughts in creating happiness.
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 am 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 used 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. I am your host Molly Watts coming to you from an absolutely soaked or akin this morning. Wow. I told my Facebook group on Friday it was an epic bluebird day. I mean, it was crystal clear blue skies. It was cold, but it was clear blue skies. It is back to Oregon. It is raining cats and dogs has been all night and it’s supposed to go on all day. Oh, well. end of February what can you expect? Right? So how are you doing? How are you feeling? I’m publishing this episode on the second of March. But it’s the last in the focus for February on emotional maturity, resilience, fluency, whatever you want to call it. We talked about what we mean by emotional maturity or fluency back in episode number 58 A few couple of weeks ago. And last week, I shared how drama might be driving your drinking. And today I’m going to wrap up this conversation about feelings with a conversation about sobriety or moderation. Which one will work for you? Wait, what? How is whether sobriety or moderation will work for you? A question that fits into this conversation about emotional maturity and resilience. I’m going to explain that in just a minute what I’m talking about. But first, a little housekeeping. I’m getting ready to finally release the audio version of my book breaking the bottle legacy how to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. And in advance of that I’ve recorded two chapters, chapter two, my story self explanatory title, and chapter nine undoing the urge to drink. I do read the audio book myself and it will be dropping soon. But you can grab the two chapters free over on my website, www dot Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a Y in watts with an S. And right there on the homepage, you can sign up for immediate access to get those chapters so you can also find my free ebook on the website alcohol truths how much is safe, which is a great resource for getting started on this path to becoming an alcohol minimalist. So go to the website and check out both of those free resources. All right on this week show sobriety or moderation. Why trying to decide which one is going to work for you? Is the wrong question. It’s the wrong construct. It’s the wrong dynamic. It’s wrong for a lot of reasons, but I’m going to talk about one specifically today. As a quick reminder, this podcast is not intended as medical advice, nor is it directed toward people who have a physical dependence on alcohol, or severe alcohol use disorder. If you believe you are physically dependent, you may need professional help to change your drinking. For more information on treatment or recovery options for alcohol dependence, please check out the show notes for resources from the NI a. For the rest of us, for those of you who are like I was, and have a daily drinking habit, and or are consuming alcohol past the low risk limits. Again, side note, those limits are always listed every week in the show notes. So please refer there if you are unclear as to what I mean when I say low risk limits. So if you are someone who is drinking past those limits, if you’re someone who drinks daily, regularly has for years, decades, or if you’re an adult child of an alcoholic, of course, that was myself as well, then this podcast is for you. The idea for this podcast came to me from a to a few different places, honestly, first, from a couple of other podcasts that I was listening to this week, one that was actually on weight loss, nothing to do with alcohol and one on behavior change, again, nothing to do with alcohol. And then because of the comments that I see, often in both the moderation management Facebook group, and comments that members of my own private Facebook group often share in the membership questions that they answer. So I asked this question for my group members. What do you hope to learn here, and often I get responses like these, I want to figure out if I can moderate if I can moderate, or I just want to quit drinking, or I want to learn how to drink less. In the moderation Management Group. I often see posts from people wanting to know if there’s anyone there that has gone from sober from being a completely sober person like attending a to moderation successfully. Or people simply want to hear success stories from people who are quote, unquote, able to moderate. And of course, on the surface, these answers and comments make sense, right? Obviously, if you want to change your drinking habits, it’s not because you want to figure out how you can drink more. Certainly, when I started this journey, it was because of all the anxiety I had about my daily drinking habit and my seeming inability to break the habit. And drinking less or not drinking every day was definitely my goal. It was the result I wanted. What I didn’t understand at the time was that changing the habit, changing the amount that I was drinking really meant changing my relationship with alcohol altogether. And that had nothing to do with whether or not I chose a sober life or moderation. which I know sounds counterintuitive. Does my peaceful relationship with alcohol include a lot less alcohol than I used to consume? Yes, absolutely. Does it include multiple alcohol free days each week? Yes, it does. And have I taken month long breaks from alcohol as a part of this alcohol, minimalist lifestyle that I love. Yes. But here’s the difference. And it’s why I want you to stop worrying about whether or not moderation is possible, or whether or not sobriety should be the goal. What people really want isn’t being sober, or successfully moderating. Now don’t get me wrong when I was over drinking for decades, and I was constantly anxious about becoming an alcoholic like my mother. I believed that if I could just break my unbreakable habit, then I would feel a lot better. And yes, getting rid of my anxiety about alcohol has been a game changer for me in terms of improving my life. That is absolutely true. But here’s what I really wanted. And what I believe most people who are over consuming anything, be it alcohol, food, gambling, social media, shopping, you name it. I wanted to feel happier. As a result of becoming sober or being able to moderate. I believed that achieving that goal would create happiness in my life. Now if you’ve listened to this show for any amount of time, then you probably know the punch line here. Having an alcohol free life will not make you happier. Choosing to moderate alcohol will not make you happier or even if you become a successful alcohol minimalist, that alone won’t make you happier. What will make you happier? Learning how to manage your mind and create happiness by becoming a better thinker. And here’s the rub. Figuring this piece out, figuring out how to manage your mind, and choosing to believe new things, practicing how to create the feelings you need to get the result you want. That is when you will feel the happiness. When you think, to feel better, you take away the desire to drink to feel better. I want you to hear that again. When you think to feel better, you will take away the desire to drink to feel better. In order to drink less or not drink at all, in order to feel happier. You have to take care of yourself mentally. First. It doesn’t matter whether sobriety is the goal, moderation is the goal or becoming an alcohol minimalist is the goal. Those results do not matter. You have to start by understanding how you are making yourself feel crappy. And how you can start making yourself feel better. By changing your thoughts. I want you to think about it this way. This is an important distinction. Are you trying really hard to drink less or quit drinking in order to feel good about yourself? Or are you willing to try hard to change your relationship with alcohol, because you feel good about yourself? It’s a very different mental construct. And it’s the reason so many people aren’t successful with changing their habits. We want to force ourselves into following all the rules we’ve set, we restrict ourselves, we get tough with ourselves, and we limit our alcohol, or stay away from alcohol altogether, and achieve the promised land of sobriety. We tell ourselves if we can just do it, we’ll finally get to feel good about ourselves. All along the way, we hang on to a bunch of crappy self talk. And we’re barely aware we’re doing it. But it’s there. So ultimately, even if we string together years of sober living, we still have a bunch of crappy thoughts about ourselves that keep us from feeling better. For me, the reason that I was successful in changing my drinking habits and creating this peaceful relationship with alcohol wasn’t because I went from beating myself up left and right to complete self love, like you are awesome. You have the power, you can totally do this. No, I just finally accepted at its core that all the negativity and criticism that I was prone to was absolutely not helpful. I could not afford to keep telling myself all the old broken stories I had been playing on the repeat for years. And it just finally made sense to me. That it was the story that I kept telling myself that created the feelings of despair, hopelessness, sadness, that then made me want to have a drink to escape from. Instead of trying to convince myself that I loved myself, as someone who was drinking more than I wanted to who hadn’t been able to break a decade’s long habit. The thing I could convince myself was that I was worth the effort of trying because I finally understood why I hadn’t been successful before. I’m sure some of you have listened for a while or have read my book. And you might be thinking now wait, you talk about having a plan for alcohol making a plan ahead of time, or how you’ll handle Off Plan drinking. So what gives? Yes, making plans ahead of time knowing that you’ll have missteps and planning ahead for how you handle it. These are important tools and tactics for helping change the habit, but ultimately, creating that peaceful relationship with alcohol, changing the desire to drink that comes from learning how to manage your mind, and peace. Feeling peaceful, is really what I wanted. Peace is just my preferred brand of happiness, I guess. In the alcohol minimalist Facebook group, someone posted this story. said good morning am peeps. Alcohol minimalist peeps. Interesting evening last night, hubby and I went out for a pizza last night a long work week and a really long Friday. I had planned on cooking but hubby said let’s get out. We went Get to one of my favorite places that also has my favorite beer on draft. The place is set up order pay, and they bring you your stuff. I was thinking on my head on the way there, I wanted two beers. So sitting there having my beer eating my salad before the pizza was brought and thinking I want a second beer. It felt like an urge, like when you want to drink only I was already having one. And then I asked myself, Why will it make my experience better? No. Do I think I deserve it? This was a yes. Is this a reward for a long week? Yes. Can I reward myself in another way? Does it have to be another beer, you’re already enjoying your favorite beer? Well, I decided no second beer and I drank water. I have trained my brain that two beers are needed when I go out, which is not true. And then the urge went away. I have served urges before but typically to have a drink, not when I am contemplating another or my toddler brain is demanding a second I came home had some tea and relaxed on the couch, my reward, taking a step forward on a new path and feeling really good about it. I can change my thoughts. And I have to be able to see where they are coming from and ask the questions. And sometimes my thoughts are BS, lol. I told this member that sometimes my thoughts are BS was my quote of the day. The beauty of this post is really making this connection. And that is why whether you are ultimately deciding to be alcohol free, or whether you are comfortable with the risks inherent to low risk, alcohol consumption, and you want to choose the alcohol minimalist path. It won’t matter at all, if you don’t figure out how to become a better thinker. And as you can see, that’s what my group members do. And they’re they’re starting to connect the dots and become better thinkers. You need to think better things about yourself, about the world around you, about your partner about your kids about your job, every single thought you have is optional. And when we understand that we have the power to feel better right now, right in this moment, by simply choosing to focus our thoughts on something else. That is where real change happens. It also means that we understand that some of the circumstances in our lives are challenging, and we aren’t going to try to paint lipstick on a pig. We’re not avoiding negative emotion. Just because we’re afraid to feel our feelings. We are simply connecting the dots between our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions, and realizing that it’s ultimately responsible for the results we have in our lives. We can’t put sober living, or moderation in the results line at the BMRC. That’s the behavior map results cycle. Folks, if you’re not familiar with it, go back and find episodes in the past, we can’t put sober living or moderation in the results line and work backwards to change our feelings. We have to change our thoughts, to change our feelings, to take different actions to get different results. Always, we can put the results there to figure out how we’re feeling about it. But to change it, we have to change our thoughts. Alright, so just to recap, whether or not you choose to be alcohol free or sober, or whether or not you choose to become a moderate drinker, whether or not you choose to become an alcohol, minimalist. Those things alone will not solve your feelings, they will not create happiness, you and your thoughts are what’s going to do that you have the power to become a better thinker. It takes practice, it takes consistency and working that working the system, but you can do it. And once you do, you can really improve how you feel on any given moment. In any given day, you can always work to find thoughts that are going to help you feel better. And that’s truly what’s at the core of the work that I do. It isn’t about how many drinks you’re drinking. Yes, of course, there is science there. And there is reasons for becoming an alcohol minimalist, and I’ve shared those many, many times. There’s health reasons that you might want to choose. You should be making mindful decisions with alcohol without question, but those reasons alone will not create happiness in your life. So that is all I have for you this week. My friends. It’s been a great month of exploring emotional maturity, emotional fluency, emotional resilience, and at the heart of it, I hope you get this message. You have to become a better thinker. If that’s how you choose to become more emotionally resilient, that’s how you develop that skill. That is what really is at the heart of creating the best life you can have. Until next time, choose peace, my friends. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalists 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