Alcohol Awareness: How Can We Build It?
In this episode of Breaking the Bottle Legacy with Molly Watts, host Molly Watts emphasizes the importance of changing drinking habits and cultivating a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Molly discusses her past experiences and reflections on Alcohol Awareness Month, encouraging listeners to participate in an upcoming alcohol-free weekend. She breaks down the topic into two crucial questions: first, understanding the misinformation about alcohol’s ease and enjoyment, and second, becoming aware of how our own thoughts drive the desire to drink. Molly shares insights from Dr. David Nutt, challenging faulty thinking and excuses about drinking habits, and discusses the importance of questioning the amount of alcohol consumed and challenging the notion that being mindful of alcohol intake leads to decision fatigue. She emphasizes the significance of being aware of one’s thoughts and beliefs about alcohol, examining their impact on drinking patterns. Molly encourages listeners to explore their own thinking processes and beliefs around alcohol, challenging the narratives that alcohol enhances fun and relaxation. She shares insights from mindfulness practitioner Cory Mascara, highlighting the importance of interrupting patterns and building a nervous system that can support change. Molly concludes the episode by reaffirming the possibility of transformation and empowering listeners to change their relationship with alcohol, serving as a guide for embracing mindfulness and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol.
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. I am your host Molly Watts coming to you from well, it’s a wet and kind of cold looking morning, but it’s not like yesterday, April 11. Yesterday and we woke up to about two and a half inches of snow. So it was to say the least unexpected and but you know I get to work from home and got to look out at the pretty snow all day. And so it was kind of nice, unexpected, but definitely worth watching, at least from the inside of the of the house looking out yesterday. So it is April. And did you know that April is actually Alcohol Awareness month back in 1987 Alcohol Awareness month was established by the National Council for alcoholism and drug dependence. And here’s what it says on their website about the campaign. It takes place every April and offers communities a chance to gain more understanding of how individuals struggle with alcohol abuse, offers advice and help for those affected and highlights the serious health issues caused by alcohol. In my newsletter this month, I asked the question, are we really becoming more aware as a society when it comes to alcohol? I think it’s an indicator of how much work we have to do with regarding our conversations around alcohol. When Alcohol Awareness Month is not mentioned or promoted by anyone anymore. AAA doesn’t promoted moderation management doesn’t promote it. The naa doesn’t. None of the tracking apps or websites that I checked none of the other alcohol related podcasts I listened to, or checked in on last week. We’re talking about the upcoming month, and I haven’t been talking about it. Truth be told, I forget about it. And no one really reminds me. It wasn’t until I was looking backward at my content from last year working on my newsletter that I remembered that I had done an alcohol free weekend in April last year 2021 To honor Alcohol Awareness Month, and how I only learned about the month of existence haphazardly last year for the first time, which is saying something since it’s existed since 1987. And that was around the time my mother first went to rehab. She did it three more programs over the course of 20 years, with the last one being a nine month Living Program for the reluctant to recover in 2008. And never over those 20 years was I familiar with April being Alcohol Awareness Month, even though I was in the front line dealing with my mother’s ongoing addiction. This is actually a part of what I want to talk about this episode but before we get there Hey, I want to let you know that we the alcohol minimalists will be taking part in an alcohol free weekend this next weekend, April 15 16th, and 17th. And to kick it off, I’m going live in the Facebook group on Friday the 15th 2022 at 7am Pacific time. So I’ll be sharing a little bit about why including alcohol free weekends is an important part of being an alcohol minimalist, and how it really helped me create my peaceful relationship with alcohol. So if you’re not already a part of that group, it is a private group. There’s always a link in the show notes. But you can just also search it in Facebook groups for alcohol minimalists, and you’ll find it. Even if you’re listening after the fact the video of the live will be in the group. But I hope you’ll come join and get inspired to be alcohol free this weekend. Or even try being alcohol free on one night. If the thought of a whole weekend sounds impossible to you right now. That’s totally fine. Try one day, meet yourself where you are at. All right, so this episode I’ve titled Alcohol Awareness. How can we build it? Clearly, there’s still a lot of work to be done regarding overall Alcohol Awareness. If you just take this example of Alcohol Awareness Month as a jumping off point for the conversation. What I really want to focus on during this episode is our own alcohol awareness, and what it means to become more conscious when it comes to alcohol and our own drinking habits. And I want to encourage you to build your awareness now. Really, what are we waiting for? I’m breaking this down into two questions that I think you need to ask yourself to gauge your own awareness and mindfulness when it comes to alcohol. So the first question is really straightforward, but it’s also where you might not be willing to be really honest with yourself. The question I don’t I wasn’t really when I first started doing this work, I think I had a pretty pie in the sky idea of what I was actually drinking. The question is, how much are you drinking on a weekly basis, I hear lots of excuses from people as to why they can’t plan ahead, why they are not sure how much they will feel like drinking at an event, etc. Here’s what I know. If you want to become an alcohol minimalist, you will need to quit telling yourself that it’s too difficult or not fun to do the plan. And you will need to get clear on how much alcohol you are consuming on a weekly basis. That’s just the first step of awareness. In his book drink the new science of alcohol in your health. Dr. David Nutt says, And He also reiterated this with me on the podcast during our conversation way back in episode number eight, which I will link in the show notes as well, if you’d like to listen to it, it was a great interview. He says that people need to know their drink number. And what he means by that is simple. Quote, people need to know their alcohol intake and standard drinks the way they should know their calorie intake their cholesterol level and their blood pressure. I love this very pragmatic, simple and non judgmental approach to alcohol. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, and you don’t have to make it something that feels restrictive. It’s completely neutral, sensible. And if you truly want to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you want and need this number. Because without this consciousness and knowledge of the path you want to be on, it becomes really easy to drink more than you plan and to drink more than the established limits for low risk drinking. This isn’t because you’re broken. It’s not because you can’t stop once you start. It’s because most of us simply are not aware of how much we are drinking, or what those low risk limits are. And secondarily, we aren’t aware of how our own thoughts fuel our desire to drink. But we’ll get to that too. So I lived for decades with an ever present anxiety about my drinking. I grew up with an alcoholic parent who continued to abuse alcohol until she passed away at the age of 81. And so I was fully aware of all the pain that alcohol can cause. What I still find so baffling is this that despite my awareness of alcohol in my mother’s life, and how her abuse impacted my life, I didn’t choose awareness in my own life. I chose anxiety and I listened to my own faulty thinking about alcohol that kept me stuck. Have you ever heard this phrase blissfully unaware? We say that ignorance is bliss or someone can be blissfully unaware, but it’s not true. Remaining unaware was not blissful for me. Because even though I wasn’t fully conscious, I was aware enough to know that I didn’t want to follow the same path as my mother. And I knew that my drinking habits couldn’t be considered healthy. I allowed myself to believe that the anxiety surrounding my drinking was just my lot in life, and that changing the habit was simply impossible. This is not the kind of awareness I want for you, I don’t want you to simply know that you’re drinking to access. But knowing exactly how much you were drinking is important data. And it’s just that data, it’s not good or bad. It’s just information on where the starting point is. And we really need to understand if the two glasses of wine we have each night are really more when it comes to standard drinks and alcohol by volume. It all matters. If we’re really wanting to know our numbers. Just like for our health, we should know our blood pressure, we should know our cholesterol We should know our weight and are how many calories were taking in or expending. It’s the same kind of knowledge. Some people in the sober only communities make the sound like it will cause decision fatigue, they make it sound as though it’s problematic to have to pay attention to the amount of alcohol you’re consuming, and much easier to just not drink at all, as though having to decide all the time how much you’ll drink leads to decision fatigue, which in turn can lead to you just saying whatever and drinking to access. Now, I’ll be the first to advise that if you’re still experiencing anxiety around your drinking, if you feel like you’re not able to stick to low risk limits. Like once you’ve committed to doing this work, you’re making plans ahead of time, you’re working on your thoughts that are deriving your desire to drink you’re using compassion and curiosity to learn from the missteps, and you’re including alcohol free days in your weekly plans. That’s what I mean by doing the work. Then if you’re doing all that, you know you’re still anxious about it or it’s still not peaceful, then you might find more a more peaceful relationship with abstinent and that’s a complete possibility. But it won’t be because you’re living in denial or unaware of what’s really causing your drinking habits. Hey, everyone, just a quick break here in the show to talk with you about sunny side. Sunny Side has partnered with me and I am super excited to share this company with you. I’ve actually had the founders on the show before and I will link that in the show notes so you can hear a little bit from them. Sunnyside is an app that helps you cut back on your drinking or simply build healthier drinking habits. I have watched the company grow over this last year and I’m so impressed. They are deeply mission driven and they are building a service to help millions of people create a healthier relationship with alcohol. And they’re doing it without the pressure to quit or feel guilty. So of course you know it aligns with everything I talk about here at alcohol minimalist. Think of Sunnyside as a digital coach that helps you set the plan for the week and provides tools to track your drinks and measure your progress. All while using proven behavior change techniques to create a lasting habit change. It’s super easy to start super easy to stick to. And it includes a 15 day free trial so you can test it out. Really it’s worth checking out. Head on over to sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started today. Okay, the second question you need to ask yourself to improve your awareness around alcohol. What do I believe about alcohol? This question is going to take some work. But it’s really important to uncover all the stories that you have in your brain around alcohol. Most of them unconsciously fuel your desire to drink and all of them need to be questioned and challenged. Here are some of the reasons I had for not being able to change my drinking habit for decades. One, I believed I needed to drink to relax and unwind, too. I believed I liked the taste of beer way too much to ever give it up. Number three, I believe that alcohol makes events and parties more fun. And number four, I believed that alcohol helped me sleep better. There are also accepted norm and cultural messages that I also accepted as true like drinking alcohol is what’s normal. I’m in the majority everybody else drinks like I do. Drinking is what normal people do. It’s popular. It’s just a part of celebrations, family gatherings. It’s what we do. And you need to dive into your own brain and your own thinking to really become aware of all the thoughts you have around alcohol and ask yourself is this the whole story? What else to true about whatever thought you’re having. The purpose of this exercise isn’t to demonize alcohol or convince yourself that it’s bad for you. It’s to understand that your thinking is rarely complete. Nor is it 100% accurate, but you just accept it as the gospel truth. At least I know, that’s what I did. I blame it on being a class, I know it all teacher’s pet and lifelong learner. I like being right. And so when it came to my own thoughts, of course, I rarely questioned them. And because I never questioned them, I was really unaware of how they created my desire to drink. That’s the piece of the awareness that I really want for you. I want you to realize how your own thinking actually creates your desire to drink. That’s where the magic really begins to happen for people when they accept full accountability for being able to change their desire to drink by changing their own thinking. And we can figure out how to create feelings of excitement, relaxation connection, any feeling that you believe alcohol helps you feel or not feel, you can affect that feeling with your own thoughts. And that is a skill set that is going to take you way beyond your relationship with alcohol. In my private Facebook group, one of the members shared a post from Cory mascara. Cory is a former monk who is a mindfulness practitioner author and hosts the practicing human podcast. And this was shared with regards to becoming an alcohol minimalist from from my group member. And I really thought the Insight was wonderful. This is the quote from Korea mascara. A common question I receive is okay, now that I’m aware, what do I do? It’s an understandable question, and it has a place in our own growth. But in my experience, the mind that is asking that question misunderstands, or has a limited understanding of how real change happens, as if seeing a pattern, interrupting it and doing something different, is going to fundamentally reorganize how your system relates to the world. I’m not completely dismissing pattern interrupt, I do it, it’s important. But if you’re not taking the time to feel embody in relax into the you, that is required to be in the new pattern, the beliefs, values and energetic experience of being someone who does this pattern, these Pattern Interrupt strategies can become excuses of will temporarily suppressing impulses until your ego strength tires enough to default to what the system finds most familiar and say, That’s not real change. It’s a bandaid, except nothing is actually healing beneath the surface, at least on an emotional energetic level, suppressing the will to go on a bender might heal your body temporarily, but it isn’t addressing the source of pain. So what happens when we make the intention to simply bring embodied awareness to our patterns, we learn about them, not just on a cognitive level, but a full body nervous system level, we learn about the triggers that push us in a certain direction, the way the mind convinces us this pattern is right, the terror and unsafety we feel when considering not doing the pattern, the ways the pattern may actually be serving something deep in us the ways it’s causing more destruction than we realize all the things the pattern is protecting, etc. You can’t learn this through will and suppression, you can only learn it through curiosity, getting closer to the thing you most resent. And as frustrating as it may be, you’ll often need to go through the same loops over and over to really get to know the pattern. But each time you do your learning, the system is gaining wisdom. It’s seeing more clearly what actually leads to freedom and what leads to suffering. It’s reorganizing around this new wisdom, shedding the layers that are no longer in service to who you are becoming. And it’s doing it in a way that is aligned with where you are at and what you’re already ready to release. Forcing that release is not possible. It’s suppression. And when you do try to change the pattern, you get glimpses of being in that space with more ease and less gripping. You’re building a nervous system that can hold the person you need to be to live in a new way. awareness isn’t nothing. It’s bringing you closer to reality on the most granular level. It’s waking you up. It’s the opposite of delusion. And delusion is what keeps is bound to patterns that don’t truly serve us. I thought that was so powerful. And for me, I know, again, I was really unaware and I was deluded into thinking that, you know, I couldn’t change my drinking habits for so long. So I really want to increase my own awareness continue to increase it to help you increase yours. So work on yourself this week, ask yourself to become more aware. answer two questions and don’t stay stuck in delusion. Number one, how much are you really drinking each week? How far is it from low risk limits? Meet yourself where you’re at and make a plan. Number two, what are the thoughts that you have about alcohol that need to be challenged? Challenge them by asking yourself what else is true? And if you are so inspired, join me this next coming weekend and the alcohol minimalists in celebrating an alcohol free weekend April 15 16th, and 17th or plan one alcohol free day if that’s a step forward for you. Let’s build more awareness for ourselves and for everyone around us. And until next time, 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