Are you using alcohol as an adult pacifier?
2020 has been a year we didn’t see coming, and much of it has involved learning as we go. It’s been a time of adjusting to new and unique ways of doing things and it’s been a difficult part of history for us all. We can’t change the circumstances, so we have to find peace and contentment outside of the circumstances.
Unfortunately for many of us, we’ve been overconsuming alcohol in an attempt to pacify ourselves during these turbulent, stressful times. We’re turning to alcohol to obtain a sense of pleasure, but the effects alcohol has on the brain mean that what we’re actually getting is a false pleasure – it doesn’t serve us at all. Using alcohol as an adult pacifier means we stop practicing the ability to self-soothe that we learned as a child.
This week, I’m talking about why we soothe ourselves with alcohol and why learning to understand our emotions can help us combat using alcohol as a pacifier. I’m sharing why the more we outsource our emotions to alcohol, the more we’re doing ourselves a disservice, and how to stop viewing alcohol consumption as a coping mechanism. Remember – the process towards a drink less lifestyle is hard, but that doesn’t matter if we get the result we want!
If you would like my help in doing this work, learn about my program, How to Get Your Off Button Back, and other ways you can work with me here. I would love to help guide you on your journey toward a drink less lifestyle!
And, if you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking, check out the free guide How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit now!
What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- What soothing is and how we can use it on ourselves.
- How we become reliant on alcohol.
- Why it’s so hard to give up alcohol.
- Why the term ‘coping mechanism’ is completely erroneous.
- Some techniques to help you self-soothe.
- Why alcohol provides a false pleasure.
Featured on the Show:
- Did you know I launched an online course earlier this month? It is amazing! 5 key modules will teach you exactly how to stop overdrinking so you can find your off button again. I invite you to come and check it out here for more details!
- Join my private Facebook group Stop the Overdrinking Habit!
- Come follow me on Instagram!
- My Drink Less Lifestyle Program
- Ep #1: Drinking Is a Thinking Problem
Full Episode Transcript:
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 12.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello my friends. The holidays are upon us. How is this time for you? Are you finding that it’s kind of tough for you to find the joy or feeling a bit isolated, or depressed, or sad from not being able to see others during this time of year? Or are you enjoying this slower pace as a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the norm?
And I have to say for me it’s a little bit of both. I mean I really enjoy seeing my family, getting to travel, getting to be with them and celebrate all the goodness that Christmas has to offer. And I like doing the activities at our church and all the social events that we fill our calendar with. But I’m also noticing that I’m really enjoying some quiet time. I’m really enjoying this time with my daughter and exploring new ways of making traditions, making memories and doing different things.
So while I can’t wait to go back to the old way, if that is going to be the way it’s going to be in the future, I’m also embracing the way it is right now. Because let’s be honest, we have to really look for the silver lining in what is, because if we don’t and we just focus on what isn’t, that’s not really a season of love, cheer, joy. And that’s really what I want my holiday season to be about, the Christmas season to be about.
And we all know 2020 has certainly been a year that we didn’t see coming and we kind of are learning how to handle it as we go. It’s been about a time of adjusting to new and unique ways of doing things and adjusting to new routines, or not having a routine at all and having to put one in place just so we can get the things we want to do, done.
And of course we all know that there have been periods in the past where we have faced difficulties. We faced trying times, world wars, pandemics, famines, these times that were not necessarily happy but we got through it, we evolved and we made the best of it. So I always like to remind myself that yes, this is just part of history that we’re making and of course we have good times, and we have bad times, and we have ups and downs, and that’s all the beauty that life has to offer.
So I always like to remind myself, what is a mantra, or a motto or something that I can focus on that helps me get through and really channel my energy and channel my mind in a way that serves me. And I like to just think I’m doing the best that I can. I think we all are, we’re trying to do the best that we can given the constraints that we have around us. And I love thinking about it that way because we all know we can’t change the circumstances, we are not that powerful.
So to give up trying to control things we can’t control is not what the serenity prayer is all about. Whatever you can control you want to be able to control. And that just frees me up so much mentally, emotionally and really helps me frame my day in what can I do today to make it the best it can be. And speaking of, so I think a lot of us are feeling homebodyish, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we’ve wanted to up our game a little bit with our Christmas lights and our Christmas decorations this year in the front of our house.
And I have to say we were just out and about last week and the shelves are bare. I wanted this beautiful blow up decoration and some additional lights for the front of our house and literally it was December 4th or 5th. And we went to three or four different stores and the shelves were bare. Are you guys finding that? But also you know what I noticed in the past couple of days? Is that there’s so many more houses lit up, there’s so much more decoration out to be enjoyed. So I’m really enjoying that.
And we get in our car, we get some popcorn, we get some hot cocoa, we drive through different neighborhoods and we try to hunt out different neighborhoods around us. And make it just a unique experience that we haven’t done that before. And so make it an event and really enjoy the Christmas spirit. And I don’t know about you but seeing the Christmas spirit alive and well just makes me really content and happy.
So wherever you are at my friends I hope you are finding the Christmas spirit alive and well, and feeling good moments and peaceful moments in this time as well as staying safe and healthy.
Alright, so I want to move onto to today’s topic for this episode. And that is learning how to soothe ourselves. So there are different ways I like to think about soothing ourselves, soothing, calming ourselves down. Allowing ourselves to be in a state of peace, or relaxation, or just to break away from whatever is causing us stress, or anxiety, or us to fret, or dread. So I like to think of it as soothing, that’s my term. I like to think of it as how we can soothe ourselves.
And where this comes from is I’ve noticed and what I’ve been coining the term in my coaching program is I think a lot of us use alcohol as an adult pacifier. So I want you to think about this a little bit with me. So you know when babies are born they rely on their parents for everything, they require so much of their caregivers to meet their every need. And of course their brains are just developing and so they’re not mature enough to handle their emotions. And they certainly can’t self-soothe.
So when babies cry we do all the things that we know how to do, or all the things that we’re taught, or all the things that we’ve witnessed to try to soothe them. We rock them, we sing to them, we may have to hold them or carry them around the house. Sometimes we have to bounce them. And a lot of times we give them a binky or a pacifier to see if that sucking motion will help them learn to soothe and calm theirselves.
Because we know at a very young age the kids are very oral, that’s how they’re exploring their world, that’s how they’re learning about their world. They put everything in their mouth for those first few years. And for most babies when they do get a pacifier, and a lot of people call it now a binky, but I’m going to be using the word pacifier, it does calm them down. They do stop crying. They do learn to soothe through that suckling activity.
And so emotions overtake them until they learn to soothe with the pacifier. And so they may grow out of that stage and eventually become toddlers, and of course, kids, you know, toddlers and beyond, they’re still very emotional, just like adults we’re very emotional creatures. And so babies they move on from that phase of needing the pacifier. And they still have emotions and they still are overwhelmed by them. They don’t know what to do with them so they enter this toddler phase.
And if you’ve raised kids you know what toddlers do when they get extremely emotional. They have to react in a certain way. And we don’t understand it as adults because we’ve bypassed that phase. And so they are yelling, or they’re kicking, or they’re screaming, or maybe get calls like I did from the daycare like, “Your kid is biting other kids.” Or they’re pulling hair, or they’re taking whatever action need to because they feel this energy, this emotional energy in their body and they don’t know how to channel it yet.
So they’re doing these things that feel good to them but they don’t realize that they might be causing pain or hurt to another person or another child. So I think of it as they’re taking this action from this impulse of emotion. So they get this emotional feeling and they need to react or act from that impulse from the emotion. So it’s our job as parents to educate them, to tell them it’s not appropriate, to explain to them why it’s not appropriate and then also to give them ways to handle their emotions.
To give them options that don’t hurt others, and so are socially acceptable and appropriate ways to start learning how to channel these emotions, start learning how to manage these emotions. So the whole goal is when we get to adulthood, that we have plenty of years of being socialized into how to handle our emotions. And we know and we practice how to handle particularly the strong emotions like the ones that a lot of us, maybe even as adults still find challenging to manage in our body because we react and do things we don’t really want to do because it hurts other people.
So strong emotions like anger, and rage, and not being understood, or not feeling validated or not feeling appreciated, this can cause a lot of even adults to act out. So you know when you have that impulse of emotion, we learn from a young age how to channel that in a productive manner, or in an appropriately socially acceptable manner. Now, what I find is that when adults begin to rely on alcohol to manage their emotions, guess what happens? They stop practicing the ability to soothe on their own.
So using alcohol for instance could be a way that they deal with having a hard day, having a long day, having a difficult conversation. Using alcohol because they’re disappointed on how things turned out, or that things aren’t working out the way they had planned. Or they’re using alcohol to manage their unhappiness, or their loneliness, or sadness, or boredom, or dealing with Covid, or this day, or this week, or this month, or this year of 2020. It’s how adults learn to deal with the stress at work, or their jobs, or their kids, or even preparing dinner.
And I hear from women about this is how they deal with the monotony of things they really don’t find enjoyment in like doing laundry, or cleaning the house, or straightening up every day after the kids. I’ll also hear it’s how they deal with the extra time on their hands, I don’t know, I’m just bored. I need something to do, so this is my form of entertainment.
And of course we can use alcohol to entertain ourselves, even if we are already entertained, maybe we’re watching our kids, maybe we’re watching a movie, maybe we’re watching a movie and eating popcorn, but that’s not enough so let’s add wine to the mix. It’s like that extra add on bonus, and so some people use wine to celebrate and be more festive this time of year because society promotes it and that’s what we’re taught to do, let’s have more alcohol at festive times of year, at the parties, at retirements, at birthdays, let’s go above and beyond what we normally do.
So we just keep consuming, and consuming, and consuming and of course over-consuming and overdrinking never makes us feel good, not in the moment, and certainly not the next day. And so I hear a lot of my women that I work with, is like, “It’s just what I look forward to at the end of the day.” But I want to just remind you that it’s the chemical that’s entering in your body.
And what you’re looking forward to is a false pleasure, because if you think about it, it robs us from feeling true joy, because it is a chemical that’s robbing us of the true joy we can experience because it’s giving us false pleasure. Not only that, alcohol gives us this false feeling that everything’s okay, we’re comforted, we’re secure, nothing bad is going to happen. I mean sometimes I’ll even hear women say, “It just is my, it’s my release. And I don’t feel like I’m responsible anymore.”
But I want you to think about, you are still responsible, if your house burns down or your kids run away, you are still responsible even when you’re drinking alcohol or not drinking alcohol. So it’s a false sense of then I’m not responsible. And it’s a false sense of pleasure. So all this is to say that I think we learn as we drink more and more, and over-drink more and more, and it becomes a habit, that we use alcohol to soothe ourselves. So we use alcohol as this adult pacifier to self-soothe.
And why that’s not good is because we become dependent on the alcohol. Why? Because our brain is like, hey, I don’t need to learn the skill anymore, and I’m not even practicing the skill. I get to drink alcohol. So when there’s stress that arises, when there’s boredom that arises, when there’s loneliness that arises my brain is just wired to go right to alcohol. So if that’s what we’ve been doing just notice that we’ve been outsourcing our emotions to alcohol to solve the problem. We no longer take control of our emotions.
We no longer practice the skill of how to manage our emotions in a way that serves us, in a way that feels healthy, in a way that feels good the next day. And I laugh with my clients on this too, I’ll say, “Yes, it’s just like Linus in Charlie Brown and Snoopy where he carries around his little blue blanket everywhere for comfort and security.” It’s like how we become with our wineglass.
And I’ll even joke because some of the women in my program will be like, “Yes, that’s so me, because I pour the wine in the glass and I just wind up carrying it around, even though I don’t really want to drink it. Or I take it upstairs with me just in case I want it at night to help me sleep, or to whatever, and so I don’t have to go back down the steps. But I just like having it by my side because it does provide me that peace of mind and that comfort.” So it’s like that little blue blanket that Linus has.
So of course we know that the more we practice something the better we get at it. And so the more we outsource our emotions to alcohol and we say, “Alcohol, you take care of the stress, you take care of all of this.” The brain and the body doesn’t learn the skill to manage its own emotions.
It’s just like when you go to the gym, we know if we go to the gym and we work our muscles they get toned, they get strengthened and they get used to doing the exercise. But if you haven’t been working out for months to years and you go to work out again it’s like the brain has to learn oh my gosh, yes, this is what it feels like. And of course it feels like a new skill all over again.
So I just like to remind our brain that we lose the ability to do stuff if we don’t practice it. So it’s just like the brain that learns a foreign language or plays a new instrument, if you don’t practice it you’ll lose the ability to get good at it and you’ll lose the ability to keep up with the skill where you last left off.
So this is another reason why an overdrinking habit can be detrimental to our development and our ability to be emotionally secure and emotionally regulated humans. Because if we’re not practicing that skill on how to manage stress or how to manage whatever emotions are coming up, that’s a big reason that alcohol becomes more attractive. It becomes more needed by the brain because we lose the capacity and the ability to manage ourselves.
And that’s why a lot of times when you cut back, after you’ve been drinking maybe for months to years, it doesn’t feel good. Your emotions are out of whack. You don’t know what to do with these emotions. You don’t know what to do with yourself. Everything feels a bit off because you have to learn new skills again. And you have to learn how to make yourself feel better without relying on a chemical to do that.
So I’ve worked with many women in my program who have undergone bariatric surgery. And of course the surgery is great for helping to get the weight off. Now, instead of relying on food to make them feel good, or safe, or secure, a lot of them after the surgery will start turning to alcohol. And so they get confused because they’re like, I had this surgery and I thought I’d feel so good and I’m no longer dependent on food. But I don’t understand why I turn to alcohol.
Yes, well, the surgery helped change your body shape and what’s going on inside but it didn’t help change your mindset around food, and you were using food for comfort most likely. So now you’ve just instead of used food, now you’re switching to a different substance and that’s alcohol. So it’s understandably that a lot of bariatric surgery patients go on from moving from food on to alcohol. And of course it takes very little alcohol for them to get the effect.
And let’s be honest it’s a big reason why many diets don’t work because they tell you to follow a different food plan. And who can follow the same food plan over and over if the mindset of the dieter is I use food for emotional comfort. I use food to feel better. I use food and all the sugar in it for that dopamine hit for that, this feels good, this feels satisfying, because it’s not necessarily satisfying from a satiation or fuel perspective from fuelling ourselves with the appropriate amount of nutrients. It feels satisfying to them from an emotional component.
And so that’s why most diets don’t work if they don’t work on the mindset component. Because let me tell you, if you’re looking to your food or your drink for comfort and pleasure, of course you’re going to want more food and more drink. You have to learn to self-soothe. You have to learn to get that comfort, that pleasure and that security from other areas of your life, not food and drink. And so we know people emotionally eat, that’s why we nickname it comfort food.
And we know people emotionally drink and many people become emotional once they’re drinking because they again outsource the ability to manage their emotions to alcohol. And alcohol is very poor at managing emotions. You even see commercials and movies saying, “I’m stress eating.” Or they had a bad day so they say, so you see this in movies and commercials. “I’ve had a bad day and I go to eat or I’m stress eating.” Or you see commercials for it where somebody’s let down or there’s a bad breakup and the mom says, “Let’s go get ice-cream.”
So it’s a way to feel better and we’re relying on food to do that for us, rather than really learning and understanding what is this emotion telling me? And let my body learn to process it, not rely on substances outside of me. So if you train your brain to always look outside of itself for comfort you really have to be careful because of course this can lead to bad habits. Sure, maybe we can do it occasionally and with control. But we really should learn the skill to manage our own emotions and to provide our own comfort, our own care and our own security.
And if you really look at it, the truth is, having more drinks, or packing on the pounds really doesn’t make us feel more comfortable, safe or secure. We wind up not liking the extra weight, or how we feel about ourselves, our self-esteem plummets. So it’s really like shooting yourself in the foot and then reloading the gun. So what about you? Are you a woman who can calm herself? Are you able to self-soothe at the end of the day? Are you able to provide for your own needs? Or are you reaching for a drink constantly to do this for you?
Maybe you just want to numb out because you don’t want to feel what you’re actually feeling. Because you haven’t cleaned up some past emotional baggage and you’d just rather not deal with it. You’d rather drink alcohol because let’s face it, it’s easy, it is a quick fix and requires no work on your part if it’s already part of your habit. It’s just easier to maintain that growing habit, that habit that’s ruining your health but you’re really not concerned about it in the moment.
And I have to say it really is a bugaboo with me when women call it their coping mechanism because the term is completely erroneous. When you look up the definition of coping or to cope it states, ‘to deal successfully or effectively with a difficult situation’. So let me just all remind us that alcohol doesn’t deal with the situation. It numbs the feelings associated with the situation and it’s a temporary numbing. It’s a temporary buzz. It’s not a fix and it certainly isn’t permanent. And in all reality it actually compounds the problem because there is nothing successful or effective about it long term.
So let’s look at an example. Say you get a splinter and of course, splinters, they hurt. So to cope, let me remind you, that means to deal with it effectively, you would get the tweezers out and go pull the splinter out. That’s effective, that’s successful, the splinter has gone and therefore so has the pain and it’s gone for good, it’s permanent.
But if you get the splinter and choose a different route, let’s say we get the splinter and now we choose to drink enough alcohol where we don’t feel the nerves connecting to our brain to signal to us that there’s pain in our finger so you can’t feel the pain. But if the alcohol wasn’t onboard, your body would still feel the pain. And now when the alcohol wears off, guess what? You feel the pain again because it wasn’t effective at dealing with the actual problem. So I don’t consider alcohol an effective or a successful way for treating a splinter or any type of emotional pain.
But because it does give us a quick fix, because it does take away us having to think about it or effectively dealing with it, of course sometimes drinking becomes our go to. And the more it becomes our go to, that’s what the brain learns and we wire the brain to say, “Hey, feeling stress, this is what I do, I drink. Feeling bored, this is what I do, I drink. After work this is what I do, I drink. Cooking dinner, this is what I do, I drink.” And we all know the more times we drink the less pleasure we get from it.
So I spent years in this cycle or this loop. I would come home thinking I’m so stressed and the only thing that can help me take away that stress immediately and quickly, and I thought at the time, effectively was by pouring myself a drink. And of course I intended just to have one but of course then my automatic brain; my primitive brain just started pouring the next and the next. And of course one became many, many more.
So by doing this months and years like I did, what did I train my brain to do? That any time I felt stressed after work I only had one solution. That is the only thing my brain served to me, it’s like you must drink. This is the only solution, because it’s the only solution that I’ve practiced for so many years. So guess what? When you cut back or when you don’t want to drink that night, or you plan not to drink that night, guess what? What does my brain do? It starts to panic, oh my gosh, this is the only way I know how to de-stress, where is the alcohol?
And then I go searching, where’s my hidden stash, is there any in my hidden stash? Oh no, there’s none in my hidden stash. And what is the only thing running through my mind? How can I get alcohol? Whose home? Okay, can I get the car keys, go in the store? Which store am I going to go to? How much am I going to buy?
And you just become fixated and obsessed with alcohol and you’re wondering why you’re thinking about it so much. It’s because you trained your brain that this is the only solution and it’s what you’ve been doing for so long that your brain doesn’t know what else to think about. It doesn’t know other solutions exist.
Yes, of course, intellectually and cognitively we think of other things, maybe I could go for a walk, maybe I can exercise, maybe I could do yoga. But your brain is not interested in any of that in the moment and it doesn’t even think it’s going to work because it hasn’t tried it for years. It has no idea of its success rate. So your brain is designed to solve problems. And right now it just feels an urgent immediate problem that it wants to solve.
So I don’t know if you can feel that but I had such desperation starting to build up and panic. And while I’m driving to the store I’m like do I buy one bottle? Because right now I’m feeling like it’s going to take more than one bottle to calm me down. And I don’t want to go through this again and I don’t like this feeling inside my body right now. So I’d oftentimes buy two bottles just in case. Because your brain is like let’s not do this again, it feels crazy, it feels harm, I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel secure. Oh my gosh, the world is crashing.
And truly I felt that it became an emotional and mental time suck. I would think about it, I’d obsess about it. I’d want to cut back but every time I’d go to cut back I’d have these massive urges I didn’t know what to do with. I’d have all this thinking I didn’t understand in the moment and I didn’t understand why my brain was doing this, I just felt broken. And I’ll tell you what, it felt like such a lose, lose situation. I felt like I can’t get ahead. I don’t understand this.
And I’ll tell you, if you don’t learn how to self-soothe you really do lose out. You lose out on so much. You lose out on the growth and the learning to develop a skill that us humans need to learn at any age. You lose out because you blame the alcohol and that isn’t even the true problem. If you’re wondering what the true problem is see episode one of my podcast for the true problem. You lose out because not only do you have the original problem of stress or whatever, or boredom, but now you also added a drinking problem on top of that and drinking without control.
And you know why else you lose out? Because you can’t experience true joy, alcohol is nothing but a false pleasure. You think you’re having fun and experiencing joy but are you really? If you can’t remember what you’re doing or what you’ve said is that really fun? If you feel lousy afterwards and need hours or days to recover, is that really fun? If you blackout sometimes is that fun?
What is your definition of fun? Laughing to not remember, drinking until you can’t feel anything good or bad, living a life with the constant buzz and alternate reality because you can’t effectively deal with the one you have. And for most of us we have tons of blessings in our life. Many women come to me saying, “My life is so good, I don’t understand why I’ve got this one thing, this overdrinking habit that I just can’t seem to control.”
Or for some of my ladies it’s because they feel that they can’t figure out what to do in this next chapter of life. Maybe your kids are moving on to college and you’re becoming an empty nester. Or maybe they’re moving in because now they have to study at home and we have to home school them. Well, I’ll tell you what, it’s a lose, lose there too because having alcohol on the brain and an inebriated mind won’t help you figure out that next chapter of life.
And I’ll also say you’ll lose out because you’re just wasting away your precious time. That’s fine if you just want to waste away time but for most of us I don’t think that’s what we want to do truly. In fact I’ve never heard anyone on their deathbed say, “I wish I would have drank more.” So think about it, are you using alcohol as your adult pacifier? Because for a lot of us it’s how we make ourselves feel good, calm down, relax, take the edge off, or whatever. It’s how we fill the idle time or our boredom.
But here’s the thing what would happen if you didn’t need the pacifier? What if you had no desire for it? What if you didn’t even feel like you needed it? And that’s what I help my clients do, to become a woman who could take it or leave it with their alcohol, take it or leave it with their drinking. And when you can take it or leave it with alcohol, guess what? There could be wine in the house and your brain’s like, “Yeah, so what, big deal.”
Or you can see somebody else drink, maybe your husband, your partner or a friend and you’re not sitting there pining going, “Oh, I want one.” Or, “Of course I’m going to join in, heck yeah, I would never say no.” I can watch my friends drink. I can watch my husband drink, it doesn’t faze me. I don’t feel like I need to join in. I don’t feel like I need to participate for us to bond or connect or any of that because I know that’s all false. I know that’s all not true.
So I bet you’re thinking, so how do I get there? Well, you get there from the skills that I am teaching you here on this podcast. And for many women they have to learn the ability to give up the pacifier and to self-soothe. So to make this a vivid example, think about if you’ve raised a child and they did take to a pacifier. You had to wean them off the pacifier at some point. And so I’ll tell you about my experience with this in life. My daughter did take to a pacifier, it worked effectively well, loved the pacifier.
But I had read at past two it probably doesn’t benefit them any. So we made a decision in my household that we would have a pacifier fairy that would come at her second birthday and take away all the pacifiers in the house. So of course my husband and I know our daughter’s going to be unhappy when this happens because she has emotionally been relying on the pacifier to soothe her, to calm her down, to help her go to sleep. So at two years of age sure enough the pacifier fairy came and collected all the pacifiers in the house and we put them away.
And so we mentally prepared for this, we had a plan. We did it on a Friday because we worked during the week and we wanted to make sure that if we were going to be sleep deprived it wouldn’t interfere with our work. So on Friday the pacifier fairy came and collected all the pacifiers in the house. And so that whole weekend she went without a pacifier. She didn’t use one to go down to sleep, or to nap, or any time she was playing with her toys and walking usually around the house with just the pacifier in her mouth, no, that all changed come that Friday.
Did she cry? Of course she cried, she cried a lot. We had to let her cry it out. We had to let her experience what it was to self-soothe. And how long did the process last? We were lucky. It only lasted less than two days. She adjusted very quickly. And I’m sure if you were to ask her two year old brain she would not say that the process was easy. She would say it was hard and of course it was emotionally hard, and of course she didn’t like it.
So just like when we do this for ourselves we have to anticipate and make a plan, which I talked about in the last episode. And we know that carrying out the plan is the hard part, making the plan is the easy part, saying we’re going to take away all the pacifiers on Friday, that was easy. Now comes Friday, now we knew it’s going to be hard. But I want you to know this, it doesn’t matter that the process is hard if we get the result we want.
And I remind my clients of that all the time when they say, “This is hard to cut back”, or, “This is hard to learn these tools.” And I say, “Yes, but is it worth it for the result?” And absolutely when you can learn to be in control and not need alcohol it is worth it. And just like any new process, it’s hard in the beginning but it doesn’t stay hard forever. It’s only hard until you learn how to do it and then it’s no longer hard anymore.
So my 10 year old daughter today is not asking for her pacifier, no desire for it. She can take it or leave it. And now I’m teaching her additional self-soothing tools, some of the same self-soothing tools that I teach my adult clients in my program. Because these are the skills we need as humans so we don’t rely on external things. So for myself when I get angry I no longer react with caustic words, a super raging loud voice and trying to exert some power. No, I’ve moved beyond that.
And how many times has too much alcohol caused you to fire off your mouth, or say caustic things, or start arguments that really were over trivial things that you really didn’t want to even argue about? And oftentimes alcohol makes us hurt the person we love the most, or the people we love the most. And that doesn’t feel good to you, it doesn’t feel good to them and it certainly doesn’t provide connection. It’s not allowing us to be our best selves.
So wouldn’t you want to learn these skills so you can prevent all that from happening and you can show up as your best version of yourself, and always show up for me with love and compassion for others and with love and compassion for myself? Now, I wish they would have taught me these skills in high schools and in college. I certainly wish I would have known them so much earlier in my life. But I’m really thankful I’ve learned them because I have them now and I can utilize them for the rest of my life.
So there are many ways and techniques you can learn to self-soothe and not all of them work for all people. You really have to spend time and invest and understand what works for you to soothe yourself. So I’m just going to rattle off a list of things and books out there that talk about self-soothing. And some of them may work and some of them may not. But you don’t know until you invest time and energy and practice using them to see if they work.
So some self-soothing things that people have found to be very effective include getting walks in. Is it daily exercise? Is it meditation for you? Is it prayer? Is it using the think feel act cycle? Is it cognitive therapy? Is it journaling? Is it self-talk? Is it reframing? Is it finding the silver lining? Is it reflection? Is it using the five second rule? Is it using the 90 seconds to live a life you love? Is it using emotional agility or is it using self-coaching? And these are just a few examples that we look at in my coaching program, because we really want to find the tools that work for you.
And I’ll be the first to say, I don’t know it’s going to work for you, I have no idea, I am not you, I am me. And I have invested time, and money in learning what does work for me. I have purchased books. I have purchased coaching programs. I really wanted to know what resonates with me. And because I’ve invested in myself, meaning physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, this is what has helped me feel secure, confident. Knowing who I am, knowing what my values are, knowing what’s important to me, knowing what success is for my life and knowing my purpose in life.
And I didn’t just get that from one book and one coaching program. I have invested in many different areas to find out what fulfils me. And do you know what I love? I now know how I want alcohol to be in my life and how I don’t want alcohol to be in my life. And that is a huge blessing that I’ve given myself. Some people don’t want it at all. Some people want it with control. But you have to learn the tools and the techniques so you can get the exact relationship you want with alcohol.
For me it’s about having control and drinking for reasons that I like and not drinking when I know it’s not going to serve me. And it’s also about knowing when to stop because I know any more won’t serve me in any fashion. And I love having my off button back, that’s why I created a program called How to Get Your Off Button Back because to me it was so important for me to learn that skill. But I’ll tell you, you have to have the guts to do the work because no one can do this work and give you this. You have to do it for you.
And for me I love knowing that I don’t need to rely on alcohol or any external substance to get through a hard day or when my day turns sideways, or any other circumstances go awry in my life. I have my own back. I can manage this and handle this emotionally. I have my regimen of things that I rely on to help soothe me, to help calm me down and to help me process exactly what I’m feeling so that I can deal with it effectively. That’s coping. And guess what? It no longer includes wine and cocktails anymore.
So for me I have my go to things like prayer, like self-coaching, like cognitive therapy tools that I teach here, one of the big ones being the Think, Feel, Act Cycle. And these help me be the best version of me. These tools work. And the more I use them and practice them the more it becomes my practice, the more it becomes my pattern, the more it becomes my habit. And I much prefer this practice and this habit over my overdrinking habit. So learn what works for you my friends, it is the best investment ever.
Alright, that’s what I have for you today my friends. I will see you next week.
Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.
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