Ep #114: How to Permanently Change Your Drinking: Shifting Your Identity

By: Dr. Sherry Price

Drink Less Lifestyle with Dr. Sherry Price | How to Permanently Change Your Drinking: Shifting Your Identity

As we close out 2022 and you reflect back on the past 11 months, how do you want to shift in the upcoming year?

In what ways do you want to improve?

Continually growing feels amazing.

But what doesn’t feel good is staying in the same place for a long time.

Shifting your identity is what takes you from being a regular drinker to someone who can truly take it or leave it, no longer even identifying as a drinker.

So, if you think you need to drink in order to…

. Have fun

. Relax

. Experience joy

. Reduce stress

. Fit in

…you’ll learn this week why what you actually need to do is begin this work of shifting your identity.

Changing your actions will help you abstain temporarily.

But changing your identity is the difference between cutting back for a short period of time versus successfully changing your drinking for good.

So, tune in today to discover why shifting your identity means a new reality, and how to make this new identity your new comfort zone.

 

Are you a professional woman wanting to drink less permanently and be in control of her drinking regardless of the situation? You’ll learn the skills you need to become a woman who can take it or leave it inside EpicYOU. Click here to join.

 

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Why shifting your identity is the key to long-term habit change around alcohol.
  • What to expect as you gradually shift your identity into becoming a woman who can take it or leave it around alcohol.
  • How to uncover the identity you have given yourself around your drinking, and begin the work of shifting your identity.

 

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

 

You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 114.

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 beautiful friends. How are you today? I am doing amazing. I am just back from vacation and while I was on vacation I had a wonderful opportunity to reflect, and sit, and think about the last 11 months as we are almost closing out this year of 2022. My family and I got away to Mexico and we went with another family and it was just such a wonderful time. And so while I was there I was reflecting like I mentioned, on the last 11 months and just looking at all the things that have happened good and bad.

And so as I’m reflecting I’m thinking about how do I want to shift particularly in this upcoming year because I’m sure like many of you I’m an achiever and I like to accomplish things. And I like to continue to grow, learn and evolve. I find it enjoyable. I find it also energizing, what more is out there that I can learn and that I can become. Because I’ll tell you what doesn’t feel good for me is staying in the same place for a long time. For me it just doesn’t work. I get bored, I start feeling like life is just ho-hum. And I just know that there’s more out there for me to know about and to explore.

So I want to talk about this process today, about shifting your identity. Because it’s the same process that takes you from being someone who’s a regular drinker, or a consistent drinker, or just looks at themselves as a drinker, or classifies them as a drinker, or over-drinker. To somebody who is not only in control of their drinking but really doesn’t even identify as somebody who’s a drinker. They can truly take it or leave it.

There is no reliance on alcohol for any reason. You don’t need it to have fun. You don’t need it to relax. You don’t need it to reduce your stress. You can truly take it or leave it. And so I want to dive into this because this is next level stuff. This is a big difference I see when people are successful at cutting back for a short period of time versus those who are successful for cutting back for good. They’ve made it their change and identity. Their identity around alcohol has completely shifted.

And when they are successful at making drinking less a lifestyle, they no longer see themselves as somebody who doesn’t trust themselves around it, or somebody that feels compelled to drink when other people are drinking. Or work compelled to drink just because it’s a Friday night.

And so those who really step into this place where they shift their identity from somebody who drinks to somebody who’s like, I could truly take it or leave it. They handle their life and they handle themselves differently. And when they do this the women will tell me, “I feel this shift like this click in my mind, or I feel this shift in my body. And I really genuinely don’t want it anymore.” So they experience this shift, for many people it can start mentally where they just see themselves, see alcohol, see the situation different than they have experienced it in the past.

So if they’re normally drinking at a bar, normally out with the same friends at the same restaurant and they find themselves that they’re in that space and not drinking and not desiring it, they’re like, “Wow, I feel this shift.” And then they get to experience themselves and the experience of being in that environment a bit differently. Now, let me ask, have you felt that way? Have you felt that shift? Have you felt that click where you’re just like, “Yeah, I really don’t want any more alcohol or I really don’t even want any alcohol tonight?”

Now, I’ll tell you, if you haven’t experienced this, I will tell you from my experience of this as well as the ladies in my program when they get to experience this, it kind of catches you a bit off guard. And it’s almost like you’re like, “Wow. I have arrived, I’m here, this is what I’ve wanted. And I quite don’t know how to process this, how to respond to this.”

And so I want to tell you that when you do experience this shift in identity it kind of shakes you up a bit because you’re now walking as a newer version of you. And I’ll tell you, it feels a little weird at first. It feels like your body is having this unique experience. And for some people it’s really unsettling because here is what we think. We think when we get that shift, when we become that woman who can take it or leave it, we are expecting that we’re going to feel joy, and we’re going to feel happy. And it’s going to be like the heavens part, the angels come down and it’s glorious.

And I will tell you that’s not what you experience initially because here’s what happens. You are now experiencing yourself as a new version of yourself and it’s very fresh, it’s very new. And your brain hasn’t quite caught up to this new version of you. It feels the shift but it doesn’t really know how to process it yet. It feels a bit odd and some people will even say it feels a bit surreal like I don’t know who I am. I do not want more alcohol or I do not want alcohol in this situation.

So I really want you to understand this because this is so important because when you know it’s not supposed to feel good you won’t slide back. So let’s take this out of context and say you’ve done some other change in your life and the first time you see the result you’re like, “Huh.”

So imagine there is a room in your house and the room is all white, white walls, white ceiling, everything is just kind of white. And you decide that you’re going to paint that room your favorite color. So one of my favorite colors is yellow, let’s just go with that for the purposes of this example. So you paint the room all yellow. You’ve been thinking about it. You’ve picked out the right shade of yellow. You’ve been to the paint store a couple of times. You may have put swatches on the wall.

You’re kind of excited for this new transition in this room. And boom, you put up the sunshine yellow paint on the wall. You get done painting, you get done with all of the project and as you walk back in the next day you’re kind of like, “I think this is what I wanted. I think I like this.” You might not be overly exuberant and you might be not like, “Whoa, yes, this is awesome.” It might take your brain a little bit to go, “How do I like this? How does this sit with me?”

And maybe you start noticing things that don’t match the yellow walls and things that you want to change. And so what does your brain have to do? It kind of has to grow into the new room color, doesn’t it? See, it doesn’t give you this magical elation that we think it’s going to give us right away because you’re seeing this room in now a different way, a new perspective. Just like you’re seeing your life, and alcohol, and you relationship to it differently when you experience that shift.

Some of you may have done dramatic changes to your hairstyle and that caused you to have a bit of a transition or a bit of a shift. I remember when I had longer hair and I cut it pretty short, short for me. And I was like, “Whoa, I knew I wanted that but now that I have this shorter hair, I don’t know if I really like it on me. How does it look for and frame my face? It took me a bit to warm up to the different style of my hair, or maybe you part your hair differently, or wear it different ways. You might be like, “Do I like this new style?”

And this is what happens when the women I work with become that woman who can take it or leave it and they’re like, “Now that I have this shift in identity, I was expecting that I might have been a little happier once I got here.” And it feels a bit surreal because they’re now at their goal and it’s kind of a little maybe huh or meh. Because what they were expecting was like fireworks, and pure joy, and to like as if they crossed a finish line on a marathon. Well, initially your brain is still catching up with that new identity, that new version of you.

Now, what I will tell you over time, it begins to feel more joyful but I think people are expecting that initially right when they get there. But you have to live into that new identity first just like you have to live with that new hairstyle for a couple of days before you can decide if you really like it or not.

This also happens when we got through major transitions in life like the first time you become a mom and you bring home that new baby. You’re so excited for the baby come, you can’t wait, you can’t wait. And then all of a sudden you have this little human in your arms, in your home. And it’s crying and you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” And you’re not sleeping and you’re like, “It’s a hard transition.”

And some days you’re so aggravated and other days you just look at this precious little baby and you’re like, “This is so surreal, what a gift, how did this happen, this is so magical.” She’s precious or he’s precious but it’s all foreign. And when it’s all foreign, guess what happens? New questions come up on your journey just like new questions come up on being a new mom. I know some of the ladies in my program right now are recent empty nesters and they’re talking about, “Oh my gosh, this next phase without kids in the house. Wow this is a transition. All the kids are gone, now what? How will I spend my time?”

And there are also a few people in EpicYOU transitioning soon to retirement and they’re thinking about it now. Some of them shared with me that they’re scared because they’ll have more time on their hands and will that equal more drinking? Because if drinking is what they’re doing to fill the time that they have now, what will happen when they have a lot more time, how will they fill it? If they’re not at a job for 8 or 10 hours a day, how will they fill that extra time? They’re worried that their drinking is going to skyrocket.

And so what we have to do is look at why they’re struggling with filling time now to fill a void before that void gets even bigger and then what, how will the fill it? Retirement can be a great thing and we’re told all the way up through our working years what a wonderful time it will be and how you get to travel. And some of us think about, we’ll play golf and do all these things that we didn’t have time to do.

But guess what, then we get there and some of those interests might not be there for us. We may just not be interested in golf or maybe we’re not as ambulatory and healthy as we thought we would be. Or maybe our budget doesn’t stretch to go travel the world for weeks and weeks, and months at a time. And when you think about it, 365 days a year is a lot of time to fill. So be careful of the messages if you’re not at retirement age what you’re being fed, the messages of society that we’re being fed that, oh my goodness wait till retirement, wait till retirement.

And I’m not believing some of those messages because I know they’re not going to serve me for when I get to ‘retirement’. So I’m making sure I do that work for myself ahead of time so I’m not setting myself up for disappointment. And I’m not saying it can’t be a joyful time, I certainly hope it is for everyone. But just like then as of now you have to define what it is you want for your life, what it is you’re working towards, what it is that you want to accomplish whether it’s this year, next year, in the next decade, in the next two decades or whenever.

You have to define that for yourself and not expect society to define it for you because if we rely on them to define it for us, we’ll always be disappointed because society doesn’t know our values. They don’t know what our interests are. They don’t know what our likes are. And you can’t just put everybody into one big bucket. Some people don’t want to wait till 65 to retire, they want to retire much earlier. Some people don’t want to retire at 65, they want to keep working much later.

So we can’t create this one size fits all for everybody because it just doesn’t happen that way. We are all unique. So shifting your identity can be uncomfortable and it’s often more uncomfortable than you think it will be. And I’ll tell you, some women have found the process to be a bit jilting like whoa. They will say things like, “I thought this was what I wanted but now that I have it, I’m not sure I want it. And I’ll tell you, it’s because your brain has identified with certain thoughts for maybe a decade or two, or even three about who you are and what you do when you show up and there’s alcohol.

I mean I think about my brain telling me, “Sherry, you have a bit of social anxiety. Sometimes you feel a little awkward when there’s this pregnant pause or just this no conversation part of gathering with others. And you think you need to be having continuous conversation and everybody needs to be continuously laughing and having fun. And so the words will just flow easier for you if you just grab a cocktail, and then have another, and then have another because you’re nice, and happy, and laughing, and words come to you a little bit easier than normal.

And by the way, order the stuff that tastes really good, the stuff with sugar in it. Not only that, all this helps you fit in, you look normal because everybody else around you is doing it. So my brain was seeing all these advantages. And I didn’t even know that was the story I was telling myself, not until I’m really stopped and looked at what are the stories I am telling myself around alcohol. So of course my identity was that I drink when I’m around others and it’s what I do. And you know what? It’s what other people do.

So my brain is telling me, it’s normal to drink. You’re normal, oh wow. There was such relief in knowing that I was normal, and that I fit in, and that I could do what other people do. And that almost I should be doing what other people are doing, I mean that was my identity. That’s how I became a drinker. And that’s how I showed up because that’s how I would think about myself. And since that worked so beautifully socially, why don’t we bring that same pattern into my home and into the house.

And so therefore I picked up a nightly habit of drinking because guess what I had going on in my brain around drinking at home? It’s soothed all the feelings that I didn’t want to feel, stress of my workday, pour a glass of wine. It’ll soothe that right over. Stress of my marriage, stress of raising a daughter, yes, just pour some wine it’ll take all of that away, it’s like Calgon. And then you have a drink and then I started to feel like things will be okay, which meant to me that I’ll be okay.

And ladies, who can fault you for wanting to feel okay in a world of chaos, and fear, and things going sideways, or other ways than what we expect? We all want to know that we just are going to be okay. Think about when babies fall down or kids hurt themselves, they want that loving parent to come over with their soothing voice, and a touch or a hug and to tell them that they’re going to be okay. And when we get sick with the flu, or with something more serious like COVID or cancer, we want to be told by the doctor and others around us that love us that you’re going to be okay.

And when we go through hard times like difficulties in our marriage, conflicts, contemplating divorces, contemplating things that are really important to us, we all want to know that on the other side that we’re going to be okay. And for many of us where do we get that I’m going to be okay from? We get it from our drink. But here’s the thing, I want to know that I’m going to be okay without the drink, without needing the drink, without wanting the drink. Because if I keep relying on alcohol to make me feel okay I’m going to need more and more of it.

And eventually there’s never going to be enough that’s going to make me feel okay because I’m going to keep drinking and drinking until I pass out. And what also I know about alcohol is that the more you have the more you’re not okay. It brings on tremendous amounts of anxiety and stress, and depression, and not to mention other mental conditions and other health conditions. So I know we want to be okay but we are not okay when we are overdrinking.

And when you’re out socially you just want to know that you fit in, and that you’re okay, and that your friends like you, and that you get validation. And so some people drink to feel safe, to fit in, to feel normal but there is a cost that comes with that. Not only that, then you become reliant on alcohol to feel safe or to feel normal. And then you start thinking that that’s normal which is just crazy to think about. I mean it’s a mental loop that we get stuck in.

And so when you start to shift out of that, when you start shifting your identity, guess what will happen? You’ll leave your safety comfort zone and it’ll start to feel a little foreign and oftentimes scary. And what I want to tell you about that is that that’s normal, everyone feels that way when they go through a transition.

Just think how nerve wracking it is to raise a tiny human that you bring home from the hospital. It’s nerve wracking, it’s scary. I hear from women all the time who send their kids off to college and they’re so nervous, and they’re crying. And they’re happy but they’re sad and they say it’s so scary because now they have no idea about their whereabouts and that they have to let go even more. And how painful that is but yet how that’s such a measure of joy, and progress, and maturity.

And that’s what we need to bring to our drinking, a level of maturity to see ourselves differently. And to grow into that new identity where we don’t need it and don’t want to rely on it. Just like any major transition in your life it may feel odd, it may feel foreign at first and kind of surreal but then you’ve got to grow into that new version of you.

And if you don’t grow into that new version of you, you know what some people do? They go backwards, they revert back to being a drinker because they’ll say, “This wasn’t as happy as I thought it was going to be. I’m not any more joyful, actually I’m more miserable.” Well, that happens if you don’t fix the underlying cause of what’s driving your drinking. But I’ll tell you, even when you do and now you’re this shift in your identity and you see yourself differently it’s going to take a little bit for that zone to be comfortable.

Because you’re out of your comfort zone and you’ve got to make that you comfort zone. And I’ve seen the same thing happen with women who lose a ton of weight. They lose 20, 30, 50, 80 pounds and they feel good but they still identify as somebody with a weight issue. And they still identify as somebody who struggles with eating and guess what? They eventually put it all back on because they never dropped the story that they struggle with food and it’s rooted in their identity. And if you can’t change the identity, what happens, you grow back into it.

So ladies if you keep doing the same thing but you’re not shifting your identity you will slide back. And this December I am walking the ladies inside EpicYOU through this brand new course that I’ve just launched, how to shift your identity and then stay there. Because without this work it doesn’t become your new lifestyle. And so this is an important step in your journey to drink less and keep it sustainable.

Now, a lot of people think, if I just keep taking a different action, if I just get it out of my house and I don’t order it, and you take all these actions that that will cause their transformation. And I want just say that actions do not automatically transform your drinking. What transform your drinking is changing how you identify and that’s a process that happens in your mind. And this was the piece that I was missing. I kept doing sober Octobers, dry Januarys, pacing with water, slowing it down, and by that I mean slowing down my drinking. I didn’t just gulp it. I would slow slipping it.

And I was doing all these actions but then what would happen? I’d slide right back into drinking and overdrinking. I’d slide right back into that habit because I didn’t do the deeper work which is changing my identity. And that happens by reprogramming your mind. That happens in your mind and that is the only way to make this permanent. And I’ve seen this with women, they will abstain for a year or two years and then they call and they’re like, “I don’t know what happened. I just started drinking because of this one stressful event in my life and I’m back on the wagon.”

So I don’t want this to happen to you. I don’t want this to happen to anybody. I want them to radically see themselves changed. And the process of transformation has to happen in your mind and in your body, not just in your actions because if it’s only in your actions you will be constantly fighting with yourself. Your brain will tell you, you still want it. Your body will still be looking for it and be giving you urges for it. And all is you’ll keep saying is, “No, no, no I shouldn’t do it. I shouldn’t have it. I shouldn’t do this.”

You’ll constantly have that resistance and that fight with yourself unless you start embracing the process of transformation which happens in the brain and then informs the body. Now, what I also want to tell you is this work right here that we are doing this December will help with any transition in your life because you can apply the same process that I’m going through with the ladies to any transition where you want to see yourself differently. Because seeing yourself differently is going to serve you more.

And I’m doing this work too because I’m going through some transitions in my life, not around drinking but other areas of my life. So I will be applying this to those areas of my life because I want to elevate my self-image. And I also want to continue the process of healing some parts of me that I feel need some healing so I can move on, so I can be set free. So I’ll be taking you through and walking you through this process with your drinking or whatever area you want to apply this work to your life.

We will talk about what you need to do to make this transition not only easier but also make it stick because no one wants to be a yoyo dieter and no one wants to be a yoyo drinker, on again off again, on again off again. I mean that gets exhausting over time, wouldn’t you agree? And so if you don’t want to do that on again off again, on again off again cycle then what I invite you to is to shift your identity to where you stay there, to where you’re practicing it this month in December and you can carry it forward into 2023.

So I don’t know about you but I don’t need to wait till January 1st, or January 3rd, or January 6th to get this started. I want to start this now so that come 2023 I already have built some momentum. I’ve already been doing some of this work so that I can just slide into 2023 knowing that I got started, that I’m on the process, that I’m on the journey, because you know what’s so fun? Is when you get to uplevel your life, uplevel your health, uplevel your wellness, uplevel your mental fitness, all of it. And so if you’re ready to do this, come on over and join us inside EpicYOU.

Go to www.epicyou.com and start with the how to shift your identity workbook and videos. All the material is available to you right when you register. So I don’t want this process to scare you my friends because this is the way to get sustainable change. And that’s why I’m offering my help, so you can make this transition to get the transformation that you want. And tomorrow December 1st at 12.00 noon Pacific Time is our first call. So come with your questions, come prepared, come ready to get your transformation.

Alright my friends that’s what I have for you this week. And I also want to let you know that next week I have a very special guest joining me on the podcast. So stay tuned and I will see you next week.

If you want to change your relationship with alcohol and with yourself, then come check out EpicYOU, it’s where you get individualized help mastering the tools so you can become a woman who can take it or leave it and be in control around alcohol in any situation. EpicYOU is the place for women who want to be healthy, confident and empowered to accomplish their goals and live their best life. Come join us over at epicyou.com/epicyou. That’s epicyou.com/epicyou. I can’t wait to see you there.

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