Ep #141: How to Dismantle Your Triggers

By: Dr. Sherry Price

Drink Less Lifestyle with Dr. Sherry Price | How to Dismantle Your Triggers

Triggers are what lead us to the “overing” behaviors that we are trying to reduce or stop.

If you overeat, you have triggers that cause you to overeat.

If you watch too much Netflix, there are triggers that cause you to keep watching. 

If you overdrink, there are triggers that cause you to order another glass. 

Triggers are everywhere, and they are different for everyone.

Identifying your triggers is key to dismantling them and finally changing your behavior for good.

The exercise I share today will show you how to do this. 

Tune in to learn what your unique triggers are, why you have them, how they’re impacting your overing behavior, and how to finally dismantle them and the habit.

You can become a woman who can take it or leave it with alcohol, and exploring your triggers is a vital step in the process.


Get the additional free worksheet to help with this step in the process here!


Are you a woman wanting to step into your power, drink less, and live a happier, healthier life? If so, join me inside EpicYOU! You’ll learn exactly how to become a woman who can take it or leave it with her drinking (and emotional eating). Click here to join.


What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • What triggers are and what they cause you to do.
  • An exercise for discovering your unique triggers.
  • How to dismantle your triggers.


Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 141.

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 friend. I hope you’re doing well. I got to give a presentation to nine high school girls here in San Diego about the effects alcohol has on a young brain. And I just want you to know that these conversations with the youth and with our children and with others that we can help and inspire and encourage along the way are really important.

And did you know that research shows that when people start using alcohol before the age of 15, they are six times more likely to become alcohol dependent than people who start drinking at the drinking age of 21? Six times more likely to become alcohol dependent. And of course the reason is because the brain is still developing. The human brain is still developing all the way up till age 25/26. And so when we put a toxin into the brain it’s going to arrest development of the brain. It’s going to damage the brain in healthy development, particularly when it comes to learning and consolidating memories.

And being able to use the executive functions of the prefrontal cortex, all of that is going to be impaired. I even showed them a brain scan of somebody who started drinking in adolescence. So it was considered adolescent onset alcohol use disorder compared to a brain scan, an MRI scan of a healthy subject. And it was clear how much shrinkage had occurred in certain parts of the brain. And I tell you, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So I always encourage using pictures especially when talking to kids.

And so if we can delay the onset of them starting to drink, being introduced to alcohol, if we can delay that, we really give their brains such a gift. And we also went around the table talking about what happens when we feel peer pressure to do any drug including alcohol. Because as adults you go to parties and when you go away to college there will be a lot of opportunities to indulge and engage in drugs and alcohol. And how do you manage peer pressure? And I just loved equipping those women, those young women to handle peer pressure.

Because I know, I work with many women as adults and it’s hard and difficult to manage the peer pressure when we walk into parties and we go to the bar and out with friends and everybody around us is drinking. And how do we manage that pressure? And I think the earlier you can learn these skill sets, they just become a part of your life. And it’s just like a no brainer, it’s not even a thing. And so I am so passionate about empowering our youth, empowering other women to have the right tools to be able to follow the lifestyle that they want.

And most people want a healthy, happy life. And if you have an opportunity to talk with the youth, take advantage of that opportunity whether it’s inside your household, whether it’s part of your church group, whether it’s part of an organization or just volunteering at the school. We know that our kids need to hear it and oftentimes at least when it’s in our household and it’s our own parents sometimes our kids tune us out.

So when we get the opportunity to hear it from somebody else who’s passionate, and I even shared with them my own drinking story and how I went down the wrong path for a long time and how I came back and what that looks like for me. And how I explain it to others and how I talk about it in a way that’s not shameful and how I try to open that communication door for others to be able to seek help, get help that they want and need. 

And I think it’s really important that we don’t shame people for the decisions that they make because then they shut down and then they won’t want to get help or they’ll feel too embarrassed to ask for help. And if any of you want to talk with me on how to give a presentation or resources to give a presentation I’d be happy to hook you up with some links, some great photos, some great images where we can really put an end to alcohol dependency in the future. So just reach out, send me a message and I’d be happy to help.

Alright, so today I want to continue our discussion where we are going through the freebie. And today’s topic is all about triggers. So if you’ve been following along in a chronological order of this podcast, last week I talked about going through the five steps to become someone who can take or leave it with their drinking or anything that you’re overing on. And so we talked about step one was last week and now we are focusing on step two and this is all in the handout that I have for free on my website that you can grab at epicyou.com. It’s E-P-I-C-Y-O-U.com.

And if you just go to the upper right, you can click Start Here and that will connect you with the free resource that I have for you. And we are going to be talking about this in much more detail than that document. And hang on, hold tight, there’ll be more information to come. But we’re going to start the discussion there and then we’re going to dive deeper. So if you over anything you have a trigger that causes you to over. So what I mean by that is if you overdrink you have triggers that cause you to overdrink.

If you overeat you have triggers because that cause you to overeat. If you over-shop, overspend or over on anything, over-Netflix, over-scroll on Instagram, there are triggers that cause you to do that. So any habit that you have really has a trigger. It’s also called a cue. If you look up the famous works on habit formation there’s always a cue. So we could call them a cue or we can call them a trigger and I’m just going to just use the word trigger throughout this podcast.

So what is a cue or what is a trigger? Well, it’s when your mind makes an association between when you feel something or do something or experience something so that criteria A is met, that you do the thing. So B follows, when you experience this trigger then you will do this thing or take this action like drink or eat or shop. So many of you may know the habit cycle. I talked about it, gosh, way back on podcasts, way back on webinars that I used to do that are still available out there on my YouTube channel.

I talked about the pattern and the habit and how they are formed. And they are always formed with a cue or a trigger that starts it. And then we take the action and the brain experiences a reward. So if you know your triggers, that is fantastic, well done my friend. But many of you may not know your triggers. And so this podcast is for you to really get clear on what are the triggers that lead to you taking the action that you don’t want to be taking like overdrinking, like overeating, like yelling.

It could be anything that you don’t want to do, but you need to first identify your triggers. So if you’re following along with my free guide, you will see that we are starting in on page five of the handout. Again, if you want to grab a copy of the handout you go to my website EpicYOU, which is spelled  E-P-I-C-Y-O-U.com. And you click that pink, reddish button called Start Here in the upper righthand corner and that will deliver you a copy of this free guide.

So I really want to talk about not only identifying the triggers today but I really want to equip you with how to dismantle them. Now, I will tell you, I’ve read a ton on habits. I’ve read a ton of books out there that talk about changing habits or starting habits. However, a lot of that data misses this point about breaking a bad habit. And I know many people have come to me and said, “I read all the books, I read these books and I still have this habit.” Well, that’s okay because if you get this part of the process it’s a key win to breaking the habit.

So you’ll see as you go through this worksheet that you are being asked about the trigger, what your thoughts are, when you experience the trigger, how intense the trigger is and then what actions do you take. Because when you are triggered you will notice that you have a thought of what’s going on, we all do. If you didn’t have a thought, that means you wouldn’t be triggered. If your mind was blank, that means that that thing was not a trigger. And so when you have a thought, that is the meaning that your brain is giving to the trigger, to the event.

So you’ll see on page six that I put in an example of what happens in my own life when I was an over-drinker. You’ll see exactly what triggered me, exactly how I would rate it, exactly what was going on inside my head. And so the more times I ran into this trigger and the more times I repeated this thought process and the more times I felt this way, I was actually building that habit of over-drinking even more. I was ingraining it into my brain without even realizing I was doing that.

And so your triggers can be completely different than mine. Maybe your trigger is that you go out with certain friends and you notice whenever you hang out with these friends, that’s when you overeat or that’s when you overdrink or that’s when you eat dessert when you normally don’t eat dessert. Or maybe it’s when you have certain family members come over or go to their house. You’ll notice that, gosh, every time I go back to my parents’ house, there I am drinking. Or every time I hang out with my in-laws, this is what happens.

So you will have more than one trigger and that’s okay, you will have many. And this exercise is really finding out all of your triggers, because if something works in one scenario to comfort us and soothe us, the brain is going to learn, we can do that when we experience this other trigger and this other trigger. And so when it works in one area, our brain is going to learn that we can use overdrinking or overeating as a way to bring us pleasure or de-escalate our emotions when we experience another type of trigger that produces the same response.

So it is very common you have many triggers, everybody does when they over on something and they find it hard to break away from that. And so think about all the things that you are triggered by. There will be many external things you will be triggered by. You will be triggered by some internal things, things going on inside of your body that will trigger you to make you want to do this thing like overdrinking.

Now, when you are triggered you become reactive. That is essentially the definition of being triggered is that you just react. And when we are reactive, we lose our power and our sense of control, we lose it. So since that is not an empowering way to operate, we want to operate from a place of power, a place of being in our control and that’s when you act or we act in a responsive way. So we go from acting in a reactionary way to acting in a responsive way.

And this is the skill set that you build. And this is the skill set that we build inside of EpicYOU, is to get out of that reactionary mode and into the responsive mode. And so to do that it requires that you know what your triggers are, both externally and internally because you have both. And I want to help you further identify these triggers, all of them, so that you can change your response to the triggers. And so to take this deeper I am going to give you access to a worksheet that we use inside of EpicYOU so you can do this work in a deeper way.

So this is my gift to you as a podcast listener is to take this work and go deeper with one of the worksheets that I offer to EpicYOU members. Now, to get this additional worksheet I will link it in the show notes and you can download it for free. Now, the best programs out there and the best literature out there to break bad habits includes this part of the trigger work. If a program does not have this trigger work in it, it likely doesn’t work. This is a key critical step into breaking bad habits, into helping the brain unlearn something and learn a new pattern.

I know for myself I wasn’t truly able to get a handle on my own overdrinking until I discovered this work. So please hear me when I say it is critical to your success into breaking bad habits and stopping overing on something in your life. And it really is the way you live your epic life. And you know I define an epic life as living healthy, confident and empowered in your life.

So now we are on to this additional worksheet that you get by listening to this podcast and going to the show notes to download it. And I help you identify the triggers that you have both internally and externally. Now, you will get them all out, you will identify all of them, but it doesn’t mean you have to work on all of them. So don’t feel overwhelmed and don’t feel like, oh my gosh, I am never going to be able to solve this because you will. You have me on your side. You have my expertise on how to do this process.

So once you get them all out, notice that the next part of the process and it’s the part of the process I work with my clients as well is that you want to pick the most common or the biggest one that causes most of your overing. Whether that’s my anger causes most of my overdrinking or I’m just so bored and that causes most of my eating at night or whatever it is that you are trying to limit and repattern.

And we want to pick the one that comes up the most. We want to pick the most common one. Why? Because you are going to gain so much success when you tackle the big one that it sets you up for all this momentum and motivation to continue doing this work for the other ones. If you start with the low hanging fruit like some people call that, where I could get a quick win, that’s great. That’ll give you short term a boost of success but it’s really not making the biggest bang for its buck.

So I really like going after the trigger that’s most triggering, most problematic in your life because when we can solve that, for a lot of people there can solve over 50% of the reason why they drink or overeat. That is huge. Now, don’t do what most people do and go after all the triggers because we’ll think we can accomplish all these things but then within a couple of days we give up on all or it. Or we say, “There’s so many triggers, I’m too overwhelmed to even start.”

And that’s when you get yourself depressed over this. And I don’t want you to give up because there is a solution and that’s why I believe in coaching and working with somebody who’s versed in a process that they know works so you don’t have to give up on yourself. Because so many of us will give up on ourselves when we feel we can’t do it or it’s overwhelming or I don’t know where to start. So I’m telling you exactly where to start.

Start with the biggest thing because we know that overing, overdrinking, overeating, is leading to so much pain and agony in your life and you just want it to go away. And it can feel daunting to go through this process without somebody to guide you but I am here to guide you to that next step which will be so helpful and impactful. So now that you’ve identified all the triggers and that you’re going to work on one, pick one and only one. We’re going to go through the next four steps and you will find that at the end of this document.

All the four steps are outlined for you and exactly what to do because remember, we just identified all the triggers and we identified our biggest one. So we’re in the discovery phase and that identification phase but here’s where the magic begins to happen. We now start to restructure or decondition that trigger. We start to break it apart. We start to dismantle it. And you do that by following the four steps that are outlined in this new document,

So number one, you’re going to select that one trigger or that one problem area or that one scenario that you want to work on because it’s going to provide the most bang for its buck. It’s going to give you the most success quickly. And so when I work with women and it’s around food, they say, “I’m going to go after nighttime snacking, anything after dinner I don’t want to be snacking, I make poor choices, I’m good all day but then at night time I just fall off and I wind up eating more than I want and eating foods that I know don’t serve my body.”

And so you would pick nighttime snacking if you’re an overeater. If you’re an over-drinker oftentimes women will start with, “Hey, it’s when I go out with friends to a bar or it’s this certain bar or this certain restaurant and they have my favorite drink, or the bartender knows me and he brings me my drink right to my table right when I sit down.” Or it could be it’s right after work, it’s those witching hours right after work. I just walk into my house and the first thing I want to do is pour a drink. So you’re going to select that one scenario, that one trigger. And we’re going to work on it, we’re going to deconstruct it.

So the next part of the process is listing out all the ways you want to respond, not ways you think you think you should respond, big difference there, but ways that you want to respond going forward. And so that’s so important because so many of us will say, “Well, I should do this, I should not want it, I should.” And any time you use the word ‘should’ it’s not talking about what you want to do. And there is a big difference because one leads to success and one leads to not being successful.

Now, another way this step does not work for people is remember I asked you what ways you want to respond. I didn’t ask for what you don’t want. So when I walk into my house after work I don’t want to pour a drink. That’s not telling me how you want to respond. That’s telling me what you don’t want to do and that doesn’t work. And how many of us do that to ourselves? So we have to be crystal clear in the directions that are provided that you’re actually doing what is instructed to make yourself successful.

And that’s why, again, getting help on this document provides so much value to you. And then we go onto the next step which is on the next page, page seven and there you start to do the emotional work. And you’ll see it’s an emotional visualization process. Now, the operative word there is emotional. What most people think is just a visualization. And if you just do the visualization part I will tell you, you won’t get the results that you want. It needs to be an emotional response as I wrote in the document.

And this is the part so many women want to resist, somehow that being emotional is bad. Maybe we’ve been teased about PMS or we’re highly emotional or we think being emotional is bad. But I will tell you, that is key to this step being successful. It’s the mind, body experience that helps your brain get results quicker, faster and with more consistency.

So then we move on and conclude with the last step and that is now your mind has created this new neural pathway. By doing this process you’ve established the new beginnings and starting to see things and feel things in a new way. And so you’ve initiated that think and feel pathway which will begin to lead to different action. So just like anything, the first time through this amazing process may feel awkward but doing this exercise daily or at least with some routine will start to restructure the trigger. It’ll start to dismantle the trigger.

Now, I said some key words again right there and I don’t want you to miss them, please notice I didn’t say just focus on the action. So many of us have been taught, just focus on the action. We will hear crappy advice that just switch out water or tea for that cocktail. We’re just always focused on the action. And yes, that may work in isolated cases but it won’t change your internal desire for alcohol because it is an internal thing, not an external thing. It’s not swapping one drink for another.

Desire is an emotional connection and we need to focus on the emotional piece and that’s the piece that gets so overlooked by all the magazines and all the blogs that tell us to do it differently. They’re always focusing on do it differently. That’s all the doing, all the action and that’s what we are here in the United States. We’re all based on action, getting it done. We’re all talking about GSD and Nike’s acronym, just do it. And so we think we just need to take different action in the moment when we’re offered the drink.

But what I’m describing here is a different process and I hope you can see that. What I’m describing here is a building up, a rebuilding, a restructuring, that starts internally before any action is needed. So if you think you’re going to do this work right after dinner when you crave a snack or right after work when you walk into your house to want a drink because you’re going to want to start drinking, I’ll tell you that’s not the time to start rebuilding and restructuring.

It needs to occur way before then because the timing of this is important because by the time you walked in the house and by the time you had dinner your desire is already there. You’re not working on it beforehand. You’re not dismantling it and restructuring it beforehand. So I want you to have this free gift my friends. I gave a free gift out to my Instagram community, if you follow me there, at the end of May. And so this is another gift I want to give you that can radically change your relationship with alcohol and food.

And so if you want that additional worksheet in addition to the free guide that we talked about, please go to the show notes and it will be available there for you to download. I am passionate about this work and making sure that you get the results that you want in your life, because I believe all of us women could be living a healthy, confident and empowered life so that we can feel epic and amazing and do amazing things for one another. So use these resources so you can learn to rewire your brain, learn to rewire your desire and get rid of habits that are no longer serving you. Empower yourself.

Alright my friends, thank you for tuning into this week’s podcast. Have an epic day 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 health mastering the tools so you And become a woman who And 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/ E-P-I-C-Y-O-U. I can’t wait to see you there.

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