Many people consider a reliance on alcohol as a disease, others see it as a series of bad decisions. However, at its core, it is simply an attempt to temporarily escape suffering.
When we overdrink, we tell ourselves we’re weak. We think our willpower isn’t strong enough. However, this kind of self-talk is just perpetuating a cycle of suffering.
Tune in this week to learn the steps you can start taking right now to end the suffering.
I’m hosting a Women’s Empowerment Retreat at the end of September right here in San Diego. Doors are now open. Learn the skills to get empowered in your life to achieve your goals. Click here for all the details!
Are you ready to learn the skills and tools to permanently change your relationship with alcohol? If so, I invite you to join Drink Less Lifestyle. It’s where you’ll learn how to become a woman who can take it or leave it with alcohol while creating a life you love. Join Drink Less Lifestyle here!
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Why overdrinking isn’t a disease, a moral failure, or a lack of willpower
- What addiction really is and why it can be so painful to look at deeply.
- How you can take action right now to identify and end the suffering that’s fueling your drinking.
Featured on the Show:
Download my free guide How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit.
If you’re loving this podcast, please rate and review this podcast and help others discover their Drink Less Lifestyle.
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- Dr. Gabor Maté
Full Episode Transcript:
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 86.
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.
Hello my friends. How are you today? I am super excited. You know that I have been talking on this podcast for a few weeks about my upcoming retreat. And now we have a page where you can register. I am so excited. So, at this Women’s Empowerment retreat that I am hosting here in my lovely city of San Diego at the end of September we are going to change lives. So, at the Women’s Empowerment retreat what we will be looking at is your deepest desires, your goals that you want to obtain and achieve and any obstacles that are getting in your way and how to remove it.
I have been doing a deep dive in learning about reprogramming the subconscious mind as well as how to create quicker behavioral change in humans, particularly around habits and healthy lifestyle. And I really can’t wait to share this information with you. These are a lot of new tools. And as I’ve been practicing them they have been super effective in my life and I can’t wait to share them with you. So, if you’re interested in attending I would highly, highly recommend you grab your spot soon.
You could read about all the details of the event on my website at drinklesslifestyle.com. You just click on the Work With Me tab. And under that tab you will see the retreat. Now, if you’re listening to this podcast and you know you really want to attend, I highly suggest you sign up soon. The event is going to be kept small. So, I am limiting the event to just 20 women because I really want to dive deep into each of the women’s lives there and create this rapid transformation. We are going to elevate your life. We are going to elevate your habits.
And we are going to really break through all of that BS going around in our head telling us that staying small is safe. I’ve been using some of these tools in my life and it’s really, really been uplevelling my thinking, uplevelling how I’m acting, uplevelling how I’m showing up in the world. It’s really elevating me and I’m so excited to share this information with you.
So, if you’re interested in signing up, again, please go to drinklesslifestyle.com under the Work With Me tab you will see the page for the retreat. And if you don’t see it, it means all spots have been full. And so, we take the page down once all spots have been taken. Alright, so grab your spot if you want one and I can’t wait to see you in San Diego at the end of September.
Alright, so now moving into today’s topic of the podcast. And I really want to look at how we promote and cause our own suffering and then our response to that. So, to get us started I wanted to use a quote from Gabor Maté. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with him. He’s a physician. He treats a lot of addiction. He’s written a lot of great books.
And this quote that he had stated really, really stood out to me, particularly as we’re working on resilience and changing the stories of our past that keep us stuck and keep us recreating more of the past as we’re doing that work both in Drink Less Lifestyle as well as in Epic You. Because we’re talking about the topic of resilience this month inside Epic You. And some deep things are coming up for people, really deep things. And so, I want to share this quote with you and I want to tell you upfront, it’s quite long.
So, he states, “Addiction is not a choice that anybody makes, it’s not a moral failure, it is not an ethical lapse, it is not a weakness of character, it is not a failure of will, which is how our society depicts addiction. Nor is it an inherited brain disease, which is how our medical tendency is to see it.
What it actually is, is a response to human suffering, and all these people that I have worked with had been serially traumatized as children. All the women had been sexually abused. All the men had been traumatized, some of them sexually, physically, emotionally neglected. And not only is it my perspective, it is also what the scientific and research literature show. So, addiction then, rather than being a disease as such or a human choice, it’s an attempt to escape suffering temporarily.”
And if you just pull out what’s mostly quoted from this long quote is it’s a response to human suffering. This was stated years ago and I really, really want to pull out some key things here that I fully believe and that the research shows. When we think we overdrink or any type of addiction we think I’m weak, when it’s not a weakness in character. We think it’s a failure, our will is not strong enough. And we talk about will and willpower. It’s not enough.
It’s not the thing that leads to success when overcoming overdrinking. It’s not what’s going to lead to success with any addiction, whether it be food, whether it be sex, whether it be videogames, it’s not going to be will and willpower. I love that he also says it’s not a moral failure. It doesn’t make us a bad person just because we chose to imbibe alcohol. An addiction is never a choice that anybody makes. Nobody says, “I want to be an addict.” And I love how he says it’s not an inherited brain disease which is how our medical community tends to see it.
And he even says, this is what the scientific research shows. So, what is addiction? It’s really our response to pain or human suffering of some kind. Now, maybe you haven’t had big T trauma, maybe you haven’t been sexually abused as a child or other types of abuse, or maybe you have. Maybe your flavor of trauma or your flavor of pain is different then a big T trauma. And I hear this come up again and I talked about this on the podcast before is a lot of women will start talking about, “Well, I know this sounds like first world problems.”
And I have to remind you when you live in a first world country you’re going to have first world problems. And categorizing the problem, doesn’t make it more useful. Why do we have to even tag it with labeling it as a first world, second world, third world problem? Why don’t we just call it, it’s a problem? It’s a problem in my life and I don’t know how to fix it so therefore I drink. Now, I’m going to get to this again later on but I just want to say for those of you that are thinking, I don’t drink to numb out, I don’t drink to escape, I don’t drink because there is pain point in my life.
Well, then I say, you have a different kind of pain point that you may not even recognize that you have. And it comes from thinking that you’re not going to get what you want. And any time we think we can’t get what we want guess what we’re going to want to do? Not think about it so we buffer in some way, shape or form. And there are so many flavors of I’m not going to get what I want. And if I can’t get what I want well let me just drink. And maybe you’re listening to this quote and you’re like, “Yeah, okay, addiction that feels like too strong of a word for me.”
And I used to feel that way too. So, I preferred the word ‘habit’, it was just something I did on autopilot, it was automatic, it was five o’clock, I came home or went downstairs from working remotely and then boom, went to my kitchen and just wanted to pour the glass of alcohol, wanted to pour my first glass of chardonnay and then transition to cooking and doing all the things in home life. And so that was my ritual. That was my habit, it’s just what I did.
So, it doesn’t matter to me if you don’t use the word ‘addiction’ or you do use the word ‘addiction’. Call it your addiction, your habit, your dependence, that you’re an over-drinker or maybe you like grey area drinker, uncontrolled drinker, defiant drinker, weekend warrior type of drinker. Hiding my drinking from my partner kind of drinker, a drink to relax kind of drinker. Not always in control of my drinking kind of drinker. Sometimes I overdo it kind of over-drinker. Can’t manage my life without needing a drink kind of drinker.
It doesn’t matter, I don’t care how you label it. The label is irrelevant. Label it as you will. But my guess is if that you’re listening to this podcast, your drinking bothers you, whether that’s six drinks a week or 60 drinks a week. On some level you don’t feel good about the amount you consume because if it didn’t bother you then you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast.
And so, if your drinking bothers you it’s telling you, your internal wisdom is telling you you’re not living in alignment somewhere, whether it’s with your values, how you want to show up as a mom, how you want to show up as a woman, how you want to show up in your life. Whatever it is, it’s telling you, this isn’t feeling good anymore and I want to cut back. And that’s great, you desire a healthier lifestyle. You desire a higher quality experience of life. You want to feel better in the morning. You want to mentate better. You want your cognitive faculties to be there.
You don’t want to feel dependent on a substance. You want to be free of cravings and of desire for it. You want to be free of the mental chatter and that is all delightful, great goals. And then here is what I say to that. Get it, go after it. But what happens is most people don’t know how to get it. They don’t know how to do it on their own. They need help.
They need someone to show them the way because when you try to do it on your own what happens for a lot of people is they go to drink less and when they start drinking less, guess what happens? They feel awkward, they feel uncomfortable, the cravings are raging. They don’t know how to handle themselves in a social environment. They don’t know how to deal with the problems in the home environment. Or you feel like you can’t relax without it because you’ve had it in your life for so long.
It’s been a part of you for so long and a part of your way that you show up at parties, or the way you end the day like I did. And look, if your brain is saying, “Hey, I don’t know how to relax here”, I’ll tell you what, your brain and your body will figure it out. People who don’t drink know how to relax. It’s a thing. There are skills, there are tools you can use to relax. Alcohol is not the only thing out there.
Now, if you convince yourself that you need it to relax generally it’s because something else is going on. There is a pain in your life you’re not looking at, not willing to look at, don’t know how to look at it in an objective way, that doesn’t get you all riled up. Or maybe you’ve felt like you’ve tried to solve it from so many different angle and there’s no solution that’s present. Yes, that’s limited by your brain.
That’s why you get others involved in the process. They can see things that your brain cannot because here’s the thing, you can choose other tools to make relaxation happen. Why aren’t you choosing them? There is a reason which is always great to know because you really want to know the root cause of why you’re drinking. It’s like when my clients start working with me and they tell me, “Yeah, I just drink to relax and unwind and I just want to learn the tools you have in your programs so I don’t need alcohol all the time.”
And that’s how they start off in my program and then guess what happens? As they’re working through the tools and the strategies in the program, and on the next call they bring up all the issues. They’re like, “Yeah, here’s something I was avoiding that I didn’t realize I was avoiding.” Why? Because if you’re like me, you’ve spent years drinking that you don’t even know the issues. You don’t even know how to be without it. And I didn’t realize I was using it to cope. I thought it was purely for relaxation and taste.
And when you cut back and you don’t know how to deal with those pain points, those little traumas, those big traumas, whatever they are, of course you’ll want to run back to the bottle. You’ll be like, “This is too uncomfortable, it doesn’t feel good.” And so, you have to root out the pain points because if you don’t, the allure of alcohol will always be there. Or at least cutting back won’t be sustainable. You’ll be able to do it for the 30 days or for the cleanse but eventually you’ll be like, “Yeah, I want to go back to drinking again because this is just too hard and painful.”
So, I do really want to point out here that it’s not the relaxation that’s driving the drinking. If it was driving the drinking you can have a half a glass or a glass and stop. Now, when we want to avoid the pain we keep going. The pain of the past, the pain of the present, or the pain of the future, but I guarantee you there is a pain and there’s probably several. So, here’s some I’d like you to consider. Pain of your partner not hearing you or giving you the love and support you want, that’s a current pain we’re working on with a client in the program.
Pain of your children because they’re not doing what they should or what you want them to do, pain of your in-laws. Pain of all the things to do around the house and how nobody else seems to be contributing. Pain and aggravation of your job and the unfairness of it. Pain of the guilt you feel that you just can’t seem to work through and it seems to be constant yet maybe even intensifying. Pain of your finances. Pain of not being able to lose the weight as quickly and as easily as you would like. Pain of feeling lonely or isolated.
And I’m going to tell you, these are pains, absolutely, I’m not going to minimize this and say, no, that shouldn’t be a pain in your life. Nobody should be alone and isolated. And we can fix financial problems where you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. We can fix households that aren’t operating efficiently. I promise you that all of these things can be fixed. And I agree with you, they are all pain points. So, by not recognizing what the pain points are we’re going to be stuck in this hamster wheel of overdrinking, or overeating, or both, or overworking, or doing all the things thinking that’s going to help.
But we have to look at what’s causing you the pain. If we run away from the pain we will always train our brain to run away in some form or fashion. It’s interesting, about a year ago I was working with a woman who if she didn’t hit the gym that day she would drink. She did not feel good about herself unless she got a workout in, an intense workout, running, hit, all the things that you do that are intense.
And if she didn’t get in an intense workout she punished herself with drinking and overdrinking. Now, if she worked out she did good which meant great, I don’t need alcohol because I feel good that I worked out. But if I didn’t work out I feel bad about myself so let me just drink. Her pain came from identifying as a good person because she exercised. Now, had we not solved that for her she would have continued to drink. I mean what happens when you sprain your ankle, or you get an injury, or when you get old and maybe you can’t work out every day of the week? It’s not sustainable.
If we didn’t change this patterning in her brain, if we didn’t change this flawed way of thinking she would have kept overdrinking. And how many of us have our self-worth and things tied up where they shouldn’t be? And we know that but we can’t break through that on our own. If I’m not a good worker, or a good enough wife, or a good enough mom, or if I didn’t execute flawlessly and perfectly at work. I’m bad, I’m stressed, things are wrong, I need to drink.
So, I’ll tell you, as adults bad behavior doesn’t change with punishment. There is tons and tons of research to support this. So, we can perpetuate that negative cycle around exercise and alcohol or we can break ourselves free of it. People use food the same way. And then people have the opposite effect, they use food or alcohol to reward themselves. And might I suggest that there is a healthier way and a better way to use food and alcohol because we know food and alcohol doesn’t solve the pain. It’s like temporary lidocaine, temporary numbing agent.
And then when you stop overeating and overdrinking the pain comes right back, the numbing wears off. So, here’s what I find particularly amongst a lot of females because that’s who I work with is that when you’re thinking you don’t deserve something in life, whether it’s love, success, fulfilment, or you’re selling out on what you want out of life, your goals, your desires and your dreams. This is a form of pain, my friends. Of course, you can get love if you want love.
Of course, you can create success if you want success. Of course, you can live a life fulfilled, kids that launch or are successful, a partner that supports you lose the 20 or 30 pounds that you’re wanting to do. You can get any of this. You can create any of this. And when you know this you actually go after it. And if you think about all those goals none of them require overdrinking, actually overdrinking is a distraction, it gets in the way of getting to those goals. Whether you stop cold turkey or whether you just have a drink here and there, it doesn’t matter.
But overdrinking will sabotage those goals. And think about it, most people want to feel amazing in life. Nobody wants to be depressed, anxiety driven, worry more. We want to fit into our clothes, we want to be the size we want to be, we want to have loving relationships, amazing kids, meaningful friendships and connection in life. That’s humans. They all desire the same thing. And when you have all that you don’t dream of alcohol, you don’t think of alcohol because you’re loving the life that you’re living.
You’re so high on life that drinking would actually rob you of that joy that you’re experiencing and cause you to numb out from that. Nobody wants to numb out from joy. And so, this goes along with the message that I started from last week. We drink to avoid our life. We drink to create this altered reality because the current reality isn’t good enough. There’s pain.
Now, again many of the women I work with they are not even conscious of the pain. They don’t even realize the small micro pains, if you will, in their life. They just think they have to tolerate it. Well, of course my job’s going to be stressful. Now, wait a second, not all jobs are stressful. Maybe we can look at ways we can reduce the stress of your job. And that’s actually a topic I’ll be launching later in Epic You is how to transform our stress because we’re living in a time where everybody feels stressed and overwhelmed all the time.
So, identifying the pain is part of the process of healing. It’s part of the process of solving for it. It’s part of getting rid of your own suffering. I used to think that my pain couldn’t be solved and I know many people are in that same boat. They think this is just the way life is, we can’t do anything about it. He’ll never change. This will never change. The job will never change. And I just want to tell you that this is disempowered thinking. This is robbing you of the life that you could have.
And what I want to invite you to and what I invite all my clients to is their empowered thinking where you get the life that you want. And what I love doing is making this the default way my brain thinks, solving my problems rather than tolerating my problems. That may mean getting off the weight that’s causing you to hide, not show up in your business, not putting yourself out there, not knowing how to talk to your kids about healthy eating or maybe alcohol. Self-sabotaging and using it to numb out parts that you might not be proud of, or ashamed of, or feeling inadequate.
And a lot of women do this. We think our problems are so unique to us but I have to tell you, our problems are relatively the same, they just may have a different flavoring but they’re pretty much the same. And what’s easier, when you’re solving a problem do you think it’s easier to work with a disempowered brain that can’t see any solutions, that is just woe is me, is like this is the life I was given and I guess I have to make the best of it, things can’t change? Or an empowered brain which starts to looking for solutions and looking for, I never saw it that way?
And looking for ways to actually solve the most vexing things going on in your life. An empowered woman learns how to set the mood and the tone for her household. We don’t delegate that or we don’t fall victim to that when the spouse comes home, or when the spouse has been home and we come into the environment and everything’s in chaos or a mess. That’s living disempowered, powerless to change the mood of your home.
I was just sharing on a coaching call on how I had to help my husband change the way he was parenting to match our empowered home when he went astray from our home mission. And when I do that I want him to catch me because I want the empowered life to be our lifestyle, not just a one off event. It’s how we operate. And to live an empowered life you just have to learn the strategies that get it done. And here’s the thing, your kids want their empowered life, your husband, your spouse, other people living with you want their empowered life.
Everybody wants an empowered life. And when you live your empowered life it means you get the life that you want to live. You go after your goals because it’s delightful, it feels amazing, it feels great in getting them. When you sell out on your goals, that’s painful. And then you don’t go after them and you’re thinking that you aren’t going to get what you want. And so, what do you do? You want to buffer, you want to numb. When you think you, others, job, circumstances can’t change, then you think you just have to tolerate the pain.
This is what I did for years and I tell you, I wanted off that hamster wheel. And since I couldn’t figure it out for myself I did the wise thing and I got help because I wanted to end my pain. I wanted to end this nonsensical habit I kept feeding. So, I hired a coach, I did the thing and she helped me see how I can transform not just my drinking habit, but my life. And that’s what I want for you and that’s what I help others do. And what do you want for you? My guess is you want to live an empowered life. And to that I say, let’s get going and living your life empowered. There’s nothing better.
And if you can do this for yourself, great, by all means go do it. And if you need my help, great, let’s get on a call and talk. Life is too short my friends, living a life squandered and not getting what you want is not the way to spend it. So, prune out what’s not working for you, get rid of it because it’s only holding you back. And nobody feels good when they overdrink. So, I invite you to end your suffering and start living your life empowered. Alright my friends, that’s what I have for you today. Go live your life empowered and I will see you next week.
Thanks for listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with alcohol, check out my free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. That’s sherryprice.com/startnow. I’ll see you next week.
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