Do you want a life where you’re constantly chasing temporary feel-good sensations, or a life you feel amazing about that brings you meaning and purpose?
Your answer will take you down two very different paths.
On one, you’ll be avoiding and escaping your life. On the other, you’ll be showing up more powerfully in your current life, pursuing your deepest desires.
On this episode, you’ll learn the difference between feeling better and getting better, and how to go after the latter.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 78.
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. It’s so good to be back with you. We are going through March, yes. And if you’ve been following along you know that in Epic You we are talking all things anxiety. And I’ve been sharing in there a lot recently, feelings are contagious as you know. So, my daughter has been experiencing quite a bit of anxiety about a few things, one being soccer. And now we have an increase in the number of practices and sixth grade camp which is a sleepaway camp for a whole week which I’m very excited about but she gets very anxious.
And so, I’m just loving that that is the topic for this month because all these things are coming up. And it’s really helping me walk through these tools and how I apply them to my life so all of you can get experience by walking through it with me. Just knowing the tools is one thing but it’s when you actually apply it to your life and the more times you hear these tools applied to your life the more you’re like, that’s how I keep building the skill of managing anxiety.
So, I just see myself getting better and better at it all the times that I practice it because here’s what I know. Anxiety’s not going to go away. It’s here to stay, if I have experienced it before in my life chances are I’m going to experience it again. So, I want to get better at managing it and handling it in my life for myself as well as to be able to teach those skills to others. And it’s really nice when you have the words and the context, you have them for yourself.
And then I created words and context that’s different for kids because their brains may not know the meaning and the context of certain words because they just haven’t lived life long enough. And so, finding words for them to be able to communicate in a way that feels like they get it, they understand it, they know exactly what’s going on. So, we get this one beautiful body that comes with all these emotions and we really want to know how to use that for us so it doesn’t hold us back from doing the things that we want in our life.
So that’s a nice segue to talk about what I want to talk about on this podcast episode and that is many of us want to pursue feeling better or I want to offer, do we want to pursue getting better. And there’s a huge difference here. So oftentimes I know people turn to alcohol because they just want to feel better. And it’s totally common to drink to feel better.
We drink because things aren’t right at work or they’re not right in the world, or we’re just sick of the pandemic already, or we’re just over so and so. Or so and so’s behavior towards me or towards my family members, or whatever is going on in our life oftentimes we turn to alcohol to just feel better.
So, there was an instance with one of the ladies in the group where her mom had said something to her child and it didn’t sit well with her. There were other instances that came up in the group where somebody said something, whether it’s the spouse, or a friend. And it was really rude and quite crass. And it’s really not what the person expected to hear. And we can all experience that.
When somebody tells us something or does something and then offends us, or hurts us in a way, or is passive aggressive towards us, or something that’s done behind our back, or somebody lies to us. All of these things that go on in our life that don’t make us feel very good, one of the ways we can respond to that or our initial response to that may be to bring us something that does feel good, brings us something that feels like relief.
And we can go about this many ways, a long day at work, a long week at work, so much to get done at work, all of this can drive us to just wanting to pour a drink because our intent is to feel better. Let’s wash down the disappointment that this person is causing. Let’s get rid of these feelings that I’m feeling, quickly and effectively. And we turn that into, I deserve this. This is my reward after bearing through a hard day, or having to tolerate my mom, or this coworker, or whatever.
And oftentimes we’ll stew on it. We’ll stew on it so much that we make the problem even bigger. Or we will recount all the ways that this person has shunned us in the past or wasn’t there for us in the past. My mom wasn’t there for me growing up and she’s still not there for me now. And recounting all of these moments, just notice how we will want to just wash it all down with alcohol or a slice of chocolate cake. And what is our intent or our goal of having that piece of cake or having that glass of wine? The goal is to feel better.
Notice it’s not to actually solve the actual problem going on. The reason you drink is because it’s emotional based to feel better because logically we know throwing alcohol at the problem is not going to solve it. We logically know that it doesn’t solve any problem, in fact it makes all problems worse. Why? Because alcohol is a chemical that fogs the brain. It keeps us in this thick deep fog because that’s how alcohol works. It doesn’t allow us to have a clear mind and a clear head for us to see the truth and to be able to see solutions to solve our problem.
When we drink alcohol, and keep drinking alcohol, and overdrink alcohol it further distances us from our truth. And it keeps us in this chemical veil of this brain fog, this alcohol induced trance that our brain is covered in. Because we know it delays cognition, it takes our prefrontal cortex offline, actually if you look at MRI studies, the prefrontal cortex gets smaller over time which is that is our thinking, logical planning, executive function skills part of our brain. And it causes motor delays as well. It causes sedation.
So really we are just putting a blanket over the brain and it’s not able to operate the way it was designed. And so, a lot of people say, “I’m just in this brain fog even when I’m not drinking.” Because you have that brain fog even the next day. You’re not as quick witted. You’re not as sharp cognitively. Things are more delayed because of the hangover effect of the alcohol.
So, I think of it as turning our brains into a bowlful of mush. We retell the same stories over and over, we think we’re funny. We forget conversations because the alcohol is literally killing brain cells. And they’re not able to form memories because it’s dampening that skill of the brain. Now, logically we know this is going on and so we are not pouring a drink because of its logicalness. We are pouring the drink because of the emotional relief that we feel.
And when our brain turns into a bowlful of mush we can’t make sense of the world. We can’t make sense of the problem. And guess what? We stop caring. And that to me is a very poisonous position to be in. That may sound like something you want, I just don’t want to care about this problem. But I promise you, it isn’t what you truly want because what happens when people stop caring?
Now, I’m picturing an early time when my daughter would tell me that she didn’t care at all about school. She didn’t care about how she did. She wasn’t motivated, low grades on her tests, doesn’t matter, it doesn’t faze me. Now, these were the words she was using and that were coming out of her mouth but I knew they weren’t true. Even though she’s saying those words I knew she did care because what kid doesn’t want to succeed? And I know the reason she said she didn’t care because she was more about the fear of disappointing herself if she’d cared more.
So, her issue really wasn’t that she didn’t care. It was that she was afraid to care more for the fear of disappointment, same happens in adults. We tell ourselves we don’t care about things but we actually do. And when we lie to ourself about something we care about and we say we don’t, we just keep ourselves emotionally and mentally trapped like in a prison. Because we can’t find a way out because we keep telling ourselves lies that we don’t care.
So, for her, her issue wasn’t that she didn’t care, it was that she was missing some skills to do better in school. And it’s a good thing I saw this and I was able to help her see that as well. And this is the same skill I bring to my clients. I show them, you’re saying these words that you don’t care but in all actuality you care a lot. And it’s a good thing to care, that’s what humans are designed to do. They’re designed to care about each other. We are a tribal species. We enjoy each other’s company. We look after one another. We want to fit in. We want to belong.
We do want to care for other people. And that feels good. And here’s what happens when a human truly stops caring. They don’t go after anything in life. Think about that. They don’t pursue any meaningful life goals. There’s no sense of purpose, or meaning, or everything feels inconsequential and it becomes meaningless.
And I assure you, there is no human on this planet that wants to stop caring about their life or wants a life without meaning. It’s not how we were designed. And when that happens that’s called severe depression. Because it is depressing, it’s not the way the humans were designed to operate. We were created for meaning. Actually, we have a brain and our brains are meaning making machines. They love to put meaning on everything.
Somebody does something for you and your brain is going to classify it, is that a nice thing? Is that a lovely thing? Is that a delightful thing? Is that a harmful thing? Is that a hateful thing? Your brain is going to make meaning of it. That’s what it’s designed to do. The brains put meaning on everything.
So, the moral of this story is that the goal is not to stop caring about the meaningful important things in your life. And when you do it feels terrible, it feels like you’re giving up, you’re giving up on yourself, you’re giving up on your child, you’re giving up on the problem, you’re giving up on your job. You feel stuck. You become trapped. You don’t know what to do. And you’re just spinning.
And here’s the thing, ladies, overdrinking is going to cause you to stop caring about the meaningful things in life. I’ve seen it happen in my own life. I see it happen in the lives of my clients. They become unmotivated. They become not energized. They feel the zest for life is gone. They wonder where their pure joy is.
I was even in that space where I’m like, “Can I be happy without alcohol?” And this means you are in the thick of an alcohol induced brain fog and that alcohol induction of that brain fog is what’s keeping you stuck there. And you’re not using your brain power for your highest power or your greatest good to actually fix the problems, or fix what’s not working in your life. Alcohol becomes this life sedative, this is as good as it’s going to get. And we think we just have to get through the day.
I like to think of this as the alcohol trance. It’s like you’re just walking around like a zombie in an alcohol trance and everything is built around when you get the next drink, the next buzz, at the end of the day when you can finally have a drink and take the pressure off. It’s all about what you are looking forward to when you’re drinking because you just want to feel better. That’s the whole goal, is to feel better.
And I remember the trance and my life was good. But I’ll tell you what, it felt so much better when I had a drink in my hand or when I had a buzz going on. At the end of the workday my car would just drive to the liquor store or the grocery store and we’d go be buying some alcohol. And I was in that trance. I felt like my car just sauntered over to that parking spot and we just drove that way. Grabbed a bottle from the refrigerated section because I wanted to drink it as soon as possible. And who likes warm chardonnay? Nobody. So, we had to buy it cold.
And as I was grabbing that bottle and as I was heading out to my car all is I can think about is licking my lips about that first glass is going to taste so tasty. I was like a lion ready to make a kill. And guess what? I’d have that first glass and I would start to magically transport to a place where I could give two shits. Yeah, I just didn’t want to care. And sometimes I thought that was the best part of my day or the best part of my week. And my day would revolve around that trance daily, every night doing the same thing, you know why? Because I just wanted to feel better.
But here’s the thing, it’s all a trance, a chemical induced trance. It’s like entering into a virtual reality game. I know my daughter plays Minecraft and she tells me about these portals you can enter and go into the nether and all of this. So, I think of it as like that, you’re just entering this fictionary life, this trance life. It’s like my wine would transport me to another portal, a world where I just felt better. And it didn’t matter what my problems were. What just mattered most is that I felt better, like a video game.
But here’s the thing, just like any video game, eventually you have to come back to reality. And when you come back to reality you kind of realize, wow, I spent a lot of time getting lost playing in the alternate reality, whether it’s gathering coins or in Minecraft, mining for gold, or winning shoulder pets and roadblocks, and getting badges, or getting to new levels. All of that feels like accomplishment but it’s in a fake world. None of that currency matters in the real world.
And you’re wasting all this time trying to win at this fake world but failing at the real game of life. And think of all the consequences that come with just sitting and videogaming or sitting and drinking wine. Sitting is called the new smoking, we’re not moving. We’re not exercising our bodies therefore weight gain and then we snack. And we just start doing other things that don’t make sense.
So, we start tolerating these little things that are kind of bothering us and then they start accumulating. Now it’s poor sleep. Now it’s a little bit more wine. Now it’s forgetting conversations and then it’s blacking out. And we’re not even touching on the things that we can’t see, that alcohol causes brain damage, and it causes destruction of our neurons, and it causes our liver cells to die. And it causes inflammation in our joints and throughout our body. And it disrupts our gut microbiome and we have problems ingesting proper nutrients even if we do follow a healthy diet.
And we’re ignoring all these facts and these effects from the alcohol for one reason, the hunt to feel better. It’s just so interesting to realize that that’s all it’s about is to feel better. Because meanwhile nothing really in our life is changing if we’re not working on it and paying attention to it. And particularly it’s not changing if we don’t even care, if we have just given up.
And I’ve seen that happen to so many people, they just give up and that’s so sad. Because there’s so much potential and so much life that you can regain, and rebuild, and create, and mold, and start again. So, I want to propose that what if we did the reverse? What if we did the direct opposite?
Instead of pursuing feeling better as the main goal why don’t we go after a life that you feel better about? Now, that’s where the magic is. Because it’s not that we can’t feel better, but let’s just give something meaningful in our life so that we feel good about having it, about achieving it, about going after it. Because if you go down the rabbit hole of just going after feeling better it leads to escaping your life. It leads to just wanting the feeling that’s fleeting and temporary, and not given by true meaning and things that are important to us.
And then you become enslaved to those things whether it’s food, videogaming, alcohol, anything. That just really doesn’t provide a lot of meaning to your life. And then when you stop playing those games and stop eating and you ‘sober up’ and you come back to the real life. If you didn’t work on it it’s still going to be the same life and maybe even worse. Chances are you will feel the same way about it. It’s like, I don’t really like it so let me just escape.
I really don’t like my job so let me just escape instead of trying to find a new one or trying to work with my employer to make it better. And if you don’t like your demanding husband, or maybe you have the opposite, a lazy husband who’s on the couch all the time, you can escape that with alcohol but when you come back and when you stop drinking and come out of the buzz, he’s still going to be the same. The problem still exists you just put an alcohol induced trance on top of it for a while so you didn’t notice it and then it leaves but the problem still remains.
Instead, let’s go to work on fixing the issue, let’s look at making your job better and how you can do that. Let’s come up with solutions to make the commute better. Let’s come up with solutions to come up with a communication plan that works for both parties. Or in the case of many of my clients that I’m working with right now, it’s like let’s look at what you don’t like about your marriage or your husband and let’s go to work on that. Because if you’re in a marriage I will tell you, if you’re willingly staying there, both parties want to be happy.
It’s not like you enter a marriage wanting to be unhappy. No, it’s in the best interest of the marriage to make it amazing. And it’s in the best interest of the people in the marriage to have an amazing marriage. And these are the exact issues that we are working on in the Drink Less Lifestyle program, helping women get epic lives, helping women change what they don’t like and giving them skills to do that. Because here’s a fact, alcohol becomes more attractive when you’re not living the life that you want.
And when you start giving up on what’s truly meaningful to you, you start pursuing feelings for the sake of pursuing feelings and not pursuing a life that gives you feelings that you want to have. So, if I want a great life, that great life is going to give me great feelings. So, when you start creating the life you want to be living you won’t need alcohol because your life will be amazing because you’re pursuing the things that are important to you and bring meaning to your life. That’s fulfilment. That’s contentment because you’re going after the things that are important to you.
And what happens when you pursue things that are important to you or meaningful things? The byproduct of that is happiness and good feelings. The byproduct of that is that you feel good. I mean think about your life, think about the times that you’ve felt great in your life, reflect on those times. What was going on for you? Why did you feel so great? What made those times so wonderful and happy?
For many women it’s a time when they felt their best, they lost weight and they were able to move in their clothing and wear any kind of clothing that they wanted and they felt like they looked good. For some it could be they were pursuing a job and they got a promotion or they got that job and that felt amazing. Maybe you are a woman and you wanted to be married and you got married to the love of your life. And that felt good because you were pursuing something meaningful.
Maybe you’re the first one in your family to go to college and that felt good because that felt so meaningful. Or it can be even the little things in life. You see your child being brave, accomplishing something that, wow, that’s nice, I didn’t realize he or she was ready for next step. Whether it’s just standing for the first time, or walking for the first time, or doing a test and performing well on a test, or a recital. Or she gets out on the soccer field after having an anxiety attack. Or she’s kind to another human. That’s something that’s meaningful to feel good about.
My daughter just took her belt test for Tang Soo Do, a type of, I just call it karate, Korean karate. And I have to tell you, whenever she tests and she gets done she is just beaming ear to ear when she gets done. She’s just so proud. She’s got the next stripe on her belt and she’s talking about it the whole way home. She had to break a piece of wood in half with a sidekick. She’s talking about, “Next time at the next test I’ll have to break that board again with a back kick this time, mom.” And she’s just riding high talking about even the next challenge because it’s meaningful to her.
And on the pursuit of something meaningful good feelings come. It’s a byproduct of going after what you want in life. Karate has meaning to her life. It’s part of her epic life. Pursuing it brings her joy, happiness, pride, so many good emotions, friendships. And here’s the thing when you pursue something meaningful, you’re learning skills along the way.
What is she learning? She’s learning skills like body control, how to kick, back kick, front kick, side kick, mind control. How to study her opponent when she’s sparring. She’s learning discipline. They have to say the words in the Korean language so she’s picking up parts of Korean language. She’s developing muscles and flexibility. Now she spars with the staff and she has to do figure eights and spar with the staff. Look at all these skills that she is learning along the way of living a meaningful life.
When you pursue a meaningful life you learn skills which makes you get better at life. And a byproduct of that are good feelings. So, you can just pursue feeling better and become all about the feelings, just chasing the feel good feelings all the time. Or you can pursue getting better at your life and developing life skills that you feel good about.
Now, I have to tell you, I spent a period of my life chasing the feelings. And that’s when I overdrank, just pursuing good feelings at the end of each and every day. That’s all I wanted. Honestly that’s all I knew that was available to me. I didn’t know you can learn skills to be more powerful, to be powerful over alcohol, to change things in your life even if they weren’t me and they were other people. I didn’t know these skills and that’s just my overdrinking.
You’ve heard me mention before on this podcast that I had an anger management problem. I used to fly off the handle, raging colors of red coming out of my face, my ears, everything. I was smoking red hot, mean and angry, fueled by my emotions. I didn’t know how to manage that. I didn’t know there were tools you could manage. I mean I have heard of anger management and read a book or two but that never really helped.
What changed was I worked with a coach who helped me see why I get angry and how to handle it before I start boiling. How to manage it when it’s just a little simmer. And because of that I rarely fly off the handle now. And because I learned skills to manage my overdrinking I rarely overdrink anymore.
You know what I also learned? I used to throw my hands up in the air at how my daughter would react and how she’d do in school. I’d ask her teachers what to do. I’d go to the principal. I’d go to all these other people. And not that that’s not appropriate but I didn’t see how I wasn’t operating in my influence, what more I could be doing, not in terms of more in terms of just hours but where I could be more effective when I did work with her.
It turns out when I learned the skills to motivate her, to engage her in her work and to want to do better in school and show her the skills she was lacking, it turns out I saved a lot of time because I wasn’t beating my head against the wall. I wasn’t getting so angry and so frustrated that I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere. We were making progress. It’s because I distilled it down to what the real problem was. The real problem isn’t her lack of motivation. The real problem is she was missing skills that increased her ability to do something.
And when you have the ability and capability to do something, you know what happens? Your motivation comes second, it’s not first. Why don’t a lot of people feel motivated to go to the gym or do a diet? Because in their mind they think I’m not going to be able to do it. When you start switching the order of the sequence around and you show that you’re capable and able guess what then starts to happen? Then the motivation starts to come. It’s always action then motivation, not motivation then action.
And the more I practice these skills in these different areas of my life the better I get. And you know what is more amazing? The more amazing my life becomes because I realize how I’m such a powerful influence and a powerful creator of the life that I want. So, what about you?
Do you want a life where you’re just wanting to feel better and you’re just chasing feelings all the time or would you rather a life that you feel better about? Because the answer to that question will take you on two different paths to get there. One of the paths you will be avoiding and escaping your life and wanting to live in this alternate world or this alternate reality. But the other will have you play more powerfully in your current life and pursue your deepest desires, go after your goals that are meaningful and create a life that you feel amazing about.
The prior one comes with fake rewards, and fake happiness, and keeps you codependent on ingesting alcohol and getting harmful unhealthy effects from it that destroys your family, your job, your career, important relationships. And it thwarts pursuing a better, more meaningful life. But if you pursue a life you want to feel better about, guess what? You get skills along the way. You learn how to be comfortable in your own skin.
You learn how to use your emotions for you and not against you and you feel better about who you’re becoming and all that your learning and all that you’re achieving in your life. It doesn’t matter your age. I think a lot of people start giving up the older they get. I want the reverse to happen. I want my life to become even more meaningful because I knew more people and I have done more of my work in the world, and I’m doing this mission, I’m reaching more women.
I want to get to tens and thousands of women that I help, empower them to get over this alcohol thing and get a life that they love. That is my mission. That is my meaningful life. And I’ll tell you what, going after that feels way more amazing than any buzz alcohol can give me. I’d rather be intoxicated with my life. And when you’re living your best life as your best self there’s nothing better than that. This is what I call your epic life and I invite you to live your epic life, ladies, always.
Alright my friends have a blessed week and I’ll see you next time.
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.