Ep #142: The Key to Emotional Regulation

By: Dr. Sherry Price

Drink Less Lifestyle with Dr. Sherry Price | The Key to Emotional Regulation

A vital step to becoming a woman who can take it or leave it around alcohol, food, spending, or anything else is emotional regulation.

When you have an attachment or addiction to something, like shopping, alcohol, or processed food, it’s because the behavior solves a problem.

The problem you’re trying to solve is often an emotional pain like:

Boredom

Loneliness

Stress

Anger

Anxiety

Sadness

However, when you overdo it, the solution becomes another problem.

Tune in this week to discover how to deal with your emotional pain and regulate your emotional state without turning to a temporary solution that only brings more problems in the future.

You’ll learn how to become emotionally resilient so you can manage your emotions while maintaining your health and avoiding self-sabotaging coping mechanisms.

 

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 emotions are and how they feel in your body.
  • Why avoiding emotions won’t help you become a woman who can take it or leave it around alcohol.
  • How to become emotionally resilient.

 

Featured on the Show:

 

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 142.

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 have so much for you in this podcast. It is chock full of information and I can’t wait to dive in, so let’s just get started. So we are diving into step three, which is managing your emotions and I am following along in the document, the freebie that is on my website that you can get, which are the five steps to become a woman who can take it or leave it. And so you can apply this to alcohol.

You can apply this to food. You can apply this to anything that you feel that you’re overing on or have an attachment to. And so I typically like to not use the word addiction but I will be using the word addiction in this episode. I find that that could be a triggering word. I feel that that didn’t necessarily describe how I felt although I see it was an addiction in my life with alcohol. But it’s not exactly how I would have termed it when I was in it. Now that you’re past something, you know how hindsight’s always 20/20 and you can see things differently that you couldn’t see when you were in it?

And so that is not a term I generally like to use but I will be using it in this episode. So what is an addiction or an attachment to something? My daughter loves to play on her video games. And so we have to monitor that because that could turn into a severe addiction if left unchecked. And especially on her growing brain, you want to be more careful with brains that are still in that growth phase up until the age of 25 or 26. And as I’m exploring and learning more about this date, it’s important that we really increase our parenting around that if you are a parent listening to this podcast.

But this podcast is meant for adults. So when we’re talking about addiction or attachment to something like shopping or overeating or eating the wrong kinds of foods that our body doesn’t really thrive or doesn’t allow us to feel amazing in our lives. Or it could be an attachment to drinking because that’s the only way, or the preferred way we want to get rid of stress at the end of the day or handle something else going on in our life. So at its most basic definition of an addiction or an overattachment to something it really is a maladaptive behavior to a stimulus, a trigger that causes negative consequences in our life.

That could be psychological, that could be physical like we’re ruining our bodies, we’re ruining our health, we’re ruining our mind, we’re shrinking our brain, we’re harming our liver. So it has negative consequences. And generally speaking, most addiction comes by solving a problem. So my daughter, she’s bored, she wants to hang out with friends. During COVID that wasn’t allowed so gaming became a way to meet up with her friends and play together online so she was solving a problem.

Adults, we turn to food, we turn to alcohol initially to solve a problem, maybe we’re bored, we’re lonely, we’re stressed, we’re angry. And these means of overeating or over-drinking initially begins with solving what we consider a problem. And then when we overdo it, that solution then becomes another problem. And a lot of times and even if you’ve seen in my examples here, that pain that we are solving for is an emotional pain. Boredom can be considered an emotional pain, why? Because we don’t like it. We want to get rid of it.

Loneliness can be an emotional pain. Stress is an emotional pain. Anxiety is an emotional pain. Disappointment is an emotional pain. Anger, frustration, all of that, we would describe as that emotionally doesn’t feel good in our body. And so I really want to talk about emotional pain on this episode. So when we feel these emotions that don’t feel good in our body, I just want to come back to exactly what is going on. So what is an emotion? It is simply a vibration experienced in our body.

Now, our body experiences a sensation, a vibration in the body and then it’s communicated up to the brain. And it’s usually the brain that will say it’s good or it’s not good. Without the brain deciphering and putting it into a bucket of good or bad the body would just experience it and not judge it. And I really want you to think about that. So when you have an emotion, it’s just a feeling in the body. It’s just a vibration in the body and it takes the brain to compute it and spit out if it likes it or not.

So we experience emotions all the time. I have several emotions going on right now while I’m talking into this microphone to you. I don’t just have one, I have several. And as you’re listening to me on this podcast, notice what emotions you may be having at this time. Is it just one, is it a few? And as you go about your day and you go about your life, notice that you feel happy, you feel sad. Then you may get angry, then you feel stressed, you may feel overwhelmed, you may feel confused or fearful or timid or not like seeing anybody right now.

You may feel the opposite, you may feel very talkative, you may feel loud, you may feel expressive. You may feel passionate or you may feel apathetic or depressed or anxious and excited and joyful and playful or silly or sassy or sappy. Think of all these emotions. And many of us experience a lot of those emotions in the same 24 hour period of time. I can cycle in and out of emotions rapidly throughout the day. I might start off my day joyful, it’s going to be a great day and then something comes across my way and I’m like somebody cut me off in traffic.

Something happened over here. I got an email, I got a phone call, I got a text. And all of those are causing me to experience different emotions throughout the day. And one of the most ridiculous questions is, “How was your day?” “What part was that from 10:00 to 10:30 or 10:30 to 10:45 or 10:45 to about 11:15? And then something happened at 11:15 so how do you really want me to judge my day?” Because it’s really hard because I went through a lot.

And as you go through these emotions, you may laugh, you may cry, you may pee your pants because sometimes it’s just pure funny or pure bliss. And then other times you want to cry but you can’t cry because you feel locked in or so sad or so despondent or so confused by all the vibrations and all the information coming into your body that you’re like, “I feel like a good cry would be good but why is it not coming?” So I want you to know that this is part of what it means to be human.

And I think a lot of times we’d rather be robots. We prefer to be on one or two emotions and all the other ones, they’re just not allowed or we just don’t want them to be there. And look, I’m not saying let’s just stay in depression if we’re depressed. No, I’m about getting out of that state. And I want to talk about exactly how to become emotionally resilient and so that we can manage our emotions in a way that we still get the life we want. We still maintain our health.

We don’t do self-sabotaging behaviors but yet we’re not blocking and saying we just want to be a robot and these emotions aren’t allowed. So when you feel the negative emotions and if you tell yourself they’re not allowed or you don’t like them or you feel something that feels so awful, we may when to cover that up. Or if you feel like there’s a hole in your life, something’s missing, something’s not there or maybe you’re yearning for something and you just haven’t been able to achieve it yet. That can be experienced as a pain.

And so when we experience this emotional pain, oftentimes we run to food or alcohol to fill it. And so let’s just consider that route. So we fill it, so come home, stress, day didn’t go, the last hour didn’t go like I wanted it to or I anticipated getting more done but I didn’t and now I’m stressed because I’ve got to move that stuff from today onto tomorrow’s list. And so whatever that pain is, that emotional pain the body is experiencing, we temporarily fill it with a drink or food or a snack and then what happens? Well, it goes away temporarily, we feel comforted temporarily.

The intensity of it has lessened but we all know it doesn’t last, it goes away and then the body says, “The pain is back, I’m feeling more stressed or I’m feeling more of a void or more of emotional pain.” So what am I going to do? I’m just going to get more of what I just did. So I’m going to pour another drink. And then we feel good for a little moment and then, oh no, here comes the vibrations again in the body, that the brain is telling us, “Hey, this is something wrong.” And that we go back for more.

So as we consider what we’re doing, as we consider filling that void or covering up that emotional pain with food or alcohol, notice that there’ll never be enough. We will always want more because the emotional pain gets dulled, then it comes back. And it gets dulled and then it comes back. Now you’re setting yourself up for constantly needing more, constantly wanting more. And you’re also training your brain that this is what we do when we experience this vibration.

So you may be sitting at home and this is your stress response. And your brain’s learning, wow, this is what the body does when it feels stressed. And then the brain will tell you, go get a drink because that’s what you’ve trained the brain to do. And so now you’re out say on vacation and you have a train delay, a flight delay, something doesn’t go right. The car rental place screwed up your reservation and now there are no cars. And now you have to wait two hours for a car to come back, or the hotel didn’t get your reservation or you checked into the wrong hotel, all of those.

All of those my friend have happened to me while traveling and they’re just not expected. So if they’re not expected, my body takes those as woe, that’s stress and you’ve taught me how to manage stress back at home at the homestead, that we drink. So now that we’re at the airport and alcohol is around and you are feeling stressed, your response should go to the bar to get a drink because that’s how you’re going to manage this disappointment and the stress.

And that’s exactly what I did. And so before I knew it, I was training my body to crave alcohol whenever it felt some of these painful emotional experiences in my life. Now, when I was 25 or 26 or 27, renting cars and there wasn’t a car available, I wasn’t headed to the bar. That was something that my brain didn’t consider. But as I got into my 30s and as I developed into my drinking habit. I was like, that’s the first thing my brain started offering me because I trained it that way.

Because my brain interpreted those sensations going on in my body weren’t good, they’re causing me pain. And what I’ve learned to do was cover up that pain or numb from it. And this is how the habit cycle gets indoctrinated and patterned into the brain where it feels like now this is just what you do and this is just who you are. And the downside of that is you have constant consistent cravings for the thing you no longer want to do, whether that’s overdrink, overeat, overplay video games, whatever it is.

And where did this all stem from? I want to come back to it all stemmed from us interpreting that emotional vibration in the body as something we need to escape from, we need to dull. And so when you get in these habits and these patterns of over-drinking and overeating, they begin to make you sick. The body gets sick. The body can’t handle copious amounts of alcohol. It gets fatty liver disease. It starts to shrink the brain. You can’t make good decisions because your prefrontal cortex is on attack from the alcohol or the sugar.

So over-drinking, overeating damages our health and ruins our wellbeing. So if you’re over-drinking or overeating, it’s damaging your health and ruining your wellbeing. And not only that, it’s making you less resilient in life because now you feel dependent. And your brain thinks that these emotions are not good and to escape them using this escape route. So now a minor stress feels like a major stress to the body. Something you could tolerate way before you picked up the overing habit, now you can’t tolerate so much.

And I’ll use an example, that I see where maybe something so small and so minor can feel like such a major stress like what am I going to have for dinner tonight. And you get super confused and you feel so overwhelmed by all the options that you have or maybe just the three options that your refrigerator has and you get upset by it or you start telling your spouse to decide. And you get all flustered, emotionally you’re dysregulated. You can’t decide and so what do you do? It feels like a major stress because you can’t decide.

And let’s just look at how that happens. We know that sugar and alcohol both harm the part of the brain responsible for making decisions, that prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobe of your head. So the more we eat sugar, the more we drink alcohol, the less able we are able to make decisions. We’re just not able to do it if we’re harming that part of the brain and shrinking that part of the brain. So now what was originally the solution, the food and the alcohol now becomes a big problem. And now you can’t handle the root of the problem, which are your emotions.

And just think about this, look at the news, look at what’s happening out in society. What are the facts and statistics and the news reports that we are seeing? Is it showing us a picture that we are getting better at handling our emotions or worse? Let’s look at the rate of mental health disorders, including addictions, are they going up, are they going down? Yeah, they’re increasing. Suicide rates, increasing. Anxiety rates, increasing. Now, let’s look at physical health, metabolic syndrome, increasing fast. Fatty liver disease from sugar, from alcohol, yeah, rampant, rampant increases.

And let’s look at diabetes and obesity, growing in epidemic proportions around the world. So I’m going to go as far on the limb to say not knowing how to handle our emotions is literally killing us. So we need to start talking about emotional regulation and start teaching ways to manage these vibrations in the body in a healthy way so we all thrive together.

Because what is happening now is big food and big alcohol are capitalizing on this opportunity to make more profit, put more sugar in our foods, put more alcohol and more alcohol options out there for us to choose. So we see commercials on happy meals and happy hours and we see the media telling us how to use food and drinks as that’s the way to connect and have happiness in life and more sugar in our processed food. And now they’re putting alcohol in seltzer waters and mask, and so you have all these flavors to choose from of trulies and white claws.

And not only that, if you’re too lazy to make a Moscow mule or a My Thai or a mojito, no problem, we’ve put it in a can for you so all is you do is have to buy the can, pop it open and pour. No mixing of all the different ingredients. We’ve done it for you. We’ve taken the work out of the whole thing, made it ultra convenient so you can just sit back, relax and indulge. And we are eating this up. We are falling prey and thinking that this is the way to go. This is the way to a good life. This is the way to fun and connection and happiness.

And while the statistics are showing us the direct opposite, this is not how we fix our emotional state my friend. And think about it. It’s not making us happier and more emotionally stable. We are becoming emotionally unstable. We are becoming emotionally dysregulated. The numbers are staggering and they don’t lie. So to me, let’s talk about the solution because the answer to all of this seems obviously clear to me. And the obvious answer is emotional regulation and doing emotional management.

So the term, emotional regulation generally describes a person’s ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience that they’re having. And so just to also clarify what emotional dysregulation is. It’s really an overarching term that we use to describe the inability to regularly use healthy ways to diffuse our moderately negative emotions. And we all have negative emotions.

In the podcast in various episodes since I began, I talked very openly about my previous anger and frustration problems, particularly when it came to parenting. I did things I didn’t like when I was angry and frustrated. I yelled, I screamed, I drank, I stormed the fridge, I sucked chardonnay right from the bottle. I sulked like a little child. I slammed doors. I gave silent treatments, yeah, all as an adult. I was a beautiful display of what not to do. And I fully accept that’s who I was. Did I like it? No.

Self-acceptance does not mean you like it. It means, yes, this is how I’m behaving. Yes, this is how I’m acting. And you get to make a choice if you want to change or keep it. Now, I saw some of this behavior in my upbringing. So maybe somewhere along the way I learned that this is what you do. But I know it was within me to learn to keep doing it or to learn how to stop doing it. And look, why did I do those things? Yelling brought me relief. I was able to expel some of that anger out of my body through words.

And why did I overdrink? Because it felt like a relief. It was able to decrease the intensity of that emotion and that frustration but at what expense? The more I yelled and the more I drank the more I was ruining my relationships, particularly with myself because I was not happy with who I was and then I’d self-loathe for days after doing it. And then I was ruining relationships with my daughter and my husband because who is this crazy person in our house all of a sudden and when is she going to go off the next time?

And I could see how childish all of that was because I didn’t have the skills and the tools to manage it differently. I didn’t know how. And now think about what we’re hearing, we’re now in this loneliness pandemic epidemic. As of May 3rd of this year, the new surgeon general advisory raises alarm about the devastating impact of the epidemic of loneliness and isolation in the United States. And we’re going to go into that in a future podcast on creating this culture of connection because we are so disconnected after all that we’ve been through.

And so emotional management is really learning how to diffuse those emotions that your body feels are unsafe. So now I have healthy ways to manage my anger. I have healthy ways of managing my disappointment. Now, one thing I want to delineate here is you’ll hear people talk about dealing with something or having coping skills or coping mechanisms. And yes, those are effective, however I think that’s the secondary strategy.

And so I don’t want to advocate for those first and right out of the gate because as I’ve learned from some therapist is that there’s a better way than coping and dealing with something particularly when it comes to some of these negative emotions. And so the preferred way is not to cope but to manage it. Not to deal with it, but to manage it. And when you manage it you do things to dismantle it, you do things that not only break up the intensity of the emotion but break it up so much that it dissipates.

So these are the strategies I’m about because why have that vibration in the body if you can learn to do something with it and turn it into something else where you no longer experience the negative effects of it? So while I’m all for coping strategies, because they help you distract but they don’t really restructure the initial emotion and they don’t deconstruct it in a way that helps you reprocess it in a way that benefits you, it still nags at you, because look, our nervous system really picks up on these emotions. And it could lead to havoc in our life.

And so that’s why I created a whole course inside of EpicYOU to teach you ways to gain emotional regulation. So you can change what that emotion is and stop the overing habits that you want to stop, and deal with this in a healthy way. I like to say in a mature way, like an adult, not like a toddler having a temper tantrum. Now, when you go through this course there’s so much goodness there but there’s also other emotions, particularly anxiety and stress where there are additional modalities you can do.

So I created additional courses on stress and anxiety because a lot of women were coming to me feeling stressed and anxious and that’s why they were overeating and over-drinking. Because the bottom line here is we will experience anger. We will experience anxiety. We will experience stress. I still experience all of those emotions and a plethora of more. But how can I experience them where I’m not doing self-destructive practices or self-sabotaging behaviors that are taking me further away from my health goals and where my wellbeing is being hampered?

So by instituting these in my own life I know those yelling matches in my household that would go on for hours, they now rarely happen. And when they do happen, they last five, ten minutes on average and they’re over. And generally we’re laughing and talking about it so none of our emotions are going to be traumatizing one another because I don’t want to traumatize my husband. I don’t want to traumatize my daughter. And so I want to do modalities like talking about it in a respectful loving manner where the nervous system lets this go and we don’t carry it forward.

And I love that so many mindset coaches are out there, so many nervous system coaches are out there, so many emotional intelligent coaches are out there because protecting your nervous system is so important. If we are constantly in that constant stress go, go, go, fight or flight mentality, it’s going to lead to increased cortisol in our body, it’s going to lead to increased insulin and higher levels of insulin, which is going to put on more weight.

And what do we see for a lot of women in midlife? We see the cortisol belly. We see that potbelly. It’s right there hanging out on our abdomen. And no matter what we eat or how much we exercise, it may not go all the way away because what’s keeping it alive is the cortisol. And until we learn to manage our nervous system we won’t lose that weight in that particular area of our body. And so learning these skills is going to reduce belly fat and reducing your stress is critical for your health and wellness. And what is stress? It’s an emotion felt in the body.

So having emotional regulation and learning how to manage your emotions is critical to health and wellness. And what have we also learned from all the experts out there? That emotional pain leads to physical pain. I love how this is even being talked about in some of the streaming networks. We watch Ted Lasso here and I love Ted Lasso. And it’s all about mental health. If you’re following along and you’re seeing how Jamie Tartt [inaudible] or however it goes. He gets injured because of the emotional pain he was carrying on.

And then he has a coaching session with his coach, Ted Lasso, and it eases his emotional pain, which translated to easing his physical pain and he was able to get back out there. So we know that this emotional pain, we’ll carry it with us and becomes physical pain. And even in the IF 45 program, the women are reporting as they’re changing their diet and doing stress management practices, how their joint pain is coming down because they’re putting less sugar and less alcohol in their body. And they’re doing these stress management practices.

And here’s some dogma I want to break down, that dogma that emotional work is for sissies or for the weak because it’s not. We know it’s not. We know it’s been overlooked. And we have downplayed it here in western medicine. And many people are craving ways to heal their body that goes beyond what we’re able to get from our traditional medical care system.

So as I wrap up this podcast, where are you at with your emotional regulation? Do you feel that you are emotionally regulated or does your brain interpret some of the emotions that you experience, something to drowned out, something to numb? And there’s no judgment in that. But I want to offer you that there is a different path than numbing and that’s really managing it in a way that it dissipates. And there are a whole host of modalities to help you on this process.

And I find the best strategy is really one that your body is telling you, you need. There is so much wisdom that we hold inside of our body but we oftentimes outsource to experts to tell me what to do, when your body is screaming, I know what it is I need to do or what I want you to do. And I want you to think about honoring that and start walking towards those people. Start reaching out and learning more about the different modalities that you’re feeling called, that will help your nervous system navigate this world.

Because we know emotions really are a real thing and they impact our health so much. If we don’t have connection and we live in loneliness, we know that we die much quicker. I think the average is 10 years quicker, maybe it’s even bigger than that, but it’s worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, loneliness is. And I know I use my emotions as guideposts, when am I off course, when am I on course and what do I need to do differently to get back on course if I’m off course?

And that’s the innate wisdom that comes from our body. And then having a regular practice where you decrease the nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system and tap into that parasympathetic nervous system, that rest and digest place. So we can lower the cortisol, so we can lower the insulin, so we can lower the fat storage, so that we can operate as our best most epic selves.

And if you want help with this process my friend, I’d love to help you inside of EpicYOU, where you get all the courses, access to all of the program and all of the information right when you register. And you can stay as long as you want or you can leave any time you feel it’s not working for you, or you can cancel at any time. I know I couldn’t do this by myself and I’m so thankful for the people that have helped me and I want to help you if you feel that that’s where your nervous system is telling you to go next, but please do honor your body’s wisdom, it has wisdom if you listen to it.

Alright my friend, love you so much 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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