Or maybe you are “good” Monday through Thursday but then hit it hard on the weekends.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 136.
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 am so excited. Do you know that tomorrow is my birthday? Woohoo, I can’t wait. I’m going out with friends. Going to have a cocktail. Going to have some great food. Going to have some great company. It’s going to be amazing. Do you love celebrating your birthday? Because I find not everybody’s excited to celebrate their birthday. And I love celebrating so it’s a reason to celebrate. And so yes, I love celebrating my birthday. And if you want to follow along with me on my birthday or wish me a happy birthday, feel free to do so.
I am on Instagram and Facebook, you can send me an email in all the fun places. So today I want to ask you a question and that is, does your drinking fluctuate? And when I say fluctuate I mean majorly fluctuate. Maybe you find that you’re good for a little bit and then bam, you find, oh my gosh, here I am and my drinking has really ratcheted up a notch or two or maybe three. Now, I’m really going into major fluctuations because for me my drinking does fluctuate but that’s intentional. That is by design. That’s sometimes I just want to have a week or a month with no alcohol.
And then maybe the next month I allow drinking. So that to me is intentional fluctuation and it’s by design. I am controlling that. But what I want to talk about on this episode is really when it’s unintentional fluctuation or uncontrolled fluctuation or that you might binge. And it also could look like I’m doing good, I’m doing good, I’m doing good because this is the narrative that I hear so many women say is that they’re doing good. And then all of a sudden they say they’re not doing good.
And when I’m working with my clients I remind them, we don’t have to call it good or bad, we can just say, “I’m following my plan or I’m doing what I want to be doing, or I’m not following my plan or I’m not doing what I want to be doing.” And so after working with so many women over the past four years I can tell you that I’ve seen patterns in specifically the reasons why your drinking may fluctuate. Now, I’ll tell you, when it happens to you, you feel like, oh my gosh, I don’t know how I got here, I’m just here.
It feels like it’s all a sudden, it’s like, oh, wait, how did my drinking get ratcheted up again? How is this happening? I worked so hard to get it down and now I’m back to where I started or back to overdoing it again. And so I really want you to know the common reasons why your drinking fluctuates if you find that your drinking fluctuates. Now, you can also apply this to eating or other things that you may be overing on.
And as you listen in I really want you to focus on what are the reasons that apply to me. Because once you know the reason of why it’s happening, the beauty is you can reverse engineer so you can stop this from continuing to happen. And then you can course correct and then you can really identify the root cause of the problem and work on that.
Because I want you to know exactly what you need to do in order to drink less so you can live your life epically, confidently, healthy and getting the goals that you want. And for a lot of people that’s to be healthy, lose weight and feel amazing in their bodies. And some people really want to stop having regrets when it comes to drinking and I get that. Alright, so we’re to go into the classic reasons that I have teased out after working with so many women.
And so reason number one your drinking may be fluctuating is because you are a people pleaser. Now, how this can look is maybe a friend comes over with a bottle of wine, knocks on your door, comes over and stays for the evening and connect and enjoy your company. And when she brings the bottle of wine you think, she brought the bottle of wine. I should enjoy the bottle of wine with her. I should have a glass of wine. And in the back of your mind you’re thinking, she brought the bottle of wine so she’s expecting that I join in and I don’t want to let her down.
So because you don’t want to let her down you know what you do? You go along with it and guess what? You let yourself down. And what I can tell you is when you let yourself down over and over and over again you lose faith in yourself, you lose commitment to yourself, you lose integrity with yourself. Now, when that friend comes over with a bottle of wine, do you know you have the option not to drink along with her if you choose to? So I just want to take this out of the context of alcohol because sometimes when we’re in it, we can’t see it.
So let’s now pretend that that same friend comes over and she brings a pack of cigarettes and you don’t smoke. So she comes in your house and she says, “I’m going to have some cigarettes, do you want some?” Now, if you’re not a smoker my guess is you’re going to answer that with ease and say, “No, thank you.” So if it’s so easy with something we don’t normally do like smoking cigarettes, why is it any different with alcohol? It’s just an object brought to your house that somebody else wants to enjoy but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to enjoy it along with them.
You can pick up a different object to enjoy, that could be a glass of water. That could be seltzer. That could be a mocktail. That could be something other. And guess what, it doesn’t even have to be in a glass. So I find it so fascinating that the brain really can’t see other options when it’s in it and when you have this relationship with alcohol where you feel that you need to people please with other people, especially if you’ve done that before with alcohol.
Now, this can also mean when you meet up at a bar, hey, you want to go out for some drinks? And that’s just the common way we communicate, that’s just kind of the terms we use or the phrase we use which means, hey, I want to get together and let’s hang out. It’s like the time I invited a friend and I said, “Hey, want to get some coffee together tomorrow morning?” And you know what she said? “Sure, let’s get some coffee.” I said, “Okay, how about the Starbucks near my house?” She said, “Sure.”
We get there and guess what? I had coffee and she says, “I don’t drink coffee.” So she got a different drink that wasn’t coffee. And it wasn’t weird, it wasn’t awkward. I wasn’t upset that she didn’t get coffee just because I was drinking coffee. Why? Because it was about meeting up. It was about getting together. It was about connecting. It was about getting to know her better. It was about spending time with her. It had nothing to do with what was in our cup. And I really want you to think about that because some people think when they drink less they have to change their friends.
Now, I am a chronic coffee drinker. I drink coffee every single day. Yes, there are periods of time where I take breaks from it but most of the time I’m drinking coffee every single day. And I don’t go through my life saying, “Who are my coffee drinker friends and who aren’t?” I don’t stop hanging out with somebody because they don’t drink coffee. Because you know what? When I make friends with people it’s not about what they’re drinking. It’s about if I like them, if we connect, if we are like-minded in a lot of areas that are important to me.
I love people that think differently from me too, but it’s about the relationship, not about what’s in our cup. And so when you think about it for yourself, do you make it about what you are drinking or do you make it about the relationship and the connection with the person? And I think that is such a valuable question to answer and really look at because maybe some relationships are built on the convenience of drinking, and the guise of we are friends but not really because if you stop drinking I’m going to stop being your friend.
And that’s just really good information for you to know because then isn’t that a different kind of relationship or a different kind of friendship? If it’s really not about you and your characteristics and the connection, but it’s actually about an external substance that’s keeping you guys together. And I don’t want to judge it as good or bad. I just think it’s really valuable information to know. And if you’re going to be sharing some intimate things with this person and you’re not sure you can trust them or they’ll stick around if you’re not drinking, I think that’s also valuable information to know.
And I have to tell you this can be scary for some people to really think about and so some people do admit to themselves, if they truly like the person if they’re not drinking. So if you weren’t drinking, would you choose to hang out with that person? And, again I just want to say I’m not here to judge those answers, that’s all for you. That’s the beauty of doing this work, really knowing what you want out of your life, who you want to hang out with and how you want to spend your time, because our time is precious. And we only get a certain amount of it.
So I really like to know who are my ride and die friends, those people that are going to be there for me no matter what. And then there might be people in my life that are more friends of convenience and that’s also very valuable to know. You might have certain friends but then when your habits change maybe those relationships die or end. Or maybe they evolve and change as well. But as I’m aging particularly tomorrow, I want to invest in high quality meaningful relationships at this point in my life.
And as I’m pushing 50 I don’t really want to waste my precious time on people who don’t accept me for who I am, what I stand for and my choices because I know I’ve got healthy goals. And I also know that I have high integrity and I want people to know that about me. And I also know that I have standards for my life and how I want that to look. And I love sharing those standards with others so they can get to know me more intimately.
And I also love the beauty that putting this information out when it’s appropriate then I’m showing that I honor the opinion of myself and I take when I want out of my life seriously. What I want for my life I take seriously. And my opinion of myself must mean more than the opinion of others because if not I will constantly be people pleasing. And look, I have done a ton of people pleasing in my life. And what I’ve learned, if I go beyond my values or against my values, that I don’t feel good about me.
Now, this is something I want to work on because I want to keep growing into my values and into loving the opinion of myself and honoring that regardless of the opinion others will have of me. Now, that’s not to say I don’t care about the opinion of others. And that’s not to say I’m superior to others, not at all. I’m equal to others but my opinion of myself really matters. And what I don’t want to do is people please where I sacrifice my wants, my desires for somebody else and then I live with resentment and bitterness and regret.
So at this phase of my life I want to drink less, less than in my 20s, in my 30s and what I used to do. And I also want to moderate my drinking and that means I learn to take full ownership of it, no blaming others, no more blaming my daughter, no more blaming my friends. They don’t make me do anything. No blaming my social life or my social calendar or the city I live in or the type of friends I have. No, full ownership. And just think about if you only focus on people pleasing, pleasing others and what does that mean?
That means you let others run your life. That means they get to call the shots. And you may be doing this at the expense of your own health and your own happiness and your own goals, that’s where it becomes problematic. Now, if you’re relying on your friends to call all the shots, so when your friend decides to drink that means you don’t drink? And then when your friend decides to drink that means you drink? Well, then no wonder why your drinking fluctuates, because you are not taking ownership of it.
And when you don’t take ownership of it that means you have no control over it. So of course it will fluctuate. And not only that, if you are giving away your power and you are giving away your authority I just want to consider that you might be even overburdening your friend. Because now if she drinks and keeps drinking and keeps drinking and notices you keep drinking or you drink faster than her or more than her. Now she feels like she has to babysit you or parent you because now you haven’t controlled your drinking. And now you’re putting more liability on her which isn’t fair.
And now she has to act like a babysitter and worry about you and maybe take you home early or get you a car. Now, sure, that’s the responsible thing to do but over time that’s going to erode the relationship or the friendship. It would all just be so much easier and simpler if we worried about ourselves and took care about ourselves. That’s adulting. And also what I want to offer up is that people pleasing at your own expense is not a good trait. Many of you might be listening like, “Oh, that’s the right thing to do or that’s the thing I was taught to do, or that’s the admirable thing to do.”
But I can tell you it is not. You were put on this Earth to take care and learn to take care of yourself. And doing that effectively for yourself not only winds up pleasing you but also pleasing everyone else around you, because you’re honest, you’re authentic, you’re walking in your integrity and you’re not burdening others. And I will tell you, walking in your truth, my friend, it is so liberating. You get to do you. And if that’s a different flavor on a different day or a different day of the week or a different year you get to be you.
Alright, reason number two people really fluctuate with their drinking is because they chronically tolerate something in their life that they don’t like. Now, I’m going to start off by saying, let me be clear that sometimes there may be times you want to tolerate something in your life, something minor that maybe doesn’t have any consequences or it’s not worth getting worked up over and you just let it roll off you. But what I want to really get into more is the chronic tolerating, tolerating something in your life over and over and over that you actually have the power to change but you don’t.
So sit back and think, is there anything in your life that you’re tolerating, meaning you have the power to change but you’re just not doing it? Now, in working with women I find that there are a lot of things that they tolerate that they are just done tolerating because they have the power to change. But they really don’t make the change. Maybe they want to lose weight. Maybe they feel like they can get it off but they just can’t get motivated to get the weight off so they don’t and they start tolerating it chronically.
So that little bit of weight becomes a little bit more weight and now we’re disappointed so now we turn to drinking to get rid of the disappointment that we feel about our bodies because we want to numb that disappointment. And so the alcohol starts to add to the weight and contribute to the weight gain. Or they want to get healthy and start exercising and going to the gym but they’re not doing it but it is within their power. They’re just chronically tolerating what is, or they’re disappointed with their kids or how their kids turned out.
Or they’re disappointed with some other aspect of their life that they feel they don’t have any control over. And what I want to offer up is that tolerating a life that you’re not satisfied with is more painful than actually going after the life you really want. It’s way more painful because then you start looking for ways to numb, numb out, overeat, over-drink. You have that constant inner dialogue about how this could be better but you just can’t make it happen.
And that’s when a lot of women will tell me, “I feel like I’m living a life of less than, it’s less than what I really want.” And then they give up or don’t try or don’t even make the effort to change. And they don’t want to do it because the effort seems like too much, too hard or there’s no good solution. And so they turn to drinking or food and it starts to ratchet up and up and up.
And what I want to offer you is that if you are in an environment or in a relationship and you don’t like it or it’s no longer serving you, or it’s now changed in a way that isn’t fulfilling, by all means you can change your environment. And you can change that relationship. You can tweak it. You can change it. You can end it. There are so many options available that are way more attractive than tolerating it. And I’ve seen it time and time again when women tolerate a life of one they really don’t want.
It starts to lose meaning and purpose and that’s the very definition of depression. When you lose meaning and purpose you become apathetic, you become depressed and you just feel so stagnant and stuck. A life tolerated is one that loses meaning and purpose. And that doesn’t serve anyone, not the person you’re in a relationship with, not anybody around you and it certainly doesn’t serve you. So what are you tolerating that you want to now stop?
I have examples in my life where I looked back and I said, “Gosh, my emotions are telling me something is off. I’m angry more. I’m disappointed more. What am I tolerating that I need to stop?” And I talked about it years ago it feels like now on my podcast. There was a time where my daughter would sleep in our bed every single night and it just got to me. I didn’t get quality sleep. It didn’t enhance my relationship with my husband. So I was done tolerating my daughter in my bed so I had to make that change.
The same was true when I started to notice some belly fat and my thighs getting bigger and my butt getting bigger and having one of my family members tell me about it. As I’m going through perimenopause and I’m like, “Wait, I don’t want to tolerate this. I want to learn how to exercise differently, eat different so that I don’t have this.” Because I know putting on weight is not a normal part of the aging process. So I want to stop tolerating this.
And I want you to get clear for you, what do you want to stop tolerating and give yourself that control and that authority to stop tolerating it because that option is available to you. And this is exactly the work I do in my own life in the work that I work with my clients on. You’ve got to make that desire for what you want greater than what you are tolerating and that’s where the gold is, my friend.
When you can make that desire for what you want greater than what you are tolerating, this journey becomes so much easier. You don’t get sidetracked by thoughts of, oh, my gosh, this is going to be so hard. I don’t know how I’m going to make it work. You get motivated to make the change. And working on that desire to fuel yourself is everything. That is a skill you can take into any area of your life.
So number three, the reason your drinking may be fluctuating is because you aren’t setting effective boundaries. So I love looking at my life and saying, “Do I have boundaries?” And I like to ask it a different way than using the word ‘boundaries’. So I like to say, “Do I have standards? What are my standards?” Because I know I have standards. We all have standards but what are your standards? And where do you need to change or elevate your standards in your life or around your drinking? Because elevating your standards will elevate your life.
Recently inside EpicYOU I’ve been talking about the concept of the bowling alley because we are all doing life in a certain way and we have certain boundaries or certain standards. And we don’t like when our life goes into the gutter. As long as we can stay on that bowling alley and our ball is moving forward towards the pins, we know we are getting progress. And we know that when we over-drink or when we eat, when we’re throwing back the drinks or throwing back the cookies, we wind up in the gutter and that’s where our problems compound. That’s where we feel like we’ve slipped back.
And so I encourage you to set up boundaries and set up standards for your success on how you want to do life, how you want to do life around food, how you want to do life around alcohol. How you want to do life around friendships, how you want to do life around important relationships like with your spouse and others. And it’s equally important to also know what constitutes the gutter zone for you.
So notice I said for you because when I’m working with women what oftentimes I hear when I say, “Okay, let’s set some boundaries. It sounds like you need better boundaries or we should elevate your standards.” When people hear boundaries, they think it’s about the other person and I’m not talking about the other person. I’m talking about you, what are your boundaries? What are your standards? What is it that you want in your life? And I’ll tell you, for a lot of women they don’t know. They haven’t been asked this.
All is they’ve been doing is raising kids and making the household work and focusing on the spouse or the partner, focusing on what their boss wants or their job. But they don’t know, they haven’t connected with what they want for themselves. And so this process gives them so much clarity. This process actually sets up what they actually want for themselves. And then it gets so easy to carry it out because now it’s crystal clear, it’s well defined.
And that’s why this process is so valuable because if you haven’t defined for yourself what you want around food or alcohol or your life and what success looks like, how will you know when you achieve it? So that’s the first part, setting it up. And then the second part, the deeper work that we do inside EpicYOU is living into. Is it working? Why is it working? When it works, why is it working? When it’s not working, why isn’t it working?
Because what you set up is what you think you wanted but then when you actually carry it out and make it your lifestyle, does it actually work for your lifestyle, why or why not? And that’s how we tweak it.
So the fourth reason your drinking may be fluctuating is what I call emotional immaturity. And what I basically mean by that is that you really don’t understand the emotions that your body has. You lack the awareness of those emotions and how to manage them. So what often I see is this is when self-sabotage begins or happens. So you’re doing things that you don’t want to do like you’re eating too much or you said, I’m not going to eat after dinner and you decided to eat after dinner or you’re drinking too much.
All of these things that we’re doing that we would consider self-sabotage may come back to being emotionally immature. And have you noticed that if you don’t learn a lesson in your life that you keep getting opportunities and opportunities and opportunities to learn that lesson. If you’re doing the same problem over and over again like I kept drinking and over-drinking and over-drinking and not understanding why. I thought it was the alcohol. I had no idea that alcohol, my brain was considering the solution, I always was told it’s the problem.
But it’s the solution that became a problem. And so I kept over-drinking and over-drinking until I understood what I was supposed to learn in that journey. And now that I’ve learned it I don’t over-drink. And one of the biggest obstacles to learning is not having that emotional maturity required to learn the lesson. I got so caught up in the emotions that I wasn’t able to calm myself enough to say, “Okay, what’s really going on here for you, Sherry?” I was just on the path to keep running and numbing and escaping and not allowing those emotions to exist.
And if you keep running away from your depression or running away from your anxiety and wanting to numb it, of course it’s going to come back and haunt you. It’s going to back and control you until you learn to control it, until you learn to manage it, until you learn how to dismantle it, until you learn the lesson it has for you. I see as these emotions that happen, they’re happening for you. And if you keep running away from it you’re never going to get the lesson that the emotion has for you.
So do you know how to effectively work with your emotions? If you don’t, we just cry and scream like toddlers and say, “I don’t like this, take it away, drink, drink, drink, drink, now I don’t feel it.” And we self-soothe. It’s like the adult pacifier I talked about. We use alcohol and we use food as an adult pacifier because we don’t know what to do with these emotions because nobody taught us how to utilize them for our benefit. We just call them bad emotions and we think that they shouldn’t be there and they should never come.
And I lived in that space for a long time, but it’s when I learned high emotional maturity and when I learned how to utilize those emotions for me rather than self-sabotage against myself, everything changed. How many people say, “Had a bad day at work, have a drink.” Because that just takes away the stress of the bad day. Well, if you do that, great, but you know what? You just avoided those feelings. And what did you do? You taught your brain that hey, when I have stress or a bad day at work, I drink.
And as an adult what do you keep doing? Because nobody’s there to parent you? You’ll keep doing the same thing because your brain is like, the reward center went off and say, “Hey, that felt good, let’s do that again.” and that’s the whole dopamine. Dopamine’s the to do it again chemical. And then one drink stops working and then you need two and then you need three. And then you make them stiffer and then you make them stronger. And then your brain starts thinking the stiffer the better, the quicker the better, the more the better.
But notice that never takes away the stress. It’s still there the next morning and then you feel worse about yourself. And that solution of alcohol, yeah, turns into a problem. And then we blame the alcohol when wait, maybe it’s just we don’t understand the relationship with our emotions. We’re not robots, we’re humans. Humans have emotions, it’s a fact of life. If you keep running from the fact of life it’ll keep hitting you square in the face again. You can’t avoid emotions and doing this over and over just trains your brain, it just creates that neural pathway.
And it keeps making it deeper and deeper in your brain that this is how I manage stress, this is how I manage a bad day, this is how I manage disappointment in my life. And that’s why I love the emotional management course so much inside of EpicYOU because rather than running away from our emotions, I teach you how to understand them so you can dismantle them, not so you run around with anxiety and depression and more stress. No, I don’t keep you there. You don’t have to stay in those emotions. You can understand them and then dismantle them.
And that takes doing something differently. That’s it, that’s all it takes, some time and doing something differently. Now, what people rather do is do the same thing over and over again, pour a scotch and then a quick David Copperfield happens, whoop, vanish, my emotions are gone, can’t feel them. Look at that, my stress, my bad day, it’s gone. But just like with David Copperfield, we wake up the next day now and then we ask, “How do we feel?” The stress is still there. Disappointment is still there. So we realize it’s just smoke and mirrors and a slight of hand.
That’s all alcohol is smoke and mirrors. We think it takes away but it doesn’t.
And then the last point, number five, the reason your drinking fluctuates and this is a big one my friend. This one, if this is you, man, just solving this alone will change your life completely. And reason number five is that you don’t take your commitments to yourself seriously. You’ll show up for your friends, you’ll show up for the doctor’s appointments, you’ll show up for everybody else in your life but you don’t take your commitments to yourself seriously. And how do you know you do this?
Well, when you make a commitment and you just feel like they’re just words, you’re just saying words. I did this for a long time. I would just write ‘gym’ on my calendar at 7:30 in the morning. And I’d expect that the day came and I would just show up and want to go to the gym at 7:30 in the morning. But I just looked at it on my calendar, I said, “Oh, it says gym, that’s nice” and put a check mark through it, I’m not doing that today. But then maybe no one’s taught you how to effectively commit to something.
Because just writing down words isn’t going to do it for most people, yet that’s what a lot of people think, commitment is just a word. But there’s a big piece to commitment that’s more than words. Do you know what that piece is? It’s a very special piece. It’s the piece of the puzzle that makes commitment stronger. And that piece is the emotional component. If the emotional component of your commitment isn’t there, you might as well just say their words on paper.
And without that emotional component piece to your commitment, your commitment will fall flat. It’ll just not happen. As I said, I learned this the hard way. I wanted to keep doing the things I said I would do. I’d put them on my calendar and I wouldn’t do them, especially when it came to exercise. And when I looked into what really makes a commitment and what makes it stick, a big piece of commitment is the emotional piece.
Just think about when you plan a wedding and get married. Is there a strong emotional piece on the day of the wedding and going into the wedding? Yeah, I mean so strong that people get angry, emotions are riding high on a wedding day. And the people saying ‘I do’ fully think they’re going to carry it out. And a lot of times they do. So it increases the odds of actually that commitment staying, lasting. So if you want to build a commitment that’s more likely to work, you have to have this emotional piece. And this makes sense.
It’s teaching basically what I teach in this podcast, that mind body connection. It can’t just be a cognitive thing. It can’t just be a mind thing. We need the body to go with it. When the mind and the body are speaking the same language, meaning they’re incongruence, your commitment level skyrockets. Inside EpicYOU I have a recommended reading list for all the ladies who join.
And the ladies in that program know I reference Joe Dispenza a lot. And he talks about this a lot, the mind body connection and when they work in congruence you will more likely carry out the result and get the result that you want in your life. And that’s when you find that what you say you will actually do. And when you learn this emotional piece to commitment, you become unstoppable because they’re no longer just words in your head or they’re no longer just words on a piece of paper. Your body is now committed.
So these are the big five reasons I see why drinking fluctuates for someone. And so when you learn these skills you become on fire for your life. You are committed to what you want. You get clear on exactly what you want. You set those boundaries. You set those gutter zones. You learn how to stop running away from the emotions and instead use them to fuel you. And also realizing that it’s not necessarily bad to people please but it is when you do it at your own expense and when you’re on to yourself, so that you stop doing it at your own expense.
Alright, my friends, that’s what I have for you today. I love you and remember, it’s possible to be confident with your drinking and live your epic life. See you next week.
If you want to change your relationship with alcohol and with yourself then come check out EpicYOU. It’s where you get individualized help mastering the tools so you 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.