You might think you have no idea why you do it, but a lot is going on behind the scenes in the brain, and a decision is being made to drink. Action doesn’t just happen, we create it, so when you take the action to drink alcohol, you’re giving yourself permission, even if you don’t realize it.
Society has taught us that it’s fine to drink when you’ve had a hard day, you’re facing difficult times, or simply because it’s the end of the working week and you’ve earned it. But alcohol isn’t necessary to get through these times, you’ll survive them whether you drink or not, you just need to learn to stop caving in to the desires.
Join me on the podcast this week as I’m showing you how to interrupt the drinking cycle and why doing so will create positive habits and patterns in your brain. I explain the importance of having a plan to stop overdrinking, and how you can start giving yourself permission to do things that serve you more than drinking does. Remember, you get to decide what you give permission to, choose wisely!
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 5.
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. We are on episode number 5, so I figure it’s okay we just start becoming friends. I so appreciate you hanging out here with me each week and thank you. And if you haven’t rated and reviewed this podcast please do. Let me know what you think of the information I’m providing and you can enter into the contest for a free $100 Amazon gift card and I will begin announcing the winners starting with the next episode.
This week we’re exploring what you give yourself permission to do. We have all have choice to do things or to not do things. So, do you know that you actually give yourself permission to do things? Yes, all the time. We choose to do things and when we do that we, in essence, are giving ourselves permission to take action. Action doesn’t just happen. We actually create it. We choose it because we’re giving ourselves permission to go for it and to do it.
I talk a lot about this with my clients when I’m coaching them using one of the tools in my program called the Drink Plan. Now, if you’re not going to be giving up alcohol completely which is what most of my clients desire then we need to have a plan for when we’re going to drink or a drink plan. So, this plan gives us permission to drink. Some of my clients want to resist it and they say they can’t stick to a plan or it makes them feel like a failure when they plan their drinks and don’t carry it out.
I just like to offer back to my clients that this is just a tool that gives them freedom of choice and actually why the tool works so well and how this allows them to give themselves permission to drink. I mean, they’re already allowing themselves to drink and oftentimes overdrink, but now we need to put that into a plan so we’re getting the drinking out of the habit brain and I will be discussing this in a future podcast episode on exactly how to use a drink plan. So, if you don’t have a plan, think about it, you aren’t really clear about what you’re permitting yourself to do. You leave it to chance. You leave it to circumstances. You leave it to other people to decide for you. You leave it to your feelings or how you’re feeling in the moment. Essentially, you leave it to your habit brain to decide and that’s always where it backfires.
As we discussed in episode 3, your habit brain or your primitive brain loves to work on autopilot and when it works on autopilot it’s always going to choose what feels good in the moment. This is terrible for actually the plan to get your long-term lasting results that you want to have. We already know that using your primitive brain shouldn’t be how you decide your relationship is going to go with alcohol because it will always tell you that more is better.
We know, at least intellectually, that more is not better, not even in the moment. So, your emotions aren’t a good measuring stick to determine if you should be doing something or not. Think about the emotion of anger and how that affects you. I know, for me, anger is one of those difficult emotions because I tend to bottle and bottle and bottle and then eventually blow and when I blow it’s not pretty.
I’ll say things I don’t really mean. I’ll regret what I said or the word choices that I selected and I oftentimes just say all these things just to get it out of my body, but not really cognitively assessing the appropriate words that I’m choosing. So, for instance, when my daughter would bring home a low score from school I used to get outraged. I used to get so mad and I’d say things like, “How could you let this happen? You’re not serious enough about school because you play video games all the time.” And I would just come at it just from wanting to release all of the anger energy I had inside my body.
All that my brain can feel is this emotion of anger and it just wanted to release it and the quickest way to do that was just to blow and use words that I really didn’t want to be using. I mean, if I stopped, paused, became calm, I would choose different words to say because ultimately I regretted those words I said and how I handled myself because when I spoke like that and out of anger and rage I jumped to all these conclusions and it tarnished and impaired our relationship. I made it seem like it’s not a safe environment to talk to me about a poor score at school.
Then, you go and feel regret and you feel shame for the words I selected or for shaming her and I made all these assumptions that it was the video game usage or what was going on for her instead of talking to her and saying, “Is it the subject matter? Was it a bad day? Is something going on at school that I don’t know about?” Instead of opening up with curiosity and trying to really understand what was behind this score and how to rectify it for the future I just flipped my lid.
Interestingly, whenever I got super angry and then I felt remorse over my anger I would want a drink because I would want to get rid of that shame and that regret in how I handled myself in that situation and I’d want to get rid of those feelings so I turned to alcohol to do that.
So, it goes to show that our emotions are not a barometer for what action we should be taking. We have to wait for some of these high-energy emotions to pass and have a clear plan on how to manage that emotion in the moment because when we don’t we wind up doing what we don’t want to be doing. We end up lashing out at people we love the most and we could end up drinking way more alcohol than we intended to.
When you act all out of control of course this leads to feelings of shame, regret, and disappointment because you acted against your will and against you values. You just acted on pure emotion. So, same goes with drinking and overdrinking, you cave into the emotion, the desire, the urge, or the anger or whatever emotion you’re drinking to eliminate.
Oftentimes, we go beyond and drink more than what we really intend to. So, you wind up overdrinking, but all the while notice you’re giving yourself permission to do it. That’s the part I want you to see so that you can begin to interrupt this cycle. When you start drinking your brain tells you, “You deserve it.” Society subconsciously tells us that it’s totally normal to drink when we’ve had a hard day or this is what we do when we meet up with girlfriends or, “Hey, it’s 5 o’clock, I get to drink.” Or it’s because of COVID and these times are difficult and I just need to do this to get through this.
But think about it, even if you didn’t overdrink you would still get through these times. And if you don’t overdrink you’re more likely to come out of these times ahead of the game because now you won’t develop this emotional or psychological dependency on a crutch. Your brain will learn that you can handle difficult things, you can handle difficult times without alcohol.
Because what happens if we teach our brain that we drink during difficult times or hard times, guess what, the next time we hit a difficult scenario such as a loss of a loved one or a change of job or a job loss or disappointment with your kids or heck, maybe even another pandemic guess what our brain will tell us, how we get through disappointment and hard times is by drinking. So, it becomes a pattern in the brain.
I want you to watch out for a big fallacy that our brains love to throw out at us. It happened to me and it happens to all my clients. When we overdrink notice that our brain says things like, “I don’t know why I did it,” or, “I don’t know why I keep doing this.” That actually is one big fallacy, just one big lie our brains keep telling us. Because in truth our brains do know why, they just don’t want to tell us why. They want to hide it from us the reason why we do it because the brain uses these big fallacies or these big lies to simply give ourselves permission to do it.
Because if we don’t know and we keep saying that we don’t know why then the brain gets permission to keep drinking and overdrinking. So, thoughts like this are actually ways our brain gives us permission to keep drinking. You’re probably familiar with these thoughts, thoughts like “I deserve it. It’s Friday.” Here’s a good one, “No one will know.” Just think about that one for a minute, “No one will know.” Why are we even trying to sneak something by ourselves and then telling ourselves that no one will know?
But we know we’re doing it. Your drinking isn’t hurting anyone else as much as it is hurting you so why does the brain even say that? You know why it says that? To give yourself permission. It’s totally illogical, but the brain falls for it every time.
I love this one, “One more won’t hurt.” Another fallacy, another lie from the brain. Do you think that the hangover or the weight gain or your sluggishness or the low energy or feeling unproductive and unmotivated or impaired cognition is likely to come from the first drink you had or the last drink you had? Yeah, one more does hurt and we know that.
So, why do we believe these lies? I’ll tell you why, it’s because ultimately our brain wants to give ourselves permission to continue drinking. You can call it self-sabotage or putting your head in the sand or saying I don’t know why it keeps happening or you can say things like, “I just have a rebel personality and I don’t like to follow the rules.” Whatever you’re saying just know that those are all excuses or lies or sentences in our mind for our brain to give us permission to keep drinking.
I really want you to see the importance of this because when you start seeing how the brain is using fallacies and lies to keep us drinking, to keep the permission slip going then you can start to recognize how to change. Because if we believe we are a rebel or we just don’t know why we’ll never be able to solve it. Our brain will keep using these excuses and we won’t get to the real reason which is that we are giving ourselves permission.
So, if we don’t acknowledge that these are just clever ways that the brain works to give us permission then we’ll stay stuck and that keeps us feeling helpless, broken, and not solving the problem. It perpetuates the cycle, the shame, the regret and the guilt day in and day out. No one really wants to stay there in that shame, regret, disappointment cycle. We stay there not because we want to, we stay there because it has become comfortable and we stay there because we think the way out is not fun or it’s going to be hard. So, we choose to continue to give ourselves permission to drink in some backhanded, non-sensical, and illogical ways.
Each drink you have just know that you’re giving yourself permission to have it. Think about that. Sit with that truth and begin to explore why. Most likely the reason you’re giving yourself permission to do it is because you want to feel better in the moment. Feeling better in the moment doesn’t lead to long-term feeling better, not with alcohol at least. How long is the happiness that we get from drinking? Maybe an hour, and then how long is the pain that lasts from overdrinking? A lot longer than that.
Because when you give yourself permission to overdrink notice how you’re also giving yourself permission to have a crappy morning, have a subpar relationship with yourself, have a worse relationship with your partner. Giving yourself permission to overdrink will also give yourself permission to have a headache and mental fog and to kill brain cells and liver cells. Giving your body permission to, “Let’s secrete more insulin to break down this sugar coming in from the drink,” and that will turn into weight gain.
Giving yourself permission to have more regret, more shame, more anxiety, and more stress. Giving yourself permission to get moody with your family members. Giving yourself permission to say foolish things and not remember conversations. When you give yourself permission for yet another drink you’re giving yourself permission to be an altered mental state to escape your one precious life.
So, when you say yes to having another you’re also saying yes to all these other things. I say the challenge is to you is to watch what you give permission to. I started to notice what I was giving myself permission to do in my life.
I wanted to share with you the top 10 things that I actually choose to give myself permission to do. Number one, I do give permission to drink, but it’s on my terms. Number two, I give myself permission to drink, but not because of boredom, stress or anger. It never serves me to drink in these situations. I give myself permission to have a drink, sometimes two, and then I also give myself permission to stop. I give myself permission to have amazingly clear mornings with no brain fog, no regrets, and no hangover.
I give myself permission to move my body regularly because it feels good and it feels healthy. I give myself permission to have a restful eight-hour a night of sleep. If I’m on puppy duty that night I make it clear to myself and my family that it’s okay that I nap during the day to catch up or I go to bed a bit earlier.
I give myself permission to fuel my body with foods that make it run efficiently without major changes in my blood sugar, without extreme highs and extreme lows. I give myself permission to enjoy water and my supplements that support my gut health, keep me regular, and strengthen my cognition.
I give myself permission to enjoy my style, my clothing, my jewelry, and how I look in the mirror. And I give myself permission to enjoy my family with unconditional love. That’s my list, how about yours? What’s on your top 10? Take time and let your brain know how serious you are about what you give it permission to do and write it out. I treasure my list and I hope you learn to treasure yours, too. Remember, you get to decide what you give permission to. Okay, my friends, that’s what I have for you this week.
Before you go, I’m excited to celebrate the launch of this podcast by giving away 4 $100 Amazon gift cards to lucky listeners who subscribe, rate, and review this show on Apple Podcasts. Of course, I do hope that you love the show, but it does not have to be a 5-star review. I want your honest feedback to make sure I continue to provide you tons of value. So, visit sherryprice.com/podcastlaunch to learn more about the contest and how to enter. I’ll be announcing the winners on the show in an upcoming episode. Bye for now.
Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.