Take a Break
Why We Use a Drink to Rebel
This week, we’re talking about the most requested topic by our listeners thus far – rebellion. Rebellion is the idea that no one can tell you what to do when it comes to your drinking – whether it’s taking a break, slowing down, or sitting a night out – not even you.
This rebellion in the face of any rule or restriction manifests itself in beliefs that you have a right to drink and get drunk if you want to and maybe even that you somehow “earned” this right.
Join us on this episode as we pull back the curtain on where your rebellion around drinking comes from and why it’s crucial to understand this when working on changing your habits. We also explore how using certain language can increase your desire to drink and how to begin reducing your unconsciously created rebellion that’s getting in the way of taking a break.
Visit www.rachelhart.com/urge to find out how to claim your free meditation that will teach you how to handle any urge without using your willpower.
What You’ll Discover
How telling yourself that you have to do something impacts the way you feel.
Featured on the show
You are listening to the Take a Break podcast with Rachel Hart, episode 47.
Welcome to the Take a Break podcast with Rachel Hart. If you’re an alcoholic or an addict, this is not the show for you, but if you are someone who has a highly functioning life, doing very well but just drinking a bit too much and wants to take a break, then welcome to the show. Let’s get started.
Hey everybody. So here’s the thing, you know how I always ask you guys to send me your ideas, your questions, the topics you want to hear me talk about on the podcast. Well, today we are going to talk about a topic that has been my most requested topic thus far, and that is rebellion.
So when it comes to drinking, rebellion is the idea that nobody can tell me what to do. Nobody can tell me to drink less, or take a break, or sit tonight out. Not even me. Right? It is that rebellion in the face of any rule, any restriction, any perceived authority telling you what to do, when of course, that authority is yourself. And let me tell you, I am so familiar with this. for so long in my life I was walking around like, “Listen, I have a right to drink, a right to get drunk if I want to, to get wasted if I want to, you cannot take this away from me, I’ve earned this.” I really had that attitude, and I’ll tell you, being able to shake that attitude, being able to change that was crucially important in my own journey.
And here’s the thing. It is true. You do have the right to drink and to drink as much as you want, especially if you’re of the legal drinking age. You have free will; telling yourself you don’t have free will really is a lie. In fact, I did a whole episode on this topic, episode 21, it’s called Stop Telling Yourself You Can’t Drink, because I think this is one of the biggest things that people get tripped up on. This idea that they can’t drink. And when they tell themselves that, you know, what they are more likely to do is to create negative emotions. Emotions like deprivation, embarrassment, jealousy, feeling resentful or bitter or angry or powerless, and these emotions will not facilitate the actions that will help you change your drinking.
So if you haven’t listened to that episode, I want to encourage you to go back and check out episode 21. But I’m going to dig a little deeper into this issue on today’s podcast because the problem is this, even if you acknowledge your free will, you may still feel like you have a split personality when it comes to drinking. You may still feel like there are two parts of you that are at odds with each other. One part of your brain is like, “Look, this isn’t working. I don’t like how I feel, I don’t like wondering what I did last night, what I said last night, I don’t like waking up feeling embarrassed or regretful or groggy or hungover, I really don’t like the fact that I thought last night was going to be just uneventful and it turned out into a disaster. I just feel like this isn’t how my life supposed to go or who I’m supposed to be.” I know a lot of you can relate to having that part of your brain. The part of you that’s really, truly aware that what you are doing right now is not working.
But now the problem is there’s this other part of your brain, and that part is like, “Listen, screw it. In fact, screw everybody. I can do what I want, I’m an adult, I’m entitled to drink, I’m going to drink if I want to, so just leave me alone.” Right? And that is the conundrum. What do you do when you have these two parts of your brain that feel like they’re at odds with each other?
Well, the answer is this. You can’t start to shift the part of your brain, the thoughts you are having that are committed to rebelling, unless you first understand why that part of you, why those thoughts exist at all. You have to understand why they’re there in the first place, and that’s what we’re going to be exploring today. Where all of these rebellious thoughts are coming from, because if you can understand where they’re coming from, then you can start to shift them.
Now look, the word rebellion, it’s really simple. It just means a refusal to obey rules or an opposition to authority, and you know what, rebellion, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually a totally normal part of human development. So you can think about it. When you’re a kid, your parents were in complete control of everything. They were in charge of what you ate, where you went, how you spent your time, when you went to bed, when you woke up, where you lived. Very few decisions are really yours when you’re a child. So even before we’re teenagers, which is a point in our lives that most people associate with rebellion. Even when we’re young kids we’re starting to want to make clear that we’re not babies anymore. Rebellion is actually a way for kids to develop autonomy. It’s a way to say, “Hey, you can’t treat me like a child. I can make decisions too.” And so it starts when we’re a kid and then continues on in our teenage years.
So first it starts as a way to really develop autonomy, but it becomes, rebellion can become a way to experiment with your identity, to figure out who you are. When you rebel against the rules, when you rebel against authority, you’re sort of figuring out who you are, where you fit into this world. So listen, rebellion’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it makes sense. It’s part of human development, it’s part of how you developed your autonomy, how you discovered your identity. But rebellion does not always serve you, especially when you are decades out of high school and you are rebelling by drinking as much as you want, as often as you want even when you don’t like the consequences. And so that’s the rebellion that we’re going to be talking about today.
So let’s just start by understanding where all of these rebellious thoughts come from, and I want you to first consider all of the messages you got growing up about not being able to drink. Messages like, “That’s not for you, you’re too young, you can’t have any, this is an adult beverage, this is only for grownups”, “Alcohol isn’t for kids, you’re not supposed to, you’re not allowed to, you’re not old enough, you’re not ready, you’re not mature, you’ll just have to wait”, “You’re not 21. Can I see some ID please?” Right? There’s so many messages that we got for years and years about how we were not old enough to do this specific thing.
Now, all of you had different responses and you got these messages to different degrees and you had different responses to these messages. But a lot of you listening found that you know, there was some anticipation around getting to try alcohol for the first time and also hitting your 21st birthday and being old enough to drink it legally. These messages were having an impact on you.
So when you’re being told no, no, no, over and over again and then you finally reach the age where you’re “old enough to drink”, now, I’ll just put to aside for a second that your prefrontal cortex will not finish developing until you’re 25. But you know, the law in the United States at least is 21, you’re old enough to drink. So I want you to just consider getting all of that messaging, for years and years and years getting all of that messaging and how that works if someone once you got to the legal age tried to take alcohol away. Your brain is like, “No, I’m an adult, what are you talking about? I’m entitled to do this. I am of the age.”
And the problem is this. Once we’re all at the legal drinking age, we don’t shed all these thoughts about how adults are entitled to drink, or about how this is an adult beverage. Those thoughts are still very much there, and these “restrictions” can resurface all the thoughts and feelings you had when you weren’t yet 21 but wanted to drink and you were thinking, “It’s not fair, this is stupid, I’m old enough, I’m going to do it anyway. No one can stop me.” Right? All of these thoughts that created resentment and annoyance. And so you have to pay attention, you have to consider all those early messages that you got about drinking and who was allowed to drink and who was entitled to drink and who wasn’t.
And you have to consider how those messages may have gotten as young as who knows, three years old, four years old. When you were thinking, “Hey, what’s that drink? Can I have some of that?” Those messages about who’s entitled, who’s allowed, what it means, they don’t simply go away. And many times, especially when you decide to change your drinking, they’ll start to resurface.
But here’s the thing. This is just one place where these rebellious thoughts are coming from, and I think this is an important place because so many people will tell me you know, when they are taking a break that it somehow feels childish, it somehow feels like it’s not adult, it’s not sophisticated, because they got all of these messages about how drinking was something that adults did and you had to be old enough and mature enough. And so it is important to understand this piece, but I think way beyond the early messaging that we get, there is another area that you really need to pay attention to when it comes to why you are currently experiencing rebellion.
What you really need to pay attention to is all the other areas in your life outside of drinking, where you feel like there are all these rules that you are being told to follow or you’re being forced to follow. And now listen, if you are a people pleaser or a perfectionist, this is huge for you. If you’re a people pleaser or a perfectionist, you are walking around all the time telling yourself that you have to do things. You have to do things perfectly, look perfectly, be perfect, have the perfect body, the perfect family, the perfect home, you have to make sure that everyone likes you, make sure that everyone’s needs are taken care of and that everybody is happy. These are the thoughts that are going through the brains of people pleasers and perfectionists. All of these things that you have to do and the ways that you have to be and how you have to act.
Now, here’s what I’m going to tell you. The word ‘have’ sounds really innocent. It sounds like a pretty innocuous word. But when you tell yourself that you have to do something, what you are telling yourself is that you feel forced to do these things, and that never creates a positive emotion. When you tell yourself you have to do something, you are fooling your brain into believing that it doesn’t have a choice. And I will tell you, we do this with everything. Have to comes up around work, around family, around kids, around bills, around chores, taking out the trash. And the truth is you are spending your day, all day long, telling yourself you have to do things, that you are forced to do things, when in reality, it’s not true.
The truth is, you don’t have to take out the trash. You don’t have to pay your bills, you don’t have to go to work, you don’t even have to call your parents. You are not forced to do any of these things. I want you to really consider this. I want you to really think, “Okay, who is making you take out the trash? Who is making you pay your bills and go to work and pick up the phone?” Really, no one. No one’s making you do that. Now, you may want to do these things, you may want a kitchen that doesn’t smell, and you may want money in the bank and you may want to avoid late fees and you may want a relationship with your family. But there is a big distinction between want to and have to.
When you tell yourself that you have to do something, you leave no room for free will, and there’s no room there. But when you want to do something or you choose to do something, you are the one sitting in the driver’s seat, you are the one with the power. And I’ll tell you that before they start working with me, most of my clients discover that they are walking around all day long telling themselves that they have to do things that not only they don’t have to do but in reality, when they start to look at it, they discover they actually want to do these things, that there is a desire to do it. But imagine all the negative emotion that you are creating for yourself in the think-feel-act cycle when you’re telling yourself over and over and over again with every part of your day that you have to do it.
So the question is this. How does this connect with feeling rebellious about your drinking? You understand now how some early messaging that you got around who is allowed to drink and whether or not you could drink, how that shapes some of the rebellious thoughts that you have, but how does have to, telling yourself that you’re forced to do things connect to feeling rebellious about your drinking.
So really just imagine that you’re walking around all day long which many of you are, telling yourselves that you have to do things. You have to be perfect, you have to make sure everybody is happy, everybody’s needs are tended to, everybody is taken care of, you don’t make any mistakes. Right? Imagine the emotions created by those thoughts. Imagine all the powerlessness and all the resentment that would build up because you’re telling yourself that you’re forced to do all these things, you’re telling yourself that you don’t have a choice. Listen, it’s not surprise that by the end of the day you might be seeking relief and rewarding yourself with a drink.
And here’s the thing, this is true for people who both at the end of the day turn to a drink as a way to reward themselves and also for those of you out there who may be more just kind of weekend drinkers, and maybe more you know, cutting loose on Friday and Saturday. The same factors are at play, and this is why perfectionists and people pleasers have to really pay attention because they are particularly susceptible. Drinking becomes the one place that perfectionists and people pleasers allow themselves to not have to follow the rules. It’s the one place where you get to cut loose, where there are no expectations. It’s just all about you. It’s me time. Nobody can tell you what to do.
And I will tell you that this was a huge, huge thing for me to understand because I was walking around all the time really fixated on being a perfectionist. I mean, I remember a point in my life when I thought being a perfectionist was actually an advantage. I actually saw it as a good thing that I liked to tout. And so just all day long I was so focused, everything, from the moment I got up, looking in the mirror, how I showed up at work, you know, how I showed up for my boss, paying all my bills on time, I was really, really fixated on doing everything perfectly, and drinking was the only place in my life where I said, “Hey Rachel, you don’t have any rules. No rules apply, you can do whatever you want to do. You can drink as much as you want, you can behave however you want. No rules apply.”
And so, for someone that was walking around all day long telling herself, “Be perfect, be perfect, be perfect, be perfect”, this was the only place in my life, drinking was the only place where I could actually cut loose and have a little bit of freedom. There were no rules. It was just my time to do whatever I wanted.
So listen, changing your language, and I talk about this all the time, changing your language from “I can’t drink” to “I’m choosing not to drink tonight” is so important, but what is even more important than that is understanding how what you are thinking during the day is contributing not only to the negative emotions that then you’re looking for relief from, but whether or not you have all these thoughts about how you have to be perfect and you have to make everybody happy. And you’re thinking this all day long about everything that you have to do, and then drinking often becomes that only space where we allow a little free will, where we tell ourselves, “No, I can do whatever I want. This is my time.” And who wants to lose me time? Especially when you spend your entire day not having any.
When you find yourself rebelling when you’re an adult, it is because you feel like you are forced to do things when in reality, you have free will. In reality, you have a huge difference between have to, want to, and choose to. It is not the same thing to say, “I have to take out the trash” to “I want to take out the trash, I’m choosing to take out the trash”. Right? One is just saturated in being disempowered, and the other one you’re running the show.
So what I want you to do today to start to uncover what you are telling yourself during the day to see if that is impacting why you are feeling rebellious around your drinking is a really great exercise. All you need to do is this. You’re going to grab a sheet of paper and at the top I want you to write, “What I am telling myself I have to do”. Remember, ‘have’, that word, it sounds innocent, it sounds innocuous but when you tell yourself you have to do something, what you are telling yourself is that you feel forced. You’re forced to do it, and that is never going to generate a positive emotion.
So what I want you to do is on that sheet of paper, write down everything, everything, every thought, every belief you have, what your brain is telling you that you have to do, and it can be anything, big or small. It can be, “I have to clean the house”, “I have to take out the trash”, “I have to do the dishes”, “I have to make dinner”, “I have to do grocery shopping”, “I have to do laundry”, “I have to help the kids with their homework”, “I have to go to work”, “I have to pay bills”, “I have to call my parents”, “I have to go home for the holidays”, “I have to go to my niece’s recital”, “I have to exercise”, “I have to eat better”, “I have to make sure everybody’s needs are met”, “I have to make sure my boss is happy”, whatever it is, I want you to really spend some time writing down everything that you are telling yourself you have to do. Get it all down on that sheet of paper.
Once you have done that, what I want you to do is go over that list and for everything you’ve written down, really ask yourself, “Okay, am I truly forced? Am I truly being forced to do this or do I have a choice? Do I have free will? Is anybody actually making me do this?” And if you see that what you’re telling yourself you have to do is actually something that either you are choosing to do because you like the ultimate outcome, or you want to do, because maybe you don’t like the consequences of not doing it, then I want you to cross it off the list. Go through with every single thing and ask yourself that question.
So many of you are using your drinking as a way to rebel because your thoughts all day long are creating this environment where your entire day feels like you don’t have any control. Your entire day is about making sure everybody else is happy and everybody else is taken care of that you’re never making a mistake and you’re doing everything perfectly. And when you’re doing that all day long, when you’re telling yourself that you have to do all these things, you’re creating all this negative emotion and drinking becomes the area of your life, whether you know it yet, where you’re trying to exert some control. Even though – I mean, here is the crazy thing. Even though for so many of you this area where you’re trying to exert control by saying, “Hey, I can drink as much as I want. Nobody can tell me how much to drink. I’m going to have this if I want to have this, you’re not the boss of me.” Even right in that moment when you say you’re not the boss of me, you’re talking about you. You’re talking about yourself.
What is so crazy is that while you’re doing that, so many of you are racking up all these negative consequences for yourself. If drinking feels like the only place where you can cut lose, where you can be free of your expectations of yourself or what you believe are other people’s expectations of you, if it’s the only place where you are taking time for yourself, then of course you are going to rebel in the face of losing that space. Of course that’s going to happen, of course you have two parts of your brain that feel like they’re at odds with each other.
But the answer is this. The answer is to understand how your perfectionist, how your people pleasing, how telling yourself that you have to do all the things that you’re doing in your life is actually a recipe for creating rebellion.
Alright, so I want all of you to make sure that you do today’s exercise, and let me know how it goes. Let me know what you discover. If you have any questions, any ideas, any comments, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, I will see you guys next week.
Hey guys, if you want to go over to iTunes and leave a review about the podcast if you’re enjoying it, I would love it. But not only that; I am giving everyone who does a free urge meditation. I will tell you, this meditation, it is super simple. All it takes is five minutes and a pair of headphones. If you are having an urge and you want a different way to handle it, just pop those headphones in, find a place where you can sit down undisturbed and teach your brain, retrain your brain a very simple method to make urges more tolerable. All you need to do is head on over to rachelhart.com/urge and input your information there.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Take a Break from Drinking. If you like what was offered in today’s show and want more, please come over to www.rachelhart.com where you can sign up for weekly updates to learn more about the tools that will help you take a break.
re listening to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart, episode 165.
Welcome to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart. If you’re an alcoholic or an addict, this is not the show for you. But if you are someone who has a highly functioning life, doing very well, but just drinking a bit too much and wants to take a break, then welcome to the show. Let’s get started.
Well hello everybody. We are going to talk about doing the work to change your drinking. This is so important because a lot of you are listening to the work but you’re not doing it. And if you don’t the actual work to change not just your drinking but any habit, you’re never going to get the result that you want.
So I’ve done 165 episodes of this podcast. There is a whole lot that you can listen to. But listening to what I teach and doing the work are not the same thing. Listening to me explain how the think-feel-act cycle unfolds in your brain and how it is really what is behind every single habit, and understanding how different parts of your brain work and how alcohol impacts, not just the buzz that you feel, but how alcohol impacts your brain and impacts habit formation, listening to all of this is so important.
In fact, it was incredibly important for me to finally understand what was going on. But listening is not doing the work. You have to take what you are hearing me talk about and you have to start putting it into practice. And if you’re not doing that, that’s okay. We’re not going to beat you up. This isn’t about shaming you, but let’s understand why.
Now, you guys hear me say all the time that you cannot do the think-feel-act cycle in your head. I know you think you can, and I know this because I thought this too. I really did. I thought, “Yeah, it makes sense, all of a sudden I get it. My thoughts create my feelings and my feelings drive those actions. Alcohol just sits there. The drink just sits here. It doesn’t will me to pick it up. I have a thought and I have a feeling that leads to that action.”
It made so much sense to me. And sometimes that is the danger. When something can make a lot of sense, we’ll tell ourselves, “Oh, I get it. I don’t need to write it out. I got it. That’s just extra.” But really, the act of getting it onto paper is the act of getting the habit out of your mind and onto a piece of paper so you can see it, so that you can change it.
Because that’s what you want to do. You want to learn how to change the think-feel-act cycle in a believable way. And listen, if you are resistant to writing it out, that’s okay. I was too. You just got to figure out why. I promise that that resistance, it’s just a thought. But until you find it, you can’t change it.
That really is what you have to pay attention to here because understanding a concept and knowing how to use it, knowing how to wield the think-feel-act cycle as a tool in your life that is actually going to help you change this habit, those are two very different things. It’s like understanding how a bow and arrow work. You can picture it, right?
You understand how it works. You have a bow, there’s a string, there’s an arrow, there’s a target. You can visualize all of this in your head. I think about this. Give me a bow, give me an arrow, give me a target. If you give me all these things, am I going to start hitting the bull’s eye with any regularity right now? No.
I am not. Because just because I understand how a bow and arrow works and I understand where the arrow is supposed to go and I understand that I’m supposed to pull the string back, I’ve seen it done, my brain has an image of what it’s supposed to look like, but that doesn’t mean that my mind and my body know how to actually do it in a way that will create success.
That really is the difference between turning knowledge into know-how. You guys are getting a lot of knowledge on this podcast, but you have to turn that knowledge into know-how. You have to start practicing relaxing on your own without a drink. If the habit is just about wanting more and more is better, you have to practice having that urge be there and allowing it, not resisting it, not fighting it, allowing it to be there and not acting on it.
It sounds so simple. It’s challenging in practice. Understanding is simply agreeing with what you’re hearing me say. It’s agreeing with the concept. But so much of what I talk to you guys about is that the desire to drink is created by your mind. It’s created by what you’re thinking. How you’re thinking about the drink that you’ll have later tonight or how you’re thinking about the glass of wine that’s sitting in front of you.
And when you understand this concept, there is a part of you that’s like, yeah, it makes sense. That drink, it doesn’t will me to do anything. It’s not tempting me, it’s just sitting there. But knowing this is true without a shadow of a doubt, knowing that you are always, always, always the creator of your desire, that the wine is never tempting you, the chocolate on your coworker’s desk is never tempting you, knowing these things to be true, that desire is just created by a sentence in your mind, knowing that in your bones, that’s only ever going to be the result of doing the work.
What I mean is you feel the urge for whatever and you start to map it out on paper. You start to understand it as part of the think-feel-act cycle. You write it down. You pinpoint that thought. You practice allowing and observing the urge, and notice all the thoughts that tell you you can’t, that you should just willpower it away, that you don’t have time for it, that it feels terrible.
You welcome the fact that your primitive brain is calling out for a reward because you know that that urge isn’t an emergency. It’s not a big deal. You know that you have authority over it. Now listen, sometimes you might stumble. You might say yes. But you have to keep doing the work. You have to figure out what it was that you were believing in that moment that led to you saying, “Oh screw it, who cares? I’m going to have a drink.”
You can’t hide and bury your head. This is what it looks like. It really requires a pencil and paper. It truly does. I cannot overstate this. I came across this amazing quote, the author Bell Hooks. She has written about women and men and love and feminism and society. I think she has something like over 30 books, and she has this quote that I love so much called “working with the work.”
So I went back and I found this interview where I first encountered her saying it and she said, “If someone comes up to me and they have one of my books and it’s abused and battered and every page is underlined and dog-eared, I know they have been working with the work.”
And the reason why I love that quote so much, it’s so brilliant because that is exactly my experience and what I see also with my clients. You can read a lot of books about the brain and alcohol and self-help and how to change habits, but there’s reading a book and then there’s working with the work. And working with the work means you’re not just trying to understand what you’re reading. You’re trying to put it into action. You’re trying to live what you are reading.
And that’s why the books end up underlined and dog-eared and abused and battered because you’re going back to them over and over again. Because reading it on the page and having it make sense does not mean that the first time you put it into practice, the first time that you say no and you say, “Okay, Rachel says you got to allow the urge and not resist it with willpower,” it doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to do that automatically.
You have to go back and re-listen and try to understand what you’re learning in a new way. Because that’s what happens when you’re working with the work. It’s doing the process over and over and allowing for there to be many, many attempts before you actually get to mastery.
So that’s the first piece that you guys have to understand, but I know for a lot of you, it’s not that you aren’t working with the work. It’s that you’re not doing the work at all. I watch this happen sometimes with clients. So someone will decide, “Okay, I’m going to do it. I’m going to invest in myself. I’m so sick and tired of thinking about my drinking and worrying about my drinking. This is it. I’m going to create some change.”
And they sign up to do the work with me, and then I don’t hear from them. They disappear. Sometimes they never come back. Sometimes they reach out and they’ll say, “Rachel, I haven’t done a thing. It’s been a month. I haven’t asked any questions, I haven’t participated, I haven’t watched a video, I haven’t used your tools. What the heck is wrong with me?”
And I always tell them, “Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. You’re just not doing the work.” But we can understand why that is because we have this amazing tool at our disposal. We have the think-feel-act cycle, which explains why you do and don’t do everything in the world.
And then we can understand the real reason, and guess what? That’s where the magic always kicks in. Think about how many times you’ve done the same thing to yourself. How many times have you signed up for a program or a course or bought a book or signed up for a gym membership and you have all this promise. You have all this intention that you’re going to change yourself, you’re going to do the work, and then you don’t.
You don’t watch it, you don’t read it, you don’t go, you don’t attend. What on earth is going on? This is something that used to drive me nuts because I would do it over and over and over again. I was the queen of signing up for things and then not following through.
Now here’s the thing; I did for a long time what most people do. I made it mean the following. Something must be wrong with me. I think I’m just kind of lazy, or I lack follow-through, or I just don’t have enough commitment. It must not matter enough to me, which of course was a lie. Because anything that you want to change in your life, it does matter to you because you’re thinking about it.
It’s something that you’re spending brain energy on, so of course it matters to you. And if you’re not making the fact that you aren’t doing the work or showing up to the gym or following through on the program, if you’re not making it mean that something is wrong with you, you might be making it mean that something is wrong with your life.
I’m too busy, I’ve got too much going on, I’ve got too much to do, too many responsibilities, someone got sick, something came up. There’s always an excuse, right? I tell this to people all the time when people are hesitating whether or not to start working with me, whether or not to do the 30-day challenge.
And they’ll say, “I’m not sure Rachel, I’ve got a lot going on.” Listen, if you can’t do this work, if you can’t learn how to allow your urges in real life, it’s never going to work. If you’re waiting for some magical moment to appear in your calendar, some magical period of time when you have no deadlines and nothing is pressing and nobody’s sick, nothing is due, even if that period comes, you’re learning all of these tools in a bubble. You’re not going to be able to apply them in real life.
Don’t make it mean that you have too much going on, that there’s something wrong with your life right now that you need to wait for the clouds to part and magical space to appear. So people will do that, or they will make it mean that something is wrong with the material itself.
I see this happen a lot, and I used to do this too. “This book is too long; I can’t get through it. Or it’s too short, I need more explanation. It’s too simple, it’s too complicated, it’s too much, it’s too little.” We’re so good at blaming ourselves and our life and the work itself for why it is that we’re not showing up and practicing.
But the only reason that you aren’t doing the work right now is because of a thought and feeling. That’s it. 100%. So all you need to do is find that thought getting in the way. And honestly, that thought is usually based in fear. Underneath all of it is the thought, “I don’t know if I’m going to succeed. This is going to be too uncomfortable. I don’t want to have this conversation with my friends or my family that I’m taking a break.”
It’s so often just fear. Fear that is leading you to blame yourself or blame your life or blame the work. Because I’ll tell you this; if you were envisioning an amazing future for yourself, if you were envisioning an amazing future where you never had to worry about drinking anymore, you didn’t have all this desire, you didn’t feel like you were being run by your lower primitive brain and all your urges, if you believed that that was possible for you, then you’d be like, hey, let’s get to work.
It’s because your brain is doing the opposite right now, it’s because your brain is catastrophizing. It’s thinking how it won’t work for you and there’s something wrong with you, you won’t be able to figure it out. That’s why you’re coming up with all these excuses.
And listen, of course it is. Of course, your brain is catastrophizing. That primitive brain of yours wants you to be afraid. Not only is it the job of the primitive brain to have you always on the lookout for danger. It thinks that fear is helpful, but also knows this; that if you stay afraid, you’re going to keep up with the habit. You’re going to keep coming home and uncorking the bottle of wine.
And if you do that, you’ll get a reward. That lower brain will get the reward that it’s after because it thinks that the reward from alcohol is the most important thing. It thinks that of all rewards. That’s all the primitive brain knows. It doesn’t have all the advanced knowledge that your higher prefrontal cortex has.
It really is like when people say, “Really every day it works.” I remember the first time I hear someone say that and I was like, what are you talking about? That is incorrect. I was so sure that it couldn’t be true. You had to find the right diet if you wanted to lose weight.
But really, all diets are pretty much the same thing. Change how you’re eating right now and change how you move your body right now. Listen, if you do that, if you change what you put in your body and you change how you move your body, you’re going to get a result. And it will work if you keep at it, if you persist.
But of course, most people don’t keep at it. I didn’t use to keep at it. I would start all gung-ho and then it could get too hard. Or I would be really motivated and I would follow my plan, and then I’d step on the scale and I wouldn’t like the number I would see, and I would be frustrated and I would quit.
So often what ends up happening is we only kind of half-try something out. We don’t give it our all, or we’re trying out something and as soon as we don’t like the result that we get, we throw in the towel, instead of understanding, hey listen, I don’t care what it is in the world that you are trying to accomplish. It’s never going to be just one success after another after another after another.
There is going to be failure. And if you aren’t willing to embrace that and accept that, then you’re in a boatload of trouble. And I think the same thing is true when it comes to drinking and changing this habit. I don’t have the only approach out there that’s going to help you change the habit. I personally think I have the best one, but it’s not the only one out there.
And obviously we know this is true because other people have stopped drinking or learned how to drink less with other methods. My podcast hasn’t been around forever. If you follow a program, it will work. So do other programs work if you follow it? Of course, they do. But I’m going to tell you this; I think a lot of them are kind of a crapshoot.
Because a lot of them are just trying to convince you of their approach, convince you of their method. And sometimes you are convinced and then it works. But what happens for a lot of people is they don’t get it. It’s not clicking, or they run into an obstacle.
And instead of teaching you about the brain, instead of teaching you about the think-feel-act cycle, we think, “Oh, I’m not getting it, or I’m not doing it, or it doesn’t make sense, or I just had a setback.” We think that that is evidence that the work itself, the program doesn’t work.
When really, once you understand the think-feel-act cycle, you always have the key to figuring out why something isn’t clicking. Why something isn’t persuasive, why you aren’t convinced. You always have the key. Because then you can just find the sentence in your mind and suddenly, it really is like, oh, that’s why I haven’t been doing the work. That’s why I haven’t been getting it.
Learning how to manage your mind is the key. It is the most important thing. If you don’t learn how to do this, your brain is always just going to stay on autopilot instead of looking at why it is that you’re not doing the work, why it is that you’re telling yourself it won’t work for you, why it is that you say that you have too much going on in your life right now.
Find that sentence. Because none of those reasons, none of the excuses, none of them are responsible for why it is that you’re not showing up with yourself right now, why it is that you’re not practicing, why it is that you’re not taking what you learned and actually implementing it, why it is that you’re not writing out the think-feel-act cycle.
Because the work you do to change a habit, that’s an action, which means you just need to find the thought and you just need to find the feeling leading to it. So that really is my challenge for you guys today. What is the habit that you want to change? It can be your drinking, it can be overeating, it can be spending money, it can be how much TV you watch at night or how much time you spend on your phone. It really can be anything.
But take a moment and really think about how long have you wanted to change it? How long have you had that little nagging voice inside of you that’s like, hey, we got to do something about this. This is not really how we want to spend our time. This is not really giving us the results that we want in life.
How many podcasts and books and articles and Google searches have you done, have you read, have you checked out? Think about all of that. What you want to change, how long you’ve been thinking about it, what you have researched, and then ask yourself, why haven’t you solved it yet? Why are you stuck? What is that answer for you?
Because I will tell you, whatever that answer is is the obstacle that is keeping you exactly where you are right now. It’s the obstacle that’s keeping you on autopilot. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with you. That’s not why you haven’t yet figured out the habit of drinking. It’s not because you have too much going on in your life. It’s not because everything is too complicated or too simple.
It’s just because you’re believing a thought. That’s it. That’s what is keeping you, not just from doing the work, but from creating the life that you want. Because the only thing that’s holding you back from the life that you want is learning how to manage your mind.
I know that you can change anything in your life that you want to. Your drinking, your eating, your spending, whatever habit it is that you want to change, you have the power to do it. It does not matter the habit. I watch my clients do this over and over and over again, and I’ve watched it in my own life. And I’ll tell you, I’m not special, they’re not special. We all just showed up and did the work and you can do that too.
So please, don’t just listen. Do the work. Practice. Work with the work. And if you don’t know how to do these things, if you’re feeling stuck, then of course, that’s the time to reach out and get help and get support. Come work with me. Don’t work with me, find somebody else. I don’t care who it is. I just want you not to be saddled by a habit that isn’t serving you anymore.
When you free yourself from the habit of drinking, I promise you, everything, everything, everything will open up for you, and that’s the life I want for you. Alright, that’s it for today. I will see you guys next week.
Hey, if you’re a woman who enjoys this podcast and wants to have me as your coach, you have to join the Take A Break program. It’s a 30-day break from drinking that will teach you how to say no to your urges without deprivation, the secret to not needing a drink in any situation, including not needing a drink to take the edge off, and never again feeling like you can’t trust yourself around alcohol. Join me over at RachelHart.com/join. Together, we’re going to blow your mind.