The Podcast

Take a Break

Episode #226

Drinking Intuition

People can spend years ignoring their intuition about alcohol. They know their drinking habits aren’t serving them, but they keep delaying taking action.  

Ignoring that nagging voice inside of you that says it’s time for a change won’t make it go away, but following through isn’t always as simple either.

In this episode, discover why so many people struggle to follow their drinking intuition, and how to start listening to it.

What You’ll Discover

What intuition and specifically your drinking intuition is.

Why it’s so hard to listen to this inner knowing when it comes to drinking.

How your relationship with alcohol can change when you finally start acting on your intuition.

Featured on the show

When you’re ready to take what you’re learning on the podcast to the next level, come check out my 30-day Take a Break Challenge.

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Transcript

You are listening to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart, episode 226.

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.

Alright, well hello, everyone. we are talking today about intuition. Specifically the intuition that you have around the habit of drinking. So, this came up recently on a podcast. I interviewed a sommelier named Molly who changed her desire to drink by using the 30-day challenge.

And one of the things that she talked about was knowing, at some point, having this little realization inside of her, you know, something’s got to change. But she also talked about how it took her years and years to listen to that intuition. And when we were talking, I shared that I had had a very similar experience.

And it seems like a lot of you have had that experience as well; knowing for a very long time, “Hey, you know what? Something about this doesn’t feel right,” but having trouble to act on that knowledge. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today on this podcast, is what exactly is intuition? Why don’t we listen to it? Why does it hang out with us for years before we take action? And how can we start to take action instead of staying stuck?

Okay, so let’s think about intuition and how we define it. So, I was looking up online, when I was preparing for the podcast, “Okay, so how do we define intuition?” And I think it’s a little bit like a hunch. So, you can’t really articulate why you believe something, but it really feels true.

And intuition, it can feel kind of instinctive. So, it’s just kind of this knowing inside of you rather than something that you need to sit down and spend a lot of conscious reasoning in order to come up with the same idea.

And I will tell you, I think of my intuition as all those times that I think, you know, something doesn’t feel right, something feels off. I have this sense – sometimes it’s positive. I have this sense that this is the direction that I’m supposed to head in.

And of course, it came up for me with, “I’ve got to figure out my drinking. I’ve got to do something about this.” The problem I think is with how we define intuition. So, we define it as this kind of feeling or sense rather than a belief that is based on facts and conscious reasoning.

Because there is a lot of logic and reasoning about the need to change your drinking. I mean, if you look at how it impacts your body, if you look at how it impacts your relationship or your sleep or your digestion or your skin, I mean, there’s so many things that you can look at and really start to examine, “Hey, how is alcohol having an impact on me?”

So, there’s lots of logic and reasoning behind an intuitive sense that, like, “I’ve got to do something about my drinking.” I think what happens is we don’t even get to that point of listening to it. We don’t even get to that point of acknowledging, “Hey, my body knows that something is not right. My body knows that this amount of wine or beer or cocktails, it’s just not working for me,” because our conscious mind has a whole story about what it will mean to listen to this intuitive knowing that we need to do something.

So, there is this kind of knowing that we’re like, I don’t know, it’s just a gut sense or it’s just like a little voice inside of me, and we feel like, “Well, I don’t want to make decisions based on a feeling.” But we don’t even get to that point of recognizing that there is logic, there are facts connected to intuition because we are so quick to just turn away from it. we’re so quick to think that listening to our intuition and really addressing the habit of drinking, really trying to change your relationship with alcohol, we’re so quick to believe like, “I don’t know that it’s going to end up somewhere I want to go. What happens? What if I’m not fun? What if I’m boring? What if people think I’m boring? What if my life is boring? What if all of the things that I enjoy so much right now, sitting outside on a summer afternoon, going to a fancy restaurant, going on vacation, going to a baseball game. What if all those things, without alcohol, are less enjoyable? That’s really the fear.

And I think what happens is because we have this fear, we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity or the chance to really sit down and say, “Hey, what is the logic? What is the reasoning behind this little voice inside me?”

So, I was talking about it on the podcast that I did with Molly, you know. For me, I had these thoughts for a very long time, “Something is not right with your drinking, Rachel. Something is not right with how much desire you have, or how much struggle you encounter when it comes to saying no. This just isn’t working for you. This doesn’t feel good.”

But the problem is, I didn’t want to acknowledge any of that. I didn’t want to acknowledge that knowing. Now, I will tell you, my intuition was not screaming at me. It did not have a bullhorn. It was like a tiny, quiet voice. It was like this little niggling that would just appear inside of me, like, “Hey, I’ve got something to say. Pay attention.” It would appear often in these quiet moments when I would actually allow myself to, for a second, think about my drinking. And the voice that came back was always the same, “You’ve got to change.”

But I think what happens and what happened for me was that the idea of change brought up so much fear. I was like, “What do you mean I’ve got to change? I don’t want to change. I want to be normal. I don’t even know how I would change. I don’t even know how I would start to make myself desire alcohol less. I just want this to not be an issue. I don’t want to be someone who can’t drink.” That’s everything that would come up for me.

But you know what? Drinking was an issue for me. It was not aligned with what my deepest self wanted for me. And I think when I say that, you know, that drinking is an issue or it could be an issue for you, I think that that, even that word, people just assume, “Oh my god, it must be that things were really bad. You must be having really severe problems or problems with the law or life-threatening health issues.” But you know what? That’s really not always the case.

In fact, I would say that’s what’s so frustrating for most of my clients. Because they look around and they’re like, “I don’t know. I mean, the level of negative consequences that I’m experiencing, they’re really not that bad.” But still, they have this intuition, something’s not right. Something doesn’t feel good about this.

So, sometimes you can be in a situation where you realize it’s not even that I’m having so many negative consequences, but something inside of me is still telling me that something about my habit, something about my drinking, it just feels off.

And I think the reason why we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to actually examine and explore the logic and the reasoning that’s connected to our intuition, we kind of push it away because it’s just that little voice and, I don’t know, where did it even come from? We push it away because it’s almost like sometimes the brain is a couple steps behind.

The body knows. The body knows, “Hey, you know what? I know what this substance is doing to my liver. I know what this is doing to my digestion. I know that my sleep is all wonky. I know that I don’t have as much energy.”

So, the body knows. But the brain is almost a couple steps behind because of this fear and overwhelm, “Well, what will it mean if I listen to this intuition? Will it mean I have a problem? Will I discover that something’s really wrong with me? Am I just going to be one of those people who can’t handle alcohol?”

There’s so much fear and overwhelm. Overwhelm especially because it’s like, “Where do I even begin?” Because everything we’re told is like it should just be easy to say no. And if it’s not easy, then something is wrong with you.

So many people have this fear and overwhelm when it comes to that intuition. Not because changing a habit is a scary or difficult process. It’s not. Because we have scary and overwhelming thoughts about what life will be like.

Sure, I’ll feel physically better, but then what? How am I going to unwind? What’s going to happen on date night? What’s going to happen when I’m socializing? What’s going to happen with all those bottles of fancy wine that are down in my wine cellar? What about fancy dinners? What about when I go to restaurants?

So, we have all these kind of scary and overwhelming thoughts. And we’ve never been given the tools. No one’s ever really helped us to understand, “Hey, why is it that we say yes?”

We just think we say yes to a drink because we like to drink. But you know, if you listen to the podcast, there’s so much more. It’s about your thoughts and your feelings and your actions and how all of those come together to create the habit. And I think part of the problem is we’re given the advice of just say no. That’s all we’re given. That’s all we’re told. It should be easy to say no, and if it’s not easy, then maybe you have a problem.

But let’s really look at that thought. It’s not always easy to say no to food. It’s not always easy to say no to another episode on Netflix. It’s not always easy to say no to scrolling on your phone. So, why on earth would it be easy to say no to a drink?

All of this, if you struggle with one or all of these, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. It means that we have this backwards perception about our ability to manage our desire and our ability to manage the reward cycle in our brain with zero knowledge. Because that’s what most people are given.

We’re taught nothing about how our brain works. We’re taught nothing about the reward cycle. And we’re given zero tools to deal with desire and urges and deprivation. So, of course it’s going to be challenging.

Our decision to say yes, even when we say yes when we know it’s not working for us, it’s not a product of who we are on the inside. It’s not written into our DNA. It’s a whole combination of so many factors; our environment, the messages that we’re exposed to, the advertising we’re exposed to, the thoughts that we’re programmed to think, the feelings that we are taught to handle by finding something that will make us feel better.

So, I had this intuition. I had it for a very long time. And for years and years and years, I just kept pushing it away because I was afraid. I wasn’t afraid of not drinking. I was afraid of what it would mean. What would it mean if I was a person who always turned down a drink?

And I was overwhelmed. There were so many areas of my life where I really struggled to say no. How was I possibly going to figure out how to do it here?

But the problem was that by pushing away my intuition, it just created so much more suffering for me. Because I wasn’t listening to what I needed to do. And part of that, I just want to add here, part of why I wasn’t listening was because I was led to believe that there was only one solution.

If you found it difficult to say no and you drank too much sometimes and your drinking was unpredictable, then what you needed to do is admit that you are an alcoholic, admit that you are powerless, and stop drinking for the rest of your life.

And I will tell you, that was not so appealing. But what I know now, what I didn’t know then is that’s also not true. That may be one way, but it’s not the way. There are so many options available to you.

And not only options for how to go about changing. I was talking about this on a coaching call today. There are so many options when it comes to what do you want to decide is going to be right for you? We take a break from drinking not so that we can convince ourselves to stop drinking for the rest of our life. We take a break from drinking so that we can just give ourselves some space and time to really examine the habit and really examine, “Hey, what do I want?”

I kept stalling for so long because I was afraid. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t like the only solution that I was told was out there and what that meant is I kept going out, I kept drinking too much, I kept ending my workdays with a bottle of wine. I kept looking forward to Friday and Saturday because, hey, I finally get to enjoy myself, because I finally get to really drink as much as I want.

All the while, what was I doing? I was just making the habit stronger. And I will just say, by the way, that the intuition I had and the intuition that I see for so many of the people that I work with, it doesn’t just happen around alcohol. It happens in romantic relationships and friendships and work and career.

And I will tell you, I ignored all of that intuition as well. It wasn’t just my intuition around alcohol that I was ignoring. It was my intuition about so many things in life.

I was so afraid of what it would mean to get out of the relationship or to change careers. I was so overwhelmed by the prospect of doing it. But I will tell you this. That I have discovered, by really just practicing, “Hey, can I lean into this intuition instead of pushing it away? Can I be curious about it? Can I see what kind of facts and reasoning are behind it instead of just saying I’m not going to listen to that voice?” what I have discovered is your intuition, that little voice inside of you, it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t let up. It doesn’t shut up.

Now, it may not yell. It may not use a bullhorn. But it will be there. It will keep reminding you and you can ignore it all you want, but you know what? You’re not going to be able to shake it. Those little nagging knowings that can randomly just appear, they don’t go away until you listen to them because they have your best intention at heart.

And here’s what happens when you start listening to your intuition. You start to learn to trust it more. You start to learn that that little voice inside of you, even though it brings up fear and doubt and worry, it has a point. It’s worth listening to it.

But listening does sometimes require a leap of faith; faith that this little voice inside of you is working for you, not against you. It’s not out to get you. It’s not out to ruin your life. That’s what I thought. I really do believe that’s why I didn’t want to listen to it.

I kind of thought it was out to ruin my life. I was so worried about what it meant to really finally deal with my drinking. And I was so sure that it meant a life of being miserable.

And so, when I had that little nagging voice, I kind of thought it was out to ruin me. But when you start paying attention, when you start listening to it, you realize, maybe it’s actually leading you to something bigger, something better.

Because I really believe that your intuition has one goal. It’s to help you lead a life that is aligned with what you really want, with your truest desires. So, then the question is how do we take action instead of staying stuck? You have to embrace the being nervous, feeling overwhelmed, having fear, it’s part of the process. It’s going to come along for the ride. If you are waiting until that moment to make a change, when it feels totally peaceful and totally easy, it’s not coming. That’s not how change works. Because change is asking you to do something different and new. Change is asking you to rewire your habits. And if you’re doing something different and new, guess what? It’s going to feel challenging at first and that’s okay. You have to expect that it’s part of the process.

Now, that doesn’t mean just because it feels challenging, just because you feel nervous and overwhelmed and like you don’t know how to do this that you’re doing something wrong or you’re headed down the wrong path. In fact, I have started to learn that feeling nervous and feeling afraid and feeling overwhelmed, it often can be signals that I’m headed on the right path, which is not how my brain interpreted those emotions for a very long time.

I had to learn that waiting for calm and peace and ease just meant staying stuck. Of course you’re going to feel a little barfy when you try something new. Of course you’re going to feel pretty nervous when you hang out with people and you don’t drink and you’re used to drinking around them, or you go to the event or you go on the date, or you tell your partner that, “Hey, you know what? I want to take a break.”

Of course, that’s all supposed to happen. Instead of fighting these feelings, you can start to embrace them as the path. Because the logic and reasoning is there. We think that intuition is just this kind of gut feeling or gut sense. But if you’ll actually spend time with it, you’ll see that the logic and reasoning is there.

And if you want more logic and reasoning, that can just be found in the think-feel-act cycle. It’s committing to studying your mind and studying the habit and recognizing that your drinking doesn’t just happen. There’s always a thought first. There’s always a pattern there that you can start to peel back and uncover and change.

But no matter how much you practice this work and study the habit and study your relationship with alcohol, we’re not going to get to a point in life where we can just delete fear and overwhelm and uncertainty.

What we want to get to is a place where we can learn how to respond to them differently. And that’s what makes it so much easier to listen to your intuition in the future, which I will tell you will save you years and years and years of unnecessary suffering.

So, listen to that voice inside of you even if you feel nervous, even if you feel afraid. It knows what it’s talking about because what it’s talking about is a life aligned with what you deeply want. Alright, that’s it for today. I will see you 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.

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