Take a Break
What to Do if You Keep Slipping Up
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When you decide to change your drinking, you might think that to do this right, you can’t make any mistakes.
Then, when you do slip up and have a drink, you think you’ve failed.
If this sounds familiar, listen in. Find out why slip-ups on your break from drinking are not a problem, and the skills you need to master to finally feel in control of your drinking.
What You’ll Discover
Why changing your relationship with drinking doesn’t require perfection.
The foundational skills you need to learn to change your habit.
How to have your own back when you slip up and have a drink.
Featured on the show
You are listening to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart, Episode 317.
Whether you want to drink less or stop drinking, this podcast will help you change the habit from the inside out. We’re challenging conventional wisdom about why people drink and why it can be hard to resist temptation. No labels, no judgment, just practical tools to take control of your desire and stop worrying about your drinking. Now, here’s your host, Rachel Hart.
Welcome back, everyone. Today we are talking about a skill that you have to master. It’s so important to work on this skill if you want to change your relationship with alcohol, whatever that means for you. If you want to drink less. If you want to feel more in control. If you want to stop drinking. Whatever your goal is, you cannot skip over this skill.
We talk a lot on the podcast about understanding the think-feel-act cycle and learning how to respond differently to your urges. But this is something a little different today. Because this skill that I want to talk to you about is to stop thinking that you know how change is supposed to unfold. It’s so important that you drop believing that you have this crystal ball and knowing the right way for you to go about change.
This is something that I work on with people all the time when they join the membership, especially once they start doing the 30-Day Challenge. Because we all start out, especially when we’re embarking on a challenge, we all start out with this idea of how it’s supposed to unfold.
And for most people, that idea is pretty similar. I’m supposed to be perfect. I’m not supposed to slip up. I’m not supposed to make any mistakes. And it really shouldn’t be that hard. Yes, I’m worried that it might be hard, but really, it shouldn’t be a struggle. It should be easy.
It does not matter who you are, your background, your situation, or your specific relationship with alcohol, I just see this same belief come up over and over again. I’m supposed to do it right, or there’s a right way to do it. And that right way means not making any mistakes. This is supposed to be easy. It’s not supposed to be hard.
Especially for all of you listening, when you’re listening, and you think, “Oh my god, this makes so much sense. Finally, I’m understanding that my drinking doesn’t just happen. There is a thought, and there is a feeling.” And so logically, this thing that has been a little mysterious, starts to have some sense around it.
For all of you, you can really fall into the trap of, “Okay, but I understand what I’m supposed to be doing. I understand that my drinking doesn’t just happen, that I have a thought and a feeling. So, because I understand this, I should be able to change. I should be able to show up differently the next time that I have an urge.”
I talk about this a lot on the podcast, I have a whole episode about this, but there’s really a difference between knowledge and know-how. Everything that you’re learning on the podcast, it really is knowledge, and knowledge is incredibly important. It’s incredibly important for you to understand how the brain works, to understand what your desire is all about, to understand the different ways that you can respond to urges, and how to start to change that.
You have to have a baseline understanding of the brain and the habit and your desire. Yes, you need all the knowledge, but knowledge is not enough. That’s the lie that we tell ourselves all the time. “Oh, I just need to have the knowledge.”
You also have to have the know-how. And know-how requires practicing skills. It requires showing up again and again when things feel wobbly. When it didn’t go the way that you thought that it should.
And I will tell you that this piece of the habit, this belief that there’s a way in which change is supposed to unfold. And that if it doesn’t unfold that way, it means you’re doing something wrong; it means that you won’t be able to change your relationship with alcohol. This really is the underlying belief that you have to work on.
So, I always tell people, “You know, no matter what has happened when you’re doing the challenge. No matter what has happened, everything has unfolded according to plan.” This is not some kind of woo-woo B.S., right? It’s all supposed to happen this way.
What I’m saying is that everything has unfolded the way that it has, and it’s gone according to plan, because the plan is not to be perfect. The plan is not for everything to be easy. The plan is for you to gain awareness. To understand, okay, what feels challenging? What are those moments when it’s really challenging for me to say, no?
Maybe it’s easier at home and more difficult when you’re out with people or vice versa. What are those moments that are challenging? You have to understand what that is. What are the things that keep tripping you up? When your partner brings home a bottle of wine? When you’ve had a bad day at work? When you’re out with people, and you believe that you should be having a good time, but you’re sitting there not really enjoying yourself?
What trips you up? And most importantly, how do you react? How do you respond when you don’t follow through on your commitment? That right there, more than anything, is essential for you to identify. Because so often what happens is people will say, “Okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going to take a 30-day break from drinking. I’m going to do the work. I’m going to start applying these skills.”
And then they get to, I don’t know, day 11, and they slip up. Now, what happens next? What happens on day 12, 13, 14, 15? Is this the moment that you throw in the towel? Is this a moment that you say, “Ach, I knew it wasn’t going to work. I knew this was too hard.” Is this the moment that you say, “Actually, let’s just start over.” What happens then?
Because when you start to see, that what’s really slowing down change, what’s really preventing you from changing your relationship with alcohol, is not the fact that you broke your commitment, it’s everything that you made it mean the next day. Or, everything that you made it mean in the moment.
I was talking about this today on a call. I was saying, “You know, the moment that you break your commitment; it’s not like all is lost. You can learn how to interrupt the habit at any moment. Including after pouring the drink. Including after taking that first sip.”
So often, we don’t even realize that we can interrupt the habit there. Because we’re like, “Well, no. I mean, I already screwed up, so, you know, I might as well keep going. I already blew it.” But really starting to understand, “No, I can intervene at any moment. I can teach my brain a new way to respond, at any moment along the way.”
There’s real power in that. Because when you start to gain awareness about everything that feels challenging, the things that are tripping you up, or that you’re trying to avoid, how you react when you don’t follow through. All of a sudden, you have all of this data to really understand, “Okay, so how do I want to respond differently when these challenges appear next time?”
Now, the default is, “Well, they just shouldn’t be hard. And next time, I just want to make sure that I don’t make the same stupid mistake,” that’s not going to help you. What’s going to help you is, “Okay, what skill am I missing in that moment?”
Okay, maybe the skill is learning how to allow my urges. Because that urge appears, and I’m automatically annoyed. And I wish it wasn’t there. And I’m trying to push it away.
Maybe the skill is, how do I allow this feeling when I turn down a drink? Whether that is boredom, insecurity, or disappointment, how do I start to allow that? Because if I’m hoping that I can just delete those emotions from my life and never have to encounter them, we’re going to have a pretty hard time changing.
You get all these data points to start to see, “Oh, this is what I need to work on.” And this is why I say, that everyone needs the same foundational skills. This is an important piece, right? You need to understand your urges. You need to understand your brain. You need to understand how habits form. You need to understand the think-feel-act cycle. These are what I call “The Pillars” inside the membership. Everyone needs to start with that kind of foundational learning.
But then, your journey is always going to be very unique to you, unique to your thoughts, your certain circumstances, the situations that are challenging for you, and your excuses.
Some people will find that immediately. You know what? They really take to allowing the urge. As soon as they get this explanation that there’s this sensation in their body of wanting the drink, and then there’s the story in the mind. As soon as they get that explanation, it’s like something clicks. For some people, that is really easy.
For other people, that’s more challenging. Some people, as soon as they start to identify, “Oh, right, my drinking doesn’t just happen. There’s always a thought there.” As soon as they start to identify what those excuses are, and they learn how to respond to them… We teach a certain way; how do you start to respond to these excuses in a believable way? Some people take to that really easily.
I think one of the disservices that we do all the time, is we tend to focus on people’s drinking, and we tend to focus just on quantity. “Oh, how much are you drinking? Oh, you’re drinking too much. Oh, you got drunk last night; you shouldn’t have gotten drunk.”
We tend to focus on quantity, and we ignore that two people can polish off a bottle, and their habit can look completely different. And if all we’re doing is focusing on quantity, we’re doing those people a disservice.
So, I want you to really take this thought away with you today. Carry it around with you and think about it. Get curious about it. The thought is: It’s all going according to plan. Whatever happened yesterday, last weekend, last week, or last month, it all went according to plan. Because the plan isn’t for you to be perfect. The plan isn’t for you to never break a promise. The plan isn’t for you to find everything incredibly easy, and no big deal.
The plan is for you to gain awareness. And everything that you want to look at and say, “Ooh, I did that wrong. That was me screwing up. That was a mistake. That’s where I blew it.” All of those moments are trying desperately to give you awareness about what you need to practice.
It’s trying to give you awareness about what keeps tripping you up. And how you can start to respond differently. I promise that the answer is not, “I just need to learn my lesson and stop being so stupid.” The answer is to start learning the skills that no one teaches us.
It’s to start learning how to show up with your urges differently and learning how to respond back to your excuses in a way that actually feels believable, rather than being a drill instructor with yourself. It’s really understanding, how do I start to take this habit… And get it out on paper. Write out that think-feel-act cycle so that you can see it, so that you can have a little distance from it.
I was doing this the other day. And someone said, “You know what? I wrote out what was going on. I put it in a model.” They posted it in our Ask A Coach area. So, this is an anonymous area. Anyone can post a question. You can post the think-feel-act cycles that you’re working on.
And they said, “You know, I wrote this out, and I was waiting to hear back from a coach. And in the time that I was waiting to hear back, I was kind of amazed at how I started to feel better. I hadn’t even gotten a response yet. But just getting my thoughts out, getting it out on paper, it made me feel a little bit more in control.”
It helped her with, “This thing that felt so jumbled up in my head. It gave me some clarity around it. And that, in and of itself, helped move me to a better place.” And that’s really what I want for every single one of you listening.
All of these tools are about learning how to coach yourself. Learning how to help yourself in those moments when your brain is like, “This is too hard; let’s just have a drink. This feels too uncomfortable; let’s just have a drink.”
Learning how to be that person that always has your back. And isn’t trying to sugarcoat things. And isn’t kind of giving you a pep talk that feels false. But truly, how to support yourself in those moments when you’re like, “No, all I want is a drink right now.”
That’s what this work is about. And when you can do that, not only will your drinking change, not only will your relationship with alcohol change, everything will change for you. But it starts with this belief that everything that’s happening, and everything that has happened, it’s all going according to plan. It’s here to help you.
Alright, everybody, that’s it for today. I will see you next week.
Okay, listen up. Changing your drinking is so much easier than you think. Whether you want to drink less or not at all, you don’t need more rules or willpower. You need a logical framework that helps you understand and, more importantly, change the habit from the inside out.
It starts with my 30-Day Challenge. Besides the obvious health benefits, taking a break from drinking is the fastest way to figure out what’s really behind your desire. This radically different approach helps you succeed by dropping the perfectionism and judgment that blocks change.
Decide what works best for you when it comes to drinking. Discover how to trust yourself and feel truly empowered to take it or leave it. Head on over to www.RachelHart.com/join and start your transformation today.