How You Can Use Gratitude to Change Your Drinking

Episode 140 November 22, 2023 00:28:43
How You Can Use Gratitude to Change Your Drinking
Alcohol Tipping Point
How You Can Use Gratitude to Change Your Drinking

Nov 22 2023 | 00:28:43

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Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

This episode is all about using the power of gratitude to help you on your alcohol-free path. In fact, gratitude might just be the secret ingredient to help you change your drinking. When life is tough, lonely and you feel stuck, gratitude can be a tool to pull you up and out.  

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Welcome to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I'm your host, Deb Maisner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. I have found that there's more than one way to address drinking. If you've ever asked yourself if drinking is taking more than it's giving, or if you've found that you're drinking more than usual, you may have reached your own alcohol tipping point. The alcohol tipping point is a podcast for to find tips, tools, and thoughts to change your drinking. Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck, and you can change. Let's get started. [00:00:38] Welcome back to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. It is just a solo episode today, so you just get me, and I wanted to talk about gratitude. This is coming out right before Thanksgiving, and this is usually a time of year. We're always thinking about gratitude, and I really want to tie it into how you can use gratitude to help you change your drinking. And before I get started, I just want to invite you again. If you want to join the December alcohol Day, I would love to have you come celebrate the holidays together. We will be practicing not drinking. You don't have to be perfect, but I would encourage you to just try. If it's been a long time since you've had Christmas or a New Year's or Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate, if it's been years, decades even, since you've had just one of those events where you haven't drank, I would try it out. I like to call these kind of like once a year events, sober bucket lists. And so it can be like your first sober concert, your first sober wedding, your first sober holiday. And it's just a chance to really re experience the holidays in a different way, in a really clear, present way. So I want to invite you to join the December alcohol Day. And if you use the code holiday, all capital letters H-O-L-I-D-A-Y-I hope that I spelled that right. But it's holiday. You get 35% off. You get a daily email and content. It's hosted in a private group. We have meetings twice a week. I have a great coach from Britain. Her name is Judy Coach Judy. And she helps us out in the group, too. And it's a wonderful place to get support and get science and compassion based tools to help you change your drinking. Whether you're looking to take a break or you're done, like you want to divorce alcohol. So come join the next alcoholiday. It is at the website alcoholtippingpoint.com alcoholiday, and again, use that code, holiday all caps and get 35% off. I'll put the links in the show notes too, in case you're wondering how to spell everything. I've gotten much, much better at spelling alcoholiday, but that was always one of those words that gave me a lot of trouble for a while. I don't know why, I just wanted to put an O or an H in different places. At any rate, let's talk about gratitude as we're approaching Thanksgiving in the United States. [00:03:39] So I like what Brene Brown says about gratitude, and she argues that gratitude is a know. It's more of like a muscle or a practice that helps us appreciate the goodness in our lives and helps us overcome the fear of vulnerability. [00:03:59] And she also suggests that gratitude is a way of living up to our human potential and growing gentler toward ourselves and others. I think that's just a beautiful way to describe what gratitude is, especially that part about practice. It's something that we practice, and it's not something that comes easily. Sometimes too, like, we really have to take time to practice gratitude. So it's more than just saying thank you or feeling happy. It's a different way of looking at the world and looking at the world with more appreciation and wonder and recognizing the good things in our lives, even when things are hard or challenging. It's just a way to be thankful for all the people, places, and experiences that make your everyday life meaningful and enjoyable. And I think practicing gratitude is really helpful when we're changing a habit, especially a habit like drinking. And drinking is just so mired in shame and stigma that it can be really heavy. And so we want to practice gratitude just to help take us out of the heaviness. [00:05:16] Our brains are naturally hardwired to have a negativity bias, right? We are wired for self protection, so we're often just pay more attention to negative experiences. [00:05:31] We often tend to remember the days that we drink and really hang on to those days rather than focusing on like, well, what is going well? Am I drinking less? How many alcohol free days have I had? What does that look like? And so gratitude is a way that we can just move forward, be present and move forward. What happens is we are so focused on not drinking, or we're so focused on our goals, like our number. Like, okay, once I get a year sober, then I'll be happy. Once I get 30 days, 30 days streak, then I'll be happy. Once I can go a weekend without drinking then I'll be happy. And so what happens is you're always looking ahead, you're always looking at the next thing. [00:06:27] You're not in the now you're not paying attention to what's going on right now. And so gratitude is, in a way, an antidote to what is not yet present or has been accomplished. So when we can slow down and practice gratitude, then we can enjoy our life more with drinking. When you're changing your drinking, and maybe you haven't hit your goal, whatever that goal is, can you slow down and just be grateful that you're even changing your drinking? Can you be grateful that you have woken up from the matrix and realized, wow, this whole alcoholiday thing is really a shit show, right? Big alcohol and marketing, I've kind of been blind to that. I'm so glad. I'm so grateful that now I know. Now I know drinking is no longer serving me, now I know what alcohol does to your body and be grateful for that. And I'll get some more into some specific things related to drinking that we can do. But I just wanted to share some of that interesting background about how we get taken out of the present moment by always looking ahead. And so gratitude is a way to bring us back to the present moment. And it's that whole mindfulness thing that I'm so passionate about that I'm into. And so gratitude is actually a way to practice mindfulness, because you are practicing being grateful for what you have right now, not what you want, not what you're looking for, but what you have right now. [00:08:14] And let's talk a bit about the scientific proof and all the science that goes into gratitude. I think we all generally know gratitude is a good thing. I don't think anyone's going to argue that. But it's interesting, they've had research that shows just how beneficial it is for our minds and our bodies. They did a test at the University of California, and they found that people who kept a gratitude journal for two weeks, just two weeks, felt happier and healthier. They exercised more, they drank less alcohol, and their families and friends noticed they were nicer to be around. And that was just two weeks of keeping a gratitude journal. And other research has shown us that gratitude, as far as with our body, it can help lower blood pressure, it can improve your immune function, can reduce inflammation and promote better sleep. So all these physical benefits and then gratitude can also help reduce a lot of mental ailments, such as stress, anxiety, depression, anger. Gratitude can help you cope with the difficulties of life it can help boost your emotional resources and strengthen your coping skills. There's just so many positive benefits of gratitude that I've been studied. Let's tie in how gratitude can help you change your drinking. Gratitude, like I said, it's bringing yourself into the present moment. It's appreciating what you have, and it helps shift your focus from what you lack or you regret to what you have and cherish. And this is so important when we're changing our drinking, because a lot of the times we are kind of mired in regret and shame about our past, or we feel like we're lacking or we're anxious about the future. Because maybe if you don't yet have, like I said, that alcohol free goal, if you haven't hit 30 days alcohol frEe, or if you have a bigger goal of one year without drinking, that's a long goal to look ahead towards, right? And so sometimes that can seem really daunting. So if we can shift our focus back to just, okay, what's happening now that can really help us reduce any anger or resentment or guilt or shame, which those kinds of feelings make us want to drink. Right? And so when we practice gratitude, when we're changing our drinking, that helps bring up more positive emotions like joy and happiness and love and hope. Hope is a huge one that's going to help you when you're making any change. [00:11:00] How can practicing gratitude benefit your alcohol free journey? Let's just kind of talk about that, and then we'll talk about ways that you can practice gratitude. Some of the ways that gratitude can help you are reminding you of the reasons why you chose to quit drinking or change your drinking. [00:11:20] When you wake up from a night without drinking, you can remind yourself and tell yourself, like, wow, I'm so grateful I didn't drink last night. I feel really good today. I'm really grateful that I got such a good night's sleep last night. You can be grateful for how you're feeling when you are not hungover. So you can say, I'm really grateful to be feeling clear headed and focused. I am really grateful to be feeling full of energy. I'm really grateful that I listened to myself and I followed through on not drinking last night. I'm really grateful that there are all these podcasts out there and quit lit books and programs that help me quit drinking. I am really grateful for this friend I met along the way. So it's those kinds of things like remembering why you chose to quit drinking, how you're feeling in the moment when you are alcohol free when you're not hungover, that can be really helpful. Those kinds of things that brings you back to the present moment and just acknowledging how you feel and how grateful you are to be feeling this way. And gratitude can help you celebrate your achievements and milestones by just acknowledging them. It can also help you maintain a positive attitude and outlook on life by appreciating the present moment. So we really are acknowledging our achievements and milestones. So that might be, you know what? Today I didn't drink. That can be a huge achievement for someone. It can be. Today I told someone about my drinking. Let's talk about ways that you can practice gratitude, and I want to tie these into your alcohol free journey. So one practical thing you can do is every night that you hit that pillow sober, that you haven't drank that day, take time to acknowledge that. [00:13:34] Every night I would always say, I am so grateful that I didn't drink today. I am so thankful that I didn't drink today. And then every morning that you wake up alcoholiday free and hangover free again, say to yourself, I am so grateful that I didn't drink last night. I am so thankful that I didn't have a drink last night. And that really just takes the time out of the day for you to acknowledge your effort and for you to really spend some time just feeling that gratitude, that good feeling, that care. [00:14:17] Going back to what Brene Brown said about it being a practice and it being a way to live up to our human potential and growing gentler toward ourselves and others. So really being gentle with yourself and thanking yourself each morning and each night that you don't drink. And then another way to be gentle with yourself if you do drink that night and the next morning, usually the next morning is full of beating yourself up. Right? [00:14:52] Can you take a moment to just acknowledge that you are working on this? [00:14:58] I had a client say she's in the alcoholiday a day and she said for the first time after I drank one night, I woke up and I actually hugged myself. [00:15:12] She was being kind and gentle with herself and I just think that's so important. I know you might not feel gratitude in that moment, but maybe you can be thankful that you're even on this journey. Maybe you can be grateful that you are deciding to do something for yourself. And yes, this is hard work and it's worth it. And you can do it so that every night and every morning saying thank you for not drinking and then keeping a journal is probably one of the most common ones you hear about. But you could just keep a gratitude journal. You could just write down three things that you're grateful for every day. [00:15:57] And what that does during the day is it makes you look for things to be grateful for. It kind of makes you this little detective. And sometimes when you just pick three things, or even if you just pick one thing, I'm going to pick one thing I'm grateful for every day, then it makes it even more special. [00:16:21] And at the same time, I like to practice just being grateful for the little things. Like, I like to take time out when I am having a cup of coffee or tea, and I just want to be grateful. Like, I'm so grateful that coffee was invented. What an amazing invention. Thank God for that, right? But I just take a moment to be like, I'm so grateful I have time to hold this warm cup of coffee and drink this coffee in the morning. I'm so grateful for that. [00:16:56] I will pause and just look at the sky and the clouds. Lately, every time I drive my daughter to school early in the morning for junior high, and lately, since the time changed, we've got to see the sunrise. And I just am in awe and wonder. I'm so grateful that I am able to drive her to school in the morning and see that beautiful sunrise. I'm so grateful for that. [00:17:26] I'm so grateful for so many things, little inventions in my life. In your life, thank God. I am so grateful. We have modern heating and air conditioning and washers and dryers and dishwashers. Those are really everyday things that we kind of take for granted. And again, it goes back to that hedonic adaptation. We're just used to it. But once it goes away, then we're going to miss it. Have you ever had your dishwasher break? I have. And nothing makes you appreciate a dishwasher like when it gets broken, that's for sure. And same with your health, too. We oftentimes take our health for granted and you throw out your back, man. You realize, like, wow, I could have been more grateful for just being able to walk around. I'm also sharing that because I recently threw out my back by just bending over, picking up laundry. There's that laundry again. [00:18:31] But I was like, wow, maybe I was taking that for granted, just being able to walk and drive, and there's just so much you can be grateful for. I could go on and on and on, but the point is, it kind of brings you back into right now, in the present moment and starts just like pulling out all the good stuff, all the positive stuff instead of leaning towards all the negative stuff like, well, but I'm still drinking and I'm not going to get this. And the traffic is bad, and it's fall, it's going to be winter. I hate winter. That can take you down a negative path. And so just pulling it back in, like, okay, yes, it's winter and it's cold out, but what are you grateful for in the wintertime? [00:19:21] And think about that. [00:19:23] And so another way to practice gratitude would be to write a gratitude letter to someone who has helped you or inspired you. You can even just send a text. Here we are, modern day. Just send a text to a friend or your sister, loved one. Just, hey, thank you. Thanks for being in my life. [00:19:45] Thanks for helping me out the other day. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for inspiring me. Whatever that looks like can feel really good to write a little gratitude letter or text or email or whatever that looks like. It can just feel good to send those out. [00:20:04] Another thing you can do is write a list of all the things you're grateful for. I just listed a whole bunch and just keep that list with you. And if it's related to drinking or changing your drinking, your list could be like, I'm so grateful for all the Na beverages. I'm so grateful for. Maybe it's specific podcasts, maybe it's books. I'm so grateful for knowing I'm not alone. I'm so grateful that I'm changing my drinking. I'm so grateful that I'm doing something for myself. [00:20:45] Whatever that looks like, just write a list and carry it around with you. If you're a visual person, you could even do like a vision board or a collage or something like that. [00:20:59] Whatever floats your boat. But just kind of taking time to recognize, like, what about being alcohol free or this journey are you grateful for? [00:21:12] I am so grateful for being on this journey. I'm so grateful for the alcohol tipping point. I've met some really amazing people, and I feel blessed to be able to help people change their drinking. And I feel blessed to just be part of this new kind of like, sober curious movement. And I'm so grateful that there is a movement out there. I never feel competition or anything like that. I always feel grateful like, oh, thank God you have a program, that's great. You have a group, you have a community. I want to give people so many options because for a long time, I felt like I had no options. I felt like my options were either AA, which is fine, and if AA works for you, that's something to be grateful for. But I felt like my options were AA or inpatient rehab, and I felt like I had no options. So I am so grateful that there are so many options out there. If you want to change your drinking, like, that is such a good thing. Amazing. [00:22:24] Okay, what else can we say about gratitude? [00:22:29] Instead of putting yourself down or insulting or shaming yourself when you drink, try to appreciate what you have done and what your achievements are. Focus on your wins instead of dwelling on your misses. This is so important. A lot of times, people just get hung up over the days they drank, and they don't acknowledge all the successes on the days that they were alcoholiday free. That's why a lot of the times, it might not be helpful to count days. It might not be helpful for you to keep a record. Or maybe you could try something different, like keeping a percentage of days that you're alcohol free. I know that that was really helpful for me. I have a calendar where I had kept, I did a colored in heart for days. I didn't drink. I did half a heart for days. I drank two or less. Because for me, that was a huge deal. And so that was just a different way for me to look at it. And then I do percentages. Like, okay, this month I've been 85% alcohol free. [00:23:40] That's good. [00:23:42] Where am I trending? How's that looking? And so that can be really helpful for people, too, like, really focusing on how the wins you're doing again, right? The wins, not the misses. Go ahead, learn from those. If you drank more than you wanted to or you weren't wanting to drink at all and you drank, acknowledge that and learn from that. And that could even be something like, with hindsight, that you can be thankful for, because I feel like I can be thankful, and I am thankful for all my day ones because that's what brought me to this point. [00:24:25] I can be thankful for learning those lessons. [00:24:30] I'm so glad that I learned that lesson. That particular lesson. Like, hey, girl, you need to eat, right? You need to eat before you go out or you need to have a plan. So once you learn that lesson, be grateful for it. Like, yeah, I'm glad that I learned that lesson because a lot of the times, we're not even paying attention to our drinking. So when we can slow down and pay attention and learn a lesson and then say, okay, thank you. Thank you, universe, whoever out there for teaching me that lesson, next time I can do better, I will do better. I'll try to do better, whatever that looks like. [00:25:09] Other ways we can practice gratitude is to practice affirmations or positive statements about yourself. Like, I'm grateful for the friends I've made in my alcohol free journey. I'm grateful for my sobriety. I'm grateful for taking care of myself. [00:25:34] Those kinds of things and some ways that you can remember to practice gratitude are set a reminder or an alarm clock where you practice gratitude at a specific time every day. Okay, my gratitude time. Maybe that's the morning for you. Maybe it's the evening. Maybe it's lunchtime. [00:25:54] Set a timer or put it into your schedule. You can choose a gratitude buddy or a group and just share your gratitude regularly. What are you guys thankful for? Maybe you can do it on a text exchange. Maybe you can do it in an email chain, whatever that looks like. Okay? Or maybe you can do it with your family every night. Okay, guys, what's something you're grateful for? The one thing I do want to remind you is, when we're practicing gratitude, it doesn't mean like we're comparing ourselves to others or that you're denying negative emotions. [00:26:31] That's not the point. [00:26:33] I do want you to be aware of negative emotions and allow them and notice them. [00:26:40] And I want you to be aware of the other side of what else is true. [00:26:48] Yes, you may have drank last night, and what else is true? What else is true is you're listening to this podcast, which means you're working on your drinking and comparing ourselves to others. [00:27:02] We can be grateful for what we have and acknowledge like, there's a lot of suffering in this world. There really is. And we're not denying that there's a lot going on right now, and so we can still be grateful for what we have and acknowledge that others might not have that. All right, well, that is all I have for you today about gratitude. I hope this was helpful and maybe had you pause and think about it in a different way. [00:27:36] I want to invite you again to join the December Alcohol Day. If you want some more support and tools like practicing gratitude, you can go to alcoholtippingpoint.com alcoholiday and use the holiday code to save 35%. I want to thank you so much for listening, and I'll talk to you next week. [00:27:58] Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Alcoholiday Tipping Point Podcast. Please share and review the show so you can help other people, too. I want you to know I'm always here for you, so please reach out and talk to me on Instagram at Alcoholt Tipping Point and check out my website alcoholtippingpoint.com for free resources and help. No matter where you are on your drinking journey, I want to encourage you to just keep practicing. Keep going. I promise you are not alone and you are worth it. Every day you practice not drinking is a day you can learn frOm. I hope you can use these tips we talked about for the rest of your week and until then, talk to you next time.

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