Therapy Unveiled: Healing After Quitting Drinking with Justin Boyd Long

Episode 153 February 21, 2024 00:50:37
Therapy Unveiled: Healing After Quitting Drinking with Justin Boyd Long
Alcohol Tipping Point
Therapy Unveiled: Healing After Quitting Drinking with Justin Boyd Long

Feb 21 2024 | 00:50:37


Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

Justin Boyd Long is a self-embracing nerd who loves crunching numbers, researching interesting things, and listening to podcasts, in addition to reading loads of books. He got sober at 32 but still felt uncomfortable in his own skin so he started counseling to overcome his past trauma. Justin wrote about his therapy sessions in his book, The Righteous Rage of a Ten-Year-Old-Boy.  

Justin is on the podcast today to share his experience with overcoming drinking and using counseling to heal the past. 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: 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. [00:00:20] Speaker B: Own alcohol tipping point. [00:00:22] Speaker A: The Alcoholiday tipping point is a podcast for you to find tips, tools, and. [00:00:26] Speaker B: Thoughts to change your drinking. [00:00:27] Speaker A: Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck and you can change. [00:00:35] Speaker B: Let's get started. Welcome back to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. Today on the show, I have Justin Boyd Long. Justin is a self embracing nerd who loves crunching numbers, researching interesting things, and listening to podcasts. In addition to reading loads of books, he's also written lots of books. And he's here to talk about his experience with getting sober but still feeling uncomfortable in his own skin and still needing to overcome past trauma. One of his books is called the righteous rage of a ten year old boy. And that's where Justin really explored his personal therapy sessions and how they helped him overcome his past trauma and just heal. And I really appreciate you coming on the show today, Justin, to share your experience with drinking and then know once you got like that didn't fix everything, and so you took the additional steps to do counseling and specifically therapy that involved EMDR. And we recently, well, once this comes out, it'll be a few months back, but I did an episode about EmDR with a therapist, and people found it really interesting. And so I'd love to hear your perspective of how it was helpful for you and just hear more about your story and how you can help other people and men specifically, who are notorious for not asking for help. So thank you for being on the show. [00:02:21] Speaker C: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. [00:02:24] Speaker B: Well, can you give a little intro about who you are and what you do because you have so much beyond just writing this book, because you've written a lot of other books. You have a really interesting. [00:02:38] Speaker C: I think I'm sort of a background character in my life. My wife is the hero, but my wife is a very famous equine veterinarian, and we have a veterinary practice called Spring Hill equine veterinary clinic out outside of Gainesville, Florida. And we work on horses. And that is a life that I knew nothing about. I met my wife when I was 38, and I was, I think, six years sober at that point and starting to figure out who I was and trying to get a handle on things. And then I got tossed into this world of just insanity that I didn't even know existed. So I'm peripherally aware that horses are out there. But living with a horse doctor on a day to day basis was like an intense lifestyle change for me. So I ended up writing a couple of books called the Adventures of the horse doctor's husband. I just released a third one, as a matter of fact, a few months ago. So just all kinds of crazy stuff that happens around horses and horse emergencies and so on. So that's my day job. I run the business side of things, and my wife is a doctor, and that's a full time job all by itself. But in addition to that, I'm also a sober person, and I am super committed to personal growth and development and trying to increase my self awareness and figure out who I am and make myself the best version of me that I can be. And that is also a full time job. And it involves a lot of therapy and a lot of introspection and a lot of willingness to examine the hard stuff and acknowledge that I have problem areas that I need to work on. But I'm far enough down this road, and I've had enough success with that, that I embrace that lifestyle wholeheartedly. I find the pain to be an indicator that something good is coming around the corner, because every time that I've walked through pain, I've come out the other side stronger and better. And that has taught me to be open minded about that. [00:04:33] Speaker B: Wow. Yeah. I have embraced the alcohol free lifestyle. I call myself an alcohol free badass. [00:04:41] Speaker C: And you are, I will agree, and you are, too. [00:04:46] Speaker B: Well, could you share what your experience was with drinking and how you unwound that part of your life? [00:04:54] Speaker C: Yeah. I got sober in 2008, and I did not do that with a long term plan of staying sober, but I knew at that time that alcohol was causing enough problems in my life that I needed to take a step back and reevaluate where I was at. So I was 32 years old then. I felt like I knew pretty much everything. And at this point, I recognized that I knew nothing at that point in my life, but I knew that I was miserable and that I hated myself and I hated myself every day and that alcohol wasn't doing the trick for me anymore. And I didn't know where to turn because alcohol had been my coping tool since I was in high school. So I used alcohol and I used cigarettes to change the way that I felt about myself or about any situation that I was in for the entirety of my adult life. And when I took that away, I didn't have any coping tools anymore. And that was a scary place for me to be. And so I've stumbled my way into a different way of living, kind of on accident. I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn't know any sober people. I didn't know anybody that were. We surround people who sign off on our bullshit, right? So everybody that was in my world was a drinker on the same level that I drank, which was a lot, and constantly. I didn't have anybody even on the periphery of my life that I could look at and be like, oh, well, they're doing something different. Let me look at that. So I came into recovery just at a high level of emotional pain, I would say. And that is when I began slowly learning about myself and about my habits and about what I had been doing with my life. And it took a long time. It took me two years to find a mentor that was really knowledgeable and able to kind of guide me through the beginnings of self awareness and learning how to examine myself and figure out the why behind the what. But this guy, I think he was 78 or 79 when I met him. He was an old, gay, one eyed, Apache Vietnam veteran yoga instructor. Just scary and crazy and Zen like. He had long black hair, but only one eye. The glass eye would stare off out into the distance, but everything about that guy just radiated unbelievable presence. And when I met him, I was like, that's the guy I want to talk to. And he took me through a workbook called a Gentle Path through the twelve Steps by Patrick Carnes. I was probably two and a half years sober by the time I started that. So I had not drank in a long time. And I had gone through the steps that you do in twelve step programs. So I sort of had a very base level understanding of what happens when I drink and why I shouldn't drink. I know that if I'm in a group of people, I'm going to try to have sex with anybody that's willing. And if that's my same friend group that I party with every weekend, I'm going to be hitting on the same people, and I'm going to wake up the next day with the same shame that I wake up with every day and horrified about my behaviors and all of the self loathing that comes along with that, hating myself until 02:00 in the afternoon when I can get off work and go home and drink again and numb that out. I understood that cycle of my behavior, but we called it the brutal path. The brutal path taught me how to really get down to the nitty gritty of why what was going on in my life that I was trying to solve with alcoholiday. That's really where I think I got to take my story all the way back to the beginning for it to make sense. My story starts when I'm 32 and getting sober, but it goes forward and backward at the same time, because the farther I got into recovery, the farther back in my life I had to go to make sense of all this before I was even born. I think the pieces were in place for me to in trouble. And my mom and dad met in high school, in college, and they dated all through college. And then when they graduated, my mom took off with another guy and went to California and got pregnant with me. And then that didn't work out. And so she called her old boyfriend back, and he came and rescued her. And now he was in a pre made family with me in tow. And so I can understand as an like, there would be a ton of resentment in that I'm a constant reminder of that bad spot that happened in their life, right? But he adopted me. I never had a relationship with my biological father. I've never met him. But my mom and dad were both very emotionally damaged people, and both from their childhoods and from life experiences together and their relationship and stuff, but mostly from their childhoods, I've learned that this is very cyclic. They took to raising me because I was there, I was part of it. But they were very much dealing with their own traumas, and I understand that now. I did not understand that then, but what they did do was convince me from day one that they were always right, that you can't question their infallibility. My mom was super religious, so if I'm questioning my parents, then I'm also questioning God, and that's a ticket straight to hell. And so that got impressed on me at the very beginning. So I launched into all this with the firm understanding that no matter what, my parents are right. And my dad would. He was a workaholic. He didn't drink, he didn't use any of the coping tools that I turned to. He turned to work and that, just like his dad, did the same thing, but he would have all of these chores for me to do every day. And then when he would come home from work, we would go through the chores list and he would punish me for any shortcomings that I had. And there's always shortcomings, whether it's stacking firewood and the perfect stack isn't perfect, or digging a ditch and the ditch isn't quite straight, or pounding nails out of boards and I missed one. There's always something. And so every day I would come home from school and do all this work, and then my dad would come home from work and give me a spanking. And that imprinted on me that I'm never going to be able to do this right. I cannot meet the expectation. I just can't do it. And my mom, on the other end of the spectrum, not a disciplinarian at all, but she would make me pull the trash can in from outside and sit in the trash dumpster and wait for my dad to come home to spank me for infractions that I did with her. I had that rejection from my mom. She's throwing me away. I had the rejection from my dad that I can never be good enough. And they were infallible. They were right, so I couldn't question that, so they rejected me. I learned to reject myself and I carried that all the way through my whole life. When I got into high school, I had 15 years of that rejection under my belt and they didn't need to reject me anymore. I'd picked up that football and was carrying it on my own and it was all completely unconscious. But they taught me how to feel about myself and I didn't question that even into adulthood. I went to the army. The army reinforced that, that I'm wrong and that I'm going to get punished for everything I do just because that's the nature of the army, right? But it just reinforced my beliefs. And alcohol was my solace from that. Alcoholiday was the one thing that would make me feel okay about who I was. And it worked great for a long time. I got to say, I started drinking in high school. I think I was 13 or 14 the first time I got drunk, but I was drinking regularly by the time I was 16. And like, every weekend in high school, me and my two buddies would go get hammered and I would. Even to the point of, like, I was the one with a vehicle because I had a job. And so I would carry the booze around. And if we had leftover booze, I would have it at school with me on Monday morning and I would sneak out of class and go finish it off in the parking lot. 09:00 on Monday morning so I was displaying really red flag drinking behaviors right away, but I didn't care because it made me feel good about who I was. And nothing else in my world was doing that right. I didn't have anything else that was positive input in my life. So, of course, I'm a fast learner. I associate drinking with feeling good. I believed that that was my rescue from the way that I felt about myself. And like all things, it has diminishing returns. And so it worked less and less and less throughout my think. By the time I was like 25, I was still filled with so much self loathing that it was spilling over into every aspect of my life and tons of insecurities from my dad. I couldn't accept criticism from supervisors. I needed constant attention. Sexual misbehavior like crazy, even though I was in a long term relationship, because I needed someone to accept me. And if you were willing to have sex with me, then you accept me for who I am. But it only works for a little while. So whether I was going to the bar with my girlfriend or the parties, I was constantly seeking that attention from other people in unhealthy and negative ways, not even understanding the why behind what I'm doing. But it's what I did because it was what made me feel good so that I could get through to tomorrow. I drank, I think, the last five or six years of my drinking without really getting any of the positive effects from it anymore. But I didn't know what else to do because it was the only tool that I had. So when I finally found my way into an AA meeting, it was not really to quit drinking. It was to figure out, how do I get this working again so that I can feel better about who. [00:15:04] Speaker B: You went the route of AA to change your drinking. And then when did you realize, like, there's more to do. I can't just remove the, like, I need more help? [00:15:18] Speaker C: I think I knew that fairly early on, at least on some level. I recognized that I went through the euphoria that you go through when you first remove alcohol. The pink cloud, a lot of people call it. I was on that for a long time, just feeling great because my body felt different, I think, and just getting my brain dried out. I wrote on that for a while, but we talked in meetings a lot. AA was about the only tool there was in 2008 that I was aware of, that I could find. So I didn't plug into all of the things. I'm not a religious person. The faith based side of it. I had some challenges with that, but I decided that I could get past some of that stuff and try to hold on to the stuff that does make sense to me because that euphoria feeling was really great. And I hope that that would last forever. But I have had some of the worst years of my life sober, and especially when I was going through the brutal path, like, really digging into who I am and my behaviors and my family history and a lot of that stuff. And Roland, my mentor, he used every tool that he had to get me through that. But he's still not a professional, right? He's not a therapist. He's not a licensed counselor of any sort. So he got me through it as best as he could. But it was still a very painful process. And I didn't have appropriate reinforcement, I think emotional reinforcement to help me ride through that. But I recognized by the time I got to the end of that that I have a bag full of issues that I need to address that don't have anything to do with drinking. And that not drinking does not make me stop hating myself. I'm not putting more wood on the fire because I'm not doing those behaviors that make me wake up and want to shoot myself because of what I did last night. The shame monster isn't getting fresh material, but the shame monster is still there kicking my ass every day. And I carried so much shame with me and so much guilt and so much self loathing that at three or four years sober, I didn't want to drink again. But I still didn't want to keep living like that anymore either, because those were my real problems. Like, I've got all these feelings and I don't know what to do with them. And I think that some of that is our culture. Like, men aren't allowed to have feelings outside of rage, right? Like, my dad never, ever expressed anything other than rage. And so I didn't have any emotional training on how to even recognize and identify feelings, much less what to do with them. And all of my life, I had crushed all my feelings, either with alcohol or with a cigarette. If I'm excited, I'm going to smoke a cigarette and calm down. If I'm angry, I'm going to smoke a cigarette and calm down. If I'm bored, I'm going to smoke a cigarette. I put a chemical nickel into my body to change the way I felt, no matter how I felt. Like my standard way of being was that I reject the way that I feel right now, no matter what it is. And it's an unconscious thing, but I started to become conscious of that and I was like, it seems like if I'm going to find happiness or contentment or a way to be okay with me in my head, I'm going to have to get okay with the way that I feel. And that sort of started me on the path of being open to maybe getting some counseling, which was such a taboo thing to even say out loud for me. Just the world that I lived in. Like, men don't go to counseling. Counseling is what you do right before you get divorced. And that's about the extent of my understanding of counseling. Right. Which is ridiculously short sighted, but it's where I was at at that time, is all. Managed to, with Roland's help, I managed to get ok with the idea of maybe seeing a therapist to talk about some anger issues and stuff like that. And it's like, okay, I can do anger management that's manly enough to be acceptable, right? I think I was probably six years sober when I actually finally went and saw maybe five years. It was right before I met my wife. I saw a therapist for the first time and it was nothing like what I thought it would be. And I learned a lot about myself in a short amount of time and about feelings and a, that it's okay for me to have them, and b, that it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with me when I'm feeling any kind of way, whether it's good or bad. And that gave me some level ground to stand on and be like, maybe I'm not crazy or broken. I have challenges that I need to work through, but it doesn't mean that there's wiring loose in my head. That was a big turning point for me. That opened me up to the idea of it was, I think I saw her for close to a year before I met my wife and moved to Florida. And the first thing that I did when I moved to Florida is sought out a new therapist and took it to the next level. And that's when I got into trauma therapy and everything in my life changed. [00:20:44] Speaker B: Yeah. And that's what your book is about. It's really about if anyone is interested, like what happens in a therapy session, you could read this book, the righteous rage of a ten year old boy. Because you walk through your therapy sessions doing EMDR and the breakthroughs you have, it's pretty amazing. I was telling you before we started recording, it was difficult for me as a reader to read because the things that you went through were so just awful, the child abuse. But how you wrote about it and how she helped you navigate it, it was very powerful. And so, can you kind of share what your experience was like and how you ended up doing EMDR and just what that is? [00:21:42] Speaker C: EMDR is a form of trauma therapy, and it's used especially with people with, like, PTSD who have had big traumatic moments. So if you've been in a car wreck or violence or combat any of those big trauma events, it is super useful for that kind of stuff, but it's also really useful for people like me, who, I didn't have any big t's, but I had a whole lot of small t's, just those everyday negative psychological experiences with my mom and dad. Like, there's just a myriad of small traumas and what it does. I am not a brain science expert, but this is my understanding that we process feelings in our amygdala, and we don't process trauma very well. So when we have a traumatic event, those feelings get hung up in our amygdala and don't ever get processed and turned on into memories and stored elsewhere in the brain. And EMDR, we access the amygdala, we light it up with bilateral stimulation, and we access those memories with an adult perspective, an outside perspective, and not in the middle of that trauma perspective, and we look at the situation, what happened, and get some truth shined on it, and change the emotions that are tied to those memories. And then they can go on through the amygdala and get processed and stored wherever it is that the brain stores those as regular memories with everything else. So, for me, my therapist would take me back to, like, standing in front of the firewood stack with my dad, and we're counting pieces of firewood that are sticking out that I'm going to get swats for. And child me, six year old me, standing there, believes that I'm not capable of making a good firewood stack, that I'm not good enough. Adult me can recognize that child me, stacked the firewood every day, and we never went cold because there wasn't firewood for the stove. And that the fault lies in my dad for not knowing how to reinforce positive and negative behaviors. He's a bad parent. He doesn't have any idea what he's doing. He's taking out his own traumas on me. And so when I can look at that from my adult perspective and see that six year old Justin did a great job and that there was nothing wrong with him, there's something wrong with his dad. I process that memory. I now have a positive emotion attached to that. So when I think about myself in front of that firewood stack, I don't think about the loser Justin. I think about the badass Justin and how amazing I am that I went through that every day and never gave up and kept doing it all the way to the end. And a process of just going through those events over and over and over, a series of those, all the ones that I could think of with my therapist and examining those looking at me sitting inside the trash can on the back porch while my mom's sewing over at her sewing machine and recognizing that it's not that I can't keep my mouth shut when she told me to be quiet while she's on the phone. It's that I'm an eight year old kid, and I'm filled with energy, and she doesn't know how to appropriately guide or punish me in those situations. And she's taking out her own traumas on me that had nothing to do with me. I was fine. And when I can look at that, I change my understanding of who I was in that trash can, that I wasn't the bad kid. I was the victim in that situation. And I'm okay, and I came out okay. And so it takes all of the knee jerk reactions when I'm in situations that trigger feelings like that, when I feel like I'm not good enough, when my boss gives me negative feedback that I didn't do such a good job with something, if I had that unprocessed trauma sitting in my amygdala, I have such an over the top, combative reaction to that. Like, I was a horrible employee most of my life because I couldn't take criticism from a supervisor, because I couldn't take criticism from my dad. It made me want to fight because he made me feel bad about who I was. But when I've processed that with EMDR, I don't have that reaction anymore. I don't have to fight to the death to defend myself all day, every day. I don't have to overdo everything that I do to prove that I have enough value to be at the table. And that changes everything. That takes me from being wildly unconfident and just fearful and unsure of who I am and unwilling to feel the way that I feel into being a confident person who can handle everything that comes at me in life. And I think that is the ultimate sobriety guard for me because I don't have to drink or smoke or do any of the compulsive behaviors that I've been prone to do. I went through a phase of buying guitars because every time I bought a guitar, it made me feel good for a few days. But I was just doing the same thing that I did with a drink. But when I have dealt with the challenges that drive me to drink in the first place, which is the way that I feel about myself, and not just thought about it or talked about it, but actually dealt with it with a therapist and resolved the issues that are underlying, then I no longer have a broken part in me that I feel like I need to fix with a drink. And that's an amazing place to be. And I've been here for several years now, but I'm still wowed by it every day because. And I hope the novelty from that never wears off because it's such a different existence than what I did for the first 45 years of my life. [00:27:25] Speaker B: Yeah, it was really amazing to read. Like you would take a memory and your therapist as part of the EMDR, the bilateral stimulation you were talking about, you're holding on to paddles, right? [00:27:41] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:27:42] Speaker B: Can you describe a little bit more about the paddles? Sounds like what? [00:27:49] Speaker C: It's a weird thing, and there are several different ways to do it. Sometimes it's done with a metronome, so you get a sound in left ear, right ear. Sometimes it's done with paddles that vibrate. Left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand. Sometimes done with lights. You got lights on a bar. It's a left window flash. Right, one of flash. But what that is doing is they call it bilateral stimulation because you're activating both hemispheres of your brain at the same time. And it gets deep science stuff. And I don't know all the details on exactly how that works, but that is what gets your amygdala processing and receiving input, as well as the hippocampus and other parts of the brain where hopefully that information is going to go. And so that left right stimulation just gets the brain opened up so that you can actually move those feelings through and get them where they're supposed to be. Because just thinking about it, like, I could sit and think about me sitting in the trash can, and all I'm doing is reinforcing those negative feelings, even if I'm trying to attach some positive stuff to it. The parts of the brain that are holding on to that trauma have to be able to process that, and that's what the MDR part does. [00:29:03] Speaker B: I thought it was fascinating and so she would take a memory, like a limiting belief that you had about yourself, like, I don't matter, or I'm not good enough, or I feel stupid. She would pick one of those and have you process the memory while you're getting the bilateral stimulation and then help you change that limiting belief from I feel stupid to I know I'm right or I have value versus I don't matter. And it was just fascinating to read about how you went through that process. [00:29:45] Speaker C: It was really enlightening to me to go through it, too, because in that process, I learned about a lot of the beliefs that I have that I inherited from my parents. And I think one of the most important ones was what power is or where I get my value as a human being. And for me, watching my dad be who he was, he dominated every aspect of my life. And in my heart, I believe that that's how you win as a man or whoever is like that. You have to dominate everything around you. And so that was my goal all through adulthood. I was trying to dominate and be on top so that maybe I would be able to feel okay about who I am and that I'm doing it. And maybe I can get that pat on the back when he can see me crushing life and crushing everyone around me. But going through that process in therapy, I realized that. Well, I realized a number of things, one of which is that my dad had a crap job. He had a house that was falling apart, a car that wouldn't stay running. His wife was crazy. Everything in his life was a mess. And the only thing that he dominated was me. And that was a stunning revelation, because I believed in my heart that my dad was one step down from God, right? He had all the power. But the other thing that I learned is that dominating people, that doesn't give me any value, that doesn't give me any happiness. There's nothing positive happening there. I wouldn't want to dominate people, especially once I learn how to love myself. I have no need to dominate anyone else. And what I really appreciate is strength, like the power to stand by what I believe, no matter what's going on or who's around me. Rather than selling out my identity to try to get someone else's approval, which is another one of my go to most of my life as a people pleaser and trying to get approval all the time, I appreciate standing firm to what I believe in. I appreciate that in other people who don't bow down to pressures coming external to them. And that's what I try to emulate in my life now. But until I examined those beliefs that I inherited, I never even thought about why I believed the things that I believe. And there's an awful lot of stuff that I learned from my parents that were wrong or that I disagree with. And even simple stuff like my dad. On the rare occasion that we ever ate a steak, my dad believed that a steak ought to be burned to a crisp. And so I went through my adult life thinking that that's how you eat a steak. And I was, like, 34, 35 years old before my friend finally convinced me to try a medium rare steak at a nice steakhouse. And I did, and it was amazing. And I was like, oh, my God, that was wonderful. My dad was wrong about steaks. And since then, I've learned that my dad was wrong about a lot of things. He was wrong about steak, and he was wrong about what's important in being a man, and he was wrong about who I am. But I needed some cracks in that ice in order for me to break through that and start figuring out who I think that I am and who it is that I want to be and what's important to me. [00:33:07] Speaker B: What do you think were some other big breakthroughs you had with therapy or tools? What were some other aspects about it that you're like, wow. [00:33:24] Speaker C: I think that realizing how few insecurities that I actually have, but how many different ways that they can manifest themselves in my know, as a business owner, I deal with a lot of things. Like at t is one of my prime examples. At t drives me crazy because they make me feel like I don't. Can't. You can't get somebody that cares about your problem, right? But when I'm riddled with insecurities, I take that to heart. And I have been stuck in the phone tree with at t, and I'm ready to go take a baseball bat to the at t tower trying to break some windows to show them my frustration. And before I ever even get to a person, and then once I get to a person, I'm attacking them instantly while hoping that they'll solve my problem. But it's because of the way that I feel about myself. And their phone tree reinforced that to me. And that's absurd when you say it like that and you look at it from an outside perspective. Right? But those kinds of things were dominating my experience as a sober professional adult trying to run a business or when I had a problem employee that I needed to let go, my people pleaser needs inside of me were still so powerful. I couldn't terminate somebody. My wife had to do all the firing because I would lock up in an anxiety attack over it. And through therapy, I came to realize that I didn't want that person to think badly of me. That's still a negative belief system that I have about myself, that I can't do anything that would make someone else think poorly of me. Right. I need everybody to like me because I valued myself based on what I thought other people valued me on, instead of understanding my own value system. So when you rely on external input to get your value, you're going to lose every time. And I was losing every time because a nobody is spending that much time thinking about me. Even people that I deal with on a regular basis that are close to me, they might think about me three or four times a day at most. Right. And so for me to take two total minutes of interaction with somebody and build what they think of me off of that, so that's what I think of me. That's a ridiculous way to live, but it's what I did. For a long time, I pulled all of my value from other people's opinion of me. But again, it's because the opinion that I had of myself was bad and I needed something different. So just being able to change the way that I feel about myself and know that my value comes from within me and my abilities and what I bring to the table and my commitment to trying to improve who I am and grow into my capacity, the ramifications from that in every aspect of my life, whether it's an aggressive driver that's flipping me off because I'm only doing 75 and he wants to go 80 to at and t's phone tree to managing my business and protecting my staff and our business, rather than protecting my. Like, it's across the spectrum, but it's all based on one negative self belief that just, that was stunning to me. That was the biggest insight, I think, that I had in therapy, is that I really only have to fix one thing, but it impacts everything in my life. [00:36:54] Speaker B: Wow. Well, what are some other helpful tools that people might benefit from? Some you shared, like your character support team. You talked about putting process memories in a box. Can you think of or just expand on those tools or ideas that kind of helped you out? [00:37:16] Speaker C: Yeah. The support team was really important for me. That's something that you set up at the beginning of your EMDR journey. Your therapy journey is to, I'm going to walk a hard road and I can take anybody that I want to take with me. Who do I want to take? And for know, I had to think about mean. The first thing that comes to mind is some. Some badass superhero, Superman or Thor or something like that's. That's really not who I aspire to be as a don't. I don't want to be that physical dominator and rule through force thing. So the first one that I picked was Gandalf. Because Gandalf is wise. He's thoroughly capable of handling anything that happens. He's got the power of magic. He can do all the stuff, but he's wise and he cares and he's charismatic. I think mostly that he cares. And he makes little people feel like they're important. And that means a lot to me because I might be six foot two and I'm a big, tall white guy, and I'm at the top of the ladder and all of those measurements, but know I'm a scared little boy, and I need somebody to guide me down the road, right? And Gandalf really feels that role for me. But another one is, I love Bob Ross. Like, that guy is the physical embodiment of Zen and just being chill no matter what. And I am not. I am the volcano that will not stop exploding, slinging lava everywhere. Right? So, like, I appreciate Bob Ross being cool so much. And he's been probably my number one team member in my day to day life, because I find when I'm on top of my game and I can think about Bob Ross standing beside me when I'm in a challenging situation, whether it's with at t or with my mother in law or what. Would I say this if Bob Ross was standing beside me? And the answer is generally no, I am not going to be an asshole in front of Bob Ross. Right? So I need that visualization for some reason. Like, I need the reminder, don't be an asshole. And Bob ross does that for me. But even on the warrior side, if I do find myself in a conflict and I need a warrior, I chose Xena, warrior princess, for that because she's incredibly capable, but she's also caring, and she cares about the little people. And she reminds me of my wife. Like, my wife is the real life Xena warrior princess, who's the super badass and can handle anything. And, like, I'm very much a feminist, and I think that having Xeno on my team really appeals to the image of the tough person on my team. The enforcer isn't some brute dude. It's a woman. And that appeals to me a lot. So I picked a few more people. But filling out my team in that way with characters that are important to me and that I can see them standing around me when I'm in any situation that gives me so much emotional courage when I'm in a scary situation. I think we're very tribal by nature. We're a herd animal. We want people around us and being able to be alone in a situation. But picture my crew with me. Makes me feel not so alone. I don't know. It's a wonderful tool. It sounded silly to me in the beginning, but it has been so incredibly useful to me and I still carry Bob Ross with me everywhere I go. [00:40:56] Speaker B: Well, I think it's a good idea. That could be something that someone could do, like, ok, who is your character support team? Who has your just. It's a creative way to. And you've been so thoughtful about who you choose and who has your back. And I just love the creativity and support of it and I think that it's a great idea and a great out of the box tool for people to use. [00:41:27] Speaker C: Well, I use this on occasion. I do take some people into early recovery and try to do some mentoring with that. And when I find other people who are atheist or agnostic and aren't really comfortable with the higher power aspect of things in traditional twelve step recovery, I use that as a tool for if we think that God is a made up construct anyway, use this to insert the people in here to create your own higher power in a way that makes sense to you. And it's the exact same thing. It's all an emotional support system. When we recognize that we can't control things, we need to accept that that's being controlled by an external force. This gives us an image that we can construct to put on that instead of the man in the clouds. And so if you're a faith based person, then that's absolutely great. But if you're not, this is a useful alternative tool to put into that space. [00:42:22] Speaker B: Yeah. Instead of what would Jesus do? What would Bob Ross do? [00:42:28] Speaker C: What would Bob Ross do? Exactly. [00:42:31] Speaker B: What would Mr. Rogers do? [00:42:34] Speaker C: Oh, that's a great one. That would be a fantastic team member. I may have to add him in now that I think about it. [00:42:41] Speaker B: I would maybe add like Oprah. [00:42:44] Speaker C: Yeah. I mean you could put anybody on your know. [00:42:47] Speaker B: I know, right. You could do fictional people or real people and just recognizing. Yeah. You're not alone. And just to have this backup. [00:43:01] Speaker C: Absolutely. [00:43:02] Speaker B: It's fun and helpful. So that's awesome. [00:43:05] Speaker C: Checks all the boxes. [00:43:07] Speaker B: Exactly. Can you think of any other tools you use? And maybe, like you said, you applied that to people who are early into changing their drinking. Any other thoughts you have for people who are changing their drinking? [00:43:23] Speaker C: It's been a long time since I've been in that position. But some of the things that I wish that I had at that point are as I've developed self awareness and really worked on recognizing urges and behaviors, and I still have it today. Even though I've done all this trauma therapy and I've changed the way that I feel about myself, I still have knee jerk reactions. I'm sure there are memories stored in my amygdala that I haven't processed yet. So recognizing when that's happened, being able to say my amygdala is hijacked right now, I'm having an inappropriate response to something. And whether that's the urge to drink, the urge to smoke a cigarette, the urge to kick somebody's ass, the urge to just yell if I'm feeling a negative way and my body or my brain is unconsciously driving me to do something to change the way that I feel right now, that's a red flag sign that I've got something going on and I need to examine that. And it has taken me a long time to get that to where it can happen in real time. But it started with like, oh, man, 3 hours ago, so and so said this, and that's what made me feel that way, that made me feel ignored. Here's a good example. And this was a couple of years ago, but I use this one in the book. My wife is the veterinarian or the head veterinarian. We have a team of them, but she makes some business decisions, but not really. Mostly we try to let her do doctor things, and I make business decisions. And our practice manager at the time had found a new payment processing thing and was asking my wife about it because she happened to be at the office and I work from home, so it made sense that they talked about it. And my wife was going to talk to me when she got home. And her day was crazy because that's how it is with horses, and she forgot to talk to me about it. And so the next day, the practice manager sends over a form for me to sign just to finish off signing up for this thing. And it was the first that I'd even heard about it. And I feel like they did an end around on me, like I wasn't even a necessary part of the conversation. And that really made me feel like, am I a fraud? Do I even have a real purpose being here? Or is she just giving me a fake job at the clinic to make me feel like I'm doing something which is ludicrous, and I know that on an intellectual level, but it triggered that feeling of not mattering because I wasn't included in the conversation. But it took me days to get to the point where I realized that that's what happened. Because at that time, I hadn't speeded up this self reflection thing any farther than that. Right? It took me a couple of days, but I finally figured it out. I was able to examine the situation and know why I felt bad about who I was and all this and that that wasn't a real feeling, that this is an old thing that's not true anymore. And then I had to go apologize to the practice manager, apologize to my wife, instead of beating myself up, say, okay, when I recognize this feeling, next time this happens, because it's going to happen again, because life is life, maybe I'll recognize it a little bit sooner and I can say, oh, that is a fake feeling. That's not real. We're going to reassess. [00:46:49] Speaker B: Yeah, that's a good example. Very good. Well, before we wrap up, do you have anything to say to people who are listening to this podcast, and maybe they're thinking about should they go to counseling, should they quit drinking? What would be helpful for them? Maybe it's a man listening and he's been hesitant to get help. What would you have to say to them? [00:47:14] Speaker C: I would say, if you think that your drinking is a problem, it probably is. But be willing to dig deeper and figure out why. Don't make it a surface thing, because it's probably not a surface thing. We all have traumas of some sort that we're carrying around. There's a million different reasons why people end up feeling in a way that makes them want to change that. But that's what it is. These are feelings. It's mostly chemicals floating around in our brain, and there's things that trigger releases of one thing and then another thing. It's a science fixable thing. It's not a character judgment. It's none of the things that we think about when we don't think about it, if that makes sense. Alcohol abuse is a symptom of something else, just the same way that gambling can be a symptom of something else or any sort of compulsive behavior. So don't feel like it makes you a bad person. If you're experiencing some of these things, just understand it for what it is and be willing to talk to somebody about it. Because men have all the same feelings that women have, and most of us don't know how to deal with those. So compounding our problems with trying to hold everything on the inside and just power through it is not a productive way to solve our problem. And when we're not so worried about other people's opinion of us, then we can make a whole lot more progress in life. [00:48:45] Speaker B: Yeah, wonderful. And just get help. Don't be afraid to seek help, and it can make your life so much better. And just recognize, like, there's a lot of different ways to get help out there. And I appreciate you sharing what helped you and really writing this book and sharing your experience with therapy and specifically emdr and trauma. I think that is really helpful. So thank you, Justin, thank you for. [00:49:14] Speaker C: Having me on the know. There's a thousand different ways to get sober, and I think the more open minded we are about these things, the more success that we'll find in the world. So absolutely get help any way that it makes sense to you. [00:49:27] Speaker B: Great. Well, how can people find you? [00:49:31] Speaker C: You can find everything about me at my [email protected], that's All my books are there. There's social media links, my blog, ways to contact me, all the stuff. [00:49:45] Speaker B: Awesome. Well, thank you. Thank you so much. [00:49:49] Speaker C: Thank you very much for having me on the show. [00:49:52] Speaker A: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Alcohol 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 alcohol tipping point and check out my website,, for. [00:50:11] Speaker B: Free resources and help. [00:50:13] Speaker A: 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. [00:50:25] Speaker B: A day you can learn from. [00:50:26] Speaker A: 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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