For decades, alcohol has been marketed as the gateway to a better life. Just take a scroll through your social media feed. Women and wine are portrayed as a love story. Notice the memes that celebrate it as a lubricant for social interaction, an emotional tool at the end of a hard day, the perfect pairing for a great meal, and a crutch when life gets hard.
Along with many other unhealthy habits, it’s no secret that excessive alcohol consumption is way up. Recent studies show that almost half of us are drinking more than we did in 2019.
But unlike other popular vices, drinking is often viewed as an all-or-nothing problem when there’s a ton of grey area. And similar to other health goals, like if you’re trying to eat healthier, or exercise more, or work less — the road to success is the same — you must commit, plan, and start.
For part four of our Expat Untold series, it’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Angela Mascenik to discuss a taboo topic that’s so deeply impacting our global community. A coach, speaker, and founder of the popular Stop Over-Drinking and Start Living podcast, Angela helps high-achieving women permanently change their relationship with alcohol.
Drawing on her own experience as a former over-drinker, Angela developed several science-based programs to meet the needs of women like her — not alcoholics but those who drink too much. Angela joins us today to offer her non-judgmental, expert advice to help you identify if you’re over-drinking. She also provides doable solutions to get it back under control.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- The promises from this morning vs. the 5 pm reality
- Learning to process urges and be purposely uncomfortable
- The Motivation Triad & other juicy brain science explained
- Deciphering between over-drinking & alcoholism
- How to make a weekly alcohol consumption plan
Listen to the Full Episode
How are you progressing on your 2021 goals? Not so great? Well, I have just the kickstart we all need right now to break out of the mid-year slump. Join me and others in our global community for THE BOOST Challenge. It’s 100% FREE and loaded with fun, so sign up right here and get fired up, fast.
Featured on the Show:
- Join Expats on Fire right here.
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
- Stop Over-Drinking and Start Living podcast
- Angela Mascenik – Website
- Kick the Drink…Easily! By Jason Vale
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We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!
Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 8:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 9:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
Yeah, might have been there. You have a long day. And finally, at five o’clock, you pour yourself a nice big glass of wine. You take a sip and *sigh*. It’s like the edge has been taken off. You drink the wine, maybe while you’re getting dinner ready for the family and then you sit down to eat and maybe you pour yourself another glass. You guys have dinner. It’s time to boss the kids around to brush their teeth and maybe since you’re not finished, you bring that glass of wine upstairs with you to finish the goodnight routine. But you don’t know what happened but you realize that you probably killed at least a half a bottle, maybe more, again. You go to bed. Fall asleep. Wake up suddenly an hour later and toss and turn all night long. You’re asking yourself, “Is this the wine? Is it menopause like what’s happening?”
You wake up tired and you tell yourself that morning, “That was stupid. I’m not going to do that again.” But the next day when you see five o’clock roll around, you’re thinking, “God, that was a long day. It doesn’t really matter if I just have one more glass.”
So I’m asking myself who’s been here? I know this is a thing. I know I’ve been here and I know a lot of my clients have been here. In fact, when I think about the memes that I see on social media, it’s like womanhood and wine is practically synonymous, right? Go look at any wine gif or meme out there, which I know I have sent to my friends. And it’s like we’re celebrating over-drinking. And one of the things I’ve learned about being in an expat context, at least in the circles that I’ve run in, this is something that can also happen. You’re invited to events where it is centered on socializing around alcohol, sometimes even midday, morning or all day long, right?
So here’s the thing, I think this is an important topic and I want to have a huge caveat. I am as attached to my Merlot or Pinotage as the next person. So I don’t really want to go there but we gotta go there. And this is why this topic is such an important part of our series.
Remember, we talked about this five-part series of talking about what’s going on behind the curtain or talking about the things that don’t get enough time for coverage among our globally mobile community. So today’s topic is over-drinking.
And I can’t think of a better person to invite but Angela Mascenik, she’s a founder of Stop Over-Drinking and Start Living podcast. She’s got numerous stop over-drinking coaching programs for women and it’s dedicated to helping high achieving women address the underlying reasons for over drinking so they can make permanent changes in their relationship with alcohol, while having some fun doing it. So Angela, it is my pleasure to have you here on Expat Happy Hour.
Angela: Thank you so much for having me, Sundae. What an introduction.
Sundae: So listen, I’ve got a couple more things I want to brag on you about. I know that Angela has walked this walk. Angela, she knows the pain of a life of over-drinking and overeating and thanks to coaching, she has been able to quit drinking, drop the weight permanently and hasn’t looked back. Angela, when she’s not coaching, she is with other badass women and helping them to start living the life of their dreams. And in her spare time, she drinks coffee, runs, hangs out with her husband, her kids and reads all the latest, and this is what I love: self-help and business books just like I do, traveling, and enjoying your friends.
So really looking forward to having you here. And one of the reasons why I asked you is I love your non-judgmental approach. And it’s not “Stop Drinking,” it’s “Stop Over-Drinking.” What I’ve done, I did one other podcast and it was about the role of alcohol in our lives and in the global mobility community, and at the end, I had a quote about everything in moderation, even moderation. So tell me, Angela. How did you get here? How did it come to be that you are focusing on helping individuals stop over-drinking?
Angela: Yeah. Well, that’s a good question. And like you mentioned in my introduction there, I struggled with over-drinking my whole life. So it started in college partying on the weekends and all night type things. And then as I moved into more adulthood, getting my first professional job, I was in pharmaceutical sales and advertising. And I was traveling for the first time and entertaining clients and had an expense budget. And I’d go to big sales meetings and the alcohol would just flow. And it was like this party hard, play hard mentality, which I absolutely adopted. And I definitely over-drank and had hangovers and things like that when I was younger and I would take like a week off. I was like, “Okay, I need to dial this back in now. Got to take a week off detox.” I’d maybe go on a cleanse or something like that.
Also, during this time, I was struggling with my weight so I would be on a diet or not on a diet or trying some cleanse or diet or going vegan or Atkins. I mean, anything. I was just like, I learned about something and I’d go all in on it.
And that lasted for many years and then I had kids, and I drank after the kids were born. And it just kind of creeped up over time more as an emotional tool for me. So I would be stressed with the kids or come home from work and be full of anxiety about how I would manage it all. And definitely like my mid-30s, I definitely noticed I was using it as a coping mechanism. I had high anxiety. I didn’t know how– if one little thing fell apart during the day, or somebody scheduled that off or something happened, the whole thing would unravel. And it was just like overbearing. And then it really just came to a crux. I was working. My husband was working. We were both traveling for our jobs, three kids back-to-back, managing all of that. And I ended up quitting my job and I’m like, “I gotta figure this out.” I started listening to things, podcasts and reading books and to start unraveling stuff, and I found life coaching and learned about why I was drinking?
Sundae: So was there a low moment that you had?
Angela: I don’t say that there was like this one moment that I had, it was just this sense of, “What am I doing?” I felt like I was on Groundhog Day. So like that you described in the intro there about the cycle of getting home from work and drinking and putting the kids to bed and going to bed at night and then waking up and doing that over and over and over. I’m like, “There just has to be a better way.” That’s what I was thinking at the time.
Sundae: Yeah. So that inner knowing that something ain’t right.
Angela: Yeah, totally. Yes. I remember telling my mom, “Mom, what is the point of all this? Why do we go to work to have this house? To have this car payment? To have the… Why?” I’m like, “I don’t want to do this.” And I just started questioning, “I don’t have to do it like this anymore.”
Sundae: That’s good. Can you help me understand the difference in your sort of way of looking between alcoholism and over-drinking? Because most people who are going to be listening are like, “I’m not an alcoholic. This episode isn’t for me.” Right? So, we then don’t look at it at all. So, what’s the difference between over-drinking and alcoholism?
Angela: Yeah, I mean, I can’t answer that definitively. What I know and how I define over-drinking is if you think that you over-drink. You have thoughts like, “I drank too much last night. Why do I keep over-drinking? Why can’t I stop at one?” And you feel like that’s a struggle. And You feel like you might be stuck or you tried to cut back or you will take a week off or you’ll do a dry January or sober October and you just kind of creep back into your old ways, and you identify with that, then you’re probably somebody that over-drinks. It’s different for everybody. So some people one drink at night, is over-drinking for them. They don’t like that. They don’t like feeling like they have to have that one drink at the end of the day and if they try to stop it, it’s a struggle.
For other people it’s a bottle of wine a night. So it really just, it’s very individual. The alcoholism thing, that is more from my experience. It’s more of a physical dependency that you can’t function without it. So even talking to people and if we decide to work together, it’s like, “Are you able to take a break for a few days without worrying about withdrawals? Would it be okay for you to not drink for a few days without being monitored by a doctor?”
So that’s how I differentiate it and if you feel comfortable doing that, coaching and looking at your emotional attachment to alcohol versus like this physical addiction to it. Does that answer your question?
Sundae: Makes total sense. And what I love about your story is that there wasn’t a rock-bottom. Because if there was a rock-bottom anybody who’s listening is like, “Well, I’m not there yet.”
Angela: Right. So I have a podcast episode that talks about sometimes how not hitting rock bottom can be worse.
Sundae: Yes, totally. Completely.
Angela: Because you suffer along and it’s like, “I’m still working. I’m still functioning. I’m taking care of my kids. I’m going to work. We’re doing all these things. We’re being responsible.” But inside you have this struggle, that isn’t so painful that you’re forced to do something about it, but it adds up cumulatively.
Sundae: Right. I was at a gathering, it was like a birthday party or something. And I was joking with a friend and we were having fun and she said something, she goes, “Oh yeah, I’m a high-functioning low-grade alcoholic.” And she was joking but that’s kind of the thing, right? There’s something going on. I love that definition in the other podcast that I did. It was very similar: If you’re wondering if you drink too much, you drink too much. For you.
Angela: Yeah right. Yeah.
Sundae: That’s interesting. So oh gosh. Tell us more about– people out there who are listening and they’re like, “Okay I may be defensive right now. What’s going on?”
So for people who are listening right now and are getting defensive and feeling threatened that maybe you’re going to take away their Pinotages or whatever it is. Take away their joy, their relaxation. What do you say to people who are feeling that right now?
Angela: Listen, if this doesn’t identify with you, you can just skip it. But if your something is like hmm, kind of like you feel that little internal, that’s annoying, you might want to pay attention, right? Because I’m sure you talked about this on your podcast and with your clients but like you want to listen to those internal flags that are kind of going off. And if you’re like, “Huh, I don’t know.” You might just pay attention here because the thing is with people that over drink and especially women, we get into this pattern of our only joy comes from that cocktail of the day. And that’s what you want to pay attention to. If you have thoughts like, “This is the only thing that I have. This is the only joy I have at the end of the day. I do and do for everybody else and I’ve sacrificed so much in my life,” or whatever that story is for you and you look really forward to that end of the day glass of wine or whenever you start drinking as your only sense of joy and happiness, that would be something to pay attention to because that’s where we get into trouble.
Sundae: And then we’ve got much bigger problems like: why isn’t your life full of purpose and meaning? Why aren’t you enjoying your day? And so if someone wants to stop over-drinking, maybe they want to pull the handle back a little bit, where would you suggest they begin?
Angela: That’s a good question. So I would just start evaluating. The first step is like seeing where you currently are with everything, right? Getting some awareness around how you’re using alcohol or what your habits are and what your triggers are. So just starting to notice. Before you just decide to cut back and go on a diet with it or whatever you want to just get aware of why you’re using it. So notice the patterns. What are you feeling at the end of the day?
Just pausing and naming how you feel at the end of the day. Like, “I’m stressed, I’m bored. I’m overwhelmed,” right? “Sometimes, I’m lonely.” Sometimes just naming that feeling helps you see why you’re using alcohol to feel better at the end of the day. Most of my clients say, “It’s just a habit.” Well, habits are formed because we are doing something in order to help us feel something different. So when you’re using alcohol, at the end of the day to unwind or to relax, it’s because you currently don’t feel relaxed and censored or happy or whatever it is that you’re not feeling, you’re using alcohol. There is a reason to feel something that you don’t feel. So that’s where I would start. It’s just like getting aware. “What are my feelings at the end of the day? How am I hoping to feel? Why do I want to drink? What am I hoping to achieve with drinking this glass of wine?” That’s the first question you want to ask yourself
And then the next question is just like, “Okay, so is there another way I could achieve relaxation or to unwind without this glass of wine?” And if you’re like, “Oh hell no,” that’s going to be curious about. Why not go for a walk? Why not listen to a podcast? Why not take a bath? Read a book? Do something else that would be nourishing for yourself. If it’s a big like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine doing that.” That’s something you want to pay attention to.
Sundae: Totally. We talk about how we look first at the need and then we identify what’s the strategy to get that need met.
Angela: Yes, right, yeah.
Sundae: Like a glass of wine to relax into the day is a great way to meet the need of relaxing, but is it the only strategy?
I remember there was one time when I got into a habit where I was having a glass of wine when I was preparing dinner and I thought, “Really Sundae, it’s just your strategy? That’s all you got?” It’s super fast and easy and tasty. But really? And I started to switch things up because I thought no I got more than that.
Angela: It’s interesting if you wanted to talk about the brain science behind that.
Sundae: Yeah, I do, please.
Angela: So, basically what happens is, when you introduce alcohol or something outside of yourself, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s scrolling on social media, but you’re doing things and using something outside of yourself to relieve yourself of something. So maybe you’re stressed or bored like I was mentioning. And you say, ”Okay, I’m going to drink a glass of wine at the end of the day to help me get through dinner. It’ll make it more enjoyable, it’ll help me relax,” whatever.
And your brains, “Ooh, that was nice. That was easy. I didn’t have to do any effort at all, to get a hit of dopamine,” basically. And now there’s alcohol on the brain. So the brain has the motivational triad, right? So this is how we’re programmed as a species. Seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and saving energy. So if you think about alcohol, it’s a quick easy no energy way to get that hit of pleasure.
Sundae: Yeah, can you say that triad one more time? I think that’s really important to focus on.
Angela: Yeah. So it’s seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and saving energy, the motivational Triad.
Sundae: All of that sounds amazing.
Angela: All of it. It’s always running. It’s just how we’ve survived as a species is always there. Once you notice it, it’s really fascinating. So it’s like you will always drive the easiest fastest way to the grocery store or to drop your kids off at school or to get to work. We look for shortcuts all the time in doing our work. “How can I do this faster and cheaper,” right? If you’re an entrepreneur, we just want the less painful way to get there. It’s just always present.
And when you introduce something like alcohol in that moment where you don’t really want to be uncomfortable so you’re stressed or something. You’re like, “Ooh yeah, that’s a good idea. That’s going to help me take the edge off.” Your brains like, “Ooh, I like that,” right? We didn’t have to make any effort to get there.
And so the next time you feel that way, tomorrow night or on the weekend or whatever it is in a similar situation, your brain is going to be like, “Ooh. Let’s have a glass of wine,” right? And the more often you do that, you train your brain to seek that pleasure and get out of the emotional pain that you might be in.
Sundae: So interesting. So we’re just doing it because that’s how we’re programmed.
Angela: That’s it. There’s nothing wrong with you for having– that’s where we want to remove the shame of, “There’s something wrong with me. Why can’t I do this?” None of that is super helpful. Your brain is programmed to do that and we live in a society now, where we have access to this type of stuff all the time without having to put any energy or wait for it, we’re such a quick, instant gratification type society.
Sundae: Right. And we talked, before we hopped on the call, about why is it that I’ve noticed there’s more alcohol and socializing around alcohol in the expat community and I think you’ve just named it. It’s available in events more often. It’s just there.
Angela: Yeah, it’s part of our culture, for sure. It’s a part of it, it is in the expat culture. Definitely in the mom culture. It’s just been sold to us as a solution to have more fun and to relieve ourselves of our issues. It’s just ingrained in our society, it’s just everywhere, right?
It’s just sold to us as this idea of a better time in our life.
Sundae: So let’s say we’ve recognized how we feel, we’ve recognized our pattern, we want to do it differently. What’s the next step?
Angela: The next step is really consciously deciding that you don’t want to drink when you feel like you need it to solve something. So I recommend that my clients don’t make in the moment decisions with alcohol. They plan ahead and it’s like people plan ahead with their food or they make a food plan, you make an alcohol plan for the week and say, “Okay I’m going to have a couple drinks on Friday.” Whatever that looks like, whatever your ultimate goal is with alcohol. If you could imagine an ideal relationship with it. How much would you be drinking per week? What kind of situations do you want to drink in? And make a weekly drink plan that’s in alignment with that ideal relationship that you want to have.
Sundae: Wow, I love that. So really visualizing it, having that ideal relationship. So we make the plan, let’s say the plan is “I’m going to have one drink on a Wednesday and one on a Friday and two on Saturday.” I’ve got the plan with that relationship we like… and then Tuesday rolls around.
Angela: Right? *laughter*
Sundae: *laughter* You’re like, ugh. Or your friend comes over and says, “Hey, let’s go for a drink.” So then what, what do you advise to do in those situations?
Angela: Then we have to learn how to process urges. Then we have to learn how to be uncomfortable on purpose and know, first of all, we’re not going to die. Nobody’s taking everything away from you and it’s not an emergency. And it’s okay that you feel uncomfortable. Learning how to feel those emotions. I teach my clients, one of the very basic foundation principles of doing this is learning how to feel your feelings. And so identifying that feeling again, “Okay. Now I feel like I’m missing out or maybe I feel like I’m being deprived or I’m nervous or scared or anxious about going into this situation without drinking.” Name the feeling. Identify it. Breathe through it. Process and tell yourself, “It’s not a problem that you’re feeling this way.” And this is the unraveling of that pattern, right? So, we need to learn how to be with those feelings. Instead of letting our feelings drive our action of drinking. Because that’s the problematic process that we’ve been in before that has caused the over drinking in the first place.
Sundae: I have a membership group called Expats on Fire and we did our whole thing around emotions and actually feeling them and the default is, “Just push it down! Just stuff it down.” And that idea of: how do you sit in discomfort? That is we’re not taught to sit in discomfort, we’re taught to escape discomfort.
Angela: Yeah. Yes.
Sundae: It’s doing the opposite. What’s the reward of sitting in the discomfort?
Angela: That’s such a good question. So the reward of the discomfort is that you, this is what I tell my people, is that you’re going to be uncomfortable regardless. So if you look at your current relationship with alcohol, there’s parts of it that you’re uncomfortable with, how you feel in the morning, maybe you’re not getting some of this stuff done that you want to do, maybe you’re not doing things like reading or exploring hobbies or interests or relationships. It’s impeding you somehow, so that’s uncomfortable, right? When you feel stuck with it. That’s pretty uncomfortable. So you’re trading that discomfort, for in the moment discomfort. So when you feel uncomfortable, you work through an urge or you identify your feeling and your process, that’s uncomfortable. But there’s a payoff on the back end.
The next day you wake up feeling good and you’re able to accomplish some of the things that you have not been accomplishing and you have growth and you move towards your goals. So that’s pay off.
It’s just a delayed gratification and that payoff is so much more. You created that payoff, right? You didn’t rely on something like alcohol to give you that satisfaction and pleasure. Make sense?
Sundae: Totally does. And I love this idea. And you’ve mentioned this several times, I just want to pause on that, the relationship you have with alcohol. We normally think of it as a thing, it’s a beverage. But if we really step back and talk about our relationship with alcohol, like if my relationship with alcohol were a boyfriend. Is it codependency? You know what I mean? What would that be? Am I abusing him or is he abusing me? It gives you such an interesting paradigm.
Angela: Yes. Well there’s a book called, Kick the Drink…Easily! Jason Vale wrote it but it’s basically how to quit alcohol and he says trade your wine for bananas. “I can only have one banana a week. If I have more than one banana is going to be a problem and I overate the bananas last night. Now, I’m thinking about the bananas.” If you were to trade the wine and compare it, it’s crazy, right? Wow. Nobody talks about bananas that way. But like with alcohol, it’s like you’re literally bananas.
Sundae: That’s so good! Now at this point in the podcast, if you still don’t know if you have a good relationship with alcohol, replace it with bananas and you will know.
Angela: Yes, yes.
Sundae: That’s huge. Okay, so let me just make sure I’m tracking here. We’re going to check in and how we’re feeling. We’re going to try to understand what needs are not being met, right? Be honest with that. And notice how we’re feeling, we’re sticking with the feelings. We’re going to allow ourselves space to be uncomfortable. And I’m guessing practicing sitting through the discomfort.
So what strategies can you reach when you’re in the moment? That moment, where you’re like, “Am I gonna or am I going to not?” What do you reach to in that exact– I think there’s probably like a five second window– where either make the right decision you want to that’s in alignment with your ideal relationship or one that you don’t like. What do we do in those five seconds?
Angela: The first thing is just recognizing that you want it. If you can just say, “I can recognize that I want this right now and then I have an urge,” or there’s some pressure or something that’s happening. I just need to recognize that and verbalize that for myself, whether that’s just in my head or out loud to somebody else, whatever and acknowledge that you do want it, and it’s okay. That’s where people get into trouble. Is that they push that want away, and they’re like, “No. Here it comes. I’m gonna white-knuckle my way through this urge,” and they’re like, hold their breath. “I can’t, no, I can’t do it. I said I wasn’t going to drink,” and it’s just like this miserable suffering. And they’re like, literally clenching up and not breathing.
So you just want to recognize. I’m having a want for it and it’s okay. Of course, I have a desire for it. I’ve trained my brain to want this right now. This is not a problem. What does this feel like? Get out of your head. This is an exit out of your head and stop thinking about it and go into your body and have your brain focus on where that energy is in your body. “Am I feeling a tightness in my throat?” So this is it. “Okay, where am I feeling this? Is in the pit of my stomach. Is it in my chest? Is it my jaw?” And when you notice where there’s some sort of tension, you just take a deep cleansing breath and you just use your breath to allow space to be there and tell yourself, “It’s okay. I’m having a vibration in my body,” and you just breathe through it, 90 seconds.
If you can just acknowledge it and bring it conscious to the conscious level and breathe, that is just enough of a break to like, “Okay. Can I just have five minutes? How about I just give myself five minutes and see what happens?” Usually that’s enough and it just takes practice. And the thing is you may end up drinking and that’s okay.
But give yourself some credit for that you actually did work on some of it and maybe you delayed it by five minutes. Maybe tomorrow, you’ll delay it by 10 minutes and so forth. So celebrate that you are working on it and that you’re acknowledging. And getting familiar with those types of feelings.
Sundae: What are some really pragmatic tips that you have for people when they’re trying to change their relationship with alcohol? For example, we do Taco Tuesday. I love a good beer with a taco, but we’re like, “Hey, there’s also really good alcohol-free beer,” right? What are some pragmatic things that you’ve seen be successful in your clients’ lives?
Angela: Well, I think, just trying. Give yourself an opportunity to try without drinking. Just experiment, what would it be like? Think about it in a fun way. What would it be like as a social experiment to go to one of your functions and meet new people and sit there and not have a drink in your hand. Observe that for yourself. What is coming up in your head?
I know it sounds like it might be terrible for most people. Like, “I can’t imagine doing that.” But think about what an interesting conversation that would be at this new function. “I don’t know anybody and I’m sitting here noticing my thoughts and feelings about not drinking.” That will open up a whole different dialogue and interesting conversations that you’ve never had in your life. Just try it. Just put yourself out there and try different situations, plan to have an interesting mocktail. Really, it comes down to planning like that’s the most useful tip that I had: don’t make in the moment decisions around alcohol anymore.
Sundae: Yeah, that’s great. Because if you’re trying to change what you eat, you would plan in advance, you go shopping, you would do it differently.
So you have chosen to, if I’m not if I have understood correctly, you don’t drink. Right? So what is that? How do you help people decide whether they’re going to renegotiate their relationship with alcohol and have it, like we said, two days a week or whatever it is or it’s better for them to just go, cold turkey.
Angela: Yeah, it’s such a personal decision. So I have a six-month coaching program so that’s a pretty good amount of time to really explore what that looks like for people. It gives you a chance to take a break if you want to for a month or a week or longer. It helps you plan your drinks and really evaluate what each of those experiences is like, so at the end of the time, you feel like you’ve tried it all and you can decide what that looks like for yourself going forward.
I also didn’t ever plan to not drink. When I started this in my own journey, I just wanted to stop over-drinking and I never thought that I would end up quitting. And I still keep that window open for myself, like “I could drink.” I don’t say that “I’m sober” or that I’m never going to drink again or that I’m in recovery. I have– through my own work with this and reducing my desire and my dependency on it. I just don’t like it anymore. I don’t like the way the buzz feels. I just don’t like to lose my clarity and my creativity. I just don’t like that feeling anymore so I choose not to. But I also leave that open because to me, it just feels better to not put that restriction on myself, to saying that “I’m never going to drink again.” I might. And if I do, I don’t worry about it. Does that answer your question?
Sundae: And so what about those people who are listening and they’re like, “Yeah, I kind of wouldn’t mind trying this. This would be kind of interesting,” but they’ve got a partner that over-drinks, and doesn’t think they over-drink, right? Or does it even matter. Whatever it is, their partner is not on the same game. What advice do you have for individuals that are in that situation?
Angela: Yeah, my best advice is to really just focus on yourself. We can’t change other people, and I’ve had such a strong experience with this. When I was doing all those diets and programs and cleanses, and wanting to take breaks for all those years, I would make my husband do them with me, and it was not a good time. Let me just tell you. It’s like, then I would be resentful. They’re not being supportive, and this is what we want to be working on, and I would push it, push it, and then I would just end up saying screw it myself because I needed that support from them in order for me to be successful. And it does not work. It just doesn’t.
So my advice is to take all that energy just focus on you and love the heck out of your person anyway, and not judge them for drinking. Let them be them and I promise you that, if you do that, they will come along. They always do.
All my clients, spouses and partners, and husbands end up changing their relationship because your influence naturally in the household will influence them to start making better decisions without you having to say a word about it.
So it’s hard. I mean that is a big objection that I hear a lot of times is that, “All my family and friends drink.” It’s like with this expat community, everybody drinks around us, right? So just let them do them. You just work on you and share if you want to but like when you can just take that energy and focus on you, you’re so much more successful.
Angela: If you are working on your relationship with alcohol and you’re cutting down but you are failing or you’re not as successful as you want to be, the other very strong piece of advice I would like to give is you have to stop shaming yourself. Healing your relationship with alcohol, that’s almost the most important thing to do.
When you do over-drink, don’t beat yourself up about it. It does not help you drink less and I think everybody can resonate with that if you’re still over drinking and you’re hard on yourself, it’s not a solution. So you want to be curious, “Why did I make a decision to drink last night?” Find some self compassion and love for yourself. Because the shame thing is a serious issue that we have so much shame around this. We don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want to admit it. And there’s nothing wrong with you and you can do it. You gotta let go of that.
Sundae: I’ve felt that. I had that word shame over my head, like a blanket. When you’re talking this is instinctively, once someone listens to this and they’re ready to make a change, they’re going to have a flood of shame for having gone to that place, right? So what so I’m hearing you center self-compassion in that. That is a foreign language for a lot of people.
Wow. How cool is this, like on the other side of all of this, you’ve learned to do more, emotional regulation. Bring more self compassion. You’ve been able to meet your needs. Creative strategies to get those needs me. Even if you don’t over drink, these are all amazing skills to develop.
Angela: Yes, absolutely, yes. Learning how to love yourself, and being easy on yourself and no matter what, having your own back on all sides of it. Even when you don’t follow through on what you’re saying you do whether it’s drinking or business or whatever it is, not being hard on yourself, is never a solution for any of it.
Sundae: Totally, that’s so great. So any other final thoughts that you want to leave our listeners with, before they go and speed off to get your first course or sign up for your newsletter.
Angela: I guess the thing is if I can do it, so can you. I was a party girl for 20 plus years and I got married in a winery in California. And my husband and I are still together. His relationship with alcohol has changed. I’ve not lost any friends from this, I’ve gained more friendships. It’s absolutely possible if you want to do it.
Sundae: So great and you’re super fun and energetic and all of that stuff, right?
Angela: Yeah. Yes.
Sundae: So we have put in the show notes, all the things like to get your podcast to get you on Instagram and all the spaces. So if you want to know more about Angela, check out the show notes because my hunch is that there are some people here who’ve heard this and they’re like, “Yep, I got it, I’m ready.” And there might be some other people out there who are like, “Okay, but I wouldn’t mind someone standing by my side,” right? So this is a great, great thing to offer. Thank you so much for being here, Angela.
Angela: Thank you for having me. This was so fun.
Angela offers so much for us to think about, even if you’re not an over drinker, it starts with really getting clear with naming how you feel so you can see well, “What am I feeling right now? And what strategy am I doing to get rid of that feeling?” She helped us understand how our brain works. We’re programmed to seek pleasure, avoid pain and save energy, kind of giving us permission to be human and understand why we have the habits that we do. But also look at what we can do instead to serve us better.
I also love how she talked about pausing and sitting in the discomfort, even just 90 seconds to notice it, where it’s at. And then, give us some space to respond differently, to create a new outcome for whatever challenge we’re facing.
This has been a wonderful episode behind-the-scenes as we’ve been focusing on in this series about things we just don’t give enough time to in our globally mobile lives.
If you want more of this, check out the other episodes in the series Expat Untold – and don’t miss our upcoming challenge happening called The Boost. Challenges inside Expats on Purpose are noted among the highlights of the year to give your momentum and progress a boost. So join us for 5 days of small actions and large traction. We will boost your focus, mindset, energy, relationships and impact. Ready to BOOST the second half of 2021? We are too. Join us. Check it out in the show notes.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of Tori Amos: “Girls, you’ve got to know when it’s time to turn the page.”
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