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Ep #116: Stop Overdrinking Part 1

Since I’ve launched The Life Coach School podcast, I’ve had an overwhelming amount of requests for an episode on the topic of stopping overdrinking. This week, I’m really excited to invite you along on a journey to help you get your drinking under control.

In this first part of the 3-part mini-series on how to stop overdrinking, I’m sharing my backstory and why I decided to put this resource together for you. Then, we move into why we drink, why we like alcohol, why we have it in our lives, why it’s important to us, and how it affects our brain. If you’re looking to either cut back on your alcohol consumption or lose your desire to drink altogether, this episode is for you!

Make sure to tune into part two of this series next week, where we’ll be talking about why some of us want to cut back and reduce our drinking, and why, for some of us, it’s so challenging.

What You will discover

  • My backstory and my past struggles with alcohol.
  • Why you probably haven’t been able to cut back on your alcohol consumption.
  • Where our desire to drink comes from.
  • The one common though that causes us to create desire within us.
  • The thoughts that keep us drinking.
  • Why it’s perfectly normal for our brain to want more alcohol (or other pleasure-inducing things).
  • Why that process feel so out of control for us.

Featured on the show

Get the Full Episode Transcript:

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Life Coach School Podcast where it’s all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. Now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

Hey, it’s Brooke Castillo, Master Coach Instructor and I am excited to invite you along in this journey with me. We are going to go into a three-part series on how to stop overdrinking. I have had thousands of requests for this exact series. I have spent several hours preparing and researching for it and I’m offering it to you here completely for free. I also have created an entire program around stop overdrinking that will be an ongoing membership program for those of you who are interested in cutting back or stopping drinking completely. This is the program I wish I would have had years ago, a couple of years ago, when I was looking to cut back on my drinking and was really having a tough time, so I have created this program for you.

This initial series will be in three parts. The first part will be an intro and it will give you my back story and then I’ll invite you into part one which is all about why we drink, why we like alcohol, why we have it in our lives, why it’s important to us, and how it affects our brain. Then the second part will be why some of us want to cut back, why we want to reduce our drinking and why for some of us that that is so challenging for us to do. The idea is we want to just have a little less, we don’t want to quit completely, why is that such a challenging thing to do? It’s very similar to the work that I do in weight loss. Why is it difficult to cut back on the amount of food we eat and it’s all aligned with our brain chemistry and our habitual learning unconscious, so we’re going to talk about that.

Then in the third part I’m going to go through in detail how you actually cut back or quit drinking if that is something that you want to do. I will give you all of the tools that I use. I’ll give you an overview of them. Now if you want to work with me directly on doing this I’m also going to invite you to join me in a process that I’m going to be doing ongoing every month. What it will include is first of all it will include a first part video series that I will require that everybody watch that goes over all the basic tools that are required to master before you attempt to reduce or quit drinking. Then I’m going to do ongoing support with twice monthly calls where you can ask me questions, get support, and get coaching directly from me. I will share all of that with you towards the end here and invite you to come along. It’s very affordable and I’m making it so anyone who is struggling with this issue and wants help can get it from me.

My story starts with wanting to just cut back on my drinking. I grew up in an alcoholic family. I had a father who was alcoholic and really struggled tremendously with his alcoholism and it ended up killing him literally. He died of cirrhosis of the liver because of his alcoholism. I had a brother who was addicted to cocaine all through my childhood and his and went to many AA meetings, many Al-Anon meetings and watched him suffer through many rehabs and eventually died of an overdose himself. I have had much exposure to addiction and addiction therapy and what I was struggling with was not that and I couldn’t reconcile the two of them. I knew that I wanted to drink less and I knew that there were reasons why I was drinking more than other people.

I tried many remedies, many of them that helped, but I always felt this pull to drink more than I really genuinely wanted. I had a really challenging time trying to cut back. I looked for resources and I looked for help out there and I really couldn’t find it. My solution was either admit that I was an alcoholic and completely out of control and completely powerless and go to meetings three times a week or just identify as a normal drinker that had no problem. Of course, my choice was to identify as a normal drinker that had no problems except I was constantly feeling this competing desire within me to drink more and to also drink less which created a lot of anxiety and stress.

What ended up happening is I ended up just getting fed up with the way I was feeling. As I got older and my hormones changed when I would drink it was waking me up in the middle of the night, it was really affecting how foggy I was feeling during the day and it was really creating a lot of cravings and desire for me to drink earlier and earlier in the day. It was annoying. It was all this chatter, all this stuff going on. I was extremely frustrated with the lack of help. I had no interest in becoming an alcoholic or calling myself an alcoholic. I had no interest in recovery, I had no interest in sobriety, I had no interest in abstinence. I did not see that as the solution to my very mild struggle.

One of the things that I’m always saying in my work with clients that are overweight is I don’t work with people who have bulimia or anorexia or binge eating disorder. I don’t work with people who are non-functioning in classifying themselves and diagnosing themselves in that way. I do work with people that overeat emotionally. That’s how I wanted to approach this work I’m going to be doing with people who overdrink. I don’t work with alcoholics. I don’t work with the 12 steps. I don’t work with people who want to go into recovery. There are many solutions for those people out there, people that want that type of help. There are tons of solutions out there.

I want to work with people who just want to stop overdrinking. They want to drink normally or maybe they want to quit drinking, but not in a way where they have to claim that they have a disease or that they’re an alcoholic or that they want to go to meetings. This program will not be for everyone. This program is if you’re like me, if you are someone who doesn’t identify as an alcoholic, who doesn’t feel you’re non-functioning in the world. You don’t feel you have a serious problem that’s affecting your life negatively and yet you’re still struggling with why is it so challenging to drink less. The same with my really intelligent successful clients who are like why is it so challenging to eat less.

My story is really interesting because what happened was as I started teaching a course that I introduced last year called Stop Overeating Masterclass. Many of the examples that I was using with my clients were about Chardonnay and me drinking. I had really worked through my emotional eating issues many several years before, so that I didn’t have a lot of personal examples to share with them about my current state of struggling with that. What I did do is I applied all the same tools that I used in my Stop Overeating Masterclass to my own drinking of Chardonnay and wanting it against my own will and drinking more than I wished that I had.

As I applied those exact tools and practiced those exact tools with the Chardonnay as my students were doing with food, I completely lost my desire to drink. That is as miraculous as anything that has ever happened to me in my life. Same with my desire to stop overeating. I completely lost my desire to stop overeating and I completely lost my desire to stop overdrinking using the same method. I was as astounded as I could be. I was mostly astounded that I had never thought to apply my own tools to alcohol.

It seemed like a totally different beast and I think part of it is the way that we are conditioned. That if you have any little tiny problem with drinking, any kind of out of controlness around drinking you must be an alcoholic. So many of me and my friends don’t want to claim ourselves as alcoholics. We don’t want to quit drinking. We don’t want to go to AA meetings. I think we go into this state of denial and ignoring all of those unconscious thoughts which, of course, just perpetuates the problem that we have which is the inability to bring to consciousness why we have the desire to drink in the first place.

I have personally not had anything to drink in several months. I’m not counting days. I’m not counting sobriety. I don’t even use the word sobriety. If I want to drink in the future, I will. I do not have any cravings to drink. I don’t have any desire to drink. I go to bars all the time with my friends. I go out to dinner all the time. There’s pouring wine all around me. I have completely lost my desire to drink, which to me is a miracle. I used to say all the time I want to not want it. I want to not want it. I kept saying that and kept saying that and kept searching for that solution and now I genuinely don’t want it.

Now that doesn’t mean that I feel I have no control around it or that I can never drink it again or that I feel it has power over me or anything like that. What I have come to understand and to know is that my brain is what created my desire for alcohol and my brain is what uncreated my desire for alcohol. Alcohol is not powerful over me if it doesn’t enter my brain. Alcohol just sits there and it does nothing. My brain has always been the most powerful thing and there is absolutely nothing wrong with my brain. My brain and its desire for alcohol is very indicative of a very healthy and natural occurrence that happens in our brain and the way that we have evolved.

I never had to claim that there was something wrong with me and I never had to do 12 steps and that’s not to say that those programs aren’t healthy and great for people who identify as alcoholics and want that. This is for a completely different audience. This is for a group of people who are highly-functioning drinking alcohol and want to drink less of it. You may decide to never drink again and lose your desire to drink and do that very easily which I will teach you how to do or you may just decide that you want to cut back on your alcohol and have less of it, which I will also teach you how to do.

My story is not remarkable in the sense that once I understood the skill of mental management, it was simply a matter of practicing it until I changed my desire. One of the things that a lot of people will say is that “I can’t stop drinking. I can’t cut back. There’s something wrong with me.” The way that I like to describe it is the only reason I couldn’t cut back before is because I didn’t know how. It was a skill set that I didn’t have. For example, I may not know how to ride a unicycle, but it doesn’t mean I can’t learn how.

I think that’s true when it comes to alcohol. You may not be able to cut back right now, but it’s just because you haven’t learned how. You haven’t learned how to manage your brain in a way that will help you cut back. It’s not because you have some spiritual or moral or genetic problem. For most of us, it is simply understanding how the brain works and when I teach you this you will say of course “that’s why I want alcohol. Of course, that’s why I want alcohol more than I don’t want it.” Of course, when I have competing desires…one is for “do you want to drink?” and one is “do you not want to drink?” you’re always going to pick the drink because of the way that your brain is designed and the way that it is set up to evolve and the nature of alcohol.

That’s why so many of us have this gentle struggle with it, which is how I felt about it. I didn’t feel it was such a problem that I needed to change my complete identity and identify myself as an alcoholic, but I did feel it was this annoying problem that I wanted to solve. If you feel like that’s you, then please pay attention to this next three-part series where I’m going to talk about why we like alcohol, those of us who do, why when we try to quit or cut back on it, it’s so difficult. The third part is how to actually do it. I’m excited, excited, excited that you’re here.

Okay, so let’s get started with part one. Part one of stop overdrinking is all about your desire and where does that desire come from. As a society, we drink. When you go to a restaurant, you’re asked if you want a cocktail. When you watch TV you’re going to see lots of beer commercials, you’re going to see wine commercials. You’re going to be asked if you want wine. When you go to a wedding, they’re going to say “red or white?” A lot of people are going to have very glamorous glasses and there’s wine tasting everywhere and there’s alcohol and booze and options at all sporting events. We drink as a culture, so the question is why? What is it about alcohol that we have come to embrace in our society and enjoy as individuals? We have grown up with the idea that alcohol is something that we do. Young kids, very young kids go to parties and drink alcohol. It’s part of the deal. The question we have to ask is why we desire it.

Before I begin to answer that question, one of the things that I want to address is desire in and of itself. If you listened to some of my other programs, this may be a review for you, but it’s worth really paying attention to. What is desire? Thinking about what desire is, is really important when it comes to thinking about the things you desire and if they’re serving you. Desire is something that we learn. Now I think this is so interesting that most of us think about desire as something that’s innate.

When I do a lot of coaching with clients and we talk about desire and we talk about desire for mates and we talk about desire for food, people feel it’s not a choice, that desire isn’t a choice. That desire is something that we either have or we don’t. We either desire our husband or we don’t. Nothing we can do about it. We either desire peaches or we don’t desire peaches. We think that it’s innate and something that we don’t have control over. The reason why we believe that is because desire is one of those unconscious programmed things that we seem to do involuntarily and it’s because of the way that the brain works.

When we learn something and we repeat it many, many times the brain recognizes that it’s a pattern and then takes it out of the prefrontal cortex where it takes a lot of energy to think about and puts it back into that midbrain, in that lower brain, so it can just be automatic. If you think about any habit that you have in your life, anything that you repeat regularly it’s not something that you have to consciously think about. Picking up a glass, brushing your teeth, driving your car, it’s all very learned and in the beginning it took a lot of energy to learn it. Then once you repeated several times it became automatic and then became something that went on in the background.

Desire is the same thing. Desire is something that we learn and repeat. It’s something like if you think about learning a language. Learning a language is by repetition, repetition, repetition. You practice over and over and over that same language and then you become natural at it and you can just speak that language without even thinking about what you’re trying to say. It’s the same with desire. It’s the same with how you want something. You practice it enough times and get rewarded enough times for practicing it that it becomes natural and habitual and something that’s going on in your involuntary brain.

When you see a glass of Chardonnay or you see a whiskey or you see a drink or a beer or something you feel that desire and it feels like it’s coming from something unconscious. It seems involuntary and it is because it’s something that you’ve programmed in your mind just as if someone were to ask you a question in Spanish you would involuntarily if you knew Spanish answer in Spanish instead of in English. That’s how the whole process goes when you learn something involuntarily.

I think this knowledge in and of itself is life-altering because I think it can be scary for someone like you and me who feel this involuntary, unconscious type of craving for alcohol. It can be scary if we don’t understand where it’s coming from. We can be like “oh, my gosh, am I an alcoholic? Oh, my gosh, where is this coming from, why do I feel so out of control? Why did I drink so much more than I wanted to drink? Why did I drink when I told myself I wasn’t going to drink?” It can seem like “oh, my God, something’s taking me over.”

When you understand that nothing’s taking you over, the only thing that’s happened is that you have programmed your brain unconsciously to desire automatically. You’ve trained your brain to desire something automatically and so you’re feeling that desire. You’re the one that trained your brain to do that. You’re the one that practiced that desire enough that that’s why you’re feeling it. If you’re the one that created it you’re the one that can uncreate it if you don’t want that desire to be there. Just because you’ve practiced it and you’re so good at it doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it even if it feels intense.

Now the reason why it feels intense is because of the reward associated with it. Our desire to brush our teeth is something that we programmed, it’s something that we’ve practiced, it’s something with enough repetition that it’s something that we automatically do. We aren’t compelled to do it, we don’t have a compulsion to do it most of us because we don’t have a strong enough reward associated with it. The reward hasn’t perpetuated it. It’s really important that we know that when you learn something if there’s a reward associated with it, it becomes even more intense as an involuntary desire.

There’s two pieces to this. The first piece is we desire something because we have automatically practiced enough repetition to have it be unconscious. Now the second part that I want to talk about is what creates an emotion. If you’ve been with me and studying my work what you realize is that all of our emotions, all of our feelings come from our thinking. When we think about something we create that emotion. We think about something we create that emotion. What are the thoughts that we are having that are creating this desire for alcohol?

One of the most powerful thoughts that many of us don’t even acknowledge that we’re having that can be the trigger, that can be the clue as to how we’re creating our own desire is “I want that. I want a glass of Chardonnay. I want a beer. I want a cocktail. I want a drink.” It seems like such an innocent little thought, but even just a thought like that perpetuates that feeling of desire. It creates that desire within us and we don’t even notice that we’re thinking that thought. Why? Because we’ve programmed it into our brain and repeated it so many times that it’s going on underneath our conscious awareness, underneath the supervision of the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that makes you human. It’s the part of your brain that’s right in the front that can plan something. It can think about what it’s thinking about. It can think about the future in relation to the past, in relation to the present. It’s something that animals cannot do. We like to use our lower brain still, the same brain that animals have because it’s efficient and our brain wants to be efficient, so we delegate to that part of our brain. The example that I like to use a lot is that we delegate … The prefrontal cortex is where we learn everything new and the brain is what manufactures it, so it’s like R&D and then manufacturing.

Manufacturing is very efficient, it doesn’t question anything, it doesn’t argue, it doesn’t think logically. All it does is produce a repeating program that you’ve programmed it to do. The repeating program that you’ve created in your lower brain is “I want to drink, desire drinking. I want to drink, desire drinking. I want to drink, desire drinking.”

Now here’s some other thoughts that I wrote down that I think are important to remember when you think about drinking there’s a lot of associated thoughts. “It provides relief. I want to drink because it provides relief. It’s relaxing. It’s sophisticated. Normal people who are in control can drink. It’s fun. It’s celebratory. It relieves stress. It turns off my brain.” Those are the kind of thoughts that keep us drinking. We have them programmed so deeply in our unconscious.

Now the other thing that’s so interesting is that we’ve thought these thoughts. We learned these thoughts from all the people around us, from the environment around us, from the commercials that we watch, from all of our associations to drinking. All of these thoughts have come up for us and so we’re constantly thinking them and then drinking and then thinking them and then drinking. We’ve created this programmed repeatable thought process and on top of that we’ve associated a huge brain reward with it and that’s what makes it so intense.

I’m going to talk about that reward. Basically, it’s a flood of dopamine into your brain, so you have the thought, you have the desire, you drink and then you’re rewarded. You have the thought, you have the desire, you have the drink and then you’re rewarded. There is no other powerful combination than that. If you look at all the psychological research on learning and you associate reward to learning it perpetuates the speed and the intensity of that activity. That is the perfect storm when it comes to alcohol.

Now it does not mean that there is something wrong with your brain. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Here’s the example I like to use. If you were walking down a hallway and your sibling or someone in your life jumps out and scares you you’re going to have an intense reaction to that. You’re going to be terrified. Now it doesn’t make sense. It’s someone you know, they’ve just jumped out from behind, they’re laughing hysterically and you are still filled with fear because your brain is functioning normally.

Now it hasn’t evolved to the point where it can anticipate that happening. It hasn’t repeated enough this person jumping out and scaring you enough. If they do it enough your brain will catch onto it, but in that moment it is terrified illogically. Nobody’s going to hurt us and it takes us a minute to calm down. That means your brain is functioning. It doesn’t mean because you’re having that reaction it doesn’t mean oh, my god, there must be something wrong with your brain. Your brain is like that because of the way that we’ve evolved and now there’s very few things that scare us or that go boo in the night. It used to be much more. We needed to be more on alert and be terrified and ready to have that adrenaline and now we don’t.

One of the things that I like to say is that all of the things that got us here, all of the brain processes that have got us to this point are the exact same brain processes that we’re going to have to overcome to evolve to the next level. All the primitive brain stuff is now causing us tremendous amounts of problems. Before, being afraid all the time served us. Now being afraid all the time, stressed all the time, worried all the time is killing us, so we need to evolve passed those survival mechanisms that got us here. The same is true when it comes to desire.

I’m going to explain this to you because it’s so important the way that our brain was rigged for survival. The way that our brain evolved is that it provided us reward when we did things that perpetuated our survival. The things that we do that make us live are eating, are warmth, is sex, is accomplishment, is connection. All of those things every time we did it we’d get a little dopamine in our brain, we’d get rewarded. Our brain used that as a feedback loop. Oh, when we ate that was good for us, when we had sex that was good for us, it perpetuated our species. When we were warm that was good for us, we didn’t die freezing to death. All of those pleasures provided a little bit of dopamine in our brain. Basically, the whole motivation pathway for neural desire for reward kept us alive.

I want you to think about how, if when you eat, let’s say a piece of meat or when you eat plants, there is a satisfaction that’s associated when a little bit of dopamine goes in your brain and so you associate and learn to repeat it. I had a thought “I should eat that,” I ate it, I got a little dopamine, now it’s perpetuating and I want to keep doing it and I want to keep doing it and the same with sex. I get that dopamine release. I want to do it again. I had warmth, I want to do that again, so I’m learning how to survive. If I don’t do those things my brain gets a little bit upset with me. It’s like “yo, we got to go eat. Yo, we should have some sex. Yo, we should get warm.” It’s an alarm factor. You could call it even a craving, “go get this done.”

Now what we’ve done that is a huge problem because of the way that we’ve evolved, all of those little rewards that kept us alive have now become a problem because what we’ve done is taken those little rewards and concentrated them. For example, we could eat something that would give us a little bit of dopamine reward and it would motivate us to want do it again. Now what we’ve done is we have taken things that occur naturally in nature to provide us with that little bit of dopamine reward and we’ve completely concentrated them.

If you think about cocaine, heroin, alcohol, sugar, porn, shopping, all of those things that we have now in modern day have taken the things that would have given us a subtle dopamine reward and completely concentrated that pleasure. Instead of having sex with one person one time and getting a dopamine release, now we can watch an hour’s worth of porn and get a huge dopamine release. Or we can eat … Instead of eating something like a beet that has a little bit of sugar in it or a berry and getting a little bit of dopamine reward now we can have a spoonful of table sugar and get a complete domination of dopamine rewards.

Now this is a problem because the brain now associates that “hey, if that little bit of that berry kept us alive back in the day this intense sugar is probably even more important than that. We got to get more of that. We better get way more of that, so let’s go do that” and all of a sudden it starts prioritizing having that over anything else. If a little is good then a lot must be better. The brain doesn’t understand the difference. Every time we reward ourselves with that much intensity the desire is completely intensified. Now this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your brain. In fact, that means that your brain is healthy, it’s responding to reward, that’s how it’s evolved.

What isn’t healthy, what hasn’t evolved to accommodate yet is the intense and the concentrated dopamine release that happens in the brain. What the brain does, for example, when you drink a lot of alcohol is it’s getting such an influx of dopamine that it starts trying to accommodate itself, so it doesn’t get completely overloaded all the time. It down regulates those receptors, but it doesn’t down regulate the desire, so it takes even more to get the same effect.

Now it doesn’t mean that you’re diseased, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your brain. All it means is that you have taught your brain that these substances are super important and your brain wants to remind you that it’s learned that we need to do this for survival. The more you do it and the more you repeat it, the stronger it gets until it becomes the only thing that matters. It prioritizes that above everything and that’s when you’re into complete addiction.

Now I’m not going to address complete addiction. That’s beyond the scope of what I’m going to teach in this class, but what I do want to teach you is that when you have this seemingly uncontrollable desire for a second glass of wine or a third glass of wine that is what’s going on. Your brain has learned that this is something that we repeat and we get rewarded for and it must be associated with our survival because it has dopamine involved, so we need to do more of it. That is why you have created what seems to be an involuntary desire.

I want to remind you of two things. It’s not involuntary, it’s just learned and you taught yourself maybe unknowingly to repeat it and to want it and to repeat it and to want it and you’ve increased that desire so much that it seems involuntary. Now what most of you may be feeling if you are like me is a competing desire. What happens is your prefrontal cortex says I want to drink less, I don’t like feeling foggy, I don’t like feeling hung over and then you have this primitive desire that literally is thinking we have to do this or we’re going to die. You have this human brain that’s newly evolved and then we have this primitive brain that’s very efficient.

Now what happens is that the lower brain is very good at is being quick and it’s very good at acting in the moment and creating a ton of desire in the moment. What the prefrontal cortex is very good at is planning and making decisions for the long-term. In that moment when somebody has placed alcohol in front of you the lower brain will win that race every single time. You may have thought oh, I don’t think I’ll drink this week and then you are presented with that. That desire will be so much stronger from that lower brain than it is from that prefrontal cortex that you will drink every single time.

It seems like it’s against your own will because your prefrontal is wait, we don’t want this, but it’s like this weak desire compared to this strong desire. That’s what feels so out of control. The truth is you’re never out of control. You’re always making the decision to pick up the alcohol. You’re always making the decision to drink it, but you’re doing it because that desire is so strong and if you don’t honor that desire, if you don’t fulfill that loop there will be some level of suffering. There will be some level of deprivation and you don’t want to experience that. You’d rather just have the glass of Chardonnay. Of course, it makes sense.

We’re going to talk more in the subsequent sessions about this, but what I want you to understand here is that the reason why you’re drinking the alcohol in that moment is because of that learned desire and that’s not something that’s permanent, it’s not something that’s wrong with you, it’s something that you created and it’s something that you can uncreate. You probably created it unconsciously. It’s probably been repeated your entire life from whenever you started drinking, but it isn’t hard to uncreate it. It isn’t hard to change it. I’m going to show you exactly how to do it.

Now I just want to let you know that all of those thoughts that you have, those positive thoughts you have that are associated with wanting to drink you also have thoughts that support those desires with your thoughts that are associated with not wanting to stop drinking which you may not even be aware of, but so many of us have them. A lot of times when I would think about not drinking I would think it’s boring not to drink, it’ll be dull. It’s unsophisticated. “What am I going to order? A diet Coke or a juice, a cranberry juice?” I used to think it’s not as fun. It’s hard. It’s not fair that I don’t get to drink. It must mean I have a problem, it must mean I’m an alcoholic. It’s a struggle that requires willpower and I just don’t have the energy to do it. It’s awkward, tedious, annoying, embarrassing not to drink. Without it I will feel deprived. I’ll be stigmatized and have to justify why I’m not drinking and I will always feel like I want it and I will always have to fight against that desire.

If you are like that, if you have those types of feelings towards drinking and towards not drinking and you feel that desire really strong inside of you, you are absolutely normal. It means your brain is healthy, it means that it is functioning, it means that you’re a good learner, it means that you’ve associated a reward and that your brain is responding to that reward really, really well. I don’t want any of you who have been hiding in shame, not wanting to talk about this, feeling embarrassed about it to know that I completely understand where you’re coming from. I want to share with you that there are techniques that I can teach you that will absolutely help you unlearn what is a seemingly irrational desire for this substance.

There have been so many studies that they have done on those poor little rats where a rat … where they stimulate a certain part of their brain that is the part that is the reward center that those little rats will sit there and hit that lever at the expense of everything else in their life. They won’t take care of their babies, they won’t take care of their health, they won’t drink water and they won’t eat because that part of the brain has evolved to let you know what’s important. Dopamine is important, doing activities, accomplishments that create dopamine are important.

If we didn’t have those rewards we may just sit around and not try and go get food and not procreate and not try and build a house to make us … Or go find a cave and a fire to make us warm. We may not have that motivation to do that. Our motivation comes from the desire to seek pleasure and to avoid pain and to expend as least energy as possible in doing that. That is the perfect combination for creating an over-illogical desire for substances that are concentrated pleasure in now our environment. If you feel this way towards alcohol please know that it’s because of the way you’ve evolved, because of the way your brain is and here’s the magic.

This is what I’m going to leave you with on this one is you have a prefrontal cortex, so no matter how efficient your mid-lower brain is, no matter how well it has practiced that, no matter how much reward it has it is nothing compared to your human brain. It is powerless compared to your ability to change what you believe and change what you think and change how you respond. There is nothing that that lower brain can do without the consent of the prefrontal cortex. You may not have learned the skill of how to use that prefrontal cortex, but it doesn’t mean you can’t.

I’m going to teach you that in the third part. In the second part we’re going to talk about why it’s so hard to quit. We’re going to go into the actual science behind that and we’re going to talk about why many, many, many of those attempts have left you feeling less than completely unnecessarily. I hope that you’ll join me in part two. I’ll talk to you then. Take care.

Thank you for listening to the Life Coach School Podcast. It is my honor to show up here every week and connect with people that are likeminded, wanting to take their life to a deeper level with more awareness and more conscientiousness. If you are interested in taking this work to the next level I highly encourage you to go to the LifeCoachSchool.com/howtofeelbetteronline. It is there that I have a class that will take all of this to a deeper application where you’ll be able to really feel and experience how all of these concepts can start showing up in your life. It’s one thing to learn it intellectually, it’s another thing to truly apply it to your life. I will see you there. Thanks again for listening.

9 Comments

  1. Heart-touching story. Flavored and spiced with all the knowledge of a Great Master.
    Thanks again for your generosity!

  2. You are ON FIRE!
    You are giving such a GIFT to so many by getting this information out in the world.
    I was listening to this as I ran and had to use my willpower to not stop in the middle of the workout to share this podcast with many, many of my friends and clients.
    In the past, when recommending your podcasts I’ve said something like: “When speaking, Brooke’s words are like gold falling from her mouth. You want to scoop them up in your hands to hold and appreciate them”. These last 8-10 podcasts? I think you’ve moved up to platinum!~
    I THANK YOU and am so very very grateful!
    The bad ass in me honors the bad ass in you. Thanks Brooke

  3. THis whole thing actually scares me and I’ll be honest – my hope is that no alcoholic in desperate need comes here thinking that they can control their drinking. I will say for me – declaring that I was an alcoholic at 23 and after 6 years of sobriety that labeling myself was what freed me – I couldn’t drink like a normal drinker and when I did – I ended up in the hospital.

    I did try to control it and I ended up back out drinking again. I am so grateful that I accepted my label as an alcoholic at 23, at 30 my life is so much better and I never have to grapple with “maybe I can… Because I can’t.” Anything I have tried to put before my sobriety – school, relationships, I lose them. I never had a DUI, I grew up with a loving family – a few whom are alcoholics and sober as well. I grew up in one of the richest towns in America – where everyone put everything behind closed doors. I know countless people who have passed from alcoholism because someone once tried to tell them – it’s ok, you can control it.

    Great – maybe I can but I never want to live a life where I am trying to control something – I’d rather accept my label and rock out as a I am now. Not be 6 feet under with the others I know who tried to “cut back” and killed themselves or ended up in jail making stupid decisions, despite the fact that they are amazing,good people. Whatever you want to do with your life is great – but please remember that some desperate people will read this, and they need help that won’t tell them that they can control it because that may be what takes me out at night.

    This breaks my heart – I loved your work and I’m happy to get on the phone and discuss this – but please send out the message that if you think you need help and you are home, by yourself with a bottle – you need to stop thinking you can control it. A lot of alcoholics who are seriously sick (and there is no shame about having a disease like alcoholism as both of my parents who are cancer survivors have said the fight that I led was just like theirs except my chemo was rehab and my daily life requires me not to focus on not drinking – but. Being a better person (because that’s what the steps teach us) and the only step that actually focuses on alcohol – is the 1st one.

    I’m not an evangelist, I believe in taking many approaches – but just like I would tell my mom PLEASE take the chemo instead of the “easier, softer route” I would tell anyone who reads this that they can get off that elevator anytime they want.

    I dont’ think about drinking today – I think about helping the next person and women out there trough the work I do. My sobriety gave me my masters degree, performing back on stage in the Hamptons, being a keynote speaker in NYC helping revise thousands of dollars for desperate people who have “tried other ways” and want the help. Please make sure you are sharing responsibility. I would be heart broken to see you Brooke, or anyone else find out hte hard way that alcoholism is a progressive disease that only gets worse each time you go back out.

  4. Hi Mary,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your thoughts.

    I hope you will keep an open mind as you read my reply.

    I hear that you have had an experience with alcohol yourself and with some people in your life.

    It’s so very easy to take your personal experience and apply it to everyone. In fact, I think this is the main problem when it comes to people who want help with their drinking. Your all or nothing approach keeps so many people from getting any help at all.

    My program is not for people who call themselves alcoholics.

    And not everyone who struggles with how much they drink is an alcoholic. And not everyone needs to quit drinking.

    You may have been exposed to people who tried to control their drinking and they couldn’t. The reason they couldn’t control it might be because they didn’t have the right tools, it might have been because they were alcoholics and needed treatment, or it might have been because of some reason you and I can’t completely understand right now. It’s easy to conclude that they needed to quit drinking completely the way that you might have, but there is no way you or I can know that for sure. Everyone’s path is their own.

    We can’t claim that treatment saves lives. It’s the person who saves their life. Period. We can’t say AA saved someone’s life, without also giving credit to AA for the thousands of people who died while they were in treatment with AA. AA does not get responsibility for either. Some people use AA and get themselves better, some people use another approach, and some people simply keep using. My dad and my brother were both in AA when they died from drugs. I do not blame AA for their deaths, but I also don’t give it credit for anyone’s sobriety. Sobriety is a choice that the person makes. They save their own lives.

    Thousands of people control their drinking. Many people are able to drink and limit themselves. These people do not need to quit drinking, nor do they want to. They have found a way to drink in a controlled manner. You have met them and I have met them. It is absolutely possible. So your mention of people who tried to control their drinking and couldn’t doesn’t not represent all people who have tried to control their drinking. Not everyone who tries will end up “six feet under”. Many who try will succeed.

    To assume that everyone who struggles is an alcoholic is dangerous. That’s what scares me. I have met hundreds of people who live in shame about drinking because there is a group of people who immediately want to label them and send them through a program of documenting their flaws and shortcomings. This one sided approach has excluded so many wonderful people who simply need some tools to be able to manage their minds.

    Some people need help in a different way. Some people need to quit drinking forever. But they can only identify themselves and make that decision for themselves. We can’t begin to diagnose or coerce anyone to quit drinking because it has worked so well for us.

    AND there are so many other people who want and need help with understanding their drinking. People who are tired of being told what they HAVE TO DO and how SCARED everyone else is because it is so SERIOUS. That was me. And my experience is VERY different from yours. My experience is that people who wanted to call me an alcoholic sent me to drinking more, hiding more, denying more. People who thought they knew better about how I should live my life did not help me at all.

    So I hope you will open your mind to all the types of drinkers in the world. Some need to get help and become sober immediately. Some need to cut back on their drinking and they will be able to do that very responsibly. And some just need to manage their minds better so they don’t turn to alcohol quite so often. All of these people deserve help and tools.

    Some “desperate” person might read this, and I hope they do. I would never pretend to know what they need to do with their life. I would never tell them that they are powerless or in denial. I can’t know that for another person. But if they want my help, I will give it to them. If they want to quit drinking, I can help them. If they want to cut back, I can show them the way and see if it works for them.

    You tell me to share responsibly and I do. I share because it is my responsibility. I have a responsibility to offer a solution that worked so beautifully for many of my clients. It won’t work for everyone, and that is perfectly fine. It’s for the people it does help. I hope you can stay open to that possibility even if it isn’t your experience.

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