Have you ever thought about how much shame is holding you back in life when it comes to overindulging in alcohol?
So many moms deal with this and it holds them back from seeking support to overcome their negative relationship with alcohol. They are afraid to speak up because they feel that they are alone in this battle and don’t want to appear like they can’t handle alcohol.
As moms, we want to appear strong and capable and there is the belief that admitting we are struggling places us outside of what we think is the norm.
As moms, it is easy to get caught up and stuck in the shame cycle. What exactly is the shame cycle when it comes to drinking alcohol? It all begins with your thoughts. Something you are thinking about triggers you, and that thought usually hits hard emotionally. That trigger creates a craving for a drink. You take that drink, and one drink usually turns into more than you planned out to drink in the first place.
You then feel a ton of guilt and shame over the fact that you once again overindulged, and you experience the negative side effects of low energy, anxiety and feeling like garbage the next day. Experiencing that “downer” effect and heightened anxiety from the alcohol the day before, puts you in a state of continuously beating yourself up “Why did I do that to myself again? Why can’t I control my alcohol intake? I hate myself for doing this again.”, etc.
What happens when you continue to mentally beat yourself up over it? You find yourself reaching for that bottle again the next day. When you are down on yourself and are already exhausted and depleted from overindulging the day before, it’s no wonder you can’t overcome it. By the time 5:00 rolls around, not only do you experience the general exhaustion from the day and recovering from the drinking the day before, you also have decision-making fatigue from the thousands of decisions you made throughout the day. This phenomenon makes it even that much easier to say “yes” to grabbing your beverage of choice. You are much more likely to say, “Oh, whatever, I am going to have a drink!”
The shame cycle can put a mom in that “groundhog” state of repeating the cycle, feeling stuck, not knowing how to get out of it, not even considering there may be another way.
What can you do about it? How can you interrupt the cycle? Instead of beating yourself up, try the complete opposite approach and shower yourself with self-compassion and self-love. As foreign as this might sound, give yourself some grace. You are probably wondering “How the heck can I do that, after drinking a whole bottle of wine and doing that to myself again?”
Understanding that what you are dealing with is completely normal and it is the nature of alcohol to do this to your brain, to trick you into thinking it will help relieve your stress or minimize your problems. Most moms do not start drinking with the intention that they will overindulge, it’s just the nature of alcohol. In other words, it’s not about your choices, it’s about the fact that your brain is doing what it is meant to do when alcohol is introduced to it. Realizing it is not your fault can be a big aha moment for many. I know it was for me and it helped relieve much of my mental anguish.
When you go into it with the approach of cutting yourself some slack and taking care of yourself the next day, and giving yourself what you need with no judgment, it helps scale back that stress that probably put you in that situation in the first place.
Another approach you can take is quit trying to quit! Yes, that is what I said. ???? Putting that mental pressure on yourself when you feel you are not ready to make a change can add even more mental stress to the equation and can propel you into drinking even more. It is all a learning experience, and the overall goal is to help start to shift your subconscious beliefs and thoughts around alcohol.
What does quit trying to quit look like? Start to become completely mindful of your drinking. The next time you get a trigger and decide to give into your craving, take note of what the thought was that triggered you and how it made you feel. Pay attention to how it feels to open the bottle, pour the drink, put the drink to your lips and take a sip. Notice how you feel when you are drinking the drink after the first 3 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes and how you feel after you finish it. If you have subsequent drinks, notice how they make you feel. Do you feel full of energy? Happy? Sad? Anxious? Allow yourself to really experience the process and pay attention to every step of it. Note how you slept that night and how you felt the day after. Recording all of your thoughts and findings in a journal can be very impactful and will give you something to reflect on. Becoming mindful of your drinking and breaking down the process is where the learning begins.
If you quit trying to quit and choose to be mindful about your drinking, remember to give yourself self-love, grace and self-compassion throughout the entire process.
You can help yourself move past the shame cycle and decide to live your life differently from this point forward. You can move beyond it by treating yourself with respect and self-love. Staying stuck in the shame cycle only holds you back from moving forward in your life and will keep you in that negative loop. Once you start to positively support yourself and move towards setting yourself free from the shame cycle, it will allow you to make positive shifts in your life and focus on the healthy possibilities that lie ahead.