Boozy to Butterfly

Stop the Morning-After Dread

June 22, 2021 This Brain of Mine Episode 15
Boozy to Butterfly
Stop the Morning-After Dread
Boozy to Butterfly
Stop the Morning-After Dread
Jun 22, 2021 Episode 15
This Brain of Mine

How many times have you woken up after a night of overdrinking filled with dread? You know the moment I'm talking about. Fear and shame consume you as you try to piece together all the things that happened the day before. This week Emily shares three tips to help you overcome this morning-after dread and a little insight into what's happening in this repetitive cycle. 

Looking for more support on your stop overdrinking journey? Head over to to sign up for my free 10-day training course. 

If you're ready for private coaching, email me at [email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

How many times have you woken up after a night of overdrinking filled with dread? You know the moment I'm talking about. Fear and shame consume you as you try to piece together all the things that happened the day before. This week Emily shares three tips to help you overcome this morning-after dread and a little insight into what's happening in this repetitive cycle. 

Looking for more support on your stop overdrinking journey? Head over to to sign up for my free 10-day training course. 

If you're ready for private coaching, email me at [email protected]

Episode 15: Stop the Morning-After Dread

Hello and thanks for joining me on episode 15, Stop the Morning-After Dread. That is to say stop the morning-after overdrinking dread. You know the moment I’m talking about. When you wake up after a night of too much booze and dread just overwhelms your body and mind. I know you know how this feels. It’s awful. You wake up from a hazy or black-out sleep and fear sets in with the thought, “what did I do last night?” What did I say last night? Did I embarrass myself? Did I get in a fight? Am I injured? Did I drive home? Are my loved ones mad at me? Are my friends mad at me?

And as you’re reviewing all the possibilities of damage you may have caused, possibly reviewing some text messages and some phone calls on your phone, shame starts to set in after the fear subsides. You think why did I do this to myself again? Why do I do this to myself? Why can’t I just drink like a normal person? And it’s a cycle that repeats itself time and time again.

You might start calling or talking to some loved ones to piece together what happened the prior evening or you might avoid it all in shame hoping it just goes away. And on a smaller scale, maybe you didn’t even do anything to be overly embarrassed about but now that you’re relatively sober, you’re replaying enough of the prior day that you’re feeling regretful. 

You went way off plan or way off your diet. You now have a healthy hangover and you know you’re not making it to the gym or doing that workout. So now not only was the prior day more than you bargained for but today is going to be a pretty wasteful day or at least an unpleasant one as you do stick to some commitments you’ve previously agreed to.

And I know what happens on these mornings because they are familiar to me as a former drinker. First it’s Oops, I did it again, ode to Brittany Spears. You woke up with overdrinking dread so now you tell yourself you’re not going to drink today. You’re going to skip the booze and reset. But the day continues and you recover a bit only to find some life frustrations so you decide a couple drinks will be okay today. So now you’re telling yourself you need a drink after the day you’ve had or you deserve it. You decide one drink will be okay or maybe two. But that’s it. And as you finish that second drink, you feel great so why not keep going. You lift the drinking restriction and continue drinking more than planned. Cue the morning-after drinking dread…again. You wake up, foggy, piecing together memories, and disappointment sets in.

Look, I know this story. And it’s repeated instances like this that lead you to believe alcohol has power over you. And this is where so many overdrinkers get caught in the mind trap. This is where trouble begins…mindset. So, let me walk you through what’s really happening here so you can stop the morning-after overdrinking dread and start your day(s) on the right track.

Let’s start with the no drinking rule you set for yourself when this happens. The rule starts in your cognitive decision-making brain. It creates this rule, a plan or goal if you will, to guide you through the day. And depending on how many times this has gone awry, you may feel pretty confident you’re going to do it this time. All seems to be right in the world and you don’t see why, this time, you can’t just follow this simple directive to not drink. That is, if everything goes as planned during the day.

Now, with your “no drinks tonight” rule, pay attention to how many times during the day you’re thinking about not drinking. Especially after the first wrench gets thrown into your day. The chatter is like a toddler nagging you; a roommate who won’t shut up. Just constantly chirping in your ear. And eventually you let it wear you down and to get it to shut up, you give in…you’ll have one drink, two drinks maximum and then we know how the story ends from there. So what happened here?

Let me give you three things to consider.

First: The punitive rule: it was made to be broken.

When you give yourself a restrictive rule as punishment and your mind thinks of it as deprivation, the brain is going to beg and plead for it’s life. It’s confused and the simple mindset of deprivation is all it takes to set this experiment up to fail.

Goals and plans work better when you look at it with a rewarding outcome. Or you feel like there is a temporary sacrifice for a long-term gain. And you want this gain more than the sacrifice of what you’re giving up. 

This no-alcohol rule you’re applying is punitive in nature and this increases the odds you’ll break it. 

I notice this with exercise. If I decide to exercise as punishment for eating unhealthy, I really don’t enjoy that workout or bike ride very much. It can be pretty awful and decreases the odds that I’m going to want to do it again. But when I exercise from a mindset of I want to do this and this is for me, I enjoy the workout 100 times more. I actually look forward to working out when I see them as a benefit rather than a punishment.

The second thing I want you to consider is the expectation that your day is going to go as planned without any hiccups. You say you’re not going to drink but alcohol is your coping tool for stress and frustration.

You have given yourself an out here. You unreasonably set the expectation that your day is going to go smooth with no stressors, mini-battles, or strife. You’re really only agreeing to the no drinks rule if everything is perfect. You know it’s not going to be perfect, right?

Life is rarely going to go as planned. Expect the unexpected and expect that something is going to go off track. While you’re letting life frustrate you, you’re thinking in your mind that a drink solves your frustration. A drink never solves the frustration and keeps you stuck in this routine of using alcohol to deal with life rather than learning how to manage your mind around the unexpected and how to deal when things don’t go your way.

Would you snort cocaine every time something didn’t go as planned? Then why is it okay to use another drug, alcohol, the same way? Because it’s legal?

You’ll find your mind creating a lot of drama around some undramatic things in order to sabotage your day and earn that drink. Be on to your brain.

And the third thing I want you to think about is the mind chatter: you’re identifying with the thoughts telling you to drink.

We have thousands of thoughts each day. In fact, you have so many thoughts you’re not even aware of until they’re brought into your consciousness and given a platform. In this case, you’re giving these sabotaging thoughts a platform, allowing them to make a case, and believing them. And they’re winning. 

You’ll start to notice the thoughts creeping in saying just have one drink today. One drink isn’t a big deal. Have one drink and you’ll feel better. A no drink rule is a dumb rule anyway. These thoughts will wear you down because you’re using willpower to abstain which is a limited energy supply. These thoughts will also wear you down because you’re internalizing them and identifying with them.

This brain chatter is exhausting and uses a surprising amount of energy during the day. This is why by night time you feel like you just can’t abstain any longer. You feel like you did great all day but when night time comes, you’re out of power. You give in and drink.

So what can you do? How do you break this cycle? Well, it’s actually simple, not necessarily easy but simple. It can be easy but I just don’t want you to confuse simple with easy. And although it’s simple to understand, as humans, we tend to make things harder than they really are and this is one of those times. It does take practice however. So keep repeating these three tips I’m going to share.

#1 – Believe the Benefits of a Dry Day

In order to break this cycle, you have to diffuse or neutralize the conflict. When you have two competing thoughts, you’re experiencing what’s known as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance causes feelings of unease and tension, and we attempt to relieve this discomfort in different ways. Drinking is one way but before you drink the cognitive dissonance causes anxiety. You have these two conflicting thoughts occurring within you and it feels unpleasant. 

When the brain is rattled with this disturbance it tries to pick a side. And while you’re feeling anxiety the side you’re going to want to pick, unconsciously, is to drink. Drinking will help you feel relief from this self-created anxiety so the convincing is going to start leaning toward having that drink. You’re going to feel very emotional and the cognitive rational thoughts are going to lose power and be pushed to the side.

So, you have to believe your decision is good for you. Rather than withholding drinking due to punishment, you have to find the evidence that not drinking is your authentic, preferable path. When you decide to forego a day or evening of drinking, really think about why your conscious mind is making this decision. Is it because you believe alcohol to be a problem or is it because of something else? If you don’t believe alcohol to be a problem, you’re going to lose the debate when the day takes a turn and the influential chatter begins.

I recommend finding the benefits of abstaining from alcohol, even if it’s just a reset day or two, and work on believing them. And then when you get through a dry day, reflect. Reflect on every ounce of you that feels better and reflect on your increased productivity. You have to consciously program your mind to see the good when you’re trying to learn new behaviors.

#2 – Live with Gratitude

Stop expecting life to move along a straight line. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned. When you get frustrated due to a perceived issue, keep saying to yourself, “so what?” You are smart and flexible and you can figure things out. As Marie Forleo says, everything is figureoutable.

You’re trying to predict and control the universe and it’s never going to happen. And, even better, when you get to the mindset that you can have gratitude for whatever life throws your way, you’ll actually feel less anxiety and more empowered. I know it seems like the opposite, but when the world can’t rattle you because you live in a place of gratitude, it’s empowering.

There’s a great book called Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy that has a passage for every day of the year in it. I’m going to read just one short passage from it to give you an idea of how cute this book is. Choosing to Blossom. 

#3 – Stand Firm

So when the thoughts start rolling in, the offense, you stand firm. I mean don’t literally stand firm but watch the thoughts as an observer rather than rationalizing or negotiating. As Byron Katie says, defense is the first act of war. 

I like to just shut it down. When I have those little thoughts creep in that are contrary to my goal or plan, I just say, that’s not happening today. I don’t think about the thought and I don’t consider it or mull it over. I can usually just disengage with it or hit it like a golf ball and then I look at it with curiosity if given the time or interest to do so. I’ll think hmm that’s interesting that this thought got triggered right now. What am I doing right now? How is this desire associated with this moment or circumstance?

 Learning how to handle your mind when things don’t go as planned will help you beyond just overdrinking. These three simple shifts can help you with any changes you’re trying to implement and put into action.