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Triggers with Simon Tomlinson, Producer of "Club Sobriety"

Apr 20 2021


Simon Tomlinson is a photographer and video producer located in the UK. He made a documentary about stopping drinking alcohol called "Club Sobriety" which can be found on Youtube.


He has been trying to stop drinking for three or four years and is still finding it difficult. In this episode Simon is extremely vulnerable and opens up around his mental health as it relates to alcohol consumption.


He volunteers to talk through one of the situations, thoughts, actions and results of his triggers, and imagine an alternative reality, which is a coaching strategy Alex often uses in more depth with her private one-on-one clients in coaching.


Listen here


Watch Club Sobriety, Simon's Documentary, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pGLIi93HFQ


If you do listen please don’t forget to rate, share & subscribe so the podcast can reach more people it would benefit! Follow Alex's sober journey on Instagram @alexmcrobs. For more information about Sober Girls Yoga, and Alex’s coaching, meditations and yoga classes, join her on www.themindfullifepractice.com.


Full episode



TRANSCRIPT


Intro: Welcome to the “Sober Yoga Girl Podcast” with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.


Alex: All right. So, welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am super excited today to have Simon Tomlinson as a guest, and Simon is a photographer, a video producer, and he made a documentary about stopping drinking alcohol called "Club Sobriety". And he has been trying to stop drinking for about three or four years and is still finding it difficult. And so, hopefully people listening to this podcast will be able to relate to some aspects of his journey. So, welcome, Simon.


Simon: Hi, Alex. Thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to sharing my story and hope that it can help some other people that are out there listening that can, yeah, maybe relate to the challenges that I've had to try and stop drinking which, it's still continuing and it's still something that I'm trying to overcome.


Alex: Yeah. And I think a lot of people will find it relatable because I think no one ever has like a linear journey of quitting alcohol or whatever substance it is or whatever habit. It's always kind of, you know, it's, you know, you take little steps and sometimes you take step backs and sometimes you take steps forward. And so, I think you'll be a really awesome guest to have.


Simon: Thanks very much. I'm, yeah, looking forward to sharing my story.


Alex: So, let's start off with, can you just give me a little bit of background on you? Tell me a bit about who you are, and where you're from, and what are your interests.


Simon: Yeah, sure. So, I am from England and I grew up in a place called Southampton which for anyone who's not from England is on the the south coast in a nice leafy little suburb called Chandler's Ford. Then, I went to university in Coventry where I studied Economics. And then, I became a project manager which was my career in the energy industry for about 15 years before deciding to really follow my passions and something that I was really interested in which is photography and video production. So, about 18 months ago, two years ago, I decided to quit my day job and become a full-time freelance photographer and video producer, which was a terrible time to make that decision because shortly after, the world went into chaos with the pandemic, so it's been a difficult time trying to start my business, and I think we'll come on to this a little bit later with my own alcohol journey, because it's definitely had an impact on my drinking over there the last year since we've been having Covid with us. So, yeah, that's what I do now. I'm a photographer, a video producer, I also do some other freelancing work with social media, digital marketing, and some copywriting as well, some branch out into various different areas. My spare time, I love playing, that's probably my biggest thing, I'm a very into self-development and personal development which mainly comes from trying to, well, it comes from trying to be happy, really. Because I've been struggling with depression for quite a few years. So, I've been doing a lot of research into how I can change the way that I think about things, and also change my lifestyle to try and become happier within myself, and to try and become more content, and a byproduct of that is if I'm feeling happier, then I should have less need to drink alcohol. So, a lot of the work that I do is all about trying to stop drinking. Yeah, I'm sure I'll come into more of that later on. Oh, something else I wanna share here is that my plan very shortly is, I wanna buy myself a van and convert it into a camper van. And then, I'm going to spend a year at least traveling around the UK and bits of Europe as well. Because I think it will be just awesome and I'm looking forward to it, and I can't wait but need to wait for the whole pandemic to be over before I can do that.


Alex: Oh, that's really cool. That sounds like an awesome way to spend a year.


Simon: Yeah, and hopefully working at the same time. Because with my work as a video producer and photographer, I can really do that from anywhere in the world. So, it will almost be creating a bit of an office in the back of a van, as well as a living environment, so that when I travel around, then I can do photography shoots with people or I can do video projects with people. So, at the same time as traveling, then I can be meeting lots of different people and building my business.


Alex: Oh, yeah. That's brilliant. That's a really cool thing about what's happening and I feel in 2021 is people are just thinking of like, new ways of doing things and ways that you can, you know, do your job like from all over rather than just one place.


Simon: Yeah, absolutely. That digital nomad life.


Alex: Yes, that's my dream too. So, tell me a bit about your drinking. At what age did you start drinking and how did you start?


Simon: Yeah. So, I think I started probably about the age of 13, which is quite a young age to start drinking, but it's not an uncommon age for people to start drinking. And I think it really came from wanting to be a little bit rebellious for one thing, and trying to be a bit more grown up, and also wanting to be like one of the cool kids at school, because I started smoking about the same time, I started being, yeah, just a little bit more rebellious in a few different ways. So, drinking almost came hand in hand with that. And at the time, it was just a case of going down the park on a Friday or Saturday night with a few mates having a bottle of cider or making a concoction of drinks, stealing from like, parents' liquor cabinets, and just taking a little bit from every single bottle, and putting them into one big bottle, and then drinking it, and yeah. It was some fun times. I mean, like, I definitely enjoyed that period. I don't think it was particularly a great thing for a 13 to 16 year old really doing, but it didn't seem completely outrageous. So, that's kind of where it started. And then, when I got a little bit older and got to the the legal age of drinking, which in the UK is 18, then most of my life just revolved around alcohol, and I seemed to be magnetized to other people and form friendships with other people who had the the same philosophy of just getting drunk as much and as often as possible. So, it was either having a few drink or going to a friend's house, and buying some from the off license. And that was pretty much on a nightly basis, even at the age of 18, it was drinking every single night. But at that stage, it was a very sociable thing to do. So, I was always doing it with other people and it felt like something that was fun. And something else that I'll point out is that, I think when I was growing up, I was a very quiet and shy person. So, when I found alcohol for the first time and it helped to remove some of that social anxiety, then it almost made me feel like I was becoming a different person, and made me feel like I was becoming a better person, because all of a sudden I could have fun and all of a sudden I could socialize where, before alcohol came along, I found that quite difficult. So then, after being 18-19, I then went to university, so the level of drinking continued of getting drunk on a daily basis, because that's pretty much what everyone does at uni, and at that age, we have a very short recovery period, so you can get drunk and still go to uni the next day. It's just like, yeah, that's what people do. So, yeah, that's kind of like where it all started from. Do you want me to continue that journey up until now or do you wanna come to that a little bit later?


Alex: Yeah. Why don't you carry on and tell me about how you're drinking, like after that, kind of escalated over time?


Simon: Yeah. So, after uni, I then got into a long-term relationship with a girl, which was really good, and I settled down, and my level of drinking definitely reduced. So, it was probably drinking maybe two or three times a week, but it was nothing excessive, so it might be sharing a bottle of wine. And I think part of the reason for that slowing down was one being in a nice happy relationship, but also because I didn't want to know how much I would drink or how much I wanted to drink. So, I felt like I had to like, hold it back when I was around her, because I didn't want her to think I had a problem. I didn't want her to think that I was an alcoholic. And so, I kind of like, kept it under wraps as much as possible but every like, few weeks, I would then go out with my mates, and we'll just get absolutely obliterated because it was like having a night off where I could just get away with it. So, that was most of my 20s, but then that relationship came to an end when I turned around 30. And then, I became a single bachelor, and moved to the city where I lived now, which is in Birmingham, and took advantage of that new bachelorhood, and went out most weekends, Friday and Saturday, and I was going out a few times during the week. And that's when I started drinking more at home as well, and I don't think there was a particular reason for that. It was just something that kind of happened because drinking was becoming more of a habit. But then, I think things started to go downhill when I decided that I wanted to set up my own business. And I was focusing so much time on doing that, I was actually being less social with other people, so I decided to stop going out with other people and spend more time trying to create my own business. But that meant that I was spending a lot more time by myself and I think that loneliness is definitely something that has been a big contributing factor to the alcohol challenges that I've had. I kind of recognized that I had a problem, and I knew that I was drinking too much, and I wanted to cut that, which is what most people try to do initially when they have a bit of a problem. The failure at being able to moderate made me realize that I'm just gonna have to stop completely. There's nothing that I can do. Just accept it, Okay. By stopping drinking, I then stopped a lot of the other social activities that I was doing, because I didn't wanna be in bars, or pubs, or places that people were drinking. So, my level of social isolation became more, and it was almost, by doing that, made me want to drink more. So, it was almost like, my efforts to try and stop drinking were actually making me want to drink even more. And then, I would go through cycles where I would drink for maybe three, or four, or five days on the trot, but I would drink at home and the level of alcohol that I was drinking was going up and up to the point where I was drinking probably about two bottles of wine every night. And because I was getting older, and drinking more, the hangovers that I was getting was even worse. So then, I would feel awful the next day and the only way that I could get rid of that hangover was to start drinking again. That, for me, was a real warning sign of being in that vicious circle of drinking to feel better, but then that drinking makes me feel bad. So, I then need to drink to then overcome that. Now, over the last couple of years, I've been trying to stop drinking and I've had periods of maybe a few weeks at a time, a couple of months, I think the longest that I've been is about six months without drinking, but I keep on falling off the wagon and I keep on going back into these binges of three or four days, which is frustrating for me because I know within me, I really want to stop. But then, something happens where, I then, it feels like drinking is the only thing that's gonna make me feel better. So, when I decide to drink alcohol, it's not a logical decision, it's not me saying, Oh, yeah. I'm gonna have a few drinks because it's gonna make me feel good. It's like an emotional need. It's like if you haven't eaten for a few days and you're absolutely famished and starving, and you have that like, hunger takes over and you do everything that you can just to get some food. That's what it feels like for me when I end up drinking. Yeah, that's kind of where I am now.


Alex: And what do you think it is that is leading you like, drawing you back to be like, falling off the wagon and going back on the binges?


Simon: I think it's a few things. I think social isolation is still definitely in there, which is being exacerbated by the current situation that we're in, because it's just not possible to see people and to socialize. But I think a lot of it is, I know that I do have chronic depression which has been around for quite a long time in my life, and some of that, well, a lot of that comes from the internal dialogue that I have with myself, which is very self-critical and I feel like I'm not good enough.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: I think we're gonna talk about triggers later, but one of them is that, if I do something and it's not perfect, or if I do something and I make a really stupid mistake, then I, yeah, I'd like to chastise myself to the point where I need something to numb out the stuff that's going on in my brain, and I need something to numb out the way that I feel. I think loneliness is a big one and that's something that I definitely want to try and overcome, but that's gonna be more of a long-term thing going forward. And also, depression which is caused a lot by my internal dialogue with myself, and I think they're the main things really


Alex: Yeah. You know, I can relate so much to what you're saying because for myself, my mental health problems really began when I started drinking, and I never really identified that until after I had been sober, and for myself, it was like, almost like this cycle of like, you know, I was depressed and anxious, so I was drinking to cope with that, but then that was making me more depressed and anxious, and it was like this ongoing kind of thing. And I think a lot of people have these problems that's just not really talked about that much. It's getting better, but it's not widely talked about the mental health impacts, like the reason why a lot of people are led to drink is because of mental health, and then drinking impacting mental health.


Simon: Yeah. I think in the past, there's been a real big stigma about people who have issues with alcohol because it's almost like, if you have a problem with alcohol, then people think it's, well, that person's got a problem. There must be a flaw with their character for them to have a problem with alcohol where I don't think it's that way at all. I think it's just an addictive drug.


Alex: Absolutely.


Simon: And if you consume enough of it, then you're gonna get addicted in the same way that people who smoke cigarettes, it's an addictive drug, or people who drink coffee, it's an addictive drug. So, I think the stigma is starting to change, and it's becoming more openly talked about, and I think podcasts like this are an amazing way of doing that, and there's loads of books out there, there's lots of good programs of people giving support to other people. But I still think there's a long way to go to really increase the awareness that a lot of people have got problems with alcohol, and most people keep it to themselves, because they're scared of what other people think.


Alex: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I know when I was quitting, I didn't even want to like a page on Facebook, you know, a couple people have mentioned to me about, you know, not following me on Instagram because they don't want people to know that they're following me. And it's funny because I was like, Whoa, that totally took me back to exactly, you know, I was in that same place. I didn't even wanna like One Year No Beer, because I thought that then people would, I thought that everyone would be looking at my social media and think I have a problem. And so, it's totally there is a long way to go around it, for sure.


Simon: I think a lot of people who do have issues don't really know where to turn.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: Because like alcoholics, anonymous is the most obvious place for people to go to for support, but a lot of people, myself included, are a little bit scared to go along to that because it feels very hardcore going to AAA, and some people think, Well, I don't think I'm an alcoholic, so I don't think I can go to that. And it does have a bit of a religious background to it as well which of people off. Now, there are new more modern programs out there, like One Year No Beer, which you've mentioned and I know that there's a lot of people who do offer sober coaching, which I know is something that you do as well. The amount of support that's out there is growing, but for people who are new to this sober lifestyle, then they don't necessarily know where to go.


Alex: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned earlier about kind of like, loneliness as being one trigger. What has been hard in the Covid lockdown to maintain your sobriety?


Simon: Yes. So, loneliness is definitely one of those because even though I've been quite socially isolated in the past, that's been made even worse because of Covid. So, I could quite easily go a whole week, and not really see anyone at all, which, although sometimes, I don't necessarily feel lonely, I think it definitely does have an impact on the way that I feel. So, loneliness is definitely one of those things. Financial stress has been another one as well, because I mentioned before that I've just started my own business, and then lockdown came along, which meant that I wasn't able to earn anything at all, and I would say that probably for the first, but the first lockdown started in about March. And then, up until November, I hadn't earned anything at all. But I was still living in quite a nice apartment that I'm in, so I have a mortgage, other bills that I need to pay, and I did have money in the bank that was keeping me going for a while. But then, that started to run down and I was trying to apply for jobs but couldn't really get anything at all, and that was creating a big stress on myself. And alcohol was quite a effective short-term solution to numb out those worries that I had. Obviously, it wasn't a very good thing in the long term because it's, well, it's not good to be consuming poison, but it's also not good to be spending 15 pounds on a couple of bottles of wine, because that wasn't gonna help my financial situation. And I'm still facing some of those financial difficulties at the moment because, although I do have a few freelance clients, I've had to really drop my prices to try and get any work that I can. So, I'm in a position at the moment where I'm pretty much gonna have to work seven days a week just to be able to pay my bills, which then brings on other stresses, because it's not sustainable to work seven days a week full time. So, I now need to try and up my prices to then be able to earn the money that I need to without killing myself in the process. So, I think they're the main things is, it's loneliness, it's have having financial insecurity, it's having difficulties with my career, and I think with the career side of things, I have criticized myself quite a lot for not being successful in my own business, and I know that it's a very difficult time to try and start your own business, and most people say, Oh, well. It's not your fault. It's just a difficult situation. I still think, and I still think now that I should have done better, and I should have been able to earn more money quickly, and that's kind of like, part of my, the way that my mind is, and that's something I want to try and change going forward and adverts. So, I'm looking into other approaches like, cognitive behavioral therapy to start trying to address some of that unhelpful thinking that I have in my mind.


Alex: Yeah. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I've heard it referred to as, one of my favorite authors calls it like your inner [ __ ] your IA.


Simon: Yeah.


Alex: It's like the person in your mind that is like, you know, putting you down and saying all this negative stuff and it can really like, you can write the narrative, you know, in your mind, and it's hard work to like unlearn that, because no one has kids teaches us how to, you know, how to do that. Don't even know it's a thing.


Simon: Yeah. And I think it should be taught to kids at school, because it's probably one of the most important things that we can learn, which is how to be kind and compassionate to to ourselves rather than being absolute [ __ ] to ourselves.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: Because it's almost like we have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: And my devil is very big, and strong, and powerful, and my angel doesn't really get much of a wording. So, it's almost like I need to try and train my angel to be stronger.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: And I need to put, what's the thing called where you put it around your mouth.


Alex: You give your devil like, a Covid mask.


Simon: A mask on him to just shut him up a little bit and maybe tie his hands behind his back or whatever. But, yeah. Try and take the wind out of the devil and make the angel a little bit stronger, so that I can be kinder to myself, because ultimately, if I'm nicer to myself like I would be to other people, then I would probably be a lot happier, and a lot more content with things. And if I was happier and more content, then I don't need to drink alcohol.


Alex: Yeah. Sometimes it feels like, it's like easier, it's easy said than done, you know, like it takes--


Simon: Oh, yeah.


Alex: You know, like it's, so don't be so hard on yourself for, you know, the journey.


Simon: Yeah, thanks. And I feel like, although I haven't achieved where I want to be with alcohol, which I definitely wanna be absolutely 100% alcohol-free, I do feel like I'm making progress with that and I do feel like I'm making progress with the way that I feel about things. So, one of the things that I do with alcohol and I've done it since July last year is, I'm keeping a calendar and marking down the days which I drink and the days which I don't drink, which I think is a useful thing to be able to do, which doesn't necessarily make me drink less, but it's good to just be able to monitor my performance. So, my average is about 80% alcohol-free.


Alex: Look at that.


Simon: So, that means-- Yeah, which is odd.


Alex: That's amazing. Yeah.


Simon: So, yeah, 80% of the days in a month, I don't drink any alcohol at all. And 20% of the days in a month, I do drink alcohol. Which is probably a lot better than most people who are normal drinkers.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: But now, I just need to try and get myself from that 80% up to 100%. And I think that, for me, part of that is making a change to my lifestyle, because I live, so at the moment, I live by myself now. I live in the city center in Birmingham, which I don't think is particularly conducive for good mental health. I think that spending more time in nature is definitely a good thing to do, so my plan is to sell the apartment that I'm in, then, like I said, I'm gonna buy myself a van so that I can travel around. And although I will be traveling in the van by myself, I want to use that time to do photoshoots with people, and make videos with people. And I'm going to try and find people that I feel like there's a connection with, so I really wanna specialize my work with people who do yoga. So, people like you, Alex, because they tend to have a mindset around healthy living. And I also wanna specialize in people who play golf, because I love golf. So, if I can spend, if I can travel around the UK doing photoshoots with people who do yoga, and people who play golf, then they'll be happy days. So, I think, so that's one aspect that I'm trying to manifest is changing my lifestyle because I think changing my lifestyle will make a big difference to how I feel and will give me less reasons for drinking. But then, the other side of the coin, which I don't think would necessarily be fixed by changing my lifestyle is the way that I think about things. And I am having some weekly counselling which is CBT-based counselling to try and look at some of those underlying beliefs that I have about myself and the way that I think about things, so it's kind of like trying to take a two-pronged attack, but there's also a third prong in there as well which is I am a member of One Year No Beer and one of their programs called "Alcohol-free Me", which is about connecting with other people who are trying to do the same thing. So, they're the things that I'm trying to do at the moment to try and get me from 80% to 100%.


Alex: Cool. And it sounds like you kind of have like different things in motion and you've also kind of identified like, it reminded me of what one of my yoga teachers said once like about how much a tree grows depends on its environment, and what it has around it to thrive. Right? And like I said the other day in a yoga class, you know, if you put a palm tree in Canada, it wouldn't grow because that's just like not the right place for it.


Simon: Yeah.


Alex: And so, sometimes we're just like merely surviving where we are because it's not the right fit for us, and then when we find the right fit, that's where we'll thrive.


Simon: Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, at the moment I'm a palm tree in the middle of the city which isn't working. So, yeah, I need to get out there and, yeah, I wanna be in more natural and peaceful environments which I think is where I think everyone is supposed to be. I think the city is not a particularly nice, well, I mean, living in the city can be cool, and it was cool for quite a few years and it definitely gave me lots of opportunities to drink in the past, but it's definitely not the right environment for me now.


Alex: Yeah. So, let's talk about one particular, do you have like one particular situation or trigger that we could kind of dive into?


Simon: Yeah. So, I was thinking about this. I'll give you a couple of options, and then you can decide which one we wanna go down. So, one trigger is definitely when I see other people either buying alcohol in the supermarket or maybe seeing other people enjoying alcohol. So, in normal conditions, if I was walking around town and you see people in bars having drinks and stuff, that would definitely be a trigger, or now like if I'm watching a film or a show on Netflix and I see people drinking, then that gets my mind, maybe drinking myself. The other trigger is if I do something which almost like confirms my belief that I'm not good enough, so there, if I make a mistake in my work, which I think is a really stupid mistake that I shouldn't be making, and it gets seen by other people who are either my client or someone that I'm working with, then that can really just make my, it's almost like my heart sinks, and I'm just like, Oh, why am I such an idiot? Why can't I do this? And that's when I can be quite critical of myself and quite hard on myself and much more than I really need to be.


Alex: Let's look at, if you're okay with it, let's talk about the last one.


Simon: Okay.


Alex: Because the last one, you already pointed out. You gave your situation and then you gave kind of your thoughts and feelings around it, which are just like making yourself feel a little bit critical of yourself.


Simon: Okay.


Alex: What do those thoughts and feelings, what's the action that comes as a result of that?


Simon: So, I would be worried about what other people are thinking of me. I would be worried about them thinking that I'm incompetent and I'm not good at my job, and then my brain would start catastrophizing. So, if it's something in my work, for example, then I would start thinking, well, they're gonna think I'm incompetent, so they're gonna fire me. And then I'm not gonna be able to earn any money, and then I'm not gonna be able to pay the mortgage, and then I'm gonna end up being homeless. And that thought process would happen very quickly. And although it seems quite extreme, that's genuinely what happens in my head.


Alex: Yeah. And I can still relate to that by the way, like I have 100% been there in different ways.


Simon: And I would also question myself as to why I made that mistake, and if I'm actually, if I'm competent to be doing that particular task. And it might be something that I'm only just learning where mistakes do happen. I think if it's a mistake that I make, and it's only me that sees it, then I'm okay. But if it's a mistake where I know that it's gonna be seen by someone important, whether that's a boss or a client or someone, that's when it really gets me worried because I go through that catastrophizing.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: And then, like from a emotional feeling point of view, well, I feel like my body language would go all slumped and I would start looking down at the floor. I think there would probably be a little bit of anger there at myself for being so stupid. There would be a little bit of, there would definitely be fear there, because of that catastrophizing scenario that I talked about. Some sadness, as well, of being just feeling like, unworthy and not good enough. And then I think, Well, if I can't even do this, I'm not gonna make anything of my life. So, what's the point of even trying?



Alex: Yeah.


Simon: I might as well just get drunk, and that's kind of like how it happens. Yeah, because those feelings are very uncomfortable and that thought process is not nice. That's why I drink alcohol because alcohol helps me to forget about those things and numbs out those feelings, even if it's just for a few hours. And yeah, that's kind of the process that I go down. Does that answer your question?


Alex: Yeah. And thank you so much for sharing that because I know it's a very like, vulnerable thing to share, especially as it's still something that you're like, dealing with. So, thank you for sharing that. What are the results after you drink? Like, what's the next day like?


Simon: So, the next day would tend to feel really crappy. So, I would feel tired, my level of confidence would definitely be a lot lower, and I definitely don't wanna have to talk to anyone, because I don't feel very able to communicate when I've got a hangover. So, I tend to become even more of a hermit and avoid any contact where possible. I would tend to eat quite a lot of junk food, which then goes against my philosophy, which is I wanna have a plant-based whole foods diet, but when I'm hungover that just goes out the window and I'll go to McDonald's or KFC and all the bad places just because I need sugar and calories and whatever else. And then, it would normally be a case of trying to hold off drinking for as long as possible, and if I've got stuff that has to be done, then I'll get that work done, but it will be kind of like, trying to get that work done as quickly as possible so I can just start drinking again. Because I know that when I drink, it will get rid of that hangover feeling, but then that's where it gets into that dangerous cycle, because it's just then one day after another and that will typically last for three or four days until I get to the point where I'm just like, I can't keep doing this to myself. I have to stop. And then, I force myself to stop. But now, I've been through that cycle. I don't know, probably dozens of times, maybe even hundreds of times. It's getting a little bit wearing now and I want to stop those cycles from beginning. So, yeah. Any advice that you can offer, I am open to suggestions.


Alex: Yes. I'm wondering, Okay, so if we were to take that situation. Let's imagine an alternative reality. So, take the situation and I'm wondering what aspects of it do you have control over to alter?


Simon: Well, I can definitely control whether I go to the shop and buy wine. I can definitely control whether I actually consume that wine. Can I control my thinking? I don't know. I know that there's cognitive behavioral therapy schools of thought that would lead you to believe that you can change the way that you're thinking, but I'm also investigating into something called ACT, have you heard of that?


Alex: No.


Simon: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Which is more about just accepting the way that you're feeling.


Alex: Yeah.


Simon: Did that answer your question?

Alex: Yeah. Like, if you could, I'm wondering like, if you could control your thoughts around how you're feeling like what else could you think about yourself in this situation?

Simon: Okay. So, I could think that it's only a small mistake really, it's not the end of the world, it's not going to, well, the world isn't gonna stop turning because of it. Everyone makes mistakes. These things happen and actually mistakes are often where people and where I learn the most. So, actually, making those mistakes can be seen as a positive thing rather than a negative thing.

Alex: And then, what actions could you take differently as a result of these thoughts?

Simon: So, I think one thing I could do would be to write them down and to journal. Something else I could do to try and like, process the thoughts would be to go and do some exercise, go and do a run, or maybe pick up the phone and talk to someone about it.

Alex: Yeah. And then, if you didn't have the drink what would the results be? Like, how would the results be more positive in the end? How would the next day be more positive?

Simon: Oh, well. So, if I don't drink, then the next day, I'm gonna be feeling a lot better and a lot more refreshed, and I'll be able to do all the things that I need to do, because at the moment, I am very busy and I can't really afford to have a day where I'm just hungover in bed all day. So, the results from not drinking are definitely a lot more positive than they would be if I was hungover.

Alex: Yeah. So, that was kind of like a brief like, this is sort of a model that sometimes I talk about triggers with clients. It's like the situations, thoughts, actions, and results, it stands for STAR. Was this helpful at all? Like, talking about the breaking down the triggers in this way?

Simon: Yeah, definitely. And it does remind me quite a lot of the cognitive behavioral therapy approach which is looking at the way that you're thinking, and then looking at alternate ways of thinking that are more positive, and also thinking about what alternative actions you can take, and what the the positive result from that would be. So, yeah, absolutely, I think it's definitely a good thing and I'll have a look into it a little bit more as a result and hopefully that's something that can help me.

Alex: Awesome. Well, Simon, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I know that like, being vulnerable on a podcast is like challenging to begin with, but I also appreciate that, you know, you're super unique in that you're coming at it still in like, on the journey towards your sobriety. And so, I'm just so grateful that you were able to share this journey with us, and I think it's gonna be really insightful for our listeners that are still, you know, in the same place you're at. So, thank you so much.

Simon: Yeah, thank you very much for having me. I've really enjoyed it, and yeah, I hope that it can help some other people out there that are listening.

Alex: Awesome. All right. Thanks, Simon. Take care.

Simon: Bye.

Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Sober Yoga Girl with Alex McRobs. I am so, so grateful for every one of you. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next one and leave a review before you go. See you soon. Bye.



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