Scott Pinyard – head coach at This Naked Mind – comes on podcast with us today to answer frequently asked questions. Scott fields a question about how to handle the temptations during an important business meeting and gives us tips on how to successfully remain alcohol free despite the pressure. He also digs into how to deal with a spouse who doesn’t want to quit drinking and the difficulties surrounding this common issue. Last, Scott hands out advice on another common question – how to get through those first few difficult days of being alcohol free. And speaking of free – this podcast is packed full of free advice and tips on things we have all asked about at some point.

Download EP:151 Transcript

Questions About Drinking

So the first one says, “Help. I’m going to a conference, and I just quit drinking. What do I do?”

This is a question that’s kind of near and dear to my heart because this is exactly the sort of thing that happened to me. Prior to coaching full-time, I was in sales. Being in sales for a consulting firm means lots of schmoozing. It means lots of conferences. I had to do this, and I remember very clearly, one of the first ones, after I quit, was in Quebec City, for those of you who know Quebec, the Château Frontenac, right? It was very a fancy meeting to go to. I was scared, I was very scared. Going through this experience, here are a few things that I learned.

It’s Not A Big Deal

First of all, it’s not nowhere near as difficult as we make it out to be. A lot of times when we look at these challenges that are laid out in front of us, alcohol-free, and we think, “Oh, I could never do that without alcohol.” We make this problem show much bigger in our heads than it really is.

All of the stress and the worry that I had on my travels up there was completely washed away by the time I actually started experiencing it. This is the same thing I hear from people over and over and over. It’s kind of like we sit down and we sort of, we think of the worst case scenario and that’s what we focus on and that becomes a reality when the fact is it’s rarely as bad or as difficult as we think it is. Let me give you a couple of tips. A few things that I’ve found really, really helpful for people when they go into situations like this.


Number one, visualize where you’re going to be. For a lot of us, if it’s meetings or if it’s conferences, chances are we’ve had some idea of who’s going to be there, or we’ve been to conferences before, so we kind of know how they go, right? You’ve got the meetings during the day and then the cocktail hour at night and we get it, right. We’ve done a lot of it. so visualize yourself there, right? Think of traveling there. Think of getting on the plane or waiting for the plane in the airport. Not at that airport bar. Think of getting on the plane and instead of ordering a drink, you’re ordering a diet coke. How do you feel? What’s around you? What do you see? Really put yourself in that moment, and then maybe you get off the plane, and you go there the day before because it’s a long way away. So now you’re in a hotel, and you’re in a hotel room, and you’re not drinking. If you’re anything like me, hotel rooms were prime drinking time. That was absolutely the case for me.

Paint The Picture

You’re in this hotel room. What are you doing? Are you going to work out? Are you just watching TV? Literally sit there, close your eyes and paint the picture in your head. Now, you’re at the conference. What’s the day of the conference going to be like? Who are you going to see? What sort of stuff are you going to copy? Ask what sort of topics are going to be there? What are you wearing? Spend time and energy really visualizing this stuff and go all the way through your whole trip. Normally, one of the most difficult times of these sort of trips for people like us are the cocktail hour. That reception at the end of the day where maybe you’ve been sitting in some boring conference all day and now all of a sudden there’s all this free booze and people want to connect, people want to talk, and for a lot of people, they need booze to do that.

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Imagine The Feelings

Picture yourself there. Picture how you’re going to feel, what is it going to look like? What is it going to smell like? What is it going to sound like being there? How are you going to talk to people? What are you going to engage with people on? What are you going to say? Imagine what sort of conversations you are going to try to string together? So spend some time really seeing that. Really, really looking into that. Painting that picture. When you do this, you start to feel the emotions and have the thoughts that you are possibly going to have in real life, right, when this actually happens to you. This is a really good thing because you’re sort of acclimating yourself to what this is going to be like for you down the road. That’s thing one.

Three Point Plan

Thing two, I’ve got a sort of a three-point plan that tends to really help people who are going through stuff like this, and it’s really simple. Have a buddy, have a plan and have an excuse. I’ll go through all three of these one at a the time. So first is have a buddy. Make sure when you’re going into a situation like this, whether it’s a work conference or maybe it’s a party with friends or a family event, make sure that you have someone who knows your alcohol-free, someone you trust. Someone you can talk to, maybe someone you can walk up to and give a hug to when you don’t feel good if you don’t feel good. Make sure that person knows that you’re not drinking and tell them, commit to them that you’re not going to drink and make sure and check in with that person throughout the night.

Now, if this is a work conference, maybe you have some coworkers that are going with you, maybe some friends, if you don’t have anyone with you, connect with someone at home, maybe your significant other, maybe a sibling, maybe a best friend, whatever it is, the people who support you, let them know, “I’m going to this event, I am afraid it’s going to be challenging for me. I’d like to check in with you, I’m going to check in with you every half an hour just so you know,” right? Knowing you have that support is massive going into this.

Have A Plan

Number two is have a plan. And what do I mean by this? What I mean by this is have a plan for where you’re going to go when the event is over. All too often we spend so much time thinking about how difficult this is going to be, how hard it’s going to be to get through the event, how we’re going to be frustrated and we’re going to be angry. We’re afraid we’re going to cave. All of these thoughts are going around in their head and we have blinders on, right? We don’t think past the event.

So think this through, right? Think about what you’re going to do after the event. Also, think about, what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go if you decide, “Hey, this is too much me,” right? “I don’t want to be around this.”

You know when I had done stuff like this before, I would actually make a list of people I want to talk to. And so as long as I talked to those people on that list, I was totally free to get out of there.

But if you have a plan and you can say, “Okay, if it’s too much for me, I’m going to go up to my room,” or, “I’m going to go for a walk,” or, “I’m going to go visit this restaurant,” or, “I’m going to go to this museum.” Whatever it is, right, have an idea of what you’re going to go. Have that idea ready to go in your head in case you kind of bump up against a wall and you think, “Yeah, this is too much for me.”

Have An Excuse

The final one is have an excuse. What do I mean by this? What I mean by this is have something in your back pocket that you can use in case you need to leave early. I’ll be blunt, when you are in these situations, especially the first few times your brain is going a mile a minute. It’s very difficult to make decisions, right? It’s very difficult to come up with an elegant or sort of neat excuse that you think people are going to buy that you feel comfortable with. So what happens, right? So we’re in this situation and we’re thinking, “Man, I really got to get out of here. This is too much. I really got to get out of here. I don’t know what to say. What is my boss going to say? What is my friend’s going to say?” We’re just spending all this time with these wheels turning and where that ends up leading to a lot of times? “Screw it, I’m just going to go ahead and have a drink.” Right?

We don’t want that to happen to you. So have that excuse ready to go. Whatever it is. You could use the tried and true that, “I don’t feel well,” which by the way is completely true if that’s the case, or, “I might have to call my wife,” or, “I’m tired,” or whatever it is, have that excuse ready in case you need it. In case something comes up and you know you need to go, then that is ultimately the thing you use. And you don’t have to think about it, right? It’s automatic and you can get out of there and you can get on with your day or evening.

It Works

So have a buddy, have a plan, have an excuse. These are really good things to have and actually if you do this, if you do this consistently and if you do this well, chances are you’ll never have to use this. The number of people who’ve come back to me and said, “Scott, I know I had my buddy, I had my plan, I had my excuse and I didn’t use any of them.” That’s good news. Just the fact of knowing that there’s a backup for you can be really, really helpful and calming while you’re actually in the event. You’ll start to look at the challenges that are arising as things that might be fun to try to get through instead of this awful experience you have to grit your teeth through.

Make A Commitment

The last point that I want to talk about it on this is make a commitment. One of the things that’s really tough when we go into these situations is a lot of us tend to say, “You know what? I’m going to try really hard not to drink,” “I don’t think I’m going to drink tonight,” We hear these sort of noncommittal statements, you hear these things of like, “Well, I’m quitting drinking. So tonight is a night that I’m going to be really careful about it.” I mean, what does that even mean? Right? So if you’re going into a situation and you want to not drink, make a burn the boats commitment. And that’s where accountability comes into play. That’s where self-accountability, as well as accountability with others, can make a big difference.

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