When we start to experience the hyper awareness about our relationship with alcohol, we often experience a crippling sense of guilt. Annie discusses this topic with great information about Cognitive Dissonance as well as a message of hope for why that feeling of guilt is actually a really positive step in the right direction.

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Guilt Around Drinking

Lisa asked me a question and it’s such a personal question because her experience just mirrors my own so much that I wanted to get on early this morning before we hit the slopes and answer it. So this is Lisa’s question. She says, “The one thing that weighs heavily upon me is the guilt. Having not given up drinking yet, but certainly turning the curve into hyper awareness about alcohol, I find the guilt to be crippling at times. The undeniable voice at 2 or 3am after the booze wears off. You find yourself wide awake with thoughts in the darkness. That level of guilt, forgiving it again seems almost more crippling than any craving. How do you pull yourself out of that and stop punishing yourself?”

Me Too

This happened to me over the course of probably six years that I felt this on a really regular basis. In fact in the preface of my book this is my description, this is my story, feeling this guilt around drinking. This is what really propelled me to where I am now. Despite it being so common in so many drinking stories, we all feel like we’re completely alone in this. We must be the only ones laying awake at this time of night when the alcohol is worn off and the carbohydrates and energy are surging, unable to get back to sleep and just feeling miserable. But these experiences, when someone starts to really question their drinking, I mean they’re almost universal. So just know that you’re not alone.


Let’s talk specifically about guilt and where guilt comes from. So in psychology, cognitive dissonance is something that is talked about. It’s the mental stress, guilt, or discomfort that’s experienced by a person with two conflicting beliefs. Right now you have two conflicting beliefs because you’re becoming hyper aware. You have the belief that it’s doing you favors, that it’s relaxing you, that it’s helping you socially. Some of these beliefs are deeply unconscious. Then you have this belief that you don’t want to be drinking as much as you are. So these two conflicting beliefs are basically your mind being at war with yourself and this creates this level of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance

So you believe something is both good and bad at the same time or you believe something’s bad but you’re doing it anyway. All sorts of different ways this can manifest. We as humans seek harmony, internal harmony especially. It’s a very cliche thing that peace starts in the home. Well your true home is inside yourself. So true peace really does start inside yourself. When you feel cognitive dissonance when you’re not at peace with what your actions are and what you’re doing, that is an extremely uncomfortable place to be. This guilt around drinking is part of what’s called dissonance reduction. Where your mind is trying to actually remove the conflict that’s happening and bring your beliefs in line with each other.

Keep Listening

Listen to the complete podcast to found out more about resolving cognitive dissonance and the guilt around drinking along with tips from Annie on how to find that peace at home.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License