Understanding Negative Thought Patterns

Understanding Negative Thought Patterns

Are you your own worst critic?

It’s normal to feel worry, regret, self-doubt and have negative thoughts at times. 

But if you have a tendency to be hard on yourself, the automatic thoughts you have can have a big impact on your emotions and the way you experience and interpret the world around you. 

But getting stuck in negative thought patterns can trigger heightened feelings of anxiety, fear, self pity and insecurity.  

The good news is that you can learn to identify and challenge automatic negative thoughts, which can relieve stress, self-doubt and let you feel significantly more confident and positive. 

Today, my guest Shelby John, is here to talk about understanding our negative thought patterns. 

Shelby is a mom, wife and an entrepreneur. She’s been sober since July 2002 and her own recovery journey led her to become a social worker, trained in trauma therapy, coaching techniques and other clinical skills. As a therapist, Shelby helps women heal their past trauma, using EMDR. therapy. Online, she gets to guide them into building the confidence they need to love their lives beyond recovery. 

In this episode, Shelby and I discuss:

  • How to recognize and replace the negative thoughts that can bring you down and hold you back

  • 3 reasons why negative thoughts happen
    • Fear of the future
    • Worrying about the present
    • Regrets about the past
  • 5 types of negative thinking

    • All or nothing thinking
    • Overgeneralization
    • Catastrophizing
    • Should Statements
    •  Personalization
  • The difference between Fear Based Core Values and Conscious Based Core Values
  • How to identify your personal core values to help you feel confident and positive about your actions and choices

Want more support, resources and tools to help you go alcohol-free?

You can Drink Less + Live More today with The Sobriety Starter Kit.

It’s the private, on-demand coaching course you need to break out of the drinking cycle – without white-knuckling it or hating the process.

Connect with Shelby John

To find out more about how Shelby can guide you on your recovery journey, head over to www.shelbyjohncoaching.com

If you want to learn more about the Sober Freedom Inner Circle Membership Program, checkout www.shelbyjohncoaching.com/innercircle

Looking for community of women to support you on your sobriety journey, join Shelby’s Facebook group, Confidence Sober Women

Listen to Shelby’s podcast, Confident Sober Women

Connect with Casey

Find out more about working with Casey through private one-on-one coaching or her on-demand sober coaching course to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst-case scenario to the best decision of your life.

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Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.


Understanding Negative Thought Patterns With Shelby John


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SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Shelby John


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

Welcome to the podcast. Today, we’re talking about understanding negative thought patterns with Shelby John. Shelby is a mom, wife and an entrepreneur. And she’s been sober since July 1, 2002. Her own recovery journey led her to become a social worker, trained in trauma therapy, Coaching techniques and other Clinical skills. As a therapist, Shelby helps women heal their past trauma, using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. And online, she gets to guide them into building the confidence they need to love their lives beyond Recovery. So Shelby, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.



Thank you so much, Casey for having me. I really appreciate it. It’s so fun. Your podcast is super exciting to listen to. I love it.


Casey McGuire Davidson  02:12

Yeah, and thank you very much. And I was really excited to talk to you about this. Because I know from working with clients and the women I talked to overall, that negative thought patterns and those repetitive negative thoughts that so many of us have in our heads are a huge issue and barrier. You know, it’s an issue when we’re drinking, because we have a lot of negative thought loops about ourselves when we’re drinking and trying not to drink and family. And also, once you quit drinking, getting past those negative thought loops are something that can help you feel so much happier and so much more freedom in sobriety.



You’re so right about that. And that was my experience, as well as a newly sober person and even continuing on throughout my sobriety. Because you don’t really think we are ever done this kind of work. I mean, we get sober and we start to feel better. And life a lot of times gets better, you know, it changes, we start to start to heal. But a lot of times we don’t have the skills that we really need to run our lives and our relationships in a very healthy and positive way. So we can continue in those negative thought loops, the old tapes that we had the stories that were told to us that we kind of take on as our own, they can rear their head and head up at any time.



And it doesn’t matter if you’re two years sober five years sober or 10 years sober, you might still be struggling with negative thought patterns about yourself.



Yeah, when I know it’s something that a lot of us internalize when we’re kids, right to stop us from feeling embarrassment, or to keep us safe emotionally. And yet they get so internalized that we just carry them with us. So they’re just this constant repeating, beating ourselves up.

That’s totally true. And that’s what I’ve seen as well as sometimes we are very aware of it. Sometimes we know if I said to you, what are the negative thoughts that you have about yourself? Um, some women might be able to be like, Oh, I’m not good enough, you know, or I’m, I’m not pretty enough for that group. Or I’ll never I’ll never be successful, there might be some that are very clear to you. And then a lot of times exactly like you said, because of a lot of reasons a lot of times trauma, a lot of times just unhealthy parenting, whatever lifestyle situations were going on from a young age on. We, they, become ingrained in us at the unconscious level, and we don’t even know that they’re happening. So they’re sort of buried underneath of our generalized thinking, stored in that back part of our brain, that sort of irrational part of our brain and they don’t even become known to us. Until we want to dig in.


Casey McGuire Davidson  05:01

Yeah. And a lot of times we don’t even realize that they’re negative thought patterns, because we actually think they’re true. You know what I mean? Like, we’re just like, Oh, no, that’s who I am I, I’m an anxious person, you know what I mean? Like, I can’t handle things, or whatever it is, as opposed to, I’m experiencing anxiety, and I could build better coping skills. So you think it’s this innate part of yourself? That’s just a flaw.



Exactly. Right. And I think a lot of that comes from what I’ve mentioned already, which was the stories that are told to us about ourselves, you know, and sometimes even the best of parenting where the best of upbringing still has some of these, you know, whether it was on purpose or was on an, you know, unintentional, there’s still things that we are told from either our family life or society in general, yeah, picking up those messages that tell us certain things and that we’re supposed to be and act certain ways. And then that can completely negatively impact us at the unconscious level, and lead into those thought patterns that like you said, Yes, we believe. We believe they are true. And like me, I always say, you know, I was drinking in active addiction, I felt that alcohol was the glue that was keeping me together.


Casey McGuire Davidson  06:15

Oh, yeah. I did not know that it was a problem. I just, I thought it was the solution.



Yeah. And so I think that’s so common. Like, you’re like, No, no, no, this is what’s helping me and you women, you know, especially when they’re in the drinking cycle, they actually do believe that like the wine is what helps them relax the wine is what helps them sleep, the wine is what helps them hold on less tightly and be less irritable, you know what I mean? And don’t realize that they’re just resetting their base level of happiness and emotional stability and irritability with the substance. And the reason that works for them is because they’re in such the withdrawal, and that dopamine hit that cycle.



Completely. And it’s funny, you mentioned that, because I had a conversation with somebody who’s near and dear to my heart, just yesterday, or maybe the day before, about substance use, and why she was using the substance. And she got a little defensive about, you know, it’s fun, or lots of people do this. And it’s, you know, because of, you know, it’s fun. And then she went on to describe the fact that she was isolated in a situation for weeks at a time and was feeling, you know, a little potentially depressed, a little isolate, you know, just down, down. And she said, so that’s why I was she was using marijuana, and it helped me. And my answer was, of course it did. Because that’s the, that’s the job of drugs and alcohol is to is to remove the discomfort of the feelings that we don’t want to have. That’s what that’s what the role of substance use is. So rather than try to argue and be like, no, it didn’t help you.



I mean, it’s not even true. It did help her. It did. But, but in the long run, of course, we know that over it, once you get to this point in life, and you look back, you can see the steps, you know, you can see where it wasn’t helping you, you can see whether it’s very glaring things like you’ve gotten in trouble, or now you have legal issues, or you’ve lost your children. I mean, whether it’s big stuff like that, or, for me, there was a little bit of that at the end, but it was more like, you know, I just lost myself. I lost… Yeah, biggest thing I lost, I lost the ability to be in control of my life to really participate in my own life. Yeah. And so it’s difficult for somebody who’s maybe at the beginning of that perspective, and potentially even like a newer substance user to see any of that, but nobody needs. And what I said to her is that drugs and alcohol are not necessary for life. Nobody needs to use them for any reason. It’s not like food where we need to have food to live or water. They’re not necessary. They’re just, they’re just there and they’re poison. And we put them in our bodies. Yes, for a variety of reasons. But they do they do “work”,



Like yeah, that they work until they didn’t or like for me, I was super irritable and pissed off and annoyed when I wasn’t drinking, for a very good reason why, right, I was going through withdrawal. I wasn’t used to it. You know, it did make me feel better, because I’d like reset my overall like baseline of happiness. But, you know, for the three hours, I was drinking every day, I was making the other 21 hours of my life significantly worse. And it took me a while to obviously get out of that and reset, feeling good as your general state, you know, with the ups and downs of life. But one of the reasons I wanted to talk about this is because a lot of us sort of self-medicate, with alcohol with drugs to stop the chatter. And our head to forget about that, you know, like the negative thought patterns this shit we have going on. So in my podcast last week, we were talking about internal family systems therapy, and it was all about, you have these managers in your life to stop negative, negative painful emotions. So you go, go, go, you overcompensate, you’re super busy throughout your day. And then you come home and you still don’t want to sit with yourself. So then you numb out whether it’s with drinking or food or TV or social like that is your pattern, right? Go, go, go.. stop the negative thought patterns or whatever is underneath it, and then immediately numb out. And so I think that, with the understanding and coping with negative thought patterns and other tools, you can really alleviate some of the need, that you feel you need to do that because it’s less painful.




Casey McGuire Davidson  10:57

So, let’s dive in? Tell us… I know, this is something you work on quite a bit. And so give us the process for understanding negative thought patterns. Great. So



one of the things I just wanted to touch on, like you just said is a little bit around, like why this is even important. And, you know, what the heck, why do we need to do this work, and a lot of it is, is there’s many reasons, but the big one that we can really point to right now in a practical way is related to chronic stress, which, as we know, just deeply affects our health and our lifespan. And doing the work of eliminating the negative thought patterns can be essential in really decreasing the level of cortisol you have in your body. Again, you probably don’t even know you’re having it. This is one of those things where sometimes it’s like you don’t know you have it until it’s gone. And then you’re like, oh, wow, I didn’t know I was feeling that bad. Or I didn’t know that I was so stressed, I didn’t know my shoulders were up to my ears and tense and I was causing problems for my muscles, my muscles in my back, you know, until all of a sudden you don’t have them anymore. So understanding that we have negative thoughts, what they are, and why will really help take control of any anxiety in the moment and then over time, give you greater insight into your most common thought patterns and the areas where you still need healing and change. And again, this is really just I mean, we’re gonna get into it. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eliminating, eliminating negative thinking patterns and elevating your sobriety. Because this is just the, like the pre phase right? And then we would then we would go into the changing of the negative thinking pattern.


Casey McGuire Davidson  12:45

So yeah, and I know that that’s a lot of the work you do with women, you know, either in group coaching or one on one and obviously with therapy is, once you understand them, then what are the strategies to mitigate them, to give yourself more grace, more compassion to see when they’re not true? So definitely, after we go through understanding them, you know, you can preview what the next part of the work is.


Great, yeah, we’re happy to do that. So we all we all kind of understand where we’re coming from, right, we’re going through our day, we’re living life, and then something happens, right? Maybe you have a fender bender, or a phone call from a principal or your boss calls you in and has some critical, you know, points about something you did, or your spouse gives you a look, you know, we all have stuff that goes on in the day, and then all and then it kind of triggers you for lack of a better word, right? And then all of a sudden, you know, your body starts to activate, you know, maybe you get sweaty, your heart is racing, you start into that sort of swirl in your head, right? And there’s negative thinking patterns start right away, like, Oh, you know, I’m a terrible Mom, why is my kid in trouble again, my husband is gonna leave me He doesn’t even love me anymore. I always do everything wrong. I’ll never be good enough, you know, all these types of things. And so the important first part of doing this work is understanding the three main reasons for why this happens. So the first one is fear of the future.



Many times people try to or trying to predict the future. We’ve been doing that for centuries, right? Because there’s such a lack of control about its outcome. And we tend to want to spend a lot of time worrying about things that haven’t happened and literally might never happen. I know your child is a lot younger than mine, but you probably do this too. Like I try so hard to work on this but I have teenagers in my home. So the worries are kind of big, you know? And so I do think about sometimes in the future and think like what if somebody gets hurt or what if she doesn’t get into college or you know, It would be easy if I wasn’t spiritually fit to go down that route and really obsess and hurt myself because of those fears for the future.


The second reason is worrying about the present. So like you said, we’re always busy, we have so much going on, I just told you my day today, you probably have a similar day, we’re always just going, going, going. We have places to be. And we’re just overloaded. We’re overstimulated with a ton of information, whether it’s from social media, or mainstream media, or just listening to content, whatever. And sometimes it’s hard for us to really discern what is actually important to us. And this is a big part of the work I do to around what I call personal core values. And that’s something that a lot of people aren’t really familiar with doing. But when you start to do that work, then worrying about the present becomes less of an issue for you, because you’re in alignment with what your most important things are in life.

If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule.  You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.

I absolutely love core values work like it is my favorite thing other than core energy coaching to do with my clients because I found that so many people think that their core values are something that either their parents have said was super important. And they’ve internalized that sort of like that critical inner voice, you’re not doing x or society, right? Like, my core values are that I’m responsible and productive and competent. And I achieved, we’re really, you know, for me, my core values were connection and love and fun and adventure. And yet I would go in and be like I am competent. And I directed my life at that. And I find when you’re actually, you know, you don’t give yourself permission to do some of that other stuff that actually is something you truly care about because you think it’s frivolous, or you think it’s indulgent. And when you’re instead when you’re actually figure out what your core values are for life, what is true to your heart, you have so much more peace. And you’re able to, like you said live in alignment with that. So does that sound about right in terms of how you work on core values?



Completely? Right?



I have I would be curious to see what your exercise is for them. Maybe we could swap notes on that. But I’d love that we have a very specific core values exercise that I do with my clients to where we start with this gigantic list, you know, of maybe 2 or 300 words. It’s a little daunting at first and I’ve done this with clients and sometimes they come back to me and they say Wow, that was really hard. And it’s hard because as adults Yeah, we came through this childhood where most of the time we were fed.. spoon fed whenever the values were of our family, the belief systems, the structures, and then in adolescence, you know we our developmental task is to break away and discover what are our beliefs are separate from our parents, and then into adulthood, and then addiction kind of messes all that up anyway. And so I have a pair of them that, you know, we identify the first 20 words, and then we get it down to 15. And eventually down to five words.



So, where we really can. I mean, there might be other words that are also like very important to us, but I have my personal five core values, and then doing the work around how that might be different than how you were raised. And then what does that mean for your future going forward? How do I make decisions based on those core values. So for example, like one of mine is vitality, vitality, to me embraces all because I’m very passionate about health and wellness. And so vitality really embraces all things of that, you know, being just being well, you know, fit being kind of blowing, I guess, is the word I was thinking of. But if I am making decisions about my food, for example, like I’m standing in front of my pantry, and choosing to eat pretzel nuggets, and gorging myself off of leftovers on my kids plate, like that’s not living in alignment with my value of vitality. And so my brain knows that I’m not making decisions that are in alignment with that core value. And so in my unconscious brain, there’s, there’s an anxiety there, there’s a disconnect.


Casey McGuire Davidson  21:23

Well, and the other thing, I love that too, and, you know, I, once you figure out what your core values are, you know, I think when you’re living in misalignment with your core values, and you’re aligning your time, your money and energy with something that isn’t truly something that is that you actually care about, that’s where you’re unhappy. So you can identify that, you know, one of my core ones is integrity. And if, you know, kind of, to me, that just means being a good person and taking care of others and doing what you say you’re going to do. And feeling like you’re living a good life, while I was working at a company, where I didn’t feel like that was in alignment, you know, with the work we were doing with my value of integrity. And that even identifying that was super important. Because it’s bigger than I’m just pissed off at this decision. And this is making my work harder and XYZ. But also you can say, you know, if you’re doing something that you don’t live in the moment because life is life, okay, I’m doing this. But how is any part of this honoring my value of x, because maybe you’re working for a paycheck, but that enables you to honor your value of travel and adventure and fun. And that’s okay, as long as you’re like, yeah, I’m doing this, but it is enabling me to live this other core value, that’s super important. And the other thing that I love to do is when I go through, so my process… very similar to your process, going through all the words and narrowing them down and categorizing them, and you end up with four or five. But as we go through them, one of the things I like to dig into, obviously is, you know, “why?” Why is that important? Why? Why do you do that? Because what you do is figure out that some core values or fear based values, meaning what you want to avoid, versus positive construction, that is what lights me up and draws me to that. And I think it’s important to figure out that that actually is a fear based value. And is there either the positive or the different? Or like, I always feel like fear based decisions and values will only take you so far. All right, we got totally off topic, but I loved it. So going back to the present, you were talking about core values.



Well, right. So that was the second main reason why negative beliefs really happen is that worrying about the present, and the third reason is having regrets from our past. So oftentimes, we have that right? You know, especially if you are a recovering woman, no doubt, there are some stuff that went on in your life that you regret, right. And we’ve made mistakes, maybe we had relationships that we’re not proud of. We’ve failed at things maybe we didn’t hold integrity at the time we were made liars, cheating, stealing all the things or just time you regret all the time you spent in that negative place when you could have been doing other things. And that one’s huge for me.



I’ve been asked that question several times. I think in different Facebook groups, people will post things like what do you think has been the biggest loss from your addiction, something like that. And I always stop and think for a second and for me, there wasn’t. I mean, there was a lot of stuff that went on, of course, but there wasn’t huge things. I can’t point at something and be like I lost my marriage. I lost my home. And that’s just my story, but I lost a ton of Time, that’s what I always say I always say time because I wasted time, not only drinking and thinking about drinking, but also for me really just worrying about what everybody else thought about me. You know, that was a huge time waster for me. So that would be a big regret from our past. And then a lot of this stuff creates shame, and guilt. And that can be triggered quite often, if you have not done some clinical work on that if you haven’t done some type of healing work on very specifically on those things from the past, those can really cause damage to your future development. And that’s much of the work that I do in my clinical practice using EMDR therapy. And there’s other people that do different kinds of trauma work. But in coaching and guiding women beyond recovery, it’s very helpful to be able to pull out some of the tools from those practices to give them additional support on forgiving themselves and realigning themselves with the present now and like what can we do now, because we do need to get to a place where we are not identifying ourselves based on our past. It’s not who we are. It’s just what happened. Yeah, and it is possible. I’ve seen that happen before my eyes many, many times I’ve had lived experience myself. So it is possible to do that. And sometimes it just takes the time it takes.



So those are three different reasons for negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, the present, and then regrets about the past.



Right. So what I would encourage your listeners to do is to really think about those three things, you can write them down if you want and just kind of look at it and residency, which one resonates the most with you, because generally we will gravitate towards one or the other, maybe two, or maybe all of them, but maybe one really stands out. And so kind of identify which one resonates the most with you. When you think about your own worries and your fears, which one comes up the most. Just give yourself a few minutes to think about that. Maybe write some stuff down and kind of notice just whatever comes up in your mind when you think about those things.


Casey McGuire Davidson  27:16

Yeah, and I know that for years when I was drinking, it was absolutely fear of the future, like security based fear. So a lot of stuff about work security and worries about you know, I don’t love what I’m doing. But if I left, what would happen? Or what would that mean, or that’s not responsible, or I won’t be able to take care of myself or my family. And, you know, one of the big work that I had to do when I stopped drinking was reframe a lot, you know, the future is an opportunity, what could happen? What am I you know, what am I excited about? Like, that was a huge shift I had to make.


I love that.



I remember working with my own husband around some of that to just like jobs stuff, you know, when there would be times when he might question like, what am I doing? And we had a great job. It was it was it was very successful work hard, very hard worker. There was some times when it was just sort of wondering, like, what am I doing this for this, particularly, I’m really benefiting. I’m not really helping anyone. I’m just helping my company make money. That’s all I’m doing. And I would say things to him to help reframe that like but think of all the people you employ. you employ hundreds of people that you are basically pet you are paying their their way, you’re providing them an opportunity to come to work every day and earn a paycheck. And that’s what your company is doing for them. And so I think that to your point earlier, there’s ways to look for little bits of things, when we don’t maybe don’t love what the situation we’re in is to try to find whether you call it silver lining or just ways to be grateful. Beyond like,



Well, one of my core values is x. And I’m able to do why. And I think what you were talking about with your husband and something I experienced as well, is not to say that life is not easier. People aren’t more fortunate or, you know, some people don’t have hardships that are bigger than others just that negative thought patterns impact everyone, regardless of if they are super outwardly successful or not. I don’t think there’s a single human being who doesn’t struggle with this in very different ways.



Well, I couldn’t agree more. I think humaneness just brings up I think our humaneness and our as our natural way as humans is to be negative. You know, our natural way is to be self centered. It’s not just about addicts. That’s not only a thing for addicts, I think it’s a human quality. It’s just addicts have a tendency to be self centered and selfish in a different way, because that’s just the nature of our disease. But I feel that everybody really is at some level, I don’t care how positive you are. There’s some parts of you that are struggle with selfishness and self-centeredness. And then, and then it’s about what do I do with that? How do I make the most of my core values in this situation? And live? My purpose?


Casey McGuire Davidson  30:22

I mean, do you because is there another way to look at that? Because I don’t necessarily feel that. So for me, I don’t necessarily call myself an addict, I say I quit drinking I’m a big model of the idea of drinking is addictive in the same way that smoking is. And it’s a super hard habit to break. And I know there are a ton of different approaches to that. But I don’t necessarily feel that women who fall into the trap of becoming, you know, addicted to an addictive substance are more selfish than anyone else, or self centered. I think that a lot of times, the issue is that they’re not selfish in terms of self-care enough that they don’t have strong enough boundaries that they give too much. So wondering what you think of me saying that because it’s a different approach to the idea that self centered, you know, addicts are self centered or selfish.



So thanks for bringing that up. And I and I love I love that you’re asking. And I love that we can talk about a variety of viewpoints. And that’s what’s beautiful about society. And when we are more open minded to other people’s viewpoints, we learn and we grow individually. But when we cancel, and when we cut people off, or we criticize, then we don’t get the opportunity to say, oh, gosh, I never thought of it that way. Or, Boy, that’s a new way of thinking about it. So I’m really thankful that you are a person that’s willing to be open minded and open hearted on that. And I am very well aware of the modern recovery movement, right?



I got sober a long time ago, and I was talking, I was talking to my husband about that recently. And I said, you know, it’s funny because I’m, I’m immersing myself in this modern recovery stuff. I’ve read a ton of books, I’m listening to the women, I’ve joined memberships, I’m really embracing what these women are teaching me. Because it’s very different than when I got when I got here. And I and I’m loving it. I’m loving it. I was still raised in a I’m never going to go I’m never not going to be able to identify with AI is my way of getting sober by, No, it’s not the only way of getting sober. So all of that to say one of the things because I was raised in AI. And again, I know it’s not the only way. And I’m completely open to all the things is that. I so back to what I said originally was I do believe that a route of humaneness not just people struggle with substances is selfishness and self-centeredness. I just do I just think we are naturally that way. Now we can work very hard and not being that way. And I think some people there’s a spectrum, right? Some people are like over here, where they’re like, really in it. And then we some people are much more evolved, and we get to a place where we can see. See that and we can be like, oh, wow, I check myself on that I want to do something different. And so what I’ll say about it is that I don’t think that alcoholic people who struggle with alcohol or drugs are any more necessarily any more or less selfish than maybe the average person, except that they are a little in my opinion. Only because I was taught when I got here very early on because I was a depressive drunk. I was not a type that thought anything of myself. I did not have any esteem. I did not think I was great. I did not think I could do things. I

did not think I had a problem with alcohol.



I thought I was crazy. That it was crazy. I was suicidal. I wanted to kill myself every day. I didn’t think anything good about myself. But I was taught that selfishness, self-centeredness isn’t what we think about ourselves. It’s how often and I thought about myself all day long. About my drinking all day long. I thought about the next drink. I thought about how I was going to kill myself. I thought about how I was going to get out of this lie all day long. Right. And so that was the definition of self-centeredness. That really helped me understand it because I kept thinking, Why don’t I have any esteem? I don’t think anything good about myself. I’m not self centered. But what they’re saying is why we’re so focused on ourselves. That’s a different definition of self.



Yeah, so that’s what I’ll offer your community. No, that’s, that is super interesting. And I also think it’s pretty incredible and positive that you took those feelings and that experience and that immersion in that really low place and turned it into something more positive and helping women and working in therapy and working in coaching. I mean, that’s just a testament to the human ability to pull yourself out of that and to Take it to a really good place where you live every day. And I know you feel and I feel as well that removing the alcohol was the foundation of being able to do that work because, you know, drinking and myself when I was in the drinking cycle, it just, you know, exacerbated depression and anxiety and negative thought patterns and self-blame and defensiveness and resentment, like regardless of how deep you were in it, or the consequences from it, that’s just the path. So I think you know, the fact that you, you’ve been doing this work for so long, in a good way, meaning that you quit so long ago, and I think you quit look at a much younger age than I did. How old were you when you stopped?



I turned 27 in rehab.


Casey McGuire Davidson  35:51

That is amazing. I didn’t quit till I was 40. So you know, any regret of time? You did a pretty good job of pulling yourself out of that early. It’s just how it happened.



I don’t. I can’t explain it. I don’t know. I think the just how happened for me. Yeah. Yeah. So really, I was thinking about that, yes, this past week, I was writing an email for my community and or a podcast episode or something I was thinking about the fact that I didn’t have children. When I when I was drinking, and what a blessing that is because I, the roommate I had in rehab, had older children. And she had done some really, really tough things, you know, under the influence and a lot. So the wreckage that she had created for her family, due to her alcohol use was pretty for real. And so I had a lot of other stuff that was going on. But I didn’t have that. And so I’m always very thankful for that.


Casey McGuire Davidson  36:52

Yeah. Well, so tell me about the types of negative thinking because I know there are a lot of different types, and it helps to understand that.



Yeah, so there are a bunch of different types, I have identified five that I feel are the most common and easier to digest, and probably you’re relatable. And let me just say that, you know, having this level of self-awareness is what makes changes in our thinking patterns, ultimately, kind of stick because when we know what’s going on, we can really, we can really dive in and be like, and kind of take ownership of it. So the first type is called all or nothing thinking, it’s kind of also known as Black or White thinking really means that you are kind of an all or nothing person, you see only the extremes. And you put people in either or categories, you don’t have any gray. So it’s something like I have to be perfect, or I’m a total failure.



You know, these extremes either or the second type is overgeneralization, which is reaching a conclusion about one event, a single event, and then applying it across the board to all similar events, like, you know, therefore, if something bad happens, even one time in your life, you expect that to happen over and over again, creating a never ending pattern of defeat. So maybe your boss gave you feedback one time, right on a project you were doing. And he said something that was constructive, like, maybe next time I’d rather you presented this way or something and then you go back to your cubicle and you’re like, I’m a complete failure. He hates me, I should just leave this complete as you leave this job. In fact, I should leave the whole profession. Number three is catastrophizing. This is what a person is expects. They’re always to be a disaster. It’s going to be just catastrophe all the time. They tend to use a lot of what if statements, the question constantly the worst outcome possible. You know, what if I stand up to my husband, and he gets upset with me, and then he like, he’s gonna leave me. You know, I can remember as a young person, I don’t know about you. Like, I got married to my high school sweetheart. We’ve been together for a million years, we were 16 when we started dating, which was probably not, you know, the best. The best course but it worked for us. And here we are today. But as a younger person, it was way less emotionally mature. We would have like a fight or something and all of a sudden that would be like, we’re getting divorced, you know?



And I’m like, okay, people actually do have disagreements. Sometimes it happens. Doesn’t mean we’re getting divorced. And even he would be like, What is your problem? Like, I don’t understand what your problem is. We’re not going to divorce. We just had a fight. We’re going to work through it. The fourth way is should statements this one I see a lot in women. In fact, I just posted a question on my Facebook group about it and I got like a million comments for people who are like yes, this is me. This is me constantly shitting on myself. Free, they restrict, they follow a strict set of rules. And then they must adhere to it right, they always have to, you know, behave a certain way or acted a certain way or do a certain thing. And they often believe that they’re trying to motivate themselves with the state, they think they’re giving themselves like, the push they need. And sometimes they might even be used as punishment. I should be doing the laundry right now, instead of taking a nap, because I’m really tired and I need a nap. But I shouldn’t be doing laundry and cleaning or playing with my kid or I shouldn’t be, you know, spending more time with my husband or I should be working harder at night, I should be bringing my work home and doing extra work at night, you know, these kinds of things,


Casey McGuire Davidson  40:45

when a lot of times those are very fear based meaning if I don’t do that, then what do I believe to be true about myself? Or what do I believe will happen? And I love because I hear that all the time. I should And trust me, I do it to myself. And you know, the next question is why, and why is that important? And why is that an issue and you know, all those kinds of things, which is hard to do. But I my favorite thing, and I was actually saying this to a client every day, cuz she said, I know, I feel like I should be doing that. But you know, what I really fuckin want to do is x and I was like, Oh my god, can you put that at the end of every sentence, where you say I should, but you know what I really fuckin want to do. Because I feel like we never identify what we actually want. We just live according to these internalized expectations of, you know, the idea that your worth is determined by your output, or how much you accomplish or that you need to do that in order to be loved.



Oh, my gosh, all of that.



All of that. My favorite thing to ask my clients and myself, I turn all of that on myself to is is exactly what you just said, Why is that important to you? or Why do Why? Why? Why is that important to you? or Why do you want to do that? or Why do you not want to do that? Because when you when you start asking yourself questions like that about any of this work we’re doing, it really does give you the information you need to kind of flesh out like being in alignment with your personal core values, always circling back to that right? And then why you’re actually doing things. My question a lot of the times is what am I doing this for? What is this for? Because sometimes it might be for pleasing other people. Sometimes it might be for social status. Sometimes it might be because you don’t want people to look down on you. I mean, there’s so when you ask yourself that question you can get back if you’re honest with yourself quite a bit of information that might help you make a different decision. Yeah, to lead away from the should statements and more into like, Well, actually, I would rather do this because this is really what’s best for my family.


Casey McGuire Davidson  43:05

Yeah. Or, like, sometimes it’s good, right? Like, I should do this because this is a greater goal of mine. And something I’m really excited about. And, you know, I I know I need to prioritize this versus the minutia that fills my day. And sometimes it’s a boundary but asking the question, why really helps you uncover like the degree to which it’s, it’s truly important to you and whether it is because you feel like if you don’t you’re gonna have a negative consequence or because you feel that you’re you need to prioritize something that you actually want that is good. And that doesn’t have to be something just for yourself. It’s but it is a question of tapping into the underlying reason as opposed to beating yourself up on principle.



I totally agree and I and asking yourself those questions might be the first time we’ve ever done that I say this so often to people out and about your experience and they look at me like Wow, I’ve never thought of it doing that or when I say to them well why, why? what is this? What are you doing this for? And then we dig down and then and then we get to that? Well what does that mean about you as a person? Well, it means I’m an I’m a bad mom. Okay, well then, there, we have there. We have something to work with.



Well then you can be like how true is that? And is there any evidence that is you know, like you said, That’s catastrophizing, that’s black and white. That is, you know, the way I think about it or what I came through in my coaching, professional training was around and it sounds very similar to your types of negative thinking is the internal blocks which are all around limiting beliefs, you know, fear of what you can or can’t accomplish, or assumptions which is sort of in my mind the, the this happened before, and therefore the outcome is going to be the same no matter what. All those kinds of things that you know, worrying about what other people are going to think if you, you know, are too big or try too much, or the whole Who am I to do that thing? and you know, a lot of that is really I mean, no, emotions are bad, but some are just are really hard place to live. They don’t serve you and you don’t need them.



Yeah, totally. And we get stuck in that space, we get stuck in those things that we have always done it this way, or this is what it was always done when I was growing up. And I’m always doing it now. And it’s really tough. It’s tough to step out of that and be able to even recognizing you’re doing and you mentioned limiting beliefs, which is one of my favorite topics, too, because we don’t we do that to ourselves. I mean, yes, there are certain things This is so funny, you know, you know, when we were growing up? Similar ages, right? Like, we were told where we came through generations where like, you can be anything you want. And yeah. Anything you want? Well, actually, that’s not actually true. Like you cannot I cannot be an Olympic gymnast, okay, I’m just not. I’m five, six, I have a bunch of weight, like, I’m not going to be an Olympic gymnast. But you know, what if I wanted to work on my flexibility, or if I wanted to learn how to tumble, I could take a tumbling class, and I probably could do some of that, you know, and have fun with it. Am I going to be an Olympic gymnast? No, not, that’s not a part of my wheelhouse. Where I’m running. I was a marathon runner for many years. But many people say I could never run a marathon, I can’t do that. Well, you probably can’t right now like tomorrow, it would be difficult for most people to go out tomorrow and run a marathon but You sure can go buy a new pair of sneakers and an outfit, go for a walk.


Casey McGuire Davidson  46:46

And I love that you said that because I did a whole series on Atomic Habits. I just love that book. And, and the theory. And you know, he always says, the goal is not to become a marathon, the goal is to be a runner, the goal is not to write a book, The goal is to be a writer. And only because that’s much more satisfying, like you think you’re going to get this outcome. Like, it’s the idea of outcome based habits versus identity based habits. And the outcome based habits are not as satisfying because you’re not internalizing that new identity, and aligning your life with the idea of I am a runner, I am a writer, you know, in my mind, I am a woman who doesn’t drink, right? The goal is not to not drink, the goal is to live a happy full life where you don’t need alcohol. And that’s an identity based habit. So, you know, when you’re when you’re talking about like, I’m not going to be an Olympic gymnast, but I can take a tumbling class. And the idea is what kind of person takes a tumbling class? And what how does that feel? And how do I incorporate that whether it’s fun, or adventure or physical activity, or all those things like incorporating that into your life is much more satisfying than saying I can’t, or it is unlikely that I’m going to achieve this outcome and therefore I’m not going to do anything.



Totally and a real life example of that, for me is I love to. I’m kind of obsessed with Tick Tock right now a little known fact about Tick Tock is very fast. It’s fun for me, it’s fun, satisfying, I get you know, I kind of edge out on it. It’s just fun. And the girls, some of those dancers are really good. And they’re like, Wow, I can’t I can’t I can’t imagine they’re doing that. And I’ve always loved hip hop music and like dancing around and stuff like that. Am I going to be an actual, like, backup hip hop dancer for somebody? No. But I was like, so interested in trying to pursue this in my life that I reached out to a friend of mine who opened a dance studio recently in our community, and they have an adult hip hop class. And so this winter, I was like, dang it, I’m doing that I’m taking this class, and I do not look like a dancer of any type. I do not have moves or rhythm. But I show up every week and I follow directions. And darn. And after three weeks, you know, we have like a 32nd routine, and I can do the whole routine.



And that’s super fun. That’s really fun. And it’s fun to do as an adult right to learn new things to try new things to follow. I call them my divine breadcrumbs, but just things that call to you and light you up and they’re going to lead you somewhere else. Yeah. Okay, so we talked about types of negative thinking, were there any we missed?



Well, the last one was just personalization. And that’s just really taking things all on. Personally. It’s always blaming yourself for all the things. Always your fault, even things you have completely no control over. And these two people tend to really, they believe that they’re intentionally being targeted on times. They believe they’re being excluded. And it can be very painful for them, you know, in social situations or even professional so that, you know, someone may not be thinking of you at all, or may just literally not consider you because they are thinking of themselves. And yet you think it’s a personal moral failing or indictment about your worthiness or the type of people you are you are if they, if they like you, or if something’s wrong, is that what you mean?



It is, and for me, I really struggled with this. And I think for a long time into my adulthood, until probably I’m embarrassed to say probably more recently, because I really wanted to be included. And I would be a part of like, I’m a part of a lot of groups socially, or I’m around a lot of groups. But I was never really, I never really had this like core group and a tribe. And I always would get really offended, like, just hurt feelings about why are they getting together, they didn’t include me, and I’m sure that probably has nothing to do with me. They just either maybe there was too many people, or they just wanted to be alone. I, you know, I just tended to make that very personal on that. It’s funny, because I watched my I have two teenage girls, and they seem to be on the outside. Anyway, we’re looking at doing this much better than when I was growing up. And so I am always admiring the way that they are able to embrace and accept people having other friends, you know, seeing things. I mean, maybe on the inside, they have their own feelings about it, but we talk about it. And they’ve said things to me like, yeah, I’m allowed to hang out with other friends, you know, or my middle daughter has a very best friend. She’s basically my fourth child, she lives here at our house. And, you know, they’re always together. But like, occasionally, that kid has other friends. And she does something with someone else. And my daughter is like, yeah, like she has other friends. As do I and like, that’s okay, it doesn’t happen often. But that’s okay. And same with my other daughter. And I’m always thinking why you guys are really doing this, right? Like, instead of getting hurt feelings all the time, like, why didn’t they conclude me? Or, you know, I think then they realize things like, you know, maybe their mother said to them, You only love to have two people over. Yeah. Or there’s only so much room in the car.



And oh my god, I do that. I’m so mean like, with me with my kids. I’m like, okay, you get the number of friends at your birthday party, your age plus one. And the truth is that, like, I just don’t like hosting giant kids. Like, I am not the mom who does. Let’s invite every kid in the class to do something. Just because I fucking hate that shit. And I’ve accepted that that’s not the kind of mom I am. But I am positive this you know what? My son turned six. And he got seven kids. Not anymore. And someone was the cutoff. Like, yeah. But you know, it wasn’t about that kid. I just was like, 1…2…3…4. All right, that’s it.



And totally, and there always comes a time in their developmental stage. I thought it was around third grade. And beyond where they go to their pay, there are people you know, they’re not they’re not friends with everybody in their class. Yeah. And so. And I remember that same conversation, and there was a little tension around in our home around that, when people weren’t invited. And I would say, we’re not excluding she’s just not friends with them, you know. And that has to be okay. People are allowed to not include everybody.


Casey McGuire Davidson  53:27

And it is an adult, like one of the quotes I love is, you know, a find your tribe and love them hard. But be you will be too much. For some people, those aren’t your people, right? exam, like paying attention to the people who bring out the best in you and make you feel like your best self and those who kind of drag you down and try to keep you small and suddenly undermine your confidence, your worth your achievements, or whatever it is, and just paying attention to that, because it’s really important who you surround yourself with and what energy you bring into your life.



Totally agree.



All right, so then we talk about taking inventory.



Right, exactly. So we already know, we generally know what our negative thoughts are. If you don’t, I would encourage you to just do a quick thought not quick, but take time to do a thought inventory where you’re really scanning through your day, maybe like for a few days and write them down. Like what are the ones that consistently come up so you know what they are. And then taking a thought inventory is basically a healthy appraisal of yourself, really an honest look at yourself your situation, and then becoming willing to admit where you might be wrong, right? If there’s a fault, and if you are needing to forgive someone or if you’re needing to extend forgiveness to yourself, being able to see all of that in this inventory. So the task of doing an inventory is kind of what you already mentioned a little bit before. So you’re First going to look at the negative thought. And you’re going to ask yourself if it’s an irrational thought, meaning it’s not actually true. So it’s not true about yourself. So this situation or this experience is not true. So oftentimes, it’s not things that we can change, but maybe it is. So you want to ask yourself, Is this something I can change? And if it is, what can I do right now to change it? And then you can ask yourself the converse of that, which is, is this a rational thought? If it’s rational, that means it is true about yourself, I always want to make sure that we have evidence of that. So I would ask you like, Well, where’s the evidence to point to the fact that this is true? Some of its vague, right? Because if your irrational thought is, or your thought is, I’m not a good mom, is there really evidence of that? And if you’re deep in the trenches of this, you might be able to come up with a whole bunch of evidence for that. And that’s going to be even more negative thoughts to unpack, right. But if there’s not any, like, really glaring stuff, like if your kids are fed, they’re healthy, they’re relatively emotionally stable, you’re supporting them? Like, you’re probably a pretty good, right? So if it’s irrational, or irrational thought like it is true, you want to figure out how can you really accept that.


So this isn’t always very clear. And it takes time and practice on a regular basis to work through it. And it’s definitely a process, it’s not a one-time thing, like, you’re going to have to come back to it again and say like, Oh, here we go, I need to re accept this again, right? So you want to ask yourself, what can I do to accept this person, place, thing or situation. And most of the time, again, it’s completely out of your control. So there are you know, in depth time sensitive ways to do this work through things I’ve already mentioned, like forgiveness, prayer, if that’s in your wheelhouse meditation, just willingness, and sometimes just takes time, right? Sometimes time just takes time. So what I usually say is a simple strategy is reciting the statement, and then kind of letting it go repeatedly telling yourself, I have to accept this thing for what it is not for what I was hoping it would be, or not for what I want it to be. So there’s lots of ways to do this things in the recovery rooms, like the Serenity Prayer. There are other influencers with beautiful mindfulness techniques and ways of sort of learning how to let go and accept, um, you can make up your own phrases. So the last little bit of is to focus on your own positive strengths and positive people, something we don’t do often enough. And I think as women we it’s a generalization, of course, but we can tend to downplay our attributes, you know, our positive attributes, we can tend to just consider your own things, your own strengths, what are you good at? What have other people told you you’re good at? If you don’t know, or you really can’t come up with stuff, ask someone else who’s close to you, they’ll tell you. So taking note of those and really kind of harnessing that, like, what are they and noting them be and writing them down so that when the tough days come when you’re a little bit down on yourself, when you want to go to that negative space, you can pull that up either like an a note on your phone or on a sticky note and just look at it and say, Oh, yeah, that’s right. Here’s my thing.


Casey McGuire Davidson  58:27

I love that. And one of my.. another coach, who’s a good friend, called this exercise the essence project. And she told me that one thing to do is just text a bunch of people who know you really well and be like, Don’t overthink this, but I’m doing a project. Will you tell me the first three words that you think of to describe me and I did this probably with 20 people I was in coaching school at the time. And it was amazing, because the same words kept coming up. Well, so tell us a little bit about the work you do. beyond understanding negative thought patterns. I know it’s a really in depth process obviously more than we could even touch on in this podcast but you also do work with women on you know, getting rid of those negative thought patterns or what you know, once you understand them, what’s the next step to resolving them and putting them aside?



So we talked about a lot of the things that I do already in this podcast, little tidbits are already here, which is kind of cool. So I created a membership. It’s called the sober freedom inner circle which is a which is completely designed for women who have been sober for a little while and are ready to dig into some of this work because the business of emotion the business of early sobriety is taxing right there’s a lot going on, you know when you’re just trying to white knuckle it or even if you’re using a program, getting and staying sober is hard in the beginning. So there’s, there’s definitely special needs that we have at that time. But then after we get our footing a little bit, and we’re ready to be like, Okay, I need a little bit more, or maybe you’ve been around for a few years, and you’re starting to get to what I consider to be I call sober bottom right? You’re just a little bit, you know, discontented, you know, overwhelmed, not really feeling the joy that maybe you once had, and or you never have had, and you just need some more support on that your relationships aren’t that great. You know, your physical health has suffered, you know, your work environment isn’t what you’d like it to be. And you’re ready to elevate your sobriety from that place of good, you know, we’re okay to like, amazing, right? So, in that in that membership program, I do all the things that we’ve already talked about my four main “how to’s” are eliminating negative thinking pattern. So we take the work that we just talked about today. And then we step it up a notch and get into the changing of negative thoughts. What does that look like? The second part is all about transforming our daily habits and routines. But then how to is that personal core value piece we talked about? Is that activity around discovering your personal core values, and then diving into how do we use them and align our decisions, and the last piece is some sort of a spiritual component.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:01:17

Well, that is wonderful. And thank you for coming on the podcast. Thank you for sharing all of your information. I love the conversation that we had both about negative thought patterns, because I think every single one of us has those and is doing the work of letting some of them go with more compassion for ourselves, as well as core values, which I’ve just a huge fan of that work. So that’s just really fun. So how can people get in touch with you.



You can get in touch with me on Facebook, that’s where I hang out the most. My group is called Confident Sober Women. If you just search in Facebook, you can find it easily. I think I provided the link for you too. If you want to throw it in your show notes.



I will throw it in my show notes.



My website is shelbyjohncoaching.com you can check things out there. And then if you want to learn a little bit more about the inner circle, it’s just shelbyjohn.com/inner circle.



Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here. Shelby. It was really fun.



It was really fun.



Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 


The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Free 30 Day Guide to Quitting Drinking – 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.

In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more. 

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life. 

Be sure to grab the Free 30 Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

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Free 30 Day Guide To Quitting Drinking For Busy Women. 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free.

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