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Episode 104 Transcript

Suzie Price: [00:00:00]

Hi there. Today I'm talking with This Naked Mind Senior Coach Mike Shennan. You want to tune into this today if you've ever wondered if maybe you were overdrinking, if you were ever questioning your relationship with alcohol, or you've got someone that you care about, that you wish that they were questioning their relationship with alcohol, or maybe you're just curious about maybe I just drink on the weekends and I'm curious about maybe not drinking at all. And what would that be like, and why would I do that? This is the episode for you. It's very interesting. It's based on a process from This Naked Mind, which I'll tell you about. I can't wait to share it with you. Michael. Hit it!

Intro/Outro: [00:00:39]
Welcome to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast, a show designed for leaders, trainers and consultants who are responsible for employee selection and professional development. Each episode is packed full with insider tips, best practices, expert interviews, and inspiration. Please welcome the host who is helping Leaders, trainers and consultants everywhere, Suzie Price.

Suzie Price: [00:01:10] 

Hi there. This is Suzie Price and you're listening to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast. We cover everything related to helping senior leaders and internal and external consultants create high commitment, low drama, wake up, eager workforce. And that's our focus here. We talk about wake up eager in every aspect. We talk about it in organizations, and a lot of the work we do is around that, but on the podcast, we also talk about personal and professional development and personal development. I often pick things that I'm interested in sharing, hoping that you will be interested in sharing them. And of course, it always relates back to how can we have a high quality life? How can we wake up every morning and feel good about who we are? Be clear minded, be using our full potential. Bottom line is we want to help people be all that they can be. We want to help organizations when they're making decisions about their people, put the right people in the right seats and help coach people and just create a wake up, eager workforce. Wake up, eager life. And so that's what we do in this podcast. And the work we do every day. And so very happy to have you here and tuning in. This is episode 104, part one. There'll be two parts and the official title is Dry January for the Sober Curious with This Naked Mind Coach Mike Shennan. So we're talking about Dry January. That's when a lot of people after the holidays say, oh, I need to take a little break. And that's what we're going to talk about today to get the show notes, the transcript, and all links to all the things that we're going to talk about,

Suzie Price: [00:02:36] 

go to And that's all one word all one word lowercase. So the process that we're talking about today in This Naked Mind Coach, what is This Naked Mind? It's a book. I found This Naked Mind and read the book. They have something called Quit Lit when people are trying to or examining their relationship with alcohol and that Quit Lit is information about alcohol. So I didn't even know that was a firm. But it is. And the book is called This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life. And when you go to their web page, what I think is interesting is it says, "Over drinking? It doesn't mean you're broken. I want to help you develop a better relationship with alcohol and have fun doing it." And that's what the theme or how this whole conversation feels like today. It's very open and interesting. And what we cover is Mike, who is a Senior Coach with This Naked Mind about his career change. He was a research scientist for almost 25 years and made the transition or the change to being the senior coach in this field. We're going to talk about some of the reasons behind drinking and the importance of compassion for self and others through this process, which is a very important component to this. This is not about judging or demonizing alcohol or other people. It's about compassion and understanding.

Suzie Price: [00:04:02] 

We're going to talk about the impact of alcohol on the body, which was a big surprise to me when I first read This Naked Mind and some other resources that I'm going to share with you. We're going to talk about the power of knowledge. You know, how just understanding this is just helpful, because it's not what I understood until I read about it. And it really did impact me and helped me. And I want others who are looking for insight just to have the information to be able to make their own decisions. But we're going to talk about exploring the benefits of taking a break for the sober curious. We're going to look at resources for sobriety and supporting loved ones. How do we help someone who's over drinking? What are some things we can do? And then we close with talking about embracing failure. Take chances, don't be hard on yourself. Give yourself grace and choose positive energy. And you'll see that exuding from Mike Sheenan and his compassion and his positive energy and how he's changed his life, and it's just fascinating. Let me tell you a little bit about his background. He has been alcohol free since February 2018. He focuses on 1 to 1 coaching for anybody who said, hey, my drinking habit has escalated and it's an important point they make in The Naked Mind book, which is that almost everyone starts with less alcohol and almost everybody escalates in their alcohol. And you think about that. I mean, I know that that happened for me.

Suzie Price: [00:05:26] 

So instead of just every once in a while you'd have a drink, then it's like every time you're cooking a meal, you might have a drink or have a glass of wine, but it really happens in the midlife. And Mike shares kind of his story around that. And then in this idea of, hey, I want to regain the power over this. I don't want to have this be a part of my life so much. Mike shares his personal experiences. He shares Naked Mind tactics. He helps us people uncover their core beliefs around alcohol and drinking, and then provides tools to help challenge and ultimately overcome those beliefs. So his story is and he talks a little bit about this in the discussion is he was a long terme social weekend drinker who saw his consumption level increase significantly. And I've seen that in my life from friends and, and personally. And so he's passionate about the impact drinking can have, not just on oneself but on everyone around them. He lost both of his parents to alcohol related illnesses, and he believes that a combination of physical activity and mental awareness can help clients discover a previously unexplored trail to freedom from alcohol. And an excellent episode. Like I said, no judgment. There's no one way is the only way here, but certainly very interesting. I can't wait to share it with you. Let's go to the discussion now.

Suzie Price: [00:06:45] 

Alrighty Mike, thank you for being on the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast. I appreciate you being here today.

Mike Shennan: [00:06:50] 

I appreciate it, I'm looking forward to it.

Suzie Price: [00:06:51] 

Yes I love our topic. I love what we're starting with, which is talking about your 25 years as a research scientist and then sharing. Okay, so why did I make this change? What are my top three reasons that I'm now a Senior Coach at  This Naked Mind. And you have your own company, Trailblazer Life. Talk a little bit about that and your top three reasons.

Mike Shennan: [00:07:12] 

First of all, I sort of came to this intuitively through my journey around my own personal journey around alcohol, which obviously overlapped my previous career, and for many, many years, I, you know, like a lot of people it kind of snuck up on me as I got older and my kids got older and I didn't need to be around for them as much anymore. I found myself relying on alcohol a little bit more and drinking a little bit more. And I got to a place in my career where at a stage of a senior level, being financially compensated well. I was doing all the things, but there was just something missing there. And then I decided then, then I made the change around my alcohol journey and decided to to stop drinking at that point. This was in 2018, and I was still working in my other career. And then I went through about a year of that process and ultimately an opportunity, came forward with This Naked Mind to become a Certified Coach. At the time, they were doing their first certified certification class. I joined up for that, and during that process, I started this journey of self-discovery, this journey of identifying the reasons why I drank. Not just changing the behavior, but changing the fundamental underlying thoughts and beliefs that led me to that behavior.

Mike Shennan: [00:08:22] 

And it was just eureka moments and fireworks and all over the place. And so as I went further down the road, it was originally sort of as the alternative side hustle where I was doing it on my weekends and evenings around my full time work, I got to a place where I was just finding it so fulfilling. Like a half an hour call on a Wednesday night would set me up for the whole week. And I was looking forward to it so much, and I just found so much energy into it. And so the primary reason I decided to change careers and move into a coaching position full time was just, I had this overwhelming desire to pay that forward, this feeling of excitement, this feeling of wow how different my life is. There were tangible reasons, too. I mean, the flexibility. I mean, I was commuting an hour and a half into my job, into the city. I did mental math around that, and it gets pretty scary pretty quickly 15 hours a week, 60 hours a month. That's two and a half days a month I'm spending in my car or on a commuter train just getting to my job. You extend that over over a year. That's a full 30 days of a year commuting. And then you expand that from an hourly point of view, it's like a full month.

Mike Shennan: [00:09:25] 

And then you expand that to 25 years and it's like, yeah, like I've been there for years. Almost two years of my life I spent in a car or on a train just getting to work, so that aspect. Obviously flexibility, setting my own hours, being my own boss, and then by further extension of that, starting my own company, becoming my own entrepreneur, an opportunity to grow and expand those horizons, both professionally and then, as I mentioned before, personally like that, growth that I was seeing in myself, the mindset shifts that I was having around not just alcohol, but around everything, around relationships, around just the way I look at the world. It just sort of manifested through starting my company, and obviously the hesitation I had, I was a scientist. I didn't know how to market or sell or create a company, and yet I was able to do that. And obviously I reached out when needed and asked for help when needed. And ultimately in September last year, I had an opportunity to actually work, to move over and become full time with This Naked Mind. And so now that's become my full-time work, and I do my one on one coaching with my company, Trailblazer Life Coaching on the side as a sort of companion to that.

Suzie Price: [00:10:30] 

That's wonderful. So there were intrinsic reasons. It really spoke to you. You had energy around it. There were practical reasons, and it sounds like it was just time. You stepped into it, and as someone who's had her own business and I started way before I was really ready. This is my 20th year. I can't imagine it any other way, but I can remember when I first jumped in and like, okay, I don't think I really know what I'm doing, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Mike Shennan: [00:10:56] 

Those initial learnings of building a website, where are you going to find your people, right? And how you're going to get access to the people that you can help and identify who you can best help and just all of the things. Obviously the certification process I went through with This Naked Mind taught me most, if not all of that, and whenever I needed help, like I said, I wasn't afraid to go out and ask for it and bring in external people to help me with website design, or with social media tweaking here and there, so yeah.

Suzie Price: [00:11:26] 

One of the things you mentioned about your journey, and I appreciate that you didn't feel like you needed to go into your entire journey because you're beyond it. Right? I'll be happy for you to share it. But I also like that you are in this place where that's the past, and I don't need to, like, visit all of it to share who I am today, which is a great place to be, because I think along the way, sometimes we might feel like we need to talk about it a lot, but one of the things you said is you discovered why you drank, and I was curious about if you could pull any of that up. A couple of things about what it was that was the aha about why you drank.

Mike Shennan: [00:12:02] 

Part of it was my early learnings. I grew up in a household where both of my parents both drank. And so when I was a kid and my parents would have a party, I would walk upstairs and everybody would have a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other hand, or a glass of wine or whatever it was. And so I just assumed, I inherited that belief that adults drank alcohol. Obviously, why would my parents do it if it wasn't harmless, if it was bad for them? And most kids who grew up in an environment like that, they inherit that information. And so moving forward with that I just continued to reinforce it, even though I had the experiences, like a lot of us do of early drinking of getting physically sick and having those nights where we say things and do things that we embarrass ourselves. And all of the counterpoints to the idea that alcohol is the magic elixir for life and helps us socially and does all the things, and you start to build up this pro-con database, and in the early days of our lives, it's very much pro right because society, TVs, commercials...

Suzie Price: [00:12:56] 

Everybody's doing it.

Mike Shennan: [00:12:57] 

Everybody's doing it right? And again, that goes back to that mentality like my parents did it. My parents were my heroes, so of course I'm going to do it when I get older. I want to be like my mom and dad... Until I didn't. And so unwinding those reasons and some of them are just inherited like that. They're very innocent. It sounds innocent enough at that stage. Other ones, as we get older, to me there was a real transition point of just drinking. Which was sort of an activity, drinking for a purpose, drinking for a need, drinking to escape, drinking to run away from things, numbing myself to life's hardships. When things got hard, once again, TV did us a disservice. The detective when he's working on a big case or the doctor is at the end of a busy day, they all end up in a bar somewhere and commiserating. And we learned through those examples that that's how you deal with stress and anxiety and tough days and Fridays and all the things, and getting through all of the days.

Mike Shennan: [00:13:51] 

And so the journey for me, which started, I actually read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace around six months after I'd stopped drinking. And I tell people, those first six months were probably the hardest of my life because I was waking up every morning and just trying to get through the day, but I was still gathering data and I was listening to podcasts. I was reading books and Quit Lit, as they call it, and all of the things, so I was sober, abstinent, but I wasn't free, and the reason was I had all these underlying thoughts and beliefs that I hadn't addressed yet. So I still believed that alcohol tastes good. I still believed that alcohol made me more fun at parties. I still believed that a party wasn't a party without alcohol, and I still had core beliefs. Those really deep rooted beliefs that I wasn't good enough, I wasn't smart enough, I wasn't handsome enough, I wasn't this enough, I wasn't that enough. And those were the ones that, when I really started to dive into it, I was addressing those because something would come up for me. I'd fail at something or something would happen to me that would bring a lot of discomfort to me.

Mike Shennan: [00:14:46] 

And what would I do? My instant response was, nope, don't like that. Got to get rid of it. And so I would drink it away. And so the process at This Naked Mind and what I do as a coach now is dive into those, ask those questions around why? Why did I do that? Why did I start drinking? And sometimes it was innocent, like I mentioned, just a party's not a party and it was just peer pressure and that sort of thing, but then it sort of started to migrate as I got older into what I thought was curing my anxiety. But of course, it was just putting a Band-Aid over it and numbing it and then asking, why am I anxious? Why am I nervous? Why am I depressed? Like, where is that coming from? And then is it really true? And that was the other question. So why? And is it true? And just asking those questions around my thoughts and my beliefs that really unlocked everything for me?

Suzie Price: [00:15:30] 

Wow, that is so great the way you're articulating all of this. And it makes me think too, we have changes in life, and like you said, as you get older, your kids are gone. Career is good, but you're commuting and don't love it. And might have some anxiety around it or whatever's going on. We moved into a beautiful community up in North Georgia and a lot of people here are retired. I'm never going to retire, but a lot of people up here are retired. But every social event, and this is no judgment or I'm not damning alcohol or trying to make people feel guilty about alcohol, but the propensity as people get older and I think This Naked Mind talks about it too. No one ever starts drinking and drinks less. They start drinking and they drink more. And it just is like an unconscious thing that happens. So like up here everybody's retired, they have more time on their hands, kind of what you were alluding to. Or maybe they're unsettled because now, I mean, maybe they're not retired, but their environment has changed. It's like an adult college in some ways. And in every event, alcohol is like the center we recreate with alcohol. So it is just kind of the environment and life. And it's just so interesting. And I love that you said sometimes if I did have anxiety, I was trying to drink it away. And instead of doing that you ask questions about why you're drinking and then you say, is that really true? And maybe you say, is it really helping? Which is amazing.

Mike Shennan: [00:16:57] 

A lot of those, those questions, you know, is it true? Our natural instinct is going to be. Yeah, of course it is. You idiot. We're going to judge ourselves and start asking those questions. But when we start to ask them at a compassionate level, like, is it really though? This is where we talk about self-compassion and I mean, that's that's been a big part of this self-love, self-compassion, self caring. Which a lot of people and Annie Grace calls it kind of the woo woo thinking some people get into that mindset like, oh, here we go. I love myself and that sort of thing. But you know, we have an inherent love for ourselves. When we're born, we're not born hating ourselves. And we actually have this inherent natural human love for ourselves. You can go on YouTube and find all these amazing videos of babies looking at themselves in the mirror for the very first time, and it's like, whoa, I'm awesome. Like, who is that? Right? It's not like, uh, ew gross, right? There's none of that.

Mike Shennan: [00:17:48] 

It's always this, this awe and wonder. And we lose that along the way. And it gets taken out of us really early on, as I mentioned, through these, these life journeys, these things that we hear and we inherit, it's the word I like to use early on and we just validate and continue to go down. And we have our Google mentality. I'm going to go look for something, and I'm only going to look for things that validate that. And as we get older I think that changes. Things that were really cool and exciting to us about drinking at a party in our 20s is different from drinking at a party like you're describing at an older age. There's nothing cool about, in my case, being a 54 year old throwing up on his front lawn. And yet that used to be a badge of honor in college. Right?

Suzie Price: [00:18:32] 

It's so crazy. Jeff and I went to a Jason Aldean concert. Some friends invited us, and we don't go to a lot of concerts, local ones that are small. So we don't usually go into Atlanta and go do that. But there were kids on the lawn puking, and I was like, oh man, I'm so far away from college, so I wasn't judging them. I felt sorry for them. But it also was like, it kind of becomes a rite of passage in some way. It's kind of gotten to be a badge of honor. There were a lot of people, and then there was a young lady behind us that was drunk to her bones, and was falling all over and it's like, oh, man, is she gonna get home safe? You don't want to ever judge people, but we did some of that in college, but it was pretty extreme. I don't know if it's bigger now or more accepted now or if it's just the same as it was. I don't know.

Mike Shennan: [00:19:28] 

I look at people now through that lens of, yeah, you know what, not only have I been there and been that person, but I know how that person feels, and I know that there's probably something deeper going on there. They're probably escaping, right? They're probably trying to get away from something, or maybe there's...

Suzie Price: [00:19:48] 

Something in the environment and then escaping too, which we all are guilty of. Yes.

Mike Shennan: [00:19:54] 

Yeah. Obviously external compassion comes from self compassion. The old adage you can't give from an empty cup, right? You've got to sort of be compassionate about yourself. And there's an adage, talk to yourself like you would your own best friend. And I really try to do that whenever those voices come up. Because I still have voices that come up to me and they're like, oh, dude, you gotta do it. You can't be doing that. What are you thinking? You dummy. When something comes up, but then we have a saying at This Naked Mind, which is we do the best we can with the tools we have, and sometimes we just don't have the right tools. Not just us, but having compassion for others. Those people at that concert, I shouldn't expect them to have the right tools because they have no reason to have them. Right? Maybe someday they will. Maybe they'll have that big moment and they'll change that, but maybe they won't. And that's okay. They're doing them and I'm doing me. Occasionally we're gonna come into conflict and at concerts and at places where people get together, and by the way, I'm a huge live music fan. You mentioned you haven't been to a lot of concerts in the last little. I've been to, closing in on 300 since I stopped drinking in 2018.

Suzie Price: [00:20:56] 

Wow, you love concerts!

Mike Shennan: [00:20:58] 

I very much do. Took me a while to get through the first few, obviously, because I had a real association between alcohol and live music. As well as live sports and everything else, but once I attended, I'd say by about ten, I realized why I was going to the show, which wasn't to drink and line up in the bathroom line. It was to actually see the music and experience the crowd and all the fun things that come with that. So I tell people that's how I get high. Now that's one of my natural highs in addition to coaching, of course.

Suzie Price: [00:21:28] 

That's wonderful. I probably was feeling a little judgy about that. I really didn't mean to feel it, but I was so astonished, because I don't have children either, and that part of my life is a long time ago. I'm almost 60. A long time ago I was doing things like that in college, so I was just so astonished that that was everywhere. It's interesting now. So compassion, if I was sounding judgy, didn't mean to, I think I was.

Mike Shennan: [00:22:00] 

Oh, no, we all do it. That's why we talk about awareness being the first step. Being aware of where I am. Who am I judging and why am I judging them? Right? What am I making it mean about them? What am I making it mean about me? Because sometimes we'll judge somebody else and then we'll judge ourselves for judging them.

Suzie Price: [00:22:19] 

Yeah. It was just astonishing, but what's happening for you now when you go to concerts, are you finding when you're not drinking that you're enjoying them more after you got through that home?

Mike Shennan: [00:22:31] 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think part of it is the acceptance that I'm putting myself into an environment where I'm not going to say those people. That sounds terrible, but where there's going to be people that there's going to be people that are drinking and there's there's going there's going to be interactions. People are bumping into you. If it's a general admission show or people being loud and obnoxious and things, and if I didn't want that, I'd watch a concert on TV, right? I download a live or I go rent a live concert video and just sit on my couch quietly and watch it. But no, part of the environment is experience., and you take the good with the bad. And again it's for me it's about 95% good and maybe 5% bad. I can count on one hand the number of bad concert experiences that I would say, oh, that was just a terrible night in those 300. So those odds are pretty good.

Suzie Price: [00:23:19] 

It's great that we should talk about this, because it talked about the journey that you had to get really comfortable around being in environments where there's a lot of alcohol and being okay with it, and that that's a journey,  when you're not, and that you can still have fun when you aren't drinking. That alcohol doesn't equal fun. That's a big one.

Mike Shennan: [00:23:39] 

That's a big one for a lot of people, obviously. It was for me. Who wants to go to a party if there's no alcohol, right? If you're hosting a big Christmas party, a big holiday party, if you're coming into that time of the year here around the holiday season, who wants to go to a party? And it's like we're not gonna have any champagne for New Year's Eve. We're not going to have any wine at Christmas dinner. It's like, who wants to go to that dinner? I do, because I'm not going there to drink wine. I can do that on my couch at home. Right? I'm going there to see my family and celebrate the season and all those things. And again, reframing it through that lens of why am I doing this thing, is really big. And again, it takes some time. It didn't happen overnight for me by any means. But one of my non-negotiables was to say I've always been a huge live music fan, a big music fan in general, and I wasn't going to let alcohol take that away from me. I had a line in the sand and said, nope, not going to let that happen.

Suzie Price: [00:24:31] 

I'm going and I'm going to have fun. It's interesting that you can have fun and remember that and that it's a journey and it's a journey to get to that. Our energy is where we last left it, so if the last time I saw my family, we were all together and everybody was, it was kind of a party and we were all having I could still be a party but involved alcohol and drinks with it every course and that type of thing that can be, you have to untangle that is is a journey.

Mike Shennan: [00:25:02] 

It is. I think the biggest part of this for me was just realizing how many places I had alcohol integrated into my life, and a lot of it was subconscious. There were the obvious ones, like parties, but just sometimes just sitting on the couch and having something beside me. And it became like a motor and like an automatic thing and the first few days I was sitting on the couch without a drink when I decided to take a break. I had to have a glass of water there, to ease that a little bit and allow me to sort of replace that aspect of it. Right? Because there's so many different ways that it becomes integrated into our daily routines, especially when we're at that stage where we're drinking every day and every day is a different reason.

Mike Shennan: [00:25:47] 

I used to joke that we drink because we drink to commiserate, we drink to celebrate. We drink because it's Tuesday. Right? We had all of the reasons, right? Any excuse to drink, and so we have to unlock all of those. We have to unwind all of those. And it takes some time, but you mentioned the fun aspect and you can have as much fun. I would say I have more fun at concerts and sports and things like that, now. Mostly because I'm not losing battery power as the night goes on, because I go to an event and I'm at the same level if not gaining energy as the night goes on. And I know there's people, it's just the lights come up and it's like, oh, they almost want to go to bed right away because they're so tired, right? Whereas I'm the opposite, I have the adrenaline and all the other things going on. And so I would actually argue I have more fun at those events now.

Suzie Price: [00:26:30] 

When we go to cook supper, if every time you cook supper you have a glass of wine in your hand, you have to uncouple that, right?

Mike Shennan: [00:26:37] 


Suzie Price: [00:26:38] 

Yeah. That makes sense. In marketing, you talked about your family and we all have circumstances like that, and you see it all around us. Marketing makes drinking appear harmless, relaxing and fun, and that there's no consequences. So talk a little bit about, and we don't want to demonize alcohol, but what we want to do is explain what it is, because that's what This Naked Mind did for me when I listened to it. I did it by audible. I had a family member who was struggling and I was also questioning my relationship with alcohol because of all these social events. So it's like okay, I'm going to listen to it. The first pull to take the time to do it was to help my friend that I was worried about. But the second thing right underneath that is am I drinking too much? And if you start asking that question, you're probably drinking too much. Even if it's just on the weekends or it's one glass every night it's like, oh, is this really helping me or hurting me? So anyway, when I read this This Naked Mind, I was astonished at the truth that gets expressed in regard to marketing and all of that. So when I heard all of that, I was like, okay, I can't unhear this now, but just talk about that, about what we might be unaware of, around how alcohol is promoted, and some of the statistics around it.

Mike Shennan: [00:27:54] 

This is not to demonize it because I find that some people will go to a place of really making it negative and to me, this is part of a we're building up, and this is the scientist in me coming out, we're building up a database, right? We're building up a database of information. Right? And this is where searching for knowledge, gathering up as much information as possible. Knowledge being power, gathering as much information as we can. Part of it is going to be the reasons that I mentioned before. The thoughts and beliefs and where they come from. Is it really true that a party is not a party without alcohol? There're cases in the world where that's obviously not the case, but the other part of it is, gathering up the core, the facts. Just the facts, ma'am, type of thing. Right? In gathering, like the statistics, as you mentioned. I know up here in Canada, for example the health guidance up here is now two drinks per week. That's what they've said as being like anything above that is risky, is high risk. I mean, I can't think of a night when I had anything less than two drinks. Why would I have just one, right?

Mike Shennan: [00:28:51] 

And so over the course of a week, that seems like a really low number. But then when you start to dive into obviously some of the I mean, there's obviously going to be physical effects of alcohol, I guess I can give you a couple of major examples that most people may not be aware of, but or maybe maybe they are. They know that it affects it, maybe not how it affects it. The first one you see is in your brain, it slows down your neural pathways. It slows down neural transmissions. It makes us, I don't want to say duller or dumber, but it does. It makes us less responsive. It lowers our motor's slower reaction time, reducing motor function. The example, it's kind of like, you know, we have this superhighway, we have this Autobahn, the German superhighway, we have this highway in our brain of neural pathways going along. And basically drinking is like putting a big ten inch drop, dumping a snow onto that. It slows everything down. Everything has to come to almost a halt. It just really takes away a lot of the capacity to do things quickly and to respond and that sort of thing.

Mike Shennan: [00:29:46] 

And so I mean, that's obviously why we don't want to be drinking and driving, right. Because of that, I sort of keep that in my mind. The idea of that snowfall is kind of like driving through a snowstorm all of a sudden. We have to really be more visually acute and be aware, and yet we're not right, because we've numbed ourselves. Obviously you can go from there to the heart several ways that obviously can impact your heart. I mean, the big one that I didn't really think about, but it makes sense now because my dad actually passed away from heart and stroke disease after being a heavy drinker all his life. It weakens your heart muscles. It weakens the heart muscle so that your heart doesn't pump as well. That's going to impact your ability to circulate blood through your system, through your body. It's going to cause increasing potential for clotting, increased potential for stroke, that sort of thing. That's why there's that connection between heart disease and alcohol consumption. And then the last one, the liver, the place where all of the alcohol goes to get detoxified and to be removed and in the process of detoxifying alcohol and breaking it down.

Mike Shennan: [00:30:41] 

First of all, the liver kind of becomes the body goes into a kind of a red alert. All systems go to the liver sector G mentality, right? Where it shuts down metabolizing sugar. It shuts down all of the normal body metabolism and takes on because this emergency is going on. So it's like having a fire in your kitchen. Like all of a sudden it doesn't matter what's going on in other rooms. Everything goes to the kitchen. And so in your liver one of the byproducts is acetaldehyde of alcohol metabolism. And acetaldehyde is actually a carcinogen. It actually damages DNA. It damages cells. And the more you drink, obviously the longer it's going to be in your system and the more potential for that. And if that repair of that DNA isn't repaired in time, it's going to lead to runaway cell growth and tumorigenesis and cancer. Obviously, in addition to things like the Cirrhosis, which can come from the tissue damage of that building up in your liver as well.

Mike Shennan: [00:31:34] 

So again, this is not like a scare tactic because or anything like that. These are actual things that happen in our bodies. So obviously when we're younger and we have a young liver, a young heart and a young brain, we're not going to feel that as much. But obviously as we get older and these things build up over time, we have the residue of 30 years of drinking building up in these three areas. It's going to play a role and it's going to impact us and our health. It certainly has for me. I mean, I was diagnosed with fatty liver a few years ago, and my doctor says it's something that can self-correct. And obviously, the more I mean, not drinking is not certainly not going to hurt it anymore and I said, my dad, I have a history of heart disease. And my mom died of cancer. I mean, from when she was a drinker as well. I think it was permanently smoking in her case. But I have all of these examples of all of these like really close to me right now. And so, yeah, I mean, the truth is out there as the old X-Files mantra I used to say.

Suzie Price: [00:32:25] 

You got some good mantras there. That was great. The brain, heart and liver and when you see all these, once you read how that's all laid out within This Naked Mind, and there's another one that I'll put in the show notes Andrew Huberman's, The Huberman Lab, where the effects of alcohol on the body. And he's very scientific about it, like you were just then. And you go, okay, I can't un-listen to this. It's just like, wow, and then you then you look at commercials and you just look how it's everywhere. It's like the Emperor has no clothes now, you see.

Mike Shennan: [00:33:03] 

I've used that analogy. I also use the house of cards, once you pull a card, it kind of all starts to come collapsing down. Or putting a hole in a dam, eventually the water is going to start to come through and you can try to pull it back as long as you want, but that hole's there now. You can't uncreate the hole. You can't unring a bell, as a friend of mine used to say. Once you have this information, you can deny it. But what happens when you deny it is that you start to build up what we call cognitive dissonance, which is a fundamental concept that Annie talks about in This Naked Mind, which is where we know it's bad for us. Yeah, okay, I know about the cancer stuff. I know about this, I know about that. I know about all these things. But it also feels kind of good to get high every now and then and have that feeling and have that buzz and then we start to... All the reasons that we drink, it helps me to numb.

Mike Shennan: [00:33:48] 

It helps me to escape. It helps me to feel. It helps me to relax. And so what we do with This Naked Mind is break it down. We start to hammer away at those, to create that idea that the Emperor has no clothes. Because when you remove the counterpoints and you're at the same time as you're building up this knowledge and you're hearing all of these things, the scary statistics and everything else, it goes to a place where why would I possibly want to do that anymore? And that's the freedom aspect, right? That's where we create this life where we don't want to escape from it. And then why do we want to if we don't need to escape, we're not going to go looking for reasons to escape, and we don't need our ladder anymore. It's once you learn this stuff, you can't unlearn it.

Suzie Price: [00:34:26] 

I don't think I ever had an alcoholism problem. I think I had an alcohol habit because when I decided to stop it, I could. But then when I was drinking like you, you'd say, oh, wine is fun. So I'm going to learn about wine because then it'll be like, I'm a wine connoisseur, right? Then it's like I'm being intellectual around it. And I can remember reading about wine books and stuff and now as I look back to my younger self 20 years ago, I think, okay, you were having more alcohol than you needed and you were trying to say, okay, it's all okay or making it acceptable through education. And I mean, I just think it's a journey and one reason I like doing this podcast is because we can talk about it bluntly, but I never talk about it to people unless they ask why aren't you drinking? And if they ask, I do because I don't want to judge and you don't want to think that everybody has their own timing and their own knowledge about this. And if somebody had tried to talk to me about drinking less when I didn't want to hear about it, I would have just been offended, right? I mean, sure, as a coach, you want people to come to you around it.

Mike Shennan: [00:35:47] 

Yeah, absolutely. And it's so funny you mentioned that because one of the big coaching tools I use is actually, and this is part of my training through This Naked Mind, which coming up with your ideal client is basically looking at you in the mirror every morning. So go out and find people that are as close to you as you can, and that's how you're going to connect with people. For me, part of that is going back to remembering how I felt six, seven, eight years ago and had somebody come up to me and handed me a book and said, oh, you've got to read this book. It's going to save your life, you know?

Suzie Price: [00:36:15] 

Oh, yeah, I would have been.

Mike Shennan: [00:36:16] 

I would have been like, uh, excuse me. It would have gone to the bottom of any pile of books I had. Right? Because somebody had told me I had to. I've also done Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies. I don't know if you're familiar with that, but there's a way to sort of identify just it's similar to some of the work that I know that we're going to talk about a little bit later, but identifying your strengths and your weaknesses and your mindset and just the way that you look at the world. And I came out of that, one of the examples, one of the tendencies that she has is a rebel. And that was me 100%. If somebody told me to do something, I would do the exact opposite or basically I had to come up with it. I had to figure it out for myself. I had to be the one to decide. It was my decision. And then I'd be able to do it because I didn't like telling myself I had to do something. So anybody coming to me and saying, Mike, you need to stop drinking. I'd be like, who are you? And to my wife's credit, she still has a glass of wine every now and then. She's never had what I would call an issue with it per se. But to her credit, she didn't like to give me an ultimatum. She suggested a few times that maybe you want to think about doing this a little bit differently. But she knew that, had she come to me and said, Mike, you have to stop drinking or I'm leaving. Yeah, that's a decision that I would have made that I probably would have regretted in that format, just because...

Suzie Price: [00:37:42] 

The rebel in you would come out. 

Mike Shennan: [00:37:45] 

It's like, who are you to tell me? Going back to the way we were and thinking about and to me that just once again comes up to just how life altering and how different my life is. And the way I look at the world is now compared to that person that didn't want to hear it eight, ten years ago.

Suzie Price: [00:38:04] 

I always try to remind myself that we have our own guidance. We have our own inner knowing that can be revealed at any time. And I don't need to be the sage or the wisdom speaker for it for anyone else. If you go outside of that, it really does create that tension you're talking about. So interesting. And what is the name of the system that you mentioned where you understood that you were the rebel? I want to put a link to it.

Mike Shennan: [00:38:35] 

It's Gretchen Rubin, it's the Four Tendencies.

Suzie Price: [00:38:37] 

Okay. I think I have heard of that. 

Mike Shennan: [00:38:41] 

It's another one of these sort of self identification methods. And it helps you to know if you're a rebel and you're working with I think there's a questioner and enabler. The fourth one is it's great for work systems too. So if you see somebody who's a questioner and you're a rebel, then how do you talk to each other? Right? And that sort of thing. So it's very similar to what you're doing. Very similar.

Suzie Price: [00:39:00] 

Very similar to what we're going to talk about with the Talent Insights. What are our preferences? So we've talked about the book This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. That you work as a senior coach within that organization. I didn't even know there was such a thing as Quit Lit, which is literature about alcohol. It's a whole genre I didn't even know about. And the way I found it is I'm big into the Peloton, and there was a Peloton Sober Squad on Facebook. They post things, and again, I don't think I had a problem, but I was drinking more than I needed to. In other words, I could quit, but I just didn't know how important it was, but my friend had a problem, and so I thought, okay, I'm going to watch Sober Squad or read these posts on Facebook. And then I learned so much about how you could see the depth that people would go through, or just the people who are more in the place of, I don't want to drink wine at night or whatever, and you could just see the differences. And that's where I learned about all this Quit Lit and these different books and This Naked Mind. If people are listening now and they are sober curious, which is what they talk about on the Sober Squad, which is a great way to talk about it. I'm just curious, what would it be like if I didn't drink? Share a little bit about This Naked Mind. You have an Alcohol Experiment? I know a lot of people do in January and dry January would be a great time to do that. Just test this out and then just talk a little bit about other resources that have helped you and the people you work with.

Mike Shennan: [00:40:34] 

The key word in sober curious is curious. Have that curiosity because a lot of times people will say, I'm sober curious, and they'll talk about taking a break, whether it's dry January, whether it's dry July, sober October, whatever it is, and they'll go into it with the mindset of, I'm just not going to drink for 30 days and see what happens. And that's great. You're going to get some knowledge around how your body reacts to it, how easy it is for some people, how it is a challenge to go 30 days and take a break and my wife, for example. You know she did. We have two sons. So she obviously went through those nine months without drinking. And then while she was breastfeeding them, and another few months after that. So she went a year and basically in both cases without drinking. So, in her mind she's like, yeah, I can do that any time. But there's a reason you're doing it at that point, right? When you're doing it for yourself and you're just taking a month off asking yourself, okay, why am I exploring this first? And so identifying your beliefs we talked about before, identifying the beliefs and the thoughts around why am I drinking in the first place? Why do I put this in my body? Because humans generally don't do things we don't see a benefit in.

Mike Shennan: [00:41:38] 

And so what's the benefit I see to this and exploring that what we do at This Naked Mind. And we're by no means the only ones that do this, but the alcohol experiment that Annie has, which is a free resource. It's available through It's also available on our Naked Mind Companion App. It's a 30 day program that basically has videos each day that just kind of unlock some of these thoughts and beliefs and ask you to challenge them. And we give you a methodology. We call it the ACT Technique, which is basically awareness, clarity and turnaround, which is basically, as I said, becoming aware of these things, getting some clarity or getting curious around them and then asking, okay, is there another way, is there an alternative to that and is breaking them down? And when you're doing that at the same time as you're taking this break, you're not just sitting around twiddling your thumbs for 30 days and kind of checking days off a calendar, because we can all do that, right? I did that, as I said, I did that for almost six months, even though I was doing this work behind the scenes before I read This Naked Mind to sort of identify, you know, listening to podcasts and things like that.

Mike Shennan: [00:42:32] 

But I kind of felt like I wasn't really putting it into practice. Like I was kind of watching a movie, watching videos and listening to podcasts, but I wasn't applying anything. The key comes in actually becoming aware of your thoughts, aware of your beliefs around alcohol, why you drink and then asking, okay, is it really true? Are these things really true? Do these beliefs really serve me? Is it something that I've inherited that I've never actually tested myself? Empirically, it's just something I've taken on faith since somebody told me people who don't drink are boring. You don't want to be boring, do you? Right? And it's like, well, is it really boring? Like, is it really true? Let me go look up the Webster's Dictionary of boring synonyms and antonyms and tell me which one of those is somebody after 5 or 6 drinks? Spoiler alert, it is the one who drinks who is boring.

Mike Shennan: [00:43:24] 

And so once again, if those thoughts serve you, great, if they're valuable to you, if you don't need to challenge them. But if you're having some questions around them to challenge them. And so the alcohol experiment takes a 30 day break. Like anything else, we call it an experiment. And that's one of the reasons why it obviously resonates with me once again with my science, my inner science geek. The science background. But not every experiment goes according to plan. Taking a 30 day break and then going 7 or 8 days into it and then maybe what we call it, we actually call them data points in This Naked Mind world where it's like you have a night where you drink, where you didn't anticipate drinking. To me, every day is a data point. But if we think about it strictly in that definition when you're running an experiment you have an expectation and you have an outcome, and generally they'll be in alignment but the most valuable information are those outliers, those experiments that whoa, that went sideways.

Mike Shennan: [00:44:18] 

And you think about Penicillin being discovered because let me drip some mucus onto a plate and it's like, whoa, it killed everything, right? And it's kind of realizing that we have this within us. There's so many accidental discoveries that happened because things didn't go as planned. That's just part of the experimental side of it, in addition to taking advantage of those 30 days to do that, is really, really cool. And so as I mentioned, it's a totally free resource. It's available off of This Naked Mind's website. We also do live events. There are coaches that do these 3 or 4 of them a year where you can actually get into a group with people and go through it together. So you have to ask questions and answer calls and things like that and do it kind of live as well. And there's one coming up in January if people are interested. But so that's kind of the This Naked Mind, 30 day take a break for the sober curious.

Mike Shennan: [00:45:08] 

And it is just for that. I mean this is dipping your toe in the water. It's just like, yeah, you know what? I wonder what life would be like if I didn't drink for a month. And I did some of this work behind it with the full caveat that, as we talked about before, you may learn some things you won't be able to unlearn, and it may bring up some discomfort about the next time you decide to have a drink in a month's time. If you do take a month off, right, as opposed to just checking off the boxes, which I did many times, I took 3 or 4 months of Sober October, Dry January, whether I was on a medication or whether I was just doing something, taking a curious time in 30 days. But what I found is, in the absence of doing it, in the absence of doing this sort of work alongside of it and asking these questions and kind of getting curious about things, I actually drink more at the other end of it. I found that if I took a month off, I would drink more. Why? Because I didn't have a problem all of a sudden, right? I validated that, hey, I can stop anytime I want.

Suzie Price: [00:45:54] 

I was able to stop. So yeah, go ahead.

Mike Shennan: [00:45:56] 

Yeah, I took 30 days off. I don't have a problem. That guy's got a problem. He couldn't do it for 30 days. I don't have that problem. And all these thoughts came back. And what did that do? It's party time. Let's go. And I also circled in big red ink the first day after that 30 day break, as opposed to saying, let's do 30 days and then reevaluate and see where we go from there. And so that's the mentality. That's the mindset that we bring.

Suzie Price: [00:46:16] 

So the difference is you're getting insight if you do it this way through something like The Alcohol Experiment, you're getting insights, almost like the insights that I was seeing with Peloton Sober Squad. Because that was real people sharing. It's a very private but very beautiful exchange. And then getting the knowledge from This Naked Mind. And I just started to understand this world a little bit, not to the level that you do, so The Alcohol Experiment kind of helps with that a little bit more would you say?

Mike Shennan: [00:46:49] 

Yeah absolutely. Yeah. And it goes to other resources you mentioned. Obviously This Naked Mind is by no means the only place you can find these 30 day type journeys. Obviously there's lots of resources out there.

Suzie Price: [00:47:03] 

What's your favorite?

Mike Shennan: [00:47:06] 

For me, I find, coming back to what we talked about earlier about the impact of alcohol on the body, I find William Porter, who has a website called Alcohol Explained. He's written two books, Alcohol Explained One and Two, and it goes through just from a secondary resource point of view. It supplements what we do and complements what we do from a knowledge point of view. And it's a little different. Obviously it's a male perspective as opposed to Annie who's a female perspective. It kind of complements it that way. He has Facebook groups and websites and things you can look at there. Laura McKowan's another one. She wrote a book called We Are the Luckiest in addition to another book called Push Off From Here. Those are really good resources as well. She has a group called The Luckiest Club, which is a little more AA-like where they have daily meetings and it's a little more like that. Because I think she had an AA background and then also has, but it also has this discovery aspect to it. So it's kind of a hybrid of the two I like to think of. So there's lots of different opportunities out there and there's new ones starting up every day. And so lots of different things, whether it's online, whether it's like looking at books, lot's of resources. Another great one is Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck, who's an English writer. That was one of the ones that I first read that just kind of it's no BS. It's all calling a spade a spade and just kind of getting the information out there without sugarcoating it. But there's yeah, lots of amazing resources out there.

Suzie Price: [00:48:31] 

That's great. That is great. And when somebody signs up to work with you, what does that look like?

Mike Shennan: [00:48:37] 

Well, basically as I said, in addition to I coach in This Naked Mind programs. So we have a program called The PATH, which is a one year program. I coached in some Alcohol Experiments when those come around and are opportunistic for me, but I also have 1:1 coaching. And what that is, is basically my own private coaching Trailblazer Life Coaching, and what I like to do is meet people where they are. So some people will come to me and I'll work with them at the very beginning of their journey where they're sober curious, and we can do an Alcohol Experiment together and we can actually take a month and walk through it and do it kind of in lock step with that. Other people will maybe spend six months to nine months in a program and maybe it'll be one of our programs or a different program. And they feel like they've almost got it. But there's a couple of things that maybe they haven't quite addressed yet. And we can obviously focus on that. And so that's sort of and again, I'm using all of the methodologies and ideas that all of the techniques that I mentioned before challenging your thoughts and beliefs, like, why am I doing this? And is it really true that when I ask myself, okay, why am I doing it? Is that true? Has it always been true? And explore that? From a number of sessions and that sort of thing. I'm very flexible.

Mike Shennan: [00:49:47] 

In many ways I have the best of both worlds because I have my 1:1 clientele that I work with directly, and I obviously love that. I love drilling down and focusing on one person and being able to help that individual eye to eye. And I actually have a mantra that I started when I first started my coaching business. If I can help just one other human being, one person on the face of the earth feel the way I feel not just around alcohol, but around life in general right now, then I'm done. Then it's all been worth it. And I live that. And I go on the mantra that I haven't achieved that yet, even though maybe I have, and I can probably find evidence to support both sides of that equation. But living that and realizing that one conversation at a time, right, that one person is going to influence all the people in their area and their world, right? Their families, their coworkers, their friends, their families.

Suzie Price: [00:50:34] 


Mike Shennan: [00:50:34] 

And it's going to ripple out. What if that one person that you talked to is not going to say the next Andy Gray, so the next William Porter or the next, Laura McKowan. But if they then go off and start another club, that or another group that helps millions of people, that one conversation can balloon really, really quickly. And so again, that's the mindset that I like to use around that.

Suzie Price: [00:50:55] 

So I hope you found Mike as compassionate and interesting as I did the tracker to get to the show notes. Is that And in part two we're going to continue the discussion. So check it out. You can go to that same place. And you'll get the show notes and the transcript and the recording. And part two we're going to talk more about being sober curious and what that looks like in more resources and more tools. I'm also going to share some more information that I got from a podcast that I listened to that has a lot of information. I'm going to share a little bit about my journey in this world of alcohol and what I'm currently doing. So you'll get that at the end of part two. So tune in for that. Again, you can get the show notes and everything at But if you subscribe to Wake Up Eager Workforce wherever you get your podcasts, just go open up your podcast app and you'll see this latest episode. Our directory of episodes is at, and we have resources for you there related to stress management. So if you check out, go to the directory. You'll find a page where it has stress management podcasts. And you'll see some other resources and tools there. And one last note we'd love for you to give us a review.

Suzie Price: [00:52:24] 

If you do, we're going to give you a complimentary 24 page report that explains why you do what you do and what you're most interested in. It's a Workplace Motivators Report, 24 pages. It has a whole bunch of tools you can use to help debrief it and share it with a friend. Easy to leave a review? Just open up your mobile app, launch iPhone or iPad, and then tap the search icon and search for Wake Up Eager Workforce. So you're at your Apple's Podcast app, search for our podcast, tap our black podcast cover art, and then you scroll down to the bottom of that page. It'll say, write a review, and then you rate us and hopefully you'll give us a good review. We appreciate that if you would. But you want you to be candid. Short and sweet is fine. That certainly helps us. People know that it's a current podcast, and anybody who's looking for this kind of information around waking up eager and their workforce or in their personal and professional life can find us. And if you have any comments or questions for me directly, or if I can help you in any way, go to S-U-Z-I-E. All right. You have a wake up eager wonderful day and week. And we'll see you at part two of this podcast. Take care.

Intro/Outro: [00:53:50] 

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