58. Is your Lizard Brain the Boss? – Neuroscientist Staci Danfield


Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

This week my guest is Staci Danfield.  Staci is a neuroscientist who loves working with the sober community.  In this episode, she shares some really practical and useful information about our brain.

In this Episode

  • Staci’s husband walked out on her just before her 50th birthday. She was devastated at the time but now that the years have passed, she is able to look back and see that event as a catalyst for change … a real Wake Up Call
  • Realising that she must take responsibility for her own happiness, she went to grad school to study neuroscience
  • Staci has no issues with alcohol but her father was an alcoholic – the whole family had tried to convince him to stop for years but only when he decided to stop himself did it work
  • We talked about rehab and Staci explained that the success rate is a shockingly low 13.8%
  • She explained that our brain tricks us into thinking that alcohol is making us happy but in fact, it is a depressant – if you’ve been drinking for years then the alcohol will have altered the balance of your brain which is why you become increasingly dependent
  • When we understand how our brains work we can work with it – and that’s when the magic will happen. A great analogy is to think of how we use our computers – we work with programs that are installed in our computers, not against them!
  • Understanding our brains means that we can understand ourselves better and see what we are gaining by ditching the drink – we need to create a “pattern interruptor”
  • We mustn’t try to alter multiple habits at the same time – far better to focus on just the one
  • Here at Tribe Sober, we say “Just chase one rabbit at a time – if you chase several, the chances are that they will all escape!”
  • Staci advises that we focus on our successes: “today I resisted a drink”. And we don’t look too far into the future (or avoid the ‘F word’ as we say at Tribe Sober!)
  • If you listened to Tribe Sober podcast episode 55 which was called “The Happy Brain” with Loretta Breuning, you may remember that she recommended setting an overall goal and dividing it up into smaller goals? This will keep our happy chemicals flowing as just aiming for a mini-goal will trigger dopamine and of course, we’ll feel good when we reach it
  • Staci is in agreement with Loretta and used the marathon analogy – if we sign up for a marathon we don’t immediately go out and try to run 26 miles. We design a training program and divide it into daily sessions – running a bit further every day
  • You can find a great example of this on Episode 15 of the Tribe Sober podcast with one of our Sober Springers Kai – he did Sober Spring, achieved 66 Alcohol-Free days, then aimed for 100 days, then 6 months, then a year. And now, 3 years later, he still hasn’t had a drink – but still doesn’t say it’s forever!
  • Staci explained how our primitive lizard brain will go on autopilot unless we intervene – she calls her Lizard Brain Earl and calls him out if he tries to hijack her behaviour!
  • She confirmed that our 66-day Sober Spring Challenge is long enough to create a new neural pathway to change our drinking patterns
  • She also said that the “secret sauce” of Sober Spring was the community support
  • We discussed the fact that our “drinking neural pathway” will always be with us (if we’ve been drinking for years) – and that it’s easy to reactivate if we start trying to “moderate” after a period of sobriety. Staci loves our Goodbye to Alcohol letters and suggests reading them regularly to remind ourselves how bad the drinking got!
  • She came up with a list of quick tips to boost our happy chemicals
  • We started our annual 66-day challenge in September – called Sober Spring here in South Africa but can be Sober Autumn as well
  • Membership also allows you to find your people as we welcome you into our supportive community – and this month new members will get a complimentary Sober Spring Challenge

Just go to tribesober.com and hit the “join our tribe” button to read more about the benefits of membership

More info

  • Subscription membership  – you can join up HERE
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  • If you would like a free copy of our “Annual Tracker” or our e-book “66 Days to Sobriety” please email janet@nulltribesober.com
  • If you would like to come to our Saturday afternoon Zoom Cafe as a guest and meet our community just email janet@nulltribesober.com

Episode Sponsor

  • This episode is sponsored by the Tribe Sober Membership Program.
  • If you want to change your relationship with alcohol then sign up today. 
  • Read more about our program and subscribe HERE.

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.


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Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x


The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

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