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“Evaluating our relationships should stop being embarrassing” with Fotis Georgiadis & Karolina Rzadkowolska

I think evaluating our relationships with alcohol should stop being embarrassing, because it is literally the most life-affirming practice I can think of. We all grow up being taught to drink to celebrate, to relax, to socialize, and to commiserate. Many of us drink to cover up insecurities or out of stress, instead of dealing […]

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I think evaluating our relationships with alcohol should stop being embarrassing, because it is literally the most life-affirming practice I can think of. We all grow up being taught to drink to celebrate, to relax, to socialize, and to commiserate. Many of us drink to cover up insecurities or out of stress, instead of dealing with the root causes of those feelings. Considering the fact that alcohol is highly addictive and the only drug you have to explain why you are not partaking in, we need a huge wellness revolution in this area.

I had the pleasure to interview Karolina Rzadkowolska. Karolina is passionate about empowering soulful women to find freedom from alcohol for happier and healthier lives. She is the founder of Euphoric Alcohol-Free, a space to discover your best life away from alcohol, grounded in happiness, choice, and individuality — the very things she needed to make the best decision of her life. She spent every weekend of her 20s drinking thinking it was fun, made her happy, and allowed her to “have it all.” Yet drinking always made her feel remorseful, lethargic, and low and she found it hard to stick to any sort of guidelines. In 2018, she finally embarked on an alcohol-free experiment and found the most incredible euphoric lifestyle. Today, she works with clients who want to discover their fullest potential without a beverage that muddles up their sense of wellbeing, presence, clarity, and self-esteem. She hopes to share this beautiful life-affirming lifestyle with others and help people build the life of their dreams. Find euphoric living tips and mocktail recipes at www.euphoricaf.com and follow along @karolinarzad.


Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

It’s such an honor to share my story. In 2018, I decided to embark on dry January, a month off drinking. I had been wanting to try something like this for years — secretly I knew I was not happy with my relationship to alcohol. But I also didn’t consider myself a stereotypical problem drinker and tried hard to moderate. While I hated the negative effects of drinking, I didn’t think I was allowed to quit. I figured drinking was just a part of being an adult!

I’m so glad I turned my assumptions on their head. By reshaping my idea of what type of person quits drinking, or what sobriety actually feels like (not boring but AMAZING), I was able to experiment with a lifestyle that suited me best. I discovered the greatest happiness of my life. Presence, joy, more laughter and connection, and a newfound peace within my own skin. I learned to truly love myself.

I didn’t frame my drinking as something I “had to” stop, and instead felt no desire to go back to the mental fog, hangovers, shame, and lowered self-esteem that comes from letting yourself down. When I compared it to what I was gaining — confidence, appreciation for the world around me, and even euphoria — there was no question in my mind. I knew exactly how I felt as a drinker. What I wanted more of was a life I had never lived.

Today I work with other gray-area drinkers, (a term used to describe those that drink above the health guidelines but don’t have severe alcohol use disorder) who feel alcohol is getting in the way of their fullest potential. I help them change their mindsets about drinking and redesign the life of their dreams.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

For a long time, my drinking habits weren’t making me ultimately happy. Of course, I didn’t know this when I was planning winery trips or brewery hangouts. I didn’t know this come every weekend when I thought the only way to relax and celebrate was with wine.

I knew it in the quiet hours in the morning, when I would wake up with a racing heart and a pit of regret in my stomach, knowing that I failed myself again, by drinking more than I had intended to. I thought I loved drinking and the culture of fine wine and craft beer — I thought it made me feel glamorous, pampered, happy. And yet, when I really looked at it, alcohol made me feel intense shame and lowered my self-esteem. Is there anything more soul-crushing than letting yourself down, over and over again? Of failing to stick to your own rules, of acting completely out of alignment from your true self? I was filled with self-hatred and disappointment. At the end of the day, I couldn’t trust myself and felt so stuck in a world where drinking is “normal” and quitting would make me “abnormal.”

But eventually, I realized the only way to break through this pattern was to stop worrying about what other people would think. I had to finally listen to my inner voice, which was telling me I was made for more and that there was nothing wrong with me because I wasn’t able to make a picture-perfect life while ingesting ethanol.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Yes, my newest program, Become Euphoric, teaches clients to overhaul their desires for alcohol and challenge themselves to find happiness without it. Habit and mindset change are key to transforming our lives, but at the same time so is listening deeply to our inner guides on how to develop our potential and serve the world. Become Euphoric encourages mindset change and promotes discovery to find your true path.

I’m also writing a book on what you can gain from an alcohol-free life, covering topics like energy and wellbeing, self-love, integrity, pride and confidence, and reconnecting to your calling and purpose in life. I co-host a podcast on the joys of alcohol-free living and provide mocktail recipes on my website too.

I’m under the firm belief that drinking more than you intend to is a common experience among regular drinkers. When you repeatedly drink more than you intended to, you often wake up with self-loathing and disappointment, not to mention feeling worse for wear. Consistently letting yourself down and failing at rules chips away at your self-esteem. And because there is so much stigma around alcohol issues and fear of being labeled, most people just sweep this shame under the rug and never evaluate the role of alcohol in their lives. It’s the elephant in the room and affects way more people than we are led to believe.

Letting go of something that never failed to make me feel awful and the worry of what other people would think has brought me deep contentment. I believe it’s time that alcohol entered the wellness conversation. Why is it normal to mention we’re watching our sugar or processed foods intake but not an addictive toxin? I hope my work can help change the narrative about shame and alcohol and help others see that they are so much bigger than a beverage.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

Growing up, every way in which I was different made me want to curl up and disappear. I had hairy legs and arms. A scar on my face. A crooked nose. Curly hair when the fashion was straight. In college I also gained weight from too much partying and spent the entire decade of my twenties on an endless quest to lose weight.

In many ways, I turned to drinking to fit in and to quiet my insecurities: that I might not look or act a certain way or that socializing didn’t come easily to me. It was hard to be worried about how I was perceived or entertain my social anxiety when I was drunk. But it also meant I never dealt with my underlying insecurities in any way.

We live in a society that shows us one impossible version of beauty and dictates an unattainable mantra of “having it all.” We’re never beautiful enough, we have to lose weight, work up the ladder at work, have a perfect family, etc. With such impossible demands, it’s no wonder that wine becomes a coping mechanism to turn it all off for an evening. Perfectionism and unhealthy coping mechanisms go hand in hand.

Although I assumed I was the only one floundering while everyone else had it figured out, the truth is we are all, at one time or another, floundering. Instead of sharing our vulnerabilities and insecurities, we hide them away and form secretive shame about our perceived shortcomings. Shame is such a painful emotion that disconnects us from other human beings and our own unique gifts that were meant to be shared with the world.

I still have insecurities that rise up, but deep down I know I am beautiful and my soul is perfect and I have a big, big reason for being here.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Self-love breeds confidence and allows you to go after what you really want in your life. It allows you to become aware of your inner life and take care of your needs in healthy ways. Imagine waking up with a hangover. You are upset, in pain, and feel misused by the past version of you who didn’t think about the long-term consequences of last night’s actions. You feel pretty low all day, and anxious about the wasted morning. You feel uncared for by the past version of you. Disrespected.

Now imagine the opposite. You wake up after refreshing sleep, illuminated by energy and a joyful mood to tackle your day. You are thankful to the past version of you, who gave you eight hours of restful sleep, nourishing healthy food the day before, and set you up for success today. You feel loved. Respected.

What you do every day builds who you become. This type of self-love compounds and evolves you. It’s also equally important to let go of any shame, honor your truth and forgive yourself for perceived failings. This can’t happen with denial but requires substantial introspective work.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

Because it feels safe and easy to us. Humans are so resistant to change. We fall into relationships and careers and lifestyles that don’t fulfil our souls. But what are we supposed to do. There is part of ourselves that wants to protect us against all risk, that would rather we stay small and not uncover our unhappiness or ennui and make any changes. There is a sense of unease, a discontent hiding in the background, but it feels so much easier to ignore this and continue with what feels safe and easy. We live in our comfort zones, ignoring our inner guides that whisper to us that something is off and we were made for more.

But the feeling of safety and ease is an illusion. It is far more painful to stay in mediocrity — whether that be in relationships, careers, or with booze — than it is to take a chance and expand beyond our comfort zones.

My inner guide was telling me that alcohol was holding me back from my fullest potential for years. That it was time to let go of what no longer served me. I’m so glad I finally listened and took a leap of faith to get to the other side of fear. Because truly, everything I have always wanted in life, is just on the other side of fear.

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Self-love is two-fold for me. First, it’s the realization that I am worthy, enough, and deserve love just the way I am. It’s honoring the inherent worth that I, and everyone else, indisputably, has.

Second, it’s furthering my potential through constant self-development. It’s challenging myself to let go of things and ideas that no longer serve me. Of showing up, playing big, and building the life I dream of. It’s learning, developing, and growing my understanding of myself and my perspective of the world.

My work on alcohol is not meant to be prohibitionist or make it seem like drinking is inherently bad. But for many drinkers, regular drinking is hanging out in their comfort zone. And most comfort zone behaviors, such as eating too much junk, binge watching tv, or compulsive shopping, do not lead us to growth and instead hold us back. For example, drinking out of boredom trains you to look for instant gratification instead of the long-term contentment that comes with exploring your creativity. Or how about handling stress? Drinking might numb stress in the moment, but it exacerbates it later, instead of dealing with the stress and taking care of your needs in a healthy way.

Tough questions to ask yourself to cut through the comfort:

· What behaviors hold me back?

· What keeps me blocked from making changes and going after what I really want in life?

· What excuses do I make to continue with behavior that doesn’t make me ultimately happy?

When it comes to drinking, these questions are important. By being a curious scientist about our lives and asking ourselves, “does drinking make me ultimately happy?” we can put our self-care first, introspect inquisitively into our true desires and needs, and become more aware of our inner lives, instead of automatically reaching for a drink. This change in mindset welcomes appreciation, wonder, happiness, and long-lasting contentment. Not drinking can be a radical act of self-love and build up stores of self-esteem, self-respect and confidence. Looking into this habit can transform and reinvent lives by finding comfort and happiness within, and not outside of ourselves. It builds self-love when the past version of you is looking out for and taking care of the future version of you.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

It is human to look outside of ourselves for comfort, joy, belonging and acceptance. Many people won’t struggle with alcohol and are happy, proud and fulfilled with their drinking habits. But it’s safe to say that all people struggle with something, whether that be unhealthy eating habits, perfectionism, cult of busy-ness, too much TV or social media, or any number of behaviors that distract and numb us from our inner thoughts and emotions. We are not exactly a society that teaches healthy coping skills or insight, and instead we look for quick fixes and rewards to relieve our feelings of discomfort. The same can be said of looking outside yourself for love without every truly learning to love yourself. Reaching outside of yourself for comfort will never resolve the underlying issues at hand and it will never remove the unease.

We build resiliency by sitting with the discomfort, until we find comfort and peace within ourselves. Serious introspection and evaluating the role of alcohol in my life helped me learn to finally be comfortable in my own skin. It’s when we peel back the layers, in deep and quiet solitude, that we can discover who we truly are and what really makes us happy. Constantly looking for something else, or someone else, to do this for us will only bring more unhappiness.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

There is nothing lonelier than pretending everything is okay. It is so common, if not human, to feel unworthy, insignificant, unloved, isolated or alienated at different times in our lives. We don’t easily embrace inner work to get to the root of these feelings, but instead put up these façades that say everything is okay and hide our struggles from others.

Before I did the inner work, I believed I had to show the world that I was sophisticated, intelligent, and strong. I never shared my real truths. I never shared my vulnerabilities. My not-so-healthy relationship to alcohol was embarrassing to me. Instead of genuinely trying to connect with others, I was more concerned with portraying a cookie-cutter life that I then failed miserably at executing, especially when I drank too much.

Early on in my new lifestyle, I decided to share my transformation with the world. I openly told friends and family I quit drinking, started a blog, and wrote about my truest feelings and experiences. My façade came crashing down, and in the rubble was me, being vulnerable, honest, and deeply human. Being able to accept my experience and be open about it has allowed me to connect with others in an entirely new way.

For one, I’m not hiding anymore, or preoccupied with drinking. I have re-bonded with my husband and feel much closer to family and friends. I have also made more new friends in the year I quit drinking than my entire adult life. It’s been such a unexpected sober joy to form authentic close friendships that inspire me to reach higher rather than the flimsy conversation had “bonding” over alcohol.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

The heart of transformation is in introspection and reflection. Our thoughts create our reality, and negative automatic thinking leaves so many of us stuck in mediocre lives. We first have to tell ourselves that we can’t believe everything we think. We have so many assumptions and self-limiting beliefs that were formed from criticism, societal pressures, and false constructs that have no foundation in truth.

By using journal prompts and self-development programs, I was able to uncover what my ultimate truth was, realize what no longer served me, and find my unique gift to offer the world. The things that we go through in life, the adversity and hardships and pain, they teach us lessons. We can all become masterpieces of transformation. Every single one of us has talents and experiences that no one else can offer back to the world.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

1. Permission to relax throughout the day with things that delight my soul

I no longer go home and feel the need to take the edge off with a glass of wine because I’m fitting in more space, stillness and peace to listen to my needs. I’m learning to be more intentional about my work and find ways to delight my soul throughout the day. Things like meditating, journaling, walks in nature, hot baths, classical music, and lots of cuddling with my fluffy dog, Huxley.

2. Eating healthy, working out, and getting 8 hours of sleep

My ultimate message is to choose wellness over things that make us feel worse for wear, either mentally or physically. Not drinking alcohol lays down the foundation for me to build my dream healthy lifestyle. I naturally crave healthier foods and am much more motivated to work out. I gift myself healthy foods (and treats), exercise, and good sleep every day. Not because it’s something I “should” do, but because I feel best that way. I think the greatest motivation for behavioral change is cueing in to the happiness gained.

3. Building confidence by achieving my daily goals

I build my self-love by achieving the small steps I need to do to create the life of my dreams. It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t come naturally, but being consistent in things like writing, building a business, and living a healthy lifestyle have become non-negotiables. I didn’t used to work this way. I had “someday” goals that I figured a better, smarter, future version of me would work on, someday. I wouldn’t even work on the smallest steps to get me in the right direction. But re-evaluating the role of alcohol in my life has allowed me to re-evaluate everything, and I’m no longer a spectator on the sidelines of my own life. Confidence and self-love are born from keeping commitments and achieving the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

4. Listening to myself, journaling, and reflecting

Every day I spend quiet time reflecting about myself, my life, and my dreams. I do morning pages, a method to free-write in your journal for three pages to unleash mind clutter and hidden needs and wants. I find this practice very effective. I also usually have a self-development book on my nightstand that guides me through more reflective practices. I meditate daily and let myself think in solitude.

5. Gratitude and presence

For any achiever, life can’t happen fast enough. We want to have this level of success or that output or recognition, yesterday. I show myself love my slowing down and remembering that life is in the living, today. That the journey and learning of growth can never be replaced by the desired outcome. I practice gratitude to enumerate my many blessings and remind myself that while it’s great to have goals and timelines, it’s unloving of me to expect a certain life goal to be reached overnight.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Discovering my true purpose, creativity, inner radiance, confidence, and joy in my wellness lifestyle has been crucial to leading the life I truly wish to live. Reading is my greatest pastime — I usually read over 80 books a year — and sometimes have to remind myself that I need to put down the book in order to be a creator in my life too (by writing and working on my business).

I read a lot of fiction, memoirs and nonfiction on social issues, but my foundation rests on self-development books. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray helped cement a mindset that focused on what a beautiful life I could create if I gave myself the gift of sobriety. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero helped give me the confidence to truly build the life of my dreams. Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck is great for taking that newfound confidence and actually mapping out and intuning your path forward in life, and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a must read for uncovering your creativity and any blocks to it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I think evaluating our relationships with alcohol should stop being embarrassing, because it is literally the most life-affirming practice I can think of. We all grow up being taught to drink to celebrate, to relax, to socialize, and to commiserate. Many of us drink to cover up insecurities or out of stress, instead of dealing with the root causes of those feelings. Considering the fact that alcohol is highly addictive and the only drug you have to explain why you are not partaking in, we need a huge wellness revolution in this area.

We don’t wait until we are obese to try diets and healthy foods. We don’t wait until we are couch potatoes to exercise. Why should alcohol be any different? If studies show that drinking the absolute least that you can is the safest for your health, the wellness industry is far behind in promoting or even discussing a healthier lifestyle.

It’s not all or nothing. It all starts with being more mindful about why we think we like to drink and what we really get out of it. Why do we assume not drinking is boring? Isn’t that a construct? If anyone has the suspicion that alcohol might be holding them back, I would recommend experimenting with a dry period, 100 days is most effective but 30 is a great start. What is there to lose? There’s lots to gain: deep sleep, wellbeing, rebalanced neurotransmitters, energy, health improvements, weight loss, appreciation, confidence, and smashing all kinds of other self-limiting beliefs. My relationship with alcohol didn’t end with my first dry January — I drank a few times in February and hated it and its effects. When the joy and benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle were so loud and vivid, it was easy to decide to stop settling for less and live my best life yet. Whether your dry experiment ends in an alcohol-free lifestyle or a more mindful drinking approach doesn’t really matter. Because the journey and experiment all starts by asking what makes you ultimately happy and learning more about yourself and your inner desires and emotions than ever thought possible.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I think of this quote by Joseph Campbell, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.”

What’s the purpose of life? I can’t answer that with 100% certainty. But my intuition tells me that evolving and continually becoming a better version of ourselves is part of it. Alcohol had put a lot of stagnancy in my life. In reality, it stalled me from my best life. The development that has occurred since I took the leap of faith to quit has been profound. But it never ends. I believe we stall and we stagnate when we lose our connection to our true self. This manifests in so many ways, unhealthy habits, addictions, mid-life malaise, and ennui. Fitting in the practice of introspection is so key to fulfilling life. I find myself and rediscover my path in my sacred space. Self-discovery has been the lighthouse on my journey.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

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