Mental Health

Join Mark, a former compulsive gambler now in recovery. Each week he talks about everything and anything to do with recovery. Each podcast is LIVE on the Podbean App every Sunday 9:30pm UK Time/4:30pm EST. Listen LIVE to get involved with the show.

Episodes

December 6, 2021

Episode 43

Join Mark as he continues working through Dharma Recovery and has a Q&A on the Podbean Chat Room.

SHOW NOTES

 

First Segment - Dharma Recovery - Part 2

 

Where to Begin

 

So how can we use Buddhism for our recovery? There are three ways in which we focus our energy: not step-by-step, but in a holistic way as our insight and our awareness grow.

 

We come to understand the Four Noble Truths and use them as a guide for our own path of recovery. This program doesn’t ask us to believe in anything other than our own potential to wake up: just allowing ourselves to believe that it’s possible, or even that it might be possible. We begin to believe that our own efforts will make a difference. This is the realization that there is a way to recover and then the decision to start that process.

 

  1. How important is it for your own recovery to believe that it is your own efforts that will make a difference? That you have to believe in your own potential to wake up? Do you think this makes recovery easier or more difficult?

 

As we learn about the Four Noble Truths - including the Eightfold Path that leads to the end of the suffering caused by addiction - we put these principles into practice in our lives. This book includes an introduction to these truths, and there are many ways to continue studying them. The Eightfold Path is a guide to a non-harming way of being in the world. It’s not just a philosophy, but a plan of action.

 

  1. Discuss the concept of “being in the world”.

 

  • Being-in-the-world is an existential concept which was first introduced by Martin Heidegger. It refers to a state of living with a highly meaningful orientation. This philosophy further holds that this kind of existence aims to achieve personal growth. Heidegger emphasized that each human being has a unique destiny to fulfill in this world. For instance, a student realizes that he is a young and empowered individual who is meant to hone his particular skills for the betterment of his own as well as others' current functioning.

 

Meditation is an essential part of the program. This book has some basic instructions so you can start right away. Most of us have found it very helpful to attend meetings that include an opportunity to practice meditation with others. A key to this program is establishing a regular meditation practice, in and outside of meetings. This will help us begin the process of investigating our own minds, our reactivity, and our behaviour. We look deeply at the nature and causes of our suffering so we can find a path to freedom that’s based on authentic self-knowledge.

 

  1. Discuss your authentic self. Do you know who that is?

 

  • “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”- Carl Jung. This quote sums up the importance of growing into your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you truly are as a person, regardless of your occupation, regardless of the influence of others, it is an honest representation of you. To be authentic means not caring what others think about you. This may sometimes lead to you standing out from the crowd. To be authentic is to be true to yourself through your thoughts, words and actions. It means being able to sacrifice any relationship, situation or circumstance that diverges from your truth. For example, if you are in a job or relationship that does not make you happy or makes you act differently to who you truly are, you leave it.

 

The following chapters talk about these three aspects of the program - the “three jewels” of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - as a way of developing the wisdom, ethical conduct, and spiritual practice that we have found leads to recovery. We hope that people and groups will use this book in ways that are useful for their own processes of recovery. We offer some suggestions in that spirit. You’re invited to take what works for you and leave the rest.

 

  1. What, in your opinion, is the difference between giving suggestions and giving advice? Which one do you find more beneficial for recovery?

 

At the end of each section are a series of questions to explore. These Inquiries can be used as part of a formal process of self-investigation with a mentor, wise friend, or group; as tools to explore a specific life situation; as guides for a daily self-inquiry practice; or as meeting discussion topics. A wise friend or mentor can be of great help in deepening your understanding, and we encourage you to reach out to people you encounter at meetings. Supportive friendships are an integral part of the practice. The questions may bring up shame, guilt, or sadness; or, for some, they may potentially activate trauma. It can be very beneficial to get supports set up ahead of time, such as taking the questions only one at a time, timing the work so you can have a chance to engage in self-care afterwards, and so forth. The intent of the questions is to deepen our practice so we can experience relief sooner, not to bring us more suffering.

 

Our path is not a checklist, but is rather a practice in which we choose where and how to invest our energy in a way that is both wise and compassionate toward ourselves and others. We do not “complete” our journey based on how much we meditate or how many meetings we go to or how many written inventories we’ve completed. The practice of the Eightfold Path helps us develop insight and self-compassion as we begin to look into the causes and conditions that led to our own suffering with addiction. The tools will come to bear the signs of wear and markings of our using them.

 

  1. Have you ever wanted to “complete” your journey? What would that look like?

 

This path doesn’t have an end. Your life, like all of ours, will probably continue to present you with challenges. What the path does offer, however, is a way out of the suffering that our habitual reactions to challenges often bring, and an end to the illusion of escape we tried to find in substances or behaviours. It’s a way to break our own chains with our own hands. It’s a path of freedom.

 

  1. Do you feel free in recovery?

 

THE PRACTICE

 

  1. Discuss each of the seven parts, what you opinion of it is, are you currently doing any of it in your recovery? Have you struggled with it in the past?...etc.

 

Renunciation: We understand addiction to describe the overwhelming craving and compulsive use of substances or behaviours in order to escape present-time reality, either by clinging to pleasure or running from pain. We commit to the intention of abstinence from alcohol and other addictive substances. For those of use recovering from process addictions, particularly those for which complete abstinence is not possible, we also identify and commit to wise boundaries around our harmful behaviours, preferably with the help of a mentor or therapeutic professional.

 

Meditation: We commit to the intention of developing a daily meditation practice. We use meditation as a tool to investigate our action, intentions, and reactivity. Meditation is a personal practice, and we commit to finding a balanced effort toward this and other healthy practices that are appropriate to our own journey on the path.

 

Meetings: We attend recovery meetings whenever possible, in person and/or online. Some may wish to be part of other recovery fellowships and Buddhist communities. In early recovery, it is recommended to attend a recovery meeting as often as possible. For many that may mean every day. We also commit to becoming an active part of the community, offering our own experiences and service wherever possible.

 

The Path: We commit to deepening our understanding of the Four Noble Truths and to practicing the Eightfold Path in our daily lives.

 

Inquiry and Investigation: We explore the Four Noble Truths as they relate to our addictive behaviour through writing and sharing in-depth, detailed Inquiries. These can be worked with the guidance of a mentor, in partnership with a trusted friend, or with a group. As we complete our written Inquiries, we undertake to hold ourselves accountable and take direct responsibility for our actions, which includes making amends for the harm we have caused in our path.

 

Sangha, Wise Friends, Mentors: We cultivate relationships within a recovery community, to both support our own recovery and support the recovery of others. After we have completed significant work on our Inquiries, established a meditation practice, and achieved renunciation from our addictive behaviours, we can then become mentors to help others on their path to liberation from addiction. Anyone with any period of time of renunciation and practice can be part of service to others in their sangha. When mentors are not available, a group of wise friends can act as partners in self-inquiry and support each other’s practice.

 

Growth: We continue our study of these Buddhist practices through reading, listening to dharma talks, visiting and becoming members of recovery and spiritual sanghas, and attending meditation or dharma retreats when we believe these practices will contribute to our understanding and wisdom. We undertake a lifelong journey of growth and awakening.

Second Segment - Chat Room Q&A

 

For this segment I am going to answer any questions people have for me in the Chat Room. It could be on the topic, on my recovery, on a past episode. Anything at all.

Third Segment - Zen: The Art of Simple Living

 

  1. EXHALE DEEPLY

 

How to eliminate negative emotions

 

Improve your breathing, and your mind, too, will improve

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

In the Japanese word for 'breathing’, kokyu, the character for 'breathing out' comes before the character for breathing in. That is to say, the act of exhaling comes before the act of inhaling.

 

Focus your awareness on the point below your navel - your tanden- as you slowly exhale a long, thin breath. Once you have fully exhaled, inhalation naturally follows. Let your breathing relax, allowing this flow to take over. As the process repeats itself, you will start to feel calmer. Your body will feel more grounded and connected to the earth.

 

To put it another way, you will be liberated from your restlessness.

 

When your breathing comes from your chest, you cannot help but feel adrift. It breeds impatience, and your breathing quickens even more. You get caught in a spiral of impatience and irritation.

 

Whenever you feel a rush of negative emotions, such as anger or anxiety, that is the perfect moment to focus on breathing from your abdomen.

 

You will soon be more relaxed, and your mind will feel refreshed.

  1. How do you deal with negative emotions such as anger or anxiety? Do you feel like you deal with negative emotions the way you would like to deal with them? Or do you still find yourself resorting back to old character traits and lose control of your emotions?
Play Now
November 29, 2021

Episode 42

Join Mark & Mick as they delve into Dharma Recovery for the first time and much more!

SHOW NOTES

 

First Segment - Recovery Dharma - How to Use Buddhist Practices and Principles to Heal the Suffering of Addiction - Part 1

 

PREFACE

 

Once we make a decision to recover from addiction - to substances, habits, people, whatever - it can be scary. The feeling is often one of loss and loneliness, because recovery can shake our sense of identity, our idea of who we are. Who will I be if I let my addiction go? Change can be hard to face, even if we know we’re letting go of something that’s a danger to us. For many of us, the first and most significant challenge was finding a safe and stable place to begin healing.

 

  1. Did you ever wrestle with the question “who will I be if I let my addiction go?”

 

This is a book about using Buddhist practices and principles to recover from addiction, but you don’t need to become a Buddhist to benefit from this program. One of the most revolutionary things the Buddha taught was that the mind is not only the source of suffering - due to craving, greed, anger, and confusion - but the cure for that suffering as well. So what we’re doing is using an ancient, proven way to literally change our minds. And we’re choosing to trust in our own potential for wisdom and compassion for others and ourselves. 

 

  1. Today, do you trust in your own potential for wisdom and compassion for others and yourself? How has your compassion for others and yourself changed over the past 12 months?

 

What you have in your hands is a collaboration from many members of our community. It’s intended to be a friendly guide for those new to this path as well as long-term practitioners. It’s structured around what are sometimes called the “three jewels of Buddhism:” the Buddha (the potential for our own awakening and the goal of the path), the Dharma (how we get there), and the Sangha (who we travel with). We’ll share how we have used this program to recover from addiction and the ways we’ve made it our own: not as a one-size-fits-all approach, but as a dynamic set of tools and techniques that anyone can use to find relief from the suffering of addiction.

 

  1. Describe the “three jewels” in your recovery today. What is the goal of your path, how do you get there and who do you travel with? 

 

WHAT IS RECOVERY DHARMA?

 

The word dharma doesn’t have a single English meaning. It’s a word in an ancient language called Sanskrit, and it can be translated as “truth,” “phenomena,” or “the nature of things.” When it’s capitalised, the word Dharma usually means the teachings of the Buddha and the practices based on those teachings.

 

The Buddha knew that all human beings, to one degree or another, struggle with craving - the powerful, sometimes blinding desire to change our thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. Those of us who experience addiction have been more driven to use substances or behaviours to do this, but the underlying craving is the same. And even though the Buddha didn’t talk specifically about addiction, he understood the obsessive nature of the human mind. He understood our attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain. He understood the extreme lengths we can sometimes go to, chasing what we want to feel and running away from the feelings we fear. And he found a solution.

 

This book describes a way to free ourselves from the suffering of addiction using Buddhist practices and principles. This program leads to recovery from addiction to substances like alcohol and drugs, and also from what we refer to as process addictions. We can also become addicted to sex, gambling, technology, work, codependance, shopping, food, media, self-harm, lying, stealing, obsessive worrying. This is a path to freedom from any repetitive and habitual behaviour that causes suffering.

 

Many of us who have found our way here might be new to Buddhism. There are unfamiliar words, concepts, and ways of looking at the world. It can be intimidating and uncomfortable to sit in a meeting with people throwing around words like karma, Dharma, Sangha, and Buddha. If you have felt this way, you’re not alone. The purpose of this book is to lay out our path and practice in a clear and simple way that can be of use to people who are brand new to recovery and to Buddhism, as well as those with some experience. It describes the original Buddhist teachings to show where our program comes from. It introduces the essence of Buddhism’s basic teachings - The Four Noble Truths - in a way that shows how practicing the Eightfold Path is a pragmatic tool-kit for dealing with the challenges of both early and long-term recovery. 

 

This is a renunciation-based program. Regardless of the type of addiction we identify with, all of our members commit to a basic abstinence from the substances or behaviour of our addiction. For those of us whose addiction involves things like food and technology from which complete abstinence may not be possible, renunciation will mean something different, based on thoughtful boundaries and intentions in our behaviours. For some of us, abstinence from things like obsessive exual behaviour or compulsively seeking out love and relationships may be necessary as we work to understand and find meaningful boundaries. Many of us have found that after a period of time, other harmful behaviours and process addictions become apparent in our lives. But rather than getting discouraged, we found that we can also meet these behaviours with compassion and patient investigation. We believe recovery is a lifelong, holistic process of peeling back layers of habits and condition behaviours to find our own, sometimes hidden, potential for awakening. 

 

  1. What do you believe recovery is?

 

Our program is peer-led: we don’t follow any one teacher or leader. We support each other as partners walking the path of recovery together. This is not a program based in dogma or religion, but in finding the truth for ourselves. This is wisdom that has worked for us, but it is not the only path. It’s fully compatible with other spiritual paths and programs of recovery. We know from our own experience that true recovery is only possible with the intention of radical honesty, understanding, awareness, and integrity, and we trust you to discover your own path. We believe this program can help you do just that.

 

  1. Do you believe you have discovered your own path in recovery? What are your views on radical honesty, understanding, awareness, and integrity and where do they fit into your own recovery?

 

Ours is a program that asks us to never stop growing. It asks us to own our choices and be responsible for our own healing. It’s based on kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and deep compassion. We do not rely on tools of shame and fear as motivation. We know these haven’t worked in our own individual pasts, and have often created more struggle and suffering through relapse and discouragement. The courage it takes to recover from addiction is ultimately courage of the heart, and we aim to support each other as we commit to this brave work. 

 

  1. Have you ever stopped growing in recovery? Do you own your own choices in recovery and are you responsible for your own healing? Is your recovery based on kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and deep compassion? 

 

Many of us have spent our lives beating ourselves up. In this program, we renounce violence and doing harm, including the harm and violence we do to ourselves. We believe in the healing power of forgiveness. We put our trust in our own potential to awaken and recover, in the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha, and in the people we meet and connect with in meetings and throughout our journey in recovery.

 

  1. Do you believe in the healing power of forgiveness? Do you trust in your own potential to recover? Do you trust people you have met in meetings and throughout your recovery journey?

 

The truth is that we can never truly escape the circumstances and conditions that are part of the human condition. We’ve tried that already - through drugs, alchohol, through sex and codependency, through gambling and technology, through work and shopping, through food or the restriction of food, through obsession and the futile attempts to control our experiences and feelings - and we’re here because we realised it didn’t work. This is a program that asks us to recognise and accept that some pain and disappointment will always be present, to investigate the unskillful ways we have dealt with that pain in the past, and to develop a habit of understanding, compassion and mercy towards our own pain, the pain of others, and the pain we have caused others due to our ignorance and confusion. That acceptance is what brings freedom from the suffering that made our pain unbearable.

 

  1. Do you still find yourself trying to escape circumstances and conditions that are part of the human condition? Do you accept that some pain and disappointment will always be present? Have you developed a habit of understanding, compassion and mercy towards your own pain, the pain of others, and the pain you have caused others due to your ignorance and confusion?

 

This book is only an introduction to a path that can bring liberation and freedom from the cycle of suffering created by addiction. The intention, and the hope, is that every person on the path will be empowered to make it their own.

 

May you be happy.

 

May you be at ease.

 

May you be free from suffering.

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

Topic - Live and let live

 

Truces meant, literally, that the soldiers would stay alive - Live, and would allow the other side to stay alive, as well - Let Live.

 

Questions:

 

  • How easy did you find it to "live and let live" while you were active in addiction?

 

  • In recovery much emphasis is placed on learning how to tolerate other people's behaviour (our own recovery is too important). Is this something you are able to do easily or do you sometimes struggle with this?

 

  • When people say things, in meetings, that you don't agree with, are you able to consider other perspectives, or can you get easily annoyed?

 

  • Let live is ok.... but are you able to live? Have you worked out ways to enjoy your own living fully?

 

Play Now
November 22, 2021

Episode 41

Join Mark & Mick as they finish their discussion on the Gamblers Anonymous Combo Book and much more!

SHOW NOTES

 

First Segment - GA Combo Book - Part 5

 

In terms of spiritual maturity:

 

  1. We have faith in a Higher Power.

 

  1. We feel an organic part of mankind as a whole, contributing our part to each group of which we are a member.

 

  1. We obey the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

 

Why are GA members anonymous?

 

Anonymity has a great practical value in maintaining unity within our fellowship. Through its practice at the level of the press, radio, films and television, we have eliminated the possibility of fame and recognition being given to the individual member; hence, we have not been faced with any great internal struggles for power and prestige, which would prove highly detrimental to our essential unity.

 

Anonymity also has great value in attracting new members who might feel there is a stigma attached to the problem. Therefore, we guarantee the newcomer as much anonymity as he or she chooses. More importantly, we are beginning to realise that anonymity has tremendous spiritual significance. It represents a powerful reminder that we need always place principles above personalities.

 

Our survival as individuals demands that we renounce personal glorification... so our GA movement not only advocates but tries to practise true humility, and it is through greater humility that we will be able to live in peace and security for all the years to come.

 

Is GA a religious society?

 

No, GA is composed of people from many religious faiths, along with agnostics and atheists. Since membership in GA requires no particular religious beliefs as a condition of membership, it cannot be described as a religious society. The GA Recovery Programme is based on acceptance of certain spiritual values, but the individual member is free to interpret these principles as he chooses.

 

As it is used in GA, what is the meaning of the word "spiritual"?

 

Simply stated, the word can be said to describe that characteristic of the human mind which is marked by the highest and finest qualities, such as generosity, honesty, tolerance and humility. Inasmuch as the GA Fellowship advocates acceptance of these principles as a way of life, it can thus be said that GA is a spiritual fellowship.

 

WHAT IS GAM-ANON?

 

Compulsive gambling is recognised as an emotional illness. Living with this illness proves to be a devastating experience. Family relationships become unbearably strained. The home is filled with bitterness, frustration and resentment.

 

There seems to be no way to solve our insurmountable difficulties. We are unable to think rationally at times. As families and friends of gamblers, we also are very prone to develop a neurosis. Life seems hardly worthwhile.

 

As families and friends of compulsive gamblers, many of us have found a strong bond. We need no longer feel alone. A wonderful new life is ours.

 

Come join with us in this, the Gam-Anon way of life.

 

For information, contact Gam-Anon direct on their website www.gamanon.org.uk

 

ADVICE FOR ALL MEMBERS

 

  1. Attend as many meetings as possible per week.

 

  1. Contact other members as often as possible between meetings.

 

Use the telephone list or whatever means of communication possible.

 

  1. Don't tempt or test yourself.

 

Don't associate with acquaintances who gamble.

 

Don't go in or near gambling establishments.

 

Don't gamble for anything - this includes buying lottery tickets, raffle tickets, premium bonds, flipping a coin, or playing games for table stakes.

 

  1. Live the Gamblers Anonymous Recovery Programme one day at a time.

 

Don't try to tackle your whole life's problems at once.

 

  1. Read and practise Just for Today (page23) and the Serenity Prayer (back cover).

 

  1. Ask trusted servants at your group about Sponsorship.

 

This gives you an opportunity to talk about yourself outside the meetings to one of the members that you feel comfortable with.

 

  1. Read and practise the Recovery and Unity Steps on a regular basis.

 

  1. Be patient! The days and weeks will pass soon enough and as you continue to attend meetings and abstain from gambling, your recovery will really accelerate.

 

These steps are the basis for the entire GA Recovery Programme and practising them is the key to your growth. If you have any questions, ask them of the trusted servants of your group.

 

There are meetings in many parts of the country and in major cities on most nights of the week. Ask any members for the addresses and times.

 

Use our website:

 

www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change... Courage to change the things I can... and wisdom to know the difference.

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

Topic - SPIRITUALITY and HAPPINESS 

 

SPIRITUALITY

 

Definition of spirituality:

The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

 

  1. Is SPIRITUALITY a part of your recovery and how do you practice it . 

 

You can talk about relationships, values, connections, social responsibility, health and well-being both mentally and physically

 

  1. It may not be part of your recovery, and if so does this allow to still crave material things ? Do you struggle with this part of recovery ? 

 

HAPPINESS

 

Definition of happiness:

The state of pleasure and contentment of mind

 

Quote : happiness can’t be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment of life wirh love, grace and gratitude. 

 

  1. How do you define your own happiness?

 

  1. Are you happy and content at present and are you fearful of this changing out with your control? 

 

  1. How have you worked towards happiness?
Play Now
November 14, 2021

Episode 40

SHOW NOTES

Mark & Mick discuss the second half of the moral inventory from the Gamblers Anonymous Combo book and discuss the definition of a mature person.

First Segment - GA Combo Book - Part 4

 

MY DAILY MORAL INVENTORY

 

Liabilities

Assets

WATCH FOR:

STRIVE FOR:

Jealousy

Trust

Envy

Generosity

Laziness

Activity

Procrastination

Promptness

Insincerity

Straightforwardness

Negative thinking

Positive thinking

Vulgarity, Immorality

High-mindedness, Spirituality

Trashy thinking

Clean thinking

Criticising

Looking for the good

 

DEFINITION OF A MATURE PERSON

 

(Taken from the "Moral and Spiritual Values in Education" used by the Los Angeles City Schools as part of their educational programme.)

 

As mature people, we have developed attitudes in relation to ourselves and our environment, which have lifted us above "childishness" in thought and behaviour.

 

  1. We accept criticism gratefully, being honestly glad for an opportunity to improve.

 

  1. We do not indulge in self-pity and have begun to feel the laws of compensation operating in all life.

 

  1. We do not expect special consideration from anyone.

 

  1. We control our temper.

 

  1. We meet emergencies with poise.

 

  1. Our feelings are not easily hurt.

 

  1. We accept the responsibility of our own acts.

 

  1. We have outgrown the "all or nothing" stage, recognising that no person or situation is wholly good or bad and begun to appreciate the Golden Mean (Aristotle's terminology stating that it is always desirable to remain in the middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other deficiency).

 

  1. We are not impatient at unreasonable delays. We have learned that we are not the arbiters of the universe and that we must often adjust to other people and their convenience.

 

  1. We can endure defeat and disappointment without whining or complaining.

 

  1. We do not worry unduly about things that cannot be helped.

 

  1. We are not given to boasting or "showing off in socially unacceptable ways.

 

  1. We are honestly glad when others enjoy success or good fortune. We have outgrown envy and jealousy.

 

  1. We are open-minded enough to listen thoughtfully to the opinions of others and do not become vigorously argumentative when our views are opposed.

 

  1. We are not chronic "fault finders".

 

  1. We plan things in advance rather than trusting in the inspiration of the moment.
Play Now
November 8, 2021

Episode 39

SHOW NOTES

Join Mark & Mick as they continue discussing the GA Combo book and delve into ego and low self esteem!

 

First Segment - GA Combo Book - Part 3

 

What is the Unity Programme?

 

Unity is the most precious quality our society possesses. Our lives and the lives of all to come depend squarely upon it. Yet unity in GA cannot automatically sustain itself. Like personal recovery, it demands honesty, open-mindedness and, above all, vigilance. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, when he expressed his opinion that unity was essential to achieve victory in the American War of Independence; "We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." So there can be no sacrifice too great if it will strengthen our essential unity.

 

In maintaining unity, we have begun to traditionally practice the following principles:

 

  1. Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon GA unity.

 

  1. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.

 

  1. The only requirements for GA membership is a desire to stop gambling.

 

  1. Each group shall be self-governing except in matters affecting other groups or GA as a whole.

 

  1. GA has but one primary purpose - to carry the message to the compulsive gambler who still suffers.

 

  1. GA should never endorse, finance, or lend the GA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

 

  1. Every GA group ought to be self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

 

  1. GA should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centres may employ special workers.

 

  1. GA as such ought never to be organised, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

 

  1. GA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the GA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

 

  1. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion, we must always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films and television.

 

  1. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of the GA Recovery Programme, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

 

JUST FOR TODAY

 

Just for today I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appal me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

 

Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that: "most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

 

Just for today I will adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take each day as it comes and fit myself to it.

 

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

 

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count; I will do at least two things I don't want to do - just for exercise; I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt - they may be hurt but today I will not show it.

 

Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticise not one bit, not find fault with anything, and not try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.

 

Just for today I will have a programme. I may not follow it exactly but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests - hurry and indecision.

 

Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. During this half-hour, sometime, I will try and get a better perspective of my life.

 

Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe that, as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

 

Just for today I will not gamble.

 

MY DAILY MORAL INVENTORY

Liabilities

Assets

WATCH FOR:

STRIVE FOR:

Self-pity

Self-forgetfulness

Self-justification 

Humility

Self-importance

Modesty

Self-condemnation

Self-evaluation

Dishonesty

Honesty

Impatience

Patience

Hate

Love

Resentment

Forgiveness

False pride

Simplicity

Jealousy

Trust

Envy

Generosity

Laziness

Activity

Procrastination

Promptness

Insincerity

Straightforwardness

Negative thinking

Positive thinking

Vulgarity, Immorality

High-mindedness, Spirituality

Trashy thinking

Clean thinking

Criticising

Looking for the good

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

Topic - Egotism and Lack of Self-Esteem

 

Per Cambridge dictionary the definition of egotism is “thinking only about yourself and considering yourself better and more important than other people.”

 

  1. Think back to your time before addiction, your time in addiction and your time in recovery. At any point were either or both of these apparent in your life? “Thinking only about yourself” and “considering yourself better and more important than other people”.

 

There are several traits relating to egotism but I want to focus on one of them tonight which is ‘Lack of self-esteem’. 

 

Ironic as it may sound, most egotists do not have a very positive self-image. They acutely recognise their insecurities and attempt to camouflage these insecurities by forcing a false persona – one of competence and confidence – in a desperate attempt to conceal their real state of mind.

 

What is self-esteem? - Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can sometimes feel really difficult to change. 

 

Focusing mainly on your time in recovery (if possible) discuss some or all of these questions (depending on meeting size). Your self-esteem can affect all of these.

 

  1. Do you like and value yourself as a person?

 

  1. Are you able to make decisions and assert yourself?

 

Q Can you recognise your strengths and positives?

 

  1. Do you feel able to try new or difficult things?

 

  1. Do you show kindness towards yourself?

 

  1. Do you move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly?

 

  1. Do you believe you matter and are good enough?

 

  1. Do you believe you deserve happiness?
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November 1, 2021

Episode 38

SHOW NOTES

 

Join Mark and Mick as they continue discussing the Gamblers Anonymous Combo Book (Orange Book UK/Yellow Book USA) and give their thoughts and opinions on what works for them and what doesn't plus much more!

 

First Segment - Gamblers Anonymous Combo Book (Orange/Yellow) - Part 2

 

Is knowing why we gambled important?

 

Not as a rule. Of the many GA members who have had extended psychiatric treatment, none have found a knowledge of why they gambled to be of value insofar as stopping gambling.

 

What, however, are some of the factors that might cause a person to become a compulsive gambler?

 

GA members, in considering this perplexing question, feel these are some of the possible reasons:

 

INABILITY AND UNWILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT REALITY. Hence, the escape into the dreamworld of gambling.

 

EMOTIONAL INSECURITY. Here a compulsive gambler finds emotional comfort only when "in action". It is not uncommon to hear a GA member say, "The only place I really felt like I belonged was when I was in a gambling environment. There I felt secure and comfortable. No great demands were made upon me. I knew I was destroying myself yet, at the same time, I had a certain sense of security."

 

IMMATURITY. A desire to have all the good things in life without any great effort seems the common character pattern of the problem gambler. Many GA members accept the fact that they were unwilling to grow up. Subconsciously they felt they could avoid mature responsibility through wagering on the spin of a wheel or the turn of a card, playing a machine or the click of a mouse, and so the struggle to escape responsibility finally became a subconscious obsession.

 

Also, a compulsive gambler seems to have a strong inner urge to be a "big shot" and needs to have a feeling of being all-powerful. There is a willingness to do anything (often of an antisocial nature) to maintain a personal image for others to see.

 

Then, too, there is the theory that compulsive gamblers subconsciously want to lose to punish themselves. There is evidence among GA members to support this theory.

 

What is the dreamworld of the compulsive gambler?

 

This is a rather common characteristic of us compulsive gamblers when still gambling. We spend a lot of time creating images of the great and wonderful things we are going to do when we make the big win. We often see ourselves as charming and charitable fellows.

 

We may dream of providing our family and friends with new cars, expensive holidays and other gifts. We picture ourselves leading lives of luxury, made possible by the huge sums of money we will accrue from our "system". Homes in the country and abroad, celebrity friends and designer clothes are a few of the wonderful things that are just around the corner when we finally make a big killing.

 

Pathetically, however, there never seems to be a big enough win to make even the smallest dream come true. When we succeed, we gamble to dream still greater dreams. When we fail, we gamble in reckless desperation and the depths of our misery are fathomless as our dream world comes crashing down.

 

Sadly, we struggle back, dream more dreams and, of course, suffer more misery. No one can convince us that our great schemes will not some day come true. We believe they will for, without this dreamworld, life for us would not be tolerable.

 

Isn't compulsive gambling basically a financial problem?

 

No, compulsive gambling seems to be an emotional problem. When in the grip of this illness, we create mountains of apparently insoluble problems. Of course, there are financial problems, but we also have to face family problems, employment problems, or problems involving ourselves with the law. We lose our friends, and relatives have us on their personal blacklist.

 

Of the many serious problems we create, the financial problems seem the easiest to solve.

 

Upon entering GA and stopping gambling, we find income often increases and, as there is no longer the financial drain caused by gambling, there is soon relief from the financial pressures.

 

The most difficult task to be faced is that of bringing about a personality change from within ourselves. Most of us in GA look upon this as our greatest challenge and believe this to be a lifetime job.

 

Does GA want to abolish gambling?

 

No. The question of abolishing gambling is a controversial issue about which GA has no opinion.

 

Who can join GA?

 

Anyone who has a desire to stop gambling. There are no other rules or regulations concerning GA membership.

 

How much does it cost to join GA?

 

There are no assessments in connection with GA membership. The newcomer signs nothing and pledges nothing. However, we do have expenses relative to our group meetings and our GA service facilities. Since GA has traditionally been fully self-supporting and declines outside contributions, these expenses are met through voluntary financial support by the members. Experience has shown that acceptance of these financial responsibilities is a vital part of our individual and group growth process.

 

Who runs GA?

 

GA is a unique spiritual movement having no central government and little formal organisation.

 

There are no officers or executives who wield authority over the fellowship or the individual. Even though GA is an informal organisation, certain jobs have to be done.

 

In the local group, someone has to be responsible for the meeting place, look after the group finances, arrange for refreshments and keep in touch with other groups. This means that a group needs responsible people to perform these duties.

 

In accepting these responsibilities, a member may acquire a title, but titles in GA are used only to designate areas of service. Those who accept these responsibilities are directly accountable to those they serve.

 

What is the GA Recovery Programme?

 

When compulsive gamblers apply the 12 Step GA Recovery Programme in their lives, disintegration stops and unification begins. These steps are basically spiritual in their concept and their practice can be highly rewarding. These are the steps which are suggested as a programme of recovery:

 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over gambling that our lives had become unmanageable.

 

  1. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.

 

  1. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.

 

  1. Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.

 

  1. Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

 

  1. Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.

 

  1. Humbly asked God (of our understanding) to remove our shortcomings.

 

  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

 

  1. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

 

  1. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

 

  1. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (as we understand him), praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

 

  1. Having made an effort to practise these principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.

 

No one claims these steps are in any way original to GA. They reflect practical experience and application of spiritual insights, as recorded by thoughtful men in many ages. Their greatest importance lies in the fact that they work.

 

They enable us and thousands of others to lead happy, productive lives. They represent the foundation upon which our society has been built.

 

They were given to us freely, for which we are grateful.

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

Topic - Hope

 

Definition of hope : Is a feeling of desire and expectations that things will go well in the future.

 

  1. Did you have hope while you were in addiction? Was this hope genuine?

 

  1. When did you first feel/visualise HOPE on your pathway to recovery?

 

  1. Did this new found HOPE allow you to now act as an inspiration for you to recover?

 

  1. Did HOPE fuel a desire to accept your gambling problem and do something about it?

 

  1. Did anyone in particular give you hope or was this achieved from seeing people in recovery? 

Third Segment - Zen: The Art of Simple Living - Week 

 

  1. ARRANGE YOUR ROOM SIMPLY

 

Doing so will simplify your mind as well

 

The difference between simplicity and frugality

 

The relationship between the mind and the body is like that between the chicken and the egg.

 

If you cultivate a simplified mindset, your body, too, will naturally become lean. Conversely, if you pay attention to your diet and strengthen your body, your mind, too, will become healthier and stronger.

 

The same is true about the connection between your mind and your physical space. If you wish to simplify your inner self, arrange your rooms sparely.

 

A lifestyle of simplicity is what is beautiful. That is the spirit of Zen.

 

Simplicity is about stripping away what is not useful. Determine whether something is truly necessary, and if it is, then take good care of it. This is different from frugality. Frugality is about subsisting with things of low value. By 'value', I'm referring not only to its price; it also includes the depth of feeling towards such items.

 

Living simply means, for instance, that the mug you use every day for coffee is a mug that you really like - one that you take good care of and that you will use for a long time. Acquire only good things that will truly be needed. A lifestyle of simplicity is the fundamental practice that will hone the mind.

 

  1. Do you live a lifestyle of simplicity? Do you know what is important and useful in your life and do you look after it? Do you know what is not valuable or useful in your life? Have you stripped these things away or do you still hold onto them?
Play Now
October 25, 2021

Episode 37

SHOW NOTES

Join Mark and Mick as they go through the Gamblers Anonymous Combo Book (Orange in the UK/Yellow in USA) and talk about what they agree with and what they don't and why! Also, the very end was impacted by a power cut on Mark's end which is why it sounds like it was cut short.

 

First Segment - Gamblers Anonymous Orange Book - Part 1

 

Questions and Answers about the problem of Compulsive Gambling and the GA Recovery Programme

 

FOREWORD

 

Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who have joined together to do something about their own gambling problem and to help other compulsive gamblers do the same.

 

This booklet represents an effort by its members to answer some of the specific questions that have been asked about the nature of compulsive gambling and the GA Fellowship.

 

After reading this booklet, you may have further questions that seem unanswered in this brief summary. For more information, use the website:

 

www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk

 

MOST COMPULSIVE GAMBLERS ANSWER YES TO AT LEAST SEVEN OF THESE QUESTIONS.

 

  1. Do you lose time from work due to gambling?

 

  1. Is gambling making your home life unhappy?

 

  1. Is gambling affecting your reputation?

 

  1. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?

 

  1. Do you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts, or to otherwise solve financial difficulties?

 

  1. Does gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency? 

 

  1. After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?

 

  1. After a win do you have a strong urge to return and win more?

 

  1. Do you often gamble until your last pound is gone?

 

  1. Do you ever borrow to finance your gambling?

 

  1. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?

 

  1. Are you reluctant to use gambling money for normal expenditures?

 

  1. Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?

 

  1. Do you gamble longer than you planned?

 

  1. Do you ever gamble to escape worry or trouble?

 

  1. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?

 

  1. Does gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?

 

  1. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create an urge within you to gamble?

 

  1. Do you have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours gambling?

 

  1. Have you ever considered self-destruction as a result of your gambling?

 

GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS

 

The fellowship of Gamblers Anonymous came into existence as a result of a chance meeting between two men during the month of January in 1957. These men had a truly baffling history of trouble and misery due to an obsession to gamble. They began to meet regularly and, as the months passed, neither had returned to gambling.

 

They concluded from their discussions that, in order to prevent a relapse, it was necessary to bring about certain personality changes within themselves.

 

In order to accomplish this, they used for a guide certain spiritual principles, which had been utilised by thousands of people who were recovering from compulsive addictions.

 

Also, in order to maintain their own abstinence, they felt that it was vitally important that they carry the message of hope to other compulsive gamblers.

 

As a result of favourable publicity by a prominent newspaper columnist and TV commentator, the first group meeting of Gamblers Anonymous was held on Friday, September 13th, 1957, in Los Angeles, California. Since that time, the movement has grown steadily and groups are flourishing in many other areas.

 

In May 1964, a member of Gamblers Anonymous, on business from the USA in England, attended a meeting addressed by the Secretary of the Churches Council of Gambling. The two men accepted that they must work together to establish the movement in Britain and a group was formed in London on 10th July 1964.

 

COMPULSIVE GAMBLING AND GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS

 

What is compulsive gambling?

 

There are many and varying interpretations of compulsive gambling. The explanation that seems most acceptable to GA members is that compulsive gambling is an illness, progressive in its nature, which can never be cured, but can be arrested.

 

Before coming to GA, many compulsive gamblers thought of themselves as morally weak or just no good. The GA concept is that the compulsive gambler is a very sick person who can recover by following a very simple programme, to the best of his or her own ability, that has proved successful for thousands of other men and women with a similar problem.

 

What is the first thing a compulsive gambler ought to do in order to stop gambling?

 

To accept the fact that compulsive gambling is a progressive illness and to have the desire to get well. Our experience has shown that the GA Recovery Programme will always work for anyone who wants to stop gambling. It will seldom work for the man or woman who cannot, or will not, squarely face the facts about this illness.

 

Only you can make that decision. Most people turn to GA when they become willing to admit that gambling has them licked. Also, in GA a compulsive gambler is described as a person whose gambling has caused growing and continuing problems in many departments of life.

 

Many GA members went through terrifying experiences before they were ready to accept help. Others were faced with a slow, subtle deterioration, which finally brought them to the point of admitting defeat.

 

Can a compulsive gambler normally again?

 

No. The first small bet to a problem gambler is like the first small drink to an alcoholic. Sooner or later comes the fall back into the old destructive pattern.

 

Once a person has crossed the invisible line into irresponsible gambling, then it seems to be impossible to regain control. After abstaining a few months, some of our members have tried some small bet experiments, always with disastrous results. The old obsession inevitably returned.

 

Our GA experience seems to point to these alternatives; to gamble, risking progressive deterioration, or not to gamble, and develop a spiritual way of life.

 

Does this mean I can't even buy a lottery ticket or play a game for table stakes?

 

It means exactly that. A stand has to be made somewhere, and GA members have found the first bet is the one to avoid, even though it may be as little as flipping a coin for a cup of coffee.

 

Why can't a compulsive gambler simply use his or her willpower to stop gambling?

 

We believe that most people, if they are honest, will recognise their lack of power to solve certain problems.

 

When it comes to gambling, we have known many problem gamblers who could abstain for long periods, but caught off guard - and in the right circumstances they started gambling without thought of the consequences. The defences they relied upon through willpower alone, gave way before some trivial reason for placing a bet.

 

We have found that willpower and self knowledge will not help in those mental blank spots, but adherence to spiritual principles seems to solve our problems. Most of us feel that a belief in a power greater than ourselves is necessary, in order for us to sustain a desire to refrain from gambling.

 

Do GA members go into gambling places to help former members who are still gambling?

 

Often families and friends of these people have asked us to intercede, but we have never been able to be of any real help. Actually, sometimes we felt we held back a member's eventual recovery by giving this unsolicited attention. It all goes back to the basic principle that a gambler ought to want help before being approached by us.

 

I only go on gambling binges periodically. Do I need GA?

 

Only you can determine whether or not, or how much, you need GA. However, most periodic gamblers who have joined GA tell us that, though their gambling binges were periodic, the intervals between were not periods of constructive thinking. Symptomatic of these periods were nervousness, irritability, frustration, indecision and a continued breakdown in personal relationships.

 

These same people have often found the GA Recovery Programme a guide to spiritual progress towards the elimination of character defects.

 

If I stop gambling, won't it make it difficult for me to keep some desirable business and social contacts?

 

We think not. Most of the world's work of any consequence is done without the benefit of monetary wagering. Many of our leaders in business, industry and professional life have attained great success without knowing one card from another, or which way the horses run round the course.

 

In the area of social relationships, the newcomer will soon find a keen appreciation of the many pleasant and stimulating activities available - far removed from anything that is remotely associated with gambling.

 

If I join GA, won't everyone know I am a compulsive gambler?

 

Most people made quite a name for themselves as fully fledged gamblers and by the time they turned to GA their gambling was not usually a well-kept secret. It would then be unusual, if the good news of their abstinence from gambling did not cause comment. However, no disclosure of any affiliation with GA can rightfully be made by anyone but the member personally. Even then, it should be done in a way that will not harm the GA Fellowship.

 

How does a person stop gambling through the GA Recovery Programme?

 

This is done by bringing about a progressive personality change from within. This can be accomplished by having faith in and trying to understand the basic concepts of the GA Recovery Programme.

 

There are no shortcuts to gaining this faith and understanding. To recover from one of the most baffling, insidious, compulsive addictions will require diligent effort. Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness are the key words in our recovery.

 

Can a person recover just by reading literature or medical books on the problem of compulsive gambling?

 

Sometimes, but not usually. The GA Recovery Programme works best for the individual when it is recognised and accepted as a programme involving other people. Working with other compulsive gamblers in a GA group, the individual seems to find the necessary understanding and support. There is an ability to talk of past experiences and present problems in a comfortable area. Instead of feeling alone and misunderstood, there is a feeling of being needed and accepted.

 

Are there more compulsive gamblers in certain occupations than in others?

 

Among GA members, there seems to be a predominance of those who work on their own, or have little personal supervision. Obviously, this allows more freedom to gamble. The occupations of the other members, including those at school or at home, are extremely varied. It seems safe to say that compulsive gambling has nothing to do with the occupation or age of the individual. It apparently arises from an inner imbalance, not external factors.

 

Does GA look upon compulsive gambling as a moral vice?

 

No.

Play Now
October 17, 2021

Episode 36

SHOW NOTES

Join Mark & Mick as they finish their journey through the SMART Recovery Handbook on a new platform and much more!

 

First Segment - SMART Recovery Handbook - Chapter 8 - SMART Tools and Strategies Matrix

 

In chapter 3 through 6, we presented several tools that can help you through recovery. 

 

Below is a matrix that maps the SMART tools to the Stages of Change to help you identify what tools are most helpful at each stage.

 

Matrix: Stages of Change, strategies, tools.

 

  1. Discuss your experience with each stage during your recovery and talk about the differences in how SMART recommends dealing with stages vs how you dealt with them.

 

Stage of Change

Strategies

SMART Tools

Precontemplation: “I don’t have a problem. Don’t bug me. I’m just ‘visiting’ this meeting.”

Try to see your whole situation

Attend SMART meetings

Explore SMART website

Down your Drink website

Hierarchy of Values (HOV)

Contemplation: “I want to change (I think).” Ambivalent rather than unmotivated or in denial.

Clarify your situation

HOV

Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA)

Change Plan Worksheet

Preparation: “I know I need to change, but how do I do it?”

Consider your options

Take small steps

Look ahead, not backward

CBA

Update Change Plan

Manage urges using DISARM, basic strategies

Action: “Now, I’m working on changing my addictive behaviours.”

Gain an understanding of your addictive behaviours

Build relationships

Identify and commit to trying new coping strategies 

ABC

Update Change Plan

Identify SMART strategies to manage urges

Maintenance: “I’m committed to and sticking with abstinence.”

Enjoy confidence you’re building

Be wary of temptations

Learning to plan

Review relapse prevention

ABC

Lifestyle Balance Pie

HOV

VACI worksheet to review interests and activities

Exit: “Moving on to the rest of my life.”

You’ve adopted a new normal and self-image

Attend SMART meetings when you want or need to

CBA

Lifestyle Balance Pie

ABC

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

Topic - Mindset & Complacency.

 

  1. How do you view your mindset? Talk about how it has changed, from when you were an active compulsive gambler and how it is now you are in recovery.

 

Does your mindset change day to day?

 

What triggers it to change and how do you maintain a positive mindset?

 

Complacency:

 

Have you had any previous experience with becoming complacent?

 

Are there any signs to look out for and how do you prevent yourself from becoming complacent in the future?

Third Segment - Zen: The Art of Simple Living - Week 

 

  1. PARE DOWN YOUR BELONGINGS

 

Acquire only what you need

 

The concept of exhausting the essence of things

 

Among the temples in Kyoto, the rock garden at Ryoan-ji and the grounds at Daisen-ji serve as exemplary models of Zen gardens.

 

Both are what are called dry landscape gardens, because they evoke beautiful landscapes without employing ponds or streams or other water elements.

 

The fact is that even when there is no water present you can still sense a mountain stream flowing.

 

In your head, picture a scene with a water element,

 

and allow your mind to linger there.

 

These gardens are truly representations of our mindset free.

 

It is not always necessary to have water to convey the idea of it flowing. Eliminate everything extraneous, and create a garden using what you have at hand. Even when you have only one of something, there are various ways you can put it to use with imagination and ingenuity..

 

In the course of your everyday shopping, before you acquire something new, give some thought to whether you really need it, and take another look at what you already have.

 

Acquiring lots of things isn't freedom.

 

What's important is acquiring the mindset of using things freely.

  1. How free do you feel in your recovery today? How has that changed over time?
Play Now
October 11, 2021

Episode 35

SHOW NOTES

This week Mark & Mick finish off Chapter 6 in the SMART Recovery Handbook, talk about the 4 stages of addiction plus much more!

 

First Segment - SMART Recovery Handbook - Chapter 6 - Part 4

 

Setting goals

 

So far in this chapter, we've helped you identify what parts of your life are probably in need of your attention: regaining your physical, mental, and emotional health; and rediscovering lost passions and interests, and creating new ones. You also identified, in the Lifestyle Balance Pie, the areas that are important to you and which ones might need a little more work.

 

Putting this all together requires planning, flexibility, creativity, and energy. But, where to start? Setting goals. Goals help you maintain your focus on achieving balance and direct your energy toward your new life and away from your old one.

 

Like many who suffer from addictive behaviours, goal setting may be unfamiliar to you. Now that you have freed up the time you used to spend engaging in addictive behaviour, you have time to focus on your values and interests.

 

The goals you set will be more meaningful if you connect them to your values. You may want to review your Hierarchy of Values from Point 1. Using your values as your guide will help you set priorities and point your new life in the direction you want it to go.

 

  1. What goals and aspirations have you set for yourself since coming into recovery?

 

EXERCISE: Values, goals, and planning

 

Establishing values and goals, and creating plans and strategies to achieve those goals are essential to all aspects of recovery, especially when creating a balanced life. Our values guide our lives, from the long-term goals we set to the day-to-day choices we make.

 

Consciously defining and living your core values are empowering because your values are the essence of who you are. Your values may include honesty, fidelity, reducing your environmental footprint, not eating meat, honouring your elders, parenting based on love instead of fear, etc. If honesty is one of your values, then one of your goals might be, "If I have a lapse, I will tell someone as quickly as I can": or "I will be honest with my children about my past." 

 

Planning will help you achieve your goals. While most of us probably haven't done a lot of planning (we were too focused on immediate gratification), it's a crucial skill to learn. If you're committed to telling the truth about a lapse, write down how you would do that and whom you would tell. "If I lapse, I will tell my best friend":"If my child asks about my past drug use, I will tell them what I believe is appropriate without glorifying my behaviour." 

 

  1. Are you finding that your time and energy is more focused towards the outcome of goals and aspirations rather than the process involved in achieving this outcome? If so, what do you think may be the reason for this and how do you plan to overcome it? If not, what is it you’re doing to achieve this mindset?

 

You'll hear people in SMART talk about the three Ps: patience, practice, and persistence. We could add a fourth one: planning. It's that important.

 

Where to start

 

Setting a few short-term goals is a great starting place. You can set long-term goals after you set some that will benefit you now. Make sure your goals are realistic without being too hard, and don't set too many. 

 

  1. What are your struggles with the slogan "One Day At A Time"?

 

Based on your HOV, what are the areas of your life you want to improve? Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

  • Finances - Save more money? Pay off bills? Donate to charity (maybe SMART perhaps)? This might be one of your first goals if your financial situation is what motivated you to get help. 

 

  • Friends and family - Improve relationships? Make new friends who are sober? Spend more time with your children? Many in recovery make this their first goal. 

 

  • Career - Find a new job? Improve a skill at your current job? Get some on-the-job training to advance? 

 

  • Physical health - Rebuild muscle tone? Walk around the block without wheezing? Go vegetarian! Get more sleep? Tending to your physical health will improve your mental health, too. 

 

  • Fun and leisure - Bowling? Model trains? Shark fishing? Cooking? Astronomy? On the road to recovery, boredom can be a dangerous sinkhole. Rediscovering old hobbies and interests or learning new ones can help you avoid falling into it.

 

  • Artistic activities - Singing? Embroidery? Glass blowing? Sculpting? Self-expression through the arts boosts self-confidence. 

 

  • Education - Finish your degree? Take classes for fun? Make yourself more marketable? As you know, you can always learn new things. Taking courses at a community centre, community college, or university will help keep you engaged in life and learning.

 

  • Volunteer - SMART? Hospital? Child's school? Charities? Animal shelter? Election campaign? You may feel a desire to give back as part of your new life. Volunteers are in short supply everywhere. Finding an organisation that is in line with your values is uplifting, rewarding, and a great place to make new friends.

 

  • Social activities - Ballroom dancing? Book club? MeetUp groups? Church? Because most of your past social activities probably revolved around your old addictive behaviour, learning to socialise in new ways may take determination.

 

Setting realistic goals

 

Goals should be:

 

  • Specific - "Run Marathon" vs. "Improve my cardio health"

 

  • Measurable - "Go to bed at 10 p.m." vs. "Get more sleep"

 

  • Agreeable - "I'm invested in this goal" vs. "I should do this because.....

 

  • Realistic - "Train for next year's Boston marathon" vs. "Run marathon next month"

 

  • Time-bound - "Volunteer five hours a week" vs. "Donate to charity"

 

Other goal-setting tips

 

  • Choose the categories in which you want to set goals. 

 

  • Don't set so many that you get overwhelmed.

 

  • Write down each goal, and include what you need to do to meet each goal.

 

- To stay on track, create weekly "To Do" lists with all of the tasks that you need to do each day to meet your goals. 

 

  • Review your list at the end of the week.

 

- Check off the tasks you finished.

 

- Move unfinished tasks to the next week's list. Repeatedly unfinished tasks may indicate that you're not as invested in the goal as you thought, or the goal simply needs fine-tuning.

 

Summary

 

Living a balanced life is scary, exhilarating, and authentic. Experiment with different aspects of your life to determine what adds value and balance. This is your life and you get to choose how to live it. Setting goals, planning tasks, and developing a VACI are important building blocks to your new life. 

 

SMART will continue to help you maintain your recovery. Continue using the tools that help you and attend meetings whenever you want. The skills that you acquired along your recovery journey will prove invaluable to you when facing future situations. 

 

Always remember that you have the power to create your life.

 

  1. How does the belief that this is your life and you get to choose how to live it and that you have the power to create your life differ from what you learned when attending GA?

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

From Georgia Thursday Meeting

 

Topic: The 4 Stages of Addiction

 

  1. Winning Stage
  2. Losing Stage
  3. Desperation Stage
  4. Hopeless Stage

 

  1. Discuss your experiences through these stages.

 

There is also a 5th stage, the Recovery Stage. 

 

  1. Talk about how this stage is important to you.

Third Segment - Zen: The Art of Simple Living - Week 

 

  1. SEEK OUT YOUR FAVOURITE WORDS

 

Time for being with your mind

 

For example, 'All things come from nothingness a Zen phrase to free yourself from attachments

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

In the old days, all Japanese homes featured an alcove called a tokonoma.

 

A hanging scroll would be placed in the tokonoma, and people could reflect on it whenever they were at home. Whether it held a favourite painting or the calligraphy of a guiding principle, the tokonoma revealed the spirit and lifestyle of those who lived there.

 

Consider decorating your home with calligraphy - it could be an inspiring saying, a quote from someone you admire or something that allows for self-reflection. You don't need an alcove - your living-room wall serves just as well. It doesn't matter. whether the calligraphy is particularly skilful, either. Gazing upon it provides time and space for serene contemplation

 

If you cannot think of which words to choose, I can suggest these:

 

‘Within nothingness there is infinite potential.’

 

It means that human beings are born possessing nothing.

 

Yet within all of us lies infinite potential.

 

For this reason, there is nothing to fear. There is nothing to worry about. This is truth.

 

  1. How has recovery helped you tap into your infinite potential? Do you feel you have been tapping into that since entering recovery or do you feel like you were not encouraged to do so? What role has fear played in your recovery?
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October 4, 2021

Episode 34

SHOW NOTES

Join Mark & Mick as they continue working through chapter 6 of the SMART Recovery Handbook plus talk about what it's like being an atheist in GA and much more!

First Segment - SMART Recovery Handbook - Chapter 6 - Part 3

 

Tool: Lifestyle Balance Pie

 

  1. Use the Lifestyle Balance Pie to represent the different areas in your life.

 

  1. Label each slice with an area of your life that is important to you. For example, family, friends, spirituality, romance, health, work, recreation, personal growth, money, physical surroundings, etc. Refer to your HOV on page 14 for insight.

 

  1. Think of the pie's outer edge as being completely satisfied (10) and the centre as being very dissatisfied (0). 

 

  1. Rate your level of satisfaction in each of the areas you've listed by placing a dot on the middle line of each pie slice to indicate the level of satisfaction you have in that area.

 

  1. After you rate each slice, connect the dots to create the outside perimeter of your pie. What does it look like? Is it round and full or does it look like some areas are not as filled out as others?

 

  1. Now ask yourself:

 

- Are my true values and priorities reflected here?

 

- Based on what I see, am I living a balanced life? Am I involved in too many activities? Is there too much on my plate?

 

- How much of my time is spent caring for others? For myself?

 

- What area(s) needs more attention? What needs less attention?

 

- Is there a dream or desire that I'd like to focus on? What changes do I want to make? What can I do to "round out" my life?

 

To move yourself toward a more balanced life, allow yourself more time for the areas that show gaps - those places where pieces of your pie are missing (because they are). When doing so, be sure to focus on the whole picture of your life, not just specific areas.

 

My Lifestyle Balance Pie 

 

PIE ON PAGE 73

Lowest Scores

Life Category

Score

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

Highest Scores

4.

 

3.

 

2.

 

1.

 

Plan

 

Example Lifestyle Balance Pie

 

PIE ON PAGE 74

Lowest Scores

Life Category

Score

1. Leisure fun

2

2. Health

2.5

3. Finances

4.9

4. Volunteering

5

Highest Scores

4. Children

6

3. Marriage

7.5

2. Career

9

1. Education

10

Plan

My “Leisure Fun” and “Health” slices got the lowest scores. To increase both, I will join a walking club on MeetUp, which will help me kill two birds with one stone. Have fun and improve my health through exercise.

When I’m confident that I’m committed to these goals and see improvement in both areas, I’ll focus on “Finances”, my next lowest score.

 

While the goal is never to neglect any area, his top four scores probably don’t require the focused attention his bottom scores do.

 

Idea: Because “Health” covers such a wide variety of topics, he could do a Lifestyle Balance Pie just on that life category - exercise, nutrition, sleep, blood pressure, cholesterol, doctor’s appointments, etc.

 

TOOL: Vital absorbing creative interest (VACI)

 

Before your life was overtaken by addictive behaviour, there were probably hobbies and activities you enjoyed and others you wanted to try. Now you can bring them back into your life, and explore the new ones. Hobbies and interests help balance your life.

 

A vital absorbing creative interest can help bring the simple pleasure of living back into your life. When we get overly involved in any one activity, be it helpful or not so helpful, we cut a lot out of our lives that we used to enjoy. Finding a balance can restore the fun and enjoyment that life has to offer. So, how can we get back to those simple pleasures of life?

 

First, look at the benefits list on your CBA What were some of the benefits you were getting from your addictive behaviour before the costs became too high? Did you enjoy the buzz? Did you like being able to just check out for a bit? Was it the taste or the social aspect? Believe it or not, each of these benefits is a key to finding a VACI.

 

If you enjoyed the buzz. then look at things you could do to get a real buzz out of life. The reward will be greater and you will remember it in the morning and for years to come. Maybe you decide to ride a roller coaster you have never ridden before. Maybe it's taking up running or race walking. Perhaps you have always wanted to skydive or ride a motorcycle. Figure out what would give you a buzz and take it on.

 

If using or acting out allowed you to "check out" for a bit, maybe looking at some ways of being away from the world for a while might give you the chance to restore your energy. Take a walk by yourself. Go to the ocean and watch the waves. Go on a day trip and be alone with yourself in your car. A bike ride is a great way to be alone with nature. What about gardening, crafts, and artistic endeavours?

 

Be careful to do your VACI in moderation so that you don't replace one addictive behaviour with another. 

 

If you leaned on alcohol or drugs to help you feel comfortable in social situations, you might challenge yourself to go to a social event and act as fun and as friendly as you were when you were using.

 

What did you like to do as a kid? What hobbies did you have? What dreams were never realised? Now is the time to take your life back and make some of those things happen. 

 

Variety is the spice of life. Find many VACIs and keep looking for more. Life is full of amazing and new things to learn and do.

 

VACI list

 

  1. Use this table to make a list of the VACIs that interest you. Write it down then rate it, 1-10, on how much it interests you. 

 

After you try it, come back to the list and rate it again to see how closely your "before and after" ratings are.

 

VACI ‘before and after’ list

VACI

Before 1-10

After 1-10

Comments/thoughts

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

Second Segment - Topic of the Week

 

Taken from the Sheffield meeting this past Thursday.

 

  1. Do you believe you can recover from your gambling addiction? Do you believe this can be achieved without attending meetings? If so....how? If not, what do you get from attending meetings?

 

  1. In the orange book (just for today section) Abraham Lincoln says "Most folk are as happy as they make up their minds to be".  Is it that simple? Is there a magic wand to achieve a better life or is it more complicated than that?  Are you always happy with what you've got in life? If you're unhappy what are you doing in your recovery to find happiness?

 

  1. If you're an atheist, do you ever feel intimidated or isolated when the word higher power is mentioned in a GA meeting?  If you don't - what is your higher power?  If you do - how do you think you can achieve recovery in something you struggle to believe in. If you are not an atheist, how does your faith help your recovery?

Third Segment - Zen: The Art of Simple Living - Week 

 

  1. WHEN EATING, PAUSE AFTER EVERY BITE

 

Savour the sense of gratitude

 

Zen practice is not just seated meditation

 

The meals of practising Zen monks are based on Shōjin cuisine or Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. Breakfast (shoshoku) consists of rice porridge and pickles. Lunch (tenshin) is rice and soup, again with pickles. And dinner (yakuseki) is a simple meal, though usually the largest of the day, consisting of a vegetable dish and more rice and soup.

 

Seconds are offered only of rice, and meat is never eaten. The proper way to take Zen meals involves something called 'the Five Reflections, To put it simply:

 

1.

 

We consider the efforts of those who brought us the food and are grateful for it.

 

2.

 

We reflect upon our own actions and quietly partake..

 

  1.  

 

We savour the food, without greed, anger or obliviousness.

 

4.

 

We regard the food as medicine to nourish a healthy body and to sustain our spirit.

 

  1.  

 

We thankfully receive the food as part of our harmonious path towards enlightenment.

 

We reflect upon these five things at each meal, expressing gratitude for the food, and we pause after every bite, setting down our chopsticks. The purpose of this pause is to enable us to savour the feelings of gratitude with each bite we take.

 

Meals are not simply to satisfy hunger. They are an important time to practise our training.

 

  1. How often do you savour the sense of gratitude in life?
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