The Recovering Gamblers Podcast: LIVE

Episode 6

March 22, 2021


First Segment - Awareness

I have been reading a book called ‘A Gentle Path Through the 12 Principles’ by Patrick Carnes and we focused on Principle 1 which, in the book, was Acceptance. Principle 2 is Awareness and I want to focus on it today. 

Step 2 is ‘We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity’

So the book states that, “Each of us has the capacity to pay attention to our senses, emotions, impulses, thoughts, and actions. We also have the capacity to clearly observe the world around us: its beauty, its danger, its design. This capacity goes by several names, including attention and mindfulness. I believe the most expansive, all-inclusive term, however, is awareness.

Addiction gives us tunnel vision and narrows our attention to those things that satisfy its demands, creating a poverty in our inner and outer lives. Recovery expands our attention—first beyond our addiction, then beyond our fear and stinking thinking, and ultimately far beyond ourselves, into deep awareness.”

So, the key question of awareness is: “How Do I Know What Is Real?” and I’ve broken it down into a few discussion points from the book.

First one is: Life is not random or meaningless.

We observe that events often come together in a helpful or meaningful—but often unpredictable and unexpected—way. Carl Jung called this process synchronicity. Events appear to have a purpose, even when they involve disappointment, struggle, or even disaster. The right people show up in our lives just when we need them. We see a Power greater than ourselves at work. We realize that we are not alone.

Next up: None of us know what is going to happen.

Even as we recognize patterns and synchronicity, we also notice that the next moment is always uncertain and unpredictable. We are always in free fall, not knowing what the next day or moment will bring. We also realize, perhaps for the first time, that life has always been this way. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Principles support us in accepting this ever-present uncertainty, but they do not protect us from it.

Third one is: We feel a call.

We see that our life matters, that everyone’s life matters, and that there is purpose behind it all—though not necessarily a purpose that can be summed up in words. We also feel a personal call, direction, or responsibility—one that demands concrete action from us. At the time, in early recovery, this may simply be a call to recover from our addiction. Later in recovery as we begin to apply the Principles behind the Steps, it involves something more, such as a renewed commitment to our family, our work, or our life mission. Often this call appears in an entirely unexpected context. In recovery, especially after we’ve established our sobriety and freedom from the obsession with addictions, many of us experience our own spiritual moments. Suddenly we know what we need to do. We intuitively feel the importance of this call and the ways in which it connects us to others. We begin to feel that our life has a larger arc.

These moments are rarely moments of delight. Usually when we feel a call, it is not something we would ever choose; often it’s precisely what we’ve tried to avoid. Yet when we hear a call, we must say yes to it. It will not give us peace until we do. Whatever form our particular call takes, it usually requires us to struggle and face difficulties. We may have to give up a cherished possession, belief, or relationship. As we mature in recovery, we often experience uncertainty, meaning, and a call all at once. This creates a spiritual paradox: we see that our life is following a meaningful arc, but we don’t know what this arc is. Still, day by day, our life slowly starts to make sense.

Onto: The universe is not malevolent

Albert Einstein observed that “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” For many of us in recovery, this presents another paradox. Many of us have suffered at the hands of hostile or abusive people. We must not deny our past or try to sugarcoat or ignore life’s dark side. As we work the Steps and Principles, however, we come to see that life calls us to grow rather than to simply suffer. Even in our struggles—sometimes especially in our struggles—we find wisdom and meaning.

Finally: Awareness leads to sanity.

As our awareness grows, the focus of our life gradually shifts. We pay less attention to our own fantasies and magical thinking, and more to what is real. We stay alert for people who could become our guides, allies, and mentors. We spend less time in self-pity and more in gratitude. We expend less effort in trying to get things for ourselves and more in serving others. We recognize that what we want to avoid may be precisely what we need to embrace. We learn to face our fears, and the truth. In the process, our inner observer becomes wiser and more stable. It creates new mental pathways that enable it to think its way down into our feelings, and that enables feelings to rise up into our brain. We also learn to pay attention to what matters, and to be less distracted by what doesn’t. As a result, we find ourselves able to get more done, and do it better. We become more creative. We are able to generate more new ideas, approaches, and options for dealing with our challenges.


Honesty, Open-Mindedness and Willingness are the key words in our recovery.  Talk about one, or more of these concepts and how you've applied it to your recovery

Third Segment - “It takes a lot of Courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer Meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in Change there is power.” Alan Cohen (born 1954)

Rashness is foolish but so is rigidity. Is Fear a servant that alerts me to danger, or a master that enslaves me in stagnation? Am I as open to Change as I was when I was new to the fellowship?

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