Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Working The Steps: Step 7

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I am just continuing with my step work at the moment and not really trying to write any other blogs at the moment. I have just really been focused on my life at the moment and I feel in a really good place. Work wise I am trying to focus on work and improving my productivity when I am there. Lateness was an issue for a long time and I am getting in early now and making time which is great and I am sleeping much better at night now. I am working on my patience with my kids, I have started a weekly challenge with my son that I won’t shout at him, unless he is being bad and needs to be shouted at. I had a successful first week in doing it but dramatically came off the rails day 1 of week 2. So the score stands at 1-1. I still attend my meetings regularly and I am still getting so much out of them, they have helped saved my life and turn me into a better person. If you had said to me at the beginning of this year that I would stop betting and actually enjoy my life I would have said you were mad. If you had just said I would have stopped betting I would have said no way. I loved gambling so much but it wasn’t good for me or my family and was only going to get worse and worse so I needed to stop. To be able to not only admit that I have a gambling problem but to accept that I have one and to be willing to try and improve myself and get proper help via G.A and my Problem Gambling group is still hard for me to believe at times, but that is exactly what I have done and will continue to do, one day at a time.

Step 7 is below and as usual anything in bold and or italics is from the work sheet and the rest is my own ramblings.

Step 7: Humbly asked God (of our understand) to remove our shortcomings.

Step 7, Exercise 1

Write about:

How do you interpret your Higher Power’s will for you?

My higher power is my two kids and I try and think what would be best for them when making decisions in my life. I know that they want me to be there with them, present both physically and mentally, interacting with them, which is something I cannot do if I am gambling.  I know that they want me to stay in recovery and to keep progressing as a person because it is clear I am a better Dad because of it. They do not care about how much money I have in the bank, to quote a member from my G.A. meeting, “They don’t want your money they want your love”. I just know if I keep doing the right things today, while focusing on how my behaviour and decisions impacts my kids, then I will get through today without a bet and all the benefits that come with it and that is what my kids want for me.

Do you feel that your life has meaning and purpose?

Absolutely and it is down to my two kids mainly. They are the reason I want to get up in the morning and go to work and they are the reason I want to do the right things that I discussed above. Are they annoying at times? Of course they are, they are 7 years old and 3 years old. Do I lose patience with them at times? I do indeed, more often than I would like to but I am working on that which leads me to my other meaning and purpose in life, recovery. I want to become a better person, I’ll never become a perfect person because I do not believe that exists, but I can strive to be a better person today than I was yesterday and that is down to my recovery program. I’ll also mention my partner who gives my life meaning and purpose and without her standing by me when I admitted my problem I would not be in the position I am in today. My parents are another reason as well, I want to make them proud and the best way to do that is to do right by their grandchildren. I have a meaning and purpose in my G.A. group and Problem Gambling group because when I share in a meeting someone may get something from it that helps them and vice-versa when I go to a meeting and listen I tend to come away with at least something I can apply to my own life. To summarise, in recovery I have beneficial reasons to wake up each morning and face the day, when I was gambling the only reason I woke up was so I could place my next bet and get my fix and continue doing that until the money ran out or I fell asleep, not once did I care about anyone else, that is different now though and it is what drives me forward.

What does the word “humility” mean to you? Has your view of it changed since joining G.A.?

As tends to be the case since I have entered recovery, I find myself reaching for the dictionary (Google) to learn what the actual definition means because I tend to assume I know and usually I am wrong. Before I look it up, to me, humility means not bragging about success and that would have been my view of it before joining G.A.

Humility is the quality of being humble. If you meet one of your heroes and feel nervous and in awe for her, you are experiencing humility. Humility comes from the Latin word humilis, which literally means low. If you feel humility in front of someone, you feel small in the scheme of things – that you are just a simple, insignificant person. Someone who spends his life taking care of others shows humility. Although it’s related to humiliation (which makes you feel low in a bad way), humility is usually used to talk about a lack of ego. – Taken from vocabulary.com

The quality of not being proud because you are aware of your bad qualities. – Taken from Cambridge Dictionary

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble. – Taken from Merriam-Webster

So there are a few definitions to work with, all of which are much better than what I thought the meaning was but as I tend to find in recovery, every day is a school day.

How does humility manifest itself in your behaviour and actions today? Give specific examples. How will you keep it in your life as your recovery progresses?

One of the biggest things is I am aware of my bad qualities and not only that I am open and honest about them and I am trying to improve them. A specific example of this is that I talk about my bad qualities when I share at my meetings. I came into recovery with a massive ego and believed that I knew better than everyone else, that no one else had any good ideas except me. Slowly but surely my ego has eroded since I have been in recovery but it is still there to be worked on. I am now much more open to other people’s ideas and opinions and will normally listen and actually take in what they have said. Before I would have been thinking of my response as to why they were wrong while they were still talking. I can also totally relate to feeling small in the scheme of things, before recovery I assumed the world revolved around me and that everyone should accommodate me and what I want, I now know that is not the case. In the grand scheme of things I am on this earth in the blink of an eye and off it again. Things that happen to me are not the end of the world although I had a habit of thinking they were. No matter what happens the world will keep spinning and I am just like everyone else, here for the ride. I will keep humility in my life and also try to build on it during my recovery but continuing to do the right things each day, by continuing to attend meetings and listen and learn from other people. I will also continue to share my story to others in the hope that they can take something away from it.

Step 7, Exercise 2

Write about:

Do you have a one-day-at-a-time plan for asking for help in removing the character defect that you targeted in Step 6? What is it?

To steal from Just for Today, “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”. My plan is as stated above, do the right things each day go to my G.A. meeting on a Monday night, my Problem Gambling meetings on a Wednesday, Friday and if I am feeling super motivated on a Sunday as well. I will talk to my sponsor if I am struggle with my character defects if it is outside of a meeting. I am a solid group of family and friends I can ask for help and advice. My Higher Power also guides me each day when it comes to removing my character defects.

Are you willing to continue to apply Steps 6 and 7 to your other defects? How do you intend to continue the process?

Yes I am and I feel the best way will be to rework Steps 6 and 7 for each defect and really drill down into each one and try and remove them. If removing them completely is not possible then I will try and reduce them as much as possible. I plan to work the 12 steps in their entirety again, either once a year or every other year. I will never be perfect but that isn’t the aim. Progress not perfection.

Are you more honest, tolerant and loving towards yourself and others today? Describe how you will use these qualities to work Step 8.

I am definitely more honest, tolerant and loving towards myself and others today when compared to how I was when I entered recovery. I hated myself when I was gambling, I lied to myself about how I wasn’t doing anything wrong when I was gambling and I lied to those closest to me to borrow money. I hated the world and everyone in it when I was gambling, I thought everyone was at fault for all the bad things happening to me, I believed people were going out of their way to annoy me and frustrate me. It wasn’t an overnight change either, it took time and hard work to become a better person towards myself and others and there is still room to grow. I have put the work in by going to multiple meetings each week and more importantly by listening to what other people are saying in those meetings. Working the steps has also been a massive help and all of these qualities will be used when working on Step 8, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”. One of the biggest differences between me now and then is that I actually enjoy talking to other people and engaging with them. It will be tough working Step 8 but it has been a tough journey so far and it hasn’t stopped me yet.

Russ

Monday, 7 October 2019

Working The Steps: Step 6

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I have taken a bit of a break from writing a blog and doing step work, much to the annoyance of my sponsor who in turn has been nagging me to restart the steps. To be honest the plan was to take a small break in August and I just got lazy and kept making excuses, that’s character defects for you. Anyways, I have done Step 5 with my Sponsor which is admitting to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs which is pretty much going over Step 4 and a few other bits and pieces. So I am onto Step 6 which you will find below and as normal, anything in italics and bold is from the worksheet and the rest is my own thoughts.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed

Step 6, Exercise 1

Write about the thoughts, tools, resources and actions that help you maintain serenity. You will need to draw on them as you work through Step 6.

The definition of serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled,” and there are various things that enable me to enjoy this state most days. When it comes to actions the attendance of my GA Meeting weekly and my Skype Problem Gamblers Group twice a week is a massive help. I tend to come out of those meetings with a massive buzz as they have allowed me to throw my shit on the floor, figuratively of course, and express how I am feeling without fear of being judged. I had a week in the middle of September where I was unable to attend my meetings and I could feel myself in an uncomfortable position, my routine had been disrupted. I still did not gamble and that was down to the thoughts and tools I have learnt in recovery. I am now in a position where if I am struggling with something I am able to reach out to someone close to me and ask for help or advice, before I would have just kept it bottled up and that tended to end in a gambling binge. Learning to take a step back and look at a situation before (over)reacting has also been a very useful tool. Back when I was gambling even the littlest thing that came up I would have made into a huge issue when the truth is there is very little that comes up day to day in my life that requires a massive (over)reaction. Do I still get frustrated and have arguments at home? Of course I do and so do most “normal” people but it’s all about progress not perfection. The bottom line for me is this, gambling is not a solution that will help me maintain serenity and as long as I am aware of that, accept that and continue to do the right things, “One Day At A Time”, then I can arrest this addiction.


Step 6 is best accomplished “One Defect at a Time.” Review your list from Step 4 and choose one defect with which to begin.

Which defect have you chosen? How has it affected your life in the past? What benefits will its removal bring to your life in recovery?


After reviewing my list from Step 4, impatience is listed as my worst defect and one that I have been working hard on trying to improve. In the past if I wanted something I wanted it yesterday and if I wanted something done and it wasn’t done the way I wanted it I would get restless and irritable. People who could not do something as fast as I could or as good as I could frustrated me. The inability of someone to follow a simple instruction was another thing that set me off. This tends to be extra hard when you have children as they are trying to learn how to do things but yet I did not have the patience for them to learn. Improving this behaviour and thinking would be the major benefit in my recovery; it would improve my relationship with my kids even more than recovery has so far. I also feel that it would enable me to be able to relax, to be able to stay calm; basically it would enable me to stay in the state of serenity more often as discussed above. A major part of my impatience I believe is my desire to control a lot of situations which is another character defect that I have. Looking over the list again I feel that if I can remove/improve impatience as a character defect then a lot of other character defects will be much easier to deal with.


Step 6, Exercise 2

Write about:

Has your readiness/intention to remove your character defect made you more aware of it when it surfaces? Have you begun to change your behaviours, choices and actions? How?

I feel like after I completed Step 4 back in August I became more aware of all my character defects, especially when they surface. I have tried to change my behaviours, but when it comes to impatience in particular, I am still very much a work in progress. I try not to go from zero to shouting when dealing with my kids and it is working for the most part, although a three year old will test your patience to the maximum. My main course of action is to make shouting a last resort, I try and take a step back, remain calm, count to 10. All those things have helped me in regards to dealing with my kids. In other aspects, such as asking someone to do something for me and they do not do it, or are delayed, again, it is all about taking that step back and realising that it isn’t a big deal. Maybe they have something going on that I do not know about, maybe they just forgot and need a reminder. Whatever it is, more often than not, it is not the end of the world. I am more conscious that other people have things going on in their lives and I am not the centre of the attention, I am not the most important person in the world.


Are you getting any comments from others regarding your character changes or improvements? Have you received any positive feedback? Have you met with any resistance? How do you feel about it?

I feel like in general I have improved as a person since entering recovery, my partner has told me a few times she has noticed a change in me. I am a much better person to be around at home, we do things as a family without my head being stuck in my phone and purely focused on gambling. We have both been more productive around the house, there is more getting done and there is just a better atmosphere. I have found myself getting into work earlier and going to bed earlier which has helped me feel better. I am slowly getting into the routine of a normal way of thinking and living, before I had all this time to fill, this void left by gambling, but over time other things have filled that void and I am left wondering how I had time to gamble the way I did. The only real resistance I have had is being mocked for my inability to stay awake for the late NFL games by one of my friends but that is all good natured banter.


Regarding your other character defects/defences, are there any with which you find yourself unwilling to part? What’s holding you back?

There are none I would say I am unwilling to part with; it is just that there are so many it will take time to remove them all. I’m not even sure if it is possible to remove them all as that would mean I would be “perfect”. There are also some defects than impact another defect, for example, I need to work on my industriousness but procrastination is holding me back from that, so I need to work on procrastination first. My opinion of the removal of character defects is it is a life long journey like recovery, it cannot be done overnight. This is the sort of exercise I can see myself doing on a regular basis going forward.


Russ

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Working The Steps: Step 4 - Part Three

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. This is the final part of my Step 4 work and I hope someone finds it useful. As always the writing in italics and bold is from the worksheet and the rest is my own thoughts.

III. Feelings and Emotions

At one time or another, every human being has experienced every feeling and human condition known to mankind. If there is any difference in our experience with feelings and emotions, it lies in the degree of experience. We have all had a taste of every human feeling and emotion in existence.

Feelings, be they positive or negative, are not necessarily defects of character. Positive feelings add to your sense of strength and well being and produce pleasure, hope and fullness of life. 


Negative feelings interfere with pleasure and use up energy, leaving us feeling lonely and empty. Feelings are a mental result of how we have handled various situations throughout our lives and a result of how our minds were programed in the formative years.


Feelings, be they love or hate, joy or remorse, happiness or anger, are very valid and an integral part of the human make-up. We experience a multitude of feelings everyday of our lives, some positive and some negative. Some make us feel good and some make us feel bad. It is much healthier to face up to our feelings and deal with them, than to deny their existence.


Feelings can come over us without a moment’s notice. They have no boundaries. Everyone, at one time or another, has experienced fear, worry, remorse, joy, love and happiness. Whatever the feelings, be they positive or negative, they are all very natural and normal and serve a definite purpose. Whatever your feelings are, they are not especially unique. The question is: How do we deal with them?


Certain feelings can become a problem when we become consumed with them, and if and when this occurs, we can be assured that the reason this has happened is because we have failed to deal with them properly.


This section will concern itself with various feelings which we will try to sort out as they apply to us individually and how we can best deal with them.


Following is a list of some of the feelings that, from time to time, we experience on a regular basis. Some of these feelings we also experience on a daily basis:


Guilt (remorse)    joy

Happiness        resentment
Anger            contentment
Fear            frustration
Love            hope
Hatred        gratitude
Envy            loneliness
Pride            depression
Freedom        sadness
Suspicion        worry

1) Do you understand the meaning of the above mentioned feelings? If not, look up the meanings in a dictionary and write the definitions down.


Guilt – The fact of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime.


(Remorse – Deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.)

Joy – A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

Happiness – The state of being happy.

Resentment – Bitter indignation at having ben treated unfairly.

Anger – A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility.

Contentment – A state of happiness and satisfaction.

Fear – An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.

Frustration – The feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.

Love – An intense feeling of deep affection.

Hope – A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

Hatred – Intense dislike.

Gratitude – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Envy – A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities or luck.

Loneliness – Sadness because one has no friends or company.

Pride – A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

Depression – Feelings of severe despondency and dejection.

Freedom – The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.

Sadness – The condition or quality of being sad.

Suspicion – A feeling or thought that something is possible, likely or true.

Worry – Feel or cause to feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems.

2) Have you, at one time or another, experienced each of the above mentioned feelings?

Yes, especially when I was gambling I probably experienced them all during a gambling session which is why it felt like I was constantly on a rollercoaster.


3) List the feelings you experience on a daily basis.

Remorse, joy, happiness, anger, contentment, frustration, love, hope, gratitude, pride, freedom and worry.


4) List the feelings you would like to experience on a daily basis. 

a) Put a check mark on all those feelings you would like to experience but do not experience. Why are these important to you?


I currently experience the feelings I want to now I am in recovery and these are positive feelings that I want to continue to experience. Recovery has brought a lot of these feelings into my life, before I was emotionally lacking, I did not care about anyone or anything when I was gambling, all I cared about was myself and how I could feed my addiction by placing my next bet.


b) How does the lack of these feelings affect your daily life?

N/A


c) What positive steps can you take to achieve these feelings?

I have to continue in my recovery and stay away from gambling to continue experiencing these feelings. Not only that, I need to work on myself each day to become a better person. Stopping gambling is the easy part, it is staying stopped that is the hard part. Meetings make things easier and the ability to listen and to share at these meetings is what helps me move forward in recovery. I am also aware I will never be cured from this addiction but I can arrest it one day at a time.


d) How much of yourself are you willing to give to achieve these feelings? Explain.

I am willing to do everything it takes to make it happen and currently that means doing what I am doing in recovery. I attend a weekly G.A. meeting and currently attend three Skype meetings a week. I write my blog, listen to podcasts on recovery, reach out to people who are struggling and I am willing to reach out if I am struggling.


5) List the feelings that create problems in your life.

a) Write a short description of each of these feelings as they apply to you.


Anger – I find myself getting angry when things are not done the way I want them to be done. I also find myself getting angry when I do not do things that I said I would do, whether it be at home or in relation to work.

Frustration – I find myself getting frustrated when my children do not do as they are told. When I am not in control of a situation it can still make me feel frustrated although this is getting better the longer I am in recovery.

Worry – I am worried that I will get bored of my recovery and just stop doing it which I know will lead me back to gambling. That worry stems from my personality and how I have been with things in the past. I would always go “All-In” on whatever I was doing to the point I would sicken myself of it then drop it for the next thing. Recovery does feel different although it is something that I do think about regularly.

b) Why in your opinion, do you think you are experiencing each of these feelings?

I have a 7 year old son and a 3 year old daughter and they are hard work at times as are all children. I was also used to being in control of my situation when I was gambling as I kept everything hidden. Although mentally I was spinning out of control I still felt like I was in charge of my life. Now I am open and honest and everyone knows about my addiction I can no longer hide things and that feels like a loss of control in my own mind at times. When it comes to getting angry at me I feel it is because I know I could do better, for example, getting in early to work or being productive at work. I know what I need to do but laziness creeps in or I start procrastinating. Worrying about giving up on my recovery is just a by product of my personality and how I used to be, this time I know I am different and things can now be different. Also I should not worry about the future and just focus on today. I feel I just worry as I have so much to lose and want to continue on this journey.


c) What action can you take to cope with any of these feelings?

I am trying to stop and breathe for 10 seconds before getting frustrated or angry at them. I am also telling myself they are just young and do not realise they are annoying me. They do not understand the concept of going to work or being tired and if I shout at them it is unlikely to help the situation.


6) Are you capable of expressing your feelings to those around you?

a) If you do express your feelings, in what manner do you do this?


I have been expressing my feelings to those around me and I do this by talking to them and listening to their advice. I find myself listening a lot more to other people’s views and opinions and even if I do not agree with them I normally can learn something from simply listening. Also I no longer rule anything out, especially when it comes to my recovery. If someone suggests something that has worked for them I am willing to give it a try, whereas before when I was gambling if I didn’t come up with an idea or suggestion then in my opinion it was not worth trying.


b) If you do tend to hide your feelings, do you know the reasons? What are the reasons?

Since I have been in recovery I have not been hiding my feelings from those around me as I know how important it is to be open and honest. When I was gambling the main reason I kept my feelings hidden was because I knew if I spoke about it then my gambling would be uncovered and I would be caught which was something I did not want to happen at the time. Looking back I wish I had expressed how I was feeling much earlier but I cannot change the past now.


Following is a suggested mini formula to help you deal with your feelings. In writing:

1) Isolate and define each of your feelings.


2) Try to pinpoint the persons, places, things, or set of circumstances that cause you to have these feelings.


3) Share your thoughts about these feelings with someone you can confide in.


4) Make a definite plan of attack to control your feelings, good or bad. Review your plan with someone you feel comfortable with.


5) Implement your plan. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Conclusion

Upon completion of this inventory, if taken in the spirit of a search for the truth, you should have a basic and sound overview of what you are made of, what you stand for, what you are doing, where you are going, and how you fit in the world around you. An inventory, of course, reveals the negative as well as the positive aspects of one’s life and its primary value is that of sorting things out in an orderly and thorough fashion. It is certainly the starting point for a meaningful and manageable life. But a starting point is all that it is.

The massive job lies with what we do with this truth we have found out about ourselves. What action will we take toward our newly made commitments? How well will we practice and implement our plans? The task lies ahead but it is a task well worth pursuing for it is the task that stimulates growth, and growth brings happiness and happiness means love, and love is God, and love is truth, and the truth shall set you free.

Russ

Monday, 29 July 2019

Working The Steps: Step 4 - Part Two

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was on April 2nd 2019. This is the second part of my Step 4 work and is another long one. Anything in bold or italics is from the worksheet and the rest is my own.

II. Priorities – Principles and Responsibilities

When joining Gamblers’ Anonymous and committing to a new way of life, and a critical review of priorities, principles and responsibilities is necessary to determine if they are in proper perspective.

There are numerous items in our lives that are hazardous to our basic well-being. Because of the high priority placed on them, other areas of life are neglected which, in essence, cause growing and continuing problems. If priorities are out of order they will affect participation in all phases of life. A constant balance needs to be maintained between knowledge of self and communication of that inner self with the outside world. Periodic re-evaluation is an essential tool in this phase of moral inventory as life events, age, and participation in the program will affect emphasis on priorities.

Examine the following suggested priorities to determine if they are in a sensible and orderly sequence. How do you fit into the world around you?

  • Abstinence from gambling.
  • To myself and my greater power.
  • To my family.
  • To my job, vocation or profession.
  • To my goals, dreams and aspirations.
  • To my friends, neighbours and community.
  • To special interest areas.


PRIORITIES (by consensus of opinions)

1) Abstinence from Gambling: If, by your own admission, you are a compulsive gambler and have made a commitment to stop, there is not one thing that should supersede abstinence from gambling. Without abstinence very little else is possible, for by the very nature of the illness a lifetime of growth, responsibility, awareness and peace of mind are an impossibility.

LETTING GO OF THE GAMBLER:

a) How important is it that you stop gambling?


It is vital for me that I stop gambling as it was destroying me mentally and it was not going to be long before it destroyed me financially and more importantly destroy my relationships. I am aware that my next bet is not just about losing money but I will lose my kids and partner as well. That is not a bet worth making in my eyes as they are the most important people in my life.


b) Do you try to implement into your daily life the Gamblers’ Anonymous recovery program?

I think I have more of a bespoke recovery program and I am trying to incorporate more Gamblers’ Anonymous elements into it. I am reading more literature and working the steps and trying to get my head around the G.A. recovery program and how I can apply it to daily life.

c) Do you attend meetings regularly?

I attend a G.A. meeting every Monday night and have not missed one since I entered recovery. I also attend three Skype meetings a week with my Problem Gambling Support Group as I currently have free time when they are scheduled. The two meetings that are the cornerstones of my recovery are my Monday G.A. meeting and my Wednesday Skype meeting, those are the two I am focused on attending regularly.

d) What do you do for other compulsive gamblers?

I am writing a blog, which although is mainly to help me, I have had good feedback from other compulsive gamblers that the blogs have helped them and they can relate. I also share in my meetings and reach out to other members if they are struggling. I post and comment regularly on the Reddit Problem Gambling Sub. I have been a guest on the All In: The Addicted Gamblers Podcast to share my story and I am scheduled to do the same on Podcast Recovery.

e) What does Gamblers’ Anonymous mean to you?

My G.A. meeting is a fellowship of like minded people who have been through what I have been through and in most cases have been through a lot more and are there to listen to me and help guide me on this road of recovery. It’s a room where no one judges you, where you will be supported through the tough times and where they will enjoy the good times with you.

f) Do you listen and evaluate what others say at meetings?

I listen intently at meetings as my fellow members have experienced issues that I have not yet experienced and I learn from them. I always come out of meetings buzzing and I go over the meeting in my head on the drive home.

g) How are you involved in the program?

Currently I just attend G.A. but recently I have co-chaired my first meeting and I imagine more opportunities to chair will come along in the future.


2) To Myself and My Greater Power: One cannot be right for other people until right for oneself. In order for this to happen there must be an inner feeling of self-esteem and a feeling of belonging. An idea that self-knowledge is not enough to sustain you, but with the help of a power greater than yourself all things are possible. That is, when you become one with the power, happiness and peace of mind is the result.

a) Have I honestly faced myself and examined my strengths and weaknesses?

I feel that I have honestly faced myself and examined my strengths and weaknesses which was not an easy thing to do but I feel it has been an amazing step in my recovery.


b) Write a description of yourself.

My name is Mark, I am a compulsive gambler and my last bet was April 2nd 2019. I am 32 years old and live with my long term partner and two children, aged 7 years old and 3 years old. I work in an office job Monday to Friday. I love the NFL and enjoy watching other sports. I am laid back and tend to take things as they come; I am not exactly striving to get things done currently. I enjoy spending time on my own and although I am trying to go out a bit more to friends houses at the weekends when possible I still find myself not making as much of an effort as I could. I am focused on my recovery and trying to improve myself. I am a good Dad and love spending time with my kids, even though they can be extremely frustrating at times. Between my kids, work and recovery I am keeping myself busy but could definitely use my free time a bit better. I am still a very impatient person and can get frustrated quite easily which is something I need to work on. I am lazy in work and need to improve on that but struggle with motivation as the work bores me and I feel my potential is wasted in my current role. Although based on my work rate over the last 12-18 months my employer would probably say I have no potential and I am lucky to have a job.

c) After reading the description, can you say that you would choose a friend fitting that description?

Before I entered recovery I would probably have given up on them but now I would encourage them to keep moving forward and improve themselves. Although it still would not be a person I would go out of my way to be around.

d) Would you say that you are neat and clean, both of mind and body?

My own personal appearance is a mess, scruffy hair and beard. I don’t like wearing nice clothes, either jeans and a white T-Shirt or lounge pants in the house. I have not been eating healthy since entering recovery so my body is probably not as neat or clean as it could be. My mind is better than it was but there are still character defects there that need to be worked on.


e) Imagine a model person possessing all the qualities that would make him a desirable friend. How do you compare? Is it possible that you can strive to become that person?

I think I can strive to become that person and the main things that are probably the easiest to fix are the defects relating to motivation. If I can start and be as motivated as I am currently in recovery in the other aspects of my life I think things will start to fall into place.

f) How would you describe your general attitude toward life?

I am thankful for the life that I have and grateful for the people in it who have shown me support since I entered recovery. There are days where I cannot be bothered doing anything and I need to start and learn to enjoy every day, especially for the people who are most important to me.

g) Do you believe in a power greater than yourself?

Yes

h) Write a description of your greater power, whatever you conceive it to be. Be thorough!

My kids and my partner are my Higher Power. My kids mean the world to me and I want to be there for them for the rest of their lives. They are the reason I get up in the morning (literally, they are the best alarm clock I have) and seeing their faces keep me going. My partner also decided to stand by me during this and I will never be able to repay her for that, the best I can do is to keep going in my recovery.

i) What do you will or wish for yourself?

I wish to stop gambling and become a better person, a better partner and a better Dad.

j) What does your greater power will or wish for you?

They wish me to stop gambling and become a better person, a better partner and a better Dad.

k) Is there much difference?

No it’s exactly the same

l) Would living the life designed by your greater power be fulfilling?

Yes, it is what I am striving to achieve.

m) Can you become “one” with the power?

From being in recovery I have found myself becoming “one” with my Higher Power. They want what I want and I want what they want. I feel that recovery will strengthen my bond with my family and bring us closer together.

3) To My Family: There is nothing more important to a person’s fulfilment than the family. Through the family one can satisfy all the basic needs of a human being: To love and be loved; to cherish and be cherished; to provide and be provided for; to give and receive; to feel wanted and feel needed. All the basic needs of a human being can be realised through the interaction of a family who love one another.

a) Write a short description of the love and caring you have for each member of your family.

Kids – My kids are my life and all I want is the ability to be there for them and to show them that I love them. I want to be their Dad and their friend and I want them to be able to come to me for advice. I will always be there for them no matter what.

Partner – I love my partner and she gave me the two most wonderful people in my life. She stays at home while I work and I am so grateful for that. When I was gambling I did not show this nearly enough, if at all. The fact she stood by me when I admitted my problem is amazing and I can only repay that by staying off gambling.

Mum & Dad – My parents are amazing and gave me such an amazing life when I was growing up. They have always been there for me and are there for my kids when we need them. I love them so much and unfortunately during my gambling I never showed this. I was distant, borrowed money from them under false pretences but still they stood by me when I admitted my addiction. Again the only way I can repay them is by staying off gambling. If I can be half as good at parenting as they were with me my kids will have a great Dad.

Other Family Members – I am an only child but my extended family are important to me. Again, I have not been showing this in recent years during gambling but I will attempt to make up for that.

b) Write a short description of what you think each member of your family feels about you. Do you think these feelings are justified?

Kids – My kids think I am amazing and can do no wrong, obviously they do not know about my addiction. I will talk to them about it when they are older and I just hope that from now I can live up to their expectations.

Partner – She is proud of me for admitting my problem and entering recovery. I’m sure she also feels disappointment and hurt from broken trust but she can see I am working hard on my recovery.

Mum & Dad – Pretty much the same as my partner. They can see I am putting the work in and the best way to repay their support is by continuing with my recovery.

c) Do you reveal (or show) by words and actions the feelings you have for each member of your family?

My kids aside, probably not as much as I should be doing but I am trying to be there more for my family and trying to talk more to them. Sometimes things are just so hectic with family life I don’t have a chance to talk to them without the kids running about but I can and will make that time for them.

d) Are you responsive to the material needs of your family?

I no longer control my finances and my wages are used the way they should have been over the last number of years.

e) Are you responsive to their emotional needs?

I feel like I am there emotionally a lot more than I used to be. Before I was numb to emotion and from an emotional point of view I was always distant with my family.


f) Do you share your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones and do you allow them to share their feelings with you? How do you do this?

I share my thoughts and feelings with my family as keeping those emotions hidden is not healthy. I would have no problem sitting down and talking about how I am feeling and asking for help if I need it, before I would never have done that. I do allow them to share their feelings with me and this is generally through conversation. If I feel something is not right I will ask instead of just assuming everything is ok.

g) What kind of an example do you set for your children? Explain.

I like to think I set a good example for my kids through my actions, teaching them what is right and what is wrong and how to behave properly. I do feel like I get frustrated quickly with them and shout too much, this is something I am working hard on as I do not want them to think that is a normal way to act.

h) What do you do to earn their trust?

I try to be honest with them and show them that I love them. I spend time playing with them and doing things they enjoy. I encourage them and let them know I will always be there for them.

i) Write a description that would best describe your family life. Do you think that each member feels as through he/she is a vital part of it? See if you can determine whether each member enjoys peace of mind and happiness as a result of being part of the family.

My family life is a stable and loving environment for my children and everything me and my partner do revolves around them. I think each member feels a vital part of it but my partner probably has the toughest job day in and day out. She stays at home with the kids every day which is probably the most demanding job in the world. She rarely gets a chance to sit down and now I have dumped control of my finances on top of her. I try to tell her often how much I appreciate her and try to help out as much as I can in the house to give her breaks. Hopefully once things settle down a bit financially we will be able to get her away on a well deserved holiday for all her hard work for the family.

j) What do you feel you can do to improve the general well-being of your family?

As long as I continue doing what I am doing in recovery and stay away from gambling our general well-being will steadily improve.

4) To my job, Vocation or Profession: The better portion of a person’s life is spent performing his/her job, vocation or profession, be it housewife, attorney, labourer, laundress, hairdresser or sales. A person’s profession plays a vital role in the total picture relative to one’s general well-being. All too often this area is looked at as a necessary evil rather than as an area to help achieve fulfilment.

a) Do you enjoy your job? If not, why?


I enjoy my job and appreciate the job I have but I do feel like I have far more potential and could be doing much bigger things within the organisation although based on my performances over the last few years I think I am the only one who sees that potential.

b) At the end of a day’s work do you feel that you have been accomplished anything?

I generally feel like I have accomplished nothing. I am lazy and unproductive and I need to address this.

c) What rewards do you think you acquire from your job?

I get a decent wage, great holidays and a flexible working pattern.

d) Do you give it your best effort?

Not at all if I am being totally honest, I have put zero effort into my work for years.

e) How can you become better at what you do?

Take a bit of responsibility and motivate myself to do what I need to do. If I put my mind to it I can be extremely good at my role. I am hoping the effort I put into my recovery will seep into my work life if I start to focus on it.

f) Do you think that you are in the right profession? If not, what do you intend to do about it?

I am in the right profession for having a young family. I have a secure job that is reasonably paid with a decent pension.

5) To my Goals, Dreams and Aspirations: A person with goals has hope, happiness and a healthy state of being. Hope, happiness and a healthy state of being are natural by-products in the pursuit of worthy goals. A hopeless person merely exists. The person with goals, dreams and aspirations lives life fully. By envisioning ways to rise above yourself and achieve that which is just out of your grasp, a healthy state of being is maintained. The thrill of living is not so much an achievement, but attempts to achieve. The pursuit of goals fosters confidence, enthusiasm and courage. At day’s end a person may be comfortable in the knowledge he lives twenty-four hours with serenity.

a) What are your goals in life? List them and write a description of each.


To stop gambling – This is pretty self explanatory, I want to stop (which I have done) but more importantly I want to stay stopped. This for me is a daily goal that I will be working towards for the rest of my life.

To be there for my kids and to be a role model – I want to be a positive influence on my kids the same way my parents have been there for me.

To become a better person – I want to be a better person in all aspects of my life; I want to be a productive member of my family; a better friend and a better employee. I also want to continue to reach out to others struggling with addiction and sharing what has helped me.

To become financially stable – I want to pay off my current debts and live within my means on my salary. Also want to learn to budget effectively and learn to respect money again. This is a long term goal as it will take me about 10 years to become debt free.

Family holidays – To be able to go on a family holiday every once in a while would be fantastic.

Buy a house – Currently we rent and to be able to buy a house would be a major accomplishment. Again this will take time but worth working towards.

Promotions in work – I want to move further in my career, currently I have had one promotion and will be looking to continue moving up the ladder.

Exercise – Nothing major but a bit more exercise in my weekly routine would go a long way.

b) Which of these are realistic, achievable and are worthy of your time and effort?

All of them are realistic and achievable with a few changes to my mind set and some effort.

c) Would the pursuit of these goals interfere with your other responsibilities? How?

No, everything I wish or dream for is in some way linked to my recovery.

d) Are you doing anything positive to achieve these goals or are you just wishing they happen?

I have embraced recovery and I am taking an active role in it. Once I start to focus on my goals then I will begin to see results.

e) Do you have a definite plan to achieve these goals?

I have an ever evolving plan of recovery but as long as I stay gamble free and continue working to become a better person then I will be able to achieve these goals.

f) What actions are you taking on a daily basis to achieve these goals?

I currently attend four meetings a week and I try and write a new blog once a week. I also speak to people in recovery on a daily basis and all of this helps me stay away from gambling and continue on the path I am on.

g) What price are you willing to pay to make these goals happen? Will it be worth the price?

The only price I have to pay is to stop gambling and it will be worth it.


6) Friends, Neighbours, Community and Country: Our general well-being benefits from associations that we have with friends and neighbours and the part we play in our community. It offers us the opportunity to be an integral part in the general scheme of things. It is a great sense of fulfilment to feel you can be a working and integral part of the community of mankind.

a) Make a list of your closest friends and write a short description of your feelings towards each one of them.


Friend 1A – One of my best friends and someone who’s opinion I respect and who I would trust with my life. Only see each other a couple of times a year but in constant contact via text. Love him like a brother.

Friend 2A – My other best friend is again someone who’s opinion I respect and who I would trust with my life. See him slightly more often for lunch on occasion but again in constant contact via text. Love him like a brother.

Friend C – Not only a friend but also my sponsor and I feel like I can tell him anything and trust him 100%. An excellent role model and we are in constant contact via text.

Friend D – A work colleague who has become a long time friend over the years and one of my best friends. I feel like I could tell him anything and trust him totally and know that he would be there for me in a crisis.

Friend E – Work colleague who was the first person I spoke to about my gambling addiction. He knew something was wrong and took me out for coffee and we talked it over. I owe him a lot for what he did. Probably the friend I see most due to working together and usually meet up once a month to play some computer games.

Friends F – F is for Fantasy. I have made a number of friends when running my NFL Fantasy Football leagues and would consider a few of them to be close friends.

Friend G – A friend from back where I grew up who I have not made the effort to see over the years but I would still consider him a close friend and massive influence on my life growing up.

b) Is your action and behaviour toward them consistent with your feelings?

In the past they were not but I like to think they know how I feel about them although I could do more to show it.

c) Can you accept them for what they are, or do you find yourself critical of their shortcomings?

I can accept them for what they are and I do not feel I am in a position to be critical of anyone’s shortcomings.

d) Are you there when they need you?

I’m there for any of my friends if they need me and I hope that they know that.

e) How would you describe your relationship with your neighbours?

I would say hello and that is it.

f) What do they think of you?

No idea.

g) What is your role in the community?

I do not have one.

h) Do you take part in community activity, such as local school activities etc.?

No.

i) What do you do as an individual to make your community a better place to in which to live?

Absolutely nothing.

j) Write a short description of how you feel about your country.

The people we need to die in this country for it to get better keep getting younger.

k) What do you do to make the country a better place to live in?

I will try not to let my children grow up to be sectarian. They will be brought up in an environment that is tolerant of all cultures.

7) Special Interest Areas: There are many other areas in life that apply to an individual that hold a high priority. We all have them but they are different for each one of us. It could be a hobby, or any number of things. If they are all good, if we enjoy them, and they are important to us, then we should pursue them just as long as they do not interfere with the well-being of others.

a) Make a list of things you do that you take special interest in.

NFL, Fantasy Football, watching other sports, watching films and watching TV shows.

b) Along side each describe their importance to you and the benefits you derive from doing them.

NFL – It is my favourite sport which I follow year round. I watch as many games as I can and it gives me an opportunity to relax and unwind.

Fantasy Football – Again this is something I do year round and gives me something to research and read about and connect with other people over.

Watching Other Sports – I do this less now than when I was gambling but I still enjoy watching a sporting event that means something.

Watching Films & TV Shows – I love to binge on Netflix shows or watch a good film. It’s a nice way to get an evening in. Also enjoy documentaries which give me an opportunity to learn about things I did not know about.

c) Is there any value in them other than the pleasure?

I have a close bond with some of my friends over NFL and also Fantasy Football gives me an opportunity to connect with other people.

d) Can you financially afford them?

Yes, although I no longer play Fantasy Football for money.

e) Do the other members of your family have an interest in them?

My kids enjoy watching films with me.

f) In your pursuit of these things, what hardships, if any, do you place upon your family?

Sleep deprivation during the NFL season from September to February.

g) Do you ever find that you are shirking responsibilities in other areas of your life in doing these things? In what way?

Generally not although staying up late for NFL can lead to me being late for work.

There is one more part of Step 4 left to post and then it is on to Step 5, hopefully if you have read all of that you have gotten something from it and maybe you decide to give it a go yourself.

Russ

Monday, 22 July 2019

Working The Steps: Step 4 - Part One

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. Going back to step work for this blog and it is a long one as I have tackled Step 4 and as anyone knows who has completed Step 4 it is one of the more eye opening steps in the programme. This will be Part 1 of 3 and as in previous step work blogs anything in bold or italics is taken from the worksheet and the rest is my own. I am aware it is a longer read than usual but hopefully it is worth it for anyone who reads it, I know I have gotten a lot out of writing it.


Introduction


A GUIDE TO THE FOURTH STEP MORAL INVENTORY

The Truth Shall Set You Free

The fourth step of the Gamblers’ Anonymous program reads: “Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.” Inasmuch as G.A. presently has an excellent guide (The Pressure Group Handbook) to help us come to grips with our financial problems, this guide will concern itself with the other departments of our life.

We feel that a guide to fourth step moral inventory is a long overdue necessity in the G.A. program.

The adjectives that describe the seriousness and intensity with which to approach the action demanded in the fourth step of the recovery program are “searching” and “fearless”. This means that we must examine, evaluate and categorize every department of our lives. The very nature of the word “inventory” is to make a detailed list of articles or ideas and to determine their worth or value.

It is with this thought in mind that we approached the writing of this “guide to moral inventory”. We have tried to be as far reaching and searching as possible, so as to keep in tune with the true spirit of this most important step in our recovery. There are no boundaries, nor are there any short cuts in the search for the truth. In searching for the truth we must continue to pursue, regardless of where that search may take us. We must do this fearlessly for there is noting to fear in finding the truth. The results will be quite the contrary for the truth shall set us free – free to choose the many alternatives and opportunities that life presents and free to be a contributing and integral part of the wonderful community of mankind.


This guide to fourth step inventory is divided into three sections. They are:



  • CHARACTER
  • PRIORITIES, PRINCIPLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
  • FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS


Instructions

We herewith submit the following suggestions for the use of this guide to moral inventory:


  • This guide is designed to be most effective if the moral inventory is written. It can then be reviewed by the person who is taking it for its content, thoroughness and truth.
  • This inventory is not designed to be taken in an hour or two. We suggest you  take an hour each evening, in the hopes that you can complete it in two to three weeks.
  • Take it alone without prompting or coaching from anyone.
  • Upon its completion, and at your option, you may want to share it with someone you can confide in.
  • Everyone in G.A. regardless of the number of years in the program should take this written moral inventory at least once a year.
  • Save your completed inventory and compare it to ensuing inventories you may take.
  • A new member of G.A. should take this inventory after being in the program at least three months.
  • Be as honest and thorough as you can, for if you are not, you are only “short-changing” yourself.
  • Search for the truth and come to know the truth, for the truth shall set you free.


I. Character

When we speak of character, we are speaking about distinctive traits, qualities or attributes of an individual’s pattern of behaviour, personality and moral constitution. Character, then, is not something we are born with, but rather, something we have become.

It is true that in our early years there were a number of outside influences (parents, school, church, friends, and acquaintances) that played important roles in the development of our early character, be it good or bad. Fortunately, however, we are never “stuck” with whatever kind of character we may be, for character can always be developed and improved.

Character plays an important role in a person’s destiny. Character determines how one will deal with feelings and emotions. A person’s character will determine a person’s standing with his peers, and finally, character plays the ultimate roles with the individual themself. Character is the key to all departments of one’s life and has a direct effect on the parts of life covered by the ensuing sections of this guide to moral inventory.


Step 6: “We’re entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.”


Comment: This step specifically deals with character as a whole.


“The most difficult and time consuming job with which a person is faced is that of bringing about a character change within themselves.”

It is necessary at this time, and for the sake of this inventory, to show the basic difference between personality and character, so that we may put each in its proper perspective.

Personality: Applies to such personal qualities as voice, hearing, cordiality etc., that determine the way a person acts in his/her social and personal relationships.


Character: Applies to distinctive traits, qualities or attributes of an individual pattern of behaviour, personality and moral constitution.


Again, we can readily see that personality is only a part of character. With this thought in mind let us now being to inventory our whole character makeup with as much honesty as possible.

Remember, there are three distinctive parts that make up our character. They are:


  • Behaviour – A way of acting.
  • Personality – A personal or individual quality that makes one person be different and act differently from another.
  • Moral Constitution – In agreement with a standard of what is right and good in character or conduct.


Strengths of Character

Following is a list of some of the strengths of character for your review. Read them carefully.

Tolerance: Indulgence or forbearance in judging the opinion, customs or acts of others without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing.


Promptness: The state of doing what has to be done, without delay or excuse.


Communication: Ability to transmit and receive information and feelings and understanding through talk, gestures or writing.


Charity: Being kind and generous in the giving of help, understanding and compassion to those in need.


Dignity: A state of worthiness, honour and self-respect about one’s general appearance and manner.


Humility: Regardless of ability, fame or fortune, the state of mind that one is not better than another person.


Industriousness: The giving of an earnest, hardworking, diligent and steady effort to all challenges undertaken.


Optimism: The tendency to take the most hopeful view of matters or expect the best outcome regardless of circumstances. The practice of looking on the bright side of things.


Forgiveness: To give up the wish to punish or get even with. To pardon or excuse.


Responsibility: Obliged or expected to account for; ability to tell right from wrong.


Consideration: To be thoughtful of others and their feelings.


Friendliness: On good terms; not hostile. The quality or condition of being friendly.



Defects of Character

The following is a list of some of the defects of character for your review. Read them carefully.

Selfishness: Having such regard for one’s own interest and advantage that the happiness and welfare of others becomes of less concern than is considered right or just.

Alibi: To minimize, pardon, or excuse a wrong, a fault, or an action as though it were unimportant.


False Pride (Arrogance): An excessive belief in one’s own worth, merit or superiority that is unjustified.


Phoniness: Presenting oneself to be something he/she is not, manifesting this through his/her actions, words and deeds; an imposter.


Procrastination: The postponement, deferment or delay in saying or doing things that must be done.


Laziness: Not willing or eager to work or exert oneself. Doing only the minimum that has to be done in order to get by.


Coarseness: Not refined in feelings, manners, language or taste.


Self-Deception: The act or fact of deceiving oneself; self-delusion.


Condemnation: To criticize or condemn; being judgmental.


Insincerity: Not honest or candid; deceitful.


Impatience: Not willing to bear delay, opposition, pain or bother.


Other defects of character:


Intolerance

Dishonesty
Inability or Unwillingness to Communicate
Self-pity
Pessimism
Bigotry

Having read all the previous information carefully, we now ask you to begin to inventory your character. The following questions are put forth to you to answer in writing, to the best of your ability. Try to be as searching and fearless in your answers as is asked for in step four of the Recovery Program. Remember, this is for you, in your search for the truth.


1. List which character traits are your strengths and which are your weaknesses.


Strengths – Tolerance, Communication, Charity, Optimism, Responsibility, Friendliness.


Weaknesses – Promptness, Dignity, Humility, Industriousness, Forgiveness, Consideration, Selfishness, Consideration, Selfishness, Alibi, False Pride (Arrogance), Procrastination, Laziness, Coarseness, Self-deception, Condemnation, Impatience.

2. Write a description of each of these character traits as they apply to you. For each written description ask yourself the following questions. How does this particular character trait affect your:

Self-Image? – View of oneself.

Attitude? – A way of thinking, acting or feeling.
Performance? – Execution, accomplishment or achievement.
Reputation? – What people think and say the character of a person is.
(It may help you to write some specific examples)

Strengths


Tolerance – I feel I am a very tolerant person when it comes to everyday life. I am not offended by other customs or opinions, I may disagree with someone but I am aware that everyone is entitled to their own point of view. When I am in a discussion with someone I like to hear not only their opinion but I like to try and see it from their perspective to see if I can learn something. Growing up in Northern Ireland I am faced with different cultures and strong opinions based on religion, The Troubles and the way forward for this country. Over the years I have grown into a more progressive way of thinking as I have had a chance to form my own opinion of things through listening to others and working with people from a different background. 

Communication – Since entering recovery I have found my method of communication and that is writing. This is true especially when it comes to how I am feeling or reflecting on my past. Writing my blog has given me the platform and, based on feedback, encouraged me to write more.  I am getting better at talking about my feelings because of attending G.A. and my Problem Gambling Support Group meetings via Skpye. If I am talking to people about something I am interested in, say sports, I am able to communicate clearly and feel a lot more comfortable when speaking. Through my recovery groups I feel that I can build on my communication via talking which will be a real positive.

Charity – My compassion for people has appeared since entering recovery, before this would have been a definite weakness but today it is a strength, I reach out to people via Reddit or Twitter if they are struggling with recovery and share with them what has worked for me. I enjoy sharing my blogs and step work as I feel this could potentially help someone. In my recovery groups I am there if anyone is struggling and if they reach out I will offer to help.

Optimism – I look on the bright side of things a lot and I always believe things will work out for the best. This is probably a trait that was strengthened during my gambling addiction as no matter what happened I would always believe my next bet would win or I would be able to get money from somewhere to pay a bill and not be found out. Outside of gambling I have a lot of optimism, I have thrown myself into recovery because I believe it will all work out. I tend to be positive when it comes to difficult situations, mainly because there is no point worrying about something that is out of your hands so just hope for the best. The serenity prayer sums it up, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Responsibility – I’ve taken responsibility for my actions that has brought me into recovery and this is a trait I am going to continue with. I know the difference between right and wrong and I know that it is up to me to be open and honest when it comes to things in my life. For the last number of years I was irresponsible and I accept that, I cannot change the past, all I can do is to continue to be responsible and show people the sort of person I can be and want to be.

Friendliness – I am an easy going person and feel like I am easy to talk to and become friends with. I try to be friendly with anyone I encounter during my daily routine. I am sure my addiction has caused some damage to friendships through a lack of my availability or communication but over time I will attempt to repair that damage.

Weaknesses

Promptness – I tend to leave things to the last minute or delay them or make excuses for not doing them. Be it work, housework, meeting people etc., this is a character trait that I need to work on a lot and while I have tried to be better since entering recovery there is plenty of room for improvement. In the past I would have been able to lie about why something was not done, but since I am trying to be open and honest in recovery this will not be possible and if it continues being a weakness then my reputation amongst colleagues and friends will take a massive hit.

Dignity – For those who know me personally they would probably agree that I look like I’ve been dragged from an ISIS held territory and dropped back into civilization. I do not care much for my personal appearance and it’s something I need to put a bit more effort in to.

Humility – This one is more my own thoughts rather than my actions. I do still tend to think that I am better than other people and I am working hard to change that. Again this is something that probably stems from my addiction and was amplified for many years.

Industriousness – My effort in work has been lacking for a long time now and although there has been a slight improvement since I entered recovery, there is a long way to go. I do not want to get a reputation for being a bad employee so this is something I need to address sooner rather than later.

Forgiveness – Not sure I have been able to forgive myself for what I have done with regards to my addiction. I have no problem forgiving others but still working on myself.

Consideration – I have a pretty dark sense of humour and would always hate to offend someone with the things I say, but I have no line. I do try to be considerate of other people’s feelings when joking around but sometimes I speak before I think.

Selfishness – Since entering recovery I have been trying to put other people first as best I can but it can be hard to balance as I believe that recovery is a selfish program. I do need to look out for my own needs, especially in the early days of recovery.

False Pride (Arrogance) – There are times where I still have arrogant thoughts running through my head but these are becoming less and less the more I open up to people and talk about my feelings.
Procrastination – Again, this probably goes back to work and housework for me. I tend to delay things and put them off for no real reason other than…

Laziness – Yep, guilty! When it comes to certain aspects of my life I am as lazy as you can get, although I have found myself to be very active in my recovery and doing more than the minimum to get by. So hopefully I can use that blueprint to improve the other parts of my life where laziness is rife.

Coarseness – I use fuck like it’s a comma and in general swear a lot. I think that’s just me though and I am getting better at judging what situations are suitable for my coarse manner.

Self-Deception – This is another trait that was amplified during my gambling addiction. I have been doing this less and less the longer I have been in recovery but it can still appear. I link it to complacency and thoughts that my recovery is going well and I can relax a bit more but I know myself that I need to put the work in.

Condemnation – I can be critical of myself and other people at times and also judgemental. Although I do have tolerance for other viewpoints, at times I can still be critical or judgemental of people who have different opinions to me.

Impatience – I am a very impatient person, if I want something I want it yesterday. People who cannot do something as fast as I can frustrate me. Things that get in my way annoy me. I don’t like to wait for things to happen; I can become restless and irritable.

3. With reference to your list of strengths:

a) Just how strong is each? Scale each strength, using ten as the highest mark.


Tolerance – Seven
Communication – Six
Charity – Five
Optimism – Ten
Responsibility – Six
Friendliness – Eight

b) Do you find that you can build on your strengths?

Yes there is plenty of room to work on my strengths. If I don’t work on them then there is a chance over time they can become weaknesses. I am also aware that I will never be perfect, it is progress not perfection I am after.

c) Are you willing to do so?

I am and I believe that working steps and going to meetings will give me the opportunity to build on my strengths.

d) Would it be worth the effort?

Yes, I believe it will help me in my recovery to build on my strengths. The aim here is to become a better person that I was before, I want my family and friends to be proud of my recovery but most importantly I want to be proud of myself.

e) Write what you would be willing to do to further develop each of your strengths.

I need to continue to talk to others about how I feel and continue to build on my writing. I need to listen more to other people and take in what they are saying. Becoming a more patient person will also help develop my strengths. To do this I need to continue working my recovery, working the steps, reaching out for help if I need it and be willing to offer help if someone else is in need.

f) Have you found that any of your “so-called” strengths are really not strengths at all? Has your scale of 1-10 changed?

No I think working through this exercise everything is as expected when it comes to my strengths.

g) If so, what are you going to do about it? Are you willing to make a commitment to the strengthening of your character?

Although they have not changed, I am aware that complacency could creep in. I am willing to make a commitment to the strengthening of my character by continuing to work my recovery.


4. With reference to your character defects:

a) Rate each defect of character using the number one (1) as the lowest (weakest) possible mark.


Promptness – Four
Dignity – Three
Humility – Five
Industriousness – Four
Forgiveness – Seven
Consideration – Nine
Selfishness – Eight
False Pride (Arrogance) – Six
Procrastination – Three
Laziness – Three
Coarseness – Five
Self-Deception – Nine
Condemnation – Three
Impatience – One

b) Do you find that some of your defects of character are really not as bad as you thought they were?

A few are not as bad as my other defects but there is still work to be done on them. There would be a few that do not appear as often as the others but the point of this exercise is to be honest and they still affect me even if it is not on a regular basis.

c) Are you willing to work at removing these defects of character?

One of the main aims of step work for me is removing defects of character and I am looking forward to working on it. I do not think it will be easy but it will certainly be worth it as I want to move forward in my life becoming a better person.

d) Are you willing to make a commitment to that effect?

I have made a commitment to my sponsor, to my higher power and in public by sharing it through my blog.

e) List the number of ways the removal of your defects would benefit others.

I would become a better person to be around, a better Dad, a better partner, a better Son and a better friend. I would also be better at my job and given my role in work this would have a positive impact on our customers.

f) As you improve on one character trait, will it aid you in improving on others? How?

I feel that a lot of the character traits are linked in some way and improving on one will enable me to improve on the others. Plus being able to improve on one will give me the strength and belief that it is possible to improve on the others.

The following is a suggested mini-formula to help you build your character:


  • Take this inventory as thoroughly and honestly as possible.
  • Follow the steps of recovery to the best of your ability for they are the foundation of character building.
  • When you are ready, and at your option, share your inventory with someone you can confide in.
  • Plan the actions you think you must take to develop a better character.
  • Implement your plan. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
  • Do not confuse your outgoing personality with your inward character.



DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE EVER DONE WORKING ON YOUR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT?

Thank you for taking the time to read through all of that, I know it was a long one and I will post Part 2 next week. 

Russ