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.


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?


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.?


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.


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.



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:



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:


Inability or Unwillingness to Communicate

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)


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.


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.


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. 


Tuesday, 16 July 2019

One Day At A Time

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. At one of my recent Skype Problem Gambling Support Group meetings the topic of “One Day at a Time” was suggested for discussion. This is a phrase I hear a lot in recovery but it is not something I ever had explained to me properly so I was very excited for this meeting. What I am going to share here is how I interpreted and understood “One Day at a Time” before this meeting occurred. The Chair of the meeting had sent an explanation of “One Day at a Time” which you will find below followed by a few questions that I will do my best to answer.

Upon learning of your compulsive gambling some of your friends or family members may have told you “JUST STOP” as if that was the solution to your gambling problem. They didn’t understand that it doesn’t work for compulsive gamblers.

For many of us, the thought of never ever placing another bet is unthinkable. How can we live without gambling or how can we solve our financial problems without “the big win”? 

But recovery teaches us we should try to live our lives “one day at a time”.  

We should not obsessively worry about tomorrow, next week or next year.  

We should also not dwell on the past.  

Today is all we have.  

What does “one day at a time” mean to you?  

“One day at a time” in terms of gambling for me means I focus on not gambling for today and I do not think about being six months free from gambling or a year free from gambling etc. “Don’t count the days, make the days count,” as Muhammad Ali once said. The most important thing is to just focus on today and if that’s too much then break it into “one hour at a time” or “one minute at a time”. They say in my G.A. room that the world record for being gamble free is 24 hours, the person who got up the earliest will be the longest gamble free. Also, it does not matter how many days off a bet you are, what matters is how close you are to the next bet.

What I have been struggling with is how to apply “one day at a time” to a lot of things outside of stopping gambling. I feel the term can be misinterpreted in recovery and if I look forward to an event or set myself goals I feel like I am doing it wrong if someone then talks about living life “one day at a time”. I hear the phrase and I think to myself do people in recovery never look beyond today? How do they plan their week? Do they just live in the moment everyday? Then I began to wonder, without sounding ageist, was it a phrase the older members of my groups were applying to their everyday lives? Is it easier for someone in their 60s to live by “one day at a time” compared to a young person? I am a young person (sort of…) and I am struggling to apply it so it must be for the older generation...turns out I was wrong.

Is this something that you practice in recovery? 

It is something I practice in relation to stopping gambling and I also use it to avoid worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future and when dealing with my debt. I don’t panic about my debt or wish to be debt free as quickly as possible because I apply “one day at a time” to it. I also tend not to dwell on the past, I don’t forget the past completely and will on occasion reflect on things I have done or that have happened but I no longer beat myself up about them. I do still allow myself to look to the future and set goals or have hopes and dreams as long as they are realistic.

If you’re new to recovery, do you think about never being able to gamble again and is it overwhelming?

I did early on but quickly accepted the fact that I am unable to gamble again. There was one situation I had to face early on in my own recovery and that revolved around NFL Fantasy Football Leagues. I run five Dynasty leagues, which mean you keep your teams year after year, and we had built a really good group of people in the leagues. I was also in charge of the money for the leagues and obviously that money had been gambled away. The leagues were something I enjoyed doing and something that I knew were not a trigger for me gambling wise. After I told my partner and parents they both said I would have to stop the fantasy leagues and this was something I wanted to avoid. I had gotten to the point in my life where the addiction had isolated me so much that all I had outside of gambling as a hobby was Fantasy Football and I did not want to lose that. I tried to tell myself I could play them for money as I have always done because I do not see them as a trigger. Once I started recovery though I soon realised I was not being totally honest with myself. Although the leagues themselves are not triggers, the act of staking money to win more money is gambling and could be a trigger. So I made the decision that I would continue playing only if I could play for free but also if I was not in a position to win any money. I had to suggest this to my league mates, some of whom I know personally and others who I only know through the leagues. I had to admit to them I had a gambling problem and explain my situation. Thankfully I play with a great group of people and they all agreed to it and were very supportive of me for admitting my problem. I also no longer handle the money side of things to do with the leagues as I do not want or need that sort of responsibility during my recovery. I just want to be clear, I have made this decision to continue on with my fantasy leagues by being honest with myself and knowing what is and is not a trigger. This sort of decision causes various opinions depending on who I ask but I have made the decision that I feel is right for me. I am proud of the steps I took to get to the decision but I am also aware that should things change and playing Fantasy Football does start to become a trigger that I have a big enough support group around me and feel comfortable to now reach out and tell someone how I am currently feeling.

Dealing with that situation was extremely overwhelming at the time but now I feel in a better place about it all. As for never gambling again, in general, it is not something that I feel overwhelmed about. It took me a while to wrap my head around what is and is not gambling, some people have different opinions on the subject. For me, I came to the decision that staking money for the chance to win more money is what I consider to be gambling and for now I plan to avoid those situations.

Have you tried looking at things “one day at a time”?

I look at certain things “one day at a time” such as stopping gambling, paying my debts and using it to avoid worrying about things that may or may not happen.

From early on in my recovery I have felt like it’s an extremely useful way to view things but I did also feel it was just used as recovery lingo that was thrown around during meetings or online (and I have been guilty of doing that as well) and left open to interpretation from whoever was listening.

I found the meeting we had discussing this topic was eye opening and I had been interpreting “one day at a time” incorrectly during the early stages of my recovery in relation to things outside of gambling. When fully understood it is a powerful tool in recovery and I can understand how it could be applied to a lot more situations in my life.

We should not obsessively worry about tomorrow, next week or next year.  

We should also not dwell on the past.  

Today is all we have.  

It makes so much sense when I see it explained like that and it’s not like it was some big secret my fellow problem gamblers were hiding from me. I could have easily read the literature or stuck my hand up in a meeting and asked what exactly “one day at a time” means because I was struggling with it but that would involve me admitting I did not know everything. I just stayed quiet and assumed I would figure it out, and when I did figure it out I would be right about it. Turns out that was my ego working overtime again, but that’s for another blog.


Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Q & A

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. So I came up with the following idea for my Skype Problem Gambling Support Group meeting which was a change of format for what we normally do. The idea was a quick-fire round-table discussion which went down really well with those who participated. I thought I would take a look at the questions a bit more in depth here and share my answers. Plus I have had an extremely busy week potty training (not me, I was potty trained 12 months ago) and haven’t had much of a chance to write anything else.

1) What defect would you most like to be rid of?

Impatience would be the defect I want rid of the most. Outside of my recovery I am a very impatient person, if I want something I want it yesterday. People who cannot do something as fast or as well as I can frustrate me and instead of using this as a teaching moment I just take over and get it done. Things that get in my way annoy me, such as unexpected plans that I do not want to do. I don’t like to wait for things to happen; I can become restless and irritable. A good example of this would be somebody in work saying they need to speak to me and they arrange a meeting for a few hours later, I cannot settle when that happens. I want to know what they want right away and I start to question what it could be about or why they cannot speak to me right now.

2) Do you believe your actions in active addiction would be considered insane?

Absolutely, in comparison to someone who does not suffer from a gambling addiction my actions would be considered totally insane. I would sit up waiting for my pay to hit my bank account until 1am just so I could start gambling straight away on some South American soccer or IFT Tennis in America. It was a release, I had probably not gambled for a week or so by this stage as I had ran out of money and could not wait to get my next fix. I have sold things to get money to pay bills and instead of lodging the money in the bank and paying the bill I would lodge the money and start depositing into my betting account thinking I could win some money but end up losing it all. So now I have no stuff and the bill still isn’t paid. I would win money and proceed to lose it all because I would get reckless as I felt it was “the bookies money” but once I had lost it I would start chasing it with my own money because I would convince myself that it was my money and I needed to get it back.

3) Do you accept the person looking back at your in the mirror?

I am not at that point yet as I am still early in recovery at the time of writing this. I would say I accept the mould of the person that I see looking back at me in the mirror, I accept the journey this person is starting out on, but there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of room for improvement. What I see looking back is definitely not the finished article but I am encouraged by what I see compared to pre April 2nd 2019. I feel I will get to that point where I do accept but it will take a bit more time.

4) Do you believe you have hit your bottom and do you believe your bottom was enough?

This was an interesting question because I have been open and honest about the fact I do not feel that I have hit rock bottom in relation to others who I have met in recovery or stories people have shared on Twitter or Reddit. I’ve heard a few quotes about rock bottom in G.A. which I quite like, “every rock bottom has a trap door” and “rock bottom is the point where you stop digging.” I do not feel I have caused the financial devastation that others have and I have not destroyed relationships the way others have but I could see where I was headed over the next few years if I did not do something about it. That is one of the reasons why I like to share my story and recovery because I like to show that you do not have to wait until you hit rock bottom before you say enough is enough and I want out. In relation to the actual question I feel like I got off before I hit my own rock bottom, as I think there was so much more damage I could have done, but I hit a point where I had enough and I asked for help.

5) What is your favourite step?

Personally I am currently working through Step 4, which is a lot of work but worth doing, so I have only worked a couple of the steps. I did hear a great quote about working the steps on Podcast Recovery (excellent podcast and cannot recommend it enough), “The steps are in order for a reason and you should work them in that order expect any step with a 1 in front of it, you can work those steps at any point in recovery.” When you look at the steps and read 1, 10, 11 and 12 that quote is so true which leads me to my favourite step, Step 12.

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

I feel like my blog is a big part of this step, as is sharing at my meetings and those are some of the most enjoyable things I do in recovery right now.

6) What is your greatest fear in Recovery?

Complacency is easily my greatest fear in recovery; it’s something not only am I aware of but also warned about by others on a regular basis. I tend to go all in on things and become obsessed about them then drop them when I get bored. Or I will get to the stage that I think I have done all I can and no longer need to work at it. I keep reminding myself that this is a lifelong journey and I constantly need to be attending meetings on a regular basis. I just hope that should complacency strikes I am able to recognise it happening and stop myself sliding towards a relapse. That’s another reason I have told so many people I have a gambling addiction as the more people that know the bigger my support network and if I do not recognise myself slipping hopefully someone else will and call me out on it.

7) What was your greatest fear in active addiction?

This is a great question and although my immediate thoughts went to being caught out I think I will go a different direction. My biggest fear was to admit that I was beaten and asking for help to stop, it was doing everything I am doing now, being accountable for my actions, having to stay clean, and having to give up gambling. I always thought I was in control and if I wanted to stop I could but that was not the case. It got to the stage towards the end where my greatest fear was going to be realised, I started to see that I was never going to be able to stop on my own and I would have to admit I was done and ask for help.

8) What resentment do you need to let go of?

I resent where I am in my work life even though I do not control the frequency of promotion opportunities that come up in my company. I just resent the fact I do not have that much experience when going for future promotions and also believe I am wasted at my current position and I could be doing so much more. The funny thing is, if anyone was to take a look at my performances over the past couple of years they would probably tell me I am lucky to be employed never mind thinking about promotions. I have not put myself forward to gain new experiences that might be useful for future promotions, I am the one who is happy doing the bare minimum (and I normally struggle to do that). It is up to me to take charge of my future promotion opportunities and to ensure I am prepared when it comes to experience; no one else can do it for me.

9) Do you keep track of your clean time?

I do, I use an app called I Am Sober to keep track of my time and I know the date of my last bet but what I have stopped doing is keeping track of days on a daily basis. I decided to stop that after day 7 as I feel it puts too much unnecessary pressure on myself. I am still able to check on my app if anyone asks me and I do have a rough idea of the days I am on or if there are any milestones coming up. Early on in G.A. someone said, “It doesn’t matter how many days off a bet you are, what’s important is how close you are to the next bet”, which is a quote that has stuck with me. I also seen this quote from Muhammad Ali which I think fits well here;

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

10) Have you stopped obsessing about gambling?

Yes I have and it feels amazing. Gambling consumed my life and when I ran out of money all I thought about was how I could either get more money via borrowing or not paying bills or working out a budget as to how I would survive the month. I still use Flash Scores as my go to app for checking sports scores and I know they show the odds from Bet365 underneath the games. If I see a crazy result I do go on and check the odds, not from a betting point of view but just to see how much of a shock it was. I suppose that’s just gambling being normalised these days and odds are used so much when people are talking about sports. I would also say I am out of the loop when it comes to sports now, before I would have known nearly every game that was on that day but now I only tend to find out if I see it on Twitter. I still watch sports but not nearly as much as I used to and I have come to realise that I was not watching sports all the time because I was a huge sports fan but because I am an addict.

I really got a lot out of the meeting when these questions were asked and I got a lot out of writing my answers out here. It’s nice to be able to briefly touch on several topics at the one time and something I may do again in the future. I want to give another shout out to Podcast Recovery, @PodcastRecovery on Twitter, as this was the place I got the questions from as they post them up regularly. Definitely worth a follow on Twitter and an excellent resource from the podcasts, to questions and even a daily thought, the two guys behind it do an excellent job.


Monday, 1 July 2019

Working The Steps: Step Three

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I had previously posted Step Two back in June so now I thought I would share my work on Step Three. Anything in bold or italics is from the work sheet, the rest is my own.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.

Step 3, Exercise 1: Surrender

Step 3 asks us to surrender – to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power. Notice that the step says care of, not control of. There’s ease, gentleness, comfort and support in this kind of surrender. Step 3 asks us to make a commitment to let go of our stubborn, habitual or irrational need or desire to control things that are clearly beyond our control. These are “things we cannot change” – like the actions of others, the weather, the passage of time, and our compulsive gambling. By allowing our benevolent guiding spirit or Higher Power to handle these things, we free ourselves to address the things that are within our control. These are all the things we listed in Step 1, Exercise 4 – like remaining abstinent, attending meetings, being honest, finding spirituality, achieving balance. If we allow ourselves to be cared for in matters over which we have no control, we can direct our energies to effecting change within ourselves.

1) Write about three things you could lose – or you’re afraid you could lose – if you were to make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of a Higher Power. Write about three things you could gain.

When I first entered recovery and asked my partner to take control of my finances I was worried I would lose my financial independence. I was basically admitting I could not be trusted with money. I had thoughts about being questioned every time I bought something in a shop or why I needed money. At the end of the day this is my money and I shouldn’t have to justify why I need it. Of course, I actually should have to justify why I need money. I have a 14 year track record showing I can’t be trusted with money. I had no financial independence when I was gambling because any money I had was spent on gambling. So in fact I have gained financial freedom. I no longer need to worry about my bills being paid as that has been sorted out. I don’t mind being questioned on what I’ve spent my money on. My partner can access my accounts at any time. I get a monthly allowance and I’m slowly starting to learn how to budget that over a month. I will also add I didn’t just hand my partner my finances and tell her to sort them out. I planned the budget with her help, switched the direct debits over to the new account, keep her informed of dates that bills come out, which debts I’m paying back each month. This was a very hands on situation and not something I just dumped on her lap for her to fix.

Personal privacy was something I was concerned with losing when I turned my life over to the care of a Higher Power (Higher Power being my family). I had thoughts of being constantly questioned about what I was doing on my phone or laptop, where I was going, what I did at work etc. My privacy was going to be constantly invaded by people who were keeping an eye on me. Early on in my recovery I started to embrace this and in fact encourage it as I found that the more open I was with people and the more willing I was to show them I had nothing to hide then I could slowly start to gain back their trust. Now that can be seen as a double edged sword as once you start to gain back trust the onus is on me not to abuse that trust like I did in the past. By continuing to be open and honest during my recovery and relying on my family I will be able to show that I am thankful of their trust.

Last but not least, and I hope this makes sense, I am afraid I could lose my family by turning my will and life over to the care of a Higher Power. By this I mean if I go back gambling, and I don’t mean a small relapse, but if I go back gambling the way I did before I am under no illusions I will lose my family as I know it. If I had kept this addiction a secret maybe I could have prevented that from happening. If I kept this to myself maybe they would never have found out. On the flip side, what I can gain from this is also my family. By them knowing exactly what I’m going through and by showing them I am serious about recovery it will only make our family stronger going forward.

How do we become willing to open our minds and hearts to the benevolent guidance of a Higher Power? We can start within the program itself. Many of us in G.A. have come to experience the meetings and the fellowship as a power greater than ourselves. Through sponsorship, we can align ourselves with members who practice the principles of the program and embody its spirit.

2) Do you have a sponsor? If yes, write about how the relationship connects you to G.A. and supports you in your life. If no, list the qualities you would look for in a sponsor and write about how a nurturing relationship with someone in G.A. could enhance your recovery. Are you willing to make a commitment to choosing a sponsor within the next 60 days?

I do have a sponsor and he is the person who talked to me about the positives of G.A. Not only that but he has encouraged to write this blog, to join and participate in the PG Support Group meetings on Skype and to reach out to others in need of help. He’s also someone I find easy to talk to and I’d be comfortable to bring any issues I am going through to him. I know he will not judge me and is someone who will be able to offer advice.

Step 3, Exercise 2: Wisdom

Surrendering our will to our Higher Power enables us to know our Higher Power’s will for us. Letting go of our need to control (or be controlled) opens the door for us to develop the wisdom to know the difference between the things we can change and the things we can’t. Because we’re not attempting to exert out will, acquiesce to the will of others or force an outcome, we are empowered to see situations as they really are, determine whether our participation is appropriate, assess our options and make productive choices.

1) Does surrendering your will mean sacrificing your independence? Even if it does, might it not be worth it?

I think in a sense it does mean sacrificing your independence to a point but for me it is definitely worth it. I have put myself in the position where I have damaged the trust of those closest to me and I am responsible for the mess I have created financially. My family want what is best for me and they show that by taking control of my finances and checking to make sure I am not gambling by asking if I am going to meetings etc. For me to fight that, or want to fight that, would be detrimental to my recovery and throwing their generosity and good will back in their faces.

2) On what do you usually base your decisions? Anger? Intuition? Fear? Logic? How has that worked for you in the past? Is it working for you now? Are you willing to consider another path?

I feel like in the past I would have based a lot of my decisions on various emotions depending on the situation. For example, buying a new mobile phone, I would have logically researched what phone I wanted, looked at the pros and cons, but once I had made my decision excitement took over and I had no patience. I had to have the phone there and then. That lack of patience has lead to some regrettable decisions in the past. If I wanted something and I had the money for it I would want to buy it straight away. If I didn’t have the money I would become angry and resentful and turn to gambling to try and make the money to buy the items which inevitably didn’t work out too well. I still feel like I am a person who has strong emotions and sometimes they can get the better of me and I need someone else who can step in and be the voice of reason. If I feel strongly about a decision I tend to try and follow through with it with maybe only seeing my side of things. Now I am trying to take a step back and see all sides before making decisions. I’m still a work in progress from that point of view and willing to improve myself.

3) What does the phrase “Do the right thing” mean to you? How does it work? Cite a recent example from your life.

For me it’s all about treating others the way you would want to be treated in that situation. I’m trying to look at a lot of situations from other perspectives now whereas in the past it was all about me.  Sometimes doing the right thing also means telling some hard truths in a situation. In recovery I see people pussy footing around situations when sometimes being direct and telling them something they might not want to hear is the best approach. It’s the approach I would rather experience. Other times it’s doing something that I don’t want to do but I know that it will be of benefit to a family member or friend. I also experienced it in work recently where by doing the right thing for a customer has generated me more work and I could have just avoided that, but it didn’t feel right to do that. If I had still been gambling I don’t think I would have given a shit about that customer if I’m being completely honest and I wouldn’t have went out of my way for them.

Step 3, Exercise 3: Self-Awareness

We’ve looked at how surrendering our will relates to our independence. Now let’s look at how it relates to our feelings. Often, our need to control situations or exercise our will encourages us to manage, manipulate, distort, deny, excuse or bury our feelings, rather than experience them. Within the next week, choose a situation in your life and make a conscious decision to let go of your need to control it (as long as doing so will not harm yourself or others) and then follow through on it. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up as you formulate and act on the decision. Observe your feelings as best you can.

1) How did it feel when you let go of your need to control the situation? Be specific.

I run several NFL Fantasy Football Dynasty leagues and as “Commish” my Rookie Drafts and start up drafts tend to run very smoothly and quickly. In the past when there has been someone “On The Clock” for a period of time I would message them as a gentle reminder. I’m aware they have more important things going on than fantasy football but I still like to keep things moving along. Other leagues that I do not run tend to be a much slower experience. It’s in these situations, where I have zero control compared to a little control in my leagues, that I have become extremely frustrated and impatient. This week I had a draft in a league I don’t run and I did my best to let go of the situation. It was a very slow experience and a couple of times I found myself getting frustrated but overall it was much better for me as the frustration and anger levels were not as high. I still have thoughts of “if I was running that leagues I’d do it this way” but that’s not a good way to look at things. Working on thoughts like that will be a part of my recovery.

2) Your willingness is the key to letting go. Would you be willing to let go again in the same or a different situation, regardless of the outcome?

Yes it’s something I would be willing to do again and to try in other situations as I need to learn how to deal with things that are out of my control or even things that I try to control that do not need to be controlled.

When we let go of our habitual need to control (or be controlled), we’re also freed to look within ourselves and examine our true nature. The process allows us to connect or reconnect with our spirituality and with personal interests and passions that can enrich and balance our lives in recovery.

3) Are you feeling more connected to your spiritual nature? How has this connection changed the way you feel about yourself? How do you feel about yourself?

Since entering recovery I am definitely more connected to my spiritual nature. I am starting to become the person I was before the addiction took over. I’ve always been a laid back person, someone who would go with the flow and be my true self to others. I would openly practice values that are important to me and allow myself to grow as a person. I lost a lot of this during my addiction and went into a shell, afraid to show those closest to me what I had become. I still have work to do but with each passing day in recovery I find myself becoming the person I used to be. I still need to work on becoming frustrated with simple things which is something that developed during my addiction and need to learn to take things as they come.

4) What interests, hobbies or passions have you discovered or rediscovered in recovery? How have they added to your life? Are there any you might like to explore in the future?

I have rediscovered my passion for cooking, I have always enjoyed it but during my addiction I had no time or energy to try new things. Now I’ve been trying different recipes and enjoy my time back in the kitchen. Weight gain could start to become an issue though! I’ve also started to spend time with friends either at lunch in work or at the weekends. That’s something that died a death during my addiction.  We go out as a family now more than we did in the past and it’s something I missed doing. Writing my blog is a passion I have discovered and it’s something I will look to continue doing. As for future hobbies, tennis is something that I would like to start and play.

Step 3, Exercise 4: Decisions

In Step 3, we’ve written about and discussed important aspects of our independence, including self-will, self-reliance, defiance, false pride, arrogance and our need to control.

1) Have you continued to surrender your will and let go of your need to control people, places and situations? How do you feel when you do so?

I’m a work in progress when it comes to this I think. I have surrendered my will in a lot of situations such as my finances and will continue to do so. I still think I struggle at times when it comes to certain situations when I think I am right. I still find myself trying to control that situation because I think my way is the right way when there may be another way to approach things. Learning to back down in this sort of situation to at least listen to other points of view is something I am working on.

One aspect I have improved on is controlling my impatience. I am very much someone who wants something done to my speed and if it doesn’t happen I get agitated and frustrated. I have been practising letting go of my “control” in these situations as I actually have no control over the speed of which other people do things.

Paradoxically, as we gain recovery and make progress in G.A., overconfidence may set in. We may begin to feel like “our old selves” and conclude that our problems are solved. In Step 3, several additional aspects of independence may appear – like impatience (nothing seems to be moving fast enough), intolerance (focusing on the perceived faults or shortcomings of others) and immaturity (“the rules don’t apply to me”). No coincidence – they’re all tell-tale signs of overconfidence. It’s also no coincidence that these thinking patterns start with the letter “I”. As much as we’d like to put the onus on others, the people, places or situations we’re struggling with, focusing on or judging have everything to do with “I” and very little to do with “them”. The trick is to notice the thinking before we act on it.

2) Are you experiencing any of this “I” thinking? How are you dealing with it? 

Having read that passage above I have to admit that, mentally, I do this all the time and it’s something I am constantly working on. As I said before I’m trying to take a step back in a lot of situations and trying to see all sides before making a decision or voicing concerns I may have over a situation. It’s something that stems from my addiction and although I may not verbally say any of the things I am thinking but it’s still a toxic character defect in my mind. I am trying to think of others before I act in as many possible scenarios as I can to try and focus my mind to not always think of me first.

Step 3 asks us to make a decision to surrender our will to the care of our Higher Power. If the request seems too intimidating, we can start by simply deciding to be willing to make a decision. We can choose to remain open to the idea of surrender. We can continue to use the G.A. program and fellowship as our Higher Power, if that’s more comfortable. Remember, it is a Power of our own understanding with which we desire to connect, and our understanding may change and evolve if we seek help, trust others and remain open and willing.

When we decide, the decision probably will not be universal. Most of us will make it many times and in countless different situations. We may decide to test it, only to take it back when the outcome is not to our liking. We may convince ourselves that we’re too time-pressed to turn it over, resolving to “do it later”. We may “pick & choose”, letting go in minor, inconsequential situations, but holding on for “important” ones. But if, gradually, we can become willing to make the decision one day, one hour, one situation, one person at a time, eventually it will become our “second nature” – a more open, humble and accepting nature that can support us to live life on life’s terms.

3) Are you willing to continue the journey through Step 4’s searching and fearless self-inventory in partnership with a Higher Power of your own understanding?

Bring it on!

I've found step work to be an enjoyable experience and something that makes you really think about your thoughts and emotions. Maybe someone who reads it can relate and potentially work the step themselves.