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