The Mind and Its Role in Overcoming Gambling Addiction


More and more, I find myself coming to this site not to talk about the specifics of my gambling past but how I can become a better person.

I just had two thoughts. TJChicko said that she trusts herself completely to make the right decisions and is willing to face the consequences of her decisions. Ravisher said that calling ourselves compulsive gamblers isn't necessary (sometimes detrimental?) to our recovery. He also said that we need to visualize or imagine the person we want to become. This is something that successful people have admitted to doing. But in conventional recovery we are told to concentrate on our weaknesses so we don't relapse.

I have attended Gamblers Anonymous meetings and one of the first things they teach us is to admit we were, are and always will be "powerless" over gambling. We have no control over gambling, it's a beast that controls us. This suggests that we shouldn't trust ourselves. Also, when we introduce ourselves, we do so by labelling ourselves as compulsive gamblers. "Hello, my name is Honesty and I'm a compulsive gambler." We have to do this each time, no matter how how many times we've said it. If we keep telling ourselves we are something, don't we eventually end up becoming that thing?

In psychology circles, we're told we must accept we have a disease or mental illness in order to start our recovery. What kind of disease do we have? What's this mental illness? I've never been aware of it.

Is it dangerous if I trust myself and never call myself a compulsive gambler? I think this question is fundamental in our recovery and goes against conventional recovery methods. To be successful at anything, don't we need to believe in our abilities?
How do we resolve all the pain and suffering to be able to make better choices?

I've seen this work for many people, and it is what I'm choosing to do for myself... I thought I would share this with you all.

For anyone to resolve deep pain is a daunting task, years of therapy and a million dollars later you might get to the bottom of it and be able to put it away.

So... then what?

I have found that amending the Belief about the stimulus is the easiest place to work. It is hard work but it boils down to one simple thing. Make a new belief, supported by new information.

In other words... we don't need to actually have to resolve all of our pain to move forward and stay there... that just isn't realistic. But we can change our minds fairly easily. We do it every day. We can create a new and better reality.

Keep gathering new information and make a different choice base on that new information. We can make that choice in a blink of an eye. Take care all.

Terri
What do you find is a good belief?
well I'm still working on that... hahahah

I am uncovering what I believe that is not a good belief right now. Then I will look to see where that leads, still gathering new information... it is a process for all of us.

I'm pretty sure that the belief that Gambling is a great pain reliever is become more and more of a joke... hahahaha can you hear me laughing now...

Terri
I believe in having good values and principles. I believe in working hard for everything I want in life. I believe in getting along with people, respecting their opinions and who they are. I believe you're a great person, TJChicko.

I believe gambling is an easy way out.

I believe in myself.
Well thank you! that was very sweet... you know I believe your a great person too.

So... you believe that gambling is an easy way out of what? What are you trying to get out of?

Rock on... belief in ourselves is our strongest ally.

Ohhhh so you doooo have good character!!!! hummm

hahaha

Terri
Terri,

Yes we do change our minds every day and it is 'intelligent' to change our minds. Not intelligent to stay 'rigid' in our thinking.

If we can change our minds, then we can change the way we think about ourselves. Once we realize this, we can change our self-image.

Gambling is not an easy way out... it is a very difficult, soul-destroying, painful and expensive way out.

An easier, soul-enhancing, most painless and least expensive way out, is to change the self.

We can do this by 'visualization' and 'using' our 'imagination' to change the way we 'see' ourselves. This is the way we got where we are today, all of us.

Rav.
This is a good place to visit I find very hard to discuss my addiction to anyone. I find it very comforting to be with others who I can relate to. Honesty is the best policy. I'm struggling with addiction but I'm determined to succeed and beat my compulsive gambling problem. Great site. Thanks
EXACTLY! I whole heartedly agree with you.

Hello My Name is TJChicko and I'm lovely, calm and busy working on improving myself.
I believe that I am going on a new and exciting journey that doesn't include gambling.
I trust that when I am ready to, I will make the right decision to do what is in my best interest.
I believe that I can make today a great day.

wow... that actually felt good!
give it a try

Terri
I've just finished reading the posts from lilaud, TJChicko and Ravisher. I'm trying to remember the best I can, ***if I'm wrong please let me know.***

Ravisher said that our calculations on whether to gamble or not to gamble is based on genetics/nature. Are you implying that we are born with the tendency to gamble? I wholeheartedly agree with Ravisher that FORGIVENESS (forgiving ourselves and others) is essential to putting our past behind. We had very little to do with our actions as children and from what I've read, our character is shaped by the time we're 8-12 years old.

TJChicko believes it's our experiences and self-determination that will help us overcome our compulsive gambling.

Am I on the right track? Correct me if I'm wrong.

I believe we gamble because we have poor character. Character is composed of many things: genetics, experiences, etc. When I examine my past I can see where I did everything possible to avoid the very things I wanted in life. I ran away from my problems. This was before I developed a gambling problem. I think Ravisher has an excellent point when he suggested that we don't have to continually label ourselves as compulsive gamblers in order to recover.

Lilaud also made some excellent points, resentment, forgiveness, and many other important things that make up the BIG picture. Or the parts of the recovery.

TJChicko also made an excellent point when she said that she trusts herself completely to make the right decisions. That's self-confidence to me. It's an awesome quality to have. She also stressed that underlying reason for our self-destructive behavior was PAIN. I agree with this. Hurt, shame, guilt all contribute to pain. I can completely identify with what she said.

The same counselors who are trying to get us away from gambling stress that positive affirmation is an important part of recovery. But if we keep telling ourselves that we're compulsive gamblers, what kind of reinforcement is that? It certainly wouldn't give us self-confidence.

Thank-you for this great dialogue you guys/gals.
Hi Honesty,

A good post with plenty of 'positive' and constructive thought.

"Ravisher said that our calculations on whether to gamble or not to gamble is based on genetics/nature. Are you implying that we are born with the tendency to gamble?" First of all, I think that we do not make 'choices'. I think human beings make 'calculations'. The said 'choice' is the direct result of the 'calculations' we make. This will go against many people's idea, and the religious idea, that we have choice and free will. If it were that simple, to have choice and free will, we could use choice and free will to simply say, "Ok I will not gamble." And that would be an end to the story. None of us would need to be here having these discussions. It is not like that. Therefore we must search for different answers and solutions.

We live in a world that is dependent upon survival of the fittest. When I said that it is our nature to calculate whether to gamble or not, I did not mean a 'tendency' to gamble, but a 'necessity' to gamble. For example; A tribe is hungry and thirsty, there has been no rain for weeks. They know that animals follow the rain. They know that rain does fall every year, etc etc. Now the leaders of the tribe must make some 'calculations' based on what they 'know'. Do they stay and wait for the rains to come… or do they move? If they move, which direction will they go in, North, South, East or West? Towards the mountains, or towards the sea? Eventually the leaders will all reach their decision/s. Whatever they do, it would to some degree, be a 'gamble' as there is no guarantee that any of them are right. They may also break into groups and take different directions. This would be sensible of Nature, as it would give the tribe a better chance of at least some of them surviving. The outcome of all the calculating, will 'dictate' the "choice" of each individual, based on what the individual knows, or trusts, in particular leaders.

Compulsive gambling is something different, but based on the same human nature. Life now moves at 100, or more times the pace, that it did in the tribal days. We make hundreds of more calculations per day than our ancestors did. Therefore we take more gambles. "Do I have time for a quick coffee, before I rush off to work?" "Will it rain today, should I take an umbrella?" "Shall I take the bus, train, or taxi today?" "If I leave this is my boss going to chastise me?" These are all gambles and we calculate in fractions of seconds without even realizing we are doing it.

When we are first faced with gambling for money, we make calculations. "Can I afford it? Yes." "Should I try it? Well yes, it's only for a bit of fun." When any calculation comes down on the side of plus or positive we do that thing. Another person doing the same calculations, may end with, "Can I afford it? No, not really." "Should I try it? No, you might lose the money." These are not 'choices' they are calculations that we make. We do not 'choose' the way we think. We think depending on our past environment. We believe based on our past environment.

So, what 'causes' compulsive gambling. There is great debate about this, as I said before, even in psychological circles. From what I read on this forum, I understand it is for some an 'escape' from pain, and have seen PAIN in capitals a few times. Others say it is for them, an escape from reality. I want to know, escape from what 'pain' and from the reality of 'what'?

I think if we can find some common denominators, we might be able to find the 'cause' or one of the causes and try to eliminate the cause/s.

Ravisher.
Well Thanks Honesty,

Crazylady had some very good input too.

Just to clear this one point up... I choose myself to make the right decision for me as no one else can. I am willing to take the consequences of my choices and hopefully learn from them.

Poor Character... hummmm that is an interesting way to look at ones self. I've made tons of mistakes in my life. I still make tons of mistakes.. I think we all do. Mistaken calculations.... hahaha. Looking at yourself as having Poor Character is very negative. I think this kind of thinking might keep someone stuck. I have read all of your post Honesty and I can say, unless you are a great liar, you have wonderful character. Even if someone has a less than wonderful character all they wound need to do to change that is to move toward by having INTEGRITY.

Guilt, shame, fear and all the other negative emotions come down to one question.... this is directly tied to Forgiveness too.

Are you doing the best you can do at any given moment, with the information you have? If the answer is Yes... then you have integrity.

If you are purposefully trying to hurt others or your self the the answer is no. It would be appropriate to feel guilt, shame and fear.

Character is about integrity.

Forgiving yourself or others boils down to whether you believe that they or you were doing the best they or you could at that moment. If you can not answer this question positively then you cannot truly forgive.

Now to get real clarity about what I'm saying here... you need to ask this question in the deepest sense. Once this is really thought through the answer is nearly always YES. I (they) were doing the best I could and any given moment with the information I (they) HAD. Just because you have NEW information now... does not mean that you had that information then, nor does it mean that even though you have this new information that your stimulus for making your choices is better and that the stimulus hasn't distorted the new information.

I hope that made sense.

I do think that genetics, environment, experiences, physical and mental states push us around and play back like a broken record. That really wasn't my point. My point being .... SO... WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Are we going to roll over and be a victim or are we going to do whatever is necessary to do something different...to make a different choice?

Take Care.
Terri
Ravisher,

Ok How's this ?

Stimulus + belief + Information + Calculation + Choice = Decision or action However... I really believe that if the stimulus or belief is strong enough it overrides the information and calculation, which then leads directly to the choice.

I'm in pain + I believe that something will provide pain relief + If I do this then that will happen, if I don't life will be rosey + I want immediate pain relief, rosey will have to wait = I'm getting pain relief now.

FYI I am NOT religious. Not even a little. So when I'm talking about choice, it isn't in the biblical sense. Take Care.

Terri
Terri,

"FYI.." ok I got that bit.

I see it pretty much the same as you put it.
"Stimulus + belief + Information + Calculation + Choice = Decision or action"
But rather: Stimulus + Belief + Information + Calculation = Choice --leads to-- Decision/Action.

The rest of what you said here, now makes perfect sense.
Pain + Belief + Information + Calculation = Choice --leads to-- I'm getting pain relief now.

Now let's look at that again. The Stimulus is 'pain' The Belief is that the only relief is to gamble. The Information is irrelevant because of the Belief and there are no Calculations to make --leads to-- I'm getting pain relief now.

Or.. The Stimulus is 'pain' the Belief is, It is ok, I have it under control, the Information is that gambling is a mugs game, the Calculations are, I know it is a mugs game, but I have it under control, so it will be ok just this time. --leads to-- I'm getting pain relief now.

If this is correct, then we need to either find another way of controlling the pain. Or a way of changing the Belief.

Still, nobody has said exactly what the pain is, or what is causing the pain?

Rav
The pain for me is relationships. How people have hurt me, or my perception of how they've hurt me. It builds anger and resentment. But I've gotten over that stage. I can't go through life blaming other people for my actions. I think that you and TJChicko have BOTH agreed that the past is the past, NOW WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? That pretty much sums it up for me, too.

It doesn't matter what people have done to me or what I've done to others (I'm not completely innocent. I've caused others pain without realizing it). I've accepted my mistakes. It's time to move on.

If anyone has watched "Alexander" by Oliver Stone (boring movie), there's a line in the movie: "In the end all that matters is what you've done."

There is no substitute for action.

For me overcoming compulsive gambling builds good character and it carries over to other areas of my life. Okay, as former compulsive gamblers, we lost a shitload of money, time, opportunities, friends, and the list can go on and on. But what are we going to do about it in the moment we're in?

Hey, if you're depressed about anything, just think about Michael Jackson and you'll see your life isn't that bad.
LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF! For who you are.. for everything that you are.. love yourself for every feeling you are having.. every one of them.. accept that it is ok to love yourself now, even though you may not like some things about yourself or things you have done.. Just love yourself for all of them.. because that is who you are!!

"The surest test if a man be sane," says the Chinese Book of Tao, "is if he accepts life whole as it is."

hugs lilaud
I do love myself, lilaud. The same way I love everyone around me. As the days go by, I become more comfortable with who I'm. I was getting used to this peace in my life. Now I love it.
lilaud,

I like your quote; "The surest test if a man be sane," says the Chinese Book of Tao, "is if he accepts life whole as it is." Because it is a truth.

Life is never good or bad, never right or wrong. Life simply 'is'. It is only human 'opinion' that makes anything good, bad, right, wrong or indifferent. If we take all humans off the earth, what is right, wrong, good or evil then? Nothing. It is not right or wrong when a group of lions are killing and eating a deer. Or if wild dogs eat a gazelle while it is still alive... It is just Nature doing its job. Whether we like to believe it or not, we are a just a part of the animal kingdom. The only thing that puts us above the animals is 'thinking' we are higher, better, civilized etc etc. The idea that we should be above the animals is just an idea, nothing more. The human animal is doing what it is supposed to do, what it was designed to do in the Nature. Just as the lion kills the deer, or as wild dogs eat gazelles while still alive... we are no different, just more complex in the way we do what we do. It is within this complexity that we must find our way, in Truth, not in idealism. We must learn that if in pain, through what others have done to us, or what we have done to others, we must clear ourselves of resentments and guilt. Otherwise we cannot perform at our best. We need to "Forgive them, because they know not what they do." and "Forgive others as our Father (higher self) forgives us." For me, religious teachings are just that, religious teachings. They are psychologic philosophies of how best to live our lives. We need to learn total forgiveness, of others and ourselves. Ravisher
It is a kind of a catch 22. We cannot know others until we really know and understand ourselves. To do that, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. "Know thyself and to thyself be true." is very good psychology/philosophy. It leads to self-awareness. Only in self-awareness are we truly 'the expert'. Only then do we know ourselves best.

Rav
After going through the posts and articles on this site, I do believe that gambling is a choice we make, either consciously or unconsciously. People really do choose their poison and as compulsive gamblers we have chosen ours. If it's a choice we've made then it's also our choice to leave it in our past. But how many have relapsed after they got comfortable? Thinking they had gambling addiction beat and it only came back stronger? I know I've been there a few times. That's why I'm vigilant of my thoughts, words, and actions so the consequences don't create environmental stress, which in turn creates triggers to gamble.

Last month I had peace in my life and I didn't know how to handle it. I felt empty some of the time, but as the days went by I accepted the peace as part of my existence.
Hi Honesty,

I gave my view about this on another thread you started. "First of all, I think that we do not make 'choices'. I think human beings make 'calculations'. The said 'choice' is the direct result of the 'calculations' we make. This will go against many people's idea, and the religious idea, that we have choice and free will. If it were that simple, to have choice and free will, we could use choice and free will to simply say, "Ok I will not gamble." And that would be an end to the story and none of us would need to be here having these discussions. It is not like that. Therefore we must search for different answers and solutions."

I had very long discussions on this with a woman on the net who teaches philosophy in the U.S. After some weeks she said that I should write a thesis on my views, but I never got around to it.

Rav
Honesty: "But how many have relapsed after they got comfortable? Thinking they had the gambling addiction beat and it only came back stronger?"

I cannot truly answer that as I'm not far enough away from crisis to be able to see that yet. I'm wondering though if we get to a point where abstaining from gambling is what we are doing... just abstaining. Maybe we get good at it, but the underlying reasons to find comfort in such a self destructive means isn't resolved. So surprise... here is another whack on the back of the head with a frying pan... just to remind you that you still have work to do... take it or leave it... if you leave it... it just keeps whacking you until you're really resolving the underlying issues.

Hummm...

Terri
It is not too late. The past is the past and nothing you or I, or even God can do about that. So forget the past as a worry, and use it as a tool to learn from.


Making changes.

Hi! I'm Corash and I'm on this website like many others to make some radical changes in my life and to slay the beast ie.Addiction! who comes creeping up on you so slowly and stealthily and who always catches you out when you're not looking.So having scanned through the comments and debates here ( Interesting) would just like to list a few things that I've found helpful.The first is to admit that you've been had.You thought you were invincible,or didn't think at all.The second is to look for help.Swallow your pride, you don't need it,anyway you've probably already lost it by behaving badly and deceitfully to people around you.If you've hurt other people financially own up and try to fix it.Only carry the bare minimum of cash around,maybe ask someone close to you to help by taking over your finances for a while,Leave your credit card at home maybe.Be creative! Distract your mind by doing constructive things. Definitely keep a journal and sheets of gold stars to stick on when you gain a victory.Be gentle with yourself,forgive yourself and take some of your pride back in facing up to and manning up to sorting things out.Whatever it takes and however dire.You have been ravaged by the beast 'Addiction' and these are some of the ways to eventually escape and become your true self again.


Gambling because you have poor character?

I think you've all said some very interesting and constructive things. " It's Good to Talk!") but I bet.( Ha!Ha!) that you'd all agree that at some point before we got the gambling bug,we were just regular guys with some strong and some goodpoints like everyone else.Don't sell yourself short,Terr! Hope I've got the right person here.So many on this site! You all sound like positive thinkers so keep on thinking things through.I'm learning a lot from 'listening'.I'm now on day 4.Thanks for your input everyone.