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Hi Idi … you said; “In the past I only ever thought about gambling or not gambling. Now I’m thinking where will I go what will I do ?”

I think you have summed up what I have been banging on about for ages. To just stop gambling is not enough, it has to be replaced with something – otherwise what do you have? Just a void where the “pleasurable joys” of gambling used to sit.

The problem is, when I ask gamblers what they want to replace gambling with – they are often at a loss. What would you do if you had that big win and no longer “needed” to gamble? Eh? I would just gamble more … I guess.

Have you noticed on game shows whenever people are asked “if you win what would you do with the money?” the number who say “take a trip to Vegas.”

The truth is that gambling has to be replaced with something. If it isn’t then “boredom” will set in and that (for me at least) is a trigger to recommence gambling. Or we simply replace gambling with another activity that compensates for us not having the bottle to go for our dream. Drinking, binge-watching TV, drugs etc. fine for a while – but is that how we wanted to use up our limited resources … time and the good health we (mostly) currently have to enjoy it.

It is really only by really looking at how I want to spend the rest of my days and then going for it, that I feel I have made my peace with gambling. As you know, for me it has been travelling and yet there were so many internal obstacles in my way. Here’s just a few: “I can’t afford it.” “People like me don’t do that sort of thing.” “What if I’m mugged/kidnapped/assaulted/ robbed? “My mother wouldn’t have approved!” And here’s the biggy “I don’t deserve it!”

In truth – it is that last one that has brought me here. I did a deal with my “I’m not worth it” voice to say … if I go travelling I will do something worthwhile whilst I am on the go – I will help other past gamblers to stop gambling and REALISE THEIR DREAMS.

Because as you have said – just stopping gambling is not enough. “No gambling” is a negative and we need positives in our lives. As I said on another thread if we do away with the label of “problem gambler” what label do we then give ourselves. “World traveller” still doesn’t feel very comfortable to me and a bit pretentious when, so far, I have only made it to the Irish Republic … but at some point even I will have to see it as real.

So enough about me. What about your dreams Idi? I don’t know what new label you might put on. Did you have a passion before you took up gambling which you could now go back to? Are you (as I still am) really interested in knowing more about the addictive brain and how different sorts of therapies help – could you go on training courses, retreats (to lovely parts of the country / world) try out the delights of Gestalt, T.A., Dramatherapy, Co-counseling, NLP? Is your passion more in being creative – or with caring for children or animals – or getting political, and / or saving the environment. Is one of the reasons (amongst many) that we gamble that it focuses the mind on the spinning reels or turning cards so that we don’t have to look at all the bewildering choices that the world throws up at us.

I hope that you can pin down your passion and live it. Before long you will identify with that label and not the label of gambler or even “recovering gambler.” Here’s to a positive future for all of us on here.