23 May 2012 at 5:25 pm #7432paul315Participant
As mentioned when I started to begin using a new topic to continue my post on Recovery – Ways & Means instead of just keeping that thread ongoing, I am going to repeat a subject I posted to that older topic again in this new one. When I was looking back over some past post I ran across this one on mental bans and thought that it would be good to give it a fresh look so as I could reinforce my resolve and the actions I take to stay gambling free.
As posted before:
One of the first things that I noticed in starting GA was that nobody told me what to do and how to do it. By their own definition GA is "a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem"; GA is not a program of professional counselling or therapy. Their only advice was to attend meetings and read the GA Yellow Book daily. In fact the most detailed advice to me as an individual is found in the GA book on page 17 (I have a topic started on this also, but have another on its paragrafts to cover sometime in the future). Nevertheless, in reading the other pages of the book and figuring out how they applied to my life I was made aware of a more detailed program that I came to follow and practice. The instructions for me to be open minded, willing, for me to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to a normal way of thinking and living, and for me to make a searching inventory and to meditate, opened my program to include searching for ways to meditate and of gaining some knowledge of what I was up against. This was the start of my mental process. To begin, I see a mental ban as outlined below as more of a change in attitude and way of thinking and communicating than a barrier that a self-ban at gambling establishments provides.
A self-ban is limited to how we, and the casinos, respect it; they do not seem to care until it will save them some money, and we do not care about it once our urges overcome the fear of reprisal. For me the fear of reprisal, the fear of being arrested kept me from self-baning, from my past self efforts to stop gambling I knew that I would not respect a self-ban, I would challenge it placing me in more trouble. (see this site and its links for a broader view on self-exclusion: http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/1092188041427300?journalCode=glr) So I rely on
my mental banning.
When I gambled I also gambled mentally, that is while caught up in the compulsive frizzy of gambling my every thought was about gambling. Even outside the casinos everything I saw or heard in my daily life reminded me of a certain game or slot machine. Strangely, the only one that comes to mind now for an example is the Lady Bug machine; this is because my granddaughter is into the "Ladybug Girl" books. But this is a good thing, my change in viewing everyday events and objects is where my mental ban has brought me. I now see things for what they are and not what the casinos programed into their machines.
Another type of mental ban I use is to not use gambling terms in conversations or posting here for that matter. I no longer say "good luck", instead I taught myself to say best wishes or God’s speed; I have for the most part mentally banned gambling terms from my vocabulary. The first time I found myself doing this was during my second GA meeting where I was asked to sigh a sobriety birthday card for another member; I wrote "good luck" but it looked wrong so I scratched that out and used "best wishes". She thought it was intentional, it was more of a realization, an effort that has become intentional and common place. Even when playing with my granddaughter, I do not say "I bet" as she sometimes uses, I say I don’t think you can.
Almost every Thursday afternoon and Friday morning for the past six years I went to the casino where my daughter picked me up; we both now refer to it as the bus stop. A friend and I go to "the buffet" occasionally for breakfast, it is on casino property but he no longer says lets go to the casino this morning (we never gambled when doing this in the past, it just came more natural to name the casino — I snuck back to do my secret compulsive gambling afterwards). Another friend no longer sends lotto tickets in my Christmas card, at least last year, I asked him to just say MC and not temp me. My using these new terms and stressing the importance of my separating gambling from our times together caused those around me to refer to them in the same manor — they care and respect my need to recover. These things may seem like only words games, but for me in my recovery it is a change in attitude and the way to see the normal things of life; for me it is part of my mental banning.
Another mental ban that I use is to not look at my being gambling free as leaving gambling behind; I see myself going forward to a better place, not pinning away about what others refer to in saying they lost a best friend, or the only source of entertainment of enjoyment they had. Sure "normal" gambling can be a form of enjoyment to a non-CG, but once I crossed over, it was no longer my friend or enjoyment, it was my enemy and source of distress and devastation. The better place I am seeking can not include dwelling on the past thoughts of any good times, I have evolved into a recovering compulsive gambling with no room for any gambling or desires. I know in my mind that I can not be, must not think that I can be, a "normal" gambler again. In the Biblical story of leaving bad things behind, Lot when on to live the better life when escaping Solemn and Gomorrah, his wife to her demise looked back to try and hang on to the past.
In closing I will end with the begining of another post on mental baning that I posted to another member. "One of the first and an important things to do is start a mental banning process is to lock gambling out of your daily activities and planning. In conjunction with this mental process you can then follow through with the actual blocking and banning and other barriers. The start of mental working is not necessarily instantaneous, it has to be nurtured and supported through learning and conditioning. In contrast some of the actual types may be activated immediately or within a short time frame, however, the same brain work has to be applied to make these bans acceptable to your compulsive state and to finally have them in place.
If your mindset is not on track with the physical actions, you will find yourself searching out a way to beat the barriers, using energy that you could better use to beat the addiction; or will find that the barrier has expired of you have hardened to them. This also applies even to spiritual barriers; your faith might falter leaving you to your own principles and established practices — your mental banning and conditioning will help carry you past times of spiritual doubt".
It would be good to hear other’s thought on this subject, good for me to have different views to add to the tools I use. Being aware of things that help, and of warnings to things that might seem questionable are tools that will be put to use.
LarryThanks to my Higher Power, My 3G’s – God, GA, and GT, "Day Two Is Another Day Behind" and with the help from all , I will continue to remain gambling free.
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