Let's Give Ourselves Credit



I learned this from a friend.  

When you overcome a temptation, 

either call or text a friend and say:

 “I was tempted to ______ and instead
   
 I did this ______."  
   
or 
   
"I was tempted to _______ and instead 

I'm going to do this _______."  


 Let’s give ourselves credit for choosing the right!!!  

_________________   __________________

The following are real text messages:

  • I recently saw a name of an actress on facebook and was tempted to look up her name on google but have resisted, and I’m going to go eat some more food now and listen to a conference talk.
  • A few minutes ago I was watching a Youtube video. As I was scrolling through the comments as the video was playing, I noticed that someone pointed out an inappropriate part later on in the video. I was tempted to skip to that part in the video out of curiosity, but resisted. I closed out of the video, listened to a conference talk, and did laundry.
  • Yesterday, I was tempted to lust at someone.  Instead I prayed for them and their family as I passed by.  I also kept my eyes in a good place.
  • This morning I was tempted to go on Hulu TV and see what shows they had on, and not appropriate ones either, but I prayed and stayed in my bed and I have felt much better.

I am soooooo proud of these guys!!!!




My Addiction and the Water Slide

I’d like to compare my addiction to a water slide. The water slide is the addiction and my natural man is anxious to experience the thrill of the slide.

However, my spirit wants something better. My spirit knows that the thrill of the slide is only temporary and artificial and will not satisfy my  desire for true long-lasting joy.

With that in mind let's imagine a young man sitting at the top of the slide. The water is already rushing past him and he is grasping tightly the sides of the slide -- he is just waiting for the signal to go.

So at this point, what are the chances of him resisting the temptation to start down the slide?  And once he starts down the slide, what are the chances of him stopping?  His chances of resisting at this point are very slim.

The same is true of us and our addiction.  Once we get to a certain point, the chance of us backing away or stopping is almost impossible.  Let's admit it -- we have all been there!

Even if the young man at the top of a slide changes his mind, he still has to push his way past all the other waiting people and walk down all those stairs to get to safety.  That’s not very likely, especially if his natural man still wants to experience the thrill of the slide.

So one solution, rather than “resist temptation, is to “avoid temptation.”

Getting back to the water slide analogy: wouldn’t it be much easier to make a decision, at the foot of the water slide, to not climb all those stairs, and thus avoid the temptation all together?

In fact if you knew that water slides were bad, perhaps when you saw a water slide 100 yards away, you could decide to go off in another direction and avoid the slide all together.

If we have a temptation right in front of us, close enough that we can reach out and touch it, our chance of resisting it is very small.  However, if the temptation is far off, and we choose to avoid it, our chance of success is very great.

It is much easier to avoid temptation than to resist it.

Along this same line of thinking, it's my understanding that we all have our own rituals when we start getting close to temptation – we follow the same paths over and over again.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can identify early on when we are starting down that path and avoid going any further. We have been down that path before and we already know where it leads.

Think of the last time you acted out or relapsed.  What led up to your acting out? Like the stairs up to the water slide, what path did you take? 

I challenge you to mentally walk backwards down that path, down the stairs of the water slide, to it’s beginning.  Now, in your mind, pinpoint the start of that path!!!  At that point what could you have done to avoid going any further?

So next time you find youself starting down that path, or up those stairs, stop yourself and avoid going any further -- you already know where it leads!!!


P.S. I chose a water slide for my analogy because it really is a "slippery slope".  And once you start down that path, you know were you are going to end up.

Emotional Sunglasses *

   
I’ve been thinking a lot about a question my wife recently asked me. She asked why I don’t show a lot of emotions and why I masked my emotions from her. While thinking about that question, I realized that I don’t show a lot of emotions because I don’t feel a lot of emotions. My emotions are very steady, not a lot of up or down. The question is why don’t I feel emotions as strongly as others.
Then it occurred to me, my addiction is like wearing emotional sunglasses all the time for many years. Sunglasses dim visible light while the lust addiction dims emotions and feelings. I wear sunglasses to prevent discomfort from intense sunlight. I’ve similarly used lust to prevent discomfort from intense emotions. When wearing sunglasses, the difference between black and white is reduced and it is harder to tell the difference between light and darkness. Everything is just darker. My eyes are much more comfortable and I’ve gotten used to wearing them. I also feel very cool, especially when wearing them at night.
Light-adapting Glasses
When I was in 5th grade in 1980, my mom was concerned about how I squinted all the time when I was outside. Our eye doctor ordered special prescription glasses that automatically tinted when the light was bright. The light adapting film also turned clear when I was inside and the light was not as intense. All of my friends were amazed as we went outside for recess and my glasses automatically went dark. It was amazing and fantastic.
I felt very cool but unfortunately, the turtle shelled frames didn’t automatically convert into a sporty looking frame so I was just a nerd with dark glasses. Luckily, I didn’t know that in a couple years that I would up the nerd factor considerably. When my orthodontist put braces on my teeth, he said they would be much quicker if they included head gear and neck gear. I definitely didn’t look or feel like a character out of Top Gun in Ray Bans walking the halls of junior high wearing all of this corrective gear. 
The glasses stopped my squinting problem outside. But, when I went back inside on bright days, they caused a big problem for a few minutes. Outside, they darkened almost instantly. Inside, it took a few minutes for the dark tint to fade. During those few minutes after I entered the school building, I would fumble around blindly, tripping over thresholds and bumping into people. I wasn’t able to read my textbooks. I would take off my glasses but my world was blurry.  

Sunglasses at Night
In the 80’s there was a popular song about wearing sunglasses at night that started a mini fashion trend. At night activity like school dances and Friday night football games, high school guys would wear their sunglasses and jeans jackets with their collars up and I was one of them. 
Wearing sunglasses at night is dangerous. Signs are difficult to read, it is very hard see what is happening around you. I was much more likely to stumble when walking up the bleacher steps or lose track of where my friends went because I just couldn’t see in the dark. Wearing emotional sunglasses similarly makes other people’s emotions almost invisible.  
Sobriety: Remove the Dark Film
Sobriety is like peeling the dark film off the front of the glasses. The world looks different but it is also more uncomfortable. After years of relying on the darkness to make my world comfortable, it is like stepping out of a movie theater on a bright, sunny afternoon, it is almost unbearable. I want to squint, cover my eyes or even shut them very hard because the intensity of the light is disorienting and even blinding. I want the world to go back to the way I’m used to seeing it. I want to make my glasses turn dark again.
In the AA big book, there is a passage about alcoholics who don’t want to quit altogether but they want to learn to drink alcohol responsibly. It is referenced as “drinking like a gentleman.” This is the desire to keep hold of the addiction, but simply learn to control. It is the desire to control it responsibly. It is similar to the desire I have to use the emotional sunglasses to automatically tint and dim the effects of emotion when I am placed in situations where the emotions from others are intense. 
I am learning that the longer I keep the emotional sunglasses off, the more I am able to see around me. I’m able to better deal with the uncomfortable emotions in healthy ways. I can’t quite tell if my emotional range is changing, or if my wife is seeing a difference but I’m not stumbling as often.

* This post is from a blog written by a good friend:   https://sagritblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/emotional-sunglasses/

Marriage Cures Addiction -- NOT !

This post is addressed to two groups of guys:

  1. Those who are married
  2. Those who are not married

That should cover most of you..... :-)

Some believe that marriage cures addiction to "Lust" (Pornography, masturbation, and other sexual issues).

Please discard that thought immediately -- it's NOT true!

If you don't believe me look around the room in most ARP or other 12 step meetings. Almost half the guys in the room are married. If marriage cured this addiction, they wouldn't be there!!!!

However, what you do learn by seeing these guys in the room is that they are being honest about their addiction! They are not hiding it or isolating themselves!  They are actually working the steps. And I applaud them for that!!

It takes courage and humility to admit you struggle with an addiction, especially if you are married. And and these married guys have both courage and humility.

A Dilemma for Married Guys

However, there is a possible dilemma for married guys attending ARP meetings. Here is the dilemma.

If I'm married and I go to an ARP meeting then I'm possibly admitting to my wife and others that I still have a problem!

However, if I stop attending meetings then those around me will not know if I have a problem and they may think I have actually recovered and now have control of my life.

So as a result, many married guys stop coming to meetings and pretend they no longer have a problem. They feel this will somehow make their life easier.

And then there are those who hoped that marriage would cure their addiction, so when they got married, even though they had told their fiancee about their addiction, once they got married they stopped coming.

For most recently married husbands that became a problem, because they discovered that marriage didn't eliminate their addiction.

A Question for Some of You

So for those who have stopped coming to meetings, let me ask some questions that only you can answer.

In your case has the addiction really gone away?  In other words, do you no longer have temptations or triggers? And you never have the desire to act out?

If that's true, then congratulations. I am really happy for you!!!

But is it possible that you are back to hiding it just like before? But now you are hiding it from your wife and from those who could support you.

Or is it possible that your wife knows and she is the only one who knows?  So now you are both hiding it from those who could help you.

Are you once again isolating yourself and trying to overcome it all by yourself?

Does this sound familiar?

Only you can answer these questions!

Keep in mind, if it never worked before and it won't work now.

A Solution

Here is a possible solution for this dilemma. For those who are married and have stopped coming, first decide to start coming again. But this time you are coming, not for yourself, but to be a support for others--to set an example that recovery works.

We all know married guys who are there for that exact reason. There is no stigma attached to them. They really do set a positive example for the rest of us. They are like missionaries--without the name badges.

So for any who have stopped coming or are considering stopping--please start again or continue coming. The meetings themselves, the spirit found there, and the relationships of others in the group, will continue to bless your life. And you can, in turn, bless their lives. Remember, when you reach out you bless TWO lives!

If anyone were to ask you why you attend, the honest answer should be: "To help support others who are struggling. I want them to receive the same blessings I have received!"  That is the honest truth!!!

What About Your Wife?

You wife can take the exact same approach. She should attend the "Spouse and Family Support Meetings" to be a support for other wives. That is the exact approach my wife takes. But at the same time it greatly blesses her life. If you want further proof of that, listen to talk given by a wife who attends the wive's support group. Click here to listen

What about those of you who are still single?

At some point you are going to fall in love and want to get married. Then you will need to ask yourself the question, "What about ARP then?" I hope your answer will be, I should continue to attend (hopefully with my wife) to help those who are struggling. That way you will continue to bless your own life along with countless others.

So when you get engaged, tell your fiancee that you plan to continue attending ARP because you are needed--to provide support and set an example. It has nothing to do with whether your wife is "enough!"

I hope these thoughts have been helpful. I really care about each of you--both those who are married and those who are single.

No matter what -- PLEASE KEEP COMING -- We all need each other!


When The Men Stopped Shaving *

A Russian commander said in a report after pulling out of Chechnya that he can trace their loss back to one starting place. It was when he noticed that the men stopped shaving. Just one break in discipline was the start of everything going downhill and they eventually lost the war despite having way more men, air support, and power.

It's a slippery slope in our lives. It starts with just not reading the scriptures one day and then a week later we relapse and we wonder, why? Well our discipline went down a week ago, and without noticing, we stopped doing our dailies and other things.

So how do we fix it? There are so many things we are supposed to be doing that we aren't. We can't change everything at once. We have to work our way through them slowly.

Col. David Hackworth** was a colonel during the Vietnam war. He was given command of a unit in complete disarray. They had no discipline at all, and this was getting men killed. He knew that not everything could change at once, it would be impossible. So he choose five small regulations for his unit to work on everyday. They eventually became the best unit in Vietnam.

We can get overwhelmed by all the things we are doing wrong. So take it slow and eventually we will get there. Jason texted me this this week: "To Him our direction is ever more important than our speed."



* This post was written by Spencer, a good friend in the ARP program.

** His combat successes included wiping out 2,500 North Vietnamese soldiers while his troops suffered just 25 casualties. -NY Times

Just Keeping Busy Is Not The Solution

"The way to avoid relapse, 
        is to just keep busy."

I've heard myself and others say that too many times. But "just keeping busy" should not be our goal. It's not the solution.  Sure it's difficult to relapse when you don't have any free time. But it's not changing us -- it's not changing our heart -- it's not bringing us closer to the Savior. It's just a short-term stopgap -- and not a very good one at that.

Of course many of the things we do to "keep busy" are great and wonderful, like:
  • Studying the scriptures
  • Reading or Listening to Conference Talks
  • Doing Step Work
  • Praying
  • Doing our Church Callings
  • Giving Service
Yes, those are all great activities.  But what is our reason for doing them.  Is it just to keep us busy so we won't have time to fall back into our addiction?  Is that the reason???

I'm sorry to say that for many of us that is exactly our motivation.  If we fill our lives with good things then we won't have time for bad things.

Are we doing the right things for not the best reasons?

Now I'm not saying that we should stop doing any of these good things. But perhaps we should adjust our motivation for doing them. It's been suggested that our motivation for doing those things should be to bring us closer to Christ. And then Christ can help us change our heart so we don't desire our addictions.

I know our Church leaders and the General Authorities are very busy.  But I doubt their motivation for being busy is just to keep them from doing bad things and thinking bad thoughts. I have to believe that they do what they do because of a love of Christ and a love of their fellow men. And we should try to do the same.

Let me quote from a text, on this same subject, sent to me by a good friend, James:

Good - doing dailies, step work and service out of fear of relapse because I am backing away from my addictions and bad behaviors.

Better - doing dailies, step work and service out of a desire to change who I am because I no longer wish to be who I was, but want to be someone new and different.

Best - doing dailies, step work and service out of a passion to draw closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven, because I want to live with them again and become what they would have me be.

Some Additional Thoughts

"Just keeping busy" may help keep me sober in the short term, but, remember, sobriety is not my ultimate goal. Recovery is my goal and sobriety is just a starting point on the road to that goal.

The 12 Steps are not designed to just help us become sober. The Addiction Recovery Guide suggests that many of us can become sober by Step 5.  It says: "As we took step 5 ... Some of us were already free from our addictions." Thus, the remaining steps (6 through 12) are designed to get us to recovery.

So let's get rid of our "keeping busy" mentality and really work on recovery, by drawing closer to Jesus Christ and allowing Him to bless us with His atonement.


This Is My Work....



A friend of mine sent me this photo.  He enjoys studying the scriptures outdoors, in nature.

This photo is worth more than a thousand words!

It speaks volumes about my friend!


I added the caption at the bottom of the photo.




"Kill Something!" "Eat It!"

Our Reptilian Brain

In our fat heads we have what some call a reptilian brain.  It doesn't think.  It doesn't know right from wrong.  It just reacts to stimulus.

It's that part of the brain that initiates fight or flight.  We see fire--we run.  We see an enemy--we attack.  If there is no stimulus to wake that part of the brain up, it just sits there dormant.

There is cartoon showing how this reptilian brain works, I'll call it the T-Rex Day Planner.  On it are the entries: "Kill Something!"  "Eat it!"  --  "Kill Something!"  "Eat it!"  -- "Kill Something!"  "Eat it!"


That part of our brain wakes up whenever we notice a "trigger."   "See something!"  "Act out!"  --  "See something!"  "Act out!"

The see something is the stimulus and the act out is the food it consumes.

And because that part of our brain is so powerful (used for flight or fright), it takes over the rational thinking part of our brain and says, "Shut up!  I'm now in charge!"  So one of our goals should be to keep negative stimulus away from our reptilian brain and keep it asleep as much as possible.

That's why we have boundaries: "I won't take my phone or tablet into the bathroom or bedroom with me."  "I won't listen to that music!"  "I won't go to YouTube!"  or whatever our personal boundaries happen to be. What we are trying to do with our boundaries is eliminate or at least reduce the stimulus that will wake up that reptilian brain.

But there is a catch. That brain may not know right from wrong, but it does have a memory.  And it can wake itself up to eat based on what you have pre-programed it to do.

Here are a couple of examples:

"I need to stay sober so I can go to my sister's wedding"  What that brain hears is, "Go to sleep till the day after his sister's wedding, then you can eat."

"I need to stay sober so I can baptize my son."  What that brain hears is,  "Go to sleep till the day after his son's baptism, then you can eat."

"I need to stay sober till my wedding date."  You know the answer.  And that list goes on and on.

Another version of that is "I have been sober this time for 12 days, I at least need to make to 13 days next time."  

So what does that brain say to itself?  "I can wait for 13 days, no problem. But then I will eat." "And then next time I'll wait for 14 days.  I like this pattern. I can depend on it."

Does this sound familiar to any of us.  It sure does to me!

Where Does Satan Fit In?

What I've listed above is based on psychology and physiology.  But we also have a spiritual side to our lives.  And that's where Satan comes in.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  

He knew us before we came to this earth and he can remember where we can't.  He knows how our brain works.  

So when we say, "My goal is to stay sober till July 15" Satan will make a note of that.  He may even reduce your temptations leading up to July 15 just to make you become more complacent.  

But he will hit your with a temptation out of left field on July 16 that will wake up your reptilian brain with an unusual hunger for the addiction.  So when we actually set a date that we want to reach, he might help us reach that date knowing full well that he can keep this same cycle going for as long as we allow him to.

Relapse Is Just Part of Recovery -- WRONG!

Sometimes we accept statements that are just not true, like the statement "Relapse is just part of recovery."  That's not true!  Relapse is part of addiction not part of recovery.

Here is what is being given to our wives and girlfriends who attend the the Women's Support Groups. This quote if found in the Spouse and Family Support Guide.
"Because relapse is so common, some may rationalize that it is part of recovery as long as they are doing their best. However, it is important to remember that relapse is part of the addiction process, not the recovery process. We should be careful not to condone our loved ones’ excuses or justifications for their poor choices. . . . If our loved ones try to minimize the seriousness of a relapse, our clear and honest perspective can help them see that they are deceiving themselves and need additional help."

So what should be our reaction to relapse?  And how does relapse relate to full recovery.

Some well-meaning individuals will have you believe that a relapse is inevitable.  I don't believe that.  I believe that it's entirely possible that any one of us could go to the end of his life without another relapse.  Do we really believe in the atonement?  Really?  Then why do we discount that the Savior can keep us from relapsing?

I know of some guys whose current goal is to "minimize the negative feeling of a relapse."  That way they can continue to look forward to future relapses and not feel bad about them.  I don't think that's a worthy goal.  Sure, if I do relapse, I want to get back on my feet as soon as possible and move forward.  But that is not the goal of ARP.  If that is our goal we have our ladder leaning against the wrong wall.



I honestly feel all of us could go the rest of our lives and never act out again. Relapse is not necessary -- only a possibility!

What if your first day at an ARP meeting you found out that over half the group had over 250 days of sobriety.  What might your expectation of yourself then be?  I find this to be an interesting question.

Our Extraordinary Group

I attend an unusually supportive group!  We really do care about each other!  But what should our goal be?

Our goal should be to support each other in obtaining FULL RECOVERY -- without relapse.  Our goal should not be to just minimize the pain of relapse.

Please keep in mind that just staying sober should not be our goal either.  Sobriety is just one step in the recovery process.  If you get the chance check this out: Sobriety is to Recovery as Confession is to Repentance

So let's set our sights higher. Let's make sure our ladder is leaning against the right wall and let's not feed our reptilian brain.

Barriers vs Boundaries

With an addiction, there are things we are trying to avoid.  And for many of those bad things we try to employ either a Barrier or a Boundary.

Let me discuss each of those two approaches.

Barriers


A barrier is like a brick wall. Something keeping you from accessing what’s on the other side.  In our case it might be a filter on our computer, laptop, or smartphone. Do filters work?  Yes and no.  They are not perfect but they are necessary in some situations.  Like on a home computer with children around.  You don’t want them to accidentally run into stuff they shouldn’t be exposed to.

But these filters probably only work with young children, not with tech-savvy teens or adults. The problem with a barrier or filter is that our natural man rebels against barriers. You already know by your own experience that when you have a barrier in your way, at some point, you will test that barrier to see if you can get around it. And invariably you will.

I was attending a non-ARP recovery group a couple of years ago and one guy said. “I put a filter on my PC but the other day it quit working, so I got access to pornography. It was the filter’s fault!

Another guy in that same group said, “My roommate lets me use his laptop.  He knows I have an addiction so he put a filter on it.  But he turns it off when he is using the laptop.  The other day he forgot to turn the filter back on. So I got access and acted out. It was my roommate's fault!

About a year ago, I asked my bishop to lock down my smart phone, so I couldn’t access the internet. We used a locking program and he locked it down using a pattern that he chose.  However, after several weeks, I became “curious.”  So I tried entering a pattern.  The first pattern I entered worked and unlocked my phone.  So in this case, “It was my bishop’s fault!”  ……  NOT!

Do you see a problem and a pattern here?  I do.  Barriers just don’t work all that well. And they remove responsibility from us, to maintain our own sobriety, and put that responsibility on outside forces.

So am I saying let’s open up the floodgates?  No, not at all.  In fact, some barriers are necessary, like removing all internet access from our home or apartment for a period of time.  Please see my post regarding “TheLaw of Moses

Boundaries

Barriers are external walls.  Boundaries, however, are internal decisions or promises we make to ourselves and others.

Here are some examples of possible boundaries:
  • I will not take an internet-enabled device into the bathroom or bedroom
  • I will not use a computer at school if no one else in the room can see my screen
  • I will not go to Seven Peaks
  • I will not watch anything on YouTube without another person watching it with meOr better yet, I will not access YouTube
  • I will not watch television alone
  • I will not have cable TV in my home
  • I will not stay up at night past x:xx.
  • I will not drive down a certain street or go to a particular location
  • I will not use Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook if they have ever been a problem
  • I will not test out someone else’s filter on their device
  • And the list goes on and on……
For some strange reason, these boundaries came easily to my mind….

The advantage of a boundary, is that it's internal, it comes from the heart. It is not imposed by someone else. However, it's only as good as our commitment. 

So for a boundary to really work we need to:
  1. Write it down, so we and others can read it.  
  2. Share it with Heavenly Father.  
  3. Share it with at least one other human being.  And commit that we will confess within 48 hours if we ever break that boundary.
If we don’t do those things, it will only be a “wish” not a real boundary.

I love this quote from Karl G. Maeser, talking about barriers and boundaries:

“Place me behind prison walls [a barrier] - walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground.  There is a possibility that in some way or another I may be able to escape.

But stand me on that floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor [a boundary] never to cross it.  Can I get out of that circle?  No. Never. I’d die first.”






An Aha Moment

A couple of weeks ago, while attending our 12 Step meeting, I had an "aha moment."  Jonathan was sharing, and he stated that he now viewed all the good things he was doing in a different light.

Things like:
  • Prayer
  • Fasting 
  • Reading the scriptures 
  • Doing step work in the Recovery Guide
  • Attending the temple
Those things now had a different purpose for him. 

Previously he felt that those actions would help him in the recovery process by removing him from temptation.

But then it occurred to him that those things were not designed to protect us from temptation.

That the purpose of each of those actions was to bring us closer to Christ.  And that Christ and His atonement was the only way to recovery.  It didn't matter what actions we took, if they didn't bring us closer to Christ, they weren't helping our recovery.

When he shared that thought, it was an immediate aha moment for me. Of course what he said was true!  Every principle and ordinance in the gospel is designed to point us to the Savior.  He is the only source of redemption from sin and temptation.  His way is the only way to fully recover.

Jonathan went on to say that once he changed his view of the purposes of doing dailies, etc, that those various actions became much more purposeful and easier to do.

I asked Jonathan to write up, in his own words, what I just tried to explain. Here is what he wrote:

"Scripture study, prayer, church and temple attendance and all the other good things we learn to do in the recovery process are not as much about removing us from temptation as they are about bringing us closer to Christ.

When we draw close to Christ we will naturally remove ourselves from the triggers of temptation and we will be better able to deal with the temptations we face. 

 Focusing on what we don't want will not help us get what we want, which is recovery. Only by drawing near to Christ and having recovery in view will we achieve our goal."

Since listening to Jonathan's share, I am now trying to change my own perspective on why I'm doing what I'm doing. I too need to keep the Savior in view as I work the steps of recovery.



Accountability -- Which Is Better?

Which is better between these two statements?


1) I want to be accountable! -- Please pray for me!

2) I want to be accountable! -- I just relapsed!


What is the difference between the two???

About 30 minutes!

I pray we will all be at least 30 minutes sooner
in our accountability!





Actually there's a third option:
I want to isolate! --  I don't want to be accountable to anyone!

The Importance of Step Work



What exactly is Step Work?  And why is it important?

As best I can determine, Step Work is comprised of three main components:

  1. Reading and studying each of the 12 Steps.
  2. Actually doing the things mentioned in the Action Steps located at the end of each reading.
  3. Studying and answering the Study and Understanding questions found at the end of each step.
So let me address them one at a time.

1. Read and Study Each Step

I already read one step each week in my ARP meetings but Step Work should be more than that. Each of us is on a different step. I need to study and make sure I understand and agree with that step I'm currently on before I move on to the next one.  To do that I should spend time on my step during the week -- both reading from that step and looking up the references. I should also pray about my step to receive a better understanding as to how I can apply it in my recovery.

I've heard it said, "If you don't know what step you are on -- You are on Step 1!"

2. Do the Action Steps

I also read the Action Steps each week im my ARP meetings, but they are called "Action Steps" for a reason.  If I don't do the action I am missing out on the "homework" for that step.  I need to actually do the action if I wish to receive the blessings found in that step.  And that action has to be done outside of the weekly meeting.

Here is one of my favorite scriptures on that subject: "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."  D&C 130:20-21

3. Answer the Study and Understanding Questions

The Study and Understanding questions are found at the end of each step for a reason.  They are not just filler.  I am actually expected to study out each question and try to answer it as best I can.  Once again, if I skip this part, I am cheating myself.  I am not learning what I need to learn.  I am trying to take a shortcut in my recovery.

Because I type better than I write, I created an MS Word version of the Study and Understanding questions. If you'd like a copy of that document for yourself, you can download it here.

So What Is The Best Approach for Me?

So what should be the best approach for me to do my Step Work,  There seems to be only one good answer, and that would be to do at least some Step Work each day. That could be just one of the items listed above or parts of any of the three. But for me to recover, I really need to do some Step Work each day!  And that would be in addition to my daily reading from the Book of Mormon and my prayers.


What Works and What Doesn't

In overcoming an addiction, some things work well and some things just don't.

Let me cover both topics, but I'll cover the negative ones first.


What Doesn't Work

I have been attending 12 Step Meetings for over four years. Over that period I have tried lots of things and observed lots of things that just don't work!

However, some of the things that don't work happen to be very popular -- but they still don't work.  Here are a few:

Tapering Off Doesn't Work

Trying to taper off from an addiction provides a false sense of hope, but it never works.  Does this sound familiar?

I was sober for 7 days last week, so this week I'll shoot for 8 days.  And then if  he hits day 8 what happens -- he celebrates his accomplishment and relapses.

So after his relapse he shoots for 9 days and then relapses and so on and so on.  

When I relapsed last, I had been sober for 11 months.  Should I now just shoot for 12 months and then relapse???

It never ends -- it really doesn't work!

Setting a Sobriety Goal Doesn't Work

This approach is also very popular.  But it too doesn't work.

Here are some examples:
  1. I had a friend who wanted to stay sober so he could attend the sealing of his sister.  He made it .  But he relapsed the night after the sealing. You see he met his goal.  So he let down his guard and rewarded himself.
      
  2. I have a friend who wanted to attend the temple with his younger brother when he received his endowments.  Well he made it to his goal.  But you already know what happened afterwords.
      
  3. I know more than one guy who wanted to stay sober so he could get married in the temple. That was his goal. Well each of those guys met there goal. But each relapsed within weeks of getting married.
Setting a sobriety goal only works up until you hit your goal.  It's not permanent.

Plus when we set a sobriety goal, our reptilian brain, remembers that goal and says: "I can probably wait till that date, and then I'll get my reward."

Counting Days Is Neither Good Nor Bad

The only thing I have against counting days is that it emphasizes something negative (the emphasis is on the last time you screwed up). 

I would prefer counting how many times I avoided a temptation or trigger and then reward myself accordingly. 

One writer suggests keeping a 3 by 5 card in your pocket and making a check mark every time you avoid a temptation so you can see how well you are really doing with recovery!



What Works

Here are a few things that I've observed that work:

Decide That "This Time" Is The Last Time

Believe it or not, some time has to be the "last time!"  So when will that "last time" be???  If we keep pushing that decision into the future, we will never have a "last time."  So decide right now that the last time you relapsed will actually be the "last time!"  Go ahead -- do it!!

The Lord wants you to make that decision.  Satan wants you to postpone that decision.  

Your spirit wants you to make that decision,   You natural man wants you to postpone that decision.

Now I know what you're thinking.  Your thinking, "But I don't trust myself.  I've promised myself that countless times in the past.  How can I make that decision this time?" 

One big difference is that this time you will involve the Lord in that decision.  You won't be doing it by yourself.  That 's the whole purpose of the 12 steps.  

Now I admit you might make that decision and fall on your face.  But at least that decision has already been made -- it is still in force.  The Lord will support you in your honest efforts.


Other Things That Work

Here is a list of other things that work in recovery:
  1. Attend at least one ARP meeting a week and be consistent.
     
  2. If you attend more than one meeting a week, at least make one of them your "home group."  Get to know the guys -- get their phone numbers, etc.
     
  3. Reach out to other guys and ask for help or reach out and offer help.
     
  4. When you reach out, you bless TWO lives.  (This ought to be scripture)  :-)
     
  5. The opposite of addiction is connection.  Reach out to someone at least once a day.
      
  6. When tempted, use PMS: Pray, Move (or change your environment), and get Support.
     
  7. Do your dailies DAILY!  Include as a minimum, sincere prayer and reading the Book of Mormon.
     
  8. Meet with your bishop on a regular basis.
       
  9. Ask for a blessing on a regular basis.
      
  10. Be accountable to at least one other person, daily if possible.
     
  11. Read your patriarchal blessing often.
     
  12. Fast with a purpose and do it more than just on Fast Sunday.
     
  13. Give service to others and forget yourself.
     
  14. Do NOT isolate!
This looks like a long list.  But nothing on the list takes a long time.


The One-A-Day Challenge

One of the keys to recovery is the ability to Reach Out and get support from others.

We should reach out -- by phone, text, or in person -- to those who can empathize with what we are experiencing and who can give us support and pray for us -- and that's usually other guys in our 12 Step Program.

We should reach out when we are feeling
  • Triggered
  • Tempted
  • Anxious
  • Scared
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Bored
or any other negative emotion which might lead to relapse or acting out.

Reaching Out actually works!

When we are feeling any negative emotion it adds air to our "relapse balloon."  And if we do nothing, that balloon will eventually burst and we crash.


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But when we Reach Out we are letting air out of our balloon. 

Just by sharing our emotions and fears with someone else who understands and will pray for us, is a huge step in recovery.  

We are also showing the Lord that we can be humble and that we know we can't do it by ourselves.

But that is not why I'm writing this post.

There is another purpose to Reaching Out, and that is to be a support to someone else, especially when they have not asked for it.

When we call or text someone else and even just say "Hi, I was thinking about you," here is what they hear:
  • I am important
  • I am accepted
  • I am loved
  • I have a friend who understands
  • I have someone I can contact if I need help
  • I am not alone
I think you get my point.  It's all positive!!!

So here is my challenge to you.  No matter how your day is going, I challenge you to reach out at least one other person and let them know you care about them.

Just One-A-Day, that's all I ask.  If you are willing to do that, I promise you great blessings!  

And I have a hunch that after you reach out to just one person, you'll have the desire to do the same for another.  It just seems to work that way.

But my challenge is for just one person a day -- even if you are struggling yourself that same day -- especially if you are struggling -- you need to get outside yourself and serve someone else -- and this is a way to do that.

I can testify, with all my heart, that this works for me -- and so it will work for you!




And please remember:

"When you Reach Out, you bless TWO lives!"

That's not scripture -- but it should be. :)