Understanding Yourself

Getting to know ourselves is a very important step in gambling recovery. To know ourselves, who we are, what makes us do the things we do, what makes us tick, what makes us react one way to a situation while others react in a different way. What makes us angry, defensive, bored, insecure, depressed...What factors determine these emotions that eventually lead us to gambling?

What steps, processes does a gambler have to go through in order to know or understand themselves?

Any suggestions for newcomers?

Back to good old J.C. the Psychologist. "Know Thyself." This was also advice from the famous Oracle at Delphi in Greece. And from another great Knower of the human condition, among others, William Shakespeare, "To Thy Own Self be True."

In order to 'know' ourselves and to 'understand' ourselves we need first and foremost to be completely 'honest' with ourselves. To know and to fully understand that you, if born in Palestine, would be quite capable of stepping into a disco, with high explosives strapped around your body and blow yourself up, along with as many Israeli kids as you possibly could. That you are capable of every atrocity and every good deed that anybody else has done, and will do in the future, if the time and circumstances were right. "There, but for the Grace of God, go I." Or, "There, but for the time and my circumstances, go I."

Once we know and understand this, forgiveness comes easy. We can forgive others and ourselves, for the time and circumstances we find ourselves in.

To say, "I could never kill anybody." Is at best a delusion, at worst, a denial of the truth, or lack of truly understanding yourself. We are all capable of murder, or even genocide. Not as we are at this moment in time or in our present circumstances perhaps, but at the right time and in the right circumstances, we are all capable of the vilest of actions.

This knowledge leads to the understanding of our-selves and of others. When we see on the news that a man who is normally quiet and shy, has walked into a school with a shotgun and randomly shot 10 children, even stopping to reload his gun… We see the horror and the shock caused to the friends and families and the townsfolk. We reel in repulsion and we are dismayed and disgusted. Yet, what crime is the man really guilty of? He is guilty of his 'Life' and the time and the circumstances that he lived in. We may never know what lead the man to this action, but he was lead there, by times and circumstances that became beyond his control… just the same as the suicide bomber. They are not right or wrong, good or evil, they just are.

In the two above cases, the 'victims' are showing outward destructive anger. In the case of the suicide bomber, it is not self-destructive, as his belief system tells him that he is going straight to Heaven.

In the case of the compulsive gambler, the anger is turned 'inwards' toward them-selves and become self-destructive. Most of us carry around guilt and malice of some kind or other. Most of us deal with it in the natural course of things. For some the anger and malice and guilt is too deep for them to 'manage' it. They must find the 'root cause or causes of their gambling addiction and deal with it/them.

Just my $10's worth. Ravisher.
Hi everyone,

I think we are all along the same lines of thought here..that it IS important to figure out the why of our gambling addiction. I maintain that first, foremost, its necessary to abstain from it long enough to gain some clearer thinking. I know, for me, I WAS NOT able to think clearly about myself, even in the beginning days of not gambling. With time, rationality returns, guilt fades to an acceptable level, peace comes. Then it's time to begin asking the questions of ourselves, and doing the work that needs doing to maintain health

Take care.

The only way you can become successful is to understand yourself.


I have to agree with you; in the beginning I wasn't ready or thinking clearly enough to deal with these questions. I just wanted to stop gambling and that was all it was about for me.

As I began to work on my recovery these questions were the heart of what recovery was all about. I learn coping skills, I learned how to feel again, I learned not to isolate and I learn how to face my problems one day at a time. The steps in recovery are simple, but it doesn't make them easy. Stopping the gambling is the easy part, although it doesn't seem like it in the beginning. The hard part is working on you but in the end that is the most important part.
There seems to be two schools of thought on recovery. One is the Gamblers Anonymous way and the other is "do it yourself, you are responsible for your own actions."

Which is better? I don't know. Whatever works for you, do it. But if we run away from someone on an online forum who has a different idea than we do, what are we expected to do when we run across someone in real life who also has a different idea?

Do we run out of the room, keep silent, or explode in rage? If we run away from this person, do we run away to the casino?

You are neither right nor wrong because someone disagrees with you. You only think different. One of the goals of gambling recovery is to be able to face our weaknesses and especially face people.

If you disagree with anyone on this forum, tell them why. Don't take it personal. Debate the issue and have fun with them. Consider it an intellectual orgasm.

If you are comfortable and self-assured of what you know works for you and it is the absolute truth for you, then no one can influence the way you think. TJChicko may be a good example. She knows what works for her and she is receptive to new ideas; she can debate with the other person but at the same time she does not lose her way of thinking.

If you get get worked up over what someone thinks or says, then you may not be comfortable with yourself.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT WE ARE NOT ADDICTED TO GAMBLING BUT WE GAMBLE BECAUSE OF EMOTIONAL ISSUES WITHIN OURSELVES. If gambling didn't exist we would be addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, eating, smoking, or something else.

Gambling is not the problem. We choose gambling as an ANSWER to our problems.

Figure out what works for you and let's have fun along the way!
Let me be the first to admit, I sometimes get 'pushy' with my views and opinions. I don't mind at all if other people are pushing theirs.

The way I look at it is this, if anybody can convince me that there is a better mousetrap than the one I have, I want to know about it. And if I am convinced, then I will buy one.

I agree entirely about TJChicko (Terri) We do not always agree, but we bounce off each other well.

It is never a case of who is right, but 'what' is right.

It takes all sorts of people to make a world, that is what makes it so interesting. Some people want to stop gambling altogether and some people like being "in recovery" and "support". Sorry, but that has to be said.

If one 'loves' being in recovery and 'loves' support groups, that is what they enjoy to do and be, and will continue doing. THESE ARE MY OPINIONS, and my opinions only. To agree with me, or to disagree is everybody's privilege and absolute right.

I beat this thing some 35 years ago and had never heard of gamblers anonymous, or recovery, or the 12 steps (which I only read yesterday) It is important to remember, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."


Thanks, Admin. (was that good for you... the intellectual orgasm.
I absolutely agree with you, Audry. It's not a matter of expressing different opinions...those are always welcome and encouraging to know there are many different ways to beat this gambling problem. The people who will come here though are those who are usually currently experiencing the problem and are looking for support, encouragement and a method that will work for them to stay gamble free. That's what I found at this site when I originally came here...different opinions but everyone being supportive of each other. There was no negative talk about anybody else's approach that did not fit with our own...only encouragement. If that works for you great!!...keep up the good work!!! What has happened lately is a tendency to push a "self-help" approach that may not be applicable to many who are struggling and must rely on outside methods or tools to get them through the most critical stages.

Most people will begin searching the Internet, as well as other places, for solutions to gambling addiction problems when they first feel it has started to become a problem. They are looking for answers as to whether they are indeed having a problem or is this something that is temporary. They will tend to get the answers to their questions by being able to relate to others who post and tell their stories. People who have started their recovery and are either finding some success or continuing to struggle. We relate to people in the same situation to us. That's why this site was so good at first. I would think that anyone now who is surfing the net looking for answers will bypass this site for one that has a friendly banter going on with suggestions and encouragement for those who are struggling. There is nothing to relate to here anymore, only a debate...and the most disturbing one was where Gamblers Anonymous was given a negative connotation and connected to religion. As I have said before, I do not go to Gamblers Anonymous but I will wholeheartedly support anyone who is and finds that it is working for them. On the other hand, I will not support those who say Gamblers Anonymous is the only way and if I do not conform to that I will never conquer this addiction.

Again, encouragement, support, stories to relate to, and different methods of coping with the addiction are the answers that should be found here if this site wants to continue being a "Gambling Helper", not a Gambling Enabler!
Audrey, well said.

Ravisher, self admittedly, you are pushy. This is not an arena of battle, but a harbor from the ravages of compulsive gambling.

None need to be challenged, mocked, nor do newbies need to second guess themselves and their path of gambling recovery. We need compassion and hope. We need fellowship.

We need to discover we are not alone, that there are others that feel exactly the way we do. We need realization that our compulsive gambling is a disease.

We usually end up here, beaten up so badly by our own minds, self loathing, guilt ridden and feeling unworthy of love and so when we experience those that have come before us and when they do receive us with open arms...tender mercies we know we have come home.

We need to hear the Serenity Prayer, the wonderment of One day at a Time, slowly as fog lifts we may choose Gamblers Anonymous, but all offered in kindness, not force. There are many paths that lead to peace,and these paths are always supported by good things,not threats, belittlement,nor mocking. Some belief Gamblers Anonymous all the way, but I agree, there are possibly many others paths and steps that lead you out of this compulsive gambling Hell, if so, go for it! I get so frustrated with those who are intent on rocking the boat, I grow weary of the ego. Been on the planet long enough to recognize, big frog, small pond.

And so with that, I will close. We each of us have merit and are bringers of teachings. One who leads by example or goodness, leads us onto that path, one who challenges our sanctity, re-confirms our convictions.

Both are teachers,
"Don't carry a grudge, while you are the other guys out there dancing."(Buddy Hackett)
Well said, Audrey, Zoe, Gravel Gert (Guess I've shown my colors there LOL) I agree with you all....gambling recovery is a personal thing, and should be approached as such. Take what you need and leave the rest. I for one will miss Audrey and her thoughtful posts....good thing I can catch up to her elsewhere. I have caught up on the posts here and have decided, for me, that if I want to debate something.....I will join a debate team. Or talk to my neighbor about the hockey strike LOL LOL. I very much used to enjoy having my morning coffee and following my 'friends' gambling recovery and sharing, maybe even encouraging, and best of all hopefully...helping someone else.

Take care everyone, have a great weekend


"I think it was a bit unfair towards me for the Admin. to have post this after I had asked to be taken off your forum. It looks like you are implying that I was either running away, mad or emotionally disturbed.."

What was that rant about? Are people and life always unfair to you? I do not recall Admin mentioning 'you'. His words were directed to ALL of us on this forum, including myself. So what was "unfair towards you" personally?

"I will be the first to admit in the beginning of my own recovery I was totally against the Gamblers Anonymous way."

So why do you now condemn people who are also totally against the Gamblers Anonymous way?

"I believe a support group is for supporting.. not debating different techniques and beliefs.. that is what has been happening here since Ravisher joined this forum.."

If your mind is closed to debating different techniques to stop gambling, then sorry, but perhaps you should not be on this forum. Maybe you should be at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, or on a Gamblers Anonymous forum, where it is forbidden to debate alternative, or new ideas.


"I would think that anyone now who is surfing the net looking for answers will bypass this site"

There are very many people that like to see 'positive attitudes'. I think many people 'want' to learn to believe in themselves and to be able to help themselves from compulsive gambling and be in 'control' of themselves and situations. Not everybody believes in God. Therefore self-help for them, may be a better way to go. No?

Gravel Gerty;

"This is not an arena of battle, but a harbor from the ravages of compulsive gambling."

I do not see it as a harbour, I see it as a place for battle. A battle against compulsive gambling. Not a place to run and hide in, to share our discomforts and whine about the pain… but to discover a way to destroy that pain. Forever!
Just to clarify one thing: My initial message was directed to EVERYONE!

If you think Gamblers Anonymous is the way to go, please go that route.

If you think self-help is the way to go, please go that route.

Whatever route you decide to take, you are welcome to use the resources on this site to help you get there. I welcome all your input. But under no circumstance will I censor anyone's idea if it's related to making ourselves better.

My only suggestion is to get over the "tunnel" vision of recovery and keep your mind open to new ideas. I know everyone here, myself included, has emotional issues they have to overcome.

I will not be posting anymore, unless the issue is technical.

Life is not easy. We should all get along with each other to make it easier.
I apologise here if I have upset anybody with my views and opinions. I came here originally to help others, if I can. I do not need to stop gambling. I stopped 'compulsive' gambling many years ago. And it is truth, that I can now gamble freely any time I want to in a completely controlled manner. That truth, should not be a 'threat' to anybody. It should not be 'dangerous' to anybody. It should be a glimmer of 'hope', a light at the end of the tunnel. It depends on whether one sees the glass as half full, or half empty. I see the glass as half full.

What is a Forum? According to one dictionary, it is a medium for open discussion or voicing of ideas. I voice my ideas.

There is not doubt in any of our minds that addiction exists. The causes are debatable. Whether addictions are curable, or not, is also a matter for debate. The extent of cure is also for debate. Finding a way out of addiction is for debate. To debate is: To engage in argument by discussing opposing points of view. I give my point of view.

Among the things people can become addicted to, are, 'therapy', being in 'recovery', the need for 'support' and co-dependency etc. etc. If one 'enjoys' being in recovery, being in therapy, in support, or co-dependency, perhaps they should be looking at the whole picture, of who and what they are. We must ask ourselves, are we addicted to anything else, besides gambling? If people refuse to ask themselves this questions and answer honestly, are they in denial?

As far as I understand it, this forum was created to Help Addicted Gamblers, as the site name implies. GamblingHelper.com or, gamblinghelper.com. What I understand this forum NOT to be, is a place to escape to, where people can whinge and whine and whimper about their problems. If people really and truly want to find a way out, it will take total commitment and a LOT OF HARD WORK.

Now we can whinge and whine and argue, or WE CAN GET ON WITH THE JOB.

I am all for letting bygones be bygones and getting on with the JOB at hand.

How about you?

Just one small comment about what Ravisher said about 'enjoying recovery': I AM enjoying recovery. It is a great feeling to have the world opening up to me again. I am not addicted to this feeling...I am just enjoying it as a simple benefit of this journey of self-discovery I am on. I can only hope that I will continue to be grateful for this feeling.

Take care, all


You say that you are 'enjoying' your recovery. I would just like to clarify. Do you see yourself as 'forever' in recovery, or are you looking forward to the day when you are fully 'recovered'? I think there is a big difference here. If a person feels that they are forever in recovery, then they are never going to be fully recovered, as being fully recovered is not be their 'target' or aim. If you are enjoying your recovery because you are 'on the way' to being fully recovered, and not because it is in any way an addiction in itself, that is great!

In turn, I would guess that would depend on the definition of recovery, and recovered. In my mind, recovery (for me) entails gaining back the Shelley that was before the addiction, albeit a somewhat wiser, more self-aware me. Recovered...meaning once was and now is not....for me in those terms, I will always be a compulsive gambler. I will never be able to gamble "normally" (whatever the he** that means) I have enough self-awareness at this point to say that with absolute conviction. Maybe saying that my gambling is in remission is a better term.

Thanks for clearing that up for me. I guess I can take it that 'recovery' means different things to different people. Stay forever in remission.