In Part I, I talked about acceptance – acceptance of what cannot be changed in life and of our imperfections. Today I want to talk about how to commit to taking action on what we can change, so that we can live a richer and more meaningful life in line with our values.
What are your values? Values are freely chosen and are as unique as each individual. In our heart, we all know the values we want to live by, the values which will make us truly happy and fulfilled. But how many of us actually take a moment to review if we are living our lives in line with our values? If you haven’t done this recently, then perhaps it’s time for some quiet reflection, or a heart-to-heart with someone you trust. Let your values be the compass that guides you through life and keeps you on track.
Once we’ve clarified our values, we can then commit to taking action to live by them. A common pitfall is to commit to big exciting goals and later feel disappointed when we cannot achieve them. Instead, take small steps – make small, realistic and incremental changes over time. If gambling is not in line with how you want to live your life, then identify a few small things that you can change and carry those out within a set timeframe. For example you can organise family or social activities on the days when you normally gamble, leave your ATM card at home when you go out gambling, or ask for support from a trusted friend or family member. Regularly review your progress and adjust your action plans accordingly. Be honest with yourself and be flexible. If things are going well then take on some more challenging changes, if they are not going so well then step back and focus on making one small change at a time.
As you make incremental progress towards a value-driven life, the pain caused by excessive gambling will dissipate, though it will never entirely disappear. Therefore it is important to continue to make room for negative thoughts and emotions as they come up. The goal is not to live a pain free life, because such a goal is not realistic. Instead, aim to lead a rich and meaningful life that includes all of its inevitable disappointments. By accepting our mistakes and taking committed action to live by our values, we can all move closer towards such a goal.
Free, confidential, expert help and support is available anytime by calling Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visiting the website.