Personal growth and meaning – What does it have to do with gambling?

Stick your hand up for help

Personal growth and meaning are pretty big needs, though not necessarily as immediate as health, home and money. When we have our personal growth needs met, we generally feel fulfilled and stimulated. Similarly, when we have a sense of what our meaning or purpose is (whether that is children, work, religion, hobbies or family), we often feel a sense of satisfaction in working towards our goals or purpose.

It is normal to have periods in our lives when we aren’t sure of what our purpose is – that is a normal part of human development. However, a lack of clarity around meaning and values can often lead to us doing things to fill the void or distract us from the discomfort of not knowing.

So what does Personal Growth and Purpose have to do with my gambling?

Like all of these needs, it has a huge impact, either way you look at it. A person who is unclear about the meaning or purpose of their lives, may have trouble working towards a goal, or a valued future. Similarly, a person who is stuck in a job they don’t like, might feel frustrated and unstimulated.

Steve struggled after he reached retirement age, as he had dedicated most of his life to his work as an engineer, and his role as a father to his four children. After retiring, he felt a distinct sense of discontent and struggled to find meaning or purpose in his life. Gambling at the TAB temporarily filled the void, as it gave him a temporary sense of purpose and excitement. Soon, however, he realised he was neglecting the rest of his life – and putting all his time and energy into his gambling.

I really struggled when I stopped work – I felt worthless and like a waste of space. Although I’d bet here and then in the past, suddenly the TAB was the only thing that excited me and I got hooked on studying the form guide. It occupied all of my time and I felt restless and bored when I wasn’t there. It was only when my kids sat me down and talked to me about what they were seeing that I realised what I was doing. It took me some time to make changes that helped me to adjust to retirement – to find things other than work that I could focus on. I took up golf and joined the Mens Shed. That took care of my time, and the rest followed. Now I feel more relaxed and can focus on what matters to me – my family, my health and my friendships.

Gambling can also chip away at our personal growth and sense of meaning. Thomas found himself gambling on the pokies after he moved to a new city, as a way to occupy his spare time. While in the past he had enjoyed doing short courses and night school after work, he found that gambling sapped his energy and occupied all of his spare time. While in the past he had been very focused on his goals of career progression and learning, he found that as he gambled more, he lost sight of what had once been important to him.

All of my drive and purpose got caught up in the gambling. I had previously gotten so much enjoyment from my studies, but I found myself resenting having to go to class and wishing I was somewhere else. I really lost sight of what was important to me and it showed in my work. When I went back home for Christmas and reconnected with my friends, I realised how much of a hold it had over me.

Do some of these stories sound familiar? It may help you to talk to a trained counsellor to get some support. Remember that right now, experienced counsellors are available by phone on 1800 858 858 to talk to you confidentially about your gambling.

Click on the link below to find out more:

http://www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/take-action/search-results

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