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my sponsor gave me a book by dr. allen berger titled “12 smart things to do when the booze and drugs are gone”. i have begun to read it slowly and find myself opening up at some interior level. i have been interested and cultivating the idea of stage 2 sobriety or emotional sobriety and this is what dr. berger’s book outlines. the 12 things are simple, practical, and not-very-easy perspectives and practices that lay the groundwork for a more balanced and “healthy” presence in the world.

the 1st smart thing is “know yourself- and how to stay centered”. as i re-read this and type it seems so very simple. but i also know that i spend much of my time filling empty spaces inside with food, music, and shopping. i also know that i am still learning to see when i am over-reacting because i don’t like how i feel or i don’t like the situation at hand.

so this simple instruction requires regular and regimented practice- or i may never get to carnegie hall. i am interested in continuing to grow as an emotional being. i would like to have relationships that reflect balance and mutual admiration in addition to the loved ones i cherish in my life. most of all, i want to learn to love without caution. this is something i haven’t allowed myself to indulge in since my late teens.

i am going to repost some of dr. berger’s words posted on his website,  as i believe it is a compelling philosophy.  i think i will post about my journey through this book and these 12 smart things. i hold high hopes that i will find adventure in his guide.

At a glance

Our society is locked in crisis. Society teaches us to focus on having rather than being. That is, we seek things and status instead of wisdom and authentic relationships. Deep down, we know we can never have enough things and status, but we keep trying because we are afraid that we won’t be lovable otherwise. This creates a vicious cycle: we can never have enough to be lovable, so we keep trying to get more. We go on and teach others—our children, our friends, our loved ones—the same false message.

My philosophy is simple. Each person has a true, lovable self that wants to come out. My goal is to help every client reclaim that true self. That is the way to break the vicious cycle, and the way to ease our social crisis.

Having versus Being

Our society is in crisis. An unprecedented number of people are losing homes, gasoline prices are soaring, one out of four teenagers is dropping out of high school, drug and alcohol addiction are rampant, and the divorce rate is the highest it has been in the history of the United States. What is causing these problems? I believe the answer can be found if we examine our culture and how we adapt to it.We live in a culture that is based on having rather than being. That is, we seek things rather than seek wisdom. Consider the evidence (and consequences) of our misguided search:

  1. We treat ourselves as objects and look at others as objects too. In our society, women are sex objects while men are success objects.

  2. We overvalue possessions and judge our worth on what we own and what we do – rather than on who we are.

  3. We focus on our image rather than our character.

  4. We are driven to achieve and to acquire as much as we can. We search for glory in all the wrong places.

  5. We want more and more and more — in fact we are “addicted to more.” We want a better car, we want more money, we want to have more fun, we want the latest tech toys, we want a more attractive partner, we want more understanding, we want more sex, we want more respect, we want a better body, and we want it all to come easily.

Our focus on seeking things instead of wisdom is a kind of illness. This illness manifests in the feeling that we are unacceptable the way we are; that we are unlovable. So, to make ourselves “marketable” and acceptable we try to live up to an idealized image of who we think we are supposed to be. This idealized image is our false self. We cling to this false self. Deep down, we see it as the solution to a basic fear or anxiety that we won’t be loved or accepted. But because our solution to this basic anxiety rests on a rejection of the who we really are – a rejection of our true self – it never works. The irony is we reject our true self to make ourselves acceptable. We alienate ourselves from our true self and then we fear that we are going to be found out to be a phony. The result, in our culture, is that most of us really are phonies. Worse, we pass the message along to everyone around us.Let’s look at some more ways we (and our culture) betray ourselves.

  1. We are discouraged from being real and authentic. Instead we are encouraged to have things and status.

  2. We are discouraged from being honest. Instead we are told that, “Image is everything.”

  3. We focus on performing and producing what we think others want, rather than on building character and letting our true character produce authentic fruits.

  4. Ultimately, things seem to be more important than people. What a mess! I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of it.

I believe this crisis is a wake-up call, giving us the opportunity to find a healthier balance in our lives — but only if we wake up! We are asleep, thinking we are awake. We are living in a trance. We are hypnotized into believing that this is how life is supposed to be. But it’s not. We have all learned to play games with ourselves and others that keep us immature. We are afraid of pain and frustration, but the reality is that pain helps us mature and grow up. Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth and personal transformation. But we are pain-phobic in this society and we have learned to avoid suffering at all costs. The price we pay is great. I believe it is important to find our lost, true selves. Needless to say the going is tough at times, In fact I believe the more honest we are and the healthier we become the more we will be able to face our shortcomings. Quite a paradox isn’t it? Therapy is difficult, ignorance is not bliss, and addressing our problems is definitely the road less traveled. I believe however that there is a basic need or force within us that wants to mature and become a better person. I hope you will listen to that part of you.

reprinted from dr. allen berger’s website… www.abphd.com



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