131: Spiritual Principle – Courage (Sort Of)

We are talking about courage today. What is courage? How would we develop and strengthen courage? Is it a process of being braver? Or is courage what happens when we practice other spiritual principles? We define what courage is not, which is not having fear, courage is walking through fear. Is courage a good thing to have fully, or is there a balance of courage and fear that is more useful? Listen in and share your ideas about courage to help us understand the concept. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who just needs a little courage and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and i’m jenny i’m a person in long-term recovery and it’s a spiritual principle time for month for april what is courage how do we make courage how do we practice courage be the wizard yeah i mean that’s i mean yeah if i only had a brain um yeah i have no idea i don’t even know where to start with this in fact i feel like i went into these spiritual principle a month idea like i did the traditions i was like this is gonna be great we’re gonna explore these and really dissect them and understand them and now we’re like four months in and i’m like i don’t even [ _ ] think any of these are real anymore i don’t know what is courage anybody well i don’t know specifically about courage but with the spiritual principles i mean i look at them as these are tools that through the process of recovery i learn about i learn what they are i learn what they look like hopefully i learn you know places in my life where they might apply and then as life situations come up i try to apply them instead of my old coping skills i mean i’ve always looked at spiritual principles they’re like new tools to live in life that i haven’t been good at practicing or known how to practice before i guess i mean i like that and it sounds nice but i don’t i don’t tend to think of our principles as really tools like their ideas and you know i can judge uh what was done in a situation whether by me or by someone else as either a spiritual principle or a character defect but it’s not like to me a a tool is something i can use to actively feel able to do something different so when we think of that in in like a therapy sense like if you’re feeling anxious hey let’s use these tools of breathing techniques to like calm your body down and actually change your internal state to feel not so anxious right it’s not like i go into a situation where i’m scared and i’m like oh let me just practice this courage that’ll make me feel better inside like that doesn’t work like that for me so maybe these spiritual principles are more like [ _ ] oh sorry points to ponder so maybe they’re more like co-ons like points for discussion and argument and just to kind of exercise and roll around your brain well see i look at like a six and seven step where i learned about like my character defects and my old ways of dealing with life and how i typically cope with situations and then i look at these spiritual principles and like all right well this is what i could have done in place of that you know like that’s why they’re good and then in life well i get into situations in my life and then i decide you know now i didn’t necessarily have the decision before but now i have different information and a different set of skills because i’ve acquired this new tool it’s like lifting weights like maybe i can’t lift a 50 pound sack of potatoes before i started working out but now i know i can lift a 50 pound stack of potatoes because i’ve lifted that amount of weight before i know what that is kind of know how much it is know how to get ready for it because i’ve had some practice in doing it okay and that to me is why they become they’re not just mystical ideas that i read about it and then all of a sudden bam like i’m couraged all the [ _ ] up that’s so courageous right you know i’m read about courage now i do know though for some of courage because there was a very interesting i think it was a radio lab podcast they did about people that are heroes that are heroic in situations in life and there’s actually a hero award that you can get if you’ve done a heroic thing it’s really fascinating there’s an organization they put out you know different stories of like a hero with a month kind of thing and it’s people that have ran into burning buildings or rescued people out of you know car accidents or all these like crazy things one was a story about this i think it was a lady who rescued another person from being like attacked by a bull and a [ _ ] the person went out they thought it’d be cool to go into this field full of cows and take pictures and [ _ ] and then this bull started mauling them and what this person this lady did they like climb in there and lure the bull away but anyway and in all of that and that the science behind a lot of that they realize that so much of that is internally built it’s not like we all think like oh i would jump in front of a bullet to save my kids and stuff like that but what they said the science shows that a lot of that fight-or-flight kind of stuff isn’t just not like it’s natural it’s whatever is in your internal system and most people when they’re asked you know in those situations they’re like well i don’t know i just did it like it just there was a situation here’s what happened it felt like the right thing to do and i just did it hmm that’s i feel like that bolsters my argument from last episode that like we don’t have any we just do the menu option available to us we don’t really have a say in that i would say that only counter to that is people that go into war like soldiers or firefighters or you know police officers that they get training and learn to go into those situation i can’t imagine every person that’s a soldier and goes to war inherently had the fight reflex built into them like they now they come back traumatized and they don’t they don’t actually get trained to be more courageous they get desensitized to what goes on in war like surely you follow orders well they’re they’re trained to they’re desensitized to the idea that like bombs are going off around you and bullets are whirring overhead and there’s lots of loud noise going on like in the sense of the soldiers right and i guess the fire people would be trained to you know heat doesn’t bother me and all that as much like you get desensitized to these but i don’t necessarily know that when you get in the situation that actually makes you a better soldier or more courageous like you hear the ideas of like some people go over and they’re you know jumping on grenades to save people and other people are over there like hiding in the foxhole not even shooting because they’re just scared so like or they desert or well i guess my understanding of courage this gets back to your original question to begin with is what is courage so i’m gonna use a little recovery meme cliche whatever you want to call it it’s like courage isn’t the absence of fear it’s the ability to walk through fear um the desensitized part of soldiering would actually i would say not be courage right but it’s when you i mean i would say most of those guys are fearful when you watch sort of what is that tom hanks movie uh where are they save it private ryan where they’re on the boat and they’re getting ready to storm the beaches like those guys you can tell they’re [ _ ] scared but they get out and do it anyway so to me they’ve there wasn’t much option by then was there i mean what else are you gonna do stay on the boat i think some of them did i mean i don’t know but you know that’s what i mean maybe it’s that being surrounded by other people doing it give you the courage but i’d imagine that’s a [ _ ] scary situation you know you’re going into peril and yet you you move in spite of that fear like that’s what i’ve understood courage to be to me that’s almost flight i feel like if you just stay on the boat you’re definitely getting shot you’re definitely gonna die in the water and try to get behind something maybe i’m a little safer yeah i don’t know i don’t yeah i don’t know i’m i mean the dictionary definition of courage ties into what you said the ability to do something that frightens one uh or strength in the face of pain or grief but i i you know going back to the cow thing i’m like or the bull like i mean i don’t know to i’m sure it’s courageous to get in there and try to help out in any way shape or form i’m much less impressed that she like lured the bull away instead of like going over and body slamming one thing she went over and bashed it on the head with something oh that’s pretty hardcore though yeah it was it was pretty impressive i mean that’s why that story stuck out it was like holy [ _ ] i don’t know if i would do that or not probably be throwing things at it

who’s got my red cape yeah i don’t i don’t know though i just what’s something you’re scared to do that you’ve been able to do all right so we’ve probably all been commended for our courageous recovery right you have right jenny was scared to make tomato sauce out of tomatoes but she did it i faced that fear um i’m gonna make you some sauce this summer um so uh but haven’t you been like people have commented like you know when your anniversary comes up or whatever like oh you’re courageous recovery but no i and i don’t know if i would say mine you’re so brave mine was desperate my life was [ __ ] horrible that’s what it feels to you yeah i mean well that’s that’s my point though it doesn’t feel like we’re being courageous we’re like doing what we need to do to save our lives but outside are looking in like wow you’re never going to drink again that’s brave you know um i don’t know if i’ve ever heard it about being

well you know i’ve gotten the one like so i have a daughter with down syndrome and people will say how courageous of a parent i am and i’m like i’m just being a parent you know what other choice do you have yeah like when i signed up to be a parent i was going to take care of this kid and see that she makes it to adulthood well you do have other choices well thanks for that vote of courageousness i was thinking about putting her in the dumpster but you know i just went with it so this isn’t to make any well now i will bash people a little bit but like my you know we have a older daughter who has a disability and her father has not been around to take care of the responsibilities that my wife and i have been around to take care of for the last 30 years of her life so there are you know choices that you can make there that are different and is that about her disability or just about him like he could have done that if she was not without disability i guess right uh like there’s plenty of dads that just don’t show up for their kids true but would it be i mean the situation with her requires a lot more energy than just going and picking up your kid to go hang out and go bowling or you know be a shitty dad i don’t know it definitely requires more and you know than regular parenthood i don’t know that he would have been a good dad in spite of her disability but what i’m saying is the decision to walk through those challenges and do difficult things i would say my wife was very courageous in those things because it wasn’t just she hasn’t just gone along with she’s done a lot of fighting and a lot of battling to with insurance companies and the state and social services and different organizations to get her quality of life that she needs i don’t think that’s courageous though and i’m not trying to take away from the accomplishment i i highly respect jen for advocating right i think it’s huge i don’t think she went into it walking through fear like she was pissed she’s like no [ _ ] yeah i was gonna say she was angry that wasn’t a lot of that was anger yeah it was more of a sense of moral obligation like no you guys are wrong but i need to help her it wasn’t like oh my god they might kill me if i go tell them that they’re doing the wrong thing i better but i got to like you know what i mean like it didn’t it doesn’t feel necessarily courageous i think a lot of people look at what she did as courageous because some parents would just sit back i mean you know just like a i guess a cursory glance like that took courage going up against the state fighting for what’s right you know yeah because and it’s different when you have three or four or five people telling you oh no you can’t do that no you’re not allowed no we don’t do that well and i don’t doubt that it takes something special in her i just think courage is mislabeled personally i don’t see there’s not like a fear of repercussion if she does it and it doesn’t work out she just doesn’t get it which is where she’s already at anyway there’s really nothing to lose right well there might be a fear i mean you’d have to get into that with her but i guess the more the concept of courage is most of these principles and we’ve talked about this with other spiritual principles like they sort of work in tandem or together it’s not like courage in and of itself is necessarily what solves your problem but it might take courage to be able to push out of an uncomfortable situation or push yourself like ah what if i start and this doesn’t go the way i want this you know [ _ ] man what if i make it worse i might make it worse by trying to change the situation you know and you get all this fear and anxiety over trying to change and then you know it’s not necessarily specifically courage that’s going to win the day for you but it takes some of that courage to be able to you know walk forward and do the hard stuff yeah it’s interesting i i think if anything and again we’re all different so this is totally just what i would be going through in that situation and who knows what jen was she’s not here to tell us but i think the only fear i would have would be the amount of work it would take oh my god i would say that sounds [ _ ] exhausting to go through all these hurdles to try to make like that would i would feel maybe courageous to walk through that like ah took on that work but that’s how she ended up getting up getting into the work of advocacy with recovery people was her experience with doing that stuff and people telling you no and slamming doors in your face and you know that stuff she’s just now taking that skill set and learned to apply that in other areas so i yeah i don’t know i don’t think i’ve heard courage in the sense of like it’s courageous to be in recovery but i think i’ve heard it more and maybe not for me so much but i’ve heard people say it’s courageous for people to openly talk about it like that’s a thing because i guess you are facing a public backlash like there’s some fear in that so to walk through that and be open about your recovery journey i think that might be courageous or labeled as courageous well and there’s little steps of courage that are you know individual steps like for myself so i was sexually abused when i was a kid early in recovery i’d never said that out loud definitely never in a room full of people you know what i mean it was too like i would immediately be overcome with shame and i would turn beat red and you know just totally shut down and now though from talking about it with a sponsor and then working through some of that and you know working on some like abuse stuff now i’m at a point in my life where i’m like i don’t really care what you think but it took courage in the beginning to be able and even now sometimes it’s still like i’m gonna express this vulnerable point about myself because i do it now because i think the benefit is where i don’t think enough men are courageous enough to talk about it i think most people are ashamed and embarrassed about it and you know if we can sort of get rid of some of that shame and embarrassment and show people like yeah you can talk about this and not have to feel sort of weird about it you know but that initial process took a lot of courage and trust to be like well i think this is the right thing to do [ _ ] it i’m gonna take the risk and i think you are incredibly courageous for sharing that personally because as a guy who struggled with feeling like not enough of a man for a lot of my life the idea of sharing that is just like so scary to me right and i don’t have that particular story of mine but anytime i’ve encountered that story i’m like holy [ _ ] you gotta really be courageous to like have that kind of self-acceptance or be willing to put yourself out there for that kind of judgment because there is a connotation that can come with that or a judgment all right now jenna you share something really deep dark and personal i can’t tell you come on but like right now that it like that doesn’t feel overly courageous to talk about that now in my life it really doesn’t it’s you know that’s just a part of who i am and it’s like it’s something i’ve shared enough to where i don’t feel like it’s any shocking revelation but you know what i mean so now it doesn’t feel courageous to to share that’s just a part of my story like i was an addict you know like so now it might feel different in different situations if i was in a biker club and might not want to share it so much so is courage something that we actually feel like we need to have to walk through the fear or is courage something that somebody else labels the situation from outside like is that even a thing we get like is that is it courage in the situation when you walk through it or is it just like i hope that this makes me feel better by sharing this good point i think it’s a label because when you’re going through it it’s those other maybe spiritual principles it’s like the willingness the perseverance you know like when you’re going through it somebody outside is the labeling it look at that courage the trust that it’ll be better after i do it trust in the process yeah that’s where most of that come from for me is just trusting that it’s well and that goes back to what you were talking about the heroes that got interviewed like none of them felt like what they did was courageous they were probably in the situation and like i will [ _ ] hate myself if i have to go home tonight and live with the fact that this lady got mauled by a bull in front of me and i did nothing so i just can’t live with that like it probably didn’t feel like courage to them and we’re all on the outside like that’s a spiritual principle that you need to [ _ ] practice huh yeah and some of these principles i go back to you know the i think it’s in the triangle of self-obsession pamphlet and a you know talked about this on another episode recently was you know not outgrowing the self-centeredness of the child and that through our normal upbringing a healthy upbringing i should say you gain certain life skills and and things you know through your normal growth and as addicts we don’t get that normal growth it gets interrupted for some reason and now here we are as adults lacking these life skills you know what i mean we don’t know we just know oh [ _ ] this doesn’t feel good i’m not gonna do this i’m doing something else or i’m gonna get high because then i don’t have to feel this thing you know i can numb myself to the feelings well and maybe that goes back to what we talked about a little bit or maybe even debated about last episode uh this idea that we don’t you know that pamphlet says for whatever reason we didn’t grow into adulthood or emotional maturity or whatever but maybe it is this internal landscape of ours that was developed as a child and and pre-child that just didn’t grow in the way that allows us to feel okay allows us to fully develop that cognitive adult ability yeah whether you mean like nature nurture or a little both or well just saying like we’ve kind of called it like uh i don’t know that pamphlet almost refers to it as like this mystical thing that happened like this we don’t know what but something kept us from this but maybe like as our scientific uh ability develops we’re learning well your [ _ ] brain structure is different and it can’t take in the right chemicals that other people’s can and that’s why you didn’t that’s why your two pieces of your brain can’t communicate and you can’t have all that higher level thinking overrule that survival state yeah i mean that could be i mean i just i don’t know and i guess i i sort of sit here and try to psychoanalyze my approach to everyday life stuff you know like how do i when these situations come up like what do i do what is the process and i guess for a lot of situations that reply immediate responses i think it is a lot more neurological and a lot more impulsive but i guess when i think of something like courage like out you know recent situation in my life that i would say took courage although i wouldn’t call it courage in the moment but i had a opportunity i was presented with a new career choice i had to go in and talk to my current boss about that career choice and it wasn’t like i didn’t have a spur of the moment like i have to do this right this moment it was like this thing was presented to me now i have this information and what do i want to do with it you know and and what do i think is the right thing to do so i would sit down and start looking at all right what are my values what what things do i think are important to me well i think it’s important to be honest i think it’s important to be uh you know open and willing and just you know have some integrity be a person that lives by principles so you know i made a decision to go in and sit down talk with my current boss and say hey this is what happened this is what is presented to me i don’t know what i’m going to do i don’t know what this means for our relationship here but i’m just telling you this because this information was given to me i want to be open and transparent i’m not trying to be a secretive person there was a lot of fear in that for a lot of reasons one he’s my friend i’ve known him for 20 years i didn’t know what the response was going to be there’s also fear that it’s going to hurt his feelings and and he’s going to be insulted or offended he might get pissed off at me are you ungrateful [ _ ] [ __ ] like all that things went through my head but i just said no i’m just i and maybe this is like trust faith like a culmination of these other things like i’m going to trust in this process that be an honest open person living by these principles is going to work out the way it’s supposed to work out i don’t know what that’s going to be i don’t know how it’s going to look like but i’m just going to do it and that’s practicing courage or alternate theory

what if those fears that you just described were outweighed by the fear of who you would be or how it would go if you didn’t talk about it with him until later like what if it was more scary the idea of like putting it on him at the last minute like hey not going to be here monday or this is such a recent situation i can only specifically say what ideas crossed my head when i made the decision to do it so if there was some subliminal fear of what i would have been without i can’t speak to that i can only say i can specifically tell you what my fears were going into that i was aware of i was consciously aware of my fears going in and what was willing to hold me back but that’s how the practice of the program’s been for me it’s like i when i have situations where i can contemplate a decision not impulsive decisions but when i have situations where i get some time to think all right how do i want to act moving forward what what are my next choices going to be i try to look at all right you know these are the principles that i want to try to live by but that’s actually fascinating to me because what that says is if you didn’t even take the time to cognitively consider what the fears would be of like telling them later or how it could play out different or if you were okay with being the person or how you would look if you did it differently than that to me that says that’s less of really you cognitively thinking about it because all those decisions were already made for you so really you just kind of mentally masturbated about the fears of actually doing what you already knew you were going to do anyway i don’t i’m sorry i’m confused so like i asked i asked what if the the fears of doing it differently were bigger and you said well i didn’t even consciously think about any of those i just kind of went through the fears that i was facing in the situation but you were using that as a tool to describe how you cognitively approached it to make the decision but the decision was already made you just cognitively thought about how it could be scary and might go wrong you already knew what you were going to do well yeah i mean that goes into the whole process of whether we have free will or not and all that stuff well we technically don’t right and i agree with most of that but i guess the problem is i can’t walk through my life thinking that i have no input into how i live why not so free

that’s [ _ ] awesome i mean at least for me so i’ve what i believe in coming into recovery is that my decision-making of just doing what i wanted because i wanted to when i wanted to was detrimental to my life and well-being i think the only piece of us that actually needs to believe that we have a say in our life is the ego that’s the only piece that it matters to the rest of us doesn’t give a [ _ ] we’re just doing whatever but the ego needs to believe that we did it oh yeah i made that choice is there any buddhist philosophy around that like do we make decisions in our life or are we just oh buddha’s definitely all right so i’m i’m not like are you following this kind of where we’re going yeah and i’m not like 100 percent i don’t know if i can teach this right but i’m trying to say that that’s okay we’re not teachable we’re talking about all right i don’t even know what the [ _ ] i’m talking about i just can’t help but so and uh i think i’ve shared this with you jason so but like there’s the buddhist concept of emptiness and that’s you know you are not you are not billy you are just a bunch of [ _ ] put together that we call billy so i hope i’m not a bunch of [ _ ] too you’re better things yeah yeah shit’s the wrong word or something but i mean like you know puppy dog you know you’re like so you’re you know your your parents your environment your you know like skin and bone and muscle and um like ideas are put into your brain and you know it’s all put together but really you’re just a bunch of molecules and matter put together to make billy and um there’s not a billy molecule special right yeah and so if i’m understanding the buddhist zen concept of emptiness so that i think would lend towards what jason argues is that like we’re not really responsible for [ _ ] so but i think he’s in a good summary responsible for [ _ ] at least and maybe i’m gonna get this wrong but i’m trying to i’m saying what i think he’s saying so maybe this is helpful what i think he’s saying is as you get into choices in your life let’s say you walk into a store and you you know get too much change that cashier hands you back too much change like do you have any input into what decision you make in that situation or do you just react to what’s the best decision that you can whether you keep the money or not right so you’re saying like was i brought up with the right values like what values were instilled what do you have any personal do you have a choice right do you have any responsibility for that how you acting in that very moment yeah i’m gonna say yes i do like on the human level but if we’re gonna go back like down that like black hole of jason like back to the womb back to like machine learning you know like i mean with the gabor mate like you know is it is it did it happen during you know the natal stage or you know why stop there why don’t we just keep going back you know like all of humankind you know right like my parents experience and their natal stages and yeah so um but yeah like in the moment on like this plane of existence yeah i have a choice you know but if we want to go um you know way back you know i guess you could you know that what is that like butterfly effect like way back how much responsibility do we really have you know and i would never disagree i mean i think there are definite things beyond our control that make us who we are like that’s for sure you know what we believe now is necessarily that the higher level thinking doesn’t really make choices it’s got the ability to inhibit responses that the survival brain suggests right so like you’re in a situation somebody pisses you off you’re like i’m gonna [ _ ] punch him and your higher level brain has like half a second or less to say no you’re not so it’s more like free want not really free will i mean maybe it is ego but i guess the way that i heard it explained that was i guess most helpful to me it’s like i do kind of believe like when you walk into a store and you go to order food and you look at the board like your brain already knows what you’re going to order before your conscious decision knows what you’re going to order even though you contemplate well i just had a cheeseburger the other day and maybe i should eat something healthy but man a cheesesteak looks really good like your brain has already made that decision before you’re fooling around with all that contemplating yeah and you just mentally masturbated mentally masturbate about that but then and i kind of agree with that i would say yeah i can follow that but where it another way it was explained to me is like exactly where we are in our life and the decision we’re going to make in this next moment is like saying if you took a set of billiard balls and put it on a table and then hit it with a cue ball and the balls went all over the table you could scientifically predict where each of those balls was going to go based off how fast the thing was moving and what the angle and the spacing between the balls if you had every precise measurement in that whole moment but we will never have every precise measurement in that moment to be able to figure out what our next choice is going to be so it’s almost because it’s infinite like because yeah there’s just so many random choices to right there’s too many variable choices to figure out what that decision is going to be so it’s even if it is just mental masturbation it’s more helpful for me to think that i can influence my decision making by trying to input positive things in there to try to input information that’s going to help make a different decision in the next time or that’s going to help me do something different in the next moment if i just act as like i never have any influence over that then what am i doing to improve myself or improve my situation so that i have different information when that next choice comes up just be present so that’s enough yeah i walk in i’ll look at the menu and i’m like okay i’m here what’s it saying oh getting the barbacoa on the chipotle menu okay and then i eat it and i’m present with it was it [ _ ] good hell yeah definitely getting barbacoa next time like i i don’t have to have that big do i need salad do i need that like if i eat it and i’m like ah i feel like [ _ ] well then maybe salad is on the menu for me i don’t feel like [ _ ] now but then five years from now you’re in heart attack range because you ate too many barbecues or whatever the [ _ ] that is then maybe the salad is on the agenda from then on i don’t know i just i can right but that’s where i guess i feel like okay so maybe that stuff is impulsive but i can you know be on my control but if i start doing things i do have some influence on how i might react in the future maybe i say all right 10 years from now i want to be healthy i want to be walking around i’ve seen people that aren’t making those choices so i’m going to try to do some things that are going to put me in a position later even if i’m just acting as if and even if it is just mental masturbation well it still seems like there’s very low risk to reward situations so i think it’s courageous to let go of that trying to bring us back to courage somehow and of course that makes me look good uh no so i i guess for me you know the the fear or the worry about that mental masturbation is that is usually shaming it’s oh you’re gonna get that cheesesteak you [ _ ] unhealthy [ _ ] right why didn’t you get a salad you piece of [ _ ] you know you need it you know you’re gonna feel better five years from now if you ate salads the whole [ _ ] time instead of putting all this red meat into your goddamn system god you are a piece of [ _ ] how are you ever going to teach your kids to be better they’re going to eat [ _ ] cheese steaks and die early too like that’s where the extra thinking goes for me and i don’t need that i’m going to have a little bit of that not quite that extreme but yeah yeah that is true but i’m just allowing myself to be wherever i’m at cheesesteak is what i want right now okay i’m gonna allow me to be there like at some point in time yes i would like to eat a little healthier maybe it’s not salads maybe it’s chicken steak or something but let me just let myself be here until it feels like the right time i feel like we change better with that compassionate loving understanding of like it’s okay to need this right now than we do with all that mental shaming that i can do when i’m thinking through [ _ ] maybe but when there’s bigger things at stake like my parental choices or whether i decide to be present with my child you know that has a disability or whatever else like i think the stakes are a lot higher some stakes are more immediate i can only speak from where i’m at and again this is a guy who has taken a long time to feel calm and safe in his own body right for me i feel a greater ability to be the guy i want to be in any given situation the guy i can look back on and be like thank god i got that one that way and not the other guy that comes out sometimes and i feel that from a place of just allowing me to be that has gotten me closer to being who i want to be ultimately more often i look back on my days and say man i did put my phone down earlier that was really awesome i felt great and the times when i didn’t it’s like hey it’s okay maybe i needed that break today yeah like huh i feel like that keeps getting me closer and closer to being a better human and it’s like why did i beat myself so long and it’s so funny because i don’t know and i can’t use the word better but like the things that motivate me to do difficult things like i have a tendency to if i say it’s okay to take it easy on myself i take it way too [ _ ] easy like like i will just eat ice cream and shitty food and then i’m at the doctor and they’re talking about my cholesterol maybe at first maybe because you’ve brutalized that’s i’ve already been there that’s why i’m doing what i’m doing now well but i i wonder if that is from a place of the whole time you were doing it there was still criticism right there was still the feeling of you’re doing it wrong like i feel like once we allow it it doesn’t have power as much anymore it’s almost like we do it in spite of or to spite it’s kind of like what i was thinking about when you talk about harm reduction in between episodes just now like when you meet somebody and allow them to be where they’re at right oh hey that’s where you’re at okay cool we’re still gonna love you well then it’s almost like all the reasons i had that said drugs are right for me was because everybody else said they were wrong it’s like i’m gonna show these [ _ ] no it’s you’re all or the problem not the drugs right and then you know had somebody just giving me drugs and [ _ ] and i had as much as i wanted and i had unlimited resources and money and new needles and [ _ ] i’d have been like [ _ ] this isn’t working or you’d be dead one of the two well hopefully i’d be using a safety site like we talked about and they’d kept me alive until i realized that you know but anyway uh i don’t know i do have more to say about that i want to get us back to courage a little bit but i’m open to no i mean i just still comes back to like i have to live like i have some responsibility for the choices and things that i make or i choose to i don’t have to do anything that’s fair um and i i would say i probably agree with most of what you said i just don’t know how that benefits me overly but i guess you’ve described some ways that benefits you so i’d have to i don’t know i just don’t it’s hard to consider things that you don’t know because you didn’t do like i don’t know how that would be because i didn’t do that

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so so jenny what’s something you are terrified of doing uh right now like you would not do in your life right now it’s too scary oh and that doesn’t have to be like something you really want to do either you could just be i’m i’m never going to jump out of an airplane is that scary yes okay what about you what do you got that’s scary that you would not do right now um i can’t say i would never do that i don’t know there’s too much i would never do i mean some probably evil things what if they what if they set up a truck ramp out front and put like 50 cars side by side and you know would you go jump it in your truck ah if they gave me safety stuff not my regular truck because it’s stupid i like adventure so i’m a thrill seeker person so like like i don’t want to jump out of an airplane i used to when i was younger but if someone like said tomorrow like hey for free you want to go jump out of a plane i would probably go do it but i don’t really i have no desire to do it hmm there’s a lot of stuff i would not do out of fear i mean and some of it would probably be like i would not jump off a you know 30-story building like i’d be scared yeah i mean it would i’d probably die i wouldn’t do like what do they call that where you walk on a cable across stuff the high line or high wire yeah whatever any of that stuff i probably wouldn’t do any of that so generally that’s not bad right but we would not do those things right like it’s probably good that i would not jump off a 30-story building because that would be the death of me um so that’s you know there’s this idea that we want these right-sized proportions of you know we call them spiritual principles some people call them virtues whatever you call them you’re not necessarily necessarily looking for like an unlimited amount of this right like a deficiency in courage could be cowardice but too much courage would be recklessness yeah like you know i’m not going out of here today and driving home driving 120 miles an hour on the side road back to my house like that i’m [ _ ] scared and that’s one of those things i’ve heard in recovery which i’ve never put a whole ton of thought into but it’s the idea that character defects are actually assets that are overblown it’s that same concept well but so if that’s the case for courage right and i think we kind of brought this idea up in honesty too maybe all of these spiritual principles aren’t necessarily what you’re supposed to do all the time or with a hundred percent maybe they’re always good right middle path of like i’m not always supposed to be courageous sometimes i’m supposed to be [ _ ] scared and not be courageous and walk through it because that to be crazy to jump off a goddamn building yeah and it’s like the idea that avoidance of fear is the goal and i don’t think that should be a goal i think fear is a another feeling that is definitely has value you know there are times where i should have fear you know but the one that always comes back to me that i was told is like if you go to a bad neighborhood in the city and start walking down a back alley by yourself probably pretty stupid you know especially nowadays in baltimore city you know like if you’re in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time that is not the place you want to be and that is a healthy fear to have you know so billy i come to you you’re my sponsor and i’m getting ready to work step four and they’re talking about how you need courage you know searching in fearless moral inventory that needs to be written there and i’m like dude i don’t have courage how do i get more of it what do you tell me i don’t know that i have an answer on how you get more cur i mean some sponsor you are i got an answer for you okay all right i mean i have to think about it okay um so my spiritual advisor instagram

um somewhere along the lines i was like you have a spiritual advisor i didn’t know that no it’s like a culmination of like spiritual teachers on instagram but somewhere along the lines i learned about courage being the combination of the two words core edge like your core follow me you know your heart and so courage is acting from your core like your values what do you hold in your heart as valuable so like being courageous acting from your core values it’s not it’s not like it’s just you do it this is the people that are running into burning buildings they’re stopping bulls with their bare hands yes they’re they’re doing and they don’t think of themselves as i’m gonna go be courageous they’re just doing it because that’s a core value it’s like i gotta save that child’s life and like saving children is a core value and they don’t think of it like i’m gonna muster courage they’re just acting on their core value and then people see that and say wow they were courageous so anyway to if you want to build courage how would you advise your sponsee to build courage i would say is get in touch with your core values like sit down and think about what are your core values and then start acting from that place that is did you know i mean for real that the latin word for heart is core that is so maybe that’s probably what where the foundation of that came from so that is where that word comes from is the the latin word for heart is core that sounds about right courage comes from your heart so what’s the age part uh i don’t know it’s better with age yeah i didn’t continue reading that doesn’t say anything jenny said that i was like i think i read that somewhere in my little bit of research i did on courage so yeah and you know just thinking a little bit about what you said i guess for me that process of finding the courage to do it was working through the proceeding or the yeah the proceeding steps getting to that place and trusting that the process of recovery was gonna have benefit in my life that you know it i didn’t necessarily have to do it all at once and it didn’t have to be a giant admission to spill your whole soul just share right now what you’re willing to share talk about what you’re willing to talk about and you’ll get what you need to get out of the process so why do we talk about courage in step four when it says to make us searching in fearless moral inventory because courage is not the absence of fear so if we make a fearless moral inventory that would not take any courage you gotta pretend you’re fearless is that what that is do it like you were fearless not fearless how would you do this make a searching and pretend your fearless moral image yeah maybe that’s like one of those words that changed definition with time so that also goes in contradiction to what you just said though because if the way to increase our courage is to understand our core values because it’s not actually courage that’s acting in those situations it’s just we’re acting in ways that agree with our core values step four is the introduction to even starting to grasp what any of our core values are so how are we supposed to have courage going into it when that’s exactly what we’re starting to look at maybe the first core value is i want to get sober well i don’t know i mean you’d have to get into it with i guess bill w and dr bob about what the original intention of a searching in fearless moral inventory is because a moral inventory does not imply this telling of our life story and every deep dark secret that we have that’s how it’s implied in our practice today but i don’t i mean when you read the like if you looked up the words moral inventory i don’t think it would say tell every deep dark secret that you have i think it would be what are your values what are your you know beliefs and what are your morals and how do we get there now we’ve sort of come to this understanding that the way to get there is by talking about our past and talking about our history and how those things have affected i actually agree with that but what that that’s the way to get there or right so but i you know i don’t know 100 that that means share every deep dark secret that we have well i i think it’s the exploration of our history and our situations and how we’ve acted in them that does give us or shine a light onto what are our values oh well i did this thing and it felt awful and i feel terrible about it afterwards and i felt shame oh [ _ ] well that must mean that my value is this because that’s not how i acted in that way and had i acted that way i probably wouldn’t have felt any of that [ _ ] afterwards so it’s almost like exploring those situations leads us to understanding what our morals really are i agree i’m just saying if we’re getting into a literal nitpicking of the words of they use searching in fearless moral inventory doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be a searching and fearless admission of every terrible thing we’ve ever done like yeah you know well and and the heart but i agree with the process sorry oh no just the hard part i think of that point in time is like what i would do in therapy as we explore someone’s history the whole time i’m trying to you know give constant reminders and and you know be connected with them to help them feel that like that doesn’t make shame for them like they don’t have to be ashamed of that it’s it’s less what the [ _ ] was wrong with you and more like oh what happened to you that put you in a situation where that’s how you acted right it’s more curiosity it’s like when we can be curious about it to understand it better we don’t have to feel the the shame of being a bad person for doing it and i don’t know that anywhere in my 12-step process was anybody helping me with that to understand that like those things didn’t necessarily make the understanding i got or that was given to me was more like hey that’s what you did then but you don’t have to feel like that’s who you are now right and it’s like that’s didn’t necessarily remove the shame of who i was then and what i did and i feel like we would might be better off helping people understand that like you didn’t just wake up on a tuesday morning and decide you want to be a piece of [ _ ] like this process of why you acted that way came from somewhere specifically which step but i guess i had a similar experience i’m gonna say through five six and seven somewhere of like the the getting into like you know this is why you did what you did this is the reasons behind making these choices and then is that in alignment with the morals and values that you say that you have or the person that you want to be because it doesn’t seem to be and then how do we get to a place where you’re living by your morals and values but i don’t like say it’s hard to parse out which part happened in which step it was a result of getting to the end of like a seventh step and realizing hey these are ways that i’ve dealt with these situations in the past i wanted love but i searched for that through all these outside relationships and abused women or took advantage of women in search of love and that didn’t get me to what i wanted because now i’ve become this person that’s lying and deceitful and hurts people and that’s not really what i want to do at all you know but i don’t know you know but i guess that process does take some courage like trust i guess that’s where courage for me is coming in most of recovery has been trusting that i might not get what i want out of this i might not get as i look at situations in my life that come up i typically already know what i want the outcome to be in most things you know and i tended historically to work backwards from a place so how do i get what i want what do i need to tell you to get what i want what do i need to do to get you to give me what i want how do i manipulate this to be the outcome that i want and in recovery i’ve learned to be like well no let’s live by your morals and values and just see what the outcome’s gonna be maybe it’ll be what you want but maybe not and that has you know where courage comes in it’s like i might not get what i want out of this [ _ ] so and i think of that what i want as that level of feeling okay when that we talk about right the so if i have if i’m at like a level 25 of just feeling all right in my existence and you know maybe the average human is at like 75 like what i want is something to make me feel 75 that’s what i’m looking for so i say it’s what i want but it’s really more of a need at that point i needed drugs to [ _ ] alleviate the way i felt and feel more of this you know normal typical level and then when i got rid of drugs it’s like well i still don’t feel [ _ ] 75 i’m still down here at 25. like what the [ _ ] so now i got to use women now i got to use gambling now i got to use you know some other obsessive and compulsive we say obsessive and compulsive but like what it is it’s we also say you know the level of like animal instinct or whatever we lived like animals well because we were like animals we were seeking this [ _ ] thing that we needed and people just like other people see would seek food if they were deprived of it right because they would not feel okay in their body anymore we had that same thing and i think from an outside standpoint when you’re not feeling that level of being down at 25 it’s easy to say oh you just want that that’s just a [ _ ] choice well what if it’s not what if those people are desperately seeking that the same way you would be seeking air if you were under water well uh you know i mean i i don’t know that that’s a i don’t know that that’s a courage thing i mean the fear of not getting what i want is really the fear of feeling like i’ve always felt like that’s [ _ ] real and that’s not just like oh i should muster up some trust that it’ll not work out right well if you were under water you would not be like well i’ll just trust that maybe i’ll adapt to breathe water like that that’s not what you’re gonna [ _ ] say you’re gonna desperately search for air no but i guess for me what i realize my satisfaction in my life comes from being my authentic self and living by values and morals that i think are right and important and like i have an understanding that they might be different probably for each of us our list of morals and values probably some of them are the same but then they might fall in a different order or you might have a higher value on some that i have on others so i don’t think everybody has the same but in general i think most people would find some level of satisfaction and self-worth out of living by their morals and values and the process of recovery helps me see how i am living in areas where i am living by my morals and values and areas where i’m not but i guess to get back to what you’re saying about certain people and being at the 25 percent minor standing of like that’s the basis of the conversations around harm reduction and going out into communities and meeting people where they’re at and maybe that’s the best they can do is numb themselves with drugs and so you know you meet them there and say hey guess what you’re a worthy human being you have value and we love you and if this is the best you can do that’s okay but we’d like to help you get to another place if you want to do something different if not that’s okay we’ll meet you where you are but we don’t want to leave you there we want to lift you up and and build you from there um and i think that like that’s and this gets a little woo-woo especially for me but that’s where like these principles of like love and compassion and understanding like that’s where they become a higher power and they become a spark or an ignition to something greater in that other person that they didn’t see in themselves

no i uh i mean i think you’re right like i okay so maybe i came into drug use at a 25 and then maybe when i got into recovery it was at a 30. you know let’s just say it was a little tiny bit better for whatever reason like i’m just a little older and and then maybe slowly but surely finding enough of these options available for me you know and i’m not saying this is for everybody but it was like oh man i was honest in this situation where i used to be you know dishonest and it felt good afterwards and so maybe then i’m in a 31 and then enough of these and i’m at like a 40 or 50. and then it was still supplementing that with some other practices in my life that were not necessarily healthy or producing great outcomes and then it was therapy and then it was like okay well now i’m at like maybe a 65 right but still off and then it was maybe antidepressant and like i don’t know maybe i’m in a [ __ ] 80 now i don’t know i feel pretty god damn good right but i i so yeah there’s something to that it’s just like okay for me that felt doable but what about for the other guy who got off drugs and maybe he was at like 15 right maybe he never got that feeling of being able to be honest in a situation and feel better later or maybe that he did all those and only got 16 and that was it right like it’s like i just don’t know man and for me to like say oh you just don’t have enough courage that that doesn’t feel very relevant and i wouldn’t know how to tell him to get more man just sit still just sit still till it feels different well what if it doesn’t so do you and i don’t i’m just trying to get to i guess the point of as someone who does therapy with people obviously people are typically seeking you out i don’t think you’re dragging anyone into therapy maybe you are maybe you’re out there i go door-to-door talks to us i thought he was drunk but

like you and maybe they’re i don’t know isn’t there some belief that like talking through some of these things or there’s a purpose to helping lead them to a better place of open mindedness or enlightenment or not enlightenment maybe but that oh no if you see me we’re doing enlightenment right we’re going there no i’m just kidding but i mean when people come to you just i mean i i can’t imagine you just go oh that’s cool that’s where you feel that’s great we’ll come talk next week like isn’t there some sort of maybe some suggestions or maybe helpful information or different ways of looking at things that you can present as a therapist that’s gonna help someone get to even if it is just that two percent or three percent better like i could tell them a whole lot of [ _ ] uh that doesn’t change anything generally no but the goal i think is to help them feel safer and calmer in their body which changes your actual physiology physiolog physiology of jesus christ um and then from there that’s going to change the balance of chemicals and then from there if that hasn’t done enough well we need to seek out some kind of medication that can make your chemicals feel better right once you feel safe i can help you explore and ask some really interesting questions that help you reevaluate and restore your life right so all the reasons you had that your life was because the way it was well now you get to go back and look at him and be like oh maybe it maybe that’s not the real story maybe it’s this other story and this story seems to have a whole lot more meaning for me now but that story doesn’t change when you’re stuck in the state of the 25 so like my first process is i need to get you up somewhere near [ _ ] 75 or this is going to be totally useless that’s the first goal and that happens to a variety of ways right we do use breathing techniques and tapping and all kind of other [ _ ] but a lot of it is just that nervous system to nervous system some would say in some theories others would say that soul to soul connection right i have cultivated the ability to help people feel calm comfortable and safe through tone of voice through through just you know my presence my ability to be mindful and in the moment with them um and that goes a long way but yeah it’s it’s changing your safety level first and then we can go and re-look at everything and change the way we feel about it that’s interesting because i when i was brainstorming this i thought you know where you know when i was thinking about where courage comes from and secure attachment came to mind like kids or adults who came from securely attached childhoods and that’s what i i mean when you say all those things like i in my ideal state of recovery in 12 steps whether it’s a a or n a or you know any of the 12 step based programs like that when you can whittle away all the personalities and the criticisms and judgments that we tend to put on other people in recovery like that’s the basis of that if you look at like the traditions where we say the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop you don’t even have to be stopped you can come here we welcome you we love you come here be with us you know we just want to help you we just want you to get better we want you know to guide you on this path and the steps and all this stuff are just suggestions like i think that’s the premise of it it gets bastardized through different language and judgments and criticisms we put on people and that part’s sad and i’ve been as guilty of it as anything you know they’re not willing and they don’t have courage and all that stuff but like you said some of them some people come in and what we really just need is to feel welcomed and to feel loved and to feel like we matter and a lot of us can identify when we come into meetings like we identify with a group of people that’s like us you know it’s not like going to a counselor in a fancy office who’s got a [ _ ] you know bmw that they’re driving home to their family and [ _ ] every day you know and their pool in the backyard you know and you’re a person that’s living homeless shooting air you know like that’s such a far grass but when you go to a meeting and you talk to people or you see people that you’ve used with you can start to build that connection or we have these community outreach programs like you know they do with the harm reduction programs and we try to meet people where they are and help them to feel loved and build them up and then like jenny said once we have a sort of little bit of safety we might be able to find the courage to like hey you know maybe i can stop using maybe i can move out of this neighborhood with these people that i’ve known my whole life maybe i can leave my abusive spouse or whatever you know but i don’t think that courage is a thing that we just like it we just don’t think about it and we have it it it takes nurturing it takes growth you know and then it takes a little bit of trust and faith i agree i totally agree i i would say man i i wish the program looked a lot more like the way he described it because that was beautiful um that that was what i came into this episode really thinking like the only thing i could relate the idea or the state of courage to was when we talked about polyvagal theory and like i did not i don’t from a survival state whether that’s fight or flight whether that’s freeze i don’t from those states have the ability to walk through fear i’m paralyzed by it right but finding a way to help my nervous system stay more in this you know ventral spot this safe calm connected place like you talk about secure attachment that’s you know that’s kind of i guess what that feels like to me that’s the place where courage seems natural almost it’s like i can be in that spot and have fear and that doesn’t dictate what i need to do next right and again you don’t need to go necessarily see a therapist to help cultivate that if you find a loving compassionate person when you walk into the doors of a 12-step program that makes you feel warm and accepted like we’ve all had those people when you’re around them you just [ _ ] feel good right some people get it through religious figures yeah priest or a pastor or a deacon at a church but that’s what i feel like i would understand courage to be for me would be that internal safe connected feeling because that allows me to do things that seem scary yeah i don’t know how and i don’t know how to tell somebody to practice that like be around good people i i have no [ _ ] clue yeah so it just seems made up i don’t know wasn’t that cute cause in the wizard of oz the cowardly lion he had it in him all along and it was until he was hanging out with his pals did the courage come out i you know surprisingly uh to me if you only met me in the last two months listening to this podcast i have not oh i am the guy who is guilty of judging others and them not doing enough recovery work and i’m not whatever pushing through whatever it is i literally have the [ _ ] tin man from the wizard of oz tattooed on my arm because i felt like the guy who didn’t always have a heart so it’s kind of incredible to to be the guy i feel like i am today which is what i that’s where i try to come from the most maybe it was there all along how cute any final thoughts on courage ah no i all right so courageously tell all your friends to listen to recovery sort of and we’ll see you next week

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