189: Spiritual Principle – Perseverance (Sort Of)

We are talking about the spiritual principle of perseverance. What is perseverance? Is there science behind our understanding of perseverance? We talk about the definitions of perseverance, what we understand it to mean, and how to practice to increase your levels of perseverance. We explore perseverance, it’s similarities to grit, determination and commitment. We take time to talk about the dark side of perseverance, where it does not add benefit to our lives. Listen in as we explore perseverance as a spiritual principle, and share your thoughts with us.

In this episode:

⁠⁠Phoenix episode


⁠Psychology Today article⁠

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Email: RecoverySortOf@gmail.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 [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I’m Jason and I am a guy who perseveres in doing this show and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery I’m Jenny I’m also a person in long-term recovery and it’s spiritual principal time which is probably feeling like every week at this point because we just did a few of them but that’s okay we’re doing perseverance today what was the first thing you thought when I texted the idea of perseverance as the principal today besides Yes sounds hard will we be able to persevere through the episode uh mine was oh yeah I get to tell my tattoo story oh so we’re going to hear a tattoo story about perseverance yeah if it fits so what like of course I looked up the definition we kind of have our way we do this now but what do you think perseverance is before the definition like what was it to you what have you been trying to do when you’ve been trying to do perseverance I mean my immediate you know simplified version of it is like just sticking with stuff that’s hard you know going through things that are difficult um I usually attribute that for me mostly to like exercise or maybe like things we’ve done with the kids when they were young that like this is annoying and I don’t like it but I’m gonna keep doing it anyway that reminds me of driving home last Sunday uh from an event that was like two hours away and for whatever reason I just did not want to be in the car anymore we were still like 36 minutes away and I was like I’m [  ] done okay I am tapped out how the [  ] am I gonna drive 36 more minutes persevered through it somehow I got home right now that you say that yeah we’ve done some long road trips and a lot of time in the car yeah Jesus Christ how can I possibly keep doing that uh I don’t know did you have any so um does your story fit like the definition or how you encapsulate um this is so this is my understanding this was my personal definition of persevere I chose not to look up the definition for the show because you guys usually do that anyway but um I uh when I think of perseverance I think of well commitment but doing it when it’s hard especially when it’s hard and then expecting a greater reward on the other side can you persevere when it’s easy that’s a good [  ] question to start with well what’s interesting what you just said like I don’t know that I’ve ever assimilated perseverance with reward to me it’s always been more like enduring something not reward yeah oh that’s awful yeah that doesn’t sound like a good thing I know I know yeah that’s why I said it sounds hard that’s hilarious I think what all I ever think of when I think of perseverance is Dory from the Finding Nemo just keep swimming yeah like that goes through my head all the time and that’s what I think of perseverance has like just keep swimming but I don’t know that that’s a good thing and that’s I think one of the places we’ve come to with all our spiritual principles right like is there a level of this that maybe skews towards unhealthy as opposed to the original theory of just we need 100 of this in our life all the time everywhere um the definition I found originally was persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success so that definition at least encapsulates the idea that there has to be some kind of success and or reward at the end of it yeah I found a similar definition but it doesn’t include the reward part so it says continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulty failure or opposition okay and so another one I found was perseverance refers to our ability to pursue a goal or passion over time and stick with it if we encounter obstacles or setbacks and that one doesn’t mention the the real life treatment the goal being the reward I guess I mean and when I think of it that way it is usually to achieve a goal but as the goal just to keep doing the thing because if that is maybe that’s where it gets unhealthy yeah it’s a circular argument like you know I gotta keep this goal up and the goal is just keep doing this [  ] when it doesn’t feel good yeah well when I think of it you know with someone like our commitments as far as some of our things we’ve you know signed our kids up for done with our kids early on it’d be like the goal was just to support them in doing something they want to do but I’m gonna put up with it right right well it doesn’t feel rewarding it just feels like there’s a goal so we’re trying to like the kids feel loved and supported yeah well maybe that’s the reward I guess is that you feel like a good dad or yeah a caregiver that’s interesting and with Jenny saying her kind of take on it like I have never really Associated commitment necessarily with perseverance I mean maybe subconsciously but I’ve never actively thought oh yeah they’re kind of similar they got some similar feels to them so this is what I was thinking it’s like commitment is like the first step and perseverance is the action part in my head and see that’s weird though because to me commitment is like well no okay I guess commitment’s the spark perseverance is the action but commitment to me feels like something over time as well like I can’t be committed to something just because I decided it like if I didn’t if I’m committed to doing something for six months and I ain’t doing it three months from now I didn’t actually do commitment in my mind okay well I’m thinking too commitment and committed so you make a commitment then you persevere you’ve shown you’re committed um I feel like there’s another word that goes along with these somewhere in our spiritual principles that also termination

I don’t know is that the same thing as person steadfastness is not a principle depend on the list you look at oh let’s look through this so many of these are so closely interrelated you know they’re woven together in a beautiful spiritual tapestry but I guess like you’d mentioned Jenny I it it becomes perseverance I guess when it becomes like difficult or there’s opposition like so I think of recovery and I don’t know that there’s ever times where I feel like I’ve had to persevere through my you know abstinence like there’s been times I’ve maybe thought about using but they’ve been so fleeting that it doesn’t feel like I’ve persevered yeah persevere and maybe it’s that that that severe perhaps in my own head it triggers that it’s got to be hard like persevere I mean maybe that’s just some weird word thing in my head but so kind of going along with what you just said Billy like it’s interesting my first initial response was of course we had to persevere in recovery God damn it but I like when I looked these words up in the actual Narcotics Anonymous literature at least the basic text it works how am I in Step working guides this morning it’s very infrequently used it’s one time in the basic text five and works online I think maybe three in the step working guide and doesn’t really say much of [ __ ] about it where it is except this is where we practice perseverance in our recoveries and I’m like oh that’s great how are you do you you have that like an electronic version I do I give the big book in AA too I don’t know okay I could probably get it though it’s probably easy enough it’s an interesting tool it is I know and I I love using it but oh you know the AAA book they probably perseverance yeah very strange you must need perseverance

you know yeah so yeah I I can picture that as well maybe we should have used that but yeah uh the lack of use in it in our recovery literature at least in Narcotics Anonymous recovery literature does make me wonder if maybe it’s not one that’s kind of pointed to very frequently yeah I mean again there are things I guess you could say maybe persevering through a difficult four-step tough situations or like like a difficult ninth step amends you know you might need to practice some perseverance but well like okay you had a sponsor that used and you had to go through that tricky time of like not having this guy that you had made a strong connection with as you know your mentor and friend in recovery and had to persevere until you found a new person that could take that role and you guys actually made a relationship over time like I feel like that would require perseverance to get through kind of the tougher times in recovery or the the times that don’t match what we hope they would or yeah I didn’t think of it that way in the time though yeah and I guess to me I assimilate perseverance with like doing something long-suffering right so what do you like not minimal discomfort but like severe yeah but it’s just in my head whether that’s right or not well and I guess the the question I’m curious about though is like is that evidence of maybe a lack how to say this I’m not trying to say it in a lacking way there’s something in there that could be pointing at the idea that you don’t think or look at anything as hard for you and you think all these things should be easy and you should just be better at them does that like I know I’m not saying that exactly right but like maybe yeah I feel like losing your first sponsor that you’ve had but great connection with like I feel like that’s heartbreaking that’s big I just have a lot of you’ve had a lot of life seem to take really like variance stride I’m like oh my God that would destroy me like

you know but like there’s some some of the things you’ve shared about your life I’m like wow Billy like I don’t if I went through it I don’t think I’d be the person I am and you’re just like it happened you know well it’s almost it’s almost and maybe like minimizing the difficulty in your life which is in my mind evidence of like a higher expectation of yourself than others or holding yourself to such a high standard or more pressure on yourself than maybe is unhealthy for you that’s all that’s probably true okay so you probably have a [ __ ] ton of perseverance maybe not Hannah maybe not great for you but it is there I’ll drop in another word resilience

like you’re very resilient to Life’s troubles hey man you’d give myself some credit I’m persevering through all kinds yeah we should have had a perseverance quiz

I found the AAA big book so I was looking for perseverance and the AAA big book well when you were talking about the steps and perseverance don’t I was thinking about healing takes perseverance facing some of your quote-unquote negative Character defects you know facing that stuff and healing from it working through it that takes quite a bit of perseverance nobody likes to look at the fact that you know that you’re dishonest you know Criminal you know mean to your family Etc so how would you say since you don’t feel Billy like this has been a huge piece of your recovery necessarily up front like how would you say you have tried to use perseverance in your recovery yeah what I was looking at was I think I in lack of proper usage of terms just consider things commitment like for me it’s really easy to say like I’m super committed to something so my feelings attitudes or actions don’t matter they’re minimized you know as a part of like growing up in a dysfunctional home where you’re taught that your feelings and things don’t matter and you’re just supposed to do what you’re supposed to do show up where you’re supposed to show up you know like all those things that it’s very easy for me to do that to myself and just be like well I’m committed to this thing so my feelings are irrelevant so whether I like it whether I want to do it whether there’s any suffering related to it is completely irrelevant to I said I was gonna do this thing so now I have to do it yeah putting it in those terms perseverance still I mean I said this before but it still feels like the like the action part like the uh so your commit you made the commitment and then you’re working through those things that are uncomfortable and it’s the perseverance that makes you overcome the moment I felt like I heard the opposite oh really okay it could be just how I Define it I don’t know the way the way Billy was using it there and I thought where you were going to go with it Jenny was like it felt like he was saying that he had these kind of unrealistic expectations on him as a kid to you know don’t worry about how you feel and think just do this thing that we’re telling you to do and that he still continues to do that to himself now and I’m like yes that sounds awful it doesn’t sound like perseverance it sounds like beating the [ __ ] out of yourself it sounds like perseverance to me that does sound like perseverance yeah that’s so um maybe we don’t want the spirit

yeah no so dude am I the only one who assumes a reward at the end of perseverance I mean I thought the purpose was for a goal like I thought there had to be an intended reason for why I’m putting myself through this suffering or tougher period of yeah and I think that might be a problem too with myself like a I guess when I set goals like I don’t set goals it’s in like hey maybe I can achieve this thing it’s like oh you have to do this thing or you’re a piece of [ __ ] so my goal setting and I’m working on all this stuff now which is why I’m kind of aware of it it’s like that’s why I’m terrible at setting like goals in say my marriage or in my career like those are hard goals to set because there’s so many things that are outside of my control and so I’m working on that now like okay well how do I set goals that I might fall short of I’m like well who wants to set that like I’m never going to set a goal that I know I can’t get you know what this made me think of was I wonder like we we have this kind of one-size-fits-all idea of our recoveries right people come in you do these steps you get these spiritual principles this is what’s going to help you live better but I’m I’m thinking about Billy just sharing this story with us that like his childhood involved perseverance without the other side of like you know pay attention to what’s good for your body and also how you think and feel and and take that into consideration with your attempts at being a persevering person and it’s almost like if we could have this kind of way or or quiz or assessment that could help people figure out like oh this is the brand of of childhood trauma you had and you kind of skew too far this way already we don’t want to give you commitment and perseverance like what we need to give you is love and forgiveness you know what I mean that’s the other side of what you need it’s not that you you don’t have any of these things it’s you’re too skewed One Direction

you know what I mean yes I I do although I still think perseverance is uh skill or a value to have you know there’s always going to be times where we’re going to want to push through hard things in our life I think for me it’s more important to like recognize my own feelings and recognize when like perseverance is going to be an asset you know yeah yeah I don’t think perseverance isn’t useful I just think you came in with way too much of it already you know what I mean like we don’t need you to keep focusing on being persevering and committing Billy we need you to come over here and be loving and forgiving to yourself like you got plenty of that [  ] already you’re already like you said yeah like you’ve been crushing perseverance for years and didn’t even know it like yeah and that’s where I’m like yeah you know I don’t know that’s what I haven’t actually worked a lot like haven’t I couldn’t say like I wrote on or did a lot of work on perseverance or thought much about it and I guess in 2023 this is where my brain goes when I think of 12-step programs and information that was developed in 1930s right it was it was good in idea and Theory but now we’re seeing what maybe where the drawbacks are like maybe we’re not maybe people like Billy are coming in and we’re giving them all these spiritual principles and he’s saying yeah yeah I’ll focus on the ones I already know I’m good at right the perseverance and the commitment and and I’ll just you know keep doing those but maybe that’s not what was good for him like maybe he needed to actually move to less of those and maybe we’re missing the other people on the opposite side who are have too much of the love and forgiveness and or whatever and they’re missing some of the perseverance and yeah getting into a mode like for me where it feels like life is a perseverance like not really looking at hey life is supposed to be like fun and enjoyable and and your relationship should be things that are fun enjoyable and your career should be something that is at minimal tolerable but it you shouldn’t be like persevering through your day-to-day job like that is not a place to be right right those are big things to persevere like then that’s just plain old suffering like you know you persevere through like minor projects but yeah if you don’t have this base like marriage household work if you don’t have that base piece yeah but I bet you there’s a lot of people out there right now that are in jobs they don’t like with marriages they aren’t happy in in places or households they’re not and they’re thinking well this is what I’m supposed to do because you know life and Recovery is about doing the right things and they are not like you like Jason brought up like they’re crying I think that was me for a long time like crushing the perseverance piece not realizing like well life isn’t all about perseverance like that’s a skill and it’s a time that we should want to use it but that shouldn’t be every day right that should be like persevering through every moment of our life I only persevere 23 hours and 56 minutes out of each day that’s all right no more than that that’s just too much if you go to 57 minutes so for example so like Billy needs like a cast before he needs Physical Therapy like if we put it in that term so you follow me like you can’t just skip to the physical therapy part you can’t just skip to the person of your part you gotta actually heal the wound like with a cast before you go to PT I mean that’s kind of how I feel about a lot of what we say about recovery like I think that’s part of the missing pieces is that we’re we’re we’re not the programs don’t have the means to address people’s harms or hurts from the information and the time they developed it compared to the information and the ways we can go about trying to do that now you know what I mean there’s a lot of different theories about how these things can be healed and how they’re actually operating in the brain and in the nervous system and I just feel like our programs miss all the opportunity to to bring in this new information and maybe you know look at it a different way [Music] well and there’s a tricky piece I think that like I couldn’t trust my own judgments in the beginning of my recovery you know what I mean like I was making all kinds of terrible decisions and rationalizing it and justifying it in my head you know and saying like oh you know my life is so terrible everything’s so terrible and it’s like it it was but it’s my thinking was all I was on drugs for years like my thinking was oh Askew and so for a little while it was like yeah you’re gonna have to like I guess that would have been perseverance like you’re gonna have to get through like the withdrawal and the the what they call it Post Acute withdrawal you know syndrome which however long that lasts from weeks to months you know getting through like the all the emotional [  ] and dealing with all that wanting to use and not use till my head clears the [  ] up and that I get some discernment on hey what things are worthwhile to persevere through and what things aren’t but if we just tell people hey just come in and tolerate everything you know and push through all of it and shove your feelings down like that’s the unhealthy Place well and I think and for my personal view on life right this isn’t like all researched or all well-known or truth or any of that [  ] right this is just how I feel it seems like when we come in we were probably not doing everything wrong right and if somebody could have started there and been like well look every decision you makes not wrong Billy right you’re choosing to eat when you’re hungry you choose to go to sleep when you’re tired sometimes like some of these are okay and this is how you can kind of learn to trust where it’s okay and get an idea of maybe when this other nervous system reactivity is coming up and actually sort of hijacking your body and making you make bad decisions that aren’t actually what Billy would make from a calm place I just feel like you could have started the Journey of learning when to trust yourself and how to know that a lot sooner and gotten there sooner I guess and so part of that is why I think the very slow process of getting through the steps is bad because we aren’t addressing some of those things soon enough you know like I started to address some of like you know my Character defects and then along with that some of my Assets in like a six step when I had like five or six years clean I could have used those skills like a year or two in you know what I mean had I had I you know whatever push through and I that I guess is some benefit to how other programs Maybe go through the steps a lot quicker maybe just through talking about them there could be some benefits there versus the way that I was introduced which is working on it through this sort of I’m gonna call it a long methodical process right um or I chose to take the long methodical process I don’t know that the program itself specifically says there’s a it needs to be a long methodical process it doesn’t but yeah it does feel like it is a long but the process of it has been that right yeah and maybe we need some of their skills sooner because as I began to look at oh okay these are areas you know in in a fifth and sixth step and then getting into seven like these are areas where I tend to make poor choices these are areas where I can’t really trust my judgments and because I have these bad past experiences you know I want to numb feelings I want to avoid you know the awkwardness whatever and then there’s other areas that I learned through that step process of like my actual strengths and skill set you know something you said in there reminded me not really it just kind of gave me this idea of like when we think of harm reduction right you believe in harm reduction because you believe that the old methods of like we can’t help you until you get where we want you to be first are kind of useless and you think it’s much more compassionate and useful to go out and say hey this is where you’re at we’ll we’ll try to help you here and when you’re ready to take the next step you know where we’re at and we’re friendly and we’re kind and we’re gentle and you’ve interacted with us it does not feel like the 12-step recovery I encountered in Narcotics Anonymous looks like that we’re not like hey you’re fine where you’re at man just when you’re ready to take that first step uh you know in a more formal fashion or when you’re ready to talk about something you want to work on like we’ll be here for you but you’re good till then it’s okay like it’s more listen to us you don’t know what the [  ] you’re doing and all our ideas are the right ones and all yours are terrible and it’s like I don’t know I feel like harm reduction works because of the way it’s set up and it’s funny that we don’t look more like that in the way we treat people once they’re in recovery yeah the only I guess I would disagree a little bit in that I don’t know if you’re looking at success you know I hate to use the word success rates but like success rates of harm reduction like well how many people engaged in harm reduction programs overdose and die right you know what I mean probably a lot right you know because that’s the community that you serve um for me personally I say my personal support or harm reduction is slightly different it’s more or less like well we can’t even have a [  ] conversation if you hate yourself so much and no one has ever shown you love or compassion in your life you at least deserve love and compassion and we can start there there are some other things that you need to do that I can help you with if you’re willing to do you know something different but but I can still love you and care about you but I can’t really help you if you’re not willing to do some certain things for yourself I think loving and caring about them is helping them in a way they’ve never had you know you hope right but that’s I guess I feel like the people coming into our into these programs are the same people right they’re the same people that can’t have that conversation about whether or not to get a job or can’t have that conversation about whether to stop cheating on their partner or can’t have that conversation about any of these maybe healthier ways of living because they’re just not there yet they’ve never had the conversation about them being a lovable and an acceptable person you know you’re still thinking they hate themselves so much I don’t know it’s just I guess meeting people where they’re at is where I want to be and it’s not where I was when I was working my program I don’t know that like Narcotics Anonymous told me to be that way but that’s what I got from the society and the environment yeah and I got I guess I remember hearing a lot of like what appealed to me early in recovery is the types of sayings that were like we’ll Love You Until You Learn To Love Yourself and we’re going to support you and we’re going to help you in this past I mean they had a specific path that they were going to support you on you know I’m not going to deny that but it was We Will Learn To Love You Until You Learn To Love Yourself we’re going to help you we’re going to lift you up to to get you on this journey and uh you know that was appealing because I was someone who didn’t love myself at all I had very very low self-esteem and self-worth well it’s it’s interesting to me and and this could be the difference between a a smaller recovery community in like a Cecil County versus the maybe the larger recovery community in Baltimore but like when I left I heard that words a lot right well learn until you well we’ll love you till you learn to love yourself but like the atmosphere and environment did not necessarily feel like that all the time there’s lots of judgment there’s lots of talking about people there’s lots of point in the finger at who should have worked [Laughter] but but then I will say there’s another part of me that comes up with the Counterpoint to that that says yeah maybe it was more like that up here that’s possible and maybe that was more of the experience of what you got and yet just from the opening parts of this thinking about how maybe like you’re still skewing possibly towards more perseverance than self-love that’s not necessarily in my mind what you got then like they didn’t love you enough to love yourself in my mind so maybe they talked about it but I still don’t feel like that’s what you got out of it yeah that part of it I think for me has been more than like the old layers of the onion adage is like I was willing to look at some of my Character defects and stuff but not willing to really look too deep at why I was doing what I was doing or you know much of the The Thinking Beyond the immediate I just realized this podcast is going to end when Billy loves himself to acknowledge that Narcotics Anonymous has some flaws that’s when like right now it’s still Billy’s at fault for anything that went wrong in his recovery and I’m like oh okay okay that’s when this podcast ends when we actually no I don’t know that’s funny though wow and yeah there’s I guess definite areas of I mean oh now you got me thinking something totally different it’s okay it’s okay I get it man sometimes things have helped us so much they can feel uh Beyond reproach right I’ve defended a couple of my therapists and then I’ve looked back at them and thought I mean they were really good therapists but they also [  ] hurt me at a point in time and I was probably all right with that like I was justified and feeling that way um one of the things I thought of this morning looking up this this topic and perseverance was like two years ago Billy came to me and said we should do an episode on when to push through and when you should know when to like cut your losses and it’s time to stop and that’s what I felt like this conversation was about today I’m like we finally figured out how to have that conversation it’s only taken two years and three months yeah but we finally figured it out and and I can’t say that I I truly know the answer to that right like it feels almost like an intuitive thing but this to me that question that you asked about that topic is the question of when is perseverance the right spiritual person possible to apply versus maybe there’s another spiritual principle that would be better in that situation and I I don’t know how do you know what spiritual principle to apply in which situation yeah um and of course as being a person that’s more whatever less brain or like you know less emotionally driven like to me a lot of my decision making nowadays comes down to you know almost doing like a positive negative inventory or a pros and cons type of list and looking at all right what am I trying to get out of this what are my goals and then is what I’m doing gonna even get me there you know is what I’m doing even in a line with that am I persevering through some [  ] because I think it’s going to get me someplace but if I look honestly at it it’s not taking me there at all one of the incredible things is that I sit here week after week and I have this standpoint of like therapy and self-love and self-compassion and all this stuff right and I know Billy is coming from like logic right he’s all in the logic and yet every week he has found a way to like give me a process that I’m like that’s as if that is not what I’m doing from a logical method that is as close as you can possibly [  ] get without including the way I’m doing it like I’m like damn he’s really good at making this [  ] work for him it’s impressive it really is I’m like that’s that’s an awesome way to go about it I mean I don’t know well I guess to dumb down like the process of recovery it’s like I don’t always know how to make good decisions I act impulsively if I use a system for helping me make better decisions it’s a little easier like sometimes it’s easier to make better decisions when I’ve looked at things instead of just reacting to emotion like we were talking about this in the car I’m gonna say this real quick we’re talking about in the car like if you said to me it’s not okay to shame people when you shame people it really doesn’t get the desired outcomes that you’d want it’s a shaming statement yeah I’d say well that makes sense like yeah I don’t think that trying to shame someone to change their behavior is the way to go about it but yet I’ll walk down to my son and be like dude your room is a [  ] mess this is gross I don’t know how you lay in this and then not recognize that that’s exactly what that is you know and there’s just a disconnect of that yes being able to look at things that way yeah and I feel like that’s what we’re all doing where you call us addicts call us humans calls whatever the [  ] that’s what we’re all doing and I guess my question is wouldn’t it be easier to know when you’re in that place when you’re going to make impulsive decisions so you could just not be in that place because that seems like a better idea to me and that’s what I feel like I’m working on is trying to know when those times are that I would make those impulsive decisions that aren’t like me or that are out of character for me or that against my beliefs and when I know I’m in that place I know what to do go the [  ] away and meditate for 25 minutes and then come back yeah see and I guess I’m at a place where like I don’t know so I’ll give you another example with my son so I was doing some remodeling downstairs I had one of the floor registers off of the floor and he stepped in the hole and his foot went down through this thing and now in my head when I see that I’m angry because now he just damaged the duct work and he stepped through a hole in the floor and I’m like how the [  ] did you miss the hole in the floor oh what you were doing was you were walking through looking at your phone not looking at what you were doing because that’s what you do all the time you walk around with headphones on Staring at your phone and not paying attention so I make all those assumptions and when he tells me he stepped through the floor my reaction before I have even made a conscious thought is to be like don’t you pay attention to what you’re doing how in the hell do you step through a hole obvious hole in the floor right and to be angry yeah so I don’t know that I will like I don’t have the discernment to like be like oh wait I might impulsively react here let me go meditate and then come back and give you a response no no absolutely and I get that and this is taking a [  ] ton of like practice and trial and error and I am not saying I do this 100 perfectly or anything close to it because I [  ] it up all the time but it’s through practice and knowing that nervous system dysregulation right or what you’re referring to as anger right there I know when that comes up and The more I’ve practiced the quicker I get to the beginning of noticing that earlier and earlier and earlier right and even when I [  ] it up it’s fine like the most important thing is no one for me the belief all my anger is mine it is not for anybody else to [  ] deal with it’s all mine right and underneath all that’s hurt and that’s really mine to deal with and if I can deal with the hurt one there’s less anger coming regularly anyway but two if I get really in tune enough I can just feel it build up man I feel it start and the sooner I can notice it’s starting the better chance I have it getting the [  ] out of that room and like taking a break because I need to I need to take a walk a breath or something I need to pause nothing good is happening from that nervous system energy coming up in my chest and and I I think that’s what I’m saying like for me it’s all the rules are great but like if I can just be in tune and in that moment in the present right when I say that thing to my kid maybe it does start coming out of my mouth because I’m not good at catching it real early but I see it in their [  ] face and I’m looking at them and I’m like oh I’m [  ] missing I gotta okay what is it buddy tell me I’m missing I see it right and it’s just being there and that’s helped a lot and to bring it back to like the perseverance kind of the circle bite that’s okay now that was good um because I think the same thing like so what ends up happening is we have that interaction he actually was leaving he was getting ready to walk out the door I was just coming in the door he’s just going out the door it’s like that chaotic whatever I’m mad I gotta go fix this thing because it’s part of the air conditioning system and it’s hot as [  ] outside you know 10 10 reasons why to justify my action and anyway Within five minutes of them leaving I’m like that was shitty like I don’t like the way this feels and so I called him up and said I’m really sorry I I didn’t mean to yell at you are you okay like did you hurt yourself you know is there anything I can do for you it’s fine I can fix it it’s not a big deal you know just want to make sure you’re okay and apologize for being that way and like that’s where I guess if if we’re trying trying to force a perseverance reference here like I’m gonna go back to these principles and be like Ah that’s [  ] awkward like that’s not comfortable to have to do you know it’s but I’ve made this decision that I’m going to live by these principles try to apply them in my Affairs do I want to try to shame my kid or do I want to just be like whatever you know and be loving and caring and in My Mind Billy that’s [  ] beautiful and you’re actually at a better place after that repair than you were before the rupture right you guys are closer now because there was a rupture and it was tended to and like that keeps making it more and more beautiful so now you know every time you [  ] up it’s even better because you can just repair it and you’re even stronger it’s like a weld on metal right the welded area is stronger than the you know the matter was to begin with but did too many breaks make it yeah I think the more time you repair the easier it is too like the more times you like go back to your kid be like I am so sorry like then it makes it it’s easier to do it the next time it’s kind of like the immense process I don’t know if you guys had this the more amends I did the easier it was because I was like hey I lived you know like I didn’t die I didn’t I wasn’t crushed over that immense it made me braver for the next one making a men’s baguettes making amends right yeah going into the science of perseverance perseverance and the ability to persevere in people has been correlated with dopamine levels shocking people who can [  ] get through life have higher levels of dopamine and people who struggle don’t who knew right like we keep talking about this and I feel like these are the pieces that we don’t have like when I got into Narcotics Anonymous it did reduce some of the shame it said hey you got this thing called addiction it’s not you you’re not a terrible moral person you just got this spiritual malady and you know you can do something about it and that was nice it felt better than feeling like I’m a piece of [  ] but I don’t think we continue that message in recovery I’ve heard so many times and I’ve said it out of my mouth myself like I used to have an excuse for why I was a piece of [  ] I did drugs right and now I don’t now I’m just here being a piece of [  ] and it sucks and it’s like maybe if we could help people understand hey actually you probably have really low levels of dopamine and it makes life extremely [  ] hard way harder than for the guy next to you who wakes up with [  ] you know rainbows in his mind and you know bells and Whistle songs in his head and [  ] and what’s the hum all day and do some work like I don’t know so yeah you’re in like the you know the field do they test for that for like

you can but it’s so expensive no insurance is going to pay it’s like a lot of mental health stuff like they don’t they can test for these things they can test for like depression and [  ] but nobody’s practically doing that on like a river yeah it’s like extremely rare studies that do brain Imaging and [  ] this is science this is what like makes sense like is it because our medical system doesn’t want to like pay for so science is amazing but we only research things that people fund and we only fund things that make people money I so we don’t research anything like holistic abilities to heal yourself or anything like that yeah okay you can’t sell but you they don’t test for dopamine like to prescribe antidepressants um no you go talk to a doctor and answer nine questions um about how you’ve been feeling over the last two weeks and then they’ll give you an antidepressant that is completely safe even though they have no idea how it works literally nine questions well it’s 10. perfectly but the last one is just how much does this impact you okay oh a whole site there seems to be a really weirdly almost arbitrary system to how some of these psychiatric medications we were talking with someone about Adderall a psychiatrists who can prescribe medications about Adderall and we were talking about like adults with ADHD and he said well you can’t really you’re not supposed to subscribe Adderall to adults with ADHD unless they’ve been diagnosed as a child with ADHD or with because it isn’t something that you get later in life you’ve had to have had it your whole life and we’re talking specifically about me not that I want to get on Adderall but as an example I said well my parents never took me to a psychiatrist or a doctor or anything and he said well if you’ve never been diagnosed technically you’re not really supposed to get it we’re like well that seems kind of dumb yeah that does seem dumb and and honestly I when you talk about arbitrary things the rule about how you had to have it as a child is a completely arbitrary [ __ ] rule like I don’t even know where that came from but in my understanding as long as the requirements for being diagnosed as a child were there it doesn’t mean that you can’t get it because you didn’t ever go but anyway yeah that was an aside but [Music] thank you


thank you there we go Jason here’s an area where I think the program Falls Way short and it is addressing some of that science behind like dopamine stuff and how we deal with like our nervous systems and and all of that like we don’t address that from a sciencey place and so that’s where I think a lot of people that have really messed up endocrine systems will turn to sex or food or money or you know whatever gambling like they go to these other addictions because they still need that dopamine hit and we don’t in the program we could probably do a better job at trying to find healthier ways to address that stuff I mean we’ve talked about here like exercise is a good one like we don’t really push exercise I mean in our daily lives in general it could use a lot more support but in recovery like that’s a huge thing because that does help regulate our nervous systems and you know give us dopamine you know hit and all those things but we just or even our like there’s lots of things that you can do that can give you these dopamine hits and we don’t address them at all we just tell you what not to do you know yeah and actually interesting that you said that uh there’s an article in Psychology today that I was looking at for this episode and I guess I’ll put the link up now because I’m not going to go through all this but it talks about ways you can actually actively associate dopamine production through just picturing yourself as like in a lab rat experiment and you’re the rat and you know you get rewarded every time you use perseverance like you can actually do this in your head and supposedly increase the level of dopamine that comes while you’re persevering um well that’s maybe early in recovery you’re supposed to persevere through your shitty feelings right until you learn some new skills to build them that’s what you’re persevering through your low yeah you know well and it says not achieving any goals will dry up your dopamine reserves so that you have to make some of your persevering for low-level goals that you can actually attain and reach so that you can increase that expectation and belief well that just turned me into the 30 60 90 day key tags like those are all low level you know yeah hey there might actually be some signs on that one um you can change your expectations and belief to keep your dopamine up uh you can create self-imposed deadlines uh so yeah so there’s ways to do that oh be your own cheering squad or maybe even get a cheering Squad maybe that would help too um you know make these communities of support like we talked about with the Phoenix recovery like maybe that is another piece of the science that recovery programs are hitting on right the community aspect the cheering Squad the ways to increase how we feel there are a ton of studies that show that perseverance is the highest indicator of success in life like people who have perseverance apparently are more strongly correlated with successful outcomes in the world than any other quality is what I came across what about the Dark Side of perseverance also called grit at times grit is dark oh okay this is a lot of big words hold on existing investigations indirectly point to the caveats of embodying a sustained interest and perseverance to achieve goals even in the face of failures consistent with this perspective a series of experiments carried out by Lucas and others in 2015 has shown that greater grittier individuals exerted more effort than their less gritty counterparts when finding solutions to unsolvable tasks at the expense of accomplishing fewer tasks so like people with higher grits spent more time on tests that couldn’t possibly be accomplished because they persevere and just abandon the fact that the goal was to get more tasks done in the moment and not so that was one of the drawbacks and then the second one is that they also showed more perseverance at trying to win a losing game and so that these could not you know they could end up leading to kind of what we’ve been talking about today like this idea of like oh I I’m not getting any better I can’t get to any goal things are worse perseverance not helping people I guess yeah and in that vein again not to gosh now I can’t be the bash 12-step guy but you know we do have a tendency to tell people like yeah you know one program one one recovery or whatever the hell it is and you know we don’t always do the best job at encouraging people like hey if you’ve been here for a little while and you’re still feeling pretty bad like maybe some other things like maybe you need some additional supports I mean you do hear that occasionally but not as much as could be said you know some people need like mental health some people need you know like say maybe exercise or some sort of community engagement whatever it is right you know pushing people towards like hey don’t just feel like you have to make this only work so there was a quote from a book uh written about grit or perseverance uh by Angela Duckworth and she was saying grit is about working on something you care about so much you’re willing to stay loyal to it not just falling in love but staying in love and I thought that was an interesting way to look at perseverance it’s not just you know deciding you want something or you want to stick to something you know not just making the original commitment but it is actually doing the thing of of staying increasingly interested in it I guess or finding ways to stay interested in it I thought that was kind of a fascinating take on perseverance another piece of what I’ve read about it said that meaning is actually our most important psychological need that’s why belonging connectedness and our relationships are so critical uh because they are the things that give us meaning and then it talks about it shows up uh around the real power developmental milestone which is around 40ish for most people and it made me think of all the people who go into looking at different parts of their life around this age or that age and and how that works but yeah maybe that’s the point where we look and and kind of stop and say has our perseverance paid off I think that might be what we’re looking at at that age right I I did the things the world told me to do I persevered it didn’t feel fun but I got the career I got the family I got the whatever did it pay off do I feel happy in my life did this actually get me where I wanted to be you know it’s kind of like a Readjustment period and maybe that’s something we don’t talk about with perseverance like this idea of like somewhere along the way maybe there should be points where we stop and say hey is this perseverance paying off do I feel like it’s getting me closer to this intended thing I want or this life I want because we I don’t think nobody ever told me about that that’s for sure nobody said hey you need perseverance and also stop and like check in on it every once in a while to make sure it’s still where you want to be yeah that was about the age we sold our house and went and traveled around the country for a couple years so yeah well we call it midlife crisis so perseverance has to be winnable that’s right like it definitely feels like it’s not healthy if if it’s not producing something positive for you later and here’s another piece yeah I think maybe that’s where it crosses over into the to the bad version and it doesn’t happen when it’s positive outcome yeah well where there’s no positive outcome or where it’s on unattainable or on unwinnable so perseverance requires periodic assessment I think so yeah or it just becomes a really shitty use of perseverance right yeah stubborn you’re just using it in a bad way at some point it becomes like the default or the routine you know what I mean it’s not persevering anymore it’s just yeah and if you weren’t feeling good from it during the time when it was persevering well now it’s just a routine of beating myself you know what I mean now it’s just a routine of pressure well I mean I that’s where my head goes I think to like a marriage that’s maybe abusive or neglectful or whatever like you know is it really wise to persevere through that for 40 years yeah you can do it I mean if if your main uh priority is the commitment that you made then maybe it’s worth it but well you don’t get a medal for that you would hope your priority was more about your own happiness and well-being right well and I and when you say that dude all I keep thinking of is like 60 year old couples right 50 year old couples like older adults who really held their societal beliefs back with that kind of thing you stay married forever you don’t do any of these things and like how much does perseverance [  ] us up because it doesn’t leave room to deviate from society at some points not so much the perseverance part but like if we’re persevering trying to do all the things that people in our society have told us maybe they’re not the right things for us you know maybe we justify Bad Decisions by saying it’s perseverance right right well I mean like my parents ideals about the right way to live or what you are supposed to and not supposed to do in Social and public and manner situations are very different than mine which are also both very different than my children’s and so like you know my mother might have stayed in a situation that was abusive and said it was perseverance whereas my kids would be like that’s [  ] stupid like no right so it’s like maybe there needs to be more room for us to not look like Society sometimes as well like maybe I’m just a guy that doesn’t fit in well with Society it doesn’t mean I’m wrong maybe I’m more in line with my kids I was born too soon right I don’t know but I can be all right in being in that place and I guess nobody ever gave me that nobody said what you’re doing doesn’t have to look like what most people are doing it’s okay maybe they did I didn’t hear it I didn’t get it well it’s funny now like I would say that I probably persevered through most of my using yeah there was all sorts of negative consequences negative behaviors like no way I’m getting high I love it this is what I’m doing well and and Billy honestly to me that points to the idea that like we’re not really the ones doing perseverance we’re not really controlling our bodies and saying yep I’m gonna be good at perseverance today because we were doing it a long time ago even for bad [  ] or even for [  ] that didn’t work out well for us right so like to me that says oh these things are actually Guided by something and inside me that says this feels good and this doesn’t and that’s what I’m [  ] living by and maybe I just need to know that better so I can kind of game the system some yeah you know or for me I I and I mean that makes sense I’d have to think about that but I always think with a lot of these principles it’s easy for me to look back into my using or addictive life and see where I was practicing these principles just in a really shitty way you know it’s like trust or faith like I would buy whatever off whoever on the street and snort it smoke it shoot it and what the [  ] that [  ] was I don’t know Javier on the corner of you know Kensington Avenue like but I didn’t give a [  ] he had the stuff and so it was going to be fine but I would say what looked like trust and and perseverance was actually just desperation to feel better but I think it’s the same thing in recovery I think it’s the same thing when we’re not taking substances we’re all just desperate to feel better at some level right if I feel 20 off I’m 20 desperate to feel better maybe that just means I eat extra donut every day still there right it’s still the same thing even though for some people it looks worse than others um another example they gave was the idea of Sisyphus um right who was one of the people from one of those countries in the gods and the punishment was he had to roll the hill up the thing every day and it would roll back down and all that um it says whose punishment for deceitfulness was to repeatedly roll a large boulder up a mountain only to have it roll back down for it eternity it is surprising that the research on grit says very little about the impact of having too much grit what about the grit displayed by Ted Kaczynski who you’re a bomber right who toiled over 17 years in his single-minded pursuit to live in his free civilization of uh technology oh and also spread his message by sending 16 different bombs to people across the United States and during 23 people and killing three and Hitler he was a pretty gritty individual and we all know his legacy so if you lack the moral character or mental health to judge your actions persevere and impassion can take you down a very dark path and I just thought that was an interesting disclaimer um one thing I really thought about this morning that was a little more personal something tells maybe I should put these things up front like people get interested in the episode or something I don’t know I’m like I’ll save this interesting thing for last I don’t know y’all gotta tell me what you think about this so I had this moment recently I was driving I’m trying to keep better posture I’m not right now speaking of that but that’s okay I just remembered and that’s awesome um way to persevere right but I was driving and I was like oh yeah I forgot I’m trying to keep good posture so I got in a good posture in my car while I was driving and I felt good about it right and it hit me that what happened right there was I remembered I wasn’t doing something I started doing it I felt good about it and anything that had happened before that it was neutral right it was already gone it doesn’t matter that I wasn’t doing it forever how long two hours three hours who cares doesn’t matter right now I remembered and I’m doing it and that feels good right most of my life has been the opposite most of my life has been when I remember I’m not doing it that feels neutral because I kind of like the idea Billy gives us a lot of times right that’s just what I’m supposed to be doing so now I’m back to neutral with my good posture but now I get to feel negative about the last two or three hours I haven’t been doing it and this made me think of this perseverance and dopamine idea right is this really just the idea of switching our brain from being unhappy with all the time we weren’t doing the thing we just remembered we weren’t doing to just happy that we’re doing it now is that what perseverance is like does that make it so much easier if we can just be excited that we remembered does that make perseverance that much easier to practice hmm I don’t know that’s interesting I feel like it came from meditation right because every time I tried to meditate when I was early on the idea was when I caught myself you know out in the blue I’ve been thinking for five minutes or whatever and I’d be like God damn it I’m not meditating again right I caught myself but I’m not meditating again for long periods of time and that’s bad right whereas now I’m I’m remembering I’m meditating again and that’s just neutral because that’s just what I’m supposed to be doing but then it became wait a minute oh caught myself caught myself thinking again here I’m meditating again oh that’s good oh nice I remember to meditate I caught myself not meditating again it was almost like catching myself doing the wrong thing became good and I feel like that could just change the [  ] way we look at perseverance that makes me think it’s just a better self-talk practice how how you’re talking to yourself just like congratulating yourself instead of shaming yourself isn’t that going to make me want to do it more next time though yeah like I feel like if I keep shaming myself every time I remember the thing that I want to be doing that’s going to make me give up because I’m just going to say God there’s so many [  ] times I don’t do it so and that’s interesting because that ties into something and I had read this you know I had this list of things that help us build perseverance and one of them was don’t be afraid to fail and I was thinking about I’m like I don’t know how that ties into perseverance but it almost sounds like what you’re talking about it’s like I gotta be okay with myself falling short failing at stuff not being perfect you know like that helps build that idea you know well maybe this is the resilience right right maybe this is the time and episode we should run down that list because that’s probably good to give people right the ways to increase yeah so this was nine ways to improve your perseverance skills um and the first one was don’t be afraid to fail perseverance comes from failing and getting back up so I was like huh that’s interesting and I guess that’s what you’re talking about instead of beating myself up about now failing or belittling myself for failing I should be like that’s a part of the process but I’m getting back up and I should be proud of that huh that’s good uh be one percent better every day having a growth mindset is a great way to increase perseverance and motivation I like that one and I try to give it to people all the time this idea that you know if you’re standing at the center of a circle there’s 360 degrees in that Circle and if you make that one degree shift that’s nothing at the center of the circle but keep walking out you know what I mean and then make another one degree shift and keep walking out like that makes a big [  ] difference if you keep going out from that Circle Center yeah and it helps us not get uh what’s it called like demotivated I’m just making minor incremental you know benefits and eventually you know we see a bigger outcome uh begin to take risks by learning to take risks you raise the probability of facing more difficult situations I feel like the thing at the Phoenix kind of when he was talking about that how like they come in and you you try these things and it’s not a big deal if you can’t do them this week or next week or like that I was like damn we actually do need more of that yeah I feel like I didn’t get enough of that in in my program they’re willing to take risks yeah or the police of like just people being like man [  ] it all up it’s no big deal come on like this is fine like I I don’t maybe we need more activities whether that can be like I don’t feel like you could do that in a meeting necessarily you know what I mean you could so easily give that experience in a meeting do a really risky share something that failed I’m gonna do a slideshow guys for my share let me see how it goes uh the next one was understand resistance most keep most people can preserve when they have a better understanding of resistance hmm like maybe just getting the idea of my head going in that it’s not going to be some easy task and knowing that there is going to be some resistance and like I don’t know that’s what I’m thinking yeah or that I can overcome a little bit of challenge that I don’t you know like I don’t have to immediately flounder as soon as something’s hard I like floundering well I think back to myself like you know as like a teenager and stuff as I was falling deeper into my addiction it became like ass Sports and school and those things started to get a little bit harder like they’d always come really easy to me early on and as soon as they started to become like difficult where I had to put in extra work I didn’t want to do it anymore because I was afraid of failing so it was easy to be like man I don’t want to do that anymore like that might not be as good as I think I am the perfectionist taking over yeah yeah uh exercise regularly apply the 40 rule this rule is that if you complete forty percent of the task your likelihood of quitting drops dramatically I don’t know why that has to do with exercise but okay is it the wrong header yeah that’s what almost what it feels like but I guess that 40 rule was I guess if you get almost halfway there you’re more motivated I guess that’s based off a study somewhere

um let’s see build a network of support if you want to learn how to persevere you should build a network of support building a network of support that includes family friends co-workers and peers will allow you to have a comfortable place to open up so yeah keep people around you that are on a similar path or a like-minded people that’ll help encourage you to keep going I and I would say at this point from what I’ve learned like-minded people who are also positive because I was a like-minded person with a lot of people in recovery and I lacked the ability to give more positive feedback to people I wish that would have the sarcastic super negative crowd yeah man like you know if I’m walking around beating myself up over my failures I’m only going to criticize you where you didn’t reach yours you know what I mean it’s going to be harder to like celebrate the the victories you are having or even pick up on them like you know those small victories hey you made it to a [  ] meeting tonight whatever man right it’s great you know like I miss all that when I’m so hyper focused on pressuring myself to be so [  ] perfect so yeah fine fine like-minded people that are also going to cheer you on and you know celebrate you at every [  ] opportunity because that’s what we need more of yeah a lot of this negative [  ] in our heads um I read this one thing and it’s short and I just I don’t something about it gripped me and I I wanted to share it it says we want to know something not learn it studying is an exercise in staying focused and I don’t even know that my brain can wrap itself around exactly what that’s saying but I like it for some for some reason and I don’t know why we want to know something not learn it studying is an exercise and staying focused there was something about that and perseverance that just run for me like it’s this idea of more staying focused on the task instead of worrying about it making me better somehow like that’s what I took out of that it was like this is more about I want to be persevering to be the person I want to show up as every day for me right this is about like I’m not trying to learn some little rule that can make me better here there everywhere I just want to try to keep being the guy I want to be right it’s like more of this like slow kind of learn from life experience I don’t know maybe not maybe that’s just what I wanted to be

I can buy myself flowers don’t need to persevere in relationships

all those ideas uh any any more thoughts about perseverance oh yeah yeah okay I guess not come up you should have said this first um so a couple years into my recovery um how should I start the story so um I bought my house when I was still drinking and the front of my house had a beautiful pink magnolia tree um got the house I really put off starting a family having babies you know I was already married and um I was like one more summer partying all right one more summer partying well partying got like really out of control I was like I was very self-centered and um the Magnolia out front in the meantime um some English ivy started creeping up it I don’t know if you know that plant and um somebody’s like Jenny you better cut back that English ivy it’s gonna kill that tree I’m like nah whatever I was really neglecting my home including that tree neglecting my home physically neglecting my home life neglecting my marriage neglecting what was once my goals like I wanted a family well one winter it was a particularly tough winter and sure enough that English ivy did Kill the beautiful pink magnolia tree that I loved so I was I couldn’t believe it and I like I was like peeling the English ivy off it hoping it would come back and my husband’s like it’s dead it died we didn’t take care of it and it was like it became this like symbol for like my whole home like I wasn’t taking care of my home and home life and I was I uh um I was 37 when I went to rehab and um so I think it was around like 38 or 40 I saw that pink Magnolias symbolize perseverance and I was like oh that’s that was like what I wanted to embody so I got the Pink Magnolia tattoo on my arm to symbolize perseverance and build back my home and family what I really wanted so that’s why I have a pink magnolia tattoo and um uh anyway so every spring I like to visit pink Magnolias around the neighborhood but I don’t have one myself that’s my tattoo story that’s so interesting that you got a tattoo of a thing that represents perseverance but died all right well did it personally yeah well it’s because I didn’t uh yeah exactly but it’s because I didn’t follow through I didn’t take care of it like I did not persevere

I still give the middle finger to English ivy I’m like you killed my tree English ivy across my back this thing dominates this is so funny how we could take different things oh I know well you know what actually and if you look up if you look up Pink Magnolia there’s probably a slew of words when I saw perseverance I’m like I like that that tree was meaningful to me and it died because I did not persevere and then that’s like all those Asian kanji symbols like people get all these symbols and depending on where you look it means something different yeah you’re making me whatever you want right that’s awesome though that’s really cool that you found like this did that lead you to your journey in recovery like was it the tree dying that really um propelled you forward I you know I don’t remember well yeah when that died I think I was starting I started to piece together like my life is [ __ ] falling apart you know like when he murdered the tree yeah yeah one more thing that you just let fall apart yeah um tattoos in Memorial where it’s like a death threat to the rest of them I think I was an accessory to murder I wasn’t quite but um yeah so I mean like it was 2012 was my last year of drinking and that’s that was the year it didn’t come back and like I could see like all kinds of things and I love relating life to like nature like yeah you know that’s cool it’s more fun well we said it making meaning is the most important psychological need so that’s awesome yeah so yeah go out there uh you know try to increase your perseverance in the areas where it’s going to feel like it’s healthy for you um don’t forget the other side of like being in tune with your body and yourself and understanding that there is an unhealthy version of just pushing through for the sake of pushing through there’s got to be a purpose to that for it to matter uh and take care of each other see you next week [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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