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Book Discussion - Steering Clear by Earl Wilson

wantstorepair posted 12/11/2019 12:52 PM

This book by Earl Wilson about "avoiding the slippery slope of moral failure" is fantastic and I am very interested in starting this thread as a "book discussion" for all of us to share our thoughts on it, what works for you, how you have applied these lessons to your life and the changes you needed to make to be a better person. Open to all because while the WS's are certainly to blame and with the flaws here, we are all human and face these challenges...so hearing from the successful people who stay off the slope as well as those that are clearly on it is beneficial.

Hoping we can jump right in to chapter two, "Understanding Basic Needs and personality weaknesses". I will start by saying that I never examined my character, and narcissistically and arrogantly led a selfish life driven by my ego and need for external validation without regard for the consequences to others. Eximining the why is much deeper, but it most certainly is a constant need for validation from women and an actual low self esteem. Facing my awful character is indeed discouraging and seemingly impossible; I have cultivated this character over 47 years and now need to shake the etch-e-sketch and start over re-examining and re-wiring everything. Is anyone else in the same or similar place and how are you working to deal with this and the change that needs to happen?

EvolvingSoul posted 12/12/2019 15:10 PM

Hi there wantstorepair,

Facing my awful character is indeed discouraging and seemingly impossible; I have cultivated this character over 47 years and now need to shake the etch-e-sketch and start over re-examining and re-wiring everything.
It's not so much about shaking an etch-a-sketch and wiping out everything that came before. It's more about learning how to look our thoughts and feelings and our impulses to respond to them with clarity and gentleness. By choosing to move closer to what makes us uncomfortable, to examine it with curiosity and nonjudgement, we can learn how to relate differently to it. We don't have to act on our destructive impulses. We can acknowledge the feelings and the thoughts and then we can let them go. By making a different choice, again and again, we rewire our brains. How we relate to ourselves and the world changes. A little at a time. Over time those little changes really start to add up.

How are you coming on understanding why and how you have been able to choose the hurt and harm of betrayal to get what you wanted in the moment? Digging down on that will make a big difference.

wantstorepair posted 12/14/2019 10:11 AM

Evolving Soul I have focused on the phrase from this book to keep me off the slope, "That is not an option." I am trying to understand what about myself makes my choices so destructive and selfish, and have found that I desperately want to feel good at any given moment - where it be happy, comfortable, pleasure, etc. I am always selfishly putting my feelings first. And so many things that might achieve those feelings are so very destructive, so I am stopping to look at the whole picture and ramifications, not just how I feel in the moment and how that option might make me feel before making a choice. These are all my choices and I am now choosing take options off the table because it is not about me and how I want to feel, but about the impact of my actions on others and how my actions might make them feel.

EvolvingSoul posted 12/14/2019 22:03 PM

I desperately want to feel good at any given moment - where it be happy, comfortable, pleasure, etc.
This is a good place to dig. Why do you think this is?

Zugzwang posted 12/15/2019 07:39 AM

It took a very deliberate, mindful, and active practice to look for validating myself. To find pride in myself in the little and big things I do every day. I had to really look at relationships as partnerships, not candy machines to get from. I had to stop living in the here and now, instant gratification and focus on the future. Accepting the past, which wasn't too hard to do there for me. I had to see that I couldn't use the past to a pathway of entitlement. That the behaviors I learned and adopted were toxic. That helped to be mindful of the selfishness and entitlement. I had to identify what was being taken for granted and put on the pedestal of precious. The less selfish I became, the more fulfilled I became. In an authentic way. What was viewed as work became easier and natural. Where I was lazy and hating responsibility, I became prideful in what I could do and provide.

Zugzwang posted 12/15/2019 07:43 AM

I desperately want to feel good at any given moment - where it be happy, comfortable, pleasure, etc.

This is a good place to dig. Why do you think this is?

Interesting line of thought. Great discussion here. This so applied to me and currently to my mother while she has been in rehab since March and holds onto confirmation bias that she might go home. She, like (myself in the past) could not cope with feeling bad.

wantstorepair posted 12/15/2019 09:42 AM

Evolving soul,

This is a good place to dig. Why do you think this is?

I have been trying to figure this out. Entitlement from upbringing I think. That is not me shifting blame - as an adult my selfish actions are my own as are the choices I make. The desire to feel that way comes from being raised with a sense of entitlement and the notion that I DESERVE to feel good. That combined with a lack of accountability and not being held to face consequences growing up. Putting the two together it has become easy, even automatic, to justify that there are no consequences, or there is always a way to avoid them, so why not feel good. Failing to recognize the impact of my actions and those consequences on others because it has always been about me. Narcissistic and awful and I see that I have lived this way my whole life and that this permeates all aspects of my life, not just the cheating a-hole part.

wantstorepair posted 12/15/2019 09:54 AM

Zugzwang I am reading and rereading your words and digging deep into them because this is exactly me (or you were like me as you have found a better path).

"to really look at relationships as partnerships, not candy machines to get from"

I am an emotional vampire and think that I have treated all relationships in my life this way - looking for validation and what I can get and feel out of it, vice being a true and giving friend/partner/spouse/father/son/brother.

Mindfulness and deliberate action to validate myself not through others is the way I know, although I am struggling to do it and feel like giving myself credit and finding pride in the little things I do now diminishes and minimizes the actions of my past (and present because I am not better). I struggle with accepting my horrible past and putting it behind me in order to focus on the good I can do here and now because I am looking into the eyes of the people who are still hurt by me. How do you forgive yourself and move forward ? I feel like I am perpetuating the validation from others because I am looking for absolution and forgiveness from others. I suppose here is where I need to put my head down and do the work and not be concerned with how I feel because it is others whom I have made feel much worse.

Zugzwang posted 12/17/2019 06:46 AM

How do you forgive yourself and move forward ?

Because not moving forward means you remain selfish. Because I would forgive someone else of the same things and believe we can change if we work for it. Because I don't want my children to have the same issues I had and want to set a better example. There are so many reasons. I want to live with the joy I see my wife live with in the simple things and the confidence/self love and respect she has in herself. I was tired of being jealous of it. I wanted to learn it.

EvolvingSoul posted 12/17/2019 19:21 PM

The desire to feel that way comes from being raised with a sense of entitlement and the notion that I DESERVE to feel good. That combined with a lack of accountability and not being held to face consequences growing up. Putting the two together it has become easy, even automatic, to justify that there are no consequences, or there is always a way to avoid them, so why not feel good. Failing to recognize the impact of my actions and those consequences on others because it has always been about me.
The idea of failing to recognize the impact and consequences for others is another good place to dig. Do you think you really were not aware of the impact/consequences for others or was it more that you felt entitled to get your perceived needs met at their expense? The first (not realizing the consequences/impact) is very possibly a lie you're still telling yourself (and it's something I did too) because it makes you seem slightly less horrible than if you were aware and just didn't care. I know that's not an identity I wanted to claim but eventually I did have to claim all the unwanted identities that went with my choices.

Another deeper level to dig on regarding wanting those pleasurable feelings all the time is the notion that it was less about wanting pleasurable feelings all the time and more about an inability to tolerate the unpleasant ones. What happens now when you are faced with difficult feelings? What tools do you have in your tool kit to be able to experience them without reaching for distraction or numbing in some unwholesome way?

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