15 Jul 20
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man writing in his journal by bradneathery @ unsplash.com

The closure of gambling venues under COVID restrictions brought many people relief. Some callers told us they were able to save money for the first time in years. Unfortunately, now that venues are reopening across the country, lots of people are struggling with having lost those savings, or the money they took from their superannuation. Many are wondering how to cope with the guilt and shame they feel.

Guilt is an emotion that is very linked to another emotion: worry — and we are living in a time of great worry. Guilt is felt about what has been done in the past, worry about something that may or may not happen in the future. Psychologist Wayne Dyer calls guilt and worry “the useless emotions” as the upset they cause immobilises you in your present moment.

There are two basic ways in which guilt comes into our lives. We can feel a lot of leftover guilt from our childhood, while self-imposed guilt — shame — comes from having not acted according to our values. But ‘feeling guilty’ does have some psychological payoffs, though they’re often to your detriment. For example, if you say you feel guilty you might be forgiven for your behaviour. If others offer you pity, you might be able to feel some relief while avoiding working on what you actually need to do now. 

So what do you need to do now?

1. Recognise what you already achieved.

If the COVID restrictions helped you abstain, you now know that you really can go for weeks without gambling in your life. You can build on what you did and what you learned during those weeks. So: 

  • Write some notes on the positive things you did during the lockdown. Resolve to do them more, and grow the list. 
  • Write down on a card where you hope to be in 6 months’ time. Keep it handy to look at when you get a thought that you need to gamble.

2. Do not chase your losses.

Remember: the gambling industry say they are offering you entertainment.  You’ve spent your money on very expensive ‘entertainment’ and there is no refund. Imagine spending that much on Netflix every month — it seems a little extreme, right?

3. Take responsibility. 

Learn from what you have done. Identify the ‘permission giving thoughts’ that allowed you to go back into a venue or online. For Example:

  • I’ll only spend $20
  • It will relax me
  • I deserve …

4. Protect yourself.

Take some self-protection steps that you know work:

5. Be kind to yourself.

You are living in a period of great stress. It’s more important than ever to be kind to yourself. There are a lot of different ways to practice self-care, and there are a lot of suggestions online.

6. Plan.

Make a plan with or without the help of a counsellor/mentor/personal trainer. Gambler’s Help counsellors can play these roles for you — just reach out and we’ll put you in touch with someone who is ready to help. 

Gambling Help Online is here for you 24/7. If you’re trying to establish a new routine as your neighbourhood opens back up, or if you’re freshly back under stricter restrictions, we’re here to talk about any problems you might be facing. Give us a call on 1800 858 858 or chat to us online.

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