Tracey Jackson is not.
But together, these two close friends have written Gratitude and Trust, a book designed to apply the principles of the recovery movement to the countless people who are not addicts but nevertheless need effective help with their difficulties and pain.
Williams, the award-winning songwriter, actor, and performer, has embraced a traditional alcoholism recovery plan for more than two decades of sobriety. Jackson, a well-known TV and film writer—and veteran of many years of traditional therapy—has never been a drunk or a drug abuser, but she realized that many of the tenets of Williams’s program could apply to her. In Gratitude and Trust, Williams and Jackson ask: What happens to those who struggle with vexing problems yet are not full-blown addicts? Are there any lessons to be learned from the foundational and time-tested principles of the recovery movement?
Whether you’re tethered to your phone or you turn to food for comfort; whether you’re a perfectionist and can’t let things go or are too afraid to fail to even try; whether you can find intimacy only on the Internet or you’ve been involved in a string of nasty relationships—the first step toward feeling better about yourself and your life is the realization that you are what’s standing in your way. Williams and Jackson have designed a new, positive program, based on a half-dozen new affirmations, that can help conquer your vices, address personal dysfunction, and start to brighten the darkest moods. Gratitude and Trust is an essential, inspirational, and uplifting guide to identifying and changing maladaptive behaviors in order to uncover your most productive, healthiest self.
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About the Author
Tracey Jackson wrote the films Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Guru and The Other End of the Line among others. She has also written twelve TV pilots, and created the series BABES for Fox TV. Tracey wrote, directed, and starred in the controversial documentary Lucky Ducks, which can presently be seen on Amazon, Journeyman Docs and pay for view. Her first book, Between a Rock and Hot Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty, came out in 2011 and was optioned for a TV movie by Lifetime. Tracey blogs three times a week on traceyjacksononline.com. She has blogged for Huffpo, WOWOWOW, Society for Drug Free America, Tiny Buddha and various other sites. She runs Gratitudeandtrust.com with Paul Williams.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Will Recognize Someone
You Know: YOU
So I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise
So I am changing myself.
Do you talk about something you never get around to doing? Do you make grandiose, life-changing plans you never end up realizing? Do you find yourself saying, “This is my last [fill in the blank]”: My last cheeseburger. My last affair with a married man. My last charge on my already overused credit cards. My last lie to Mom, Dad, myself. The last time I do not do what I promise myself I will. “Tomorrow I start over.” “New leaf.” “Never again.” “One more time and that’s it.” Are you a member of the “I’ll start tomorrow” club but tomorrow never comes? Are you easily derailed by the opinion of others? Does your own fear-based thinking hold you back? Does the idea of staying where you are, no matter how uncomfortable, make you feel safer than moving toward something that might actually make you happy? Are you ignoring any signs of danger ahead?
The advantage (if you can call it that) that addicts have is that they have their identifiable addictions. Whether you are an alcoholic, a drug addict, a compulsive gambler, or an uncontrollable overeater, you know what you are fighting. But if you are a woman who makes poor love choices, a serial philanderer, someone who sabotages friendships in the workplace by gossiping, someone whose go-to emotion is fear, or someone whose neediness drives people away, there is a good chance you have remained blissfully unaware of your addiction until significant damage has been done. The saddest wake-up call of all is the news that your actions have brought damaging turbulence into your daily life and more often than not the lives of others. Most likely, none of you are lacking for concerned friends or family members who are more than willing to act as human billboards reminding you of where you fall short. You screw up, the wife points out why, you turn to her with a look of intense gratitude and say, “Thank God you were there, Cindy. I never noticed. THAT won’t happen again!” Meanwhile, back in real life, we know that seldom happens. More often than not, the repeated complaints of partners, lovers, and friends only drive us deeper into our cave of “Honor thy cravings; screw the rest of the world.” Addiction is a powerful foe.
Addiction is in fact a primary disease, meaning it is not a symptom of another disorder. It must be dealt with before any of life’s other challenges can be met. Whatever your personal disorder or dysfunction may be, if you are beginning your own path of recovery, the same sense of priorities will serve you best. Deal with your problem. There’s no time like the present.
So what does it take to get us to walk away from stagnant, chronic, destructive behavior? A “Doesn’t work now; never really did” pattern that has become a habit?
But before you can change anything, especially something that is most likely harbored in your subconscious, you have to be able to identify it. Let’s start at the top:
While you may not feel your behavior can be described in such singularly biblical terms, chances are good that if you take some of your, shall we say, “issues” and break them down, most likely they will contain elements of this iconic group.
Let’s start with wrath. Someone nabs your parking spot and the first thing out of your mouth is a remark about the other person’s maternal parent, followed by a sexual slur? Road rage? Short-tempered with the kids? Boss always pissing you off? Actually, these days everything pisses you off. If that sounds about right, you might have anger issues. Sure, sometimes these feelings can be legitimate, but they still make you a card-carrying member of the Seven Deadly Sin Society. Is “I’ll do it later” the first thing that comes out of your mouth when a task is presented to you? Is a job half done as acceptable to you as a job well done? Is your house a mess? Your checkbook unbalanced? Your résumé not up-to-date? Sounds likesloth. If for you there is any truth to the claim that the average male thinks about sex once a minute, lust is the runaway lead in your Issues to Be Dealt With Department. Same goes for if you’re a woman. Lust is one of society’s biggest problems. From porn addiction to serial philandering to sexting—thanks to modern technology, what once might have been a weekly romp in the Motel 6 has taken on colossal daily devotion. But lust comes in many forms, especially when it comes to our stuff, like your neighbor’s car or swimming pool. But we guess we’ll be moving on to envy with that one, which is really just the marriage of lust andgreed. Obsessing over your coworker’s iPad mini? That’s envy. Over your coworker’s fiancé? Well, that’s lust, envy, and greed all rolled up into one. Supersize me one more time—give me a G for gluttony!
You get the idea.
Don’t even try and say you don’t have one. We all do. You need to give your problem a label. We use labels for a reason: to let us know what’s what. Without labels we would pour tomato soup on our cereal instead of milk, and pour Drano into the washing machine.
To help you find the right label, let’s have a look at the granddaddy of shopping lists of bad behavior: “The Seven Deadly Sins.”
Everyone feels these things from time to time. And they are by no means entirely bad or destructive. It’s when they start to interfere with your life in a disruptive manner that they must be dealt with.
How do we know when our maladaptive behaviors have crossed the line from the occasional guest appearance to starring in and ruining the show?
6. Do you turn to disreputable companions and an inferior environment due to your behavior?
7. Does your behavior make you careless of your family’s welfare?
8. Has your ambition decreased as a result of your behavior?
And we will take the liberty of adding one important question to the mix:
13. Is your behavior affecting your health in an adverse or dangerous way?
Now, if you are living with your madness at a manageable level and would like to keep rolling along in that fashion, you don’t need to change a thing. But if you’re fed up with your revolving-door anger at life’s unfair turns, it’s time to look down the barrel of your discontent, own your broken promises, give up your often tried but not so true excuses, and begin to change.
Thirty-five years later I was doing the same thing: driving loaded with my two beautiful children in the backseat of my car. Why do bright, well-educated, and civilized men and women ignore such dark truths and continue on paths of self-destruction?
At this point you may be saying, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m not a drug addict. I keep my booze to a minimum. I would never drive drunk. I make everyone wear a seat belt. I pay the rent on time. Keep gas in the car. Walk through the mall looking and acting like everyone else. I’m a version of fine.” Then one might ask why you picked up this book. Something must be gnawing on the wires of your psyche. Something must feel out of place in your world.
There is a lot of information in the promise of this book: Recovery is not just for addicts. You might not have a drug habit, but addiction comes in many forms. It’s what takes your mind off of the real issues. It’s what keeps you focused on something else instead of the underlying problems. The guy you are stuck on who never follows through—it’s easy to get mad at him, be on and off with him, rage at him or cry over him. But if you look at your life, was there anyone else who behaved in the same way? Maybe Dad? Are you addicted to the patterns of push-me/pull-you? Is your understanding of interaction with the opposite sex all about confrontation and disappointment? Is the controlling dynamic of your relationships anger, rejection, and conflict? Do things not feel right unless they present wrong?
Addiction doesn’t necessarily imply there are substances involved. Addiction to feelings is a powerful force. Addiction to feeling inadequate, addiction to feeling superior, addiction to feeling like you are always letting people down, addiction to feeling like you will never be the person you want to be, addiction to your excuses for why things don’t work out. “If I lost twenty pounds, my life would be better. I would have a better job, a better love life, a better apartment. People might like me more.” “So,” one could ask, “if you really feel that way, what is keeping you from just cutting back on what you consume and getting out there and moving around? Or are you so addicted to the temporary comfort that food provides that it becomes more important than the guilt and remorse about overconsumption it leaves behind?”
Also, never underestimate the power of habit. Habits keep us tethered to something even if that something is not good for us—even if that something is in fact keeping us from what we really want. The reliability of a connection so powerful and long-standing somehow feels safe in a twisted way.
One of the big barriers to repairing our problems is that we are terrified of what our life will look and feel like without this “thing” we have become so used to. The thing can be booze, it can be heroin, it can be sugar and fried food, it can be constantly having something to complain about, it can be anything we glom on to that keeps our minds and feelings occupied and allows us to avoid our real problems.
Throughout this book, we will be dealing with many issues that come under the heading of problematic, consistent, and thus addictive behavior. They’re the things that often keep us out of the very places we want to be in and from living the lives we want. They’re things that are learned in childhood, tendencies that are born out of disappointment, or they are just plain maladaptive behavioral traits that for some reason we can’t seem to shake.
You stand at the doorway to disaster. Your hair-trigger temper has the potential to destroy your life and the lives of those closest to you. In truth, if you find yourself acting out physically, immediate one-on-one counseling is suggested.
Your life is totally out of balance but your defense is a good one. You’re a dedicated provider. “How the hell do you think the bills get paid around here? Somebody’s gotta bring home the bacon!” is your loud response when anyone suggests you slow down. Losers here include the family that gets so little of you. What are you hiding from that turns your office into your primary residence?
Somewhere along the way you learned your feelings did not count. Or if they counted, they were way at the bottom of some list. Perhaps they were ignored altogether or ridiculed. There are endless reasons why we stuff our feelings where we don’t have to deal with them: Sometimes they just plain scare us to death. Our feelings are the most honest part of our being; by denying or stuffing them down, we cut ourselves off from our real essence. Which in turn leads to any one of the outcomes we deal with.
Are you an expert at solving other people’s problems while ignoring your own? Are you an authority on everything but you? Do you give out so many of your “two cents” that, if you added them all up, you might make the Forbes list?
You need constant reassuring. Constant approval. If anyone in the house gets more attention than you, it’s suddenly a war zone. Nobody cares about your feelings. Nobody understands. A baby on the home field, out in the world the ego switch is often thrown and the Alpha Infant morphs into . . .
That’s the I’m-not-much-but-I’m-all-I-think-about syndrome. Everything is a gigantic deal. Mr. Big Shot. Many times a playground bully all grown up. It’s grandiosity writ large, but usually a cover-up for the most insecure. It is often labeled narcissism and is a host for an endless slew of unwanted internal houseguests who then strike up the band and present themselves to the world in an endless parade of poor behavior and rotten choices. If someone tries telling you anything you’ll interrupt with a sermon on things you know nothing about.
Today’s environment has left fertile soil for the hibernator to grow in. Eighteen hours on computer games. Days locked in your room watching every season ofCurb Your Enthusiasm certainly will keep your goals and dreams in lockdown.
Born to lose and ready to tell anyone who’ll listen. Put on this earth to watch the rest of us have fun, you sit in a corner with an expression borrowed from the tragedy mask and wonder why nobody asks you to dance. You won’t ask for help because it’s too much effort and nothing works anyway, so why bother.
Any Porn in a Storm
The person with the inability to relate to another human being on an appropriately intimate level resorts to objectification of the sex partner. The net has made instant gratification as easy as clicking on a link. This is a digital dilemma that’s screwing with your life. No pun intended.
The Chicken Little Syndrome
You’re still amazed the world didn’t end on 12-12-2012. And maybe even a little disappointed. Even the Mayans have let you down. You broadcast disaster to anyone who’ll listen. You always know where the nearest bomb shelter is and are convinced it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need it. Your fear-based thinking keeps you stuck in Disasterville and the mantra you live by is “What’s the point? We’re all doomed anyway.”
My Phone Is My Life
Do you spend more time looking at your phone than you do at anyone or anything else? Does your heart stop when you think you’ve lost it? Do you say things like “This is my life” as you hold up your oh- so-smart smartphone? Do you find yourself escaping the real world by playing endless hours of Candy Crush? Angry Birds? Words With Friends? Is the cyber world a more enjoyable place for you to spend your time than the real one? Escaping real connection to ourselves and others through the world in our iPads, phones, and computers is a huge problem. After food it may be one of the biggest addictions we have today. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely need to get a handle on how much time you spend in cyber space before it becomes your only place.
Do you self-soothe with a trip to the mall? When you buy something, do you divide it up between four credit cards that are all a few purchases away from being maxed out? Do all the salespeople at your local Walmart know you by name? Is every expenditure your last? Spending, overspending, indulging our material cravings, keeping up with the Joneses, the Joneses’ neighbors, and the Joneses’ cousins has become our national pastime. One of the biggest ways we sabotage our own futures, our kids’ futures, and often the moment is by overspending. It has become so easy. Some people wake up at four in the morning and head for the Jack Daniel’s; others turn on their computers and take a cyber stroll through Target, Macy’s, or any one of the millions of online shopping sites. Never before has feeding the beast of buying addiction been so easy.
This is just a sampling of what might be afflicting you. Perhaps none of these may apply to you, or you could be a minestrone made up of several. It’s up to you to start identifying what the various ingredients are that make up your murky soup. No one can do it for you. Only you can take the actions needed to make the necessary changes. The best time to start is now. Today. This minute.
You can’t live in Tomorrowville. If you’re always talking about what you are going to do, you are living in the future. If you are living in the future, you can’t commit yourself to the present. To deal properly with your problems, you must be totally in the moment. Because that is where your issues live: here, now, in your house, in your car, in your office, in your bedroom, in your stomach, in your heart, with you. If you are not dealing with your issues in real time but down the road, somewhere in your future, you are avoiding reality. And chances are it will remain on your to-do list.
“Soon is not a time.” This is a statement I end up uttering to my children on a regular basis. Kids are great procrastinators. If you have children or perhaps just carry on hcad-to-heads with your inner child, you might identify with some of these conversations.
“Have you done your homework?” “Soon.” “Emptied the trash yet?” “Soon.” “Have you cleaned your room yet?” “Soon.” “Brushed your teeth?” “Soon.”
The adult version goes more like this:
“I will get a colonoscopy . . . soon.” “I will stop hoarding and deal with the fact I can’t find the garage door through all the boxes . . . soon.”
“I will lose the twenty-five pounds . . . soon.” “I will file last year’s income tax return . . . soon.” “I will start getting my résumé in order and take that Excel class down at the community college so I can maybe get the better job I really want . . . soon.”
“Soon,” I will repeat, is not a time. Today, this minute, at 3:47 p.m.—those are times. To really make a change, the best time to start is with a real time, and that time is now.
As time and failure teach us, a declaration that is not followed by carefully charted out, relentless action and daily vigilance seldom if ever works. There’s a reason: Nature abhors a vacuum. It may be a cliché, but it’s a great illustration of why so many people fall off diets, keep smoking after repeated tries to stop, and continue to engage in many forms of self-destructive behavior that haven’t worked in the past and won’t work now.
When an alcoholic quits drinking and commits to abstinence, there is suddenly a large, empty space—a void in his daily routine. The bottle, once his constant source of comfort and relief, has been removed. Unless this self-medicating ritual is replaced with something different, the old behavior will reappear.
You see the problem? You’ve got to replace the bad behavior with something else, something better. If not, you’re headed for one more failed attempt at change. And there goes another chapter in the story of your life: “How I Almost Did It.”
Everybody has a jealous friend, a bloated uncle, or a miserable neighbor who will find something wrong with your idea before you’ve hit the first exclamation point of enthusiasm. And he will instantly turn your bowl of gusto into a colander. So if you decide to embark on this life-changing journey, don’t talk about it with those who will not support you. In the same way people in recovery gather together to nurture and reinforce each other, find those who will support what you are doing and respect the pledges you have made to be a healthier, happier you. Keep your goals within a supportive circle as you move toward rearranging the mismatched furniture of your life experiences that led you to this cluttered, muddy moment in your journey.
Excerpted from "Gratitude and Trust"
Copyright © 2015 Paul Williams.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Paul's Path XXV
Tracey's Path XXXIII
1 Shopping List of Bad Behavior 1
Somewhere in Here You Will Recognize Someone You Know: YOU
2 Six Affirmations of Personal Freedom 23
Your Map to a Better Life
3 The Carpet Is Dirty: Is There Mud on Your Boots? Or, Putting the Affirmations to Work 55
You Got Yourself Here; Now Let's Get You Turned Around
4 Why It Works 81
Millions of People Can't Be Wrong
5 God Is in the Details, or Wherever You Want Him to Be 93
He's Not Pointing a Finger, He's Holding Your Hand...and He's Not Necessarily a He
6 Hey, Buddy-Buddy 111
The Power and Strength of Community
7 Weighty Issues 129
Even If Food Isn't Your Issue, It Often Is
8 When You Get to the Fork in the Road, Do You Take the Knife? 157
How to Turn a History of Bad Choices into a Future of Good Ones
9 Navigating the Nasties 185
The World Is Full of Imperfect People and You Can't Avoid Them, So Let's Learn How to Deal with Them
10 The One We Love 211
I'm OK, You're Not: How to Help Those Who Don't Know How to Help Themselves
11 Gratitude and Trust 229
The Cornerstones of a Happy, Centered Life
Paul's Personal Freedom 237
Tracey's "In Closing" 247
What People are Saying About This
A New York Times Relationships Bestseller
“This amazing book is about a revolutionary concept—recovery for the non-addict, for those who have longed for what their recovering friends have: a spiritual path, healthy company, and a little light to see by. Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson have great insight into our shared problems, solutions, humanity, craziness, and dreams. Plus, they will make you laugh, and give you hope, that recovery—starting over—is for everyone who has imagined a life of immediacy, honesty, and joy.”
"Witty and modern."
—Marc Spitz, VanityFair.com
“Paul and Tracey have come up with a brilliant insight: recovery is not just for addicts. Why should our friends in recovery be the only ones to benefit from this time-tested wisdom? I’ll take some too, please. If you read this book, you’ll feel better by page 5 or thereabouts. And by page 51, you’ll be underlining passages and making notes in the margins - at least if you’re like me. It helped me change the way I think, eat, feel, even do my housework. My deep gratitude to Paul and Tracey for writing this book that will help millions.”
—A.J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All
“Self-help books can be so woo woo and annoying. Gratitude and Trust is the brilliant exception. This life-affirming book is bursting with wicked insights, bravado and wit.”
—Simon Doonan, author of The Asylum
“Reading Gratitude and Trust is like a long sit-down with a couple of very smart, funny, plain-spoken friends who have been through some hard times, and are here to help you avoid the same pitfalls. This is a generous and insightful book.”
—Dani Shapiro, author of Slow Motion
"The affirmations address spiritual and practical needs... [Gratitude and Trust] may come at a time when our increasingly obsessive and addictive culture revels in escapism in the form of video games, binge show watching, overating, and the many varieties of diversion on the Internet."
—East Hampton Star
“What a great gift – Christmas, Hanukah, holidays – to give Gratitude and Trust.”
—Oprah Winfrey, Super Soul Sunday
“Personal and powerful… An amazing book.”
—Kathie Lee Gifford