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A Stoics view..

Old 10-10-2017, 11:15 PM
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Redmayne
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A Stoics view..

I like to think of my disease/illness as being called alcohol-ISM. Which is by nature a two fold disease/illness consisting of a physical illness and a mental obsession(see 'The Doctor's Opinion' on the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' and is the only disease/illness which will kill you whilst at the same time telling you,you haven't got it!The only respite from which abstinence, which affects, here in the UK at least only a small percentage of the roughly 8.2 million people who are alcohol dependent see 'Joe & Charlie's:Big Book Study' the remainder being addicts and suffering , bad enough as it is, from a mental obsession.

Which makes the alcohol but a symptom and for me at least, in my recovery meant my learning,after leading the delusional life in my extensive drinking days as a 'high functioning alcoholic' my learning to deal with the -ISM,s i.e. life itself....I, despite of my considerable professional abilities knew nothing!

Initially in my recovery which began on the 15th of Feb.,2008 I became determined 'to find and be my true self' with my high ideals spurred on in those days of 'the rosy afterglow' of the initial days and then weeks of not drinking...

To do this I stuck to my simple Christian beliefs, particularly in 'the Good of my understanding' see 'Bill's Story' in the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' supported by an interest if fundamental Buddhist philosophy...none of which, if I'm honest albeit I'm grateful to the guy at the last AA meeting I attended back in Nov., 2007 who passed me a copy of 'Joe and Charlie's:Big Book Study Meeting' and those two men themselves and Buddhist philosophy I somehow felt particularly comfortable with? But my recovery and with it my sobriety continued and 'if the wheel ain't broken don't fix it' right!

Then about three years ago, remembering something Marcus Aurelius had said, I fell into Stoic philosophy little realizing that prior to which I had already all the 'attributes, faults and failings' of a Stoic!

Just like in Chapter 3 of the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' titled 'More About Alcoholism' talked all about me in my drinking days, Stoic philosophy, particularly in the books 'Stoicism Today:Selected Essays' by Patrick Usher and Jules Evans book 'Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations' talked all about me in in my recovery....

I like the idea that I should 'honour my soul' see Pierre Hadot 'The Inner Citadel', as Epictetus said,'We are all little souls dragging a cadaver around'.

And that to do so simply meant we should, having regard to all the circumstances and 'fate permitting' try to the best of our ability to best of our ability pursue the Stoic Virtues of being wise,temperate (self control), courageous (in our dealings with both others and ourselves and just. I also liked the idea that Stoic philosophy is built on logic and reason, as the Dalai Lama points out in his 'Little book of Buddhist Wisdom', 'Anything that contradicts logic and reason should be abandoned'. Bearing in mind Nassim Nicholas Taleem saying, 'A Stoic is a Buddhist with attitude.'

This all made me feel 'comfortable in my own skin' replacing the sense of 'ease and comfort' that a few drinks brought me so that now in my role of a self directed student of the principles and practices of Stoic philosophy In am once more 'The Master of My Fate and the Captain of My Soul' see W.E.Thornley's poem 'Invictus'....
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Redmayne View Post
I also liked the idea that Stoic philosophy is built on logic and reason, as the Dalai Lama points out in his 'Little book of Buddhist Wisdom', 'Anything that contradicts logic and reason should be abandoned'..
That's a good point. I think any philosophy or world-view that is irrational has to be rejected on those grounds even though it may be a compassionate one. Luckily there will always be alternative view points that are both
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:54 AM
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Keeping an open mind...

I always think it's best to keep an open mind paying attention to the three great spiritual qualities of compassion, patience and tolerance both in others and yourself, 'If your compassion does not include yourself then it is incomplete', the Dalai Lama.

Together with Marcus Aurelius, one of the three novas of Stoic philosophy together with Epictetus, his tutor and Seneca the Younger, saying,'When you wake up in the morning tell yourself that: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful,arrogant, dishonest,jealous and surly. They are like that because they do not know good from evil.'

Good,in Stoic germs simply means to be wise, temperate, courageous and just.

Evil means to act shamefully towards others or yourself, sometimes both at the same time!
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Old 10-11-2017, 08:17 AM
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The annual Modern Stoicism 'Live like a Stoic' course runs for seven days from 16 October. Participation is free and it provides an multi-media learning materials. I joined and took part last year, after signposting by an SR member in Secular.

Modern Stoicism -Live like a Stoic Week course
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:22 PM
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My favourite lesson in Stoicism is to make the best of bad situations of setbacks. They are seen as opportunities instead. I really like that!
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:33 PM
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Yes, I've just reviewed the course and it has altered since last year, so I've joined. I don't need Stoicism to stop drinking, because obviously, with AVRT, I've already stopped drinking forever. Since I stopped drinking, I've been self-rediscovering and self-renewing, so this struck a chord, because I've been reflecting upon what I really wish for the remainder of my life. I don't mean financially purchased acquisitions, of course I'd still love to win the lottery but..

Here's an extract from the course introduction, it's only seven days and the material can be read afterwards:


This year’s theme is self-renewal – a journey into Stoicism. The Handbook has been designed to enable you to take a fresh look at your life and reflect on what changes you could make to bring yourself closer to your own ideals and aspirations. The Handbook also offers a step-by-step journey into Stoicism, and refers to several of its core distinctive ideas: that happiness in life depends on virtue, that our life constitutes an ongoing process of ethical development, that all human beings are our brothers and sisters, that we are an integral part of Nature, and that Nature forms a providential whole. Our hope is that thinking about these Stoic ideas can offer a pathway towards renewing and transforming yourself into what you really want and aspire to be. Of course, this week can only be a start – both in self-renewal and in learning about Stoicism. However, people have found it very helpful in previous years and so we hope you will too. The Handbook as a whole contains suggestions about how to take this process forward after Stoic Week.
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:48 PM
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Building something new!

A firm believer in the suggestion that recovery isn't about getting back to how you were before, it's about building something new! Although who said it, I've no idea...that said it resonates with something Seneca said,' Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.'

Which adds to and quite firmly endorses the part Stoic philosophy has played in my recovery both from my actual drinking but perhaps and more importantly, life itself which is the whole point of Stoic philosophy...

My thanks to all who've contributed thus far to this post as they to have endorsed this.
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Old 10-12-2017, 02:30 AM
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I view myself as recovered (from alcoholism/addiction/alcohol use disorder or whatever is the current popular name). If one wish could be fulfilled, I would wish that I could time travel back, to the point prior to, addiction developing (due to the bodies response to drinking too much, too regularly). I would love to recover the life I led prior to addiction. It was a fantastic life, but sadly, I was too much of a hedonist. When addiction took hold, life inevitably worsened and I drank to feel better.

If only I'd realised sooner that I could 'simply' stop drinking, forvever, and as a consequence I'd achieve security in sobriety, with no attached conditions. This freedom enables me to fully apply myself to rebuilding my life.

As Seneca said "drunkeness being nothing else but a voluntary madness".
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Old 10-12-2017, 03:54 AM
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Care to join me for lunch?

Like you, I no longer have a problem in recognising and accepting that I suffer from, in my case alcoholism albeit I never was and am certainly not now comfortable with being a 'recovered or recovering alcoholic.For no better reason that it defies logic and reason,m I either suffer from alcoholism or not, mI am either abstinent or not.

iven the only respite from alcoholism is abstinence,logic and reason dictate which one I choose...

Yes, I do 'hark back to better days given I'm one of those people who fits the description offered by the psychologist, Carl Rogers describes as having lead a 'rich',full life of experiential learning. Knowing great triumph and disaster in equal measure whilst still remaining open to new experiences. One of which I had last year involving , unexpectedly five weeks in a medically induced coma, from which I'm still recovering. Which apparently has me as a 'fully, functioning person' Caution suggest I should let others be the judge of that but as few if any know the after effects of that I'll just have to, using Stoic philosophy,judge it for myself, with the help of anyone who cares to join me?

That said, but as I'm now only 71 I'l, take Epictetus's view that if I am to die now, I will die but as it is the hour for lunch. I'll take lunch first and then die.'A little bit of Stoic humour never goes amiss and if anybody,metaphorically speaking cares to join me for lunch they're very welcome...
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Old 10-12-2017, 11:49 AM
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So I got my copy of Jack Trimpey's The Small Book yesterday. I read something in it that made me think of this thread. He says that the term alcoholism is actually a philosophy and that the correct term is alcohol dependent. He says most ISM's are philosophies, such as stoicism, capitalism, communism, Catholicism etc. Alcoholism comes with all these assumptions and beliefs attached to recovery. Alcohol dependence on the other hand implies that one can simply become independent.

I just love reading Jack Trimpey. He's such a clever man and he makes so much sense, he has such a wonderful way with words.
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Old 10-12-2017, 11:56 AM
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Th only 'disease' you can just decide not to have
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Old 10-12-2017, 12:03 PM
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Yes, I don't believe in the 'ism' suffixed to alcohol. It's just being human, our lower autonomous brains are programmed to feel hurt, anger, resentments, fears, self-pity, self-condemnation, procrastination, laziness, jealously, envy, negative thinking, it's normal - not character defects.

Jack Trimpey is an unsung hero, in my eyes.
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Old 10-12-2017, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by dwtbd View Post
Th only 'disease' you can just decide not to have
Ha! You always cut to the chase, perfect!
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Old 10-12-2017, 01:39 PM
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There are interesting parallels between stoicism and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of which (REBT) is taught in SMART. CBT classes are common in addiction treatment programs, though I've never taken one myself.
Stoicism and CBT: Is Therapy a Philosophical Pursuit?
Stoicism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Co.../dp/1855757567
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog...tween-rebt-cbt

When I think of stoicism, I think of calm reason in the face of emotional upheavals, which is a part of it. I found that came naturally to me in addiction recovery, and has stayed with me through the years since then. Serenity is a good word, also used in addiction recovery circles (primarily but not exclusively AA). Not much rattles me anymore, and not for long. I don't fully understand why, and it doesn't really matter, but it's been a very positive benefit of not being chained to an addictive drug and jumping from false peace (=drunk) to false peace.
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Old 10-12-2017, 01:57 PM
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I believe in essence, the crux is, the power is created by the pause. That is, the higher, rational, cognitive self, can assert itself over the lower (albeit faster at reacting) self which works on autonomous, embedded beliefs, learned behaviours, pre-programmed knee jerk reactions etc.

The course I referred to above, is written by; preamble:

The Handbook was developed by Modern Stoicism, a multi-disciplinary team of academic philosophers, classicists, professional psychologists and cognitive therapists. The group was formed in 2012 to help others apply Stoic concepts and practices to the challenges of modern living. It includes several authors known for their writing and research on Stoicism.
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Old 10-12-2017, 11:30 PM
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Constructive comment and criticism..

Whilst I'm always ready to share my experience , strength and hope with others, I learn most from what I need most particularly when it's provided by way of constructive comment and criticism provided by those who are intelligent and articulate, and you can't buy or fake that!

As William Knaus,one of the pioneers of Cognitive Behavior said, 'What happened to you may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility to think about it.'

Reflected by all who've contributed to this thread thus far, brilliant! Thank you...
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Old 10-15-2017, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by JeffreyAK View Post
Serenity is a good word, also used in addiction recovery circles (primarily but not exclusively AA).
Stoicism makes a sharp distinction between things that are under our control and things that are outside of it. This obviously ties in well with the Serenity Prayer as adopted by AA but it also relates to AVRT and mindulness because in both approaches we can't control our AV, and we'd probably just give in at some point if we tried, but we can choose how we respond to it.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:35 AM
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First attracted to ...

I must admit I was first attracted to Stoic philosophy because of its links to The Serenity Prayer, referred to in at least three of my growing collection of books I have on the subject and a piece on the Stoicism Today: Home of Stoic Week website, all of which have been invaluable in my recovery and perhaps most importantly that of recovering from five weeks spent in a medically induced coma a year ago which has allowed me to let the world live as it chooses. Whilst, having regard to all the circumstances, allowing myself to live as I choose.

Including my continuing freedom from alcohol and many of the other, questionable attractions of the world today!

'When human activity is replaced by technology, then we'll have a nation of idiots' - Einstein

I'm glad I belong to the small minority group who doesn't spend all day looking into the face of a smartphone and sends a lot of it looking around me...and practicing 'mindfulness' it makes life much more pleasant...
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