1-14-2016 Regret

UCE AMG January 14 Agenda

Opening Words

“How much will you pay for an extra day?”
The clock man asked the child.
“Not one penny,” the answer came,
“For my days are as many as smiles.”
“How much will you pay for an extra day?”
He asked when the child was grown.
“Maybe a dollar or maybe less,
For I’ve plenty of days of my own.”
“How much will you pay for an extra day?”
He asked when the time came to die.
“All the pearls in all the seas,
And all the stars in the sky.”


Welcome to the UCE Addictions Ministry Group. We are a group of people who have
struggled with our own addictions and the addictions of others. We hope to struggle well
together as we work towards finding sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships in our
lives. We will strive to spend our time together in a spirit of love embracing the inherent
worth and dignity of all. We accept and respect the varied paths that our members will
take to find sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships. We covenant to to be together
in a confidential, safe environment where we can explore our paths and our stories.

Our Relational Covenant

▪ Embrace and practice deep listening
▪ We will strive to be respectful of our limited time and try to keep our comments
focused on the issues that have brought us here.
▪ Experience the group in a non-judgmental frame of mind
▪ Build trust within the group
▪ Confidentiality about specifics shared or discussed is imperative for our
▪ We each take full responsibility for what we share or say, recognizing
retractions are acceptable as well
▪ Meetings will always start and end on time

Check-in and Processing of Check-in

Discussion: Regret

A Shameless Recovery: Transforming Regret into a Learning Opportunity
By David Sack, M.D.
~ 3 min read
In just about any self-help support group meeting around the world, you will find
people who have been through unimaginable pain standing tall and fearlessly
sharing their stories. Despite devastating personal losses, lifelong health
problems and broken relationships, they are not consumed with shame. In fact,
many seem strangely at peace with their past.
This is the freedom of recovery without regret.
Because addicts tell lies and make repeated mistakes, regret commonly
becomes an obstacle to recovery. Left to fester, regrets not only make it difficult
to learn from the past and move forward but they can also take valuable time and
attention away from recovery, increasing the risk of relapse.
Though painful, regret can be an important part of the healing process. In
treatment, we see regret as a sign of readiness to change. As addicts become
increasingly aware of the negative consequences of their drug use, regret is a
natural response. In its healthiest form, regret drives the addict to ask, “What can
I do differently right now to right the wrongs of the past and make better
decisions in the future?”
Here are a few ways to deal with regrets so they don’t get in the way of recovery:
Focus on the Present. The only day anyone can do anything about is today.
Focusing on missed opportunities and making comparisons to other people
rarely bring about positive change. Rather than dwelling on what could’ve,
should’ve or would’ve been, focus on what you can do right now to create the life
you want.
Although it is present-focused, recovery is not about shutting the door on the
past. The 4th Step of AA/NA directs addicts to conduct a searching inventory of
the past. We remember the past, not to wallow in shame, guilt or denial, but to
understand how the future can be different.
Make an Honest Evaluation. It’s tempting to look back and assume life would’ve
been different but for one or two bad decisions. An honest evaluation can help
put regrets in perspective and reveal the lessons to be gleaned from the
experience. Ask yourself if the memory has been distorted over time. Could you
truly have done something differently, or have you taken responsibility for
something out of your control? Did you do your best given the circumstances?
Embrace the Learning Experience. Some people turn their regrets into a story
that defines who they are. One or two bad decisions become exaggerated to
mean ““I’m a bad person” or “I never make good decisions.” To find peace in
recovery you must find peace with yourself, which means learning from your
experiences and letting the rest go.
Doing away with regret can be intimidating because it means facing an
unknowable future and taking new risks that may or may not play out as desired.
The greatest thinkers throughout history have known that “failures” are not to be
regretted but celebrated as steppingstones to later success. Often the biggest
“mistakes” turn into the greatest fortune. Those who are afraid of regret run the
much greater risk that they will be forever limited to only partial satisfaction.
Make Amends. To promote accountability, the 8th and 9th Steps of AA/NA ask
addicts to make amends where possible. This means making apologies when
merited, and using the lessons you’ve learned to help others. It also means fully
committing to your recovery. Your continuing sobriety and efforts toward self improvement
are the greatest gift you can give yourself or any of the people you
have wronged in the past.
For some, holding onto regret can be a way of avoiding responsibility. They
believe that regret shows they’re truly sorry and will keep them from repeating
their mistakes, but it actually keeps them stuck in a self-focused mode that
blocks healing for both the addict and their loved ones. Dwelling on regrets
doesn’t fix the past and only draws the suffering out into the future.
Accept the Consequences. Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, it isn’t
possible to mend past hurts. The serenity prayer offers a useful reminder that
some things are within your power to change (working a recovery program and
making amends) and others are not (the past and in some cases, the feelings of
those who have been hurt). Mistakes are part of being human. While it is
important to accept responsibility for the wrongs committed, be generous with
your forgiveness of self and others so that you can be free to move on.
Focus on the Positive. The human brain is adept at organizing information into
habits. This is why it takes a long time to complete a task (say, learning a new
computer program) on the first or second try, but becomes virtually automatic
after multiple attempts. While this organizational structure can save time and
energy in our tasks of daily living, it can also turn negative self-talk into an
automatic process. The recovering addict who dwells on regret may find that
negative thoughts creep up involuntarily and far more frequently than positive
ones because the brain has become habituated to this sequence.
No one chooses to become an addict, but there are lessons that can be learned
as a result. For example, recovering addicts often have more empathy for others,
are able to embrace their own imperfections and have a new appreciation for life.
Troubling events from the past can be instructional, but they cannot be undone.
Once you’ve learned the lesson, focus on who you are and what you can do
better today.

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction
Medicine. As CEO of Elements Behavioral Health

Closing Words

Regret by Robert William Service
It's not for laws I've broken
That bitter tears I've wept,
But solemn vows I've spoken
And promises unkept;
It's not for sins committed
My heart is full of rue,
but gentle acts omitted,
Kind deeds I did not do.
I have outlived the blindness,
The selfishness of youth;
The canker of unkindness,
The cruelty of truth;
The searing hurt of rudeness . . .
By mercies great and small,
I've come to reckon goodness
The greatest gift of all.
Let us be helpful ever
to those who are in need,
And each new day endeavour
To do some gentle deed;
For faults beyond our grieving,
What kindliness atone;
On earth by love achieving
A Heaven of our own.

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