Archive for April, 2017

“Choice overload.” (04/23/17)

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

When you are faced with too many choices you can become overwhelmed. You encounter “choice overload.” There are so many options that you get mentally fatigued and then either make an unwise choice or end up making no choice at all.

For instance, you go to the grocery store and there are 38 types of spaghetti sauce. Chunky with meat, Creamy without meat, Creamy with meat and onions, Chunky with mushrooms, Creamy without mushrooms, Creamy with chunky mushrooms. Who gives a fuck? You could stand there for an hour considering all of the ingredients, styles, price per ounce and the brands. Having so many choices uses up your valuable time standing there trying to decide. Often, if there are too many choices you just give up and don’t make any choice. Hey, it’s just spaghetti sauce so grab one and if you don’t like it then don’t buy it again.

Here’s another example. You go to Wal-Mart to look for a new TV. There are 100 TVs on display. Which one do you choose? Plus, there are a zillion different options, features, sizes and prices. Some stream, some don’t, some have built-in Blue Ray players, some don’t. Some have speakers but don’t stream, some stream but require a sound bar or surround sound system. I’ve seen families get into arguments over which TV to buy because of all the different features. (Is a TV really worth arguing about?) You may know exactly what features you want but there are still 20 of those models to choose from. You might end up spending more money than you had planned or you just get tired of thinking about it and buy the one that’s on sale. Or you might just say “fuck it” and buy nothing.

Getting sober can be just like that. There are a lot of choices to make and once you start thinking about all of your options you may end up doing nothing. Choice overload can really mess with your decision on sobriety. “Should I follow a program? Do I need to go to AA? Are there alternative programs? Which one should I follow? Should I go to rehab? Do I need medication? Do I need counseling? Do I even need to quit? Maybe I can just moderate? Maybe I’ll just have another drink and think about it?” Then you sit there and do nothing at all.

Then once you are sober there’s a different kind of choice overload. “Should I go out with my friends? Maybe I’ll meet them and leave early or should I tell them I’m busy? Maybe I shouldn’t go out at all? Maybe I should attend a meeting? Should I stay home and read? Should I stay home and work on some project or something productive. Maybe I should call a friend and ask them what they think I should do?”

You don’t have to let “choice overload” create anxiety and consume your valuable time. I’m going to offer some suggestions on how to cope with choice overload. I won’t offer too many choices; just a few suggestions on how to approach making decisions. Employing any one (or all) of these strategies will help cut down the number of choices that fall within a decision making category. There are 3 basic concepts: Filtering, setting limits and self-forgiveness.

Filtering. Make lists and know what you don’t want. When you know what you don’t want you can focus on the features and items that are appealing to your needs or wants. This can remove more than half of all the choices presented to you. Knowing what you don’t want is a definite time saver and it can help stave off feelings of second-guessing after you’ve made a decision. Lists help you focus on what you need and what you can avoid. Planning some of your meals ahead and then making a grocery lists will save you time and money. Daily project or chore “to do” lists will keep you focused on what you feel needs to get done and you’ll use your own time more efficiently.

Creating lists helps you filter out the items you don’t want. Knowing what I don’t want has been my best time and money saving system. I always consider what I don’t want in almost every category of my life. I use the “don’t want” philosophy when I’m considering buying a new product or food. I use that thought system when I’m deciding what type of job or career field to pursue. I use that thought system when it comes to nurturing friendships or relationships. I’ve been using the “don’t want” philosophy to make the best out of my sobriety.

By knowing what you don’t want you can zero in on what you DO want. This will automatically lower the amount of choices within a decision and help with choice overload.

Setting limits. Set size, amount, quantity or financial limits. So let’s say that you need or want a new TV but you can’t afford more than $300 (or don’t want to spend more than $300), then limit yourself to choosing from within that price range. I understand that isn’t always that easy. As I said earlier, you go to Wal-Mart to buy a TV and there’re 100 of them on display!  Decide BEFORE you go there how much you can afford to spend, what size will accommodate your area and what features aren’t necessary. Knowing that you don’t want or need certain features may allow you to buy a larger TV for less money.

Grocery lists help you set limits on how much food to buy. It’s a shame to waste your own money buying food that you’ll never eat or buying so much of something that you throw half of it away. Set your own size and quantity limits, based on your own consumption or usage history.

Setting financial limits will automatically narrow down your choices on most products.

Forgive yourself. This is a big one. If you happen to make an unwise choice (or what you feel was a wrong choice), forgive yourself and make a different choice. Try to learn what wasn’t right so you don’t repeat the same error. But absolutely forgive yourself and move on. You probably made a choice based on the data or knowledge that you had at the time. So, at the time, you made the best choice. If it didn’t turn out well, forgive yourself and move on.

Forgiving yourself may not help with “choice overload” but it will allow you to feel more comfortable about making future choices. You can make a decision and if it turns out to be a poor decision, you know that you’ll be able to forgive yourself. Even if a poor decision comes with unhappy consequences, forgive yourself and try not to repeat the same error.

Sometimes not making a choice is the best decision. Consciously saying, “I’m not going to make a choice right now” is a decision in itself. Maybe new knowledge will come to light or you may discover you actually can live without the item you thought you absolutely had to have.

Some choices are very important and will change your life; some won’t make any difference whatsoever. You’re smart enough to determine what the important choices in life are. Those are the one’s that you might want to spend some time to compile research on or think about before making a decision. Don’t give all choices and decisions the same respect. For small stuff, just make a choice and move on.

Regardless of whether it’s a BIG decision or a little decision, you still have to make a choice. Make your choice and be willing to adjust or adapt as you go along. Be willing to forgive yourself if you make a bad choice. And who’s to say it was a bad choice? Maybe it was a good choice but it didn’t turn out well or didn’t turn out as you had planned or hoped for?

Don’t let “choice overload” mire you into wasting time. Your time and your life are far too valuable. Make a choice. Pick a system, plan or program and then go with it. You can always adapt, adjust or change later.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“What did I do to deserve this?” (04/13/17)

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

The subject of this particular blog/podcast was sparked by a question that I was asked by a follower of my Facebook page. She stated, “I just passed my one year anniversary of being sober. Over the past year everything has gone wrong, nothing is going right for me. What did I do to deserve this? I thought getting sober would make my life better? I’m not sure if this is all worth it?”

That’s a legitimate question. We often feel that things aren’t going our way because of something we did, “What did I do to deserve this?” (Do you ever ask that same question when things go right or when things turn out well? I’ll discuss that a little later.)

I believe that there are a few different answers to the question “What did I do to deserve this?” First we must remember that there are facts and there are perceptions. Perception is that we may feel as if things are always going wrong when in fact things probably aren’t all that bad. Things may also appear to be going wrong because the outcome wasn’t exactly what we wanted. There is also the element that our sober mind can see many of these events more clearly. Your sober mind will likely be more sensitive and your perception will amplify the difficult occurrences. Then there is also the element of random chaos and causative chaos.

Random chaos is when events and outcomes occur, due to NO fault of your own. While we may feel that a certain bad event was personally directed at us to make our life worse, the event was just “random”. That’s when we feel, “Why did this happen to me? I didn’t do anything wrong or bad.” Well you didn’t do anything wrong or bad, it was just random. Random bad luck and misfortunes are NOT personally directed at YOU. You have not been individually singled out by some invisible force to make you pay or to get even for something you did. The evil is not personally directed at you, but YOU happen to be personally involved and affected by it. Knowing this doesn’t change the facts of what may have happened, but it can help you improve your attitude and try to solve the problem.

Here’s a recent example from my life. I was moving from Ft. Myers FL to the lower Keys. As I was driving my RV across the Everglades a buzzard flew into my windshield. It completely shattered the glass right in front of me. The buzzard hit so hard it came through the bottom of the windshield. A few inches higher and it would have come right through, possibly hitting me!

The incident was certainly an inconvenience. I was in the middle of the Everglades and I had to be in the Keys to start my new job the next day. But I didn’t get all bent out of shape about it. I had to do some temporary repairs and continue my drive. My sober mind allowed me to address the problem and get going again.

This incident wasn’t due to any direct fault of my own. It was just a freak occurrence. (In fact, I feel lucky that I wasn’t hurt.) In my drinking days I would have taken this personally and would have let it upset me for quite a while.

Here’s another example. A very close friend of mine went through some extremely uncomfortable cancer treatments about a year ago. All signs looked optimistic for a complete recovery. But a few months ago the cancer returned with a vengeance. He now has to undergo more treatments. The cancer is absolutely due to no fault of his own. He is a strong, healthy man. He’s also a very good human being. He did NOTHING to deserve this. He’s fighting hard and willing to do whatever is necessary to get through this. I am envious of his sober and pragmatic attitude about this.

I’m sure you can think of things from your own life when you’ve said “What did I do to deserve this?” Your brand new car gets dented by a grocery cart in the parking lot, you get a flat tire, you catch a cold or possibly even some major disease. Things don’t go right. Shit breaks around the house, your computer crashes, I mean literally crashes because it falls off a table and busts into a million pieces on the floor. One thing after another keeps going wrong and you think, “What did I do to deserve this?”

You did nothing wrong to deserve it. I find it hard to believe that there is some invisible accountant in the sky, who makes sure that you are the recipient of bad fortune. But it’s only natural for the mind to try and find correlations to things. “Well I lied on my taxes, so my car being broken into must be payback.” You can think that way, but both good and bad occurrences are usually just random happenings.

The danger (as I see it), about conjuring up correlations, is that it can influence our emotions and future behaviors. For instance somebody might say, “I sobered up, I’m living a straight and narrow path, and then all this shit goes wrong. Fuck it, what’s the point, I was better off when I drank.” They might think they were better off when they drank, but they were probably too drunk at the time to realize that bad things were happening, or they couldn’t see that they were their own orchestrator of all this bad shit. They always blamed something or someone else. So our thoughts, emotions and possible future behavior is influenced by our own deluded belief that we are personally being persecuted by the invisible accountant in the sky.

I do believe that there are always reasons and causes for everything. When I talk about reasons and causes I’m just referring to hard data. Like the example of your brand new car getting hit by a grocery cart. The reason your car got dented was because a hard object hit it – that’s physics. The cause of the cart hitting it could be because it was windy out and you were parked at the end of the lot, on the bottom of a slope, unprotected by any other cars. That’s the reason and cause, but it was just a random occurrence, it had nothing to do with any payback for something you did in your past.

When we try to link a correlation between unlucky random events and our behavior, we are only harming our self and our self-esteem. Because we feel that we were somehow responsible for this event happening and then we feel guilt and self-pity. In fact, it’s pretty grandiose thinking to believe that the universe would conspire to torment you personally. Sorry, but you’re not that special, at least I’m not. Or let me put it this way, you go buy a single lottery ticket and you don’t win, well the universe didn’t conspire to make sure that you lost, because 17 million other dumb fucks lost too. It was just random that someone else won.

So try to keep yourself from feeling that unlucky and inconvenient events are designed as a personal attack against you, to make you pay for something. Instead of thinking, “What did I do to deserve this?” try thinking, “Well that sucks. Too bad this happened to me. But I’m still a good person, I’m not gonna change how I behave because of this.”

Now let me get to causative chaos. This is when your behavior is in direct correlation to an event occurring and that’s for both good and bad events. For example, someone goes to school, they study hard, they work hard, they’re involved in their education, they graduate with a high grade point average and they send out a hundred résumés and they get their dream job or are highly sought after by employers. This isn’t random luck; this is a self-orchestrated, causative occurrence. They took action and they were instrumental in directing the opportunity for good things to happen.

But what if they do all of those things; study hard, graduate, send out a hundred résumés and nobody hires them? There could be thousands of unseen reasons why they don’t get hired. Maybe the places they applied weren’t hiring, maybe someone else was more qualified, maybe they got their résumé in a day after someone else was hired. Who knows, but the perceived bad luck that they’re having is random bad luck and eventually, their behavior and their actions will have a positive causative effect.

And this causative chaos is just like drinking. When you drink to excess, chances are good that something bad will eventually happen. Or maybe you sobered up for a while and you think, “AW, maybe I can go back and play with this.” Then when all the drama, problems and bullshit resurface you ask yourself, “What did I do to deserve this?” Well the answer is: “You started drinking again, that’s what you did to deserve this. You caused it to happen.” That’s like when someone gets arrested for drunk driving and they blame the police, the bartender or somebody else. “Aw I can’t believe my luck. I got arrested and I was only two blocks from my house. Now I’m gon’na lose my license, I might lose my job and I might have to move. Fucking cops. What did I do to deserve this?” Believe me, I hear this from people all the time and all I can say is, “You did it to yourself. That’s why you deserve this. You drove drunk, you broke the law. Quit blaming everybody else.”

When you live a dangerous or self-destructive lifestyle, all sorts of bad shit CAN and WILL happen. There is a definite correlation between your actions and the occurrences that take place. Hey, if you wanna live drunk, go ahead, but don’t be shocked and surprised when bad shit happens.

And there’s the flip side to this. You can cause good things to happen and when they do you should still ask the same question, “What did I do to deserve this?” For instance, I live near Key West. I’m in paradise and I have the opportunity to enjoy a challenging job. It’s hard work and there can be a lot of pressure at times, but as I just said, “I live in paradise.” I worked very hard to earn this opportunity. I studied and researched as much as I could. I made certain that I was qualified for this job. So that’s what I did to deserve it – I did the work. I feel lucky and fortunate, but I can clearly see a correlation between my efforts and my pleasant results.

When things go well for you, spend some time to reflect on what you did to help things go right and then repeat that same attitude and behavior. You have the ability to make things turn out in your favor. You can cause good things to happen.

With all that said, I wish you the best of happiness, contentment and good luck in your life, because that is what you deserve.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.