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Success Stories » Brian's Story

Brian's Story

Before I learned the Recovery method I lived in an almost constant state of fear. I was afraid of what people would think, mostly, I suppose I was afraid of being thought a fool. I was afraid of what they would think of my friends and family. I was afraid of making mistakes and even more afraid that someone might find out about mistakes I had already made.

I was terrified of confrontation, because I was incapable of disagreeing with someone without feeling extreme physical symptoms churning in the stomach, racing pulse, my face feeling hot as if I was blushing all over (although I probably wasn't). In a confrontational situation I had only two reactions — the old primitive ones of flight or fight. I could "fly", which meant saying nothing, although the symptoms remained the same. Occasionally I would lose control and "fight". I would become extremely aggressive and insulting, out of all proportion to the situation. Needless to say I seldom won any of these arguments.

I knew, of course that most of my fears were groundless, and even irrational, but this didn't help me to deal with them.

All this time I lived an apparently normal life. I qualified as an engineer, got a job, married and in due course we had a daughter. I enjoyed the technical aspects of my job and for the first few years things went well. Eventually I was promoted to a position where I had to supervise other people, and this is where my troubles really began.

Because of my dread of confrontation I found it very difficult, if not impossible, to express any kind of disapproval if jobs were not done correctly. As a result I ended up doing most of the work myself, since delegating ran the risk of a job not being performed adequately. Even worse were the situations where I found myself in conflict with other departments. Inevitably I would end up doing a disproportionate share of the work, or even being blamed for things that were outside my control. I tended to feel guilty and responsible when anything went wrong - even in domestic and social situations. The possibility of failure was always uppermost in my mind and this made me reluctant to try anything new, although I changed jobs may times - always in the hope that this time the environment would be less hostile and I would do better. Even the possibility of confrontation made me avoid doing lots of everyday things such as asking my boss for a rise, or asking people to return things they had borrowed. (Needless to say I was almost pathologically incapable of saying "no", so whenever someone asked for a favour, no matter how inconvenient, I was incapable of refusing). In fact the job I ended up in just before coming to Recovery had the most confrontational environment of all. Caught between an extremely aggressive customer and an unsympathetic management, it suddenly all became too much and I was hospitalised suffering from stress.

While in hospital I learned about Recovery and decided to join when I was discharged. I could give hundreds of examples of how Recovery has worked for me but none of them would do justice to the complete change that it has made to my life.

Today I have my own business and every day I do dozens of things that I couldn't have contemplated before Recovery. Even asking customers for payment is something I do as a matter of routine, not an unpleasant task to be shelved until the last possible moment. I no longer dread every phone call, assuming it is going to be bad news. Most of all I have learned that fear is merely a belief, that feelings are not facts, that we can never know what other people are thinking, so it we should not be concerned about it. Disagreements are no longer something I dread, and because I can conduct them in an unemotional and temper-free fashion there is little stress involved, either for me or the other party. I know that most disagreements are simple differences of opinion, not the great matters of right and wrong that our nervous thinking would have us believe. As Dr. Low says: "It is not situations we fear, but our reaction to them". Knowing that I can eliminate the reaction eliminates the fear. Above all I have learned that our mental health is our supreme goal and no symbolic victory is worth jeopardising it for.

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