Do The Work

Free Workbook for Shoplifters.

The High Cost of Overcoming Your Shoplifting Addiction

Before you begin this page, please review my DISCLAIMER.  This website is not intended to render clinical, legal or other professional services, and should not be considered – in any way – a substitute for legal advice, professional therapy/counseling, or group therapy. My only qualification for writing this workbook is that I have been a compulsive shoplifter who found a way to stop stealing. It is my heartfelt desire that you too can find a path to true integrity.

How will this workbook work for you?

This workbook is a tool that will help you to slowly begin to examine yourself – body, mind and emotions – in a new enlightened way. You can print these pages out and put them in a binder, or just write in a notebook to record your thoughts, commitments, obstacles and progress.  Take the work seriously. Writing out your answers to prove your level of commitment to yourself. If you are not willing to write out your answers, then your commitment level is too low. You are probably not going to find success in your quest to stop stealing. So, do not take shortcuts.

Take the next few lines to commit to working through this free workbook by writing some action steps that will help to keep you on the path. (Example: Set aside a specific time each day for working though this and other recovery material.)
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What is required of you?

Time: Recovery from an addiction is not something that you fit into your life. Recovery must become the center of your life for the next few months. You have been out of control and learning to think the wrong way for a long period of time. Likewise, it is going to take some time to rewire your brain to think in a healthy way again. It is a recommendation that you dedicate 15-60 minutes each day to your recovery efforts. You cannot find time, as if you might stumble upon it along the way. You must make the time for your recovery rather waiting for a good time to come along. Make up a batch of time every day. Take time like a shoplifter in a battery store. (Bad metaphor, I know.)


You will never find time for anything.
If you want time you must make it.

— Charles Buxton


Decide now how much time per day you will devote to your recovery each day. Choose 15, 20, 30, 45 or 60 minutes per day. Write your answer here and keep your commitment:
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Keep your time commitment even if you steal again. You will be tempted to quit working, but don’t.

Note: It is better to start with a manageable amount of time that you can do every day, rather than start off with an hour every day and get burned out.

Work: You will need to work your recovery. It is also important to remain balanced and avoid approaching recovery in an extreme, compulsive way. You must be gentle with yourself. On the other hand, there is no getting around the daily personal work that you must do in order to reach your goal of being theft-free.


“You can sit around in the dark waiting for the light to come on,
or you can get up, walk across the room,
And flip the switch yourself.”

Bernard Roth in “The Achievement Habit


You must work through this material. When you are going through your recovery material, fill in all the blanks unless you absolutely don’t know what to write after searching your heart and mind diligently. (I recommend after a few weeks to revisit the spaces you left blank as you may have a greater understanding as you grow.)  When I ask you to say something out loud – say it out loud!  When you are asked to read something or write something – read it and write it!  If you are asked to go and find someone to talk to, don’t skip over that part. Take a bold step and find that person. Take no shortcuts, and leave no stone unturned. You are fighting for your life – so do the work and live.

Many people addicted to stealing believe they have “tried everything” and still cannot stop stealing. Sadly, most who continue to shoplift have never dedicated themselves to the work of recovery. Until you have spent hours every day for months on end reading, meditating, listening to audio resources, attending recovery groups, and spending time with a counselor or therapist, you have not tried everything. The typical addict wants a quick and easy fix, but there is no magic pill or wand to wave that will make all of your urges go away. Your success will come when you are willing to do the work required to change the way your brain thinks. You have not “tried everything” until you find a way to dedicate yourself to the discipline of recovery, daily battling to find your way through.


“Feed your recovery and starve your addiction.”
–Anonymous


“The only way out of this addiction is through it.”
–Adapted from Robert Frost


In the following blanks, write the following commitment statement: “I will fill out all of the blanks in this workbook, and I will do the work required of me in order to stop stealing.”
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Don’t let laziness stand in your way. Do the work!


“They always say time changes things,
but you actually have to change them yourself.”

― Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol


Resources: Recovery is going to cost you. You must read and work through the supplemental material I bring to your attention. This workbook contains several additional resources that I recommend you buy, read and study. Buy the books, as you really need them. If you cannot buy all the books, buy them in the order in which they are listed. (Most are available at www.Amazon.com.) Keep in mind, however, that books are cheaper than lawyers, court costs, and lost wages. Recovery costs, and you must pay. Cut back on your Starbucks, or discontinue your cable. Go mow a lawn or wash some windows. Be as resourceful in getting the books you need as you were at stealing. No excuses, just results.

You will also need to develop a network of support. (We will discuss this topic in a separate lesson.)  Start looking for a local group, even if it is not a C.A.S.A. shoplifting recovery group. Look for a sponsor or mentor. Find and utilize a counselor, therapist or clergyperson. Seek out trustworthy people who you can trust with this secret. Exercise extreme caution and discernment before you tell anyone about your addiction, as the wrong person who knows your secret can deeply hurt you and your recovery efforts. Write down a few names of local groups and phone support groups, and the names of people that might become part of your support network. (Delay telling people close to you until you feel sure it is the best and safe thing to do.)
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“If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb


An Open Mind: Think about this…

You don’t know what you don’t know.
You don’t know that you don’t know what you don’t know.
We believe we know things that are not knowable.
We will never know what we refuse to learn.

We are blinded to our own ignorance. In fact, we overestimate our competence in a quest for certitude. We want to to be able to find certainty, so we start believing that we are smarter than those who have gone before us. We end up as the proverbial fool rushing away from wisdom and into the custody of the police.


”A fool thinks himself to be a wise man,
and a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

— William Shakespeare


This free workbook is designed, therefore, for fools. It will help you open your eyes to things you have not been able to understand until now. You will be challenged to do things that may seem silly or even stupid to you. You will be asked to think about things in a different way. Along the way, you may believe you can solve your stealing problem in your own way without help. I truly believed I knew the way out of my shoplifting addiction when I started on my road to recovery, but I was wrong. I needed help in many ways, but I was too blinded by pride to see it in the beginning. Slowly I accepted that I needed the wisdom and experience of others to guide me through my struggle toward integrity.


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”
— Mark Twain


You will never know what you refuse to knowIf you choose to close your mind, you will only cause yourself a delay in recovery. The result will be more shoplifting and more destructive consequences invading and controlling your life. An open mind may save your family, your career, and your peace of mind. In fact, it may keep you out of jail. Open your mind and act upon what you hear and learn. However, please don’t do anything simply because I or anyone else tells you to. Listen to the inner voice deep inside of you and see if what I present rings true to your “inner guidance system.” (We will talk more about your inner voice/conscience in a future module.)

Have you ever thought that you knew something but later found out that you were thinking incorrectly, or perhaps you did not know the whole situation?  Write down an example of when you thought you were right but found that you were wrong:
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Remember that we humans have a desire to “know” we are right, but wanting to be right is a barrier to finding the truth. Keep in mind that if you already knew what to do you would not be reading this workbook for shoplifting addiction.

Your turn. Do you tend to want to be right? Have you found yourself trying to find fault with this workbook? (Of course, this workbook has no fault.. 🙂 Do you argue with people who offer you help, knowing that you know more than they do? Are you prepared to listen, even when you first reaction is to label new information as wrong?

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Now think about some things that you thought you knew when you were shoplifting. For example, I thought I knew I would never get caught. I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought there were no real victims of my theft addiction. What did you think you knew that turned out to be wrong?

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Open your mind and you will find freedom in not knowing. I am certain of that. 🙂

Patience and Endurance: It will take time to change. Your brain has literally formed unhealthy circuits that can and must be rerouted. Yes, your brain will change physically as you recover. (This will be covered later in this free shoplifting addiction workbook.)  Remember, it can take months before a new behavior becomes automatic (a habit).

Keep learning and discovering yourself. I have learned many things in my recovery that I was unwilling to hear before beginning my journey. I learned things after searching a few months that I was unable to hear or understand in the early stages of recovery. In other words, people learn progressively, building one learned principle upon another over time. Your recovery is really just a new way of thinking; a new mantra to live by, “I am a student of life.”  You will, from now on, be in tune and harmony with your life, continuing to learn and grow until death finds you.

“When death finds you, may it find you alive.”
–African Proverb

Be patient with yourself. To keep learning and growing takes sustained effort. It is easy to sprint and try hard for a few days or weeks. But as the months and years tick by you will be tempted to throw in the towel and say – “I quit. I just can’t do it.” Don’t you quit! Pace yourself for the long haul.

“The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful
people is that successful people do what they don’t feel like doing.”

–Unknown

Take a few minutes to think about the following questions, then write down your thoughts. How long am I willing to work at overcoming my addiction to stealing? What can I do to make sure my good intentions are converted into continued actions? (For example, I will have a reminder card in my pocket at all times of what is at risk when I shoplift.”) What problems do I foresee standing in the way of my long-term success, and how do I plan to overcome those obstacles? (For example, “I never seem to have enough time” can be overcome by “getting up an hour earlier” or “cutting out TV watching.” Take extra time here, as this area is probably the biggest recovery killer of all! Most choose to quit rather than to endure.
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“If you quit now you will greatly decrease your odds of success.”
–Unknown


“We become what we think about all day long.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson


 

Observing without Judgment: You may find yourself judging this material good or bad. I am asking you to observe it, listen to it and let it into your mind. Look for the things that you believe will help you. Try not to get hung up on something you find in the workbook that you may use as an excuse to quit. There is a part of your mind that wants to find some reason to say, “You know what, F#*K it, I just can’t do this, so I quit.”  Fall back on your inner voice’s guidance to lead you to that which is true – and do what your voice says.

Make a commitment now to view this workbook as a tool to get you to the next level of a theft-free life. ____________________________________________________________________
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Bravery: Face yourself – face your fears – face the truth. As you begin to understand yourself and the reasons why you were stealing – you may feel shameful, sad, angry, confused, and depressed. You must be brave. Susan Jeffers says, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” It is time to walk through the fear toward sanity and peace. Stand up and we will walk the recovery path together. When you face yourself with honest self-awareness you will begin to grow. You cannot overcome your addiction if you are paralyzed with the fear of facing reality. You will be discovering underlying issues about yourself, and many of your self-discoveries may not be pleasant to deal with. Write out your commitment to finding the root causes of your addiction no matter how scary the truth might seem to you. It really is possible to be full of fear while you grow to be the person that you desire to be. Fear is just a feeling, and feelings change. You must work through your stealing problem despite what may feel like a paralyzing fear.

Write out some truths and fears that may be standing in the way of your recovery. For example, I felt that I was taking care of everyone in my world, and that no one was taking care of my needs. I told myself this lie, and it was one of the reasons for my shoplifting. It was hard for me to face the fact that I was thinking selfishly, and that my thinking was wrong. It is scary to wake up and realize that your brain is sometimes unreliable and can get you into trouble. It is hard to admit that you have been lying to yourself, and you did not even know it.

Now take a few minutes and write down at least one obstacle that may scare you away or keep you from staying on your path to a theft-free way of life. (Don’t worry if you cannot think of anything right now. There is a whole lesson coming on this topic.)

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Accepting what you cannot change: You cannot un-ring the bell of your past. You may feel guilt and shame over what you have done, and for the consequences of your compulsive stealing. Be gentle with yourself and accept that you are a “perfectly imperfect human.”

“Until they invent a time machine,
you are just going to have to accept your past.”

–Unknown

Many of our underlying problems stem from a false expectation of who we should be, and what we should have attained at this point in our lives. You are told that you need to be brave and noble, yet you feel insignificant compared to most around you. You are told that you must attain a certain level of wealth if you don’t want to be a failure in life. This leads to a “poverty mindset” where we fixate on all that we don’t have compared to what others have. Life is then perceived to be unfair. Accept your financial life as it is. It is all a matter of perspective.

Do you think life is unfair? What made you start thinking that way? Is life supposed to be fair, and if so, who told you that story? Do you have a right to own your own home and receive medical care, or is that a privilege because we live in a great country? Is it OK to be an average person who works on being his or her best, or is there a level you have to attain before you can feel good about yourself?  Take some time to work through these questions.

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Even if you are in financial trouble and in debt up to your eyeballs, accept that condition as your current reality. It is never too late to start living responsibly and within your means. You may be in financial trouble due to illness or natural disaster, and you may see no way to recover. The point is that you are where you are, and your brain can begin to relax as it slowly wraps around the reality of now. Accept it.

Now think about where you are because of stealing. Even those who have not been caught shoplifting try to hide this dark side from themselves. I remember that before I was busted the second time I did not accept that I had a problem. I actually read self-help books and continued to mature as a person, husband, and father, while at the same time failing to accept that I had a self-destructive shoplifting problem that could literally turn my whole life on its ear. It was not until I was sitting in the back of a police car in the WalMart parking lot that my brain starting thinking, “OK, I accept that stealing something from virtually every store I go into is a big problem that I need to deal with.”

Most importantly, accepting the consequences of your stealing is a must. Many people who get caught stealing find it easy to criticize the cold and heartless system that does not understand our problem. They are right to be cynical.  The system does not understand our addiction, and some just don’t care. What they care about is making the problem stop, and the violators pay. One of the first things that I had to make myself accept is that the system does not understand addition to theft, be that good or bad. Those who shoplift also need to accept the fact that we have violated the trust of those who are close to us, and it will take a lot of work to regain that trust. Some will never trust us again. Accept that your choices over the years have led you right where you are today. Acceptance of lawyer fees, loss of time, loss of a career, loss of a relationship, loss of custody or visiting rights with children or grandchildren, jail time, false accusations of theft even when we did not do it this time, etc., is our goal. You don’t have to love your losses or rejoice over losing many good things through shoplifting. Your goal is to accept your new reality if it cannot be changed at this time.


“It is what it is.”
–Unknown

“Hug your demons or they’ll bite you in the ass.”
–Pia Mellody


We can drive ourselves crazy thinking with what Buddhists call “the monkey mind,” with thoughts of what could have been, should have been, would have been. If you spend all of your time in a world that does not exist (what might have been), you will return to the vicious cycle of your addiction, trying to fix your distorted emotions with more self-destructive behavior. If, however, you accept your current circumstances as reality, your mind can find a starting point for building a new and healthy lifestyle.

Take some time to write out the things that you are having trouble dealing with as reality. Rather than simply stating that you are having trouble accepting an issue, write them as acceptance statements. (For example, rather than saying, “I am having trouble accepting that I lost my career because of stealing,” write, “I accept that I lost my career because of stealing.”) You don’t have to believe what you are writing. After you write your acceptance statements, read each one out loud to yourself. You may want to return to this section to re-read your statements out loud, add more to your list, and  meditate everyday on it.

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In conclusion, RECOVERY IS NOT EASY!  Overcoming my addition from shoplifting has been very exciting and enlightening for me. I have been slowly learning as my mind is ready to accept each new truth, taking one step at a time. Patrick Carnes, in his book, “A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles,” says that rewiring the brain of an addict can take 5 years or more. While I still have some fear that I will not make it through to permanent honesty, I am committed. I will stay committed for my family, and you can join me and start walking toward your wonderful life of safety and sanity.

The Parable of “The Donkey In The Well”

One day, a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a dirt and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey didn’t realize what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down into the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel ­of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!!!

What you can learn from a donkey:

  • Life is going to throw dirt on you. It may even feel worse at times in your support group because you realize through listening that there is dirt on you that you must deal with.
  • The trick to getting out of your well is to shake it off & take a step up.
  • Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone to get us to the next level of recovery.
  • We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up, and taking a step up.

(I first heard this story in Russell Turner’s shoplifter’s class, “Turning Point,”. The actual author is unknown.)

Frank’s Story:

Frank was 72 years old when he said to his support group, “I have shoplifted my whole life, and I have been arrested repeatedly. I have been to jail and prison for my stealing, and I was recently released. I am on parole and I was just caught again shoplifting so I am again awaiting a court date. I am stealing even as I wait for my court date. I feel there is no hope for me to ever stop shoplifting, and I have tried everything I know to stop – but I just keep doing it.”

There are many people out there that have addictions similar to Frank’s. I know it sounds simple, but the only way for Frank to get out of his pit is to shake off the dirt and take a step up.

“We learn the truth much more from our failures than our successes;
he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.”
Benjamin Disraeli

“Success is on the far side of failure.”
Paul J. H. Schoemaker

MAIN POINTS OF THE INTRODUCTION

The purpose: The purpose of this material is to be a beginning resource for your recovery from a stealing addiction.

How this workbook will work for you: This workbook is a tool to help you slowly and carefully examine yourself – body, mind, and emotions in a new enlightened way.

What is required of you of you for recovery is:

  1. Time – You must carve out a little time EVERY DAY to focus on recovery. “Feed your recovery and starve your addiction.” (Unknown)
  2. Work – You have the strength to change some things in your life.
  3. Resources – Purchase or borrow the books listed on my site, or other reputable resources, and develop a network of support.
  4. Bravery – Face yourself and your fears – and accept your life.
  5. Patience – Change comes slowly.
  6. Endurance – Don’t quit when you feel like quitting.
  7. Observance – Don’t judge yourself harshly (non-dualistic thinking, awareness).
  8. Acceptance – Accept the things you cannot change.

RECOVERY IS NOT EASY, BUT IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE.


“If you do not change your direction,
you may end up where you are heading.”
–Lao Tzu


YOUR NOTES: What did you get out of this lesson? What commitments have you made to

feed your recovery and starve your addiction?

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