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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:28 pm 
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M3W1D1 - Not an Action Plan...just some practical observations

Having the benifit of experiencing many of the experiences in this role play in real life while on vacation has changed my perspective about action plans quite a bit. One of the mistakes I made in my original action plan was giving my emotions too much emphasis. I still pictured them as some unruly force that would need to be carefully managed. I did not account for the influences that would occur once my emotions were separated from my values. I was surprised at how much easier the decision on how to act was once this occurred. I was also happy to see how well my emotional needs were met once values based decisions were followed.

1) Define the situation.

My family is at the beach and we find a spot where we would like to settle in and let our son build sand castles. My wife and I have discussed the way that we expect to handle the pretty women whom we will inevitably cross paths with on the trip. We agree that it is not against either of our values to look at attractive people of the opposite sex. Since I have identified boundaries relating to the objectifying and sexualizing my environment, I have a good idea of where the line will be drawn between noticing attractive women and leering at them. I have shared this with my wife and have told her that I will let her know if I am having difficulty controlling any compulsive urges.

After ten or fifteen minutes a group of college students sit down near us and begin to sunbathe and throw a football around. As they are sitting down, I notice a few of the women are quite attractive. I take an inventory of my thoughts and feelings and feel proud to be staying within my boundaries. After another few moments, I notice that my wife is also looking at them. At first she jokes that a few of the guys are pretty buff and asks if IÂ’ve noticed any of the girls. I tell her that it was pretty hard not to notice since their football has almost hit our son a number of times. I also acknowledge that a few of the women are quite attractive. I begin to sense that my wife is getting more and more unsettled and this begins to make me anxious. I recognize that this sort of anxiety has led to compulsive urges and fantasies in the past.


2) Evaluate all realistic options:


Option #1 – Look at people on the beach and be aware of my emotional responses. Select people to observe (if any at all) based on values that I am trying to nurture.
[list]I followed this option at first and it worked well for me.

The values that I hoped to nurture on the beach included strengthening the relationship with my wife and son, rejuvenating health through relaxation, engaging in meaningful leisure activities and practicing honesty and transparency in my actions. Leering at pretty women did not serve any practical function in developing these values. It was clear in my mind that deciding to look at other women would increase my stress, distract me from my family and my relaxation and risk the crossing of sexual boundaries if I began objectifying these women, fantasizing about them or considered hiding my actions. The decision not to give these people more than a passing glance was a no brainer and opened the door to so many rich experiences I had missed in the past. I noticed that there were other people at the beach that I had never seen before. I saw old couples walking by holding hands, families playing and fighting, teens trying to impress each other or being shy and self conscious. I found myself captivated by this “newÂâ€Â


Last edited by CoachNortherndad on Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:42 pm 
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Still not an action planÂ…but IÂ’m getting there.

I love the idea of role playing and visualizing. I can instantly see the benefits of walking through scenarios while in a healthy mental state. Unfortunately, I suck at it. I feel like I am doing a much better job in real life than I am in my imagination. When visualizing action plans, I get bogged down with all of the possible directions that decision making can leadÂ…especially decisions that involve other peoples actions and numerous environmental variables. Whenever I try to walk through a typical scene in my head, I either over-simplify it and the experience feels watered down or I over-complicate it and I get too caught up in the process of creating the “virtual realityÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:31 pm 
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I think this is an action plan

Define the situation

My wife and I are in a good mood in the morning as we joke about how busy life has been recently and how long it has been since we have made love. We laugh and suggest that we might try to be together tonight if we are not too exhausted. Throughout the day I flash back to our conversation and feel happy that we are comfortable sharing candid discussions like these. By the end of my work day, I am looking forward to meeting with her and pursuing the matter further after our son is in bed. When I get home, there is a note on the stairway. My wife has been called in to work until 9:00. I have a nice night playing with my son and put him to bed at his usual time (about 8:45). I reflect on the dayÂ’s events and feel contented by my work and the nice night I shared with my son. I am looking forward to seeing my wife when she gets home to talk about our day and unwind. I have not given up on the idea of sex and I am hopeful that she is in a similar state of mind. When she walks through the door, I can almost instantly tell that she is not in a happy place. She takes her coat off and complains that work did not go well and that she has a splitting headache. She asks if I helped my son with the homework that was due at the end of the week. I tell her about the great time that we had together, but tell her that we did not find time for any homework. I can tell by the look that she gives me that she wishes that I had found the time to study with our son. I begin to feel defensive and a bit anxious. I realize that any hopes of intimacy are out the window. I also feel a bit of disappointment that the night is not going to go in the direction that I had envisioned.

Action Plan

1. Stay Awake
    • I notice my emotional transition from feeling content and hopeful to feeling defensive and disappointed.
    • I feel a bit cheated that I am not going to get what I wanted.
    • I am also aware that my wife is not physically well and is mentally stressed.

2. Assess my perceptions and emotions

Emotions:
[list]• Disappointment that I am not going to get what I want (sex, affirmation for playing with my son, cuddling or pleasant conversation in the absence of sex etc.)
• Feeling defensive about how I chose to engage with my son
• Mild to moderate feelings of “Oh, why bother?Ââ€Â


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:33 pm 
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Ok, you have worked really hard to create the technically perfect reactive action plan...now listen carefully:

There really is no right or wrong action plan from this point forward. Even one that is 'right' now, will not be right a month from now. These plans need to evolve and naturalize. You need to go through them in your head again and again until they FEEL right to you. Until you have developed CONFIDENCE in their ability to guide you through those times when your emotions will be outside of your 'comfort zone'. Those times when you cannot rely on your freestyle decision-making.

So I am going to intentionally not give you a pass/fail grade on this action plan...because it is irrelevant. Now, knowing that if it was inadequate, I would tell you, smile...that should give you some hint as to its usefulness.

But remember, this isn't the end of this action plan...it is only the beginning. You want to continue to evolve it until it feels natural to you. Until your responses to this situation transcend the emotions that the situation may produce.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:03 pm 
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IÂ’ve decided to do a bit of house cleaning this week rather than tackling new lessonsÂ…I am going to:

[list]1. Continue to focus on developing action plans and decision making.
2. Update my values, goals and boundaries and add them to my recovery binder
3. Prepare and complete a “Self Awareness ChecklistÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:57 am 
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Very good. At this stage of late recovery, the more you pull away from a 'structured recovery' and immerse yourself in a comfortable, 'life managment' approach that focuses on balance, growth, assessment and adjustment...the better.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:16 pm 
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M3W2D1 - Transitioning to Health

Quote:
What skills do you feel you have worked hard to develop? What skills need additional work?


I feel like there have been so many different ways that IÂ’ve worked hard to develop skills in the past months. Some skills like absolute honesty (both with me and with my wife) involved tossing aside a lifelong safety net of liesÂ…not too difficult to do in principle, but it scared me to death. Learning when and how to disclose information honestly also took a lot of trial, error and practice.

Some lessons like developing a vision and prioritizing my values were fairly easy to understand, but took a great deal of time to develop. I know that evolving them will take a lifetime, but I enjoy the process and feel like the dividends of those early exercises have already paid for themselves many times over with the peace, focus and balance that they have brought to my life.

Boundaries seemed so hard for me to comprehend thenÂ…I had them confused with goals, action plans, values and just about everything else but the kitchen sink. It blows my mind now that such an easy concept was so hard to wrap my head around at the time. I feel like boundaries play a very active part in my life right now. I use them almost daily and have found them to be an invaluable way of simplifying decision making. I am still developing new boundaries (especially at work right now) and see myself evolving these across my lifetime as well.

Developing a decent monitoring process was also a task that I put a lot of work into. I knew before I started this workshop that my greatest challenge would not come in the first few months of my recovery having quit several times before only to return to my addiction. I knew that I needed to develop a system of accountability that was easy to use and would become ingrained into my regular routines. I also needed to “enjoyÂâ€Â


Last edited by CoachNortherndad on Fri May 02, 2008 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:12 pm 
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What you have shared here will be a valuable read for others, so thank you. Remember, from this point forward, you have two major threats:

complacency and spontaneity

Complacency can be easily defeated by religiously maintaining your weekly monitoring.

Spontaneity can be easily defeated by keeping your emotional management, urge management and anticipatory skills fresh. And always, if you find yourself in a situation that you don't know how to handle...talk it through with your wife (first option)...or me. :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 9:40 pm 
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M3W2D1 - Transitioning to Health Continued...


Explore your awareness as to the role that your compulsive rituals played...and what it would mean should they return.

I see my compulsive rituals as having been the “emotional fillerÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:29 pm 
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A friendly reminder...

With the lessons over and you being over a month beyond the workshop--it's time for a little mechanical check:

1) Are you continuing to engage in weekly monitoring as a staple of your life management?

2) Have you anticipated/practiced your response to your 'most likely threat(s)' in the past month?

3) Have you intentionally avoided taking full responsibility for your life (e.g. through deception, accepted ignorance, intentionally minimizing your behavior, etc.)?

4) Have you used deception to avoid any emotionally unpleasant experiences?

5) Are there ANY rituals (sexual or otherwise) that you are currently engaging in that have the potential to become threats to your value system?

Beyond that, note that in the coming months you will want to develop a 'monthly monitoring' that is something that you and your wife do together (if you haven't already done this). This monitoring is NOT focused on sexual compulsion or recovery--it is intended to act as a 'objective reality check' for overall meaning, fulfillment, quality of life, balance, teamwork, individual stress levels, etc.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:51 pm 
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Summer Review 2008 (Part 1)

Very timely JonÂ…Today is the 24Â’th of June and I was just about to do my quarterly check up. I found myself looking back on my thread for some ideasÂ…and voila, I found your post.

I planned to post a general review of my overall health plus specific updates on the status of my top values, but IÂ’d like to answer your questions first.

Quote:
1) Are you continuing to engage in weekly monitoring as a staple of your life management?


Yes. I have found that I very much look forward to doing my daily journal / weekly monitoring and have really ingrained these into my routines. I really like the feeling of reflecting on the events, feelings and values that came to mean the most to me on a given day / week. As for using daily monitoring as a tool to focus on the development of values, I feel like IÂ’m not formally doing as much of it, but it has become much more natural to me. Several days per week (more on weeks when IÂ’m anticipating stress, boredom or change), I ask myself at the beginning of my day: What values do I see effecting my life today? What will stand in the way of me enjoying them and how will I manage my time to best stay balanced? I also find myself checking in on my emotions more frequently than I used to.


Quote:
2) Have you anticipated/practiced your response to your 'most likely threat(s)' in the past month?


Yes. I have run through many scenarios in the past weeks. Some have been in response to potential threats while away from home with my wife and son and others in relation to the end of school year (which has historically been a time of grumpiness, emotional imbalance, and extra time on my hands). The action plans and role playing have evolved to include all sorts of threats to my values, not just my sexual rituals and I have been very happy with the success that I have found in keeping balanced, occupied and fulfilled by my values as a result.

Quote:
3) Have you intentionally avoided taking full responsibility for your life (e.g. through deception, accepted ignorance, intentionally minimizing your behavior, etc.)?


Unfortunately yes. This has happened on at least one notable occasion that my wife and I had to work through. I accidentally broke our stereo while trying to make it sound better. This stereo is quite new and fairly expensive and I got a bit freaked out. I did not want to tell her about it and tried frantically to fix it before she got home from work. As a result I didnÂ’t focus on being a good caregiver to my son and postponed my weekly monitoring. When she came back from work, I minimized my actions and she was very upset. When we discussed the event further, we realized how many of the components of my past behaviours played out in this incident. We also talked about how the incident itself was not very serious, but the way that I handled it brought back so many painful memories to my wife. I took responsibility for my actions at that point and have really made an effort to look out for these sorts of behaviours since then.

Quote:
4) Have you used deception to avoid any emotionally unpleasant experiences?


No, but I sometimes feel shaky in this area. My wife and I are continuing to develop and define these skills together. I feel like I have solid boundaries in place that guide my behaviours and protect my values. I also feel very safe in approaching her with my thoughts and I really appreciate the way that she has nurtured this confidence in me. We have clearly defined things that I need to tell her about and I have not avoided any of these out of fear of discomfort. We have also defined things that I do not need to tell her about and feel that I have remained true to those boundaries (i.e. I have not hidden important information by rationalized them into this category). In spite of this positive growth I donÂ’t feel like the boundaries that direct what I disclose to my wife are as clearly developed as I would like them to be. The area that continues to be hardest to define is when something seems small, but might not be. We have made a habit of checking in on these areas from time to time and I believe that these subjects will become clearer over time and with practice.

Quote:
5) Are there ANY rituals (sexual or otherwise) that you are currently engaging in that have the potential to become threats to your value system?


No and yes... I am very aware that I can turn just about anything I do into a compulsive, “feel goodÂâ€Â

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:55 pm 
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OkÂ…this has taken a long time. I started out with a plan to summarize everything that there was to say about the state of my values for each season of the year. It was a good plan, but it began to feel like I was writing a report (and I hate reports). I could tell by my procrastination that this would not be a practical process for me and I went to back to the drawing board. One night I was speaking with my wife about values and life in general when a couple of things jumped out at me:

Things that IÂ’m already doing
[list]• My daily journal / informal daily monitoring combines well with my existing boundaries and action plans and does a pretty good job of keeping me prepared for most of the obstacles that I encounter on any given day. They also keep me focused on my values and alert me when I begin to act emotionally immature. I also know that I could beef up this system with a more formal system if there is an area that I specifically want to develop.
• My weekly monitoring is also very effective at monitoring my overall health, stresses and the balance of my emotions. I also like the weekly opportunity to reflect on high and low events.
• I enjoy doing both of these tasks and they feel very natural to me.
• My original vision of the “seasonal reportÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:04 pm 
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Summary: April 2008 – July 2008

Things that stood out
    • Felt very active and engaged with my family. Shared numerous hikes, bike rides, adventures and trips together.
    • Experiencing my father’s transition from life to death.
    • A deepening in my relationship with my wife through my father’s death, couple’s challenge activities and life in general.
    • A deepening awareness of the importance of my siblings and parents in my life.
    • Recognizing the stabilizing and fulfilling qualities of my work
    • My wife’s sister becoming ill and recovering.

My top values


1. Emotional health
• Actively Developed – Emotional health is becoming much more tangible in my life. I will continue to develop my awareness of my emotions, perceptions and how they relate to my values this month.

2. Developing systems/habits that support health
• Actively Developed – I haven’t worked at this are nearly as much as I did while doing the RN lessons, but have been very fulfilled by focusing on developing systems that encourage my health. I feel like I’m making a shift from learning to refining and will devote an appropriate amount of time to this value in the coming month.

3. Role as husband
• Actively Developed – The couples challenge and my father’s death have brought me much closer to my wife. We have some great activities planned that we will be sharing in the coming month. We hope that the intensity of the past few months will be replaced by a more peaceful sharing and slower pace.

4. Role as father
• Actively Developed – Still one of the biggest sources of both fulfillment and stress. I need to focus more on developing and taking pride in the process of being a good father rather than results of my actions. I have embraced this mentally, but still am struggling with internalizing this concept.

5. Work
• Actively Developed – A great end to the school year. I am really beginning to see the role that work plays in balancing my emotions and providing structure to my life. I will not be working in August, but would like to place more energy into developing my role as a teacher in the fall.

6. Leisure Time
• Actively Developed – Lots of down time this summer and I feel like I’m balancing my emotions well in this area. I’ve largely replaced listening to music with mountain biking which I am thoroughly enjoying. I will keep this up as long as the weather permits. Recreation will be a focus in August as I will need to find more balance in my spare time now that summer school has ended.

7. Physical health
• Actively Developed – Feeling better than I have in a long time. Lots of push ups, hiking and biking. WeÂ’ve added a “Wii fitÂâ€Â


Last edited by CoachNortherndad on Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 1:55 am 
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Hey Coach, you've done...and continue to do excellent work here. I hope that others that are new to the site use your thread as a beacon for what it means to make this recovery process your own. To make this site your own. You have truly been the conductor of your life over this past year and what is best...you aren't doing this with the pressure of having to be perfect. You just have to 'be'. Imperfect and transparent is such a healthier combination than perfect and pressured.

And by the way, I used 'coach' on purpose. Whether you accept the 'official title or not', a coach is someone who has the ability to share their own experiences, insights, etc., to help others. That is what your posts do (beyond what they do for you). They help others--just by there existence. Because behind them is an example of how a healthy person approaches recovery.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:58 pm 
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Summary: August 2008

Things that stood out
[list]• Developing and using our couples plan/wish list to set goals for August really helped my wife and I focus on and appreciate shared activities and tasks through the month. Some of my favourites included tag teaming a really yummy Con Queso recipe as well as a number of breakfast picnics and morning walks together.
• Lots of quality recreation including trips, biking, hiking and time in the sun.
• My son’s improvement at riding his bike on the trails
• A few more pieces fell into place in the “huminizationÂâ€Â


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