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 Post subject: Lesson 41
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:15 pm 
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Lesson 41 Exercise:



Event: Wife is getting tattoo removal. It’s $300 a session and going to take several sessions. I don’t see the point, but it means a lot to her because the tattoo represents her past that she wants to separate herself from. I recently realize it’s going to take even more sessions than I thought and mention the cost and how we could be spending the money elsewhere. She is frustrated with my comments and feels unsupported. I feel misunderstood and misaligned with her.
Reaction: I feel frustrated because I tend to limit my spending where as she spends freely. ( Anon, the only person that puts that limitation on me is myself). I’m frustrated that our family has to pay for a decision that she made in the past (GO FIGURE ANON. BIG DEAL. LOOK HOW OUR FAMILY IS PAYING FOR YOUR CHOICES TO HAVE AN AFFAIR). Why can’t she just own her mistakes? (WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SUPPORT HER AND HER WANTS?). Why can’t my wants be honored (WHO SAID THEY WEREN’T? SHE ALWAYS PUTS YOU BEFORE HER). Plain and simple, I am jealous of the spending and want to buy things for myself too.
Values Involved: Maturity, Wise Mind, Security (financial), social acceptance, connection
Existing Boundaries: I will support my wife’s needs above my wants.
Their Effectiveness in Managing this Situation: Poor. All boundaries adhered to, the conversation was not “the worst”, but I feel my emotions could have been managed better and communication clearer.
New Boundaries Needed: For financial discussion, for my own wise mind reducing negative perceptions, for listening to the inner voice of reason. For joining forces with my wife instead of fighting against her, for creating more compassion, empathy and support, instead of rallying against and taking score.
Old Boundary: I will support my wife’s need’s above my wants. I will seek to understand instead of be understood.
New Boundaries: I will communicate openly about my personal judgments of my own spending and create an understanding of what we are purchasing. Instead of holding my judgements in, I will ask questions and listen so that I may learn and better align with my wife’s vision and point of view. We are one unit, I will stop “keeping score” when it comes to money.

1/16
Weekly Monitoring
Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment?
Spending time with my wife. Open and transparent conversations with my wife. Sharing a podcast with my wife. Having meaningful conversations with her. Work. Making an impact at work. Spending time with the kids. Gaming. Cooking. Podcasts. Learning.

Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my energy go? Managing my anxiety and dissociation without booze.

Given the meaning that I derived this week and the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means? I had severe problems with managing my anxiety this week. I stopped drinking because I was getting sick. In doing so, I let go of my final unhealthy coping skill of self medication via booze. I was overwhelmed with emotions of anxiety, panic, and dissociation. In speaking with my therapist, it seems that by stopping my drinking, my true emotions came to light. In an effort to not feel them, my borderline traits came through as ‘protection’ by becoming severely dissociated. This lead to panic, increased anxiety, and mental confusion.

In the past seven days, how did I initiate emotional or physical intimacy with my wife? I continued to initiate conversations with my wife and connect with her on a deeper level. I made sure to show her attention and love by engaging her physically. Although we have not had sexual contact, the intimate touch is there.

In the past seven days, how did I treat my body with the health and respect I deserve? Although I’ve stopped drinking as much, my physical activity is not as high as it needs to be and I’ve gained weight. I need to bring this back to the forefront with my inetnions.

In the past seven days, how could I have been more loving? Compassionate? Empathetic? Connected? Mature? Responsible? Creative? Kind? Joyful? During my conversations with my wife about her tattoo removal and our guitar lessons I could have been more compassionate and empathetic. I could have continued to remain in the present and connected by meditating more during my dissociative state.

Looking ahead to the next seven days, are there any significant events that I need to prepare for, so that I am not caught off guard? Deadlines, reunions, holidays, dates, etc. Preparing for my busy days at work and my work presentations. I will also be skiing with a friend on Saturday and need to be mindful of my scanning. Lastly, I’ll be going to a kids birthday party with new parents and want to avoid scanning there as well. In order to prepare, I’ll be completing some proactive action plans.

Looking ahead to the next seven days, what are your intentions for your daily monitoring?
I will pursue opportunities to take care of my body when I think of them. “I should do squats now.” I WILL DO SQUATS NOW.
I will initiate physical intimacy with my wife.
I will express gratitude.
I will use my new reframed thought about uncomfortable situations.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:16 pm 
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1/17/18
Positive Recovery Refelction: Thanks to EVERY event that has lead up to today, I’m better at my job and make a greater impact on others.

Reflections on 24-28

Ensure that you have a functional understanding of the following:
1. That the emotions you experience with any compulsive urge are finite. There is a limit to the intensity that can be experienced.

This was pretty big for me. So much so that I’ve been passing on the knowledge to others and my clients. To understand that most of my emotions are only 40-70/100 is enlightening. It means that emotions can be conquered, that “overwhelming” is relative, and relying on artificial means to manage my emotions is unnecessary.
2. That developing an awareness of this finite intensity is important in reducing the fear and anxiety often produced in a compulsive crisis. This alone plays a critical role in allowing you to effectively manage an urge.
Yes, as above.
3. That you can 'measure' the intensity of the emotions you experience and that, while this measurement is subjective, it never-the-less fulfills a practical role in helping you to understand compulsive behavior.
Measuring my emotions and how the
4. That understanding your compulsive behavior can best be understood in terms of the individual elements that stimulate your emotions; the combining of these elements to form single compulsive rituals; and the combining of these compulsive rituals to form compulsive chains.


Lesson 24 Revisited (Sexual Compulsion Elements)
My Wheel:
Avoidance (Relief/escape)
Orgasm
Sensory
Danger
Fantasy
Delusion/Obsession
Past
Poly-addiction
Power
Accomplishment
Suspense
Guilt/Shame (self fulfilling prophecy/Self-sabotage/I told you so)

Scanning Dancer at Recital

1. Go to Recital with wife and mother
2. Anxious about being late, spending time with mother, not drinking, length of recital, events of after recital (AVOIDANCE)
3. Attracted to dancer’s moves and bodies (SENSORY)
4. She reminds me of K (PAST/FANTASY)
5. Know it’s wrong because I’m married (SUSPENSE/DANGER/GUILT/SHAME)
6. I exploit performance and feel like she’s making eye contact with me (DELUSION/FANTASY/POWER)
7. I put a brake by focusing on partners, technique, and wife

I think continuing to do exercises like this will be crucial to my recovery. Although I’m becoming more well versed in the understanding of the compulsion/urge and creating a brake, I also need to continue to stay in the moment by really examining the sexual elements involved.
5. That compulsive rituals are the driving force in the development of an addiction. The more they are used to regulate emotions, the more they are relied on to regulate them again.
Like maslov’s dog’s, the more we feed it the bigger it grows. Which wolf wins? The one you feed. Emotions can be mastered. Behavior is a choice. I can rely on other behaviors to regulate my emotions, or simply understand and believe that emotions come and go.
6. That compulsive chains are the driving force in an ingrained addiction. They become the primary emotional management strategy employed by the addict.
It is true. The compulsive chains of my past occurred during intense emotional times and were the primary method of improving my mood. The habituation and increase of intensity by pursuing a chain was simply because it was no longer working and not effective. Not because I loved or needed either of my affairs/fantasies.
7. That learning to measure the intensity of your urges is a mechanical tool used to help you 'demystify' the urge. But, that mechanical tool will quickly transition to a functional awareness of addiction and when it does, you will no longer need to measure your compulsive urges.
I originally had no clue what was going on. No freaking idea it was an addiction. Couldn’t admit I had a problem. No clue why I couldn’t stop thinking about K. No clue why I acted the way I did. But through measurement, awareness, identification of elements, it’s broken down plain and simple: I fear pain, rejection, and being ‘unwanted’ so I CHOSE to use compulsive behavior and chains to cope.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:58 pm 
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1/23/18
Well, life happens. My routine of meditation, intention setting, positive reflections, prayer and gratitude was completely thrown off by stress, changes in schedule and illness. I’m happy to report that I was looking forward to getting back on track, but even more happy to know that my urges and scanning did not increase without it. I take this as it was working—not that I get stop. This means I need to keep doing it. A great example? I had a near run in with K. The details aren’t necessary. What is important was that I wasn’t looking for her. I stuck to the action plans designed to protect my wife, children, values, and life. I made solid decisions and I used transparency with my wife. I felt GOOD about my decisions (both to avoid interaction, lack of urges to scan, and to speak with wife about it). This is progress. I can do this. This is due to my recovery. This is recovery in action.

You cannot have what you are not willing to become.

And I even had tough conversations with the wife. But we come back to center and I ask what the lesson is I’m being taught. It’s working, and I’ll keep going.


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 Post subject: Lesson 44
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:54 pm 
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Exercise 44
For a moment, imagine your life apart from your physical being...apart from your possessions...apart from your friends, your family and every other living being. What you are left with is your core identity. It is who you are. It is this identity that then allows you to relate to your physical self, your friends, your family... As you know by now, part of the role you must fulfill in transitioning away from addiction is to rebuild your core identity. This core identity — and your ability to isolate the addiction from it — is critical to urge control.

A. Describe in your recovery thread the role that your core identity will play in helping you to establish/maintain a healthy life.


I’ve been developing my skills with meditation and spiritual being for some time. I went to a Quaker school which practices meditation, being still with one’s self and core identity. But I didn’t get the full scope or impact of this skill until recently. Although I’ve been practicing since elementary school, my understanding of the concept and ability for this has been limited. I’ve thought for the past few months that my development as a spiritual being and development in recovery were two separate paths—but this lesson was enlightening. My continued development and connection to the universe directly relates to my recovery and are not parallel. Many of my values (connection, maturity, responsibility) have to do with my ability to be connected to my core identity. It’s hard to put my thoughts and feelings around this into words, but know that I understand the great impact that CONSCIOUSNESS will have on my recovery.

B. Describe the role that value-based experiences will play in further developing your core identity.

Value based decisions and experiences will feed my core identity instead of my ego. My ego is what gets in the way of my ability to stay present and enjoy the current moment.

C. Take some time to examine the current state of your core identity. How in tune with it are you? When you engage in activity that is destructive, what role does your core identity play in that decision? How is it affected by the consequences of that decision?
My core identify is developing. There are times when my ego and emotions take over. But with practice, breath, and continuing to open my heart I can strengthen my ability to remain present in the now. I am always connected because the universe is in me. I am always connected because God loves me. God loves me. When I express gratitude for my arms, legs, beating heart… for the sun above and every vibrant color. When I express gratitude for every moment of pain and joy, I remain connected. When I pay attention to the space between breaths and thoughts, I am conscious.

But when I engage in destructive behavior, I feed the other wolf. I feed my addiction. I feed my ego. We are either resisting or moving towards.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:08 am 
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Hi Anon,

I have been interested to follow your thread as I have others that are currently progressing through the lessons. It is pleasing to see your posts recognising that your hard work is starting to pay off as you point out how you are starting to react very differently to issues as they emerge than you did earlier in the programme now that your learning is developing. It is also good to see that you are going through the process of weekly health monitoring and reflecting on areas that have worked well and others that perhaps need more attention. Personally I have found the whole monitoring process very valuable. If I could share two pieces of advice with you from my own experiences it would be firstly to be mindful to avoid any complacency, there is a lot to think about with the various lessons but the monitoring element is critical for ongoing success, it is an easy trap to fall into to have a weekly diary note to quickly flick through it and then get on with your day. Your weekly monitoring posts suggest that you are taking that part seriously though which is encouraging. The other danger I found is that it is easy to take the monitoring checklist as being continually fit for purpose but it is important as part of the weekly check to ask yourself if there are any additional areas that should be added. My weekly monitoring list has evolved over time as I have identified certain areas that need more conscious thought. An example for me would be that I have one of my values set as being unconfrontational yet after a run in with my wife over something trivial it dawned on me that for some reason I didn't have that covered off in any of my daily or weekly plans. So I devised an action plan for it and that created the necessary focus on it for several days and then I have since added it to my weekly list to ensure that I don't lose sight of it. Now I am ready and armed when presented with an opportunity to take the bait from my wife and I pause per the action plan which I regularly role play in my mind and take the sting out of the situation. I could have kicked myself for missing something so simple before but that's all part of the learning process. You may find that your weekly lists cover all the bases at the current time which is fine, but do keep an eye on whether areas that crop up in your life that you weren't necessary expecting can be better anticipated in future by creating a daily action plan for a time and then have that in due course moved over to your week monitoring.

Personally I found it helpful and encouraging to know that others were taking interest and reading my thread as at times I wondered if I was the only person aware of what I was writing. So please take these thoughts positively as they are intended and keep going as you are as you are certainly headed in the right direction.

_________________
L2R

"Should you fail to permanently recover from your addiction, it will be due to your inability to fully commit to recovery"


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:49 am 
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L2R,

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

Thank you also for your intuition and advice--the universe works in mysterious ways and is certainly speaking to me through you. I certainly felt and became complacent with the lessons and my monitoring last month. "Life happens" shouldn't be an excuse. It is the very REASON I need to continue with my work. "Life happens" shouldn't be a cop out for reactive behavior. It instead can be the primary motivator for me to CHOOSE healthy behavior. "Life happens" shouldn't be a reason to say "I can't find the time," because I don't find time, I have to MAKE time. By using the excuses of "I had a busy month yada yada" I suffered. Not because it was stressful, but because I wasn't utilizing the skills/tools available to me to reduce the impact of it (such as monitoring and using my recovery thread).

Thank you also for the advice of updating my weekly monitoring. I definitely was not getting as much as I could out of it and have made some changes to try:
Weekly Monitoring
Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment?

Over the past seven days, in what ways was I responsible for the energy that I brought to daily tasks/events/interactions?

Given the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means?

In the past seven days, how did I initiate emotional or physical intimacy with my wife?

In the past seven days, how did I treat my body with the health and respect I deserve?

In the past seven days, how could I have been more loving? Compassionate? Empathetic? Connected? Mature? Responsible? Creative? Kind? Joyful?

Looking ahead to the next seven days, what might interfere with my ability to stay true to my values, goals, and practice? What boundaries need to be in place so that I may continue to make healthy choices? How will I communicate these boundaries?

Looking ahead at the next seven days, how do I plan to reach out for additional support in my family/community/work?


Lastly, thank you for reading. It is absolutely encouraging to know that I am not alone and that someone is reading.


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 Post subject: Weekly Monitoring
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:00 am 
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2/6/18
It’s been a crazy past few weeks—vacation with wife and oldest and a nutty month of deadlines at work. But now I can get back to my routine and I’m feeling better. I want to identify ways to stick to my routine even in the midst of “crazy”. I want to let other things drop instead of my healthy routine.
So what is my routine? What makes me feel healthy? (this list is obviously limited to daily, does not currently include values and action plans).
• Podcast in AM when commuting.
• 5 minute meditation in parking lot ending with intention setting
• 1-3 minute of positive self-talk and affirmation session while looking in mirror
• Gratitude and prayer
• Work, with Recovery Thread work during downtime.
• End of day review/health monitoring to fall asleep

Today’s intention: Find opportunities to tap into my inner calm and connection to the universe.

Weekly Monitoring
Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment? My vacation was filled with being in the present with my wife and oldest daughter. I did not “struggle” with my compulsive thoughts. Although urges popped up, I was able to brush them aside and ask myself why I was searching for "soothing" behavior. The urge would quickly subside and I could come back to being present. In addition, I found myself more interested in the flavor/enjoyment of drinks instead of drinking to get wasted. I was relaxed and tuned into a different vibration of living.
Over the past seven days, in what ways was I responsible for the energy that I brought to daily tasks/events/interactions? Paying attention to my surroundings of vacation and spending time with my daughter. Responsible for the energy and patience I had when dealing with children when they are difficult. Bringing my energy to my chores, cleaning, cooking. I need to be more responsible for the energy I bring to my wife—we are slipping into co-living… instead of partnering. I have strayed away because I am uncomfortable.
Given the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means? On the plane down to vacation, I struggled with feeling alone and misunderstood after she snapped at me for assuming my intentions. Anxiety and stress left over from leaving our other children, recovering from illness, and the stress of work/life balance. I turned to artificial means of life management via sleep—a lot of it on the plane and on vacation. However, I held onto some of my skills, asking myself why I’m feeling XYZ. If it’s really true. What is the lesson to be learned in theses emotions, and examining them on the finite scale.
In the past seven days, how did I initiate emotional or physical intimacy with my wife? The only physical intimacy that I’ve initiated is cuddling, hand holding, and reaching out to her for hugs and kisses while at home. There has not been sexual intimacy in some time and it’s time for me to “show up” and commit to discovery of a healthy sex life. Emotionally, I’ve had a deeper conversation with my wife about boundaries, emotion based behavior and value based behavior.
In the past seven days, how did I treat my body with the health and respect I deserve? I found a balance of not overdoing it with alcohol. When I find myself craving or wanting a drink, I have tea instead and sit with the dissatisfaction. It is not unbearable. It is manageable. Nutritionally, I’ve been limiting myself to healthier portions. I have not been exercising, but mindful of the amount of movement I get each day. Change needs to happen with this. TODAY.
In the past seven days, how could I have been more loving? Compassionate? Empathetic? Connected? Mature? Responsible? Creative? Kind? Joyful?
If I game less and put in the effort to connect to my wife, I won’t feel disconnected from her. If I listen to what she’s saying deeply, I’ll recognize that it’s not her against me. She is supporting me in my recovery. She is teaching me because she loves me. She is helping me so that I know that I’m not alone.
Looking ahead to the next seven days, what might interfere with my ability to stay true to my values, goals, and practice? What boundaries need to be in place so that I may continue to make healthy choices? How will I communicate these boundaries? The weekend is the biggest one. I need to ask my wife for time in the AM, or simply wake up earlier so that I can practice.
Looking ahead at the next seven days, how do I plan to reach out for additional support in my family/community/work? I will be more open to sexual intimacy support from my wife. It’s time.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:21 pm 
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2/8/18
Positive Recovery Reflection: The universe is speaking to me and I have begun to listen. My podcasts, my work, my focus, my realtionships--everything--has been connected. I am listening to the signs and invitations I have been receiving to be an active participant in my life. To be the author, not just the character.


Lesson 45 Exercise:
I. Identifying the impact of emotions in compulsive urges is essential to objectifying that urge. In previous exercises, you have identified compulsive rituals that presented a linear look at your emotional state across a single action. In this lesson, you are being asked to isolate those emotional elements to the point where action can be taken that will break the chain itself.

A. Map a compulsive ritual that is based on your unique behavior. Ensure that you identify at least five elements that are involved in stimulating your emotions during this act. If you would like, use the following worksheet to help you: Mapping a Compulsive Ritual


1. Go to restaurant and feel anxiety about keeping children entertained and behaved, preventing meltdown in public, what will they eat, people noticing our twins, being noticed as a lesbian couple with kids, overstimulated by sights and sounds.
2. Begin scanning to avoid these feelings (AVOIDANCE)
3. See that waitress is attractive (SENSORY)
4. Want to increase feelings making eye contact (HABITUATION/INTENSITY)
5. Know it’s wrong because I’m married (SUSPENSE/DANGER/GUILT/SHAME)
6. Make eye contact with a smile (POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT)
7. I exploit it and think she wants me and likes me. Feel like she’s searching for my eyes too. (OBSESSION/DELUSION)
8. Search for her name on name tag and proud that I have information on her (ACCOMPLISHMENT/POWER)
9. Think about what she looks like naked, where she lives, fantasize picking her up after her shift (FANTASY/DANGER/SUSPENSE)
10. Distracted from present and stress of eating with family (AVOIDANCE)
11. Wife notices I’m not present and calls my name to snap out of it, fantasy ends. Anxiety begins.
12. Guilt for not being present and for not paying attention to family/wife and for having sexual thoughts (GUILT/SHAME)


B. For each element, consider the likely impact that removing that element from the chain would have on the remainder of the event. Remember, decreasing immediate emotional pleasure (through guilt, fear, suspense, anxiety) is a technique used to ultimately increase the overall pleasure experienced during the act.
What would happen if I removed:


1. Go to restaurant and feel anxiety about family/kids/people/women/me
The urge might potentially be there if I’m prompted by an attractive individual, but it would be more of “checking out” instead of intended scanning. Removing this anxiety could stop the event entirely.
2. Begin scanning environment to avoid these feelings (AVOIDANCE)
If I simply owned and sat with the anxiety instead of avoiding via scanning, I’d be uncomfortable. Anxious. But alive and true to my values.
3. See that waitress is attractive (SENSORY)
If I wasn’t attracted to her I’d potentially be scanning for other ways to escape (TV, People watching, kids, conversation with wife) instead of objectifying a woman.
4. Want to increase feelings by making eye contact (HABITUATION/INTENSITY)
This is the main urge. Increasing my feelings of connection and soothing by making eye contact. This is the point of no return. Without it, I’d just notice the woman is attractive. Without the urge, I would not continue the behavior.
5. Know it’s wrong because I’m married (SUSPENSE/DANGER/GUILT/SHAME)
Without this guilt, I’d just go on and on with the fantasy. But I’d also remove the sense of “suspense and danger”. The guilt plays both a part in allowing for a brake but also for increasing the intensity.
6. Make eye contact with a smile (POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT)
By removing the feelings of power and accomplishment my fantasy/delusion would not be as strong. The stimulation I would receive would minimize. I wouldn’t get as much stimulation because there would be little “connection” nor “control”.
7. I exploit it and think she wants me and likes me. Feel like she’s searching for my eyes too. (OBSESSION/DELUSION)
Without the exploitation the fantasy would like end here. It is the idea that she wants me, the idea that she needs me, the idea of “I know”, fleeting moments etc. All that BULLSH*T that keeps me going back for more. Without the exploitation, it would be factual. She’s here to serve me dinner. Not to serve my emotions.
8. Search for her name on name tag and proud that I have information on her (ACCOMPLISHMENT/POWER)
This is simply more habituation to increase my feelings of control in an uncontrollable situation. The urge/behavior may continue, but at less intensity. Or perhaps it would stop here because the intensity to not continue to build.
9. Think about what she looks like naked, where she lives, fantasize picking her up after her shift (FANTASY/DANGER/SUSPENSE)
More habituation and fantasy. Here I’m getting lost in the moment. Completely in a trance. Completely ‘soothed’ from those emotions of anxiety. Really distancing myself from the present.
10. Distracted from present and stress of eating with family (AVOIDANCE)
This is the whole purpose of the behavior. This is the end goal. Not to sleep with the woman or follow through. Just to escape into a dream world that has no pain. Without the end goal, I suppose I wouldn’t do it in the first place.
11. Wife notices I’m not present and calls my name to snap out of it, fantasy ends. Anxiety begins.
If the wife didn’t notice? It’d continue until I stopped it myself and created a break. It’d build. I’d have less shame (not that it’s a good thing). I’d get even further lost. I’d lose touch with reality. I’d be in total trance and ‘entertained’ for the entire dinner. It’d be a wildfire.
12. Guilt for not being present and for not paying attention to family/wife and for having sexual thoughts (GUILT/SHAME)
Without the guilt and shame I’d have no conscious. I’d do it over and over. Without the guilt and shame I wouldn’t be here on RN. There is healthy guilt and healthy shame, as Coach Jon mentions. As long as we are able to let it go. So if it didn’t exist? If I didn’t have it? If it was removed? I’d probably be in Oblivion, destroying my life, everyone, and everything in my path. And that’s not to be dramatic. It’s truthful—my wants and instant gratification would come before everyone’s needs including my own.

C. At what point in the chain is the 'point of no return'? The point where you know that you will be completing the act. Share this in your recovery thread. In the previous exercise, you were to reinforce your ability to identify separate emotional elements in a single compulsive ritual. Here, you will begin to isolate those emotions from your core identity.
See that waitress is attractive (SENSORY)

D. Consider the element identified just prior to 'the point of no return'. This is the element that you will want to isolate and use as your primary trigger for breaking a compulsive urge. Eventually, you can isolate multiple elements, and thus create multiple points where a compulsive event can be effectively stopped, but for now we will focus solely on this one element.
Begin scanning to avoid these feelings (AVOIDANCE)

E. With the element isolated from the ritual, begin to see this element in terms of the role it plays in perpetuating the compulsive event.
I scan because I’m uncomfortable with the feelings of anxiety. I’m searching to escape. To soothe. To run. To hide in my mind instead of face the present. And in hiding, in searching, I go down a rabbit hole of scanning and then honing in on a woman for fantasy. Avoiding my original feelings leads me to fantasize. I do it when I’m bored (ie car), I do it when I’m anxious (ie restaurant), I do it when I’m judging myself (ie after mistakes), I do it when I’m sad/misunderstood/lonely (ie dissociation during difficult conversations with wife).

F. Once the role of the individual element has been identified and isolated from the whole of the experience, it is time to evaluate what is the best action to take in response to this trigger. That will be the point of the next lesson. For now, begin intellectually putting all of the pieces (emotions, values, ritualistic chains, artificial stimulation, etc.) together to solve the puzzle of your addiction. Because it will be when you have mastered the integration of these parts into a functional life management strategy, when you will have put yourself in a position to eliminate the pattern of addiction from your life.

If I find healthier ways to scope than scanning, it will stop the ritual entirely. I have to cope by doing something else, or better, sit with and open my heart to these feelings of anxiety. So, what am I really afraid of?
• keeping children entertained and behaved: if they aren’t entertained they create a scene and bother other people. I am afraid of the judgement from others. It makes me feel like I’m an inadequate parent. I view behaved children as a reflection of my parenting.
• preventing meltdown in public: if they are crying and bothering other people it reflects on me. I don’t want to be seen in that way. I don’t want to be stared at. I don’t want to feel “other”. This goes back to my conditioning from my father believing/parenting that children should be seen not heard.
• what will they eat: sensitive to schedules, if they don’t eat on time they lead to the above. I also want to them to eat to grow and stay healthy. I view feeding them as the number one way to provide to them. If they aren’t fed I judge myself.
• people noticing our twins: it makes me seem special to know that I’m a parent of twins and recognized. I use and exploit their being twins as a form of getting attention from others. I fear not being seen.
• being noticed as a lesbian couple with kids: I wonder what others think. If they wonder where the Dad is. If we’re being judged. I’m judging myself.
• overstimulated by sights and sounds: I can be stimulated to the point of being present or to the point of being overwhelmed. The sights and sounds of the ocean and beach can make me present. How can I channel that same focus to a restaurant to reduce my anxiety?
In reflection, it is clear that if I can open my heart and release my self-judgment I can further reduce the need for soothing/scanning/escaping/fantasizing. I am allowing emotions to dictate my behavior. I recently listened to a podcast that discussed how self judgement (othering) is a cycle. We are almost in a limbic and trance like state when we are judging ourselves or making ourselves feel separate. This has been conditioned in us from our family of origin and society. Regardless, it is a cycle. We get in the trance, become aware, go into the trance again. The awareness comes from “riding on the wings of mindfulness and kindness”. We utilize mindfulness to become aware of the self-judgement and trance like state. We use kindness to open our heart and treat our true selves with love. This prolongs the reentry into the trance like state. So the point is, I shall practice awakening from self-judgement. I shall practice being mindful of when I am in my trance of othering then utilize self love and kindness to be open and accepting of the now. This will help extinguish the judgment.
If I move away from emotion based behavior and lean towards value based decisions, I’d come up with the following ways to replace my thoughts:
• Connection: Reach out to my wife to let her know I feel alone. She will remind me that I am not. Openly communicate and be transparent with her about my anxiety. Accept that all human families are in this together—I am not alone. It takes a village and I can be compassionate to myself about my children’s behavior.
• Social Acceptance: I am not murdering anyone. I am not hurting anyone. I am not abusing anyone. I am not having an affair. I am parenting. I have a right to be in a restaurant with my family just as anyone else. I am socially acceptable and so is my behavior.
• Maturity: I am able to make decisions about my behavior. I can CHOOSE how to respond to urges. I can CHOOSE to own my emotions instead of run from them. I do not have to cop out to “compulsivity”. I am in control of my behavior.
• Responsibility: My children’s behavior does not reflect my parenting. I am a great parent and do not need to judge myself.
• Joy (vulnerability): If I open myself to feel the pain and anxiety instead of resisting it, I will find that it will dissipate. It will not stay with me forever. But the more I resist, the more it will push. Be vulnerable to pain so that joy and peace can enter my heart and mind afterwards.
• Wise Mind: use my mindfulness and self love to move through and awaken from the self judgement. Acknowledge the thoughts I’m having. Observe them come and go. Show compassion to myself and the conditioning I was raised with. Love the connection I have to the universe as it is my witness to the greater things I will accomplish—a noisy restaurant will not get in the way of my purpose and belonging.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:59 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3665
Location: UK
Hi Anon
Quote:
If I find healthier ways to scope than scanning, it will stop the ritual entirely.




Quote:
If I move away from emotion based behavior and lean towards value based decisions, I’d come up with the following ways to replace my thoughts:



Let's get rid of the two letter IF
and double it to four letters
WHEN

Quote:
So, what am I really afraid of?


addicts in general are scared of many things real and imagined
we fear life real life
but as we follow our road of recovery usually our most difficult fear is letting go of our addiction
believe me there is nothing to fear life with addiction is not life
you know this to

_________________
Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 264
Kenzo,

Thank you again for stopping by to read and taking the time to reply. Please know that when you do, it makes a great impact.

What a powerful message--WHEN instead of IF. Thank you for pointing out myself doubt and reminding me to reframe my thinking. Part of my daily practice is my positive affirmations. I've changed from looking myself in the mirror and saying you are, to saying I am. Thank you for this.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 264
Weekly Monitoring
Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment?
My podcasts, my centering, my ability to stick to my spiritual practice on a daily basis (INCLUDING WEEKENDS!) My ability to listen to the universe and respect my intentions.

Over the past seven days, in what ways was I responsible for the energy that I brought to daily tasks/events/interactions? I was responsible for the energy I brought to work. I was responsible for the energy I brought to my daily practice. Knowing I had to get it in no matter what. Late for work? Doesn’t matter—my practice is more important. It felt fulfilling to know that I could prioritize in this way. I was irresponsible for the energy I brought to an interaction with my wife which I will detail below.

Given the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means? I did Ok. My wife and I had a blow out over an oversight/absolute honesty event. I quickly slipped back into my old habits of borderline thinking—black or white thinking, manipulating and blame shifting, lack of accountability, impulsivity, suicidal thoughts (It’s ok, I’m safe), and dissociation. It took us about 36 hours to work through this and finally return to healthy communication. My artificial means of emotion management involved: fantasizing about divorce/death and old habits of borderline traits.

In the past seven days, how did I initiate emotional or physical intimacy with my wife? Upon LISTENING to my wife and ACKNOWLEDGING her needs I was able to create emotional intimacy with my wife through transparency and connection. Although we’ve been cuddling and trying to stay physical, our physical intimacy is still non-existent. I’m fearful of this. I’m fearful that I’m not attracted to her. I’m fearful that I am incapable of being physically intimate with her. I’m experiencing sexual anorexia.

In the past seven days, how did I treat my body with the health and respect I deserve? I’ve been actively monitoring my movement, nutrition, and being consistent with my meditation. I’ve not drank alcohol “just because”. I’m please with my abilities here. But I could always do more movement/exercise.

In the past seven days, how could I have been more loving? Compassionate? Empathetic? Connected? Mature? Responsible? Creative? Kind? Joyful? Although I tried to be empathetic and listen to my wife, my threshold was so low. I quickly went back into old patterns. I need to be empathetic to her situation. I want to be curious of her feelings and emotions, but in doing so I feel her pain and it’s unbearable. So I stray away. If I can “go back in” and face it, I can show connection, maturity, and responsibility. As I’m aware, my authenticity could always use more work…

Looking ahead to the next seven days, what might interfere with my ability to stay true to my values, goals, and practice? What boundaries need to be in place so that I may continue to make healthy choices? How will I communicate these boundaries? Stress, work projects, deadlines, and social interactions can always interfere with my ability to make value based deicions and behaviors. I need to express to my wife my concerns about social interactions, I need to speak with her about my need for support. I need to connect with her about her stress and my stress.

Looking ahead at the next seven days, how do I plan to reach out for additional support in my family/community/work? As mentioned above, I need to reach out to my wife about my concerns and needs. I need to listen to her for her needs and fulfill them with empathy, compassion, and understanding. I need to ask for help at work when I need it.


Lesson 46 Exercise:
A. In the long run, addiction is eliminated by altering the existing compulsive behavior (destructive, based on immediate emotional needs) to more stable, constructive chains that solidify the foundation of your life in a progressive manner. Before such compulsive chains can be reversed, it is necessary to begin mastering the ability to reverse single compulsive rituals. Begin this process now by considering a previous compulsive chain, identify the element immediately preceeding the 'point of no return' and then rewrite the remainder of the chain so that your actions are based on healthy values, rather than immediate emotional response. Share this in your recovery thread.


Original Compulsive Chain:

Obsession, Delusion and affair with K
1. First time I see her I find her attractive (SENSORY)
2. Compulsive thoughts ritual begins as method of coping with boredom/sadness/lonliness (FANTASY/AVOIDANCE)
3. Replay first time over and over in my head for mental stimulation (FANTASY/SENSORY)
4. Began making eye contact in parking lot (HABITUATION/POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT)
5. Wondering if I’d be there at the same time (FANTASY/SUSPENSE)
6. Taking note of her car and looking for it on road (FANTASY/POWER/SUSPENSE)
7. Eye contact no longer enough, found other ways to feel connected via interactions with husband and children (POWER/HABITUATION/ACCOMPLISHMENT/DELUSION)
8. Began trying to gather more information by stalking on internet and other resources (POWER/OBSESSION/ACCOMPLISHMENT/SUSPENSE/HABITUATION)
9. With more information I could think about her in greater detail (FANTASY/OBSESSION/DELUSION/SENSORY/POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT/INTENSITY)
10. Began masturbating to fantasies of her (ORGASM/FANTASY/DELUSION)
11. Priming ritual begins upon getting contact information.
12. Become ‘innocent’ friends
13. Invite her over to a ‘safe space’ to clarify intentions.
14. Excessive texting, talking about her even to my spouse (OBSESSION/DELUSION/POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT)
15. Fantasize about turning down her advances, saying no, resisting (GUILT/SHAME/SUSPENSE/DANGER)
16. Upon learning of reciprocated feelings, thoughts completely consumed and thoughts of affair and new life with her begin. Make myself believe that she is perfect for me. Make myself believe that my wife is flawed and K is not (FANTASY/OBSESSION/DELUSIONS/SUSPENSE/DANGER)
17. Continue flirting and trying to resist (GUILT/SHAME FANTASY/OBSESSION/DELUSION/INTENSITY/HABITUATION/SUSPENSE/DANGER/PAST)
18. Create event where sexual relations can occur


Within this chain are several rituals: Compulsive thoughts, scanning, obsessing/delusions, masturbation, priming, and an affair. Obviously within each ritual in itself has a point of no return. But in considering the affair as the true act in this example, it seems that the priming/masturbation is the point of no return. Directly before that would be the build up with the compulsive thoughts and scanning.

Old Ritual
1. First time I see her I find her attractive (SENSORY)
2. Compulsive thoughts ritual begins as method of coping with boredom/sadness/lonliness (FANTASY/AVOIDANCE)
3. Replay first time over and over in my head for mental stimulation (FANTASY/SENSORY)
4. Began making eye contact in parking lot (HABITUATION/POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT)
5. Wondering if I’d be there at the same time (FANTASY/SUSPENSE)
6. Taking note of her car and looking for it on road (FANTASY/POWER/SUSPENSE)
7. Eye contact no longer enough, found other ways to feel connected via interactions with husband and children (POWER/HABITUATION/ACCOMPLISHMENT/DELUSION)
8. Began trying to gather more information by stalking on internet and other resources (POWER/OBSESSION/ACCOMPLISHMENT/SUSPENSE/HABITUATION)
9. With more information I could think about her in greater detail (FANTASY/OBSESSION/DELUSION/SENSORY/POWER/ACCOMPLISHMENT/INTENSITY)
10. Began masturbating to fantasies of her (ORGASM/FANTASY/DELUSION)

New Chain
1) First time I see her and notice she is attractive
2) Observe emotional spike in appreciating her looks
3) When bored/lonely/sad/triggered notice urge to think of her attractiveness
4) Create a break and explore the level of my emotions, why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling, understand the message of my emotions (ie I’m bored want stimulation, I’m lonely looking for connection, I’m sad looking for a boost in my mood, I’m triggered looking for an escape)
5) Address the message of the emotions by showing myself compassion. (ie, I’m bored I can find another activity to stimulate me, I’m lonely I can remember I’m already connected or reach out to a healthy connection, I’m sad I can find healthier ways to boost my mood, I’m triggered but pain is here to teach me a lesson)
6) Express gratitude for the opportunity to practice mind mindfulness and self compassion.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:28 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 264
2/15/18
In speaking with my therapist we discussed the importance of mourning my old life before recovery. I noticed myself “missing” my addiction. Missing the ability to act out for instant gratification. Have a slight jealousy of those that are still living the lifestyle but without the knowledge that they have an addiction.
But I don’t let these feelings worry me. I have received an invitation to a new life. I’ve been evicted from my old life. It’s ok to mourn and grieve that old life. I even have to mourn and grieve the old vision and dreams I had for myself. No longer will those images be the same. The dreams and vision will be new. I fear that it will be “stripped down” due to my addiction and the need to remove parts of my identity. But I will look past that fear. I will accept my recovery as my new life.


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 Post subject: Weekly Monitoring
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
Posts: 264
2/19
Weekly Monitoring
Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment?
Continuing my spiritual AM practice no matter what day it is. Listening to the signs of the universe. Not just saying my intentions, but ACTING on them. IE seek opportunities to be energized: Outdoor time, kid time, wife connection, fish tank


Over the past seven days, in what ways was I responsible for the energy that I brought to daily tasks/events/interactions? I was responsible for the energy I brought to my clients and to my connections with my children. I was responsible for the energy I brought to a socializing event on Saturday and felt positive about it. I was responsible for the energy I brought to my date with my wife, but I struggled connecting with her afterwards. Connecting felt forced after having connected prior.

Given the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means? I managed life events by focusing in on healthier activities such as going outside or taking care of my new hobby. I turned to artificial means of management last week after having very tough conversations with my wife—suicidal ideations/fantasies of divorce etc (I’m OK, I’m speaking with my therapist, I am safe. These are associated with my fantasies)

In the past seven days, how did I initiate emotional or physical intimacy with my wife? Date night with wife. Emotional intimacy gaining speed and growth. The Physical intimacy… she brought it to my attention via email. My goal this week is to start a practice with her that involves touch. Eventually this can lead to healthy touch and sex. But I have to move slow and build this. So for example. Simply massage. Maybe eventually adding foreplay. But right now, touching for touching and nurturing, not touching for sex.

In the next seven days, how will I treat my body with the health and respect I deserve?
Changed this question to be forward looking. If I don’t set my intention, then it doesn’t happen. I aim to treat my body with the health and respect I deserve by continuing to go on more walking breaks and spend time outside.

In the past seven days, how could I have been more loving? Compassionate? Empathetic? Connected? Mature? Responsible? Creative? Kind? Joyful? I could have connected more with my wife after our date. I could have been more open and vulnerable in our conversations. I could have been less selfish in wanting to reflect on our experience alone than together.
Looking ahead to the next seven days, what might interfere with my ability to stay true to my values, goals, and practice? What boundaries need to be in place so that I may continue to make healthy choices? How will I communicate these boundaries? Stress as always. Uncomfortable feelings of lonliness, sadness, or feeling misunderstood. If my wife and I need to talk, we need to use our color codes to set a boundary for what the conversation will be like. If I am feeling reactive, I need to create pause and slow the conversation down. I am allowed to ask for time as long as I don’t use it as a cop out. I will therefore say something like, “I’m feeling reactive and want to communicate better with you. Can I have 20 minutes to calm down and then we can try again?”
Looking ahead at the next seven days, how do I plan to reach out for additional support in my family/community/work?
Additional support will come to me if I ask for it. I need to pray and mediate with the intention that “I am open and ready to listen. Dear God, I am in need of your help.” I also need to reach out to my wife and tell her about my threshold levels. Simply telling her that I’m stressed isn’t enough. Although my intention of telling her I’m stressed is to give her heads up, I need to give her a clearer one by saying, “I’m stress, my threshold for things is low, I need your help.”


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 Post subject: Lesson 47
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:41 am 
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Posts: 264
Lesson 47 Exercise:
1. Just as you have with your values and your emotions, it is time to transfer the knowledge that you are developing to a practical application in your day-to-day life. This cannot be done without first developing an awareness of the times when such information is applicable. Over the next 48 hours, envision at least ten different REALISTIC scenarios where you may encounter a compulsive urge in the future and documetn these in your recovery thread.

1. While travelling for work, the urge to scan/fantasize during travel
2. While travelling for work, the urge to act out at dinner/bar environment while intoxicated
3. While driving, the urge to think about past affairs
4. After a fight with my wife, the urge to divorce
5. After a fight with my wife, the urge to run/commit suicide
6. When confronted with questions regarding my addiction, the urge to act in self preservation
7. While at a social gathering, the urge to drink more to boost my confidence
8. While socializing, the urge to say shocking things or exaggerate for attention
9. While using social media, the urge to use others for instant gratification and validation
10. While at a restaurant, the urge to scan/fantasize/exploit waitresses
11. When presented with opportunity, the urge to accept invitation to risky situations

With each scenario:
• Identify how you would know when that urge/ritual would likely begin, when the likely 'point of no return' would be and when you would 'create the break'. Do this in your head.
• Anticipate the emotions associated with that particular ritual, isolate those emotions from your 'core identity' and prepare yourself to make a values-based decision (versus an emotions-based decision). Do this in your head.
• Choose one such scenario and document it in your recovery thread.


While socializing, the urge to say shocking things or exaggerate for attention
How I would know the urge/ritual will began?
Feeling anxiety about being around other people. Feeling a sense that I am “other”. People showing an interest in my by having conversation. I feel the urge to increase that feeling by getting a rise out of them to make them laugh or be entertained.
Point of no return
People showing a sense of an interest in me by having a conversation with me.
When would I create the break?
By acknowledging that I am feeling “Boring” or “other”. Being aware of my self-esteem issues.
What emotions would be associated with this?
As mentioned above, a sense of loneliness and feeing “other”. Feeling like I am unliked or that I don’t belong. My lack of sense of connection.
Are these emotions ME?
These are simply thoughts and feelings. The true “I” can watch these feelings come in and go out. My ability to be aware of them is proof that I am not my feelings. I am not my thoughts. My thoughts and emotions are creations of my brain. My body is just a vessel. My brain is just a television screen interpreting stimuli. The true me is my connected soul and driving spirit.
How will I prepare for a value based decision?
I will prepare for a value base decision by using mindfulness to be aware of my feelings. With mindfulness I’ll awaken myself from my trance of feeling unwanted. I’ll recognize the warning signs of my anxiety and emotions. I’ll then kindly speak to myself, “You are connected. You are important. You make an impact. You don’t need to manage your emotions with acting out.” I will then choose to be myself, or connect with my wife and tell her my concerns.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:22 am
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2/20/18
Delusions, obessions, and fantasy have permeated my understanding of what true love is. For the past week, I’ve been struggling with the thought that I’ve fallen out of love with my wife. But I am realizing that I had illusions about what love was. About what marriage and true love was. And as I strip myself of factors of my addiction that compromised (what i thought was) my identity, I must also strip away these false illusions of what love is and get down to the real thing.
I think about divorce because I am ashamed and in pain. My divorce thinking is not divorce acting—simply a sign that I am uncomfortable—FACT. That our marriage is struggling—FACT. But it is fixable—FACT. I can listen to these warning signs. I can show my commitment. And now it’s time to be even more responsible for the energy I bring to our relationship and intimacy (physical and emotional).

I cannot fault her for wanting more from me. I have denied her of true intimacy our entire relationship. She is deserving. And dare I say that I, too, am deserving of that connection.


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