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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:55 am 
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LESSON 54

A. Select a VALUE-BASED decision that you have made in the past year. What were some NEGATIVE consequences that resulted from that decision?

In my attempts to see a bit more of my wider family I was chatting to me sister recently and she asked about coming over to stay with us along with my mother for a few days. I said that this would be fine and would let her know some possible dates. This decision sat well with my values. I then mentioned it to my wife who sees it as a lot of work and stress and didn't want to deal with it so heated words were exchanged and they can not now come to stay with us for the rest of this year.

B. Select an EMOTION-BASED decision that you have made in the past year. What were some POSITIVE consequences that resulted from that decision?

I am a keen following of football in England and my team are showing signs of significant improvement since their manager changed a few months back and this has me enthused again. When I was excited at the idea of possibly going to see them I spoke to my wife somewhat impulsively about taking my son over to watch them in a couple of months' time, it will be an expensive couple of days but she thought it would also be a nice thing to do. I booked it and told my son and he was incredibly excited that he now has that to look forward to.

The point of the lesson here is that values based decisions sometimes have negative outcomes and emotions based decisions sometime positive outcomes. The reason for this lesson is to demonstrate that healthy people face negative situations despite having made healthy decisions but they manage this difficulty in a healthy way rather than feeling a need to improve their state of emotion my some form of immediate gratification. I like this point as the SA will always want to fall back on autopilot and counter any negative emotion with some form of excitement to make up for it.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:01 am 
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I am going away for a few days from tomorrow so wanted to record that in 2 days time I will have been a member of RN exactly 1 year. What has changed over that time?

A year ago I arrived having had enough of the feelings of guilt and shame that resulted from acting out. I was tired of the emotionally drain of the excitement associated with urges and giving into them and then the contrasting low immediately afterwards where I would regret doing something and then promise myself yet again that I would not do those sorts of things again. I saw RN as something completely different to what I had seen elsewhere which were generally 12 step programmes that involved a reliance on religion which may work for some but would not work for me. Like any SA I wanted a quick solution and whilst RN was clearly not going to tick that box, the structure of it and the commitment that was going to be required over a period of several months to complete the workshop appealed to me. I also like the idea that it had been created by someone who had himself been a SA and the forums were monitored by coaches and mentors who also came from that background. I couldn't understand why such a resource would be available at no cost and couldn't wait to get started.

There has been a lot to learn but I really liked the logic of the lessons and how it gradually builds up the approach in small blocks that neatly fit together. It makes you realise that sexual addiction is not a disease or a force that we have no control over. For me the biggest challenge has been being able to convert that theory into practice and to truly believe that you do have control over the choices that you make. I probably went through the programme too fast the first time and have been surprised at how much I have picked up on my second run through. I have taken more time to try and identify the areas where I was struggling and have made a lot of progress in that area. I feel like I have all of the pieces coming together now and I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I have also really enjoyed the mentoring role and I have a real sense of giving back by being able to offer thoughts and guidance to those who are struggling as I did along the way. I can now appreciate why the site is able to be offered without any fees because it is being maintained by those who volunteer for this. I have no problem with giving my time to the site because it has saved my life and no amount of money could buy that. I also feel that mentoring has helped me recover further because it gives you a different perspective on things. I have also come to value the anonymous friendships that I have made with people that I care about but will never meet or know their true identity. I came through the workshop the same time as Anon and we have both taken on mentoring roles and whilst we have been able to hopefully help the newer members I know that we have also helped each other along the way too, we have both been able to see things in each other that need some thought and attention where we had been too blindsided to see them ourselves. I have also truly appreciated Kenzo's support, having been a member for several years but to still have the energy to stay involved is to his credit and in my darker moments I have taken his journey as an inspiration that I could recover too. Had the site been only coached by professional therapists who had not been an SA themselves I wonder if I would have had the same level of belief. It has also been rewarding to receive nice comments when feeding back to other members or from those who have taken the time to read something in my own thread and have recorded support of that in their own. In particular Bovary has done this on a few occasions which means a lot.

What would be nice to see is some of the members who are heading towards to end of the workshop taking up the opportunity to take on a mentoring role themselves. I can only see the site going from strength to strength if there could be a larger pool of mentors who are able to feedback to newer members, the more examples of there of those who have broken the back of the journey to recovery the more inspiration there is provided to others.

This is starting to sound like an acceptance speech at the Oscars which I don't mean it to be so I will end with some thoughts on where I am and where I feel that I am headed.

1. Am I a different person to the one that joined a year ago? Definitely, RN has opened my eyes to addiction and has taught me so much and offered me hope where I thought that there was none.
2. Am I recovered? I would say that I am recovering and perhaps always will as to suggest I was recovered would worry me on the complacency front. I do feel like I have gone a long way on that journey though but I am still finding lots of points which resonate with me and that I can draw strength from.
3. Do I still experience urges? Honestly, yes I do, and anyone following my thread will know that this has been a theme all of the way through. That said, I would say that they have become fewer and far between which in one sense is a good thing but in another can risk catching me unawares. Complacency is a real enemy and being ready and prepared for all likely scenarios is a must. As I near the end of my second tour around the workshop I can see that I need to put far more effort into the putting action plans into practice so that they are there when needed, I really feel like I went through the motions with that the first time around.
4. Am I positive about the future? This year I have experienced for the first time in my adult (and certainly married) life that I am not waiting for the ticking bomb to go off. I have started to look and plan ahead to the future whereas before I was far more short in my thinking because I didn't have the confidence that I would go too long before I screwed everything up. But I have a last chance with my wife and I plan to seize it. I know that staying on this path with bring me long term happiness and that is exactly why I joined RN in the first place.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:10 am 
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Hi L2R
great positive and reflective post
but in your Oscar acceptance :s: you forget to thank yourself
you did it you put in the work the commitment etal
I agree with you on the personal benefits of mentoring and also would encourage others to take up that baton

keep on striving to be the best that you can be

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Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:24 am 
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Thanks Kenzo, your encouragement is always welcomed.

LESSON 62

This lesson is about relapses and the exercise asks you to identify some likely and unlikely scenarios in order to see how you would manage them.

The key here clearly is having the right action plans in place. I have recognised action plans as being something that I produced the first time around but did not regularly look through them in order to engrain them and keep them fresh in my mind. If I am being honest this area still bothers me a little. I spend a very large portion of my waking day thinking about my recovery and managing how I think and approach things in every day life in order to engrain this into me. I have been doing this for a year now. Each day I read through my list of quotes that CoachJon has made in order to keep the key phrases fresh in my head (for clarity and motivation) and this is now a fairly long list which takes some time to read through. I also have developed an approach (a series of steps such as creating a break, etc) to how I would manage urges which I have essentially bolted on to each of my action plans. Therefore the only variation (broadly) in each plan is the circumstances that could lead to an urge. In addition I am continuing to read through the lessons each day and I am also reading other's threads in order to provide feedback where appropriate as a mentor. All of this takes up a lot of time and in addition to this I have a very responsible day job that requires my attention. On one level I think this is probably OK as it seems to have been working for me but on the other I know that I am not doing precisely what I should be doing which is to read through each of the individual 13 action plans that I have each day. If I add that to the list I will be doing little else other than recovery work during my day and I simply don't have enough time for that. I have tried to be selective in what I do and, as I say, it seems to be working OK but I also do not want to be setting myself up for a fall.

Taking that point forward, the other thing I have made a point of doing (probably because of my concerns over the daily reading of action plans) is to better anticipate forthcoming situations and to rehearse possible events in my head and my responses to them. I have found that this has made a big difference in helping me manage potentially difficult situations. For example, I went with my family to see my 27 year old niece get married at the end of last week and I anticipated that she would inevitably invite a lot of her friends which turned out to be the case and many of them were very attractive. By thinking about this ahead of time it ended up not coming as a surprise to me and therefore I was able to deal with the situation as something I was expecting and therefore was able to comfortably ignore them which is in stark contrast to the old me. The event was enjoyable rather than stressful which was nice. I do think that this is something that will help me if I am not going to be in a position to do a daily read of my action plans.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:00 am 
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LESSON 66

I actually don't remember this lesson from the last time around but it really resonated with me this time. The concept behind it is to see "relapse triggers" as "recovery triggers" which puts a more positive spin on it which would support growth of values and experience rather than the former which has a more negative connotation. There is a good alignment with this and a (one of my favourites) quote that CoachJon uses in Lesson 6 which is:
Quote:
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."

Similarly this puts a different perspective on recovery where you see yourself as someone manging you life (positive) as opposed to managing your addiction (negative).

I can also relate this to another addiction for me which is alcohol and I quite often compare my attitudes to alcohol and sex. I stopped drinking nearly two years ago now and do not miss it at all. I attended a wedding reception last week and as we walked into the room for the meal we were greeted with waiters and waitresses holding trays of flutes of champagne for you to take on the way in. As an addict to alcohol that would once have terrified me having that sort of temptation and moments later we sat down at our table and were faced with numerous bottles of white and red wine to consume too. I now look at these situations and recognise that I see them as opportunities to make me feel good about myself by not feeling that I want or need alcohol and I know that at the end of the evening (which did happen) everyone else will be drunk and I will still be sober and comfortable I had not acted inappropriately in any way but had had an enjoyable evening - and no hangover the next day! If I can handle that situation positively then there is no reason why I can not also see potential sexual triggers in the same positive way - I can think to myself "I used to find that situation really stressful and used to act out but now I feel good about myself by not being bothered about it."

I will be making a point of working on this new mindset as I definitely see this as a very positive way forward and will help achieve the key goal of my recovery in seeing myself as someone learning to live their life healthily rather than manage their addiction.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:34 am 
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LESSON 67

I find it interesting how I am viewing this exercise differently to the first time around. Last time I answered the question directly by identifying other possible shifts in my addictions and areas I could be vulnerable to but I look at this somewhat differently now.

I have a greater awareness now of what I need to guard against and for my internal alarm to trigger as soon as I become aware of a potential threat. Rather than having a list of things I could be vulnerable to I am more generally alive to the symptoms that a triggering event (sexual, alcohol, smoking, gambling, whatever) produces. It gives me a rush when I recognise he opportunity to do something exciting. In most instances this is a sign of something potentially compulsive occurring and is an immediate signal to me that I need to create a break.

A recent example of this is in relation to alcohol. I don't miss it now having gone 2 years without any but do at times still feel like the odd one out by being the only one holding a soft drink. For some time I had thought about the idea of drinking non-alcoholic beer and whilst shopping in a supermarket I bought a pack of 4 bottles and put them in the fridge at home. My recollection of non-alcoholic beer in the distant past was that it tasted awful and nothing like normal beer but things have moved on since then. One evening after work I went to the fridge and opened a bottle and took a swig and it tasted just like normal beer. I checked the label to make sure it was non-alcoholic. I thought I had really stumbled on something, I could drink that and it tasted like beer but wasn't and got really excited about it. The next night after work I went back to the fridge and took out another and sat down and enjoyed my first swig again. I then noticed the rush of excitement I had in my stomach at the prospect of coming home and opening up a beer. I then realised I had been looking forward to that moment for the previous hour or so and was already looking forward to the next one - "It's non-alcoholic so why not have as many as I want?!". The alarm bells immediately went off in my head. Although I knew that the beer was non-alcoholic and I wouldn’t get drunk from it I suddenly felt really uncomfortable about drinking it and it was because I could feel myself being drawn strongly to something where I could get some excitement about having something to look forward to. It felt wrong so I opened the other 2 bottles and poured them down the sink. I think that this is exactly what this lesson is talking to. I need to listen to my internal alarm bell and when getting a rush I need to check if that is as a result of something healthy or otherwise and then act accordingly. I have found that enjoying healthy pursuits does not give me a rush but I still enjoy them. This probably aligns with CoachJon's suggestion that over time the "passion" of pursuing healthy values gives way to "depth" and this was the first time I could really relate to it.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:08 am 
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As my second tour of the lessons is drawing to a close (only 2 left) I am becoming reflective again on what I have learned this time around. I will write more fully on this after completing the last lesson soon but one point particularly landed with me this week. I have written at length about struggles with urges and I have not been feeling that so much recently. For my own curiosity and perhaps for the encouragement of others who are regularly encountering similar battles with a view to offering them some hope, I have been trying to work out why that may be.

I think a turning point for me a couple of weeks ago was finding a way of trying to bring the feelings of guilt and shame that follow acting out to the forefront of my mind when facing urges. The change of a couple of weeks ago was to try and move away from it being theory (i.e. just reading the words "guilt" and "shame" and it going in one ear and out the other) and making it more practical and real and therefore better able to visualise when needed and so leading it to have more immediate impact on me. I pictured the likely consequences of getting caught acting out which would involve me needing to move out of our home. I pictured being sat next to my wife and calling my young son to sit down in front of us and tell him that I was leaving and why and picturing his devastation. I then went on to picture the day of moving out and him sobbing and begging me to stay and to offer me one of his teddy bears to look after me in my new place. It was heart wrenching and really upset me. When I drew on those very real images the impact on the urges was dramatic and they disintegrated. Fundamentally I believe this is core to what the programme is trying to teach, to bring your values (the things you care most about) to the forefront of your mind when making decisions.

Since that time, I have felt more calm and I have become more sensitive to realising when situations are arising which could potentially generate an urge. I have felt like I have been in autopilot where almost instantaneously I have cut off those thoughts which nipped the issue in the bud, most importantly, before the urge materialised. I think this has been key for me as it is far easier to brush off a near miss of an urge than to try and manage the emotions of an urge that has started to take hold. Between these two areas I have noticed a huge difference and in many ways it has been a case of having a new mindset and also being ready at all times to react and to react quickly.

I read in many peoples' threads that they have either slipped, lapsed or struggled with urges and I would encourage them to think about what I have learned to see if that may help them too. Clearly the workshop holds the tools for recovery but whilst working through those lessons this may hopefully help some people in the meantime. If so then I would recommend picturing in some detail what the worst case scenario would be for them if they were to get caught and to try and envisage the chaos and devastation that they would need to go through. If those feelings can be recalled when needed then that may help some head off urges in the way that it has for me.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:05 am 
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This morning I have completed my second tour around the lessons. Whilst it would not have been high on my To Do List to go round again I am pleased that I did and have surprised myself quite how much I picked up this time around. There were some key areas that I missed or had forgotten about which have made a big difference. One criticism I would aim at myself which I think is probably a common mistake to make is to try and pass through the lessons as quickly as possible because you are keen to get to the magic lesson at the end where all of the secrets are revealed. There is no magic key and I better appreciated this time that the genius of the workshop is that it is made up of a hundred different pieces in the various lessons which need to be individually understood and then form together to provide the overall understanding which will lead you to recovery. The fact that the workshop takes several months to complete means that there is a good deal of time to allow these many small parts to be understood and absorbed and so the path to initial recovery is a gradual process. I recall being daunted at the level of work and time it would take when I first joined but now I take comfort from that in that you only get out what you put in, a few pages of teaching which could be completed in a couple of hours will never offer you a real prospect of recovery. It takes some real effort to overcome a lifetime of engraining bad decision making processes.

I had a business trip yesterday for the day which involved me flying and getting trains to and from my meeting. It struck me how many opportunities there are to "act out" in a given day as there are attractive women everywhere. It made me realise how the "old me" would get progressively aroused during the course of the day during such trips and it would be little wonder I would do something stupid at the end of the day if I were staying away overnight somewhere. It is just habit to constantly scan and then objectify and I didn't appreciate how much I did that until I consciously tried to stop it. I am pleased to say that I successfully nipped dozens of these situations in the bud yesterday so it proved not to be stressful at all but I was quite tired by the end of the day - but also feeling good about myself. As I passed through security at the airport on the way home there was a very pretty woman wearing a backless red dress that also had a low cut front. In the split second of noticing her I could take all that in and realised as she walked towards me that she wasn't wearing a bra. I was able to immediately recognise this as an urge provoking situation so turned away and looked elsewhere before I had any chance to ponder on it or start getting any rush from it. The "old me" would have followed her around and oggled her and then felt bad about it afterwards. CoachJon talks about making you feel good about yourself when you make a healthy choice and at times I have felt that this is "coach speak" but actually I can say that I get some benefit from this now. Perhaps each individual success gives marginal positive feelings like that but collectively over the course of the day yesterday after dozens of successes I got home and felt a wave of pride in myself of being able to walk back into my home and kiss my wife and young son with a clear conscience. That felt good.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:02 am 
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I have made mention in my thread of taking a note of key quotes from CoachJon that resonated with me during my second tour of the workshop which I read through on a daily basis. I think it might be of interest to some to copy those to my thread to see which ones particularly landed with me:
Quote:
CoachJon - Lesson 1
"should you fail to permanently recover from your addiction, it will be due to your inability to fully commit to recovery"

CoachJon - Lesson 2
"it was not the addiction that triggered the life crisis...it was the lack of healthy life management skills that triggered the addiction."

"The learning process is complex, but you can begin by establishing a vision for your life that is based on mastering those values that you hold dear. Then, developing a passion for pursuing that vision."

"Begin that process now...commit to that mastery now...because these are skills that you will need for the rest of your life, and upon mastering these skills, you will find you no longer need, nor crave as intensely, the short-lived biochemical shots of emotion that your compulsive behaviours produce."

"In a healthy life, pursuing your vision with passion will give way to developing true depth in your life. When that happens, you will no longer be vulnerable to emotional instability."

"In most addicts, passion is the primary driving force in decision-making...and one of the goals of your transition to health is to develop depth instead."

"Think about the difference between being in a marriage as a man who is keeping all options open, and being in a marriage as a man who is committed to developing infinite depth within that marriage. The former is based on fear of not losing out on things, the latter is based on a commitment to one's vision of being in a partnership."

CoachJon - Lesson 6
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."

CoachJon - Lesson 7
(Re: Proactive Action Plans) "Far too many people abandon this tool because they can 'do it in their head' "

CoachJon - Lesson 13
(Healthy Recovery Patterns)
"They realize that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present."

"They identify their future with a healthy person that once used addiction to manage their life; not as an addict that is managing their life with healthy behaviour."

CoachJon - Lesson 25
"In other words, your decision-making process was relegated to more or less a single question, "How will it make me feel?" No matter what the situation, whether it was the possibility of engaging in an affair...in altruistic behavior...in lying...in taking a drug for the first time...the primary source for making that decision came from an immediate assessment of how you think you would respond emotionally. Such a process is the essence of the "Immediate Gratification" principle brought up earlier in the workshop. And it is the essence for how compulsive behavior becomes ingrained in your life. "

"EVERY POINT in a compulsive ritual is a potential 'point of no return'."

CoachJon - Lesson 25
"By learning to break down the elements of your existing ritualistic patterns, you are providing yourself a concrete, objective means for seeing the role that your compulsive behavior plays in your life. In other words, what you have previously accepted as natural, can now be experienced as artificial."

CoachJon - Lesson 29
"It is this open, direct, honest communication with oneself that those who struggle with compulsive behavior most frequently take for granted. And it is what those who permanently end their compulsive patterns come to master."

"It is knowing that when you feel like you can't control your behavior, that that it is not the same thing as being unable to. That your urges are merely a finite range of emotional intensity — not some unstoppable, unidentifiable force. And it is learning to manage those emotions in a healthy way."

"Without emotions, addiction does not exist."

CoachJon - Lesson 32
"Learning to feel good about saying no, when your "immediate gratification" self wants to say yes. As your values strengthen, the decision-making process will become easier and you will take even more pride in each opportunity that crosses your path. Until then, dig down as far as you must to force a pass. The rest will come."

"Remember that the key to emotional balance is not so much the values themselves, but that they all come together to form a foundation that will provide you with strength, comfort and guidance throughout the remainder of your life."

CoachJon - Lesson 33
"Master Your Emotions; Master Your Addiction"

"Every emotion you experience is experienced within a finite range of intensity."

"You will be able to reduce the entire compulsive event NOT to managing the behavior (say, whether or not to masturbate), but rather, to managing the finite emotions that will accompany that behavior. Or, that will accompany the denial of that behavior."

CoachJon - Lesson 38
"In the previous lesson, you were asked to create a limited number of rules that could be used to help you in defining the limits of your own value system. These rules are your boundaries. When a rule is broken, a boundary has been crossed. When a boundary has been crossed, a value has been infringed upon. When a value has been infringed upon, action is required to protect the values that have been jeopardized. It is that simple."

CoachJon - Lesson 47
(in relation to Urge Control)
"The Master
The master will recognize the urge as a trigger for action. The actions that are taken will be in relation to his/her values, priorities, goals, etc. The urge itself will be nonchalantly dismissed with the realization that at worst, by denying themselves the target of this urge, they face only temporary emotional discomfort. They don't fear this. They don't feed it through misplaced anxiety. They simply accept it as a natural part of being human. And embrace the discomfort as the price the proudly pay for living a life congruent with their values.
The Student
The student will take the more mechanical approach. And this is where you likely are and will remain until it all 'clicks'. The student will recognize the urge, feel mild confusion, frustration and doubt (which will actually intensify the urge). They will remember that urges can be used as triggers for actions and will mechanically go through the process of doing just that. They will review their values, their balance...but they will not feel completely comfortable with what they are doing. Eventually, they will get to the point where they feel they must manage the urge itself — and will do so to the best of their ability. Again, following the structure outlined in the workshop but too, not really connecting to why they are doing it. Intellectually they understand, but emotionally they experience the urge as the more powerful entity...and their response as temporary.
This response, while adequate, will shift at some point. At some point, you will have a 'light bulb moment'. A moment of clarity when everything you have learned will come together to form a single life management strategy. The clouds will part and you will become a master of urge control, emotional management, decision-making, etc. And as it so often happens, this general mastery will occur simultaneously — because you will realize that what you are mastering is life management (of which each of these skills play a critical role). "

"Your responsibility in urge control is not limited to managing the urge, it is to place those urges in the practical context of managing your life. But do note, few can jump directly to a mastery of urge control simply through intellectual understanding. Some can, but again, few. The common path is to master the reactive side of urge control before integrating the practical side. "

CoachJon - Lesson 50

“At best, you have increments of about 30-60 seconds with which to think rationally and objectively. Go beyond that and the artificial stimulation (emotional trance) engages”

CoachJon - Lesson 51

“In order to master urge control, you must first learn to isolate your emotions from your identity. You must learn to see your emotions as a tool for assessing your environment, rather than as a tool for decision making. In practical terms, all this means is that when you feel an urge to act in a destructive way, you recognize that this feeling you are experiencing is an emotional reaction to be interpreted, not an impetus to act. Once you have made this realization, you have 'isolated the urge'. The next step is to process it. "

"'Processing the urge' involves nothing more than running it through a healthy decision making process. By the end of such process, you will have not only reduced the options that the stimuli has triggered (and thus, the emotional chaos), but will have put yourself in a position to make value-based decisions — even if that includes the decision to act in a destructive way. "

"To master a healthy decision-making process, take those 30-60 seconds after the urge has been felt and before the trance sets in, and use them to examine the options that you have available to you. Set aside the urge temporarily, set aside the stimuli that you are facing. Set aside your emotions. Do this for just for those few seconds, so that you may truly develop a deepening self-awareness. This step should be rather simple, and can be accomplished in a matter of seconds."

CoachJon - Lesson 52

"The single greatest obstacle you face in overcoming your addiction is not the triggers that you face; it is your emotional response to those triggers. How they skew and distort your reality to the point where you make some pretty irrational and destructive decisions. And so, one of the keys to effective decision-making will be your ability to isolate the emotions that you are experiencing at any given time and focus solely on the values in play. "

“Isolating the Emotions from a Compulsive Situation
When you become aware that you are engaged in a compulsive event, you must learn to do the following:
1. Recognize that a compulsive event is upon you
2. Recognize that this event is triggering emotions that will affect your decision-making skills
3. Commit yourself to finding a values-based solution to managing this event (note: Reactive Action Plans are a better alternative to trying to find a solution on the fly, but you will not be learning about those until next week)
4. Recognize that with this values-based decision, you will be left with unresolved emotions that will likely feel intense (this is the isolation of the emotions from the event aspect. It doesn't eliminate the emotions, it just extracts them from the decision-making process)
5. Remind yourself that the intensity of these emotions are finite...and manageable. That the worst you will face in the aftermath of your values-based decision is emotional discomfort triggered by self-denial, grief, lost opportunity, etc. This discomfort is just that — uncomfortable. It is not life-threatening.
6. Consciously derive as much stimulation as you can from the values-based decision that you made. The intensity of this stimulation will not compare to the intensity of acting out, but it will provide some relief.

Remember, your goal in isolating your emotions from the decision-making process is to put yourself in a position to make rational, values-based decisions. You are not expected to simply ignore your emotions but rather, acknowledge that they are a potential threat to your value system and act accordingly. Separate those emotions from your decision-making. Make your decision. Then anticipate and manage the emotional aftermath.

At first, this will likely be difficult. But, with just a little practice, it gets significantly easier...and in just a short period of time you will be an absolute master at isolating your emotions during a compulsive urge. When you get to this point, the 'aftermath' will be little more than a nuisance — easily brushed aside. But again, it won't feel that way at first."

CoachJon - Lesson 61

"That you see your recovery not in the form of a black and white 'when was the last time that you acted out', but more so in an ongoing, 'where am I in the process of changing my life'? "

"If you are going to lie to yourself — play games with yourself...your recovery is a farce anyway. But if you are sincere, and the slips occur because you lack the experience/skills to have acted differently — then take each realization that you have strayed off course and make the most of it."

CoachJon - Lesson 62

"Remember, there is nothing shameful about relapse. Even in the healthiest of recoveries, situations can arise where relapse happens. When the foundation that you are building collapses. When it is insufficient to manage your ever-changing life. This is not failure. Relapse is not failure. The failure comes when, in the throes of relapse, you turn your back. You stop fighting. You stop protecting what needs protection."

CoachJon - Lesson 66

"You now have a choice to make for your own life. You can accept that such relapse triggers are all around you, and try to fight them off one at a time in an effort to prevent relapse. Or, you can recognize that things are what you perceive them to be. And when you perceive such triggers to be opportunities to grow — to gain valuable experience in ingraining new behavioral patterns — then you will have the opportunity to successfully utilize the life management skills that you are developing on a daily basis. And that is when the true changes occur."

CoachJon - Lesson 71

"The deeper your awareness of how you manage your life, the less ignorant you become. And the less of a threat addiction becomes. Develop an ongoing awareness of how you are managing your life and you will never have to fear addiction again."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:16 am 
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When I look in to the future now and picture my life I am becoming increasingly more relaxed and confident about a life that will involve me being with my family and being free of addiction. To some extent this all still feels new and I am only too aware of complacency and being alive to threats that could come at me from any angle. But for now I feel like I am heading where I need to be which, if you offered it to me a year ago when joining RN, I would have bitten your arm off to achieve.

Last night I gave my young son a bath, read him a story and then put him to bed. At the moment he is heavily into a computer game that kids his age are playing and through the course of the weekend he was constantly asking me to watch him playing it where he been able to find glitches which helped proceed through the system. Quite frankly, the thought of watching something that held zero interest to me was not appealing so I made a number of excuses to avoid doing it and then went off to do something that appealed to me which quite often was looking at RN or other healthy activities. As a boy my son can be both demanding and challenging and like many his age tends to not listen or do as he is told first time. As a result I also spent a lot of time telling him off over the weekend and threatening computer bans if he didn't do as he was told. This led to us having a bit of an argument about it when he was having his bath.

As I walked downstairs after turning his bedroom light off I suddenly felt awful. I had had negative conversations with him all weekend and I don't get to see him much during the week. In that moment I realised that I have almost become so obsessed with the sexual addiction side of my recovery that I had lost sight of what my recovery is all about, my values. And my wife and son are at the core of my values. I talked to my wife about it which helped but overnight I have given it a lot of thought and felt a bit down this morning coming into work which is most unlike me. On a separate note I exercise regularly and generally watch what I eat and my weight (follow a decent loss a couple of years back) has been in my ideal range for 2 years now. In recent weeks it has slightly drifted and is now up at the top end of the range, another sign to act. I am doing enough exercise and don't eat rubbish other than on my Saturday cheat day so something has gone wrong. I realised that I am eating too much, it is a healthy diet but I always clear my plate. When losing the weight before I would stop when I was full and I have forgotten about that.

So I am now going to do daily monitoring for the next week looking at:

1. Did I spend some quality with my son today talking about things that interest him even if they hold no interest for me personally so that I could strengthen our relationship?
2. Did I eat consciously at every meal today and stop when I was full?

The valuable lesson that this has taught me is that recovery is just a path to get you to the life you want to lead, recovery is not a task that has an end date. One of CoachJon's quotes that has a lot of resonance with me is:
Quote:
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."

I have become so focussed on recovery that I had almost forgotten to manage my life properly. That will change from today.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:35 am 
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L2R,

First off, congratulations on completing a second round of the workshop. We all read posts in our own "voice" so correct me if I'm wrong.. but this time around your tone sounds confident, curious, and secure.
Secondly, reading your entries regarding your alcohol use really resonated with me.
Code:
As an addict to alcohol that would once have terrified me having that sort of temptation and moments later we sat down at our table and were faced with numerous bottles of white and red wine to consume too. I now look at these situations and recognise that I see them as opportunities to make me feel good about myself by not feeling that I want or need alcohol and I know that at the end of the evening (which did happen) everyone else will be drunk and I will still be sober and comfortable I had not acted inappropriately in any way but had had an enjoyable evening - and no hangover the next day! If I can handle that situation positively then there is no reason why I can not also see potential sexual triggers in the same positive way - I can think to myself "I used to find that situation really stressful and used to act out but now I feel good about myself by not being bothered about it."

This is so profound. Poly-addiction is an element for many in their compulsive wheel. Your ability to move beyond triggers is inspiring and also speaks to your capacity for pursuing your recovery/health with strength, empowerment, and well-deserved pride. I'm curious, what did you learn from your experience of leaving alcohol behind two years ago? What worked? What didn't? Are there any additional parallels to your recovery today?
Lastly, you mentioned:
Quote:
I need to listen to my internal alarm bell and when getting a rush I need to check if that is as a result of something healthy or otherwise and then act accordingly.

Like the non-alcoholic beer, the situation you described regarding your son was another opportunity to practice listening to that internal alarm bell. I think for any passerby reading your thread this is a perfect example of managing your life instead of managing your addiction.

Be Well,

Anon


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:59 am 
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Hey Anon,

Thanks as always for stopping by and showing interest in my thread. I also appreciate your ability to challenge me to look at what I have posted through others' eyes which often brings out further interesting thoughts on reflection.

Quote:
We all read posts in our own "voice" so correct me if I'm wrong.. but this time around your tone sounds confident, curious, and secure.

As you know, the reason that I went back through the workshop was because I didn't feel like I was at the stage of recovery I would have expected on finishing my first tour. I understood the concept and shape of the workshop but there were some key things that had clearly not landed with me as I was still experiencing urges and was struggling to manage them. Now that I am on the other side of my second trip I am so pleased that I did it again as I picked up a lot of bits and pieces which I think I had skipped through first time around in my efforts to get the tour completed which is a sad confession but an honest one. My fingers hesitate in typing the words "I feel confident and secure" because it just feels so foreign to me after most of my life spent acting out. But honestly, I do feel confident that I won't act out now. I still expect to get urges from time to time as I fear complacency but I appear to be far better armed now to head anything off almost before it happens.

Quote:
This is so profound. Poly-addiction is an element for many in their compulsive wheel. Your ability to move beyond triggers is inspiring and also speaks to your capacity for pursuing your recovery/health with strength, empowerment, and well-deserved pride. I'm curious, what did you learn from your experience of leaving alcohol behind two years ago? What worked? What didn't? Are there any additional parallels to your recovery today?

I have recorded in my thread previously as recognising that I had 3 main addictions that I needed to deal with some years ago, smoking, alcohol and sex. The only sensible thing I did back then was to realise that I needed to try and pick them off one at a time rather than simultaneously. The smoking was surprisingly straight forward by using a self-help book. My sister attended a course run by the author when she tried to stop and they were encouraged to smoke throughout the course and then stop on the last day of the course. On the last day he sent them out mid-morning for a smoke and then after they lit up he went out to see them and told them that this was their last cigarette. They all looked at him mortified and then he told them that he was only joking but they should remember exactly how they felt when he told them that when they came back in. The object of the exercise is that they all felt this dread and anxiety of not being able to smoke but they experienced it whilst they were actually smoking. It put across the point that the anxiety of stopping was a mental thing rather than a physical thing as most smokers feel that the nicotine is a physical dependency whereas it isn't at all. This stuck with me for when I stopped drinking as I knew I would experience anxiety at the thought of having to decline a drink whilst everyone else around me was drinking but I knew it was a mental rather than a physical barrier to overcome. Drinking is also a very different thing to smoking as the latter is now socially unacceptable whereas I would suggest that the former is almost socially unacceptable not to do. I find that at times I make others uncomfortable by not accepting a drink which puts more pressure on me. But in a similar way to SA, I knew that I couldn't handle drink, I had no filter and I have always viewed it like a tap which is either on or off. If it is on then I don't know when to stop and get drunk and feel rubbish the next day and ashamed for letting me get myself into that state. I would really struggle to have one glass of wine and then end it there, it is far easier for me to not have anything at all. Much like the smoking I tasted my last drinks on the day I gave up and swirled the wine around my mouth for a few minutes and it actually didn't taste so nice in the end - I used to drink quickly without thinking about it. I knew that if I didn't stop drinking then I would lose my marriage as my wife had got fed up seeing me getting drunk. So when faced with being offered a drink now I think that I will risk losing my wife and son if I take it and actually I know I don't really like the taste of it anyway. I suppose without realising it I was running my decision through my values before making a healthy decision (how ironic and who would have thought it?!) So in terms of what worked, I would say virtually everything about it, it was difficult initially as people need to know that I have stopped which can involve some awkward conversations but now most people know and it is no big deal. The only thing that went wrong is that I stupidly thought after 4 years of not drinking that I could control myself by having one glass of wine occasionally. After a year or so of that I realised it was a slippery slope and before long the binging returned so I stopped again 2 years ago.

In terms of parallels I think that there are some with drinking and SA. My last point there was about not being able to have a "taste" of an alcoholic drink because it will quite quickly leave me wanting much more. My mistake the first time around the RN workshop is that I foolishly allowed myself to leave thoughts of urges and acting out to develop before I cut them off. I thought I had the tools to allow myself a "taste" before closing it off. Quite quickly the urges started to take hold as I left it longer and longer. My biggest learning point is that urges can be brushed away if you head them off immediately and allow them no opportunity to develop. CoachJon talks of 30-60 seconds before the trance takes hold and I can certainly relate to that - but I would say that your internal alarm bell can sense the onset of an urge and you reaction to it in order to head it off can be achieved literally in a split second so that it does not have any time to give you any emotional rush from it. It sounds hard to believe but that is what has been happening to me over the last few weeks. The benefit is that there is no stress to manage as a result. I suppose the other parallel with drinking (and smoking) is that I knew that I had overcome previous addictions by recognising that they were really mental battles rather than anything physical and neither were unstoppable forces. I was able to take confidence that it was really a case of finding the key elements from the workshop to help you get your head around what had caused my addiction and then how the tools can stop it in its tracks.

I am very mindful of poly addictions. The therapist that my wife and I saw after D Day recommended to me that I took up flying, parachute jumping or gambling in order to shift the rush I clearly enjoyed away from sex. Out of those I chose gambling (which I was actually quite successful at) but when I started RN I stopped it when the mention of poly addictions was raised. The absence of gambling now means that my internal bell is rung whenever I sense a rush of excitement, and almost without exception it is because something has occurred to me that is unhealthy so I can stop it in its tracks, It has proven to be a helpful tool which I couldn't have used if I was still gambling and getting a buzz off of winning.

Quote:
Like the non-alcoholic beer, the situation you described regarding your son was another opportunity to practice listening to that internal alarm bell. I think for any passerby reading your thread this is a perfect example of managing your life instead of managing your addiction.

It's early days but I hope you are right, it certainly feels that way for now and I just need experience now. The last thing that I would ever want to do is to blow smoke up myself but I am probably so open in my posts because I would like to share what I have probably learned the hard way. In turn I have taken huge strength from the open posts of others which offered me hope when I felt like the hole was too big to get out of. I know that I ultimately trusted that the workshop worked because there were others here who had gone through it themselves and had come out the other side. If anything I say in my thread can offer others similar hope then I will have achieved what I now strive to do which is to help others on RN as it will be my way of giving back to such a life-saving a valuable free resource.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:46 am 
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I have had a couple of weeks away from RN as I felt like I needed a bit of a break from it. It allowed me to have some time to reflect on the areas that I need to focus on moving forwards. The key learning points for me are:

1. I am susceptible to certain triggers which, if left to their own devices, will cause me excitement. These triggers generally revolve around situations involving me having control or power over people (e.g. manipulating them into doing something for me) so I am trying to be alive to these situations as they arise - they are predictable.

2. A recent post by another member made a pertinent comment about addicts not wanting the orgasm to arrive because it signals the end of the ritual and with that comes the inevitable period of guilt and shame. An SA will make a point of hiding the latter from their decision making as it runs the very real risk of putting them off acting out but you are merely delaying the inevitable. I can certainly relate to this aspect and it is being exhausted and fed up with all of the guilt and shame after acting out that brought me to RN in the first place. Keeping this point in the forefront of my mind is critical in managing urges.

3. There is a split second moment of realisation of a trigger emerging where it can be recognised, flowed through the value set and then headed off. If handled in this way in almost auto-pilot mode then the urge is headed off before the emotions related to the urge have a chance to develop. As such, if done swiftly the stress generated it negligible as CoachJon suggests. I realised that I was lazy with this and if I am totally honest became cocky with it. I allowed myself time to enjoy the excitement for a few seconds before pushing it away. This caused a) unnecessary stress to manage after batting the urge away and b) allowed sufficient time for it to get into my conscious mind which then unnecessarily takes time to eradicate from my conscious (i.e. I keep thinking about it for a while afterwards).

4. I realised how often I get bored particularly at work. I am very busy and the work is demanding but I am skilled at doing it so quite often I am not challenged by it. In these moments my mind would drift looking to improve my emotional state and urge city would beckon. I have therefore tried to acknowledge this and found ways of giving myself a short break to help alleviate the boredom by doing something else for a few minutes which is healthier (e.g. read a blog about my football team or watch a short YouTube clip seeing them score some brilliant goals). Replacing the rush of excitement of an urge with reading a blog is not comparable though and that is a challenge that needs managing. I have thought a lot about the extreme emotional swings of the cycle of acting out (from thrill through to guilt and shame) as being unhealthy and not what non-addicts generally do - as such it is not a case of finding a more healthy way to get the previous thrills, it is more about recognising what healthy excitement is (i.e. far less volatile) and the enjoyment being less stimulating than the roller coaster ride of acting out. Getting used to a more stable excitement about something healthy takes some adjustment. CoachJon talks about replacing emotion with depth and I have seen this can be achieved by growing an appreciation of family and home that is around you rather than constantly looking out for the next buzz.

5. Following on from 2. above, I heard someone recently talking about addiction and they asked what you would do if you were offered a sweet that would taste better than any you had ever tasted but if you took one then you would get slapped hard around the face after eating it. Most people would probably turn down the sweet whilst some may take one and after the first face slap would not be going back for another. I would suggest that most SAs would not take the sweet. But now replace "sweet" with "sexual acting out" and "hard face slap" with "guilt and shame" and most SAs would read the situation very differently. But it is no different. The SA may argue it is different because they can't help themselves. Well that's crap as there is always a choice and realising that you can stop the cycle and make a healthy choice has to be a turning point in recovery. We all arrived at RN feeling helpless and didn't realise that it all comes down to making a simple choice that we do all have control over.

6. Making a bad choice will likely happen from time to time. That does not excuse it but it is the reality. I can see that there is a real danger of judging ourselves by whether we have acted out or not. If we judge failure as acting out then we are at the top of a very slippery slope. If we make bad choices it is very important not to compound it by making further bad choices. We need to learn by our mistakes and make sure that we do not make the same ones again. I see that there is a real opportunity to give ourselves a "Get Out of Jail Fee" card with this but we know in our own minds if any slip is genuine or contrived. CoachJon points out that the only failure is giving up altogether. But he also states that a full commitment is needed so if a slip occurs we need to get back on the horse again without delay and not allow poor choices to drift into worse ones.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:56 am 
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I am intrigued to see that over the course of the last 7 days there have been only 3 posts by members on the self-recovery forum. What is surely inspiring by this statistic is how powerful RN is that is has been able to cure every member (other than the said 3) of their addiction which causes no member to come here and post?? :pe:

Of course another answer might be that all of the members are too busy doing other things to spend time on their recovery. However, most members start their Lesson 1 thread by saying something along the lines of "I am fully committed to recovering and will make sure that I give RN priority and spend the time needed to change as I am fed up being the person that I have become." I have not been seeing a lot of that commitment over the course of the last week though that’s for sure. And if those recovering have lived through addictions similar to mine where the opportunities that the festive period presented (i.e. too much alcohol for me and also the women that would be the subject of my attention whose guards were let down after a load of wine) then surely we should be seeing a spike of activity on RN so that our members are as ready as they can be for the temptations that the next few weeks are likely to present.

Maybe I am just grumpy and cynical or maybe I am just a realist and see that too many members just appear to run out of steam part way through the programme. I hope to be dazzled and amazed and proven wrong, here's hoping that to be the case!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 3:55 pm 
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L2R
BRILLIANT post
:g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g:
I believe your signature reflects this almost perfectly
I say almost
because a better fit could be
"Should you fail to permanently recover from your addiction, it will be due to your CHOICE NOT to fully commit to recovery"
I believe that we all have that ability but some choose to deny that

as said Brilliant post

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Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
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