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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:47 pm 
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Lesson 68: Anger management

a) Map out your own anger rituals in the same way you did your sexual rituals long ago. Look for patterns in relating to your partner, coworkers, friends, yourself...where anger is triggered and you find it difficult to disengage from that anger.

Like others have written, I found this a difficult exercise to think through. I think for many years I judged my feelings of anger and didn’t really accept it or “own” it properly for myself. I can recall visiting an addiction counsellor many years ago when I first started my recovery journey. Early in the session he commented on how angry I appeared to him, which was a complete shock to me because I hadn’t been aware of it at all. In fact, I just hadn’t been allowing myself to recognise it or experience it in a healthy way that would allow me to work it through. It was just shoved down inside and instead I resorted to compulsive behaviours in a bid to defuse it or deal with it somehow. Then it would just turn into guilt and shame and self-inflicted anger upon myself.

I guess for so many years I didn’t feel that I had the “right” to feel genuinely angry, because of all the harm I had done to my wife and to other people. If something was wrong between myself and my wife, I automatically took the “blame” on myself and assumed it was somehow my fault. I felt that I just didn’t have a leg to stand on in any argument, and so there was nowhere for the anger to go, other than to be buried away and turned in on myself.

These days I have a much better handle on my anger and I can recognise it much more easily for what it is. I am able to recognise and accept that I am not always to blame, and that actually anger can be a positive and appropriate emotion in the right circumstances. I don’t always express it in the most positive manner, and I can definitely be prone to sulking and acting in a very passive-aggressive fashion. However, I am also so much better at recognising when I get it wrong and taking responsibility for my actions. I feel I am pretty good at apologising for my part in handling anger badly and turning the situation into a more constructive one these days. In recent months there were a couple of occasions where I was justifiably angry with my supervisor at work. For a while I sat with the emotions and turned them in on myself in a very unhealthy way. In the end I realised my need to approach him and deal with my concerns. This was a difficult step to take but was actually a really positive and helpful experience for us both.

b) Can you identify the elements of these rituals where you actively intensify the stimulation that is experienced?

Destructive anger ritual
• I feel as if someone has taken advantage of me in some way/feel disrespected.
• I internalise the feelings rather than bringing them out into the open.
• I start to stew over them and re-create the scenario in my head.
• I become a bit more right every time and the other person a bit more wrong.
• I feel more and more justified but my anger has nowhere to go.
• My anger leads to resentment and then on to compulsive rituals as a way of soothing myself.

c) Do you think that 'creating a break' upon the awareness of these anger rituals will allow you to slow the situation enough to allow your values to take over? Why or why not?

Absolutely this will help, although I feel it is not a major issue for me these days. Its exactly the same principles as creating the break to enable myself to focus on my values when I am feeling in danger of resorting to compulsive behaviours. I just need to find some space to step back before I enter into the destructive rituals and become aware of exactly what is going on, and also remind myself of my commitment to my true values in life.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:01 am 
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Lesson 69: Victim Awareness/Making amends

Reading through this lesson, I’m tempted to say that I have already done this work through my 12 Step involvement over many years. I’ve taken Step 8 and Step 9 a couple of times with different sponsors over the years, and have made practical amends to many people. Plus, I also try to practice Step 10 as well as I can on a daily basis as I feel this is the real heart of ongoing progress: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it”. I’m so much better now at recognising when I need to take responsibility and saying sorry without qualification, rather than keeping on trying to justify myself, i.e. “I’m sorry BUT…”. At the same time, I’m also able now to recognise that not everything bad is as a result of me and my compulsive behaviours. For years I automatically accepted blame on myself for everything that was wrong especially in my family, somehow believing that it was all as a result of my repeated failures. I can now let those feelings go and simply accept responsibility for my part, however large or small.

So I am going to give myself credit for the work that I’ve already done, and not feel that I have to go through this whole process again. But at the same time, I do still recognise that I’ve continued to act out in destructive and hurtful ways for many years after making amends to other people. Thankfully these have not involved other “live” people, but the impact on my wife in particular has been really tough. I was struck by the sentence in the opening paragraph of the lesson: “There are few things more damaging to one's self-respect than to make a sincere apology to a loved one that you have hurt, only to hurt them again the following month”. Sadly, I know this truth all too well and have used it as a huge stick to beat myself up with over so many years, wallowing in the shame of repeated failure and deceit. I feel as if this process is causing me to make the biggest amends now to myself, by finally letting go of that image of myself as a total failure who will inevitably continue to act in destructive and compulsive ways for the rest of my life. In making and committing to the decision to live a health-based lifestyle and to work towards my values, I am finally leaving behind that self-fulfilling prophecy that I will always be a “sex addict”. It feels a little bit like a snake sloughing off its old skin and leaving it behind for good (maybe not the best image!). I feel I have to prioritise this first, because somehow I have never managed to make amends to myself beforehand and it has kept me trapped in the same old cycle.

At the same time, I am keeping central to my vision the desire to retake my wedding vows with my wife. I have wanted to do this for so many years, but have never managed to get the recovery to be able to make it a viable proposition. I’ve felt trapped in a quandary. Part of me has wanted to retake my vows as a kind of protective barrier to stop me from acting out again. That’s a very immature perspective, and I can really see the fallacy of that thinking now. My vows never stopped me the first time, and they wont have any “magical” properties this time either. So I need to get to a place first where I am fully committed to my health-based recovery, and confident in my capacity to handle life on life’s terms. I feel like I’m well on the way to that place now, but I still don’t feel as if it’s the right time to retake our vows. I’ve mentioned it to my wife once or twice, and she hasn’t been overly enthusiastic. Rightfully so, because I know that she needs to see concrete evidence of change over a prolonged period of time. I’m going to keep that vision in sight and I know that the right time will come if I continue along this road.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:05 am 
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Lesson 71: Permanent Recovery = Ongoing Awareness

I really found this lesson useful and I feel an ever-growing sense of hopefulness that my life won’t always be clouded by addiction lurking just over the horizon. Until I started the workshop, I had no conception whatsoever that it would be possible to find a permanent end to addiction. It just wasn’t a part of my vocabulary. I imagined that I would always be a “recovering addict” and would have to keep on taking my “medication” for the rest of my life – attending SAA meetings, etc. Working through these lessons seems to have fundamentally altered my perspective, such that I now believe this is an entirely achievable goal – not just for someone else but actually for me at this point in my life. I am feeling increasingly liberated by the thought of not seeing myself in terms of addiction, whether recovering or active. That is now beginning to feel like a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that kept me locked into the same mentality for far too many years.

That’s not to say that I don’t still have plenty of work to do. I’m still in the process of fully embedding all of the lessons that I have learnt, and working out how to make each of the tools operate in the best way possible for myself. But the solid foundation is definitely there in a way that it never really was before. In terms of maintaining this awareness, I feel that I need to be as intentional as possible in how I live my life. Any time I start to slide back into a reactive mindset, that’s a huge warning sign that I need to start taking more care. My plan to keep on maintaining this progress is as follows:

Work my way back through the RN workshop again once finished.
• Take on a role as an RN mentor once settled in to our new home.
• Keep my role as a sponsor within SAA, but reduce my involvement in meetings over time.
• Maintain my weekly health monitoring checklist.
• Integrate the tools from this workshop into my own personal Rule of Life. This is important to streamline the process rather than having lots of different objectives.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:19 am 
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Hi Tim,

Well done on your continued progress, you are very nearly through all of the lessons now and it is good to see that you are still gaining value from them.

In particular in terms of this lesson and your awareness plans for the future:
Quote:
• Work my way back through the RN workshop again once finished.

This is a very good idea, from experience I am sure you will be surprised how much you didn't pick up on during your first trip through the workshop which can often prove invaluable
Quote:
• Take on a role as an RN mentor once settled in to our new home.

As you start to put all of he theory into practice and see all the pieces fitting better together this part can make a lot of difference to you too as it brings a different perspective. Your instincts will no doubt be that you feel ill prepared to be giving others comment or guidance but you will be surprised how much you have learned during your journey. Sharing your experiences (what went right as well as what went wrong) will be valued and appreciated by others and part of your guidance to them. I have certainly got a huge amount from mentoring and would encourage you to do the same when time permits. If you have any issues trying to organise this when the time comes please post this to your thread and a coach/mentor will make sure that this is put in place for you.

Keep up the good work! :g:

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 11:33 am 
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Thanks very much for the encouragement L2R. That's really appreciated and I'll bear that in mind about applying for a role as a mentor. :g:


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:45 am 
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Lesson 73: Leaving addiction behind

Wow! I can't quite believe that I've made it through to the end of the workshop. It has taken me longer than I first anticipated, but I've taken the time that I needed and I've completed it in the timescale that I set for myself halfway through. I have really enjoyed and appreciated the depth of insight that completing the workshop has given me. I had made so much progress before RN in dealing with the worst compulsive behaviours, but I was feeling increasingly trapped by being unable to make the final breakthrough that I needed. I just had no tangible belief that a full and permanent recovery was possible for myself, having relapsed and failed so often. It just felt like a never-ending pattern of relapse. I needed something new and something different, and this workshop has given me a whole new vocabulary. Its actually incredibly liberating to think not even in terms of "addiction" any more, but to conceive of myself as just trying to live a healthy lifestyle - the same as any other human being. I had to challenge my flawed thinking that I was fundamentally an addict and would always remain an addict, and I really feel this has made the difference.

I still feel a slight element of trepidation about the road ahead, so it was reassuring to read in the final lesson that this is completely normal. It takes a long time to overturn thinking and patterns that have been ingrained for almost 40 years. But I have a real sense of hope now that just wasn't there before. I'm about to move with my family to a new town and a new career. There has been a lot of change and stress in my life over the past few months, and there will continue to be so, but I believe that I have the tools and the underlying awareness of my values to safely negotiate this testing time now. As the lesson suggests, I'm going to celebrate my achievement today and give myself credit for having the courage and the strength to see this all the way through. And then I'm going to go back to the beginning in a few days time and start it all over again! I want to say thanks so much to everyone who has contributed to pulling the workshop together and walked the journey with me, and wish you all the very best in your own journey towards health and wholeness.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:35 am 
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Well done Tim :g:
It is great to see someone get real benefits from the RN workshop.

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“Change your thoughts, change your life.” ~Lao Tzu
Regards
T


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:09 am 
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Hi Tim,

Let me add my congratulations to you for completing the workshop. Please do not underestimate what an achievement this is, every new joiner commits to staying the course but most unfortunately do not, it takes a full commitment to work through each lesson and take on board what it is teaching.

In your very first post nearly a year ago you wrote:
Quote:
1) Actively committing to change

I hate addiction and it’s consequences for me and for my family. I’m so sick and tired of keeping on relapsing into the same old behaviours and ending up back in the same old place. I’m desperate to see permanent change, but I’m also scared of committing myself to change and then failing yet again. I've committed myself so many times in the 12 Step programme and worked through the Steps several times. I want to really believe that permanent change is possible for me, and I commit myself to working for it. Having read the first lesson, I wonder if my motivation to change has never really been fully for myself. It's always been about external factors, whereas now I'm coming to realise that it has to be based in my own desire not to live in this way any longer.

Now is a good time to reflect back on how far you have come in that year and how you have a changed as a person. In Lesson 6 CoachJon says:
Quote:
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."

I see this as the next phase of your recovery as you work back through the workshop, you are aiming to turn the theory into practice to the extent that it becomes automatic and you will achieve the goal that CoachJon has highlighted. Well done.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:54 am 
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Thanks very much L2R, I really appreciate that. Apologies for the delayed response. For some reason my notification ended up in my trash emails! We've had a hectic few weeks moving across country to a new home and new job so I haven't logged on in a while but I have been keeping in touch with fellow SAA members. If I had gone through this level of stress before starting the RN programme then I know things would have gone horribly wrong as I just didn't have the tools to be able to cope without resorting to compulsive behaviour. I'm so thankful and grateful to report that everything has gone so smoothly, despite having to endure some teething problems with flooding in our new home! Now that I've got a bit of breathing space, I fully intend to apply for status as a mentor in the near future and start my journey back through the workshop again.

Thanks again and all the very best to you too.

Tim


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:42 am 
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I had sent an email applying for a status change as a mentor, but haven't heard anything back. Could someone help me with this please.

Many thanks :g:


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:19 am 
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Hi Tim,

Thanks for your message, I have asked for your status to be upgraded and hopefully you will see this change in the near future.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:51 am 
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Great, thanks for that. Much appreciated :g:


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:48 pm 
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I haven't written a post in quite a long time since I finished the recovery workshop. Partly because I've finished the lessons, and also partly because life has been progressing so smoothly in many ways. I haven't really experienced any strong compulsive desires, and I've also taken the decision to remove myself from the SAA group that has been such an integral part of my life over so many years. This is a conscious decision - I've recently moved to a new area so I could get involved in a new group, but I actually feel as if I need to leave behind that image of myself as a "recovering addict" and strike out in a new direction. So far I'm really enjoying my new focus on living a healthy life. After so many years of never really believing that I could live a "normal" life without the shadow of addiction looming over me, this has been a huge relief for me. I'm just coming up to 6 months of total sobriety from compulsive behaviours and feeling in a great place generally, still working my weekly health monitoring and I've also just started to work my way back through the lessons again to fully embed the learning.

However, I'm also conscious that I need to maintain my progress. The temptation is just to sit "on my laurels" and be content with what I've achieved over this past year. I know that never really works and that I can all too easily slip into complacency. I need to keep moving ahead and developing my vision and my values for the rest of my life. I've felt a bit of discontent over the past week or so (partly as a result of the ongoing COVID situation), and I recognise that I need to maintain my connection a bit more proactively with Recovery Nation and work more consciously towards achieving my goals. So I'm going to start posting some of my thoughts and reactions again towards working my way back through the workshop.

I've just gone back through Lesson 2 again and read over my Vision which I first started developing around this time last year. It's so encouraging to realise where I was in my life at that time, and how much better things are now. So many aspects of my vision are coming true in my life, whereas at that time it all seemed to be a bit like a pipe dream - not really fully achievable in reality. Its really helpful to me to hold on to that sense of the bigger picture - to realise where I was before I started the workshop, or indeed where I was many years ago before I ever entered an SAA meeting. This time last year I was wrapped up in so much guilt and shame over repeated failures, and struggling to hold on to the hope that I could even achieve even a month or so of sobriety at that time - let alone envisage a life committed to healthy values and vision. And yet, to outward appearances I was doing well, having set up my own SAA group and sponsored various different people over the years. But for some reason I just couldnt find the final breakthrough and it felt like it was never going to come for me. If you're reading this and you're in the same place I was, please just commit yourself to this workshop and keep on going. It really does work if you're prepared to put the time and effort in. Its not easy but the eventual rewards are so worthwhile.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:43 pm 
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So I've just gone through Lesson 4again for the second time, and it was incredibly refreshing to be reminded of all the values that I spent time thinking about this time last year. It helped me to see that so many of those values are embedded in a real way within my life now as a result of working through the workshop and being intentional with the exercises. When I first approached the task, I can remember feeling pretty overwhelmed at the prospect of having to sit and somehow prioritize this massive list of values. However, going back through the bigger list now, I've actually been surprised at some of the ones that were in my original thinking and that have now moved up the order of priority. Probably because there is so much more "space" in my life now for different values to breathe, rather than my attention being largely taken up with compulsive behaviours and maintaining the structure around it. One example was living a sustainable lifestyle, which I put down towards the bottom of my list. Now I feel that it is far more important to me to consciously develop that value in a practical way - for me and the people around me. I'm going to do some more work on my values over the next few days and come up with a new list rather than just sticking to the original top 15 that I chose last year.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 12:53 pm 
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I'm working my way back through Lesson 5 just now and have taken the opportunity to review and re-define some of my values according to where I am at now. I've brought some of the values together and added in a new one about sustainable living that is much more important to me now that I have the space to be able to focus on it. Here is my updated list of values and the plans that accompany them.

Proactive Value Planning

Accepting myself, not comparing myself to others
Address and challenge negative self-talk. Replace with positive affirmations and celebrate my attributes
Accept and integrate praise and positive comments Recognise and challenge those times when I compare myself negatively to others, especially on social media
Do things that bring me life not death

Building intimacy and trust with my wife
Retake wedding vows after a year of recovery
Don’t dwell on past failures but visualise future success – what does it look like
Encourage my wife to take up fresh interests and hobbies. Do them with her, e.g. hillwalking
Spend time properly listening to her and being present
Seek opportunities to compliment her
Buy her flowers on a monthly basis

Being the best dad that I can be
Give quality time and space to Emily and seek to be fully present with her
Initiate contact with Lucy on a regular basis
Encourage my children and build them up in their own self esteem
Take responsibility for setting appropriate boundaries where necessary

Commitment to God, developing a deeper spiritual life Spend time daily praying and reading the Bible
Practice tuning myself into the presence of God in the midst of daily life
Commit myself to reading spiritual literature
Commit myself to keeping a reflective journal
Take regular time out for spiritual retreats
Integrate my Rule of Life with these plans

A commitment to live life to the full
Put aside regular time for walking and camping
Intentionally practice my hobbies
Take up one new hobby in the coming year
Be more proactive in looking for music, comedy and theatre shows that I enjoy
Get out for a jog at least twice per week
Commit to having alcohol a maximum of 3 nights per week (except on holiday!)
Give myself credit for times when I make people laugh and bring joy to people – especially on social media

Using my experience in life to help others
Complete RN workshop again and post once a week
Become an RN mentor
Keep my vision central to my life
Take hold of opportunities to lead from the front and don’t hide away
Be open to sharing my story with people
Actively practice my counselling skills

Building a sense of shared community/friendship
Prioritise a list of 5 or 6 people who I will visit pastorally at least once per month
Make sure I eat with other people at least once or twice per week
Seek out opportunities to engage more with my neighbours, especially at Christmas
Engage with people on a deeper level through social media
Be open to sharing with others from a place of vulnerability
Make greater efforts to give invites to people I want to develop deeper friendship with
Celebrate and nurture the existing friendships I have
Make a conscious effort to listen properly and remember when I ask questions of other people

Patience with myself and others
Consciously slow myself down
Take a deep breath before having a meltdown!
Consider the situation from another perspective

Resilience to cope with life
Continue to work RN and my SAA programme
Pay attention to my holistic wellbeing and spiritual condition – stay centred
Practice alternative ways of coping with stress rather than acting out
Don’t take on too much work at once – say “no”

Commitment to sustainable living
Shop more locally: butchers, greengrocers
Eat more vegetarian meals (3/4 per week)
Eco-congregation scheme
Walk and cycle within local town
Cut down on shopping on Amazon


Last edited by Tim_Recovery on Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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