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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:20 pm 
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Lesson 45

Compulsive ritual (copied from urge awareness sheet, most recent slip up)

1. Woke up in the morning alone and aroused
2. Opened iPad to do recovery work, but went online to a site that is normally blocked.
3. For some reason blocker wasn’t working, I closed it so I wouldn’t look at porn.
4. Tried to do recovery work, but mind kept getting pulled to being able to look at porn.
5. Went back and forth and opened porn for a minute then closed not wanting to.
6. Eventually gave into watching porn and masturbating.
7. Had an orgasm then another one.
8. Cleaned up and took a shower feeling dejected.

Emotions felt:

1. Anxious energy, desire for release, to check out from what I was feeling.
2. Lack of motivation, again desire to disconnect from negative feelings.
3. Excitement at the prospect of looking at porn fear of actually doing it.
4. Anxiety, feeling of gnawing desire. Couldn’t focus on recovery work.
5. Vacillating between pleasure and relaxation and guilt.
6. Trance like pleasure and freedom from anxiety with just a tinge of my conscious saying I shouldn’t be doing this.
7. Complete pleasure and release.
8. Sadness, defeat, anxiety again.

The point of no return...
Theoretically I could stop at any point, however I think for me point 4 was the point of no return. It seems that once I actually see porn, something in my head says, “well you already failed, you might as well go all the way.”

So let’s see...the element just prior to that would be realizing that my internet blocker is off. As I reflect on this, I realize that fantasy plays a role here. In my mind a started thinking about what sites I could check out and what videos I might want to watch and I start planning in my head how I might continue the chain. So that’s the trigger, thinking and fantasizing about what porn I could watch.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:14 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:29 am
Posts: 459
Hi PT,

You are doing well working your way through the lessons.

I am sure you probably picked this yourself already but just to flag that the object of this exercise was to get you to explore your various emotions of which you identified that there were many. It is therefore easy to understand that your emotional state (e.g. Anxious, lacking motivation, etc as per your list) can make you more vulnerable to being tempted to act out. As a SA our autopilot wants us to find quick ways to escape and improve our emotional state. If you understand that then it means you can make yourself more ready for those situations by being aware of how you are feeling at any given time. So for example if I am particularly stressed, down or anxious about something, or even just bored, I am very mindful that i am more susceptible than usual to be tempted astray. Forewarned is forearmed!

As I say, you probably already picked this up you self but no harm in reflecting back on the key points learned through that lesson. Keep up the good work!

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L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:17 am 
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learningtorun wrote:
Hi PT,

You are doing well working your way through the lessons.

I am sure you probably picked this yourself already but just to flag that the object of this exercise was to get you to explore your various emotions of which you identified that there were many. It is therefore easy to understand that your emotional state (e.g. Anxious, lacking motivation, etc as per your list) can make you more vulnerable to being tempted to act out. As a SA our autopilot wants us to find quick ways to escape and improve our emotional state. If you understand that then it means you can make yourself more ready for those situations by being aware of how you are feeling at any given time. So for example if I am particularly stressed, down or anxious about something, or even just bored, I am very mindful that i am more susceptible than usual to be tempted astray. Forewarned is forearmed!

As I say, you probably already picked this up you self but no harm in reflecting back on the key points learned through that lesson. Keep up the good work!



Thanks L2R,

That’s right on the money. Where I get into trouble is not being aware of my emotions. I have a life long habit of ignoring my negative emotions and then they end up controlling my behavior. I’m trying to learn to be more aware at all times, getting better but still have moments where I’m clueless!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:48 pm 
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Lesson 46

Turning a compulsive ritual into a positive ritual...first 3 elements copied from last lesson.

1. Woke up in the morning alone and aroused
2. Opened iPad to do recovery work, but went online to a site that is normally blocked.
3. For some reason blocker wasn’t working, I closed it so I wouldn’t look at porn.
4. Realize I need to make a break and open my journal to look at my values.
5. Consider the consequences to my boundaries and values if I don’t change course.
6. Think of a value-based behavior to do instead of acting out.
7. Go do that...maybe in this case it would be to go play guitar.
8. Enjoy the fact that you did something that brings meaning and joy to my life.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:48 pm 
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Lesson 47

Scenario (being alone at home in the middle of the day)...

I would recognize the urge by the emotional pull and feeing of internal unrest that comes from compulsive desire. The likely point of no return would be once I open my computer and look at porn. The break would be once I feel that emotional pull and start thinking about possibly looking at porn.

Emotions...I would feel excitement and a buzz of adrenaline most likely along with an anxious longing to act out. These emotions are not the boss, and they are not permanent. They will fade. The consequences to my own boundaries and values are not worth participating in this ritual. What could I do with this time that would build my values/boundaries not destroy them? Do that!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:49 pm 
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Lesson 50

Consequences of value-based behavior...
Positive: I will feel happy and grateful that I didn’t give into the urge. I will be doing something that builds my desired values and boundaries. It will become easier in the future to repeat the positive behavior. It will be reinforced. Negative: I may have some negative emotions or anxiety about not experiencing the compulsive behavior. I will miss the immediate gratification. Honestly that’s the only negative I can think of.

Consequences of Compulsive Behavior...
Positive: I will gain some level of emotional balance although it will be short lived.
Negative: it will deteriorate my integrity and other boundaries. It will make me feel shame and guilt. It will hurt my wife. It will ultimately throw me deeper into emotional imbalance. And it will make it easier to act compulsively in the future.

Long term consequences...
The long term consequences are a result of the trajectory that the single action, in this moment, puts me on. A compulsive action puts my on the trajectory to greater compulsive and destructive behavior. While a Value-based behavior puts me on the trajectory towards the person that I deeply long to be.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:50 pm 
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Lesson 51

For this lesson I will be using the ritual from lesson 45 + 46. Making the break in element 3.


Option 1...open up my computer and look at porn.
Option 2... masturbate without porn to get it off my mind.
Option 3...stay on computer but do something beside porn.
Option 4...go do something completely unrelated that I enjoy.

Option 1...violates my values of faithfulness to my wife and breaks my absolute boundary.
Option 2...doesn’t violate personal values, but would hurt my wife and violate boundary.
Option 3...doesn’t violate values or boundaries assuming I use it in a productive way.
Option 4...affirms and build my values.

Option 3 or 4 only remaining...

Option 2 is actually an example of a boundaries conflict. I don’t really have a problem with masturbation, but I know my wife does. I value loving my wife above and beyond my need to masturbate, therefore I would eliminate this as an option. The principle would be that whatever value takes greater precedence in my value system would win out.

Option 3 or 4

To act...I think continuing to use the computer would make the anxiety and draw I feel to look at porn greater then if I went to do something else. However, neither would be something I would be ashamed about later I would feel like I’m making progress towards something important in my life.

Not to act...if I didn’t do either of these options, it would mean that I would likely default to option 1 or 2 and continue down the compulsive rabbit hole.

If I was discovered...no problem at all. In fact I’d like to include those I love in what I’m doing.

If I wasn’t discovered...also not a problem, I’d be happy that I did something that aligned with my values.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:51 pm 
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Lesson 52

The 1st thing I thought of is communicating with my wife. Sometimes something she says or does results in me feeling very angry or agitated and if I respond out of that emotion I will say something hurtful in response, in these instances I try to put the anger aside and respond rationally and kindly. It’s very challenging but I think a perfect example of isolating emotions.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:51 pm 
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Lesson 53

Masturbation...
Basically the determining factor of whether masturbation would be against my values is if it is known by wife. If done in secret and hidden from her it would certainly be against my values. However, if I were to talk to her about it and she for some reason couldn’t or didn’t want to engage sexually, but was good with me masturbating, then it wouldn’t violate either of our boundaries.

Other boundary conflicts...
I think one of the biggest conflicts is friendship with the opposite sex. I’ve never physically cheated on my wife, but have gotten emotionally to close in the past, and I think there is some broken trust there plus my wife has a history of betrayal in other relationships. Because of this she can be skeptical and fearful of any connection I make with the opposite sex. I value friendships of all genders so there’s a bit of a conflict there. On my best days, I try to help her feel comfortable and aware of my dynamics with other people. The more she feels included and aware the less of an issue it tends to be.

Going to the beach or the gym or other places where women can be scantily dressed can be a place where compulsive behavior (fantasy and lust) occurs. But these places are unavoidable in being a value-based person. I have to be prepared for them if I want to not act compulsively. Same with nudity that pops up in art or movies.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:52 pm 
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Lesson 54

Negative consequences to a Value-based decision...
This year my wife and I decided to have another child based on our values. This was accompanied with excitement and joy, but also some negative emotions like fear and anxiety. Then when we got pregnant, we had a miscarriage at 9 weeks. Which was very very sad and heartbreaking. All of that was a negative consequence of a value based decision.

Positive consequences to an emotion-based decision...
The decision to watch porn is always an emotion based decision and it has tons and tons of negative consequences. But also has positive consequences of relieving tension, getting a break from difficult thoughts and emotions, and giving me a sense of sexual autonomy/freedom.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:53 pm 
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Lesson 57

Define the situation...
I’m home alone after a long week it’s midday after taking care of my son for the morning. I have a moment to myself and I feel tired, but anxious and needing some emotional release and relaxation. So I lie down on my bed or couch and surf on my iPad. And I begin to feel the desire and excitement of the prospect of looking at porn.

What are my options...
Read a book
Look at porn and masturbate
Continue to mindlessly surf the internet
Take a nap
Play my guitar
Eat some lunch
Workout
Work on my business
Call a friend
Meditate
Write in my journal

Honestly can think of more, but that seems like plenty to choose from.

Choosing...
Looking at porn or mindlessly searching through internet both don’t meet my values and would leave me ultimately feeling emotionally worse then before so I eliminate them. Play guitar, talking to friend, working on business, workout, all require more energy and I need to replenish energy so I’m going to eliminate those. That leaves Eat, Read, Write in Journal, or meditate. Of those I think I’m gonna with read a book. It relaxes me and restores my energy. It helps me to wind down my anxious thoughts. However it may be less appealing in the moment of choice my mind will say it’s boring or I don’t feel like reading. And once I start reading there will likely be some remaining urges and anxiety/desire to turn back to a compulsive behavior.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 9:09 am 
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Been awhile since I posted so wanted to update. I’ve been a bit bogged down by working on creating reactive action plans for every situation and variety I can possibly think of..Felt like I’ve lost the big picture in it a bit. Then read lesson 60 today and it helped me zoom out and understand how all these plans fit with the whole. Great lesson and look forward to working through it more deeply.

Particularly wanting to work on visualization more. That really clicked with me, though I know it was talked about before, not waiting till the urge comes is smart!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:50 am 
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Lesson 59

This is a bit overdue, but has been a result of trial and error an deep consideration. But I feel good about these plans and that they adequately cover the range of urges that I consistently experience.


Preventative plan #1: I know that it’s very predictable that I feel an urge to look at porn on weekends when I’m home alone and I put my son down for a nap. Or any other time I’m home by myself. I need to be aware of my thoughts, emotions, and actions when I’m home alone. Spend a few minutes planning exactly how I’m going to spend my time when I’m alone. Structure is key to not falling prey to emotional decision making.

Preventative plan #2: the other situation where I’m most tempted to look at porn is when I’m stressed and tired at work. This predictably happens towards the end of the week, but can happen anytime. Be aware of your emotional state at work. Take breaks to journal, pray, or meditate when stress starts to build up. Avoid internet wandering that inevitably leads to porn.

Reactive plan #1: all my compulsive rituals start with a thought and emotion. Something will trigger the urge and I will start fantasizing about giving in to that urge. Instead of fantasizing about how to give in. I will use the urge or thoughts prior to the urge as a trigger to fantasize about how I will respond to the urge in a positive way. Fantasize about doing the right thing before actually doing anything.

Reactive plan #2: one of my greatest triggers is being on my phone or computer without purpose. My boundaries with technology have shown to be one of the most important aspects of avoiding sexually compulsive behavior and focusing on positive behaviors. Starting to slip on those boundaries should be a red flag for me to make a change before it starts to progress. If I become aware that I’m not following my boundaries I need to stop and refocus ideally before going down the path to porn.

Reactive plan #3: once I start feeling the physical urge to look at porn the emotions and desire can feel quite overwhelming and begin to overshadow my connection to my values and boundaries. At this point I need to reconnect with what’s important to me! This when I need to take out my values and ask myself the following questions...1. What are you feeling? 2. What value would best help me to balance out the emotions I’m feeling right now? 3. How should I spend the rest of my day in a way that honors my values and boundaries? Really connect with what my boundaries and values mean to me.

Reactive plan #4: by the time I’m actually looking at porn and/or masturbating I have broken my absolute boundaries and degraded my values. Therefore I need to reassess my recovery . Go through the steps for getting back on track from lesson 60/61. Aim to catch it early though, my mind will often say that I already slipped so I might as well just go all the way, and it ultimately leads to a binge, sometimes lasting multiple days. The regret, shame, and sorrow will be much reduced when caught early!


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:36 pm 
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Lesson 60

Predicting triggering events. As said in the lesson that this is an awareness of what will likely trigger an urge in me. The awareness needs to be there so I know when to make plans for how best to handle that given situation. The ones I personally need to be aware of are: when I know I am going to be alone for an extended period of time with no schedule, when I’m required for work or some other reason to be around someone I’m attracted to, when I’m experiencing strong emotions such as grief or stress. Most these things don’t happen completely out of the blue so I should be able to predict when they come.

Prior to a spontaneous triggering event: in the preceding lesson I wrote 2 proactive action plans. One was “fantasizing” about doing the right thing when an urge comes, the other is having a plan for how I want to spend idle time. These 2 done consistently and properly I believe eliminate the majority of urges I actually experience.

On the experience of an urge:
I kind of like the idea of going through the whole decision making process when I feel an urge. Because, honestly, different times call for different responses to an urge. Thinking through the situation puts me in a more rational mindset not making the choice based on emotion. That being said I can also respond quickly by stopping and praying or meditating. And stepping back, this can have the same effect of distancing me a little from my emotions so I can make a better choice.

When you discover you’re off track:
When I have gotten off track in the past I’ve felt lost on what to do to get back on track. The outline in this lesson is perfect in that it helps to know how to pull out of potential or actual relapse. This is what I’ll follow if/when I fall off track!

On Schedule:

Signs/symptoms-
Constant low-grade anxiety
Low energy
Less interest in usual hobbies
Spending lots of time online
Tiredness
Feeling uncomfortable with silence
Not wanting to be with friends and family

Life events-
Death of a loved one
Lack of sleep due to kids
Conflict in my marriage
Loss of income/financial stress
Depression and/or anxiety

Action plan:
Understand the source of the emotions I’m feeling. What am I preoccupied with or what pain am I trying to avoid???
if there’s any way I can alleviate the pain...then do it, take care of what is bothering me. Do I just need a nap???
If not, talk to someone about it. Share what’s going on and seek help to cope with the emotions I’m feeling.
Take care of myself with good food, sleep, reflection, play, etc. just do my best to live into my values.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2020 11:41 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 4020
Location: UK
Hello PT
its a good while since you wrote

Quote:
Been awhile since I posted so wanted to update. I’ve been a bit bogged down by working on creating reactive action plans for every situation and variety I can possibly think of..Felt like I’ve lost the big picture in it a bit.


Quote:
This is a bit overdue, but has been a result of trial and error an deep consideration


Quote:
Action plan:
Share what’s going on and seek help to cope with the emotions I’m feeling.


Sharing does help, remember that this community is supportive
but support should be deserved
please remember where you were and how you got to where you are now
:pe:

_________________
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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