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 Post subject: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Hi everyone,

I have seen a few people recently struggling with the exercise from Lesson 22, so I decided to write a bit of a guide to doing this lesson, since it is one of the most difficult to understand, but is also (in my opinion) one of the most important lessons. I also think that this lesson isn't as hard and overwhelming as it seems. Once it clicks with you, you will never look at your compulsive rituals in the same way again.

Elements

The first thing you want to do with this lesson is write out ALL the elements of one of your compulsive rituals. The lesson only says to do 3-4 basic ones...however, I found it VERY helpful to write out all of the elements, so that you can deconstruct all aspects of your ritual into its most basic emotional factors. And most likely, if you already did the lesson on compulsive elements (where you make the compulsive "cookie") you have likely already done this. But, make sure you have all the elements.

Primary, Secondary, And Accessory Elements

One of the most commonly misunderstood factors of this exercise is in understanding the role of primary, secondary, and accessory elements, and what they mean. Don't allow yourself to get caught up here. Once understood, this is a pretty simple factor.

I have always understood Primary elements slightly differently than how Jon presents it in Lesson 22. In the lesson, Jon writes that Primary elements are those elements in the ritual that provide a major amount of stimulation. However, I have found it more useful to understand Primary elements as those elements in the ritual that drive the ritual, and that other elements result from. Typically, this factors in the fact that they provide major amounts of stimulation, but also makes it easier to understand. For example, if your ritual were to begin with fantasy...and all other elements in that ritual result from that fantasy (porn viewing, suspense, danger, masturbation)...then fantasy would be the Primary element in that ritual. Conversely, if you starting porn viewing first...which then led to fantasy...sensory (visual) would be the primary element.

In those two example, those rituals could be completely different in terms of how that person is stimulated by them, despite the fact that the same elements are there. This is where the subjective nature of rituals comes in...and should also teach that that it is completely within your perception about how these different things stimulate your emotions. That gets into a lot of other great topics like triggers...but that is a digression. Each individual's rituals are different...therefore, it is up to YOU to determine which elements are primary and which are secondary. Assign primary elements a numerical value of "3" (I will get to the subjective nature of the numerical values and why you shouldn't get hung up on them).

Now, in Jon's example, he had Orgasm as a "3"...because, as he said, "orgasm was the primary driving force for my behavior." Now, if the entire point of the ritual itself is to eventually end in orgasm, that is true. However, I would guess that for many fantasy, porn, and masturbation rituals, orgasm is rarely a primary element. As I said, this doesn't mean it can't be...but typically, it results from another element that is driving the ritual or is added solely to increase the overall stimulation, rather than is the driving force for the entire ritual. Again, up to you to decide. For example, many fantasy, porn, and masturbation rituals need not end in orgasm...and for some, the suspense of NOT orgasming could be the factor that ends the ritual.

Typically, most basic rituals have 1-2 primary elements. In my approximation, rarely would a basic ritual have more than two primary elements. The other thing that helps in thinking about primary elements this way is that they are the driving force behind the ritual...and therefore the most dangerous element. The one to look out for, where you know that a ritual is beginning. In terms of urge control, understanding this can't be overstated...as if you stop the ritual when you recognize the primary element, none of the other elements can develop.

Secondary elements are the elements that result from the primary element(s), but typically always exist in the ritual. For example, if fantasy leads to sensory stimulation, porn watching, and suspense, but those elements typically don't exist without the fantasy to initiate them, then those three elements would be secondary. Assign those elements a value of "2."

Accessory elements are elements that basically don't have to exist in the ritual necessarily, but serve to boost the stimulation you're getting. To give you a personal example to illustrate this concept...in some of my love addiction rituals, I would occasionally think about the concept of being the "perfect man" and having a wife. This was really just a power element...but it didn't always present in the ritual, but gave me an extra "hit" depending on my emotional state, so I considered it an accessory element. They're basically add-ons if your normal ritual isn't stimulating you enough...though in the way compulsive patterns progress, accessory elements could eventually become secondary elements. Assign accessory elements a value of "1."

Remember that you can have multiple instances of the same element at different points in a ritual, and they can be different in terms of primary, secondary, or accessory ranking, and the filters. For example: during your ritual, you always touch yourself in a specific way, which causes you to feel suspense as to whether or not you will orgasm. You ALSO feel suspense at the idea of whether or not you will be caught, and this stimulation adds to the ritual. These would represent two completely different suspense elements, which would need to be considered individually, as they have completely different effects on your emotional state. So consider that an element can be present in multiple different ways in the same ritual, and that those must be considered to completely understand the emotional effects of the ritual.

Lastly: remember that in this exercise, you are identifying the elements for one isolated ritual. You could have different rituals where the primary and secondary elements are completely switched (for example, you start watching porn, which then leads to fantasy, as opposed to the other way around)...in which case, the way such rituals would stimulate you could be entirely different.

Filters

Once you're done assigning values to all the elements, you assign values for each of them for the three filters, Time, Intensity and Habituation.

A brief interlude about numerical values in this exercise

A common complaint people have about this exercise is "But aren't these values arbitrary and subjective? How can they have meaning then?" Yes, they ARE arbitrary and subjective...and that is the point. Nobody can put a definitive numerical value on an emotion...it's entirely subjective. And you can't compare emotions with other people in order to see if yours are more or less intense. The numbers in this lesson are arbitrary and subjective because they are trying to quantify what is an inherently arbitrary and subjective thing: your emotions. You are trying to understand the effect of these elements on your emotions, not anyone else's. Therefore, these numbers will only have meaning to you. These numbers are only good in helping YOU understand the impact of these various different elements in the ritual (which are relative only to each other) on your emotional state.

So when you assign values for the 3 filters, you can really only assign values based on the relation of various elements to each other, not in any kind of objective, "these are what the numbers should be" way. Basically, the numbers are only your best guess in comparison to the other elements. But that is okay...it will still work out in the end, in terms of helping you see how various elements affect you. There is no such thing as perfection here (something notoriously difficult for the compulsive mind to understand). There is no right and wrong to these numbers...only what feels right to you.

Back to the filters...

Time - Basically, how long the element lasts in the ritual. If it lasts for a long time, assign a high number...and remember, this is only in relation to the length of the ritual and the other elements.

Intensity - Pretty self-explanatory. The more intense an element, the higher the number assigned.

Habituation - this is one a lot of people get confused on. Remember, you are considering all of these filters only in the context of an individual ritual, not your entire life. So something like masturbating 3 times a day and each time it becomes less stimulatory is NOT habituation in the context of how this exercise intends it. Rather you are looking at an individual element and assessing how much that element habituates within the scope of the individual ritual. For this one, the LONGER it takes for an element to habituate, the higher the number. For example, if you begin fantasizing, but relatively quickly you must increase the intensity of the fantasy because it loses its stimulatory effect, it would have a low habituation number (habituates quickly). If that element remained novel and stimulatory for quite a while, it would get a high number.

For example, orgasm would almost always have a low habituation number, as in the scope of a single ritual, it can't really habituate. However...to get your minds thinking about this in a larger scope...orgasm could habituate (and does) during the course of compulsive chains where there are multiple orgasms.

Do the Math

It may seem tedious, it may seem irritating, but I would recommend that after you write out all your elements and the filters for the elements, then assigned numerical values to them...to do the math, as described in the lesson. It only takes you a few minutes, at most. And, what this will do is give you a numerical value for, in the context of your ritual, how much relative stimulation that element gives you, compared to the other elements.

How does this help you? First of all, it lets you see exactly which elements of your ritual affect your emotional state the most, compared to other elements in the ritual. Thus, it makes sense, in terms of urge control, to watch out for those elements the most. As well, it will give you an idea of how all the elements come together into a ritual that allows you to manage your emotions. This should also allow you to see exactly how rituals provide stimulation...and how that stimulation decreases over time. Now, we ARE talking about rituals habituating over time...in which case, you either add new elements to the existing rituals, alter the filters for existing elements (ie. longer time masturbating, added intensity of pornography, attempting more dangerous things after what you had been doing before was no longer dangerous enough), OR connect rituals together to form compulsive chains.

For me, this lesson really let me see exactly how a ritual affected my emotional state. I eventually recognized how different elements stimulated in different ways. And, you can do this for any ritual...though eventually, you will be able to do this breakdown quickly in your head, rather than doing all the numbers. It allows you to de-mystify your ritual. No longer will the emotional stimulation from a ritual seem mysterious to you...it's all laid out right there. Probably most importantly, this lesson shows that there really is no mystery to compulsive rituals. And, this sets the basis for understanding that all you really need to do is achieve that same emotional stimulation from healthy behaviours in order to be fulfilled.

Hopefully this helps. If there are any questions (or if any of the other Coaches or mentors think I screwed up on anything or missed something!), please don't hesitate.

FT

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"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha


Last edited by forwardthinker on Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:55 pm
Posts: 184
FT,

Thank you for clarifying that about that lesson. I am currently in the process of breaking not only all my sexually compulsive behaviors down into their elements and filters, but all my negative compulsions as well. I admit, I am one of the many that was somewhat confused about assigning numbers to the filter of habituation. I know lesson 22 is a very important lesson that must be completely mastered to move forward and you have done an excellent job in analyzing the lesson.

Thanks again,

Chris

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Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.
- Marianne Williamson


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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:29 am 
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Hear Hear. FT, you're invaluable.

-Semperfi


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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:27 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Hi sunbeam,

Things that don't habituate in a single ritual would get a low number, as in the example.

Think of it this way: for ALL the filters, you grant higher scores whenever that filter would provide you with more stimulation. So in the case of habituation, if that element lasts LONGER in the ritual (ie. doesn't habituate), it provides you with MORE stimulation and therefore gets a higher habituation score (contributing to a higher overall score for that specific element). Whereas if that element habituates quickly, it provides you less stimulation, so receives a lower score. Typically, orgasm would have a low Time score, a high Intensity score, and a low habituation score (since in the course of one ritual, orgasm is quick and does not really habituate at all). However as noted in the original post, if you were to analyze a chain that included multiple orgasms, then earlier orgasms could have higher habituation scores than later ones, to indicate how later orgasms in quick succession provide less overall stimulation. Does that help?

Boundless

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"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:58 pm 
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Thanks Boundless. I was having a devil of a time understanding Habituation (as well as how to apply the other two filters.) The earlier posting on this thread cleared up my confusion on the Time and Intensity filters. Your elaboration on Habituation finally made it click for me. Well done.

Euch


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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:26 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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Location: UK
I note that quite a few members are approaching this lesson and know that some will find it harder than others
so perhaps bumping this might help :pe:

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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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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:23 pm 
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CoachBoundless wrote:
Think of it this way: for ALL the filters, you grant higher scores whenever that filter would provide you with more stimulation. So in the case of habituation, if that element lasts LONGER in the ritual (ie. doesn't habituate), it provides you with MORE stimulation and therefore gets a higher habituation score (contributing to a higher overall score for that specific element). Whereas if that element habituates quickly, it provides you less stimulation, so receives a lower score.


Hey, I'm a bit confused by this. I think the lesson states the exact opposite?
For example at the element "fantasies" it says:
Quote:
*Habituation — As fantasies get 'played out', they decrease the overall stimulation that fantasy produces. I respond by expanding those fantasies. '3'

I read that as: The more you need to expand the behavior to still receive stimulation, the higher the habituation score.

Edit: Okay after reading it again and again I think I got it. Actually what you're saying and the lesson says is the same. I got stuck on the part of lasting longer in the ritual. But now I realize how it's meant. By actively changing it, like in the example from the lesson, you expand the stimulation and therefore the habituation score.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guide to Lesson 22
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:46 am 
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Okay.. I've read it again and again and again. And I actually think there are some contradicting messages out there. Maybe I'm still wrong and it's more of a comprehension problem, but I think there are different ways to read the filters and it's not always as obvious how to do it. Maybe someone else could join in and clear things up a bit? I'll try to point out my problems in this post:

Time

Lesson 18 says:
Quote:
Each person has their own threshold for the amount of pleasure to be extracted from any one sexual or romantic event. The closer an addict comes to reaching this threshold without going over, the more stimulating the experience will be for them. Once the threshold is passed, any additional stimuli tends to serve as the antithesis to pleasure, replacing the aura of pleasurable feelings with a negative stress response.

Lesson 22's text says:
Quote:
Scale: (10-1, 0)
When considering the effect of Time on a particular element, the closer an element comes to the threshold of Time, the higher the number that will be assigned. Take for example, nipple stimulation [Sensory (touch)]. In a perfect situation, the amount of time spent stimulating the nipples will have brought the sensations to their absolute peak. The assigned value would be "10". Should the stimulation actually reach (or surpass) the threshold, making what was once a pleasurable experience now irritating or painful, the assigned value would be a "0". The importance of this will be apparent as we continue.

That's consistent so far. Both basically say that the number means, how close you've came to that threshold during your ritual. So for example your orgasm in that specific ritual lasts 20 seconds which is good, but after 21 seconds it would become unpleasant. This would mean the assigned number is 10 (and the number for the hypothetical 21 seconds orgasm would be 0). So using this approach the number doesn't really measure how long you indulge in this element. It doesn't matter if it takes 40% of the overall ritual-time or if it takes 80%. The number shows how close you've been to the threshold. It basically says how far you've come in that time. Although this makes sense I think there isn't that much of a difference to "intensity". But still, the example in the text of lesson 22 supports this approach.
It assigns the following numbers:
Quote:
Orgasm = 1 | Accomplishment = 2
Time = 8 |Time = 9

Which makes sense if you define "Time" the way described so far. Both orgasms and accomplishments are elements that not often last more than a short amount of time. You could argue that they might last a bit, but in the end they almost never last the whole time of a ritual. So the 8 and 9 means, that in the time "Dave" used these elements they were quite pleasureful and close to the threshold.

I try to come up with another example. Let's say your ritual is using porn. Let's say the time-threshold for the sensory element (so the act of watching porn with your eyes) is 3 hours, after those 3 hours your eyes hurt, you're not really able to process the images and so on, your visualy overstimulated. So let's say in that ritual you only watch it for 30 minutes. So what should you asign? I think maybe something around "3". It does get better the more you watch, but eventually you can't see it anymore. But then there's another contradiction in Lesson 22...
Quote:
Fantasy:
*Time — Increases stimulation; no time limit '4'

If there's no time limit, shouldn't it be a "1"? As time goes by you'll never reach the threshold, so it should be a "1". After all those explanations a "4" would mean in that case, that you're moving towards a threshold... it's just confusing.

BUT, it gets better...

forwardthinker wrote:
Time - Basically, how long the element lasts in the ritual. If it lasts for a long time, assign a high number...and remember, this is only in relation to the length of the ritual and the other elements.

That contradicts with the definition before. If you see it that way, the assigned "8" for the orgasm in the example before would mean, that in relation to the length of the ritual, he would have an orgasm that lasts 80% of the time? I doubt it. Same thing for the accomplishment. Even though it's more believable to have such a long feeling of accomplishment, it's often more of a short term impulse when you succeed with your ritual-goal. So what? I don't want to say forwardthinker doesn't understands the filters. It really makes sense to just see time that way, as the relation of the length of that element to the ritual. I think that would be quite helpful. That way you could look at an element and see that it only has a "1" assigned to time, so it's pretty short, but still a "10" at intensity. Quite insightful... But yet, there seems to be a dissonance. So what is the right way to see it? It's confusing as hell.

Another good sentence in Lesson 18 states the following: "time, where the closer a person gets to their threshold, the more intense the arousal". Which syncs up with the first definition. You would then measure exactly that. Your closeness to the threshold and not how long you've actually indulged in that behavior. But to be honest, isn't it quite hard to really measure that? How do I know where my threshold is, without reaching it? This might fall under the normal subjectivity of this lesson.

Intensity
Lesson 18 says:
Quote:
intensity refers to how well you have mastered the techniques involved in performing a specific behavior. Anybody can touch themselves, but knowing where to touch, how to touch — that's what creates the mood for which you strive.

This thread says:
forwardthinker wrote:
Intensity - Pretty self-explanatory. The more intense an element, the higher the number assigned.

Actually I don't think there's that much of a discrepance here. Forwardthinker basically says it, like it's stated in Lesson 22.

But... what do you really measure then? Do you measure how good you've mastered that skill (e.g. masturbation)? Or how intense it is to you? I would lean towards the last one, like forwardthinker. Basically it's about how intense it's for you, sure you could master that skill but in the end it's more about how intense that element was in giving you pleasure. I guess the main thing is, that it isn't bound to time but more towards actions. So you could be hours aware from your natural time threshold, but then you find that one specific image, that pushes you over the edge because it creates such an intense feeling. I think that area here is the most unproblematic and easiest. Let's move on.

Habituation

Lesson 18 says:
Quote:
Habituation dictates that the farther an addict stays away from the saturation point, the more stimulating the experience. In other words, performing the same exact behaviors over and over and over will tend to decrease the overall stimulation that is produced. Altering those behaviors, or introducing new rituals into the existing patterns serve to stave off habituation, and provide a renewed boost to the overall power of the stimulation.

Lesson 22 says:
Quote:
Unlike the other two filters, Habituation is assigned a higher number the further away the specific element is to the saturation point. There is no zero, as the scope of the stimulation ranges from novelty (high number) to neutrality (low number)-rarely, if ever does someone become so saturated from a certain stimulus that is actually becomes painful.

I think the problem here is not what habituation means, but how you measure it. I know, habituation just means if you do something over and over again it loses its appeal - not a challenging concept. In his example Coach Jon makes it pretty clear that the habituation is measured in the specific terms of that ritual:
Quote:
When one begins to look at pornography on the Internet (again, we are referring to a single act, not an extended pattern), there is usually an extreme high that comes with the initial search for the most stimulating photos/videos/cams.

At this point Forwardthinkers explanation is pretty helpful.
forwardthinker wrote:
Habituation - this is one a lot of people get confused on. Remember, you are considering all of these filters only in the context of an individual ritual, not your entire life. So something like masturbating 3 times a day and each time it becomes less stimulatory is NOT habituation in the context of how this exercise intends it. Rather you are looking at an individual element and assessing how much that element habituates within the scope of the individual ritual. For this one, the LONGER it takes for an element to habituate, the higher the number. For example, if you begin fantasizing, but relatively quickly you must increase the intensity of the fantasy because it loses its stimulatory effect, it would have a low habituation number (habituates quickly). If that element remained novel and stimulatory for quite a while, it would get a high number.

That would mean, the longer something remains novel, the higher the number. But how do you address the aspect of refreshing the act? Let's say I watch porn (talking about a specific session): I look at 15 images of one person and the value gradually decreases, so the habit number should be around "4". But let's say I'm aware of this so after I'm done with those 15 pictures I take another 15 pictures, of a new person. This would mean I don't reach the threshold, but I've dipped to a low number and then I engaged in changing it. So how do I measure this? Do I measure the activity that I had to bring in, to keep the novelty going? So do I know assign a "6" because with the "trick" of changing up persons I've succeded to go on for a bit longer. Or do I assign a "10", because I've kicked the habituation in the ass and the feeling is as novel as before? Does a low number mean, I have to do more to keep stimulation and the high number I just need to do the same for all the time? I wouldn't equal that with stimulation. And what really confuses me are the other examples from Lesson 22:
Quote:
Orgasm = 1
Habit = 10

Makes sense, he orgasms once during that ritual. And since an orgasm lasts you quite long, in the sense of you don't really need another and you're quite happy with the one you got, it is novel and therefore a "10". But then the next example...
Quote:
Orgasm:
*Habituation — No real effect '1'

So yeah, I get it.. there's no habituation effect. But shouldn't it then be a "10"!? And then there's this:
CoachBoundless wrote:
Typically, orgasm would have a low Time score, a high Intensity score, and a low habituation score (since in the course of one ritual, orgasm is quick and does not really habituate at all).

It's the same, shouldn't the score be high, when there's no habituation?

Epilogue
I know in the end it's not really about the numbers but seeing this different approaches it would definitely change the way you use these filters. So what's the solution? I get that you might just take what works best for you. And maybe the problem here really is just some inconsistence in the descpriptions/examples. But again, since this lesson is so important I think it's important to shed some light on those things I've pointed out... I do know, that we only look at specific rituals in this case. We're not looking at a series of rituals or chains. We're not looking at the development of your porn rituals over a year. We're looking at one specific ritual, for example the masturbation from the night before.
I've sitting here for almost two hours rambling over those things and it's frustrating. I don't feel that my problem is that I don't get it intellectually, I just feel confused about the definitions.


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