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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:03 am 
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re: "your trip home"
How did it go?

re: "The elements of compulsive ritual"
You seem to have a pretty good grasp of these elements/filters. We will review them in the context of an actual ritual in our next session. I have you down for Tuesday 1/1 at 9pm central, correct?

re: "Lesson Twenty"

Ok, the big question to this lesson:

What can you take from your past and apply to your present? There are things you have learned through experience--in both success and failure--that you have earned the right to apply to your life now. You don't need to write out these insights, but you should be integrating them into your current recovery.

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Jon Marsh
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 Post subject: Exercise 31
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:38 pm 
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Posts: 22
Past week stressors

1) Returning to work : moderate
2) Loneliness in new city : extreme
3) Return to acting out : severe
4) Taking care of apartment odds-and-ends : mild
5) Musical Pursuits : mild
6) Staying in touch with family : mild
7) Working-out : moderate
Co-worker interactions : moderate
9) Long-distance relationship : moderate
10) Intellectual Pursuits (reading, films, etc.) : severe
11) Social Justice Awareness : mild

While a lot of my mild or moderate energy drains are from my top 15 list, none of the extremes are. Outside of work, I donÂ’t think that I experience more intense emotions with the same degree that I do with negative emotions or acting out. I guess this correlates to the previous info that acting out with always produce a stronger emotional reaction, and that I need a wider base of cumulative value-based emotion to compensate. I think it could also mean that I need to devote more energy to my values, developing them more fully. I think that my previous recovery goal will help out with that, but involving myself in a more public way (joining up for local volunteering, performing, etc.) would probably increase the stress that is value-based, but I worry about draining too much energy from work, which usually takes a tremendous toll.

Most of the stimulation I receive currently is intellectual. I get very little emotional stimulation outside of music and relationships (family, friends, girlfriend). Although I do get some emotional satisfaction out of work, it is random and dependent on particular student behavior (thank yous, improved ability, etc.). I think that I hit a certain plateau of emotional satisfaction from intellectual growth, so it is more of keeping a steady flow that will give returns in time (I know this much more since last yearÂ…etc.). Most of the other qualities, developing emotional maturity, being dependable, open-minded and appreciative, providing for myself, and even to a certain extent improving social consciousness and response, are forces because the negative consequences of NOT working on them are so strong. I donÂ’t feel IÂ’m doing much for “living and exciting lifeÂâ€Â


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 Post subject: Exercise 34
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:13 pm 
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Immediate Gratification Moments – they are remarkably similar in my reaction despite the different circumstances

1) When I started my senior year of high school, I was so depressed over the changed lifestyle my disease caused, I wanted any way to change the emotions I was feeling. Particularly of being accepted by the opposite sex. I remember wanting to commit suicide more than being visible and vulnerable. Immediate gratification was getting up in the middle of the night, when I was worried about the next dayÂ’s perceived humiliation, and masturbating to scrambled TV channels.
2) After several months of difficulty having an orgasm for my first “completeÂâ€Â


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:01 am 
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re: "they are remarkably similar in my reaction despite the different circumstances"

Amazing how that is. And when you take this and apply it to compulsive rituals...ANY compulsive rituals...you will find that they can be measured in the same currency as well. Different intensities, to be sure...but the feelings are similar.

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 Post subject: Excersize 37
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:18 pm 
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Improving Social Consciousness & Response

1. I will constantly learn about the state of others, both locally & internationally, good and bad.
2. I will respond with work/volunteer time & donations to help end racism, extreme poverty, lack of education, homelessness, and war locally and world-wide
3. I will make personal connections and honestly strive to be socially-accessible to those in need
4. I will adjust my consumerism (including diet) to maintain my personal health while contributing to the businesses I have researched doing good work and taking away money for organizations that operate solely for profit
5. I will allow myself to make mistakes and feel overwhelmed. I will then breath in deep, take some time for myself to recharge my batteries, and get back in the game.

Establishing Competency in my Field
1. I will take every opportunity I can to learn more about how to do my job well.
2. I will not allow the negativity of co-workers to drag me down, but I will try to help them and learn from their mistakes.
3. I will always keep in mind the need for my customers to be self-sufficient so they can then work together
4. I will read professional literature monthly.
5. I will attend professional training, graduate level courses, yearly.

Strengthening my Role as a Son
1. I will check in on a regular basis with phone calls.
2. I will write letters once every week or two during times of family stress.
3. I will go to bed early at home so my schedule corresponds to that of my family.
4. I will not allow shame to keep me from communicating with my parents.
5. I will ask more questions to understand what my parents are interested in.


I take a job that combines my social consciousness with an incredible work-load. The job is so taxing that I start losing time for my other values, or that I get so worried in the enormity of the task I feel guilty with every spare second not fixing the problem. Rule #5 will keep me from burning out. Seems flexible.

I decide to switch jobs after several years of unfulfilling work. Outside of graduate-level study, I think most of these rules would still apply to the “establishing competencyÂâ€Â


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:25 am 
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re: "boundaries"

You seem to be a bit confused about what boundaries are. Now, what you have shared here are PERFECT proactive action plans (things you will do to strengthen your values); but they are not boundaries. Boundaries PROTECT existing values. They are rules that you set for yourself and others. This is different than goals you may pursue, or actions you will take.

If you have the time, reread the lessons on boundaries and see if you can connect to the difference between what is being asked for and what you have done here. It is really important that you do understand. Remind me to talk about this further in our next coaching session.

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Jon Marsh
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 Post subject: Exercise 44
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:15 pm 
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A. That core will be personal stability, something that fashions my existence more so than being created by existence. I think that it is the combination of Â… well, I might be getting confused here. It seems that it is the mixture of artistic aspirations, deep down desires, humanitarianism, selflessness, intellectual curiousity, endurance. Basically the thing that I connect to when I accomplish something I didnÂ’t think I could or when I feel punch-drunk on the beauty of being alive. If this is the case (and please help me if IÂ’m mistaken in this perception of core-identity), it will provide stability. Depth beyond what IÂ’m currently experience, through my emotions, to a higher place. The intellectual side that gets caught up in the emotional trials and tribulations of day to day life. I think outside of solid-footing, firmly knowing, in my heart-of-hearts, that there is a part of me that hasnÂ’t been warped because of this compulsion will be the greatest life-line to a complete, healthy-life transition.

B. Value-based experiences will validate that lifeÂ’s concrete presence. To be honest, some of this sounds a bit like religious wishful thinking, but I guess it is a very spiritual concept, something like the soul but reworded to avoid turning-off those with an anti-religious sentiment from their recovery efforts. But when that ability to move beyond the in-the-moment reactions of emotion based action is actually conquered, not only will the emotions change to be more conducive to whatever the goal is, but it also wonÂ’t matter.
Which isnÂ’t to make this sound like a Hobbes Leviathan perception of true goodness, which is only ever accomplished by doing something that you do not want to do and get no benefit from. It is connecting to a deeper source of satisfaction. ThatÂ’s how it avoids emotional masochism.

C. It depends on the moment. I feel like a drunk, to be honest, separated by the true identity. This shows up the most in social interactions. Avoid lite conversation. People who are negative at work are a plague to be avoided. DonÂ’t look people in the eyes if IÂ’ve been acting out recently (which has been more than seven times in the last month). When IÂ’ve gone for my longer times, several months, it feels like IÂ’m sobering up and responding as myself as opposed to an emotional piece of meat, but then I have the lows or frustrations that make setbacks a possibility. When I act out, the core-identity is like Â… when I helped with an adopted kitten. Never had to deal with such a needy life before, I suppose it might be something like having a baby, in terms of the complete dependency. Anyway, the “mistakesÂâ€Â


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 Post subject: Exercise 45
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:19 pm 
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1. Feel frustrated with impending lack of sleep and time
2. Aimlessly surfing the internet, particularly on youtube
3. Feel conflicted, decide to fight the compulsion
4. Continue to waste time with aimless surfing instead of doing work

Repeat 3 and 4 several times, up to an hour

5. Decide to look at some swimsuit videos (no nudity)
6. Look at video involving women with large breasts, preferably porn stars that IÂ’ve masturbated to before, but still unexplicit
7. Go to video or pictures with nudity, not looking directly at the screen
8. Search for specific video with specific people (from history of looking for ridiculously large-breasted women)
9. Feel guilty
10. Decide to concentrate time and get as much pornography in as possible
11. Abruptly leave area IÂ’ve downloaded porn to go home and masturbate
12. Attach headphones and move to least visible section of apartment
13. Masturbate to orgasm while watching video

Repeat 13 until I can no longer achieve orgasm just from video

14. Fantasize about previous sexual experience (girlfriend, past girlfriends or hookups) or possible interactions with voluptuous co-worker or particularly intense pornographic memories
15. After fourth or fifth orgasm, listen to music while trying to sleep


For any of these steps, especially 1-7, they mean I have “triedÂâ€Â


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 Post subject: Exercise 46
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:21 pm 
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For After Step 5

6. Laugh at my desire to “escapeÂâ€Â


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:45 pm 
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Re: "Post subject: Exercise 45"

This is an excellent example of a complex ritual. Or, a 'ritualisitc chain'. What makes it so is your preliminary awareness of the hour or so of 'aimless stimulation' through u-tube...that 'greases the wheel', so to speak. You really have two rituals here. One relating to the stimulation derived from the you tube videos...the other directly related to the sexual stimulation. In coaching tonight, we will start with the recognition of the sexual ritual...as we need to master basic rituals before mastering complex ones. ;-)

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
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 Post subject: Exercise 50
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:01 pm 
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Posts: 22
A. Consequences of a healthy, value-based decision would be feeling “hungryÂâ€Â


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 Post subject: Exercise 51
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:05 pm 
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Posts: 22
Exercise 51

Urge to look at pornography comes up. Options

1. Look up porn -gone, violates emotional maturity, connection to family, emotional stability, pretty much everything
2. Avoid looking up porn for a little while – possibility, but bring back to same question, so no
3. Leave internet capable environment – possibility, but goes against providing for myself and developing emotional maturity if I can’t deal with triggers
4. Call friend/family member – never tried, not a likely option
5. Continue working on internet until urge becomes so strong I know I will act out
-possible, value emotional control, compassionate, true intimacy, all values

The value conflict I have here is making myself vulnerable to acting out and disrespecting my own ability to control myself and mature. I guess in this situation waiting until the urge becomes very strong and leaving would be acceptable as a temporary stage, but not a place to stay because it emphasizes the powerless IÂ’d have in the face of triggers.


Act on 2: short term, feel excitement and shame at the same time, long-term consequences depend on if I act out or not. If I act out, more damage to my self-esteem, relationship honesty, family connections, work ethic, and personal belief in my legitimacy as an artist and social activist. If I donÂ’t act out, some guilt over the presence of such temptation and my history, but gained self-esteem in new control and ability to remain intact despite urges.

Act on 3: short term; relief and some anxiety over not acting out, but emotional comfort with making “the right decisionÂâ€Â


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 Post subject: Exercise 52
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:06 pm 
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When a person “feels likeÂâ€Â


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 Post subject: Exercise 53
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:07 pm 
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Given my personal history with using masturbation as a way of avoiding deeper emotions (mostly negative, but also preventing more in-depth positive emotions), from a spiritual, a personal control, and within my relationship, I think it is safe to say that all situations where I would masturbate would be negative. Guilt, shame, lack of self-control. I would say this is the most FRUSTRATING part of my transition because I know it doesnÂ’t matter for most people, but it just gets me too deeply. It is not an over-exaggeration to say that compulsive masturbation has kept me from being spiritually engaged and fulfilled in the past nine or so years.

The only remotely positive element of masturbation would be in connection to fantasies about sexual experiences with my current girlfriend, but she doesnÂ’t like that (weÂ’ve talked about it), it increases objectification, and makes the transition into fantasies about other people far too easy. IÂ’ve tried this approach, and it doesnÂ’t work; so despite the initial euphoria and emotional feeling of “being closer to my long-distance girlfriend,Ââ€Â


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:49 pm 
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re: "How do you isolate an emotion? What does that mean?"

It's a complex skill to learn...and is based on first isolating your identity from 'the rest of the world'; the ritual from your identity; and then the emotions from the ritual. Remind me and we will go over this in coaching tonight.

re: "Continue working on internet until urge becomes so strong I know I will act out"

There are a few things you should know by now...1) the starting point for each sexual ritual you engage in; 2) that the emotions generated by such rituals are finite; 3) that mastering those emotions requires clearly defining the limits of the emotional intensity they produce; 4) that the 'point of no return' is a concept that is used to initially understand compulsive rituals, but as you awareness deepens, you will realize that there is no such thing as a 'point of no return'. That there is never a point where you "know you will act out'. Only a point where you choose to. 5) that emotional maturity requires your ability to sit within the finite intensity of your rituals without panic or fear.

If any of these things don't make sense to you, let me know. Also, note that you should, at this point, KNOW these things...but that you are not expected to have mastered them. That is what you should be actively working on now. :wink:

re: "CanÂ’t healthy people be a bit different at home alone then when in public?"

It's all about balance. What you are learning is a life management structure...with your values, boundaries and emotions serving as the variables. These variables are fluid. And so, with the exception of ABSOLUTE BOUNDARIES, there are no concrete rules that apply to every situation. There is only your maturity in using your life management structure to help you make the decisions that will best support your current value system. And if you really want to get technical, should you choose to say, look at porn to 'escape' and/or stimulate...that is also within your value system. It just so happens that what you value are more selfish, short-term things. Things that can be destructive to other values you hold. But any time that you act in such a way...you are indeed prioritizing these values above those associated with things such as family, health, honesty, integrity, respect, etc.

You can never escape your value system. Each action you take influences your values--either by reinforcing them or degrading them. The trick is to define those top values that you want to define your life...and then be very protective of any behaviors which threaten them. Are you seeking absoluteness or perfection? No. You are seeking responsibility. The responsibility that you have for managing your own life.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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