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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:46 am 
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re: "Exercise 38: Developing Healthy Boundaries"

Very good.

re: "Inventory of Your Current Sexual Values"

These are very much in line with socially-healthy and acceptable values. In fact, some are even beyond the accepted morality and 'normalcy' of social acceptance (in a good way). Things such as: "I believe that indulging in sexual or romantic fantasies about anyone other than your spouse while married is a form of infidelity regardless of whether these people are real or imagined" and "Infidelity includes viewing pornography"


re: "I believe that infidelity is the highest crime in a marriage"
This is one of the only ones that I wouldquestion...as it is indicative of someone trying to portray an overly 'enlightened' perception of fidelity...in order to make up for past mistakes. In reality, murdering your wife...incest and/or molestation of your children...beating your wife into submission...these would likely be seen as much more severe crimes within your marriage than having an affair or, as you have outlined, looking at porn and/or fantasing (which you have deemed as infidelity).

re: "Since most of the damage involved sexual or trust related values and boundaries, I would need to focus on helping them patch up those areas. Right?"

Wrong, but I know you already know that. ;-)

re: "It kind of blew my mind. I never considered the possibility of my values and hers being like an interconnected web and that every healthy value that we strengthen in ourselves or in each other impacts every other area of our livesÂ…"

And it continues to blow my mind how very intelligent people can isolate themselves from using that intelligence to help them perceive their life---as opposed to simply managing it. I am glad to see that you are starting to open your mind and really begin to transition into that 'new realm' of life experience. Granted, these are just baby steps that you are taking...but important ones. Also, make sure that these new insights and awarenesses are integrated into an updated vision for your life. It is hard to envision the type of communication that accompanies that partnership that you have described above. But now that your eyes are beginning to see more clearly, adjust your vision to match your evolving values.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:08 pm 
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Exercise 44 - Urge Control: Your Core Identity
Quote:
A. Describe the role that your core identity will play in helping you to establish/maintain a healthy life.


Given that my sense of self is changing on a weekly (if not daily) basisÂ…I reserve the right to modify these statements in the future (and please step in and correct me sooner if I completely miss the mark on anything).

In the past, I had a splintered approach to managing my health. My mind was constantly running around trying to keep different parts of me happy. If I wanted something, I figured out how to get it. If I felt uncomfortable, I found a way around the situation. It made me feel very clever at times. I believed that my brain was well developed and in charge, but it was really my body, its sensations and emotions that called the shots. I regarded my core values and boundaries as part of my emotional network. If something came about that I really wanted, but conflicted with these boundaries, I usually did one of the following:
    (A)Disregarded the boundary entirely and mentally convinced myself that it was no big deal
    (B)Endured a short period of guilt and shame before disregarding the boundary and telling myself that I would do better next time
    (C)I rationalized my behaviours as being acceptable and incorporated them into my identity.
I found it very difficult to focus on any long term goals when I operated under these circumstances.

The biggest difference I now see is that using your core identity makes health so much more holistic and simple. I now regard my soul, values and boundaries as being an active but evolving guidebook for my life. They define my mental, physical and emotional health at this moment, set goals for the future and keep me abreast of what sorts of things will cause harm and help me grow. My mind doesn't seem as preoccupied with being in charge any more. I regard my body and my emotions as sensors telling my mind when a system is being overloaded or under stimulated. It is my mindÂ’s job to contact my soul for advice on how to act. My values and boundaries interpret this information and present my mind with options that preserve the integrity of the whole machine. Even though IÂ’m new at it and my brain is still having a tough time dealing with these flexible new ways of processing information, it seems like a much more unified, consistent and stabile way of running a railroad.

Quote:
B. Describe the role that value-based experiences will play in further developing your core identity.


In the future, I can only see this system evolving and becoming more natural and unified. There have been several times in the last few weeks that I have chosen to use my values in decision making over my impulses. Each time, I have felt a strong sense of personal pride and success. I know from using behavioural teaching methods with my son that the mind likes to do things that make it feel good. I believe that the more that values based decisions simplify my life, add depth to it and help me cope better with adversity, I will become better at using them. The more I use them in this way, the more developed and defined my core identity will become. Even though I have only experienced this development on a few small occasions, I can see the strength and potential in it.

Quote:
C. Take some time to examine the current state of your core identity. How in tune with it are you? When you engage in activity that is destructive, what role does your core identity play in that decision? How is it affected by the consequences of that decision?


I still feel occasionally disconnected from my core identity. Even though I have cognitively embraced it, I am not as fluid at incorporating it into real time situations as I would like to be. My mind also frequently attempts to rigidly define and each and every nuance of my values and boundaries (even though both Jon and I have assured it that this is not always possible). I feel like IÂ’m making progress in baby steps in this area.

I am aware that actions that breech values and boundaries reverse the process of developing your core identity even if the consequences seem small or even non existent at the time. I think I will need a bit of growing up in this area. I currently feel like any small mistake I make now that goes unchecked has the potential to grow into a future monster. I know cognitively that falling can be as valuable a learning opportunity as succeeding in any endeavour, but I can't always embrace the concept. I would love to hear feedback on healthy approaches towards managing these fears.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:17 pm 
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[size=150][b]Urge Control IIIÂâ€â€


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:20 pm 
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Exercise 46 - Urge Control: Isolating the Decision

Quote:
A. In the long run, addiction is eliminated by altering the existing ritualistic chains (destructive, based on immediate emotional needs) to more stable, constructive chains that solidify the foundation of your life in a progressive manner. Before such ritualistic chains can be reversed, it is necessary to begin mastering the ability to reverse single compulsive chains. Begin this process now by considering a previous compulsive chain, identify the element immediately preceding the 'point of no return' and then rewrite the remainder of the chain so that your actions are based on long-term values, rather than immediate emotional responses.


IÂ’m at work and the idea of watching a DVD on my work laptop pops into my mind
    • If I haven’t done so already, I recognize that this is the starting point of a destructive ritual and I start tapping my fingers and mentally count to ten.
    • Next, I begin to assess my emotions. Am I bored? Is a student being disruptive? Do I feel disorganized, bored or disconnected from my work? Did I have a fight with my wife? Etc.
    • Whether I determine the exact emotional trigger or not, I move on.
    • I consider the boundary of my wife being in my head watching my every thought and emotion. I consider other values that will be impacted, my self respect and pride in my recovery, my relationship with my son. I consider my sexual boundaries and which ones will be crossed (in this case, all four of my critical sexual boundaries). I recognize that any fantasy or thought of following through with this ritual will violate my core identity on many levels.
    • Assuming that my head is in a healthy place, I start to think about the ritual. I think about the emotions that will be released throughout the process. Do I want visual stimulation or orgasm? Am I seeking suspense or a feeling of accomplishment? I already know that following through is not an option considering the boundaries that would be crossed and the damage that would be done to the goals that I am striving for.
    • If my head is not in a healthy place at this point. I take a predetermined action to not proceed until I can clearly see the ritual in the context of my values and boundaries. I already know that anything worth doing is worth waiting for.
    • I decide on other activities that I can replace the ritual with. Things that I can do with my son during my spare time such as listening to music, building train tracks with him. Going outside and playing or hiking. Building something in the workshop together. Etc. I try to match the outcome of the activity to the emotions I would have gotten from the elements of the ritual.
    • I deliberately leave the laptop at work and avoid any activities that might re-ignite the ritual.
    • If I find myself thinking about acting out while I am alone with my son, I repeat the process above to find a better activity to engage in.
    • At the end of this chain, I look back and feel proud of myself. My faith in this process is reinforced and my values system is deepened by the experience.
    • Any bumps or challenges I met along the way are considered and my urge response chain is modified accordingly.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:50 pm 
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Exercise 47 - Practical Urge Awareness

Quote:
Just as you have with your values and your emotions, it is time to transfer the knowledge that you are developing to a practical application in your day-to-day life. This cannot be done without first developing an awareness of the times when such information is applicable. Over the next 48 hours, envision at least ten different REALISTIC scenarios where you may encounter a compulsive urge in the future. With each one:

• In preparation for urge control, mentally walk yourself through identifying how you would know when that urge/ritual would likely begin, when the likely 'point of no return' would be and when you would 'create the break'
• Specific to urge control, walk yourself through the process of anticipating the emotions associated with that particular ritual, isolating those emotions from your 'core identity' and preparing yourself to make a values-based decision versus an emotions-based decision.
• If you are in coaching, you will be asked to review several of these to make sure that you understand the concepts involved and so, you do not need to write all of this out. If you are not in coaching, feel free to post your thoughts in your thread.


1. I am alone on a Friday night and have the urge to watch soft core pornography on TV.
2. I am visiting a friend and he says that he would like to show me something that he saw on the Internet. He opens a website featuring erotic videos.
3. I am watching a movie with my wife that features a few innocent love scenes. We are both enjoying the movie, but I feel conflicted about my reaction. I feel aroused and feel the urge to be intimate with my wife but I am not sure if it is a healthy response or not.
4. My wife and I have a fight and I am alone afterwards to sort through my feelings. I find myself very distracted by thoughts of pornography and masturbation.
5. A sudden death in the family requires that I spend some time alone away from my wife and son. I feel the urge to acquire pornography and masturbate.
6. I unexpectedly discover pornographic magazines in the dumpster at work when I go to throw out some garbage. I feel the urge to take it out of the dumpster to look at it.
7. I am stressed out about something in my life and I cannot get to sleep. I know that my wife is a light sleeper and I get out of bed to avoid disrupting her. When I am alone, I feel the urge to masturbate since I know that the relief of orgasm often helps me get to sleep.
8. I enter a corner store and walk by a magazine rack filled with pornography and have the urge to view it or buy it.
9. I become aware of a way of accessing pornography that I had not thought of previously and I am almost completely certain that I will not get caught.
10. I am bored at work and a pornographic images pop into my head. I feel the urge to entertain myself with more of these images.
11. I am in the shower and I feel the urge to masturbate.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:29 am 
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re: "I currently feel like any small mistake I make now that goes unchecked has the potential to grow into a future monster."

My thoughts on this? First, the only way that such a thing ever grows into a 'monster' again is if you completely abandon all that you are learning. You will have to feed the monster for it to grow. This is unlike your past when most of what you experienced was done beyond your consciousness. Let me clarify that. Your BEHAVIOR was conscious...but the patterns that evolved, evolved in your subconscious. This will no longer be the case. You will never 'lose' the information that you have instilled within yourself. You will never rebuild your addiction without knowing what is going on...as long as you complete your health monitoring with regularity. And if you can't set aside ten minutes a week for awhile...then fifteen minutes a month to ensure both you and your families' health. Well, you would get what you deserve at that point.

Also, you would do yourself well to separate true mistakes from conscious decisions that you later deem a 'mistake'. Any conscious DECISION that you make that knowingly goes against your primary values; well again, you will get what you deserve. And, you will open up that potential for further separation from your identity. On the other hand...you WILL make mistakes. When you do, assess it as you are taught to assess your addiction--by exploring each ritual in its own right. Here, explore each mistake in its own right. Assess the sincerity and motivation behind your action. Assess the consequences of the options left for you to respond to that mistake. Ask for help if you find yourself stuck. Consider asking your partner. A friend. A parent. A coach. Just don't try to cover up your mistake...no matter what it is. Tell someone. Process it with someone.

Finally, come to see your life less and less in absolutes. Instead, strive for living your life to the best of your ability--within the boundaries that you construct to help protect your values. Do this and any true mistakes will be quickly absorbed.

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Jon Marsh
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:02 pm 
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Exercise 50 - Values Based Decision-Making

Quote:
A. When facing a compulsive urge, what do you anticipate the consequences of making a healthy, values-based decision in managing that urge to be? (think positive and negative consequences)


Positive
    • Decision making feels simple and consistent. You don’t have to make separate rules for your secret and visible identities.
    • You recognize that you are more able to react to the unexpected with confidence, effectiveness and speed.
    • You tend to get better at it as time goes on and you feel long term, sustainable self control and confidence developing.
    • Mistakes are not as frightening. They are seen as learning opportunities which trigger growth.
    • Mistakes or doubts can be shared with others and problems that you cannot solve alone can be solved collaboratively.
    • You feel more connected to the real world and the people around you.
    • You experience emotional fulfillment through accomplishment, pride and self control in staying true to your core identity.
    • You feel creative and challenged in a healthy way when analysing information and formulating decisions.

Negative
[list]• Immediate emotional stimulation may not be as intense.
• You may continue to be emotionally disregulated. you will not likely achieve the peace associated with “delusional actualizationÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:59 pm 
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Exercise 51 - Decision-Making: Identifying the Options

Quote:
A. Consider one of your specific compulsive chains. Or, if you feel comfortable, consider an entire ritualistic chain. Identify the point in that chain when you should begin considering the options that you have available. What are these options? (consider reasonable options only)


Elements of the Ritual:
    1. Sexual thoughts pop into my head while eating breakfast
    2. Think about masturbating
    3. Planning to masturbate in shower
    4. Fantasize about images of porn while preparing for and entering shower
    5. Physically arouse myself while shaving
    6. Begin to masturbate
    7. Achieve orgasm
    8. Accomplishment at completion of ritual

30-60 Second break occurs between element 1 and 2

Options
    1. Continue with the chain and act out in the shower.
    2. Promise myself not to carry through with masturbation, but allow myself to fantasize about the act.
    3. Stop and decide not to proceed. Think about what is going on around me and its effects on my emotions. Focus on these areas instead.
    4. Stop and decide not to proceed. Focus on some unrelated area of my life to distract myself from the urge.
    5. Decide not to proceed but continue to fantasize about making love to my wife later in the day.
    6. Talk to my wife about the urge.
Quote:
B. Of the options listed above, which would be automatically filtered out because of your boundaries? What would you do in the case of a value conflict? (i.e. when the same option would create both positive and negative influences on your value system)


1. Continue with the chain and act out in the shower.
2. Promise myself not to carry through with masturbation, but allow myself to fantasize about the act.

In the case of value conflict, I would first try to think of a way to deal with the situation that reduced the conflict. Then I would rate the pros and cons against each other. If there were more than one value involved, I would consider how much of a priority each value was before deciding. For example, I would not likely proceed with an activity that strongly violated one of my top 10 values in exchange for developing my #45 value.

Quote:
C. Of the remaining options, what would be the anticipated consequences of the following:


3. Stop and decide not to proceed. Think about what is going on around me and its effects on my emotions. Focus on these areas instead.

    i. You make the decision to act on this option:
    • I will be emotionally stimulated and distracted from the ritual
    • I will at least be aware of my surroundings and may take positive steps towards stabilizing my emotions.
    • I will feel pride and self control
    • I may risk overanalyzing and over reacting to minor emotional disruptions such as simple boredom.

    ii. You make the decision NOT to act on this option:
    • Not being aware of my emotions could set the stage for further imbalance.

    iii. You make the decision to act on this option, and that decision becomes known by others:
    • My wife might react with anxiety at first, but would feel better about knowing how I am thinking and how I am dealing with my emotions, urges and thoughts.

    iv. You make the decision to act on this option, and that decision remains secret:
    • Depending on the size of the urge, I might forget it even occurred. In this case, it would have very little impact.
    • If the urge was bigger, I might feel guilt, shame and secrecy build around it and it could have impacts on my other values.
4. Stop and decide not to proceed. Focus on some unrelated area of my life to distract myself from the urge.

    i. You make the decision to act on this option:
    • I will be emotionally stimulated and distracted from the ritual
    • I will feel pride and self control
    • Not being aware of my surroundings and their impact on my thoughts and emotions could set the stage for further imbalance.

    ii. You make the decision NOT to act on this option:
    • Without being distracted from my fantasy, I could risk going farther into the ritual.

    iii. You make the decision to act on this option, and that decision becomes known by others:
    • My wife might react with anxiety at first, but would feel better about knowing how I am thinking and how I am dealing with my emotions, urges and thoughts.

    iv. You make the decision to act on this option, and that decision remains secret:
    • Depending on the size of the urge, I might forget it even occurred. In this case, it would have very little impact.
    • If the urge was bigger, I might feel guilt, shame and secrecy build around it and it could have impacts on my other values.
5. Decide not to proceed but continue to fantasize about making love to my wife.

    i. You make the decision to act on this option:
    • Negative impacts on values may occur. The ritual may continue and my wife could become objectified in my mind. If the fantasy becomes intense, elements of it may threaten to violate other boundaries.
    • Positive effects on values may include an increased appreciation for my wife’s beauty and intimacy in our relationship.
    • Not being aware of my emotions and their impact on my thoughts could set the stage for further imbalance.

    ii. You make the decision NOT to act on this option:
    • I would not experience the strong emotions associated with fantasy.

    iii. You make the decision to act on this option, and that decision becomes known by others:
    • Could make my wife feel beautiful and open the door to intimate conversations or love making.
    • Could make her feel objectified, pornographic and violated.

    iv. You make the decision to act on this option, and that decision remains secret:
    • Depending on the size of the urge, I might forget it even occurred. In this case, it would have very little impact.
    • If the urge was bigger, I might feel guilt, shame and secrecy build around it and it could have impacts on my other values.
6. Talk to my wife about the urge.

    i. You make the decision to act on this option:
    • I will be emotionally stimulated and distracted from the ritual
    • I will feel pride and self control.
    • My wife and I would feel more connected.
    • Open communication would cause her trust in my honesty to grow.
    • If I do not process my own emotions first, our collective thoughts and emotions could feed off of each other and we could risk overanalyzing and over reacting to the situation.

    ii. You make the decision NOT to act on this option:
    • If I did not completely forget about the urge in a short period of time guilt, shame and secrecy would build and impact on my other values and our relationship.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:26 pm 
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Exercise 52 - Decision-Making: Isolating the Emotions

Quote:
This exercise may be difficult for certain types of thinkers, so simply do your best. Consider a situation in life (outside of addiction) where this 'isolation' of feelings/emotions has been known to occur and/or might prove beneficial. For instance, certain Eastern practices where people can isolate the physical pain they are experiencing from their spiritual selves and thus, manage that pain with ease. And no, you can't use that as your example! There are thousands of such potential applications--albeit not as dramatic.

What I am looking for is your skill in understanding the concepts involved with isolating emotions and what it will 'look like/feel like' in real life application. If you can't think of anything, say so in your thread and I will provide you with an example.


Hope IÂ’m on the right track so here goesÂ…I have two examples where I believe that I frequently separate my emotions in decision making.

Example #1

Living in a northern community and choosing a career in forestry involves being at peace in unpleasant weather conditions. Most people react to the discomfort of being cold by bundling up and making themselves warm. If you are working outside for any period of time, this results in a lot of perspiration which is absorbed into your clothes. Once you stop moving, the extra moisture causes you to lose body heat at an accelerated rate and this can be very deadly. If I know that I will be spending an extended period of time outside, I deliberately stay colder than comfortable. I keep in touch with my emotions and perceptions to make sure IÂ’m not lapsing into hypothermia, but otherwise tolerate this short term discomfort in exchange for the long term reward of not freezing to death. Sometimes, my colleagues and I look completely bizarre working in sub-zero weather wearing nothing more than mitts, hats and tee shirts, but this system really works.

Example #2

Teaching adult learners causes many emotions to pop up on any given day. I work with many high needs students. Some suffer from physical and learning disabilities, mental health issues, addictions, poor hygiene and other challenges. To be a good teacher and survive in my environment requires me to separate my thoughts and actions from my emotional responses. My emotions are very useful in determining how well I am connecting to the students and can alert me to possible dangers in my environment, but they would lead me to make very poor choices when dealing with certain situations. Decision making at work must consider many other objective thoughts and values in order to be effective.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:18 am 
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re: "Hope IÂ’m on the right track so here goes"

Actually, you're right there in the middle of the right track. Now do recognize, to break all of your decisions down through this extensive process would be unrealistic. But I am glad that you have chosen to put so much thought and effort into this as a learning exercise. Now, where you are trying to go with this: you are attempting to select, while you are in a healthy state of mind, the actions that will best support and promote the life that you are trying to live. You have recognized that while you are under the influence of a compulsive urge, your decisions are skewed and thus, not trustworthy. To make a decision while under the influence of a compulsive urge is to fail both your family and yourself. And so, you are making the decisions that you will take now, while you know you are thinking straight.

Ultimately, once you have selected the healthiest option, the rest of this can be tossed away. It is all a process to bring you to the healthiest decision that you can make. In the coming lessons on reactive action plans, you will be integrating these decisions into those plans. Understand that, you will not be integrating these options into those plans... but the decision.

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Jon Marsh
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:19 pm 
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Exercise 53 - Decision-Making: Making the Decision

Quote:
A. Describe a situation where you would consider masturbation to be against your values--and therefore, a destructive act. Describe a situation where you would consider masturbating to be within your values--and therefore, a healthy act.


Situation where masturbation is against values

I am feeling tired from a hard day at work and am looking forward to slowing down and resting when I get home. Instead, my wife tells me that she has been unexpectedly called in to work. As such, I will be entirely responsible for taking care of my son throughout the night. She also asks if I can get some groceries and fix the tap on the kitchen sink before the night is done (she reminds me that IÂ’ve been putting off the task for a number of nights). IÂ’m pretty agitated that I wonÂ’t get the chance to relax that I feel I deserve. I get the urge to masturbate during the time between when my son goes to bed and my wife returns home from work.

Following through with this urge would clearly be an emotional reaction to not getting what I feel entitled to. It would not address the underlying cause of my stress, but would likely add to it after the “highÂâ€Â


Last edited by CoachNortherndad on Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:59 am 
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As we discussed in coaching, you are now moving into the final essential learning of the workshop: reactive action plans. Take your time. The goal here is to build your reactive action plans based on the Values-based Decision that you chose while you are in a healthy state of mind (aka not under the influence of an urge).

Once you have your first action plan complete...send it to me for feedback.

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Jon Marsh
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:06 pm 
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Quote:
B. In your recovery thread, list other common value conflicts involving sexual and/or romantic behavior that you have found yourself engaged in? Or that you may find yourself engaged in, given your history.

    • Sex and sleep deprivation often go hand in hand.
    • Thinking about my relationship with my wife (either romantic or sexual) while at work decreases productivity.
    • Sex can take you away from other tasks and obligations (e.g. should have done the taxes, but my wife and I ended up making love instead).
    • Thinking about sex when it is not an option increases anxiety.
    • Ran out of ideas...I will add to this list later.

After sleeping on this point, I had some thoughts to add. I wasnÂ’t thinking about value conflict from a very holistic perspective. It is probably much more realistic and common for values such as my career, family and friends to conflict with romantic or other values associated with my relationship with my wife. Examples include:
    • Wanting to go out with friends when my wife would like me to stay home.
    • Wanting to stay home with my wife when my friends want me to go out.
    • Conflicting expectations and pressures at family gatherings.
    • Conflicting needs of work and my marriage.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:01 pm 
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Exercise 54 - Decision-Making: Assessing the Consequences

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


The greatest example of a value based decision which I have made in the last year that had negative consequences was when I finally came clean and told my wife the whole truth about my addiction. It had a profound effect on our relationship and her health. In spite of these consequences, I regard this act to be the beginning of my true recovery and one of the healthiest things that I have ever done.

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


Aside from many of the examples listed in my recovery thread that relate to the positive emotions that I felt during compulsive rituals, I can think of a particular example of an emotional decision that had some very powerful positive consequences.

My son and I love to ride our mountain bikes on the local trails (since he has autism, his bike is a tag along that is attached directly to mine). Last fall was very wet where I live and the streams were flooded beyond capacity. It had been several days since we got out and were stuck at home once again while my wife went to work. By 6:00 we had finished supper. I asked my son what he might like to do that night. He said he wanted to ride our bikes on the trails. It was going to be dark by 7:00 and the rain was just letting up. I knew that the trails would be a disaster and we would probably look like participants in a “TideÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:21 pm 
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Making an action plan

Quote:
***Note to Jon – This is a copy of the PM I sent you. This is not a revised action plan***


I hope I havenÂ’t bit off more than I can chew on this exercise. I could have selected many less complex situations to set up action plans for, but this situation seems relevant to my life right now as we are going on a trip for our spring break next weekÂ…here goes:

1) Define the situation.

My family is at the beach and we find a spot where we would like to settle in and let our son build sand castles. My wife and I have discussed the way that we expect to handle the pretty women whom we will inevitably cross paths with on the trip. We agree that it is not against either of our values to look at attractive people of the opposite sex. Since I have identified boundaries relating to the objectifying and sexualizing my environment, I have a good idea of where the line will be drawn between noticing attractive women and leering at them. I have shared this with my wife and have told her that I will let her know if I am having difficulty controlling any compulsive urges.

After ten or fifteen minutes a group of college students sit down near us and begin to sunbathe and throw a football around. As they are sitting down, I notice a few of the women are quite attractive. I take an inventory of my thoughts and feelings and feel proud to be staying within my boundaries. After another few moments, I notice that my wife is also looking at them. At first she jokes that a few of the guys are pretty buff and asks if IÂ’ve noticed any of the girls. I tell her that it was pretty hard not to notice since their football has almost hit our son a number of times. I also acknowledge that a few of the women are quite attractive. I begin to sense that my wife is getting more and more unsettled and this begins to make me anxious. I recognize that this sort of anxiety has led to compulsive urges and fantasies in the past.


2) Evaluate all realistic options:

Before addressing the situation, I would probably give myself a bit of a pep talk to prepare myself for my options. I would think about the values that are at play on the beach. IÂ’m there to rejuvenate my physical, mental and emotional health and to develop my relationship with my family.

I would also remind myself that my wife and I are two different people who will experience the beach in very different ways. IÂ’ve recently become aware that the fear and trauma that IÂ’ve caused sometimes result in her over-reacting to situations that she could easily handle in the pastÂ…sort of like a person who has been severely mauled by a dog has a tough time petting a rottweiler in spite of the ownerÂ’s insistence that the dog is really friendly. I would remind myself that her perceptions may be skewed in this situation and I should take the following into account.
[list]• I must take responsibility for her lost faith in me and realize that change will not come quickly. She canÂ’t simply “get over itÂâ€Â


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