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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:01 pm 
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Early Recovery: "Understanding/Recognizing the Behavior"

Exercise 13
I. Identify those patterns that you currently recognize in yourself in relation to a healthy recovery.


• In early recovery, individuals often experience significant doubts relating to their ability to change.
IÂ’ve had some significant doubts regarding my ability to change, ranging from whether IÂ’ll be able to have the courage to go through with a lot of the awkward, early stages of becoming more social and active in my day to day life. But these doubts have not been big enough to stop me going ahead with the things I need to do.

• In early recovery, extremely negative emotions are the norm: especially as they relate to depression, anxiety, hopelessness and suicide.
As IÂ’ve gone through a difficult couple of weeks aside from working on my recovery IÂ’ve experienced several negative emotions that I previously would have soothed by acting out. Though pleased that IÂ’m facing these difficult life experiences without resorting to acting out I have also felt lonely and vulnerable facing issues head on when IÂ’m used to blocking them out with acting out. ItÂ’s quite an empty feeling which makes sense as IÂ’ve taken my coping tools away and have yet to properly learn how to use my new ones.

Middle Recovery : "Actual Recovery"
• They have accepted that they have struggled with certain immoral behaviors that contradicted their values, but realize that what matters is what they are doing, not what they did. They realize that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present.
IÂ’m grasping hold of this more and more and am finding it very freeing to look forward rather than back as I progress towards health.

• Their motivation to recover comes from the desire to live a life that they can be proud of, rather than a desire to create the illusion of a life that they can be proud of.
This sums up what I want to achieve so I would say it is my driving motivation.

• They make decisions based on what they believe is the right thing to do, rather than on what they think they can get away with. They know that whether these decisions end up being the right ones or not is irrelevant. That all that matters is that they were made with the right intentions in mind.
For too long IÂ’ve acted on what I think I can get away with but IÂ’m on the road of making decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do.

• They are not focused on controlling/ending their past behavioural patterns, but on developing new patterns that will take the place of those related to the addiction.
Yes and hopefully the self monitoring to come will help me to instil these new patterns.

• They perceive "powerlessness" as a temporary term that more accurately describes their lack of skills in managing their urges.
Definitely, IÂ’m really keen to build these skills to gain power over these urges.

• They recognize that the feelings that they are experiencing are the same feelings that others deal with every day in many different situations. That they are not "defective", but "deficient".
Yes, it feels good to see that IÂ’ve moved from seeing myself as really defective to merely deficient in coping with these emotions.

• They will take a long, hard look at anything associated with their destructive past, and will voluntarily make the decision to remove these objects from their life. This refers to pornography, internet accounts, etc. It does not necessarily refer to affairs where real feelings were experienced/exchanged.
Done.


II. Consider the values that surround both your healthy and unhealthy patterns. Are they consistent with your current prioritized values? If yes, wonderful. If not, how might this awareness alter how you are currently perceiving/managing your recovery? Share your thoughts in the community forum.

I think the values that surround my potential to carry out unhealthy patterns are based around protecting myself from rejection, failure and keeping me within my comfort zone. IÂ’ll need to stay very aware of any excuses I might be making to myself to get out of activities, social events or initiating contact.

I think the values that surround my healthy patterns are very much in line with my values regarding living with integrity and establishing healthy relationships first with myself and then with others.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:20 pm 
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Exercise 14: Health Monitoring

I. Develop your Daily Monitoring list. Construct it in some sort of word processing document (Word, Notepad, Wordpad, etc.) so that you may update it as needed.

I spent a long time on this and though it's really big I wanted to break it down into specifics as much as possible as I want clear road signs to aim for so I don't end up meandering along in vague directions, getting nowhere. I'm not expecting to meet all of these targets every day, week or month but each one followed should add something of value to my life and be another step towards living a healthy life.

Living With Integrity
• Did I do anything today that I wouldn’t be comfortable telling my future partner?
• Did I gossip today?
• Did I actively maintain a positive outlook today?
• Did I complete my Recovery Workshop activity today?
• Did I engage in any compulsive behaviour today?
• If not, how did I manage to break any rituals? If yes, how could I have avoided it?

Passionate About Life
• Did I write an inspiring quote, fact or idea in my daily journal?
• Am I reading a book I’m excited about?
• Have I discovered anything I didn’t know about my city today?
• Have I watched an inspiring film or programme today?
• Have I discovered any new music today?

Improving My Social Interactions
• Did I spend an hour researching local business groups, volunteering opportunities, or further education classes that I could participate in?
• Did I send a positive, fun or encouraging email to someone I know?
• Did I plan something to do this month that I’ve never done before?
• Did I arrange to meet up with at least 1 friend this week?
• Did I get out of the house for 15 minutes today?

Strengthen My Relationship With My Family
• Did I phone my parents this week?
• Am I reading the Parkinson’s book and highlighting things that could improve my mum’s wellbeing?
• Did I do anything in return for my dad’s business help this week?
• Did I phone or email my brothers or sister this week?
• Did I visit my mum and dad this month?
• Did I share my true self when interacting with my family?

Self Discipline
• Did I stay focused on my work and keep to my daily schedule?
• If not, did I stick to my time windows for email and other distractions?
• Did I get up at 8am? Asleep by 1am?
• Did I spend no more than an 2 hours at the computer in the evening?

Look After My Body
• Did I go through my daily exercise routine of weights, Pilates and press ups?
• Did I maintain a good posture when sitting and take frequent stretch breaks?
• Did I cycle or play football at least twice this week?
• Did I spend 15 minutes in peace, meditating on the good things in life?

Strengthen My Creative Skills
• Did I take 30 minutes to visualize what I aspire to achieve creatively in my life?
• Did I contribute anything to my sketchbook today?
• Did I go to an exhibition, film, concert or event this week?
• Did I research time-shift photography?

Experience Growth In Business
• Did I spend 30 minutes visualizing short and long term goals for my business?
• Did I break this down to achievable targets that I can schedule into my plan?
• Did I write down a daily plan of what I will work on tomorrow?
• Did I research businesses or projects that I can take inspiration from?

Establishing A Partnership With Someone
• Did I initiate conversation or reply to anyone I’m interested in on the dating site?
• Did I actively scope out fun places to go or things to do on a date today?
• Did I do anything about updating my wardrobe today?

Seek Adventure Through Travel
• Did I research anything about my Australia trip today?
• Did I write anything new I’ve discovered about Australia in my journal today?

Being Charitable/Giving
• Did I find some things to donate to the charity shop?
• Did I look into sponsoring something via my business at a local level today?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:29 am 
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Perceiving Your Addiction - Exercise 15

I. Take a minute to review what you have learned over the past two weeks. Of what you have learned so far, think of one example of how you have actively integrated that information into your day-to-day life.

One example of integrating the information I've learned is in making daily decisions based on my values. 'Living with integrity' is one of my values and an element of this value for me is that I shouldn't do anything that I wouldn't be comfortable telling my future partner about.

This alone has given me a greater sense of responsibility on a day to day level. It's made me aware that I'm not living in a sheltered vacuum where I can do whatever I want with the consequences only affecting me - throughout these two weeks I've been learning in a real way that everything really does matter.

By making integrity practical it's allowed me to choose healthy decisions over unhealthy ones because I'm starting to believe more in my values and vision than I am in my desire for instant emotional gratification.


II. Find a post from someone just starting out in the recovery workshop and offer your constructive thoughts based on what you have learned, experienced to this point in your recovery. Remember that you are not 'coaching' them...you are not offering your opinion and/or advice...you are simply sharing your knowledge and/or experience with them

Posted a response to kmac's thread in the community forum.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:08 pm 
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Exercise 16 – Understanding Addiction 1
I. Consider the POSITIVE role that addiction has played in your life. What purposes has it served (think short-term, not long)? Understanding the functional role of your addiction is important in removing the power, mystery and fear from that addiction. To begin seeing it in terms of practicality, rather than supernatural. Share a few positive aspects of your addiction in your recovery thread.

Voyeuring
Since I was young the places IÂ’ve lived have often had views into womanÂ’s bedrooms where I would watch women undress from within my house. This activity quickly became an addiction and produced the following positive short term positive effects:
• Sense of power and control – I can see into other people’s windows/lives yet don’t have to open my life up to anyone.
• Acceptance – getting to see someone in an intimate situation without the possibility of being rejected.
• Thrill/Adreneline – What will I see tonight? Being alert to not getting caught.
• Sexual stimulation – Even if not accompanied by Mb there’s the sexual thrill from seeing someone undressing.
• Connection – I’m connecting with this woman at an intimate level by sharing this moment, would she would feel for me too if she knew how she makes me feel (obviously not but such is the delusion).
• Comfort – By concentrating on this window, waiting for this light to come on I don’t need to think about all the problems in my life.
• Security – No one can hurt me while I’m doing this, it’s a safe place for me.

Exhibitionism
Again since I was young (and from my memory it was a friend you would encourage me to start doing this who I think might have been abused himself) IÂ’ve sometimes exposed my genitals (never with the intention to be seen by others as I would still keep hidden by outer clothing, under desk or in darkness so I donÂ’t think IÂ’ve ever been seen and really hope I havenÂ’t as I already feel deeply ashamed of this activity). There have also been times where I would get naked when on my own in secluded landscapes or places where I knew I was the only person around. IÂ’ve not acted in these ways for several months now. Even on my own seeing myself naked in front of a mirror. Some of the positive aspects of these behaviours were:
• Thrill/Adventure – This is exhilarating, I’m really living.
• Self Expression - I’m sexually expressing myself while everyone else is just getting by on a more humdrum level.
• Power/Control – I can experience sexual thrills whenever I want, whenever I choose to and I don’t need to rely on anyone else.
• Stress Relief – By experiencing this sexual thrill I’m no longer thinking about what was stressing me out or any problems in my life.
• Freedom – No longer restricted by clothes, I feel free and alive.
• Pride/Confidence – In my body and appearance when naked.

Masturbation and Porn
From friends bringing round their parents stash of adult magazines when I was a kid to hours and hours spent looking at internet porn, sadly this has played a huge role in my life. The positive short term benefits I got from this are:
• Power/Control – This is a world that I control completely. I decide where every journey will take me, how long I will spend there and who I will take with me in this fantasy world.
• Thrill/Adventure – What will I see today? What site/model will I discover that I’ve never seen before?
• Sexual stimulation – Often prolonged sexual stimulation until release, hours can be used up searching for the ultimate fantasy climax then enjoy the resulting high from reaching it.
• Comfort/Acceptance – 100% acceptance from whoever it is I am fantasizing about or viewing pictures or films of. No disappointments, no rejection, no anxiety over how I’m performing or if I look desirable myself.
• Distraction - I can focus my whole attention on viewing porn and not on any of my worries, tasks I need to do, people I should see.
• Confidence – I know my way around this fantasy world and feel confident within it, it’s the perfect escape from a world where I feel lost and anxious.

Same Sex Fantasies
Over the years IÂ’ve also fantasized about other men. This has obviously caused me a lot of confusion which I canÂ’t say I totally understand yet but IÂ’ll try and put my thoughts about it down here. IÂ’ve never really found guys that attractive in my day to day life and am always looking at women yet when it comes to porn I can get turned on by male, female or transsexual images. A couple of times when single I went to a gay club as I was curious to act out the same sex fantasies I was having. I went home with a guy on two occasions when drunk, both times nothing much happened bar fumbling about and I didnÂ’t feel like this was what I wanted when I sobered up. I would also get into rituals of enjoying the changing room after sports, more in being seen than looking. I even used to talk to guys on chatlines, and in chatrooms. It was rarely sexual, just talking about music, small talk and stuff and was more out of loneliness than anything else, maybe I was less afraid of rejection from guys than with women. I was sexually abused by a school bully when drunk as a teenager and donÂ’t know how much this contributed towards anything as well as some much younger experiences (7 or 8 maybe) with a boy who introduced me to a lot of sexual stuff. I never really wanted to talk about any of this but I donÂ’t want to fool myself either, this is how things have been and this is what IÂ’ve done. I guess the positive feelings I got from these experiences overlap with a lot of the others for porn/exhibitionism/voyeurism but IÂ’ll add the following too:
• Feeling Desirable – I enjoyed the feeling of being wanted sexually, being popular and hit on, I felt wanted, needed and important.
• Danger/Excitement – I enjoyed the feeling of doing something that no one knew about, that I was living a richer, more adventurous life than people might see on the surface.
• Intimacy – I enjoyed being open with strangers while I couldn’t be with friends.

Compulsive Romantic Behaviour
I canÂ’t believe how long this list is getting but IÂ’m afraid thereÂ’s been even more avenues to my past compulsions. While I was with my ex girlfriend I obsessed and fantasized about a woman at work and we emailed and flirted for several months. I told my girlfriend about her (at least to some degree) and she made light of it but I know it had an impact on our intimacy and we grew further apart. IÂ’ve also obsessed about other women throughout my life, sometimes barely having had a conversation yet in my head IÂ’ve almost felt as if thereÂ’s a romantic bond between us. Some of the positive short term benefits of the compulsive romantic behavior were:
• Feeling wanted – It felt great to feel wanted and desirable by someone attractive and much younger than me.
• Intimacy – I was able to share my romantic side and feel that we were connecting at a deep level.
• Being Creative – I was able to express myself creatively as we emailed and joked around and I could make her laugh.
• Danger/Excitement – Emailing intimate conversations while in the office where we could get caught at anytime. I was living a more adventurous live than others.
• Sexual Fulfillment – I would sometimes Mb and fantasize about these women.

I know IÂ’ve gone into way more detail than I needed for this exercise and IÂ’m far from proud at the extent that IÂ’ve managed my emotions and my life through these compulsive behaviours and what hurt and potential hurt I may have caused others. IÂ’m quite shocked at the extent of it, where did I even find all the time, what more might have I achieved in my life if I had been emotionally mature? ItÂ’s no wonder IÂ’ve been distant and barely interested in sex within my previous relationships when IÂ’ve been meeting all my emotional needs through these compulsive activities.

Seeing how many immediate positives I got from these activities really helps me see why I devoted so much of my life to them even though I solely wish I hadnÂ’t. ItÂ’s been difficult, embarrassing yet kind of therapeutic to get all of this out and unmask the mystery of why I acted these ways. In teh last few weeks I've been starting to move towards managing my emotions in a healthier way and establishing some much needed values in my life and I'm so glad that I've still got so much of my life ahead of me to live in a positive way.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:29 am 
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Exercise 17 - Understanding Addiction II, Elements of sexually compulsive behavior
I. Consider a particular compulsive ritual that you have engaged in. Identify the elements of this ritual and post them in your recovery thread. It is important that you understand the principles involved in identifying the stimulating elements of compulsive rituals...so if you are not comfortable with this concept, ask questions! Also, recognize that the elements listed above are not the only elements associated with compulsive behavior. And so, you will want to identify those elements that are specifically related to YOUR compulsive behavior.

Voyeuring
Although it has been several months since I last did this here are the elements of this ritual where I would watch a neighbor getting undressed from my apartment.

• Sensory Stimulation – Touch: Sometimes would Mb while watching or waiting for neighbor to appear. Sight: Central to the experience as I wait on a glimpse of nudity that I hope to burn to my memory bank to recall at any time. Many years ago I would use binoculars to enhance the experience.
• Fantasy – Images are stored up to fantasize about later. Delusional fantasies as I fantasize about how I am sharing an experience with this woman at an intimate level. That she might fantasize about me also and one day our paths will cross and we will fall head over heels for each other and have amazing, passionate sex.
• Danger – Adrenaline is heightened as I have to be careful that I am hidden behind my blinds and no one can see in. If she looks up towards my window then I have to move away to avoid her or anyone else glimpsing me. I can't afford to get caught.
• Suspense – Will she take everything off? Will she leave the blinds open, the light on? Will she be back from holiday, will she be alone?
• Accomplishment – I was there at just the right time! I knew she would be back from work and getting changed and I was the only person who got to see her.
• Power – I can experience sexual intimacy with these attractive women without all the hassles and pains of a relationship. I’m never rejected, I’m in control.
• Past – Voyeuring allows me to escape from all of life’s worries as it has done since I was a boy when it would give me endless secret highs in my secret world.
• Orgasm – After the experience as I go to my bed to Mb and many times in the future I can orgasm to the images that I have seen during this experience.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:28 pm 
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Exercise 18
Consider one of your own compulsive rituals. Identify circumstances when each of the three filters (time, habituation and intensity) have come into play. Make sure that you understand each filter to the point where you are able to identify them as a ritual is being performed.
Masturbating to Internet Porn


• Time – I would often aim to orgasm up to three times in a session when on a porn binge. Masturbating to within a few moments of orgasm and then continuing on to prolong the experience as long as possible until finding the perfect online fantasy/image/video. Hours could pass and then an hour or two later I could start again looking for an entirely different fantasy.

• Habituation – I could start off just searching for images of women I liked on a free thumbnail gallery site. Then I might barely look at the images I especially liked but would keep them open in a separate window to go back to thus adding the anticipation of seeing them again and potentially climax to. When images were not enough I might download an entire movie from a torrent site to add the anticipation of waiting and increase the thrill with the addition of hi definition video and sound.

• Intensity – I found that the best orgasms were often the most physically vigorous and over time I became an expert at reaching the best climax for me through delay and build up before an eventual release. This came at the expense of being unable to climax during sexual intercourse where I couldn’t match the same physical parameters of masturbation (as well as obvious intimacy issues).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:12 pm 
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Exercise 19
...become 'hyper-aware' of the healthy and unhealthy rituals that you engage in--AS YOU ARE ENGAGING IN THEM.

Some Thoughts on the exerciseÂ…
After the initial euphoria of committing to change had worn off I found it really difficult to get through the days without my usual rituals to fall back on. Gradually this gave way to a real sense of strength and freedom as I started to live a more values based life. Unfortunately the latter half of this week has been two steps backwards and though IÂ’ve not gone back to porn I havenÂ’t been living by my values and vision either and have been avoiding work, people and change.

With this in mind these last couple of days spent being hyper-aware of my rituals has focused almost exclusively on my unhealthy rituals.

ItÂ’s opened my eyes to just how often the smallest decisions I make in my day to day life are based on short term pleasure and immediate emotional fulfilment.

IÂ’d much rather enjoy the short term pleasures of mindlessly browsing football, news and video sites when I should be working on my own projects and enjoying the long term benefits of successfully completing them.

I addictively check my email and my income generated in the hope of getting that thrill of hearing from someone unexpected or of making some huge commission.

I check myself in the mirror often for narcissistic pleasure and to comfort myself that IÂ’m sexually desirable while the long term effect of this is to disappear up my own backside!

I masturbate and fantasize for the instant emotional high of an orgasm without thought of the long term intimacy and partnership issues that it can contribute to in the long term.

I stay secluded in the comfort of my flat where I donÂ’t ever have to be in awkward situations, make myself vulnerable or get involved in the difficulties of interacting with other people because itÂ’s easier for me in the short term. In the long term itÂ’s seriously damaging my prospects of living a healthy social life.

Even seemingly minor rituals like taking an over long shower, or frequent baths are done purely for short term gratification even though in the long term they all add up to go against my values of not wasting resources and overindulging.

Conclusions
I clearly need my daily decisions to be derived from what will give me long term emotional gratification, namely basing each of these decisions and rituals on my values which stem from the overriding vision I have for my life.

Every one of my current unhealthy rituals is an opportunity to replace it with a healthier, value based ritual that will produce a longer lasting and more real emotional fulfilment. This is my goal to replace these unhealthy rituals in my life one by one until thereÂ’s more healthy ones that unhealthy ones and to keep checking for any unhealthy rituals as I make progress.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:53 pm 
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Exercise 20 - Mastering Addiction

1) Examine your addiction and the role(s) that it has played in your life to date

When I decided I'd had enough with living under the cloud of sexual addiction a month or two ago I pretty much completed this exercise. I wrote down in a notebook pages covering every situation I could think of through different periods of my life where I'd used sexually addictive behaviours. I don't want to post everything here as it's quite a personal journey but I was really shocked and quite angry at the extent to which my addictions had developed and never left my side even as my life situations changed dramatically. In black and white it was just so clear how much of life I'd wasted by relying on my addictions to get me through life.

Though I gained much clarity to the extent of my addictive behaviour over the years by doing this exercise I may need to go back over this and play closer attention to the developing nature of my addictions and how they correspond to my these times of change in my life.

2) Look to future transitions in your life. Divorce. Death of a partner. Death of your parents. Death of a child. Loss of a job. Retirement. Having another child. Empty-nest syndrome. Consider many different situations that you will possibly face in the remaining years of your life. Situations that could potentially cause major instability to an otherwise balanced, fulfilling life. Explore the role(s) that addiction could play in helping you to manage these times.

Difficult question to think about until I actually have to face these kind of situations but I can imagine that these would be major tests for how strongly I am living a value based healthy life.

I could imagine losing a close family member might shake my stability and though I might portray a strong, brave face to the outside, I could end up seeking a release for my pent up emotions through MB and porn. Through being honest and vulnerable to family members and expressing my emotions I can lessen the chances of this happening and of grieving in a healthy way.

If I was in a new relationship and we were having difficulties sexually, say after having a child then I may be tempted to use MB and porn as an outlet for sexual addiction. As long as I remain open and vulnerable to my partner and able to share where we're at while actively pursuing intimacy then I can invest in our sexual health rather than looking for destructive outlets.

If I was to get injured that I could no longer participate in sports then I could get bitter, withdrawn and throw in the towel on improving my life. Sexual addiction could come right back in to play as I give up in these other areas. If I'm living a value based life I will have way more than participating in these sports to keep me fulfilled and active in many areas of life so I only need to fill any newly created gaps in my life with healthy alternatives.

What would it feel like for addiction to come back into your life
It would feel crushing for addiction to come back into my life. I'd feel like I'd put tons of dedicated training hours in to came back from a career threatening injury to play in the Champions League final and then missed it because I couldn't be bothered getting up when my alarm went off on the day. I'd have missed the big game, lost respect for myself and let all my hard work disappear cause I simply couldn't be bothered doing what I knew was the right thing to do.

What signs would you look for?
A creeping feeling that I'm on my own, that no one will know but me, that I deserve a break, I can do it just this once. I should also look for signs of isolating myself from others, not expressing myself truthfully and feeling emotionally drained - my defences will feel weak.

What actions would you take?
Get active, stay physically fit, socialise with friends, stick to a policy of openness, vulnerability and being truthful to those around me. Remind myself of the bigger picture, step back and review my life vision, reaffirm my values and make sure I'm monitoring them.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:43 pm 
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Some thinking aloud notes on these last few days.

These last couple of days have been much better after some of last week where I let my grip loosen on my living by my values.

Refocusing on my values and actively looking for ways to act out (in a good way!) has given me a real lift. I've booked holidays with friends, enjoyed playing sports more than ever, exercised, socialised and expanded my knowledge through reading and meditating.

What's great is only a few days ago I was feeling like I messed up and with typical 'all or nothing' thinking started to wonder if I could ever get on top of my addictions.

But I went back to my values (though I didn't really feel like doing it), checked my daily monitoring list and one by one started actually doing some of them and gradually the world starts becoming a better place again!

If I slip up along the path to a healthy life I'm only ever one healthy action away from being back on that healthy path again. In the old days a slip might have caused a big downward spiral but I think I'm seeing a bigger picture now and the values list of things to do are a helpful mirror to what's important in my life which gives me an alternative to the downward spiral.

I've also been reading an excellent book called 'happiness' by the buddhist monk and scientist M. Ricard and it's tying in really well with what I've been learning on the recovery program. One quote in particular stood out for me, speaking of the kind of people who you want to instinctively be in their company often display 'a perfect harmony between the public and private life'.

That to me is something to aspire to and the book's also teaching me a lot about how to deal with emotions and negative thoughts in ways other than through addictive behaviours. It's quite exciting to be making progress in an area where I still feel like I'm junior school!


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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 9:43 pm 
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Spent a few hours over the last day or two going through the questions in Exercise 20 in more detail about the role that addiction has played in my life to date. I won't post my answers here as it's 6 pages worth and I feel it's more important that it helped me to gain an understanding of just how all consuming my addictions have been and how they have progressed throughout the course of my life.

What will need to occur for these addictions to redevelop down the road? It's not so much what will need to occur as it's never taken much in the past. It's more question of will I keep living by my values and vision on a daily basis. If I can do that then I'm confident that any major life change can be tackled without resorting to the addictions to manage my emotions through them.


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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 11:48 pm 
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re: "I currently donÂ’t have a partner but IÂ’m glad I read and thought about everything in lesson 8."

I am too. It shows a willingness to going beyond what is 'required'...and taking the oh-so-important approach of active learning. That it reinforces the development of empathy is not so bad either, smile.

re: "- I no longer have any items for sexual compulsive behaviour since deleting all the porn from my hard drive a couple of months ago."

The beauty of putting yourself in such a position is that you no longer have to fight a cumulative addiction. You can focus your efforts on managing the here and now. This means, that should you find yourself downloading such images once more...that is an objective sign that you have lost focus. When we get to reactive action plans, you will want to have a specific plan developed for what you will do should you have already downloaded such images...and what you will do should you find yourself wanting to download such images. These plans will go far beyond the simple, "Delete the images." For now, you should have an informal plan in place...even if it is as simple as, "I will post in my thread that I have done this and ask for help as to how to proceed."

One more thought on this...all of this preparation and anticipation is done to instill confidence, not doubt. I would say that about 95% of the work that I did in my own recovery...I never had to apply in real life. Thank God. But the confidence I developed as a result of that preparation was priceless.

re: "I'm glad that IÂ’ve quit putting abstinence up on any pedestal as the trophy of successful recovery I used to think it was."

Me too. It allows you to focus on what recovery is all about: developing a healthy life.

re: "Exercise 14: Health Monitoring"

Sorry. I wish I could have gotten to this sooner. You put a lot of thought and effort into this...which is great. But in terms of practical use, it is not very. It is just too comprehensive to review on a daily basis. So what will likely happen is, maybe for the first week or two...you do it; but then it becomes a chore. You lose the intensity and purpose. And find yourself just going through the motions...if that.

If you haven't already, begin switching this to the following: (I just wrote to someone about this, so let me copy and paste that here)

You should be monitoring one (or possibly two) things each day...and never the same thing for more than a week. Two or three days would be preferable for most things. What you are looking to do is to apply specific focus to a certain area of your life that you are looking to strengthen. In the morning, you should wake up and say to yourself, "Today, I am going to look for opportunities to (add what you are monitoring here)." These areas of your life should be things that you derive positive stimulation from. For instance, 'I am going to work out for thirty minutes today' is not a good daily monitoring item. On the other hand, "I am going to look for opportunties today to choose the options that will benefit my physically" is. That may mean working out. It may mean taking the stairs rather than the elevator. It may mean 'refueling your body' with an apple, versus a Twinkie.

The thing about daily monitoring is that it should be almost 'fun'. It should be a welcome challenge. As soon as it becomes a checklist, it becomes worthless to life management in the long-run.

re: "Exercise 16 – Understanding Addiction 1, 2 and 3"
Very good. Excellent application of the material.

re: "After the initial euphoria of committing to change had worn off I found it really difficult to get through the days without my usual rituals to fall back on"

It is important that you understand why this is. These rituals have become ingrained as a part of your life. Ingrained as a part of how you identify with your life. That you have committed yourself to ending such rituals is admirable, but it doesn't lessen the fact that you are giving up a part of your identity. And so, you will feel grieve. You will feel loss. You will reach out to try and get that part of you back from time to time. Expect this. Fight it, but expect it.

The same phenomenon can be seen in people who have significant physical deformities for extended periods of time. Once these deformities are removed--something that is totally positive and healthy; some look in the mirror and no longer see themselves as 'normal'. They have lost a part of how they have come to identify themselves.

They adjust. And you will adjust. But it will require you going through that grieving process. Through that sense of loss--without re-attaching to the rituals.

re: "I may need to go back over this and play closer attention to the developing nature of my addictions and how they correspond to my these times of change in my life."

Exactly. This exercise really isn't about 'timelining' the addiction. It is about gaining awareness in how successful and healthy you were in managing life's major transitions and crises. To look for when and where your life management skills became deficient to manage your life in a healthy way. And, how those deficiencies impacted later life stages.

Finally, it is geared to your recognizing that you are now approaching a new life stage...one that will take you into a stage of healthy adulthood.

re: "only a few days ago I was feeling like I messed up and with typical 'all or nothing' thinking started to wonder if I could ever get on top of my addictions."

You will find these perceptions coming and going for years. Your job is simply to recognize them as early as possible and reprocess them into healthy thought. Ha, easy for me to say!

re: "I won't post my answers here as it's 6 pages worth and I feel it's more important that it helped me to gain an understanding of just how all consuming my addictions have been and how they have progressed throughout the course of my life."

I'm glad you did this. If you want to email it to me personally, I would be more than happy to read it. Not really to give you feedback...as I have the feeling that you have already derived what you needed to from it.
re: "

_________________
Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 9:37 am 
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Thanks for such comprehensive feedback on my progress, much appreciated.

"You should be monitoring one (or possibly two) things each day..."
IÂ’m really glad you said this and it hit the nail on the head. Within only a few days my list became a chore and just wasn't practical to carry out and review daily so I found myself picking and choosing a few specifics tasks while feeling guilty about missing everything else on my list. What youÂ’ve said about monitoring one or two things a day is a big relief as it looks way more achievable and, like you say, I could even enjoy the challenge rather than being daunted by it.

"They have lost a part of how they have come to identify themselves... it will require you going through that grieving process."
ThatÂ’s interesting as I guess IÂ’ve never compared this to when I stopped smoking years ago and the sense of grief I felt at losing the so called rebellious and cool side of me. It took me some time to grow into myself as a non smoker which I equated to shorthand for boring, clean cut and conservative.

While I was glad to see the back of nicotine stained fingers, smoky clothes and related health issues I definitely had to live with that sense of loss as a part of me that I had invested so much into cultivating was now no longer a part of my identity.

With my sex addictions IÂ’ve felt glad to be divorcing myself from porn and other sex addictions, the time theyÂ’ve taken up and the hurt to myself and others that theyÂ’ve caused. Thinking about it in this context I can also see that I have been grieving over losing the part of me that relies on no one else, that can be self sufficient sexually, emotionally and physically. IÂ’m losing the protective armor IÂ’d created through my sex addiction bubble that was wrapped so tightly around me that I'd thought it was really part of me.

I now see stopping smoking as one of my best decisions in life and am much healthier for it. What I once associated with being cool and rebellious I now associate with weakness and enslavery. In the months and years ahead IÂ’m sure that IÂ’ll be looking back on my decision to live a healthy, values based life as the best decision IÂ’ve yet made as I enjoy all the positives that have replaced all the negatives from my sexually addicted life.

"If you want to email it to me personally, I would be more than happy to read it."
Thanks for the offer. I decided to delete it though as I thought I gained from it the understanding that I needed and didnÂ’t really want to keep it around as a reminder after this.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2008 7:36 am 
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Exercise Twenty

A. What large goals have you attempted in your life and failed? Why do you suppose you failed?
My goal of making my current main business the best within in itÂ’s sector has so far failed. While it has been successful and profitable after itÂ’s first year I have so far failed to make it the best or one of the best (a realistic goal given the competition is relatively small).

I think I have so far failed through losing my initial focus after the first couple of months. IÂ’ve pretty much winged it, got lazy and failed to push myself physically, intellectually and creatively. IÂ’ve been unwilling to learn new things IÂ’m not currently skilled in and have taken the easy route mostly by sticking to what I already know how to do.

IÂ’ve also failed to set achievable goals with short, medium and long term targets. ThereÂ’s basically been zero planning and things get done on a whim or more often not done. ThereÂ’s been hardly any day to day planning so I know what IÂ’ll be doing today and tomorrow.

IÂ’ve failed to seek out enough partnerships and make connections within my field that would benefit my business. IÂ’ve been a perfectionist at times and unwilling to farm work out to others when that would make good business sense and would free me up to do the things that IÂ’m best at.

IÂ’ve been happy to tread water, remain comfortable and take it easy so IÂ’m not surprised that IÂ’ve so far failed to make my business a leader in its field. The good news is I can still make it happen by attending to each of these areas that IÂ’ve neglected and restore the focus I had when I set out on this path.

B. What large goals have you attempted in your life and succeeded?
Getting my first class honours degree at art school.

Why do you suppose you were able to succeed?
• I was passionate about what I was doing, I had a goal to get a first class degree and would do everything I could to create a quality of work to deserve it.
• I was focused and disciplined with getting things done. If there were targets to be met then I met them.
• I read, researched and kept my eyes open for ideas and noted or sketched them down in my sketchbook so the moment wouldn’t be lost.
• I got to know well the people in the workshop to the point where they were happy to help and teach me stuff as they appreciated my dedication and craftsmanship but probably more importantly I was friendly and interested in them.
• I relied on my faith in God at the time, I prayed, sought guidance, worshipped, was thankful for the gifts I was given.
• I had a life outside of my work. I went to church every week and classes during the week while visiting friends and socializing in college.
• I asked friends for help when I needed it and they were happy to help.
• I put no boundaries on what I could achieve. Anything was possible, why wouldn’t it be? There was a solution to every technical or logistical problem and I just had to keep trying things from every angle until I found it.
• I thought big, dreamed big.
• I didn’t care what people thought of my work, I believed in it and if other people liked it too then great, if not, well you can’t please everybody.
• I had fun with my work, nothing was too far fetched, daft or whimsical.
• I wanted to give people visitors to my show a pleasurable if thought provoking experience and tried my hardest to achieve this.
• I tried my hand at many different media, never got myself stuck in a rut of one particular method or medium. I experimented and diversified.
• I wasn’t intimidated by what I didn’t know, I just dived in and often brought a fresh approach to subjects that I had no knowledge of previously.
• I was ever mindful of deadlines and nothing was going to stop me meeting them.
• Rather than fearing the competition I excelled in doing the best I could with a healthy competitiveness that pushed me to better myself.

C. List one recovery goal that you have and break it down into as many smaller, measurable tasks as necessary for you to manage it successfully. If you find this difficult, then you are probably starting off with too general of a recovery goal. Make it specific.

My Goal: To exhibit at least one piece of art in 2008

Measurable tasks:
• Contribute something daily to my sketchbook, even if only a quote or cutting.
• Seek out a new artist a day to learn about or share with.
• Take at least half a day a week at my studio desk to work on ideas/artwork.
• Have my portfolio site online by the end of August.
• Apply for at least one exhibition by the end of September.


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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 9:20 pm 
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Since I last posted a week ago last week itÂ’s been pretty up and down for me in terms of living by my values. The first half I participated in a lot of social events to strengthen my value to build stronger relationships with my friends and family, I felt really good about myself even if I wasnÂ’t perfect in my actions I was proud of the progress I was making.

The latter part of the week I strayed from my daily monitoring list and subsequently lost my focus and my commitment to live by my values. I felt stuck on the workshop on something I wasn’t too sure about and used that as part of the excuse to let things slide. Although I didn’t go back to watching porn I did Mb several times and some of those times I had images in of previously viewed porn in my fantasies. I knew that I was using Mb and fantasy for my instant emotional gratification but I went ahead and did it anyway. One little step would quickly move on to another little step in the ritual and then I’d tell myself ‘Well I’ve done that now so I’m as well going to the next step, then I’m as well doing it all over again’.

But IÂ’ve decided that IÂ’m not going to bed tonight (even though itÂ’s already late) until IÂ’ve made this post in the forum as an outward symbol of progress and renewed dedication in my march towards living a healthy life. Not to carry out the lesson in a formulaic way just to get it done but to be honest with myself about wanting to do this and to resolutely continue on with the necessary steps that will lead to health and move me away from compulsive rituals.

ItÂ’s probably no coincidence that IÂ’ve got stuck on measuring a ritual with numerical ratings. IÂ’ve really struggled with this as the numbers part doesnÂ’t really come naturally to me as I think much more visually and intuitively but IÂ’ve tried to assign things as best as can as far as I can understand it.

Exercise 21

Ritual engaged in.
Being naked in front of mirror, getting an erection that often leads to masturbation which may or may not lead to fantasizing to images of porn from my memory.

Primary Elements Involved:
Sensory (touch); Sensory (visual), Fantasy (imagery); Accomplishment, Orgasm

Values assigned:
Sensory (visual): 3
Sensory (touch): 2
Fantasy (imagery): 2
Accomplishment: 1
Orgasm: 1

Filters applied:
Sensory (visual):
Time – This is kind of a weird ritual that I seem to have dreamed up now that I’ve quit using porn and might replace to some degree the visual stimulation I got from that. I can stand in front of a mirror and will myself to get aroused and enjoy watching it. IT can go on for a while and I can almost feel the chemicals in my brain altering and giving me some kind of emotional gratification. At its height the time can be extended for maximum effect and can be measured as a 9.

Intensity – As this is still a new ritual it’s pretty intense without adding much, say an 8.

Habituation – It seems that doing it once can tempt me to do it again and again, an 8.

Sensory (touch):
Time – I don’t even need to touch myself for arousal unless I complete through to Mb so maybe a 4.

Intensity – Only really a factor if I continue through to Mb – 5

Habituation – When continued to Mb it’s still quite new so habituation has not decreased much yet – 7

Fantasy:
Time – Increases stimulation as there’s no time constraints - 8.

Intensity – Don’t always have to concentrate on a fantasy for result – 6

Habituation – Still using fantasies sparingly so not dulled by habituation yet - 7

Accomplishment:
Time – As time goes on sense of accomplishment remains high for being aroused without touching or at times even without having to fantasize – 7

Intensity – Remains pretty constant – 5

Habituation – Repetition increases my sense of accomplishment – 7

Orgasm
Time – Prolonging of climax keeps stimulation high – 8

Intensity – No higher than climaxing through other means – 6

Habituation – Repetition doesn’t seem to lower the experience - 8

Summary
Man that was difficult. I don't feel like I've totally got my head round all of the concepts of this yet and sometimes felt like I was grabbing numbers out of the air for that reason. I will look into it some more to see what I can take on board that will help me.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:30 pm 
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Not too happy that it's been 3 and half weeks since I last posted. I was on vacation for a couple of weeks and then every day since I got back I kept thinking I'd get back but have been pretty lazy all round and have let things slip.

It's not been all doom and gloom though, the 2 weeks away were really good and improved my social relationships with friends and family members with a new depth that I wouldn't have had previously. I wasn't even planning to go and it was only through wanting to build on my values of being a good friend and family member and to be more socially active that I decided to go. I didn't give in to any temptations on the trip (and there were plenty) and I feel I really connected with people in a way I never would have with my old compulsive nature.

It's not all been plain sailing since I got back though. I should have seen the signs (jet lagged/tired/bored/come down/alone) and been extra vigilant to maintain value based decisions and keep myself active. As I didn't I've lost my momentum and though I've still not gone back to porn I have MB'd several times and sometimes with images of soft porn in my mind while doing it.

So this is me getting back on track. Not going to get down on myself, sure I've lost focus on my values these last 10 days or so but I can't ignore the major progress I've made since I started learning about how values can give you the foundation for a healthy life.

So tomorrow I'll be reviewing where I'm at and going over my values, daily monitoring and after that will move on to exercise 21.


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