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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Hi Boundless,

Quote:
I'm glad you touched on the point I was trying to make. How many
people out there get frustrated at things like this...then go on to
later in life to lament that they didn't treasure the time they had
when their kids were kids? So, think of this awareness as
fantastic. You are now aware of this while you still can cherish this
time. But, this will take a shift in perspective...and one that will
ultimately serve your entire recovery well.

The lack of agency and control could be the case. But why do you have
a lack of control? You're still the adult. If you examine yourself, I
would bet that most certainly, this comes down to selfish
thoughts. "Why do they have to annoy me?" "I wish I was doing
something else right now." Even potentially frustration with not
knowing how to handle the situation...which can be learned. But by
thinking these things, you take yourself out of just enjoying the
moment. You are constantly thinking of the future...of how you wish
you were doing something else or being somewhere else...rather than
living in the present. This creates anxiety...which previously, has
been something that you managed through acting out.

Hopefully you see where I'm going here. See this time as a time you
get to spend with your children, not thinking about work or other
obligations, but just being with them, and potentially having fun
yourself. The same goes for many other instances, not only with you
kids, but in the rest of your life as well. With a slight change in
attitude, you can see this as something you enjoy doing, something
that makes you happy and fulfilled....rather than a source of anxiety
and stress. Huge difference, no? And one that, if you generalize to
other areas of your life, will make a massive difference to your
recovery and life.

Your kids are certainly not dawdling with the intention to annoy
you. They're dawdling because...well, they're kids. That's what they
do. They have short attention spans. They are having fun and
playing. They are being kids. Allow them. And, allow yourself to be a
child once again (in a good way) with them. Splash around. Make a
mess. Laugh. You won't regret it. This obviously doesn't mean there is
no place for discipline (again, I understand that it can occasionally
be trying on one's patience). But one thing people tend not to
consider is how your own perceptions and actions can affect
situations. Perhaps if you take the initiative to be more fun and
playful during this time (and others)...your kids will respect it more
when you say "okay, time to finish the bath" and won't dawdle so
much. And even if they do...it's probably not as big a deal as your
mind is making it. Remember, they're kids; you're the adult. I hope
you see what I'm getting at here (which is applicable far beyond just
this issue).

Realize your actions here could be the difference between your kids
looking back later in life and seeing bath time as a time where dad
got frustrated with them...and something that is a fond memory with
you, where they really felt loved.


Wow this is an eye-opener. Yes you are right I was thinking selfish
thoughts, wishing bath were over so I could do other things. And my
kids are just being kids. A change in attitude will be very helpful,
I will try it. Maybe some water pistols :)
It is true that they are growing up so fast, it won't
be long before they are bathing themselves and I'm sure I will miss
their baths. Also I will think hard about how to apply this kind
of change in attitude to other areas of my life.



Quote:
Yes, I see what you mean here...but just to get you thinking: what
exactly are you fighting? Certainly not addiction.

What I mean by this is regarding how addiction always comes back to
emotional management. There is no "addiction" that is "striking"...at
least not some kind of "beast" which is how people sometimes perceive
addiction, as something separate from themselves. Rather, you
experience stress and emotional imbalances, just like everyone
else...and you have learned over the years to manage those emotional
imbalances through your compulsive behaviours. Those behaviours have
become ingrained as effective ways to manage those emotions (at great
long-term cost). Again, there is more to it than that (in how these
patterns distort your identity and perception over time) but addiction
fundamentally boils down to managing emotions.


This is very helpful. I used to think of the addiction
as a kind of beast inside me that would strike at random moments.
Now I understand at an intellectual level that instead there is just
an ingrained pattern or habit inside me of emotional management. I
think I am still working on internalizing this belief so that it
becomes a deep core belief .. it helps when I notice correlations
between compulsive urges and preceding emotional stresses, which I
can do a good fraction of the time now.


Quote:
Hence another reason why abstinence-only recovery programs will not
work. Even those who successfully avoid their behaviours through
willpower usually relapse at some point...either with their original
behaviours or by switching to other compulsive behaviours. You cannot
just force your emotions away forever, nor is that healthy. Everyone
has emotions. It is a normal part of being alive. This is why you must
attack the underlying patterns of the addiction, rather than focus on
the behaviours themselves (which are merely a symptom), as well as
replace those patterns with healthy behaviours.

So "addiction" is not separate from "you"....nor is it you. This can
take people some time to wrap their head around. I know I covered a
lot of concepts there, and if this still seems confusing, it should
start to make more sense after you get through the lessons on
emotions. Ask questions to clear things up.


I think I see what you are saying, and it makes sense. What I should
be engaged in is not a fight against the behaviors.
Instead I need to work to develop insight and self-awareness rather
than just relying on willpower, to understand and be aware of my
emotions, and to develop skills for organizing my life
in a way that embraces my values and generates postitive and healthy
emotions that can counterbalance negative emotions and sources of
stress. Just recently it has begun to sink home to me
how deficient I am in these skills and how much I have to learn,
so I am eager now to work through more of the lessons.


Thanks again for all your help :g:

StrivingForHealth


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 22
----------

Ritual Measured: scanning

Elements of this ritual

1. I am in a public place and see an attractive woman, for example
a woman in a swimsuit at a swimming pool.

2. I look at her body [Sensory (visual)]

3. I imagine what she would look like naked [Fantasy (imagery), Sensory (visual)]

4. Later when I am alone I fantasize about circumstances under which
I could meet her, and have sex with her. [Fantasy (imagery), Fantasy (delusional)]

5. I masturbate and have an orgasm [Sensory (touch), Accomplishment]



Values Assigned:

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


Filters Applied:

Sensory (visual):

* Time: Scanning limited in time, not controllable by me, since prolonged staring
in public spaces is not socially acceptable. 1

* Intensity: 8

* Habituation: Stimulation reduced after many scans 3



Fantasy (imagery):

* Time: Imagining what she looks like naked is limited in time 2

* Intensity: 7

* Habituation: Stimulation reduced after many scans 3


Fantasy (delusional):

* Time: Stimulation from fantasy increases with duration and complexity of fantasy 7

* Intensity: This is a key part of the ritual 9

* Habituation: Slight reduction in intensity after several fantasies about the same woman 7



Sensory (touch):

* Time: builds up until climax 8

* Intenstiy: 7

* Habituation: Many fantasies reduce stimulation 5



Orgasm:

* Time: do not control duration 1

* Intensity: 8

* Habituation: 3



Accomplishment:

* Time: feeling of accomplishment lasts a while 4

* Intensity: 5

* Habituation: 2




Total Score:
-------------
Sensory (visual): 3*(1+8+3)/6 = 6.0
Fantasy (imagery): 2*(2+7+3)/6= 4.0
Fantasy (delusion):3*(7+9+7)/6= 11.5
Sensory (touch): 2*(8+7+5)/6 = 6.7
Orgasm: 2*(1+8+3)/6 = 4.0
Accomplishment: 1*(4+5+2)/6 = 1.8
--------
33.0


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Hi Boundless,

Quote:
How do you think what you learned in that lesson could be used beyond just your rituals and acting out...think how other ways measuring your emotions could apply to your life beyond the addiction...


Good question... I think when I get angry with my children
having an increased awareness of the strength of my anger,
and what triggers it, will help me respond in ways that
are better than shouting at them.
I think when I get worried and stresed about my performance
at work, being able to measure and quantify that worry and see its
origin will help me channel the energy into improving things at work,
dealing with the source of the negative emotion.
Somehow being aware of emotions on a functional level, assigning
them a numerical value and seeing their origin, makes them a little
less immediate and visceral, and a little easier to deal with.
I've already found this to be the case when dealing with urges
to fantasize. The one emotion I have that this does not apply to is
my feelings towards my father, which are still buried and frozen
I think.

I don't think I have completely gotten the measurement process down
yet so I will work through several more rituals to make sure.

:g:
StrivingForHealth


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 Post subject: Lesson 24
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:53 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
I. Create your own Wheel of Sexual Compulsion that is
more closely related to your behavior. This can be
done by simply listing the cumulative elements
involved in your compulsive behavior. This shouldn't
take you more than five minutes. List these elements
(associated with no particular ritual — but more your
addiction in general) in your recovery thread



Fantasy
Sensory (sight, sound, touch)
Orgasm
Suspense
Past
Accomplishment
Taboo, Guilt
Power


Quote:
II. Choose a real-life example of EVERY major sexual
ritual that you engage in (these should be compulsive
rituals, not healthy) and break each down into their
smallest elements (based on the elements identified in
your wheel of sexual compulsion).
Most people will identify two to four such Major
Rituals. If you can identify with more than five such
rituals, just list the most common five.
To be successful in your transition to health, you will
need to master your ability to identify not only these
elements, but also to recognize the role that they play
in stimulating you. Don't settle for anything less than
mastery here.



Masturbation to Pornography
---------------------------
1. Feel unsettled, lonely, inadequate

2. I feel an urge to act out and close my office door. I imagine
what I am about to do. [Fantasy, Suspense]

3. I decieve myself that I am resisting by not going
immediately to hard porn sites but instead doing searches
for things that will stimulate me that are not quite so hard core,
for example erotic stories, pictures without videos. [Sensory
(visual), Fantasy]

4. This leads inevitably to hard core sites. [Sensory (visual and
sound), Power, Taboo/Guilt]

5. I imagine that I am participating in the sexual activities [Fantasy]

6. I view the videos with headphones, and spend a long time
searching for more and more stimulaing videos. [Suspense, Sensory
(visual and sound)]

7. I start to masturbate. [Sensory (touch)]

8. I download some videos onto my computer for ease of access later
during this episode.

9. I search for videos that I remember from previous episodes. [Past]

10. I watch some of the saved videos again.

11. Eventually it is time to quit, so I pick a favorite video
to use while I bring myself to orgasm. [Sensory (visual, sound,
touch), Orgasm, Accomplishment, Power, Taboo/Guilt]

12. I clean up and feel intense shame and failure and helplessness.
I delete everything from my computer. I promise myself never to
do it again. A part of me knows I will not be able to keep
this promise so I feel dishonest as well as despairing.






Scanning
----------

1. I am in a public place and see an attractive woman, for example
a woman in a swimsuit at a swimming pool.

2. I look at her body [Sensory (visual), Power]

3. I look away in order not to be noticed [Suspense, Guilt/Taboo].

4. I look back when she is not looking [Danger, Guilt/Taboo].

5. I imagine what she would look like naked [Fantasy (imagery), Sensory (visual)]

6. Later when I am alone I fantasize about circumstances under which
I could meet her, and have sex with her. I imagine feeling desired and validated.
[Fantasy (imagery), Fantasy (delusional), Power]

7. I start to masturbate and try to prolong the fantasy and delay orgasm [Suspense, Sensory (touch)]

8. I have an orgasm [Orgasm, Accomplishment]





I'll describe more rituals in another post.


Last edited by StrivingForHealth on Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Lesson 24
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Lesson 24 (continued)

Visit with a Prostitute (a long time ago)
---------------------------------

1. In a faraway city interviewing for a new job.
Feel lonely, stressed out, wound up.

2. Feel strong urge, compulsion to act out.

3. Take a train from where I am staying to the red light district.
Start to walk around the streets and ogle the street walkers and
storefronts. Feel suspense, excitement, also
shame, also a very strong sense of being out of control, like
being shackled to a conveyor belt that is pulling me along.
A tremendously powerful rush affects my body and my emotions.
[Fantasy, Suspense, Taboo/Guilt, Sensory (sight)]

4. Go into a brothel. Some of the women there give me knowing
and flirtatious smiles. I am so hyper-focused on my rush and excitement
that it is like a black cloud is covering up part of my brain;
I only think of these women as sex objects, no awareness of what
their lives must really be like penetrates me.
[Fantasy, Suspense, Taboo/Guilt, Sensory (sight)]

5. One of the women looks very attractive to me, I choose her
and we go into a private room.
[Power, Taboo/Guilt, Suspense]

6. We undress and she massages me with oil. I penetrate her
and she has an orgasm. I am so wound up that I do not have an orgasm.
The intensity of the act itself is much lower than the intensity of
the anticipation, in terms of how it stimulates my emotions.
[Taboo/Guilt, Power, Sensory (sight), Sensory (sound), Sensory
(touch), Accomplishment]

7. She cleans me off, sweetly kisses me goodbye, keeping up the illusion
for me of a loving partner.
[Fantasy (delusional), Sensory (sight), Accomplishment]

8. On the train home I feel shell-shocked, numb. I cannot get in
touch with what I am actually feeling. It is like I am separated from
myself. It becomes clear to me that I have a serious problem, I don't
know how to fix it.


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 Post subject: Lesson 25
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:42 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
Develop your own compulsive ritual. Make this
relatively simple. List the primary elements in a
similar fashion as exampled above in Compulsive
Ritual: Exhibitionism. Post this ritual and its
elements in your recovery thread.



Compulsive Ritual: Masturbation to Pornography
----------------------------------------------
1. I feel lonely or inadequate or shameful.

2. I feel an urge to act out and close my office door. I imagine
what I am about to do.

3. I decieve myself that I am resisting by not going
immediately to hard porn sites but instead doing searches
for things that will stimulate me that are not quite so hard core,
for example erotic stories, pictures without videos.

4. This leads inevitably to hard core sites.

5. I search for the type of video I want, and spent a long
time scanning thumbnails to find the most stimulating ones.

6. When I find very stimulating ones, I view them with headphones,
and then I keep searching.

7. I feel an enormous rush of anticipation, and of taboo/guilt

8. At some point I start to masturbate.

9. I download some videos onto my computer for ease of access later
during this episode.

10. I search for videos that I remember from previous episodes.

11. I watch some of the saved videos again.

12. Some of my favorite videos have links to other videos which
really stimulate me.

13. I change the type of search and start again.

14. Eventually it is time to quit, so I pick a favorite video
to use while I bring myself to orgasm.

15. I clean up and feel intense shame and failure and helplessness.
I delete everything from my computer.


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 Post subject: Lesson 26
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
In the previous exercise, you were asked to label the
elements involved with a particular ritual. In this
exercise, you will be delving deeper into your
awareness of that ritual. Here, you are asked to 'map
out' one of your rituals. Make sure that you choose a
specific ritual that you have engaged in (as in, last
Thursday before work, I looked at porn); rather than
a general compulsive behavior (as in, in the past, I
looked at porn).
The main difference between what you did in the
previous exercise and this is that you are no longer
listing the elements of the ritual. Instead, you are
listing the behavior associated with that element. For
example, in the past exercise, it was sufficient to
label a voyeuristic ritual with the element 'sensory
stimulation — visual'. No longer. From this point
forward, all rituals should be identified in terms of
the specific thoughts/behaviors associated with the
elements. And so, today, your 'element' will read
something like this: "I would focus my eyes on her and
inconspicuously follow her around the store."
Post this more advanced ritual in your recovery
thread.



I've taken my ritual from the last post and tried to make it more specific
and detailed:

1. I feel lonely or inadequate or shameful or stressed. This might be prompted
by something I am thinking about or something I see on my computer.

2. I feel an urge to act out and close my office door. I imagine
what I am about to do.

3. I feel an enormous rush of anticipation and excitement, and of taboo/guilt.

4. I deceive myself that I am resisting by not going
immediately to hard porn sites but instead doing searches
for things that will stimulate me that are not quite so hard core,
for example erotic stories, pictures without videos.

5. This leads inevitably to hard core sites.

6. I put on headphones, rearrange my clothing and start to masturbate.
I push aside my feelings of guilt, bury my desire to be healthy,
cause myself to forget previous promises to myself.

7. I search for the type of video I want (women with women, anal and
oral sex, or videos with specific actresses), and spend a long time
scanning thumbnails to find the most stimulating ones.

8. When I find very stimulating thumbnails, I view the videos.
For most videos I fast forward through them
quickly when they turn out not to be as stimulating as I had anticipated,
and then keep on searching.

9. When I come across very stimulating videos I watch them several
times while masturbating. Sometimes I download them
onto my computer for ease of access later during the episode.
I also play them in slow motion or frame by frame to maximize my arousal.
I am careful not to orgasm in order to prolong the session.

10. I fantasize that I am present in the videos and taking part in
the sexual activities.

11. I vary things to keep the level of arousal high, for up to two or
three hours: I search for videos that I remember from previous
episodes. I watch some of the saved videos again. I follow
links from stimulating videos to other videos which
really stimulate me. Or, I change the type of search and start again.

12. I am very focused, in a trance-like state, I don't notice
if I am sitting in an uncomfortable position and if my legs go to
sleep. My whole world narrows down to the images, sounds, fantasies,
and feelings of taboo.

13. Eventually it is time to quit, so I pick a favorite video
to use while I bring myself to orgasm.

14. I clean up and feel intense shame and failure and helplessness.
I delete everything from my computer, and promise myself that
it will never happen again.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:56 pm 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Good work on your rituals. The only thing I would suggest is (at least for the last two you wrote out here), make sure that as you look through the steps, you can pick out the different emotional elements involved in each step (there could be one or several). There's no need to write this out; it's just for your own understanding.

Boundless

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

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Hi Boundless,

thanks for the suggestion about identifying the emotional
elements in the rituals. I had a look at Lesson 45 about this
and tried to add emotions to what I had before. It definitely
helps to make clear the function and role of the ritual.

:)

StrivingForHealth



Visit with a Prostitute (a long time ago)
------------------------------------------

1. In a faraway city interviewing for a new job.
Feel lonely, stressed out, wound up.
[Emotions: sad, lonely, stressed, worried, anxious]

2. Feel strong urge, compulsion to act out.
[Emotions: internal struggle, guilt and despair, anticipation and excitement]

3. Take a train from where I am staying to the red light district.
Start to walk around the streets and ogle the street walkers and
storefronts. Feel suspense, excitement, also
shame, also a very strong sense of being out of control, like
being shakeled to a conveyor belt that is pulling me along.
A tremendously powerful rush affects my body and my emotions.
[Fantasy, Suspense, Taboo/Guilt, Sensory (sight)]
[Emotions: Shame, guilt, comfort, accomplishment, power, excitement and anticipation]

4. Go into a brothel. Some of the women there give me knowing
and flirtatious smiles. I am so hyperfocused on my rush and excitement
that it is like a black cloud is covering up part of my brain;
I only think of these women as sex objects, no awareness of what
their lives must really be like penetrates me.
[Fantasy, Suspense, Taboo/Guilt, Sensory (sight)]
[Emotions: Excitement, power, control, accomplishment, anticipation, comfort]

5. One of the women looks very attractive to me, I choose her
and we go into a private room.
[Power, Taboo/Guilt, Suspense]
[Emotions: Excitement, power, control, accomplishment, anticipation, comfort]

6. We undress and she massages me with oil. I penetrate her
and she has an orgasm. I am so wound up that I do not have an orgasm.
The intensity of the act itself is much lower than the intensity of
the anticipation, in terms of how it stimulates my emotions.
[Taboo/Guilt, Power, Sensory (sight), Sensory (sound), Sensory
(touch), Accomplishment]
[Emotions: comfort, power, accomplishment, guilt, shame, anticlimax]

7. She cleans me off, sweetly kisses me goodbye, keeping up the illusion
for me of a loving partner.
[Fantasy (delusional), Sensory (sight), Accomplishment]
[Emotions: storm of emotions receeding, guilt returning,

8. On the train home I feel shell-shocked, numb. I cannot get in
touch with what I am actually feeling. It is like I am separated from
myself. It becomes clear to me that I have a serious problem, I don't
know how to fix it.
[Emotions: disturbed, worried, sad, feeling like a core part of
me has been violated by myself]



Masturbation to Pornography
---------------------------

1. I feel lonely or inadequate or shameful or stressed. This might
be prompted by something I am thinking about or something I
see on my computer.
[Emotions: sadness, loneliness, shame, worry]

2. I feel an urge to act out and close my office door. I imagine
what I am about to do. [Fantasy, Suspense]
[Emotions: guilt and despair, also excitement and anticipation, thrill]

3. I feel an enormous rush of anticipation and excitement, and of taboo/guilt.

4. I decieve myself that I am resisting by not going
immediately to hard porn sites but instead doing searches
for things that will stimulate me that are not quite so hard core,
for example erotic stories, pictures without videos.
[Sensory (visual), Fantasy]
[Emotions: anticipation, excitement, comfort, guilt]

5. This leads inevitably to hard core sites.


6. I put on headphones, rearrange my clothing and start to masturbate.
I push aside my feelings of guilt, bury my desire to be healthy,
cause myself to forget previous promises to myself.
[Sensory (visual and sound), Power, Taboo/Guilt]
[Emotions: excitement, comfort, anticipation, pleasure, a kind of
serenity in the extreme focus, relief from worry and shame]

7. I search for the type of video I want (women with women, anal and
oral sex, or videos with specific actresses), and spend a long time
scanning thumbnails to find the most stimulating ones.
[Suspense, Sensory (visual and sound), Power, Taboo/Guilt]
[Emotions: excitement, comfort, anticipation, pleasure, a kind of
serenity in the extreme focus, relief from worry and shame]

8. When I find very stimulating thumbnails, I view the videos.
For most videos I fast forward through them
quickly when they turn out not to be as stimulating as I had anticipated,
and then keep on searching.
[Suspense, Sensory (visual and sound), Power, Taboo/Guilt]


9. When I come across very stimulating videos I watch them several
times while masturbating. Sometimes I download them
onto my computer for ease of access later during the episode.
I also play them in slow motion or frame by frame to maximize my arousal.
I am careful not to orgasm in order to prolong the session.
[Suspense, Sensory (visual and sound and touch), Power, Taboo/Guilt]
[Emotions: power, accomplishemt, excitement, comfort,
anticipation, pleasure]


10. I fantasize that I am present in the videos and taking part in
the sexual activities.
[Fantasy (delusional)]
[Emotion: comfort, pleasure]

11. I vary things to keep the level of arousal high, for up to two or
three hours: I search for videos that I remember from previous
episodes. I watch some of the saved videos again. I follow
links from stimulating videos to other videos which
really stimulate me. Or, I change the type of search and start again.
[Past,Suspense, Sensory (visual and sound and touch), Power, Taboo/Guilt]


12. I am very focused, in a trance-like state, I don't notice
if I am sitting in an uncomfortable position and if my legs go to
sleep. My whole world narrows down to the images, sounds, fantasies,
and feelings of taboo.

13. Eventually it is time to quit, so I pick a favorite video
to use while I bring myself to orgasm.
[Sensory (visual and sound and touch), Power, Accomplishment, Orgasm]
[Emotions: power, comfort, relief, excitement, pleasure]

14. I clean up and feel intense shame and failure and helplessness.
I delete everything from my computer, and promise myself that
it will never happen again.
[Emotions: intense shame and guilt, anxiety, worry]


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 Post subject: Lesson 28
PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
1. Develop a compulsive chain of your most recent
acting out behavior.

2. Upon completion of this chain, review it to ensure
that you can recognize the way that each element
affected your emotional state.

3. Thinking as an addict, look for areas within this
chain where you could add additional destructive
elements that would have (most likely) increased the
overall stimulation of the event. The actual events
that you add should be realistic, and related to the
chain itself. For instance, someone viewing porn
might add the element of setting up a Power Point
slide show of the images. Someone engaging in escort
services might add the element of videotaping the
encounters. Share these in your recovery thread.


The first two parts were in my first post from June 28.
There are a couple of ways the chain could have been enhanced:

- Use of a vibrator or other sex toys to stimulate
myself while masturbating.

- Build up a set of favorite videos to keep on the computer
to use in future episodes. I never did this since
doing so would make clear that my promise to myself
(at the end of each episode) never to do it again was
false.

- Subscribe to a paying pornography site to gain
access to a wider range of videos.

- In another direction, I could have arranged to
interact with people online instead of being a passive
consumer of pornography, e.g. adult chat rooms,
online strip shows etc.


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 Post subject: Lesson 29
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
Find a place where you will be alone and safe.
Ensure that, for the next fifteen minutes, you won't
be interrupted for any reason. Fifteen minutes (or
longer, but not less than). Then close your eyes and
just feel. Think of things that are important to you.
Think of your values. Think of your regrets. Think of
trauma that you have experienced. Think of
wonderful moments. Let yourself experience
whatever emotions that come freely. Focus on each
of the emotions, and DO NOT OPEN YOUR EYES! (this
is an important part of the exercise). Stay in touch
with the feelings. Experience the emotions that come
with these thoughts. Forget about your physical
self...focus only on the emotions that you are
experiencing.

Now, consider one of your milder compulsive
behaviors. Try to get in touch with the feelings that
are generated with this behavior. If you find yourself
getting triggered to act, forbid yourself. Then focus
on the anxiety that is produced with that decision.
Really allow yourself to get in touch with the stress
that is building. Consider the reality that, either
during this exercise or soon thereafter, you will face
the challenge of deciding whether or not you should
act on these feelings. Begin to feel the consequences
of both your decision to masturbate, and your
decision to remain committed to recovery.
After you have done this for fifteen minutes (or
longer), and before you engage in any compulsive
behavior, open your eyes and complete the following:

A. Describe the emotions that you experienced and
the thoughts that triggered them.


For this exercise I tried to think some of my more intense
past experiences, to recapture the emotions I experienced
during them. For some of them I was able to experience
a little of the emotion, but for others I was only
able to be aware of the emotion I felt at the time,
but not to really feel it now.

Sometimes I find it hard to be aware of my own emotions.
I think this stems from when I was a child and I had to learn how
to hide and stifle my emotions. I learned so well that I can
sometimes hide the emotions even from myself. Or, I know that
I am feeling something but I don't know what it is, what is causing
it, it is just a discomfort that needs to be fixed.
Sometimes I have cried without really knowing why.
I think it would help me to be able to better identify my emotions,
if anyone has ideas or techniques for how to get better at this
please let me know.

I started by remembering being beaten at the hands of my father.
I felt fear, shame, maybe anger.

I remembered holding my newborn daughter in my arms, having
her stare up at me in wonder. I felt joy and love.

I remembered my wife smiling and staring into my eyes as
we were exchanging rings while we were getting married.
I felt love and great happiness.

I remembered visiting a former girlfriend after I had broken
up with her to try to get back together. She told me to go,
went into another room with her new boyfriend, and closed the door.
I felt enormous sadness, loss, loneliness.


For the feelings that drive me to act out,
they are feelings of shame, of self-doubt, inadequacy, worthlessness,
a feeling of being fated to be miserable.





Quote:
B. In assessing your own anxiety, describe the
extremes of your personal experiences with anxiety.
What has been the least anxious state you have
experienced and the most extreme anxious state you
have experienced?



My least anxious state has been falling asleep
with my wife in my arms.

My most anxious state was when I was a child and
my father would get angry and I was afraid that he
would beat me.

If I give these numeric scores of -10 and 10 respectively,
the anxiety that has driven me to act out in the past
is maybe 8 or 9.


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 Post subject: Lesson 30
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
For the rest of today and all of tomorrow, focus on
one specific developmental skill: deepening your
awareness of the connection between your emotions
and your values. Like a student studying for a
midterm, concentrate on how your emotions
influence your actions; how your values influence
your decisions; how your emotions influence your
values, etc. Don't do this from memory...anyone can
do that. Take tomorrow to assess your
emotions/values as if you were in a laboratory. There
is no need to write down your observations anywhere.
Simply do it.


I have been trying to be more aware of my emotions in general,
and to figure out what triggers them, and to see if I need
to challenge the preconceptions that lead to the emotions
being triggered. For example, recently I was away on a business
trip and I realized that I missed my wife a lot, on previous trips
I might have realized that I was feeling out of sorts but not been
aware why. Another example is I have an internalized belief that I don't deserve to have friends, I am not worthy of friendship. I think this
belief is in part due to my shame related to my addiction, and
that as I recover I can challenge and overcome this belief.
Anyway a few times recently I have been aware of some
interactions with people reminding me of this belief, and triggering
emotions of sadness and self-doubt, I have tried to work
to challenge the belief.

It has been enormously helpful for me over the past few months
to have my list of prioritized values from the first several lessons.
I consciously try to do things and to organize my life to
be in accord from those values and to get meaning and fulfillment from
my actions related to them. It is especially helpful to know
that it is helpful to have a variety of different values, a balance
between different ones. It also helps me avoid feeling
guilty over decisions I sometimes make, like taking time away from
work to spend with my children, or taking time away from my family
to go for a run; I'm just keeping all the areas of my life in balance.

In terms of a connection between my emotions and values, I'm not very
aware yet of strong connection. When I act to reinforce my values,
I have positive emotions. These are low-key (I might not even notice
them) but stable and long lasting. When I was act out because of the
addiction, my emotions are enormously intense, both positive and
negative, and the acting out distorts and weakens my values.
Also I imagine that when values have been reinforced for a long
time, it becomes easier to generate positive emotions associated with
acting in accordance with that value.


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 Post subject: Lesson 31
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
A. Make a list of all identifiable stressors that have
affected your emotional health over the past week.
For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate,
severe or extreme stressor. Example: 1) Facing
possible divorce: extreme; 2) Lost respect among
friends and family: moderate



Looming important deadline at work, worry about failure: severe

Worry about recent scanning slips, anxiety over
my ability to recover fully: severe

Delay in plans to move house, worry about financial
hit from rising interest rates: moderate

Failed to prevent myself from shouting
at kids last week, feel like bad father: mild

Worry that my back injury will not heal: mild





Quote:
B. Return to your values list created earlier in the
workshop. In a healthy life, the majority of energy
being drained (e.g. stress) should be related to the
pursuit of your highest prioritized values (top fifteen
or so). Do you see this pattern in your life? If not,
what do you think this means in terms of the way that
you are expending your energy?


I think I do see this pattern in my life, for the most part. My highest
priority values are my own health, physical and spiritual, and my
relationship with my wife. A lot of my stress is related to
these two values. My work and career are in my top fifteen values,
but near the bottom; they cause a disproportionate amount
of stress, which is something that I would like to change.
Other stresses (parenthood, finances) are directly related to values
that are important to me.



Quote:
C. Likewise, in a healthy life, the majority of meaning
and stimulation that you gain should also be related
to your highest values. Do you see this pattern in your
life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of
the quality of life you are living?


Yes I think this is true for the most part, but could
be improved. I devote a lot of energy to my relationships
with my wife and children, and get a lot of fulfillment and meaning
from these relationships. I also get a lot of meaning
from ongoing work to improve my health, like this recovery thread.
I also get some fulfillment and meaning from my work, and from
physical activity and nature.
I think the biggest gap is my values relating to friends and extended family,
I currently don't put enough effort into this, and consequently
don't derive as much meaning from this value as I would like.
I plan to change this with the help of daily monitoring.


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 Post subject: Lesson 32
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:50 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
1. Early in the workshop, you created approximately
fifteen 'proactive action plans' that were intended to
list specific steps to take to strengthen certain values
that are important to you. Return to these action
plans and for each, review your progress. Summarize
your progress on your recovery thread.

2. Update your Proactive Action Plans as needed.


Here are my proactive plans, with comments and updates:

Proactive Action Plan: Maintaining Physical Health

- Go to bed by 9:30pm every night.
- Plan in advance for work deadlines in order to avoid having
to stay up late.
- Make time for short runs or bike rides every other day.
- Avoid eating sugar-rich or junk foods.
- Start playing squash and rock climbing. Find a squash partner.

I have been doing well on this one, I have been doing all
of these things except the last one. I have had two occasions
where I've had to stay up late for work deadlines but I think
I'll be able to plan better in the future.

Revisions: none needed here I think.





Proactive Action Plan: Keeping in touch with my feelings

- Write in my Journal every day, and read every day.
- Devote some quiet time to myself every day, to mediate
and get in touch with my feelings, and keep track of
potential triggers and danger points.
- Be honest with myself in my journal.
- Listen to music for a while every day.


I still write in my journal every day, but I have missed days
when things get very busy, and I have noticed a small backsliding
when I miss. So I think it is important for me for now to continue
journalling every day. The same for quiet time: I take
time to myself when I run, which I do most days.
Listening to music calm my mood and makes me restful, it is helpful
to reduce my anxiety and ground me. I have not being doing
so well on this, there have been periods of several days with no music,
so I will concentrate more on doing this every day.

Revisions: none, I just need to follow the plan






Proactive Action Plan: My Spiritual Health

- Spend time close to nature on a regular basis
- Ride my bike regularly.
- Figure out a way to commute to work by bike.
- Go hiking regularly
- Having solitude, space, downtime with no electronic devices.
- Figure out a way to take both my kids bike riding with me.
- Take my kids camping
- Take my kids to parks regularly.
- Rent a boat on the lake this summer
- Get a piano for our house, and learn some beautiful pieces
- Play the guitar regularly
- Make time to listen to music regularly.


I have been doing a lot of these things but not all.
I have a back injury that prevents me from biking much.
I have been taking my kids to the park regularly, and have
been hiking. I have not played music much, I need
to work on that.



Proactive Action Plan: Strengthen my Relationship with my Wife

- Be faithful and true to my wife from now on, keeping the energy of
my sexuality just for her and to strengthen our relationship.
- Cherish, love and take care of my wife
- Be appreciative of everything my wife does and of her love and
forgiveness.
- Devote some time every day to having meaningful talks with her
- Support her in her efforts to come to terms with my past addiction
Check in with her regularly about how she is doing. Put myself
in her shoes as she deals with her feelings. Let her know how
sorry I am and how much I want to rebuild our love and trust.
- Be honest with her, especially about my feelings.
- Work through the couples recovery thread of recoverynation with her.
- Have frequent dates with my wife, movies, lunch, squash, hiking
- Sharing my feelings and vulnerabilities with my wife, with
regard to work and with regard to the addiction.
- Treat my wife with respect
- Bring joy and happiness to my wife's life
- Be playful and spontaneous with my wife
- Support my wife in her career, do my share of kid minding when
the kids are sick.
- Remember the things that my wife likes
- Give my wife breaks from kid minding
- Be always there for my wife to lean on
- Encourage and support my wife's pursuits and friendships
- Spend time on my own pursuits, knowing it is good for our
relationship.


This is my highest priority after my recovery and I have been
putting a lot of energy into it. We have been working slowly through a lot of issues
and things are gradually improving. We might still work
through the couples recovery thread together although she is a little
reluctant.


Proactive Action Plan: Raising and Cherishing Our Children

- Keep making time for my children every day, focusing on their
needs rather than mine.
- Give them hugs and cuddles, listen to their concerns
- Be gentle, calm but firm and consistent when my children misbehave;
avoid loosing temper. Come up with fair and consistent
consequences for misbehavior.
- Encourage and support my childrens friendships, arrange playdates
with their friends, especially my son.
- This summer, teach my daughter to ride her bike without safety
wheels
- This summer, teach my son how to read
- Volunteer at my daughters school
- Enroll them in activities.
- Try to pick my daughter up early from school for one on one time
more often
- Try to engage them with my gardening and doing odd jobs around the
house
- Be a role model for my children, in how I treat them and
their mother, in my career, in how I treat myself.
- Be inventive in finding interesting things to do with them on
weekends, activities to go to.
- Teach them to appreciate nature, bring them on hikes and camping
- Teach my children to be self reliant, do not coddle them too much;
give my daughter and allowance based on completing her chores
- Teach my children to be curious, questioning, to believe in
themselves
- Teach my children to be tolerant and open-minded, by example


I think this part of my life is going well, I spend a lot of time
with them and get a lot of fulfillment and meaning from our interactions.

Revision: arrange more frequent playdates for my daughter.



Proactive Action Plan: Strengthen ties with extended Family

- Keep calling my sister, parents and brother regularly.
- Remember birthday presents for nieces and nephews
- Invite my parents to visit again??
- Arrange to go visit my cousin we have not seen in years
- Contact my elderly uncle who is ill.
- I have never dealt completely with the physical abuse I
suffered as a child at the hands of my father. I need to
figure out how to come to terms with this.


This is the area I need to work on most .. I have not made these
contacts or invitations and I need to do so.



Proactive Action Plan: Nurturing and Maintaining Friendships

- Prioritize making time for local friends, inviting people over
for dinner, arranging playdates with children, etc.
- Showi friends truth and vulnerability instead of always
putting on a happy face.
- Have lost contact with many old friends: spend 15 minutes every
two days reaching out by email/facebook.
- Respond immediately to emails from old friends instead of letting
them linger unanswered.
- Be more open and courageous in attempting to make new same-sex
friends. Goal: invite someone for bike-ride or squash.
- Make more effort to remember the names of everyone I encounter
regularly, and to use them.
- Reach out to new colleagues at work


This has been a low priority while I was balancing all the other
issues and priorities, but I plan to start making this
be a higher priority, and using my daily health monitoring to focus on it.


Proactive Action Plan: Financial Security

- Being organized and prudent in our personal finances
- Make a will
- Make a set of documents for my wife in case anything should happen
to me.
- Make detailed arrangements with my brother for our kids in case
anything should happen to my wife and i.
- Do some long term financial planning


I have done some of these but not all, I think this area
is doing ok.


Proactive Action Plan: Improve My Professional Life

- Have realistic expectations for my accomplishments,
and figure out how to avoid stress and worry about my career
- Be organized and efficient in my work, and do the best job I can
- Take care of the people who depend on me professionally
- Set realistic everyday goals, and accomplishing them
- Reorganize how I spend my time everyday to allow me to be a more
effective and engaged leader of my group.
- Be a responsible member of my professional community


I have been trying to follow these guidelines, I think
this part of my life is going reasonably well. A lot of my stress
comes from my professional life so it would help if I could
figure out how to reduce this stress.

Revision: Try to figure out how to reduce work stress.


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 Post subject: Lesson 33
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 93
Quote:
1. While you have no doubt already deepened the
awareness of your emotions...you now want to begin
the process of mastering them. You want to make it a
goal of yours to turn what was once a debilitating
fault into one of your greatest strengths. That can't
be done by reading. It must be developed in your
day-to-day life. And so, that is your assignment. To
take this next week to seek out opportunities to
deepen an awareness of your emotions — both as they
occur and as they can be anticipated. Each day, find
at least five opportunities to assess your emotions.
Don't do this retroactively...as in, you are about to go
to bed and so, you review the day's activities and how
you felt about them...this must be done in the here
and now.

Additionally, add a few opportunities for developing
this awareness by anticipating, role playing common
rituals surrounding your past behavior. Or possible
future behavior. Consider your emotions at the height
of a compulsive urge. On the death of a loved one. On
the experience of a child's birth. Think of the
extremes.

The insights you are searching for throughout this
exercise will be in relation to the finite qualities of
emotion; the lack of fear/anxiety that comes with
developing confidence in being able to anticipate
emotional intensity; and the confidence that comes
with the same.



I found it very hard to do this exercise in the here and
now. Here are some thoughts on my emotions yesterday,
I will continue to try the here-and-now exercise.


* I left work a little early to go for a bike ride,
I felt joy, freedom, happiness at being close to nature,
positive energy. It was 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

* I got an email from my brother about organizing a family reunion.
I always looked up to my brother when I was young, he was always
more social than me and had more friends which made me feel insecure,
the email reminded me of those feelings and triggered emotions
of self-doubt and anxiety. They were 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

* My kids were happy and chattering at the dinner table,
it was nice to see them so, I felt connected and that I was
a good parent. (7 on a scale of 1 to 10).

* I looked at our finances and realized that an investment choice
I made had been a poor one leading to losses. I felt disappointed,
foolish and regretful (7 on a scale of 1 to 10).

* I had planned to post to recoverynation but found it difficult and postponed
it for a day, I felt guilty and a little anxious about my long
term recovery (6 on a scale of 1 to 10).


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