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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:31 am 
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LESSON 12

I was interested to see that two of the three patterns that I recognised also appeared in my response to this lesson the first time around.

They tend to focus on controlling past behavior, rather than learning new behavior.

I know that I am consciously avoiding compulsive behaviour when those thoughts pop into my head. In one sense this feels like controlling my past behaviour but is also a new behaviour in that I have avoided getting drawn in. This time round I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on things after an urge has passed to compare the feeling of satisfaction of having avoided acting out to the feelings of guilt and shame had I in fact acted out. This process has been helpful as it is forcing me to think all the time about my values and that my unwavering pursuit of them will be the only way that I will feel good about myself. It is just going to take a little time for the to become second nature rather than being a conscious and continual reminder to myself.

They consistently measure the success of their recovery through abstinence, rather than emotional stability and personal satisfaction.

There are similarities between this and the previous comment. I am making a real effort to change emphasis on my success being the stopping of the compulsive act (which would make abstinence very important) to a reflection of the choice I made versus a poorer decision I could alternatively have made and how I would have felt after the event in each case. This is helping to engrain the value I am attaching to my values and is making it easier to fend off the shots of emotion derived from compulsive responses.

They tend to hyper analyze their actions, thoughts and feelings...and make the possibility of living a "normal" life all but impossible.

I do tend to over anaylse myself and place too much emphasis and critique on everything I do. I could do well to reflect back over a period of time (e.g. a day) rather than specific instances. I can easily overlook that I have quickly fended off compulsive behaviour by instead focussing on being irritated that the compulsive thoughts had got into my head in the first place.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:42 am 
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LESSON 13

There are two patterns which particularly caught my attention this time around:
Quote:
They realize that no successful recovery ever took place by changing the past, only by changing the present.

It is so easy to look back and to beat yourself up over the mistakes that you have made and the people that you have hurt and let down. But no degree of self-flogging will change anything that has already happened. It is very important to not lose sight of the mistakes that I have made but I do now let go of the anxiety of it and make a concerted effort instead to focus on getting it right this time and get to a stage where I have confidence that I will never make such mistakes again. I see particular relevance to this where they may have been a slip or relapse. It could be easy to give up and return to that awful life because you have made a mistake. But if there is a genuine commitment to draw a new line in the sand then you can forgive yourself and renew your efforts to start again. The first few days thereafter can be difficult as you can doubt that you are back on track but the days soon turn into weeks and then into months and you can then justify the renewed commitment you had made and regain your confidence that you are on the right path to recovery.
Quote:
They identify their future with a healthy person that once used addiction to manage their life; not as an addict that is managing their life with healthy behavior.
This is another key point for me which is the state of mind of a healthy person. Regardless of everything that is contained within the lessons there is a strong feeling that addiction is something that is a personality defect that we are not able to completely get rid of as it has formed such a key part of our lives for so long. The early lesson that asked us to look at a photo of ourselves as a 5 year old sticks in my mind at these moments as we did not have those feelings back then. So we have learned them along the way and as such can take confidence that they can also be unlearned. It is obviously important to not lose sight of the fact that we used to use addiction to manage our lives but we need to disassociate ourselves from still being an addict that now manages their lives with healthy behaviour. If we still see ourselves as an addict then we have not gained the correct mindset. It is the same distinction as feeling like we are recovering because we don't act out due to abstinence achieved through willpower rather than truly believing in our values and not acting out because it conflicts with our values that we want to protect at all costs. For me, that shift in mindset indicates that a huge corner has been turned in the road to recovery.

I have added these two quotes to my ever growing list of daily reminders as they represent areas that I did not fully embrace the first time around.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Hey L2R,

Quote:
This process has been helpful as it is forcing me to think all the time about my values and that my unwavering pursuit of them will be the only way that I will feel good about myself.


When you say, "feel good about myself," do you mean gaining value, deriving meaning, and purpose? Then right on! I'm just stopping by to throw a thumbs up your way and please disregard below.

But if that was not the underlying intention, consider...

As you quoted:

Quote:
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."


So what are your thoughts on this reframe?

"my unwavering pursuit of my values will be the only method I'll need to manage my life"

because with this new belief, you might be able to change the following too:

Quote:
This is helping to engrain the value I am attaching to my values and is making it easier to fend off the shots of emotion derived from compulsive responses.


Is life management fending off shots? Or is it instead realizing you didn't need the shots in the first place because you have meaning, stimulation, and purpose in your values? Keep going.

Be Well,

Anon


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:15 am 
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Hey Anon, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Quote:
When you say, "feel good about myself," do you mean gaining value, deriving meaning, and purpose?

and
Quote:
So what are your thoughts on this reframe?

"my unwavering pursuit of my values will be the only method I'll need to manage my life"

I did mean that but you have phrased it in a much clearer way than I did thank you!

Quote:
Is life management fending off shots? Or is it instead realizing you didn't need the shots in the first place because you have meaning, stimulation, and purpose in your values?

That's a very astute comment and you are completely right. My second journey is throwing up some interesting points which I see very much as the gaps that were left along the way the first time around. One particular area is this area of not managing my addiction but rather managing my life. It is a very different mindset and it is not a natural one for me to adjust to. By having a note of all of these key quotes to hand and looking at them on a daily basis I am able to start the process of digesting them slowly.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:29 am 
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LESSON 14

I will be using the following Daily Monitoring over the next 2 weeks and will tweak/add/delete items as needed:

1. Did I encounter a conflict situation today?
a. If Yes did I manage the conflict well?
b. If I didn't how could I have handled it differently?
2. Did I use the office stairs rather than the lift today?
3. Did I say or do anything today that I couldn’t have told my wife?
4. Did I hug my wife when I got home from work?
5. Did I make a note of my wife/son activities for the day from Calendar last night and proactively ask them about it after work?
6. Did I engage in the conversation with my wife and demonstrate active listening?
7. Did I ask my son questions about his day/interests during his bath?
8. How would I describe my overall emotional balance and stability at the moment?
9. Did I read through and digest my values and list of RN quotes?
10. Have I spent time visualising my recovery being about managing my life rather than managing my addiction?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:06 am 
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LESSON 15

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

My second time around has been focussed on trying to see what areas I had not taken on board as well as I perhaps should have the first time. Between the lessons and feedback received I think the key area for me is summed up by the quote:
Quote:
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."

I feel like the first time around I had focussed most of my attention on developing skills to head off urges as and when they arose and used my action plans in that regard. My mindset was therefore one of "I am an addict and I am using tools to head off compulsive behaviour". For the last few days since reading the above quote I can see that my mindset needs to be different. I have spent a considerable amount of time getting my head around seeing myself no longer as an addict but as someone whose values mean everything and that they need to be protected and respected at all costs because anything that conflicts with them will bring me misery. My future happiness lies in my values. I am also getting used to a different feeling of pleasure, the shots of emotion through urges bring a short, sharp thrill like on a rollercoaster whereas the pleasure of enjoying things that have a different meaning to you (e.g. family, home, pastimes, etc) have a less emotional but deeper sense of fulfilment. I like it but I am getting my brain used to seeing that as the target which will take a little time to become more automatic. But when a compulsive thought arises now it is not having the same emotional effect so it think that this is getting headed more in the right direction. I know that this is the nut that I need to crack so my efforts will continue in this area.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:14 am 
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LESSONS 17 & 18

Thinking back, there were a lot of instances acting out where the situation itself was not particularly appealing (e.g. escort not attractive) but I still felt the compulsive buzz. Looking back, the buzz was coming not from the attractiveness of the person but from the power/control/danger of the situation and those cookie elements are what came out of my responses to the lessons first time around. That is a massive realisation. If you are able to isolate that and then follow through that the buzz/shot of emotion for acting out is followed immediately by a real low from guilt/shame/remorse then it seems somewhat easier to contemplate avoiding it in the first place. I wouldn't dream of snorting a line of coke even if it did give me a temporary high as I know that I would feel horrible for doing it afterwards, risk addiction and would therefore not see the point of doing it in the first place. So what's the difference with sex, why would I act out if all that I am really getting out of it is a brief buzz from gaining some power/control/danger followed by feeling horrible about it. I had always envisaged that the difficulty with stopping the compulsive behaviour was the difficulty in giving up something that seemed so appealing - the seeing someone naked or having sex with them. The reality is that this isn't what gives me the buzz so suddenly I am not giving up what I instinctively thought that I was. I have traced my desire for control back to the panic attacks I experienced for a number of years starting in my late teens where I perceive that I missed out on starting sexual experiences at a natural age because my life felt out of control during that period. When I got over my attacks in my mid-twenties I had regained control of my life and then control seems to have been key to my sexual activity thereafter, I seemed intent on proving to myself that I was remedying missing out when I was younger. As I never really convinced myself of that the compulsive behaviour continued. When habituation occurred in these activities i can also see that I then introduced danger in order to keep the excitement levels up at the same level as before. This has been a key learning point for me second time around.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:28 pm 
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My purpose for going back through the lessons again was to search for the missing links that didn’t register properly the first time around. My last post highlighted a eureka moment around my shots of excitement being due to perceived acts to achieve power and control with the feelings intensified through a sense of danger rather than the person themselves being the object that I was previously assuming had triggered the urges. I have spent the last 2 days thinking about this a lot and I really feel like this has changed everything. I feel like the doors have suddenly opened and I can walk through, a lot of things have mentally fallen into place. It is early days but it has given me something to focus on which, for the first time, does not leave me feeling like I have in some way been deprived of something appealing afterwards. I have been in London today and am also here tomorrow. I see London as my biggest challenge as it is where most of my compulsive behaviour started 25 years ago when I worked here so it has many memories of dark deeds. Throughout the day I have been seeing my reaction to possible urges in a very different way. I have put in place a new general action plan which will fit most scenarios. I will need to tailor and fine tune to fit each scenario but for now, as I am in London, I needed something more general to articulate my new thought process so that I can engrain it. I have been using the following approach:

Action Plan
1. Recognise that compulsive behaviour is being triggered
2. Think that the anticipated rush of excitement is purely down to the opportunity to exercise power and control over someone with a sense of danger intensifying the feeling
3. Remind myself that these feelings became appealing because when I was much younger my life was out of control through panic attacks and I craved control but that is no longer the case
4. Remind myself that I already have the tools in place to manage my life in a healthy way now and I don’t need this ridiculous behaviour to give me power and control any more
5. Remind myself that to the contrary, to act out risks me losing everything important to me in my life which would make me lose control of everything
6. Remind myself that the sight of the person that appears to have triggered the urge had not in fact caused the rush of excitement, it was the prospect of exercising power/control/danger that was giving me the rush and I don’t need those things now as I am already in control so the person involved actually holds no appeal to me and I am not depriving myself of anything
7. Remind myself that without the behaviour I will be left to use my values to make a healthy decision
8. Make the healthy decision based on my values
9. Feel the rush of excitement quickly subside and feel myself calm again and feel good about having made a good healthy decision
10. Remind myself that I am not an addict, I am now someone who is just managing their life properly and healthily

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:00 am 
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LESSON 21

On reflection, and with some degree of honesty, I can see that I managed to understand the technical content of the lessons throughout the workshop the first time around. Whilst I understood the theory I do not believe that I went that stage further to take time to completely understand how the theory applied to me and to put it into practice. The theme of this lesson is to start to learn to manage your life in a different way rather than having a series of action plans in place that will help you abstain from acting out. In my thread this week I have made a lot of noise about a massive penny dropping in my head which has changed everything. It sounds a bit dramatic to keep going on about it (and it is only a few days) but, with all honesty, for the first time I have experienced situations which I know would ordinarily have triggered compulsive behaviour and I have not even started to get a rush from it. I have been able connect the root cause of my addiction (panic attacks and feelings of a complete loss of control when I was in my twenties) to the drivers (cookie elements) of my compulsive behaviour (power and control which is intensified by feelings of danger) and have understood why this would have happened. My desire to regain control of my life made power and control seem like they were a mirage that I would never attain again during my panic attack years so I can now see clearly that these elements were valued greatly when I got them back and then became so key to me that they formed the centre piece of my addictive behaviour. My general action plan posted in my last post was somewhat lengthy but is spells out to me how I now understand what an urge is trying to do to me and why it is no longer necessary. I have absorbed it and the plan only take a second or so to flow through my brain and suddenly the rush/shot of excitement isn't happening. I am old and ugly enough to realise that this approach is only a few days old and I need to be ready for a harder job than that but something has clicked. For the first time I do not see myself as abstaining or depriving myself of anything, I am seeing that my brain was persuading me to see things in a very skewed way. This is the first time I can see myself not as an addict but as someone who engaged in addictive behaviour that I no longer associate myself with.

I can sense that this is the case because one part of my brain is doing its utmost to throw everything at it in order to test whether it is going to work or not. In the first Jurassic Park film there was a part where one of the dinosaurs was kept in an enclosure surrounded by electronic fences. The dinosaur touched the fence and realised it was electrified but it kept testing various different parts of the fence to see if there were any areas of weakness even though it was causing itself pain. In a similar way I keep having all sorts of memories popping into my head of diverse compulsive behaviour that I have experienced over the years but have not thought about for 10+ years. I can sense my brain is systematically testing the new approach because it is panicking that the addiction is on its way out. In some ways I am finding that reassuring as every memory that is coming into my head is being processed through the action plan and in each case I am able to clearly see that it was power and control that was giving me the rush in each instance rather than the person that was involved with it. Interestingly the only exception to this was the affair I had when I was married the first time around and that was with my current wife. At the time I knew that she felt different to everything else I had done because for the first time I did have very strong feelings for her. That helped to reinforce my general plan even further because it shows that the plan isn't just blocking things out, it is filtering things in line with my values. I love my wife and she is the only one that made it through the process.

I feel very much like I have found what I was looking for by repeating the lessons but I am going to keep going through everything again as I will benefit from applying the future lessons through a fresh pair of eyes. At the moment I have strong feelings of relief as I have really not been in a good place for the last few months. I haven't felt calm during that time and those feelings have thankfully returned. I have felt a bit of a fraud having come through all of the lessons but deep down knowing that something wasn't right. I knew the theory so I feel like I have offered good advice and guidance to others but I was not living it myself. That will now change. The benefit of RN is not just the valuable learning available here but also the feedback that you can get from the coaches and mentors. By being honest on your thread you are able to reveal as far as possible where your head is. If you are struggling with anything then you should say. I have received feedback which part of my felt a bit pissed off about because it suggested that I wasn't getting certain things but the other part of my knew that I was pissed off because I knew that the feedback was right. Had I not got the kick up the backside that I needed then I would not have repeated the lessons and I would not have finally got to the place where I found what I needed. I am very grateful to both Kenzo and Anon for helping me get there. It is easy to talk about RN being a community but you don't really see it that way until you have been on the receiving end of the benefits of it.

So, onwards and upwards. I will not be taking anything for granted, there is still a lot of work to do in order to engrain this new approach until it feels natural.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:12 am 
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LESSON 23

For me one of the biggest challenges during the workshop is turning the theory into practice. It is not too difficult to understand the logic of the lessons but it is more of a challenge to take the time to ensure that you relate the learning to your own situation and absorb it fully before moving on.

This lesson talks about the compulsive behaviour being a chain of separate events that are all connected together rather than it being a single event. The benefit of fully understanding this is that there is a number of different steps involved in acting out and this can be stopped at any stage rather than the engrained behaviour of giving into the inevitable as "once the process has started it has to complete itself and I have no control over it at that point". Again, on an intellectual level that makes complete sense but the real challenge is to relate that to your own situation and to realise that when you recognise the compulsive behaviour starting you consciously pause and break the pattern. I know that this lesson is around the corner but the concept starts here. Having had compulsive behaviour patterns for nearly 40 years now it takes some effort to break those patterns. The changes and the benefits can come quickly but it requires a commitment to put the learning into practice. From experience, it is very easy to recognise the nice feeling that a urge can give you and it is even easier to give into it but creating the break allows you to step back for a second and recognise the pattern for what it is and that it is not in fact something that you want.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:59 am 
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Hey L2R,

I've begun the program again as well. You often discuss the "shots" of excitement that comes from compulsive behavior. I know you've already re-read it, but just wanted to highlight a section in Lesson 2 that immediately made me think of you:

Quote:
People develop passion for many things. Even in early recovery, it is common for some to develop a passion for the recovery process itself. They want to master addiction. Become recovery experts. Addiction experts. I implore you...don't. Instead, start this process of real recovery by developing a passion for living your life. For learning how to build your identity through your values. For maximizing the stimulation that you derive from those values.


My interpretation of this is that the "shots" you speak of could be eventually derived long term from reaching towards our values. Obviously, urge control, the skills in managing compulsive behavior, and the awareness you seek to practice through pause are important to our recovery. But I'm curious what your thoughts are on this passage. Coach Jon also poses two questions in his example of weekly health monitoring:

Quote:
1) From what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment. Think specific actions you experienced, not general ideals.

2) Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my energy go?


I may totally be off base since only you know yourself (and urges) best, but how would you answer these questions? And what would happen if the majority of your energy was focused on working towards your true core values? What long term stimulation (or shots) could you gain from actively pursuing the action plans of your values?

Be well,

Anon


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:37 am 
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Hi Anon,

Thanks for offering your thoughts and I hope you gain the same value out of going back through a second time as I have. I will be interested in following your thread to see what areas you pick out that perhaps flew under the radar first time around.

One of the important things for me this time round has been to avoid seeing myself as someone trying to recover from addiction and instead be someone who is managing their life in a healthy manner. As you have said, I need to make sure that I have the correct tools and plans in place to head off any compulsive behaviour when potential triggers emerge so that I have that side covered. As you will have seen from my thread, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment last week and since that time I have not been experiencing urges in the same way. This is what I have been striving for because as that continues I will no longer need to be actively fighting urges off. I am then left with the opportunity to focus more on my values and pursuing my fulfilment from them. That shift will move me from managing my addiction to managing my life.

In answer to your question, I have mentally processed a "shot" as being a sharp increase in emotion. Whilst a healthy life can also achieve that in certain circumstances, over the last 40 years or so that sort of sharp change in emotion for me has been for unhealthy reasons. I now sense that I am getting pre-programmed to have feelings such as that setting off an alarm that I need to be aware of. If it turns out it is a healthy thing that is causing it then fine but I am on guard if it is not. When I look through my values I see what I would gain by fulfilling them as a less volatile thing and rather a more consistent feeling of satisfaction. In Lesson 2 CoachJon refers to this as "depth" and he states:
Quote:
"In most addicts, passion is the primary driving force in decision-making...and one of the goals of your transition to health is to develop depth instead."

As I am a very visual learner I have actually drawn myself a diagram which reinforces all of this that I look at each day. I have tried to upload it here but not sure whether it will be accessible to others or not? The green corridor in the middle is where I am aiming to have my emotions fall within, they will rise and fall but in a less volatile way. In contrast the compulsive behaviour will lead it to hit wider extremes (the red areas above and below the green areas) whose peaks are generally caused for me through situations involving Control, Power and Danger and each one gives me a shot of high emotion. After the behaviour finishes the emotional dip ensues (guilt, remorse, shame) which drops it below the green area.

One of your CoachJon quotes was that we should not become addiction experts and I suspect this all sounds a bit like that but I do know that for me to recover I need to understand the logic of it all as otherwise I won't believe in it. That said, once it has registered I can then relax about it and park it in my brain so that I can focus on values and a healthy life instead.

So in short, and aligned with my (nearly 2 years of) non-drinking philosophy I am happy to give up the shots for the sake of gaining depth in my life to be led through my values.

Thanks again for asking the question, it is an interesting area to ponder.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:17 am 
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LESSON 24

I am comfortable that my response to this lesson first time around remains true. Interestingly the first 2 elements of the wheel that I listed were Power and Danger. I had recognised that these were key elements for me but I think that the difference this time around is having a better of understanding of why they would be so appealing to me.

The other thing that occurs to me now is my emotional state before compulsive behaviour would start. Clearly being in a bad mood or irritable about something (e.g. sexual advances to wife rejected) would want me to improve my natural state but I think that it is more likely to be either when I am bored (e.g. at work) or where my emotional state is neutral but a random thought pops into my head which would give me an opportunity to have a shot of emotion. As mentioned in the last few posts, my mindset is somewhat different now, my brain is becoming more accepting of compulsive thoughts being almost instantaneously neutralised by my general action plan. This is now acting like a firewall so is becoming less of a conscious thing which is then leaving me to focus on my values and deriving fulfilment from those rather than constantly looking out for threats.

As an aside, I think that a recognition of the Danger/Power/Control elements has proven very useful when considering compulsive behaviour as one or more of these elements have appeared to drive this behaviour and urges. The only area which appears to be less directly related is scanning. I could potentially argue that I am trying to have the power of knowing or seeing things about someone that I shouldn't know (e.g. picturing them naked, etc) but I think that I am better handling this in a different way by establishing a new additional value of "respecting peoples' privacy". This aligns well with my other values and scanning would represent a clear breach of that value. This has been added to my list of values which I look at on a daily basis.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:12 am 
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Hi my friend
Quote:
For me one of the biggest challenges during the workshop is turning the theory into practice. It is not too difficult to understand the logic of the lessons but it is more of a challenge to take the time to ensure that you relate the learning to your own situation and absorb it fully before moving on


not just for you
this IMO applies across the board

I guess it is akin to growing up
and that I believe is what you are doing as am I, even after all of my time here, my own growth continues
(Unfortunately physically as well) :s:

Your honesty and openness is a credit to you but more so it is a great benefit to you as admission and acceptance of any fault is required prior to rectification of that fault

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Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:01 am 
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Hi Kenzo,

Thank you again for your comments. Part of me feels that I have a fair amount of experience on RN now and therefore should not need a lot of feedback and another part of me has realised on the second time through that I am learning some things properly for the first time as I had not landed them properly before. On that basis I can also feel like a newbie and positive and constructive feedback to support me being on the right track makes such a difference to me and is very much appreciated.

In Lesson 25 there were two key phrases for me which I had added to my ever growing list of daily reference material:
Quote:
"In other words, your decision-making process was relegated to more or less a single question, "How will it make me feel?" No matter what the situation, whether it was the possibility of engaging in an affair...in altruistic behavior...in lying...in taking a drug for the first time...the primary source for making that decision came from an immediate assessment of how you think you would respond emotionally. Such a process is the essence of the "Immediate Gratification" principle brought up earlier in the workshop. And it is the essence for how compulsive behavior becomes ingrained in your life. "

"EVERY POINT in a compulsive ritual is a potential 'point of no return'."

I know that the first time around that I was able to avoid acting out on the "big stuff" and through ignorance, laziness or stupidity at times did not exercise points of no return on the "smaller stuff" quickly enough. Scanning would be a good example of this, I could easily convince myself that it was OK to check out a woman I saw as it was not as bad as having sex with someone else. I know that it also makes it easier to give up the big stuff if you are hanging on to the smaller stuff as you have something "to make you feel better for giving that up" (if that isn't "immediate gratification" then I don't know what is!) As such, I can feel the wrench of doing things properly this time which is clear evidence that I am letting something go. I remember that feeling last year when I gave up the urges around the big stuff. It doesn't take long to engrain the new habits but it needs repetition to get there. One of my daily monitoring checks which has proven very helpful with all of this is whether I have done or thought about anything that I could not have told my wife about. This is very simple but it is also very effective at determining what is right or wrong based on my values.

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L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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