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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:27 am 
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Hi John,

You have made some interesting observations about yourself in this exercise.

Quote:
Overall I’d say I’m in a place where the stressors are balanced by the ‘good’ values and don’t need addiction in the equation.

If you perhaps try and picture how a non-addict (e.g. your partner) manages their life then this is how they do it, they have a balanced set of values that gives them the strength and maturity to manage stressful times in their life in a healthy way. I find that when I look at it this way I feel that I was quite childish and immature in how I used to manage stress by merely trying to get myself some excitement in order to make myself feel better. The different perspective shows (as you have stated) that addictive behaviour is not necessary when you mange stress in a healthy way.

Quote:
But, and again quite a big but, sometimes I feel I’m close to tipping the wrong way.

For me, half of the battle is being aware of where the threats are likely to come from. You have done a lot of self-analysis here and have been able to drill down to certain key areas where you may perceive vulnerability if a certain stressor emerges. That is good news because now you can anticipate them and prepare for those situations with well-rehearsed action plans so that they are there when you need them.

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L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:32 am 
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Thanks for the comments, L2R - yes I think I'm slowly not only fully realising the reasons for past difficulties, but slowly getting the awareness tools in place. I'm sure I won't be the first to say that the further I get in the process, the more things fall into place.

J


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:42 am 
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Lesson 32

Review of action plans.

These are the original headings:

1. Being healthy
2. Being honest and truthful
3. Being humorous
4. Practising the values of a humanist
5. Strengthening my role as grandfather to my grandchildren
6. Strengthening my role as father to my daughters
7. Being faithful to my partner
8. Strengthening my role as partner
9. Supporting friends
10. Enjoying retirement
11. Being sexually active (with partner!)
12. Being inclusive
13. Giving time as volunteer
14. Being non-judgmental
15. Being an inspiration

I subsequently resolved to review based on revised values – I see I developed/adapted the detail for some, based on first ones, but never returned to the others. So here are current thoughts on how far I’ve got with each:

1. I value total honesty with myself.

I think this whole RN process has become focussed on this. Never easy and in a sense not needing detail, it’s all said in the title. So, in one sense 10/10, but that doesn’t mean the plan is ‘finished’ – it needs to be there continually.

2. I value total honesty with all others.

Similar to number 1. Either you do or you don’t and I believe I can claim 10/10 in terms of answering questions, shall we call it passive honesty. Then we have active honesty, do you volunteer information (e.g. about acting out) to someone not aware of it. Here I would have said I’m doing OK, but reading this current lesson, and the point about considering the values of the person affected by my actions, I think an area that needs some review.

There is just one person that is fully aware of my actions in the past, with her I still need to do work on understanding the effects, her values and so on. With others affected both values and what they ‘should’ be told. This quite apart from continuing to answer honestly. So perhaps 6/10.

3. I value living a life in accordance with these values.

Is this one tautological? Going round in circles? Anyway that is the aim, and I think since writing is has become more ingrained, but not completely as yet. Still early/middling recovery. 5/10

4. I value being faithful and strengthening my role with my partner.

Faithful, yes, but actively strengthening? Not as much as I could have/or wish to. 6/10.

5. I value being supportive and a good role model to my family.

Generally clear on the role, some active efforts and I know the plan needs attention to differentiate members of the family. 7/10.

6. I value being supportive of friends.

Supportive of one close friend, but I could do more. Could certainly do more with others. 5/10.

7. I value providing a financially comfortable environment for my family and myself.

Financial matters generally under control, not least no acting out expenditure! 8/10.

8. I value being a positive member of the community.

Community based actions/projects going well, generally keeping up with requests and some expansion. 8/10.

9. I value being humorous.

Not sure this one needs a plan, just be myself! Though there are occasions where a balance between self and other’s sensibilities required. I tend to be naturally ‘take it or leave it’ as after all that’s honest. I could be a little more careful at times. 7/10.

10. I value being physically healthy.

Some planned for activities not going so well, others not included in plan and since started having a surprisingly positive outcome. 7/10.

11. I value being mentally healthy.

Little active planning/doing, though greater awareness. In some ways RN leading to a healthy lifestyle free of compulsion comes in here. 6/10.

12. I value being spiritually healthy.

I’ve set the principles (Humanist etc.), and whilst I don’t think I’ve gone against them, neither have I worked through the best ways to actively pursue them. 5/10.
13. I value being inclusive.

I believe I am, more a passive thing in the sense of accepting everyone for who they are without prejudice. 8/10.

14. I value being content.

This is coming slowly, perhaps the ‘work/life balance’ fits in here, and that hasn’t been going too well lately. 5/10.

15. I value becoming happy.

I think this is the sum of the others, in my mind at least, the final goal – if everything else falls into place, i.e. recovery, honesty, health and so on, then happiness will be achieved, and maintained. 4/10.

So after the above I’ll be looking at the plans in more detail to revise/update as needed before moving on to the next lesson.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:24 pm 
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Lesson 33 – day one.

A couple of insights, firstly an event near the start of the day, loosely related to RN. I then thought it through, considered my initial emotional response (mainly anger, frustration, and bit of self pity) and thought about the 1-100 scale. Definitely finite, although seeing ‘high’ when first happened I doubt even a 50 in the overall scheme of things, more likely a 40 or 30.

It kept coming to mind through the day, perhaps due to the RN connection, and each time seemed less important. Certainly prepared if it happens again to not get so worked up, its not worth it. It doesn’t need the ‘emotional capital’ being spent on it.

Second insight, out driving and person in front did some pretty poor driving. Slow, ill judged. Got me fairly worked up. But thinking about the emotional response I then thought it’s a lovely day, I’m not in a hurry, more time to enjoy the view. So certainly finite, and again not a ‘big event’ in the scheme of things, better to ‘chill’.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:23 pm 
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Lesson 33 – day two

Today I’ve been trying to concentrate on getting the ‘measure’ of my emotions. So I started at trying to think of the worst possible, ie some traumatic injury to me, sudden death of my partner, and set that at 100.

Then thinking about the most emotional events from my life, eg birth of children, first solo flight, and tried to put them on the scale. At the time I might have said 100, as they were the most I’d experienced, but given they’re not so emotional as examples above, I think around 80.

Then thinking about acting out/recovery, the most emotional was being found out, say 60/70. That then puts the ‘day-to-day’ emotions of acting out, the high of doing, the guilt at 40-50, maybe less.

Day-to-day events in life, like yesterday’s example, I think 20-40. That feels ‘right’ in the sense that I feel I ‘bubble along’ without particularly emotional highs, or lows. Certainly it seems to reinforce the ‘finite’ point from the lesson.

From now on I’ll try to ‘score’ each emotional event I look at and see if that reinforces, or not, the above.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:00 pm 
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Lesson 33 – day three

A bit variable today, started with a nice positive event and reckon the sense of achievement was in the 40/50 range. Later feeling a bit ‘down’, but no big numbers. I find it interesting to try and score the level between the highs and lows. I think naturally the lows seem more than the equivalent high.

Been looking at the past, acting out emotions. With hindsight it all seems quite ‘thin’, no real substance, save a few memorable occasions, others seem to fade to a general level, no doubt good at the time, but not lasting.

Looking to the future and seeing how ‘healthy’ activities will provide good emotional responses. Likely to be better lasting without guilt. And if any major, life changing, events I think this measured approach will help keep in context, at least after the initial rush.

As this exercise settles into place I have no difficulty finding things to think through, and there was me saying I’m not the emotional sort.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:09 am 
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Lesson 34

The best example of immediate gratification that comes to mind is acting out with camgirls. The process of trigger, going online, selecting one (not waiting for a favourite), masturbating and relief/gratification is both immediate and intense, if short lived and rather thin.

The same example is in some ways the hardest to not act on. The ease with which it can be done, the very immediate result are very powerful drivers. Other things like seeing an escort, having an affair, whilst overall more satisfying lack the immediate, by their nature and have time for reflection and a change of mind. One could say less compulsive even knowing they have greater long term satisfaction.

I think it is the immediate desire and giving up its fulfilment that strikes me as the most anxious. Its easy, what’s the harm, who’ll know, a ‘quickie’. But then the guilt, the need to not act out. Anxious at having missed an easy (?) opportunity for pleasure, but that I know it has little long-term gain. It’s bad, unhealthy. Anxious if I stop doing this will it encourage me to do other, arguably more serious, acts? The speed, suddenness, compares best with other emotions. Things like an incident whilst driving, an unexpected conversation. Less so the sort of anxiety that comes from a planned event like an interview, worrying about finances.
Thinking about the 1-100 scale its certainly in the bottom half, feels containable not life threatening, a 40 perhaps.

The feelings I experience obviously depend somewhat on the behaviour. I think more hyper-alert than trance. I’ve never taken drugs, but I think of it like a high. Enhanced senses, raised heartbeat, adrenalin, a build-up and then release with ongoing euphoria slowly calming down. At least with a ‘good’ one. So they’d find me in a happy place, concentrating on my pleasure and pleasuring, highest when those two go hand in hand, at least apparently. Also moments of guilt, anxiety, though overall the compulsion to do it, enjoy it, make it enjoyable – in the moment as it were.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:15 pm 
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Lesson 33 – day seven

I think a reasonable amount of effort for the task. Certainly I remembered each day to seek out opportunities to look at the emotional impact of events. In fact after the first couple of days I didn’t really need to seek them out, an unusual event, or more than average emotional response, seemed to trigger the thought that it was something to give some thought to.

For example today driving along an owl flew from a field across the road, unusual in these parts in daylight. Normally I’d have just had an internal ‘smile’ at the rare event, but today I spent a few moments analysing the pleasure it created.

In addition I took time every day to ‘role play’ an acting out event from the past, or a possible stressful event from the future.

Overall I think it reinforced my previous comments, namely that the emotions are clearly finite and most day-to-day events have a response in the lower half of the scale. With the possible exception of major traumatic events, for example the unexpected death of a loved one, I feel them to be under control and manageable with these new views and tools.

I think of myself as calm. Not unemotional, but perhaps it takes a lot for me to show them even if I’m reacting within. Given I now feel few, if any, will overwhelm me I see no harm in letting them show a little more. All-in-all a productive and interesting exercise and whilst I’ll leave the role play for now, I think the general looking at emotional reactions have now become part of my everyday life.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:49 am 
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Lesson 35

Daily monitoring

The first thing I will be monitoring will be my physical health: healthy body for a healthy mind. Starting with: "Today, I am going to look for opportunities to improve my diet." It’ll be written on a post-it note on my desk in the study, I work from home so will certainly be seen first thing every day.

Weekly monitoring

1. Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfilment (specific)?
2. Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my energy go? As in, was there chronic stress/pressure I had to manage? Were there any major traumatic events? Any intense emotional events?
3. Given the meaning that I derived this week and the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means?
4. Looking ahead to the next seven days, are there any significant events that I need to prepare for, so that I am not caught off guard?
5. Did I act out at all in the past seven days?
6. In the past seven days did I improve my diet?
7. In the past seven days did I do anything to improve my work/life balance?
8. In the past seven days did I support friend C? Positive conversations? Negative conversations? Activities to understand and support?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:52 am 
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Lesson 36

Your example of a weak boundary matches exactly an experience in my life: a flirty co-worker that did indeed lead to an affair. I was a willing ‘victim’, as I recall, it was about 30 years ago, quite pleased with the initial attention, having to be encouraged to hold hands when out for a drink so I suppose the fence was coping initially, but then got pushed over without much support from my side.

So the boundary we are talking about is the fact that I am married, everyone knows I’m married. That said I’ve never worn a ring and thinking back 40 years perhaps it was less common, I recall I had a general dislike for male jewellery, no heavy gold chains(!), but now the thought crosses my mind that then, perhaps subconsciously, I was thinking about the possibilities. Was I totally committed? I can’t really say. Now with what I’ve learnt I think it would be different. The boundary, to get back to the point, is that being married there will be no ‘extra-marital’ activities, no sexual encounters etc. A pretty clear boundary it must be said.

Earlier in the recovery process I was considering the good/bad type of activities. Affairs, escorts, camgirls clearly on the ‘bad’ side. But what about a ‘bit of porn’? Looking at a top shelf magazine doesn’t do much harm. But when does a ‘bit’ become a bit more, a lot. And lead on to other things. So, I decided rather than OK/maybe/not OK it was best to draw a clear line of OK/not OK – with all the porn, even mild, on the not OK side with the escorts and affairs. Although I didn’t think of it as such at the time, a clear boundary to support my values. And now used to define my actions as in: I’d like to do x, is it OK/not OK, then don’t do it.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:20 pm 
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Just a quick thought on lesson 35, weekly monitoring, having just done it for the first time. Fairly straightforward, but looking back the last seven days I wasn't too clear on the areas of fulfillment. Some specific events stood out though. I think for now I'll try to have a little 'fulfillment' moment each day to get a better handle on it all. Easy enough, in my mind, to spot/remember the stresses.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:32 am 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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Location: UK
Hi John
Quote:
Easy enough, in my mind, to spot/remember the stresses.

then deal with and learn from them, but dont only look to stressors, consider all emotions
keep it going and you will get where you aspire to be :g:

_________________
Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:04 am 
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Thanks, Kenzo, for the highlight, and the encouragement. The learning is most certainly helping.
J


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:08 am 
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Lesson 37

Three of the top values and their boundaries:

1. I value total honesty with all others.
a. I will be honest with my partner at all times.
b. I will be faithful to my partner at all times.
c. I will respect my partner’s wishes at all times.
d. I will be honest with my family at all times.
e. I will be honest with friends at all times.

2. I value being faithful and strengthening my role with my partner.
a. I will be faithful to my partner at all times.
b. I will not act out in any form.
c. I will respect my partner’s desires regarding intimate activity at all times.
d. I will support my partner physically, emotionally and materially at all times.
e. I will always share my concerns with my partner.
f. I will always listen to my partner’s concerns.

3. I value being supportive and a good role model to my family.
a. I will be honest with my children and grandchildren at all times.
b. Support of my grandchildren and children will take priority at all times.
c. I will be available to respond to the needs of my grandchildren and children at all times.
d. I will strive to live my life as a good role model.
e. I will be honest and supportive with other members of the family.

Absolute boundaries:

1. I will treat everybody with dignity and respect for their values.

2. I will always act as a responsible member of my community.

[Community being anything from the local town to the human race, depending on context]

3. I will always be faithful to my partner and not do anything that I cannot openly discuss with her.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:43 am 
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Lesson 38

My thoughts have focused on two words in particular from the values/boundaries listed in last lesson, honesty and faithful.

Honest, total honesty, will be honest with… Here the boundary is clear, but what can change is the degree of knowledge of the person I’m dealing with. One knows everything, all my acting out, and we have evolved a phrase ‘The Whole Truth’ to mean being honest, answering any question fully and truthfully, and more importantly answering the questions not asked. Others may know part of my ‘history’ or none at all. In all cases I will be honest, answer questions truthfully, but that may not be the same as a full confession. I will not now do anything that I’m not prepared to discuss/admit to with anyone. So if you like honesty takes forms depending on the person, and their knowledge which can change over time. However overall I think it provides a clear boundary, and a clear test of what is right/wrong in terms of my behaviour.

I will be faithful to my partner… this is similar in the sense that I currently think in certain terms what faithful means: no acting out, respectful, supportive etc. And it is ‘tuned’ to past events and future possibilities. For example if a co-worker made advances I’d have a clear ‘no’ to say. But my thoughts go along the lines ‘suppose something crops up I’m not expecting’ and a clear answer ‘I know what faithful means, I’ll just need to apply the test: is this action faithful?’ – so again I see the boundary fine, its just the fence that might need adjusting if someone comes along with a jet-pack.

In summary I see the values as providing a clear line on the map. The rules/boundaries providing the structure to the fence and those listed are the best guess at to what will need to be dealt with. As times change they can take some adjustment provided the underlying value is adhered to.


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