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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:39 pm 
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Lesson 34: Obstacles to Emotional Maturity
Exercises


A. Describe a time in your life when immediate gratification has come into play
A better question might be, unfortunately - when have I not used immediate gratification in my life? Take any of my compulsive rituals - I have a feeling of wanting to look at some stimulating images, and to have physical stimulation as well - usually triggered by a memory of something I have enjoyed in the past, maybe triggered by wanting to avoid being productive but also can be triggered after I have been very productive and it feels like it's time to take a break and relax. There is the anticipation of what it will feel like, how pleasurable it will be, how stimulating and satisfying it will be, and often the thought that I don't want to do this, along with the reason why not. And the thought of how I will feel after I have given in and the ritual is all over, and how depressed I will feel. But the feeling always comes back even after it has been let go, and there are moments when I prefer to be blind to my inner practical voice and just listen to the voice of desire - I will worry about the consequences later, I just want to feel good now. And I will push away all reason and just mechanically start typing into the browser window and away we go.

B. Describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying not to act on a compulsive behavior or thought. Be specific. Compare this to other feelings of anxiety you feel.
In general, I feel like I am missing out on something that I really want - like a child wants a toy. Like being told I can't go out and see a movie or hang out with friends. Or I have to wait for a new video game or new computer or new cell phone or new _______ and i can't have it right away. But it is different, because it is a self-imposed force that is keeping me from what I want, that is forcing me to miss out on something, so it is like I sense this weakness in myself and I poke at it and try to get myself to budge by having flashbacks of how pleasurable it is. So there is an intense desire to experience this pleasure and my higher, logical, longer term thinking self that is opposing it. And the fight feels so intense because I know I have given up before and that I may give up at any moment now.

C. Describe the feeling you experience while engaging in a sexual thought or behavior. Trance-like? Hyper-alert? What would someone see if they could peer into your mind?
When engaging in the behavior, it feels at first very tense, because I know i am breaking rules, I am crossing over my own boundaries. And there is intense anticipation about what stimulating images I will discover. And when the first images loads, and I see something pleasurable, and something I shouldn't be looking at, a wave rushes over me, that we are here and doing this again, and the anticipation is really high. And then it is all very rapid, I want to experience as much pleasure as I can, as quickly as possible - thoughts are running through my head to search for this, to look here, to look there, to click on this link, to save this tab, to open a new tab, to go to this other website, driven by what I see on the page, and what I remember as pleasurable in the past. Whether to pass up this picture or stop and look at this video, it is all very chaotic and driven by my lower, animal, lustful nature. Just wanting to jump from pleasure to pleasure. To take in one image and go on to the next, always looking and anticipating the next stimulating image or video. Every image, every person relegated to simply - are you hot? Without concern for much else. Does this image stimulate me? It is more a trance-like feeling, focused on satisfying this urge as quickly as possible and allowing it to last as long as possible. We will worry about the consequences later.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:24 am 
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Lesson 33: Establishing Emotional Maturity

Exercises
1. Take the next week to seek opportunities to deepen your awareness of your emotions - as they occur and as they can be anticipated. Take at least 5 opportunities per day to assess your emotions. Do not do this retroactively. Also take a few times to anticipate and role-play common rituals surrounding your past behavior/possible future behavior. Consider emotions at the height of the urge, death of a loved one, birth of a child - think of extremes.
2. Each day over the next 3, share some insights in your personal thread.


6/10 Wednesday
It was quite difficult to try and keep this lesson in mind - to remind myself to think about my emotions as I was feeling them. What I noticed today is that I felt discomfort at work - tired, wanting things to go well but they weren't going well, didn't get help from a coworker (though they later helped me) which made me feel self pity. Stayed at work until late, and felt tired. This led to in the evening, not wanting to do dishes, or spend some time in prayer, or be productive, and just kept acting on my emotions instead of feeling them and objectively thinking about them.

6/11 Thursday
In the morning I was stressed about a technical problem at work, and what to do about it. It is quite stressful, but when I tell myself with a positive mindset - that we will get this figured out, then I do feel better about it. In the evening I was hungry and couldn't eat - this led to me being in a conversation with someone but i wanted it to end - the feeling of hunger made me cranky. During the day I was teased about something at work and decided not to get offended and just laughed with them and let it roll off - this felt good, because in the past I would have just gotten offended and serious.

6/12 Friday
Emotions are still my driving factor - at night I feel tired after working long hours recently, and I just let myself give in to time wasting. I didn't feel like washing dishes, so I left them in the sink. (This reminds me of the 2 minute rule - if you don't want to do something, just tell yourself you can do it for 2 minutes, and then you can stop. But you have to do it at least 2 minutes. And in the end once you get started, often it is easy enough to just finish).
I have been feeling a lot of stress from different areas of my life - work, my slow progress on my lessons (which i have given myself an excuse to pause because i am spending long hours at work lately), feelings about my relationship with gf and overcoming my compulsive behavior.
Last night I had an incident - I suddenly woke up and started masturbating - this emotion and feeling was inside trying to get satisfied and I didn't put enough resistance or preparation to stopping it. Have started turning off my cell phone at night and leaving it in another room, so it is that much more difficult for me to grab it in the middle of the night and start looking at things.

6/13 Saturday
Last night I did a search for a model that I find attractive. I looked at the text results but didn't see any pictures. At night I had a sensual dream that included nudity, then I woke up from it thinking what am I doing?

6/14 Sunday
I tried all sorts of things yesterday - the desire kept coming up, and I wanted to feel them. I let myself visualize acting out and what it would feel like and what images I might see, and then the desire and discomfort subsided and it went away after just a few moments I could feel the emptiness. Later in the evening, I put myself in a position where I knew I would be tempted - I went on to another computer that had the browser installed that could get past the filter and blockers and started the ritual again, slowly, making decision after decision that I knew would lead up to relieving my emotional discomfort. Logging in to the website, logging out, logging in again. Searching for something, scrolling through it, then closing it. Later that night I made some searches, and briefly glanced at an image. I felt emotional release of deleting the browser and deleting my accounts. Decided not to tell my gf. At night I suddenly had the urge to masturbate and didn't stop it. Images flowed through my mind and orgasmed.
Thinking about emotions and extremes - none of these desires I am having to act out on are at extremes. Nothing is too powerful. It is just that I miss it, I want to look at these things. I want to give in, but I want to avoid the consequences. So I keep playing tricks with myself - what could I do that I could avoid telling my gf about? A small glance and a quick search here. But this doesn't provide relief, only guilt and stress and lack of confidence. and opening the door to doing it again. I just did a search and a glance, what could it hurt to do it again? The emotions are not strong, they are not insurmountable, but why am I not fighting them hard enough? I haven't put enough effort into stopping to feel the feeling that is driving me and stopping to connect with the good positive feeling of not acting out and strengthening my values.
The feeling to act out is not very strong but still I want to act on it. I want to have both the pleasure of acting out and the joy of living in a relationship and living without shame and guilt. I want to have both, but it is impossible, and my mind keeps trying to convince me and trick me that it is indeed possible and that it will all be worth it and that one more slip is no big deal. What emotion am I feeling? Desire to feel pleasure, to view something stimulating, and desire not to feel the pain and discomfort of not acting - of missing out on the pleasure that I want to feel. It is very immature, like when a child is upset that you took their toy away. If I focus on it, it simply goes away - If I try to focus on the feeling and not the thought of the desire. The action I want to perform is to lust after these images, and give in to this animal like desire - and the expectation is to feel the pleasure of the physical and visual stimulation, the excitement of seeing something new and even more stimulating. The final result will be underwhelming, disappointment - I gave up on my values and gave in for what? For a few minutes of pleasure? Actually, what is the feeling of overcoming this urge? Of being able to wake up in the morning with a clean conscience of being able to move on to the next milestone of my life - this is real joy. True, lasting joy.

6/15 Monday
Last night was challenging. Regarding emotions, what is powerful is to stop, when I have the desire and let myself feel the other emotions that are present when I move my perception - for example to the end of the ritual, I can feel the negative disappointed emotions. But what can also help is to feel the positive good emotions. Love of parents, love of gf, love for myself and how I will feel in the morning, the good feeling of being in control of my actions and not succumbing to these lustful desires and the good feeling of being the master of my actions. The emotion that is pulling me is not really that strong, it is just that part of me wants to do it, and that I indulge that part gradually, by typing in a search term, or opening up a browser and closing it, and so the excitement and anticipation rises - I feed these emotions rather than just letting them dissipate. Just look at them and let them go.

6/16 Tuesday
Very difficult in the moment - it was very challenging. Kept trying to look at the urge and feel it, and feel the anxiety, and feel it being there. And it was stressful, and it was painful. The most beneficial thing was to think about the good emotions of not acting out and connect to that strength. Also telling my gf that I was having urges because that would ensure that I would have accountability for it in the morning. What didn't work was slightly giving in - typing in a url and then closing it, doing a search and then not looking at the images, fantasizing about what I might see, or even briefly looking at some non - nude but sensual images. All of this heightened my anticipation and intensified my feelings that I was vulnerable and that I would give up in the end. This was very detrimental - giving in slightly increases these emotions and anxieties. If I am not going to do it, why am I indulging it at all? Just giving myself this feeling hurts my confidence and makes it more difficult to control. I have my actual boundaries set at the wrong places.

6/17 Wednesday
I gave in yesterday - but really I had already given in because my boundaries had already been crossed. I kept giving in more and edging closer and it was the only thing on my mind. When all I am thinking about is acting out and how not to act out, and indulging a little in my mind, and indulging a little with a quick "harmless" search, how can this end well? And as soon as my mind realized that I could act out during the day - without being questioned about it by my gf, without consequences - then I gave myself that door and kept anticipating it and kept plotting how to do it, and I know there was no way to overcome these feelings. The foundation and boundaries have to be there for me or just looking at my feelings and staring them down is not enough. I have to do more to prepare for it. I finally took it all the way - installed a browser to get around the filter, went to the bathroom with my laptop and looked at porn videos with nudity and sex. I wanted to do one last viewing - look at all the things I had seen before and really missed and it feels like the whole week had built up to this from slowly pushing my boundaries and incrementally giving in. Like this was one big compulsive chain. How can I hold he line if I keep giving in bit by bit? At times the emotions were intense and in all honesty the only thing holding me back was accountability with my gf. When that was taken away, I took the act even further. In the end, do I feel more confidence in anticipating the emotion and being able to control it? One thing I can see is that it is a slow build up. It took days for this to slowly develop and conclude - so identifying it early and realizing where this is headed seems like the way for me to prevent it.

Having Journalled these things like this, and looking back on it, it was kind of a gradual progression into deeper and deeper slip/relapse - I gradually let myself do more, I gradually shifted my boundaries, I gradually let myself not feel shame for what I was doing, and minimized and explained it away, until the feelings were so strong that I just wanted to act, and if I doused them one moment, they would come back again. And the key in my mind seems to be not ever getting to that point - through all the things this workshop talks about - establishing values, working towards them, monitoring that work, identifying my stressors and weaknesses, and preparing myself for them, establishing boundaries, and holding them - and keeping aware of if I am starting to have the wrong mindset and starting to loosen my boundaries.


3. At the end of the week, assess your effort put into this task - did you seek out opportunities for development of this skill?
I feel i could have been more methodical about this exercise - and I intend to continue it. There have been 3 exercises that ask you to think about your emotions and thoughts so far (lesson 13 - Become aware of emotions and rituals, lesson 30 - connect emotions to values), and I think it is good to try to continue this beyond just the homework here. I drew up a little list of questions for me to try and ask myself when I sense emotion, or sense that I am triggered to act compulsively, whether sexually, or just to waste time - not in accordance with my values.

1. What emotion am I feeling? What is the discomfort?
2. What action do I want to perform to relieve this feeling?
3. What is the expected immediate result of this action?
4. What is the final, long term result of this action? What damage and pain will it cause?
5. What is a values-based action I can perform instead?
6. What feeling will I get from this action, and what are the long term benefits?

I feel like I could put more effort into roleplaying the situations, this is something I have not mastered yet, but I think it can really help me to prepare myself for these rituals in the future.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:27 pm 
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Lesson 35: Health Monitoring II - Daily and Weekly Monitoring

Exercises
1. Evolve your daily monitoring as shown in the lesson. Post the first thing you will be monitoring.
I will seek opportunities to connect to the joy and meaning (and excitement) in my life, especially when feeling down or when feeling that life is a chore - seek opportunities to feel grateful and happy to be alive.

I will put this on a dry erase board on my dresser so I can see it when i go to get dressed in the morning.

2. Create your weekly agenda
Daily
Morning - wake up and call gf, spend some time with prayer and calming myself, then go to work
Evening - spend some time to pray and reflect on the day, then call parents, have dinner and spend some time on lesson work, and clean up around the house.
Night - before sleeping, spend some time to wind down, get ready for bed, and reflect on and appreciate my day. Let go.

During the week -
Monday/Tuesday - grocery shopping
Wednesday - Book study group
Sunday/Saturday - call and talk to friends, work on some projects around the house, go on a bike ride


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:20 am 
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Lesson 36: The Role of Boundaries

1. Describe a scenario where not having a well-defined set of boundaries prolonged and/or intensified personal consequences that you experienced.
I think a lack of solid boundaries is something that I have really struggled with throughout my life. Certain boundaries I have been able to be strict on - things that I have never really let myself erode - like not stealing, not having an affair, being a vegetarian for example. Is it because the consequences would be too great, or because I have not been tempted that I have not crossed these boundaries? In fact, I have stolen digital goods - like downloading music or media or games without paying for them, so perhaps it is actually a question of consequence and temptation. My main trouble with boundaries is having in theory a boundary that I do not want to cross, that I know will harm my values, but letting it slowly get crossed and then having crossed it in the past, it is difficult to still call it a boundary and be able to stand firm. The most obvious example for me would be in the use of porn. I tell myself that I have this boundary not to look at porn, but in practice, when the opportunity arises, when no one will be able to see what I am doing, when there is no accountability, and when the desire arises as well, I will trample all over this boundary. By the time I cross the boundary in my actions, I have already crossed it a dozen times in my mind - anticipating, plotting, scheming, outwitting, rationalizing, minimizing, and so on. Not having strict boundaries and not sticking to them is what has allowed me to repeatedly come back to this behavior and then of course face the consequences of guilt, shame, feelings of hopelessness, of wondering why I can't finally figure this out.


2. Describe a situation in your life where having solid boundaries will assist you in managing the event in such a way as to protect your value system.
Let's take the example of pornography again. Solid boundaries will help me at the starting point. I need to have my own boundaries set at the point of the thought when it enters my mind - my boundary must be not to willfully and consciously entertain the thought of porn use and masturbation. Additionally, it cannot be just the sexual side, but I also weaken my values when I don't put my spare time into things that I value. It starts with a feeling of boredom, of laziness, of just wanting to take a break and relax, and spend time watching youtube or netflix, or whatever - or just wanting to sleep when really I had a lot planned for the evening. At this point I am already hurting my values - because that is not who I want to be, this is not the vision that I have for myself. In the end, this always leads down the path of deception, hiding this behavior and ultimately I bend my boundaries and end up at porn use. Therefore, a strong set of boundaries at the level of thought, and encompassing not just porn, but how I spend my time will help me to stop these thoughts early on before they grow past the point of no return. The idea is that when I am aware of what to look for and I can catch myself early, and be able to rationally decide on what I want to do, understanding fully the consequences, and not finding myself in a situation where I am left wondering, again, what have I done?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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Hello Z
Quote:
I gave in yesterday - but really I had already given in because my boundaries had already been crossed.


reading your thread I agree that you gave in way before the point of no return
the question is why?


Quote:
I want to have both the pleasure of acting out and the joy of living in a relationship and living without shame and guilt. I want to have both, but it is impossible,


Oh its possible, all addicts believe this, but you now know and more so admit that it is not possible
I add
it is unfair, deceitful, harmful ..................................
Please feel free to add to this list

however as said many times YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE

Please choose wisely, but do choose NOW

_________________
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: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:25 pm 
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Hi Kenzo,
Thank you for the encouragement. Why I gave in is a very good question. I have been thinking about it a lot. I think one root of this is allowing the thoughts of acting out to flow too freely. I'm not initiating "the break" quickly, as soon as I notice I am heading in this direction. And for me, at least, the break needs to be initiated not just for thoughts of porn, but when i have thoughts of boredom and lack of motivation and I just want to waste time. It always takes me where I don't want to go. When I put my values down for one reason, though it may not be porn initially, it always ends up there eventually. Actually journaling the progression of my thoughts daily really helped me to see this - to see how it evolved, and the tricks I played with myself each day until finally completing the ritual - the whole week was basically one long chain, and I let it progress too far early on, and let myself build enough anticipation and excitement that in the end, I wanted to do it. Just more tricks that I played on myself.

Lesson 37: Identifying Personal Boundaries

  1. List three of your highest values (values prioritized within the top five)
    Value #1 - To be present in the moment - to see the bigger picture and not get caught up by emotions I am feeling at any given instant.
    Value #2 - To seek out joy and meaning in my life and to be grateful for being alive.
    Value #3 - To develop my wisdom and understanding of myself and others and the world and see the unity and connection that we all have.


  2. For each value, list at least five concrete boundaries (rules) that you will use to protect those values.
    For value #1 (present in the moment)
    1. I will not allow myself to act on a feeling or thought without reflecting and thinking about it and understanding the consequences first.
    2. I will not allow myself to linger on a thought that I know is destructive. As soon as I am aware of it I will focus my thoughts on something healthy instead.
    3. I will not run away from uncomfortable emotions with unhealthy behavior - including, but not limited to: pornography, sleeping/napping, playing/watching video games, youtube, social media, etc.
    4. I will be vigilant of my emotions when interacting with others, to better understand when I feel annoyed, offended, etc. and have better control over how I react.
    5. I will do my best to learn about my feelings and emotions by experiencing and questioning them, not with a judgmental mind, but with a curious mind seeking understanding.
    For value #2 (joy, meaning, gratefulness)
    1. I will seek to find joy and meaning in my values, through my everyday life, and not seek to numb myself to living through time wasting activities I will regret.
    2. I will not complain.
    3. I will do my best to remind myself to be grateful for difficulties and challenges as well as for the good fortune that I experience.
    4. I will not seek immediate gratification.
    5. I will reflect on and appreciate the emotions that I feel when I do follow my values so that I can build a stronger mental connection to the joy I feel in my values.
    For value #3 (understanding self and others)
    1. I will not judge others - instead seek to understand everyone.
    2. I will not hold grudges.
    3. I will think about others when making decisions.
    4. I will seek to promote harmony through my actions.
    5. I will not come to snap judgments or forgone conclusions about others.

  3. Absolute boundaries are those that you will not cross under any circumstances. These must be realistic and you must hold them in reverence. List at least three of those that you will use to help manage your life.
  1. I will always be truthful.
  2. I will not do anything that I would be ashamed to tell my girlfriend or parents about.
  3. I will not think I am better than others.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:22 am 
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Lesson 38: Developing Healthy Boundaries

1. Review the Boundaries created to protect the values in the previous lesson.
2. Consider at least two situations where this value may be threatened. Are the existing boundaries enough to protect against the threat?
3. If not, evolve your boundaries so they are capable of allowing you to manage those situations.

Value - Being present in the moment and don't get caught up in emotions and let them control me. (The Greedy mind wants things now)

Situation 1 - I want to go to my old habits, I feel bored and restless, I don't want to be productive, I feel trapped, I don't see the real meaning and value in my life, I just want to feel fun and pleasure like I felt when acting out. I don't feel like putting up a fight or struggling with the urge, I just want to give in and worry about the consequences later.

In theory the boundaries I have laid out earlier would suffice to protect my value of Being present and not driven by emotions, but simply having the boundary there is not enough, because the fundamental values and meaning has to exist and be there for me to lean on, and get energy and motivation from. It will not be enough to simply have these boundaries because I need the motivation to put them into practice and not just list them out as empty principles. I need to connect to the life benefit and meaning and joy derived from living in these boundaries as opposed to the temporary joy of giving in to emotions.

Situation 2 - A strong urge comes up, from a triggering image that I stumble upon while browsing the internet or seeing an attractive woman in public that then reminds me of the pleasurable images I have looked at in the past, and creates a longing.

Again, the boundaries as listed should be sufficient to protect my values in this situation, but it is still challenging to follow and uphold the boundaries. I need more work to build my foundation of values.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:22 am 
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Posts: 438
Hi Ziggy

Good work on this exercise. You wrote:
Quote:
Again, the boundaries as listed should be sufficient to protect my values in this situation, but it is still challenging to follow and uphold the boundaries. I need more work to build my foundation of values.

The objective of this lesson is to create boundaries which are then personal statements which you give 100% commitment to enforcing knowing that in doing so it will ensure that your values are protected. The challenge of managing the stress which can at times be created in doing so will be the subject of your upcoming lessons on Urge Control.

Well done and keep it going.

_________________
L2R

A clean life; a clear conscience


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:33 pm 
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Hi Learningtorun,
Thanks for the clarification and encouragement. I think it will help me to look at boundaries with that perspective.

Lesson 39: Healthy sexual boundaries

Exercises:
List 3-5 ideal sexual values
1. I will only engage in sexual behavior that matches my values
2. I will not engage in sexual behavior out of lust
3. I will be compassionate and consider my partner's sexual values
4. I will not engage in sexual behavior that I am ashamed of

Starting point - list of healthy sexual values:
Porn ruins families
Porn kills love
It is not ok to check out women
Porn objectifies women
Porn causes men to objectify all women
Porn causes women to feel inadequate
porn performers hate living their life
masturbation is always wrong
sexy "non-porn" pictures can be just as damaging
I would never go to a strip club
I would never watch people have sex in person
I think dressing provocatively is inappropriate
society causes men and women to have warped sexual values
Sex is never ok outside of marriage
Looking at porn is never ok

Define your existing vulnerabilities:
A strong urge/memory of how nice porn and masturbation used to be
The feeling of being bored or tired, and just not wanting to be productive - especially after just finishing a difficult task.
Forgetting about all my hopes and plans and values in the moment of having an urge

Select an initial value for development:
Porn ruins families

Define the boundaries that will protect the selected value:
I will not look at porn.
When I have an urge, I will think about the negative effects of porn on society
When I have an urge, I will think about my parents and my gf -> step into their shoes - what do they see?
From time to time (weekly), when I feel complacent, I will think about how much porn has harmed my life and the people around me.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:50 pm 
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Lesson 40: Respecting the Boundaries of others

Exercises
1. Choose someone in your life you feel close to. Step into their shoes and think about what boundaries they have. How can you help them to reinforce those boundaries?

Looking at boundaries for my gf. In interactions with me, shew has boundaries with whom she wants to be with, and marry one day - what kind of person. She wants the person she is with to be honest. She does not want to waste her time with someone she cannot trust or someone involved in porn. She has strong values and doesn't want to bend them - doesn't want to have to bend them to be with someone. In her shoes - she doesn't know if I have slipped, what I am doing, how I am progressing. She only feels cold uncertainty. I feel like I can help her strengthen her boundaries by being honest with her, but not just being honest, moving forward and changing myself and making visible change - being calmer, less defensive, more understanding of her, not accusing her or blaming her for things, and being cheerful around her rather than feeling stressed and guilty - means I should be living my life such that I don't have a reason to feel stressed and guilty around her. I can help her strengthen her boundaries and values by harmonizing with them, understanding how much she values a clean, honest partnership with someone who does not treat women as objects and has compassion for women, not lust for women, and working to be that kind of person. Not temporarily, but growing into this kind of person with my own strong foundation of values that are compatible with hers.

2. Consider what you could do should you become aware that you have violated a boundary of theirs.

What should I do? The best thing to do seems to be to have an open and honest talk about it. To apologize to her for it and to be clear on my plan not to repeat this same mistake. In terms of her boundaries with porn and masturbation, this is actually very difficult for me. The fear of repercussions is too great and I often don't want to openly bring it up - only to provide details if I am asked. I know this is not a healthy way to build a strong honest relationship. and it does not work to protect her values - it is not what she would want.

3. Consider your reaction should they tell you that you have violated a boundary of theirs. Think beyond defensiveness. Keep working until you grasp a healthy reaction.

This is difficult because defensiveness is my first reaction. I will even defend being called defensive. A proper reaction, I think, would be to be open and listen and to really understand what I have done wrong and why it hurt them. Be as patient as I can, and listen and understand as much as I can. From that point, make a commitment not to do it again in the future -> for this to work, it has to be something that I keep in mind. I have to put value on what matters to her and hold it in reverence.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:00 am 
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Lesson 42: Mastering Rituals and Chains

Exercises:
1. Identify the ELEMENTS associated with a single compulsive ritual that you have previously engaged in.
The last ritual I engaged in - During a time of day I was feeling not very accountable - that I wouldn't get caught - I was flipping through my phone and opened up the app that contains the filtering and monitoring software - I logged in and reviewed my blurred / redacted images of what it has captured me looking at over the past week. Then seeing these triggering elements - and at first trying not to look at them closely, but then catching a glimpse of something and wanting to look a little closer to see what was, and then having a memory and image of the picture in my mind, and becoming aroused, even though the images are blurred, I can see them in my mind. Then from this going to the browser on my phone and starting to search and look for images, and then going in to masturbation and finally orgasm.
The elements:
SUSPENSE/ANTICIPATION - What I will see in the log, knowing something will be there and could trigger me, but doing it anyway.
RECKLESSNESS - Just diving in and doing things without pausing to let myself think - it is extremely rewarding and effective at progressing the ritual, so I continue to do it, gradually increasing what I do, how daring I am about it, always increasing, taking it a little further, building suspense, until I see something that I believe crosses the boundary of clean, and I say, ok, I might as well take this all the way and make it my point of no return.
FANTASY - mental images in my mind of what I have seen before and would like to see again. This drives my anticipation.
DANGER - some feeling of danger that I may get caught, so I know that I can't spend too long acting out.
SENSORY STIMULATION - Masturbation, visual - looking at porn
ACCOMPLISHMENT - Able to convince myself to act out quite easily, able to get some emotional satisfaction without much struggle, do it quickly, and feel like I can get away with it. This is stored as an accomplishment in my mind, and will make me want to return to this behavior over and over.
PAST - Visions of past stimulating images; the habit formed to know exactly what websites to go to, exactly where to get the most stimulated.
ORGASM - Finally to climax the event and bring my mind back to "normal"

2. Walk through a single compulsive ritual, and identify the BEGINNING, the POINT OF NO RETURN, and the time that you would CREATE A BREAK.
The BEGINNING was when I started thinking about reviewing my past history, knowing that I would see images there. This is also where i would CREATE A BREAK. This ritual happened very quickly, and I really needed to have a break right away. I believe I was so vulnerable because I was already giving in to other urges of laziness, and not doing what I had planned on doing, and just being a bit lazy, and going on without a plan, it lead me into this more easily. Any time I use my phone, I really must have a purpose and a goal of what I want to do here, and not let myself just get carried from one compulsive activity to the next without thinking. POINT OF NO RETURN - this was after I saw some seductive images (though blurred) in the app that made images come up in my mind. I felt this unclean, might as well feeling, and I knew I would finish the ritual.

3. Walk through a complex ritual involving several single rituals in a single event.
I don't really feel like I combine rituals into a single event. Though you could say porn is one ritual and masturbation is another. This is what happened in this most recent ritual. I was feeling stimulation through the sexual images I was viewing, and then wanted to increase my emotional stimulation by masturbation.


4. Share the dynamics of a compulsive chain (multiple rituals) and how the chain affects your overall life management needs/skills.
Compulsive chains are very present in my life. I know when I give in to different urges in my daily life, I am more likely to give in to porn. So the urge to be lazy, to go take a nap, when I have things to do, the urge to get distracted by the computer - youtube, or a game or my email, or the news when I should be focusing on a lesson, especially in the evening after a full day of work, I feel more lazy - I have already accomplished a lot for the day and it is time to relax. So I medicate my discomfort not with values but with all kinds of non-sexual compulsive rituals, that then opens me up to - why not just look at porn - it softens me up because I don't build up the meaning in my life, I don't build up the positive emotional stimulation in my values to fight the artificial stimulation from my rituals. It is one big chain.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:22 am 
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Lesson 44: Urge Control II - Your Core Identity

Exercises
A. Describe the role that your core identity will play in helping you to establish and maintain a healthy life.
It is through my core identity that I can re-establish my feelings about porn and about living through my values rather than through immediate gratification. To see a behavior as painful or pleasurable is through the core identity. To see an urge as suffering or as an opportunity is through the work of the core identity. And reforming all of the habitual mindsets that I have created, one at a time.


B. Describe the role that values-based experiences will play in further developing your core identity
Values based experiences will allow me to gain confidence in this path. When experiencing it and feeling good about the outcome - of being honest, of not feeling guilty or ashamed, these good values related feelings will reinforce the path that I am on.


C. Take some time to examine the current state of your core identity. How in tune with it are you? When you engage in an activity that is destructive, what role does your core identity play in that decision? How is it affected by the consequences of that decision?
I think I need to be more reflective and more conscious of my actions in the moment. I'm not as in tune with what my soul/core really wants - it is all clouded and overwhelmed by the desires of the body and immediate gratification. When I engage in a destructive activity, it feels like my core identity takes a back seat. It is ignored and shoved away - I don't want to think about consequences right now. But when the dust settles, all the pain and guilt is there for me and my core identity to feel.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:21 pm 
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Lesson 45: Urge Control - Isolating Emotions

Exercises:
A. Map a compulsive ritual based on your unique behavior and identify at least five elements that are involved in stimulating your emotions during the act.
1. Have a lingering on and off desire to look at porn. Fear of getting caught or having to explain myself pushes away the idea.
Emotions - boredom, self doubt, self pity, fear, anticipation pain of not being able to act out.
2. feel safe - maybe after having a nice conversation with gf - reassurance of her positive feelings towards me
Emotions - comfort, ease, complacency, feel good
3. Start to trick myself into getting into a spot where I might see something - want to get myself to the point of no return. Open a browser, type in a search term, close it, type again, and get more and more daring. Do not let my rational mind in, actively pushing away thoughts of slowing down and thinking more clearly.
Emotions - suspense, feeling of excitement, feeling of danger and consequences. Struggle
4. Finally glance at something that I shouldn't see - some nudity or almost nudity.
Emotions - excitement, accomplishment that i tricked myself into doing this again.
5. Start looking at more explicit things
Emotions - excitement, pleasure, release
6. Begin masturbating
Emotions - pleasure, comfort, enjoyment, be away from the stress of life and the stress of consequences
7. Think about I shouldn't do this too long or I will get caught. Think about how I will avoid telling gf.
Emotions - stress, worry
8. Orgasm and then try to cheer myself up after doing this again, and tell myself it will be ok.
Emotions - pleasure, disappointment, feel terrible for doing it gain, guilt, shame, frustration


B. Consider what impact of removing individual elements from the chain would have on the remainder of the event.
1. Removing this element would make it a lot less likely to act out - not having this desire lingering in my mind, and focusing on other things would not trigger this desire in me.
2. Without this element, I would delay acting out. My level of desire would have to overcome my fear of getting caught and having to explain myself. But I know that eventually my desire to act out will overcome my fears of getting caught. (not a strong enough motivator)
3. Removing this would probably keep me in a struggling limbo without making the first move.
4. This is a natural follow up of the last step. The longer I push and tempt myself, eventually it will break and I will act out. If the previous step keeps on, this step will naturally follow.
5. Skipping this step - put the phone away will leave me feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. I will try to rationalize in my mind and say it was ok and be proud of myself for putting it down, but in the end I will get an urge again and it will be that much easier to act out again.
6. Without this step, i would probably watch more and longer and more often to try and gain as much pleasure from just watching without physical stimulation.
7. Without this feeling of fear, I would try to make this last longer and longer.
8. Without this step, I would feel unfulfilled and would be likely to act out again very soon after.

C. At what point in the chain is the point of no return?
This is step 4, when I look at something that has crossed my boundaries. I will go ahead with it.

D. Consider the element identified just prior to the point of no return. Isolate this element to use as your primary trigger for breaking the urge.
Just prior element - opening the browser and typing in risky search terms. If I can stop myself from getting here and doing this, I have a chance to control and diffuse this urge.

E. With this element isolated from the ritual, begin to see the element in terms of the role it plays in perpetuating the compulsive event.
This element builds up my suspense and excitement and builds up my emotions to cloud my judgment. I know if I have gone this far, it is very likely that I will act out - I am leaving some of it to chance, and my ability to resist and use my will power in the pivotal moment. I know this is risky, and I am feeding off of that excitement and building up my excitement and getting more and more likely to act out. If I can control or prevent this step, it won't go further.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:03 am 
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Lesson 46: Urge Control - Isolating the Decision

Exercise
Consider a previous compulsive chain. Identify the elements immediately preceding the point of no return and rewrite the remainder of the chain so your actions are based on healthy values.

Looking at the chain from the previous lesson. Starting at (3) Trick myself into typing search terms into the browser and then exiting quickly before I see anything that I will regret. This is the point right before the point of no return.

4. Stop for a moment and take a deep breath and execute my break.
5. Feel the urge, the feeling of the urge and experience the pain and the need and what it feels like. Is it really too strong to overcome. Look at it directly. What is this urge asking me to do? What is the next element that it wants me to perform in this ritual? What will this element do? All it gives is momentary emotional relief.
6. Think about the negative effects of this habit -> what porn does to the people involved, what porn does to families, what it is doing to our society, what it does to my own life, to my values, to my dreams, to my honesty and integrity, how it makes me ashamed to show and talk about my real self to people. Think about how it disappoints my gf and my parents.
7. Think about how badly I will feel after it is over (if I give in) the disappointment, the guilt and the shame and hopelessness of it. Now think about how good it feels to have overcome it and to feel light and free.
8. Do something positive, to get my mind away - go for a walk, send a message to or call my gf. Read something inspirational.
9. Acknowledge and appreciate and register how good it feels to overcome an urge. Remember this good feeling and use it as further motivation for future urges.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:21 pm 
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Lesson 47: Practical Urge Awareness

(1) Envision at least 10 realistic scenarios where you may encounter a compulsive urge in the future and document it.
1. See something on the internet that arouses me and makes me think of scenes I have looked at before and longing to look at again.
2. Stressed about work and relationship with gf and lack of progress on lessons or my values and just want to relieve the anxiety.
3. Just finished something stressful or have been working hard and accomplished something and want to take a break and feel good.
4. Wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly want to look at something sexual.
5. Wake up in the middle of the night and just want to feel sensual, physical stimulation
6. Upset at gf and just feel emotionally down and really just want to relieve this feeling.
7. Feel depressed about my lack of meaning in life and lack of following purpose and accomplishment and wanting to be lazy and i just want to relieve the feeling with porn
8. After a long time of not looking, feel curious about what new porn and pictures are out there for women that I have looked at in the past - a build up of anticipation - and want to look at porn.
9. Trick myself into trying out a different browser or system to see if it can get around the filter/blocker, "just to check"
10.Feel good about relationship with gf, things are going well, so it feels like now I have a chance to just sneak a peak at some porn and it's no big deal.

(2) Identify how the ritual would begin, the point of no return, and when you could create a break (in your head). Anticipate the emotions associated with this ritual, isolate the emotions from your core identity, prepare yourself to make a values based decision (in your head). Choose one such scenario and document it.
3. Finished something stressful and...
-beginning described above
-point of no return would be when I start to open browser pages and start to tempt fate. I will eventually fail and look at something that has crossed my boundary and my gf's boundaries.
-Break has to be early, before I have ruminated on it and thought about how I will act out and planned it. It needs to be as soon as I notice that I can feel better by looking at porn, as soon as I think of it as an option.
-Emotions: boredom, laziness, entitlement because I have worked hard, desire to feel good, desire for reward, tired of being strict with myself.
-Understand that the desire to act out is just to medicate the symptoms and will not bring me joy or lasting fulfillment, and in fact will bring me much misery and stress, as I have seen and experienced countless times already.


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