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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:05 pm 
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I wanted to make a post here about an insight I just had while I was meditating that I think gets to the very heart of the difference between an "intellectual" vs. a "real" recovery, and it seems like quite a few people have been struggling lately with making their recovery "real."

In my earlier recovering days, I would think about things that I would want to be. "I want to be more compassionate;" "I want to live with honesty;" "I want to show respect;" etc. What I eventually came to realize was that this was exactly how I was intellectualizing my recovery. And by having that insight, I think I made the jump into my recovery efforts really having substance.

As being more compassionate to people would a value I wanted to develop, I would think "all right, now I need to do something compassionate." But this separates your thinking from the actions. Thus, when I tried to do something compassionate by helping someone, it felt very forced and mechanical. It didn't feel real...because it wasn't real. Eventually, I realized that "compassion" itself came across only through my actions. I didn't need to think about being compassionate if I just WAS compassionate. I didn't need to think about active listening, so much as just LISTEN. This was when I recognized exactly how I was intellectualizing my recovery. It was like "all right, now it's time to exercise"... because exercising was something that was on my daily monitoring list. Rather than just going and exercising for the benefit it would have in my life.

This may seem like a trite, obvious point...but it seems to be a place where a lot of people who are sincere in their desire to recover struggle.

By doing this, you separate your "recovery activities" from your actual emotional life, thus causing your recovery to lack true substance and value. Now, people who do this can still quit their behaviours and are usually way more successful at it than people doing it to appease others. But they still aren't FEELING the change...and this further leaves them open to reverting to addictive behaviours.

I believe this is why CoachJon said in the early lesson about Value Congruency to try to think about how each value you've written down would play out in your life...though I wouldn't be surprised if many people (including myself) don't do this when they first make their value list.

As anyone who's read my posts has noticed, I've been reading a lot about Zen Buddhism (and practicing). One of the coolest remarks that I read that really drove this point home for me was from Zen teacher Brad Warner. I can't remember the exact quote, but basically, the old Zen masters saw that in true compassion, there wasn't a sense that someone was "doing something" to help someone else. To help someone just so that you can think that you're helping someone is ultimately selfish. They just acted out of a will to help others and saw their "doing" as a natural action...but in the process, the world was better off because of it. I've found since I understood my intellectualizing, I have am now slowly beginning to see this point. Now I have been trying to help people out not because this is how "I" want to be...but rather because it just feels like the right thing to do.

So this intellectualizing is one hurdle you'll have to watch for in recovery. For example, if one of your values is "I want to listen to my wife better..." then when you guys have a conversation, and you start thinking in your mind, "All right, I want to listen to her better!" yet you're focused on that thought...you're already not listening to her. Similarly, it seems like countless addicts think, "Part of my recovery efforts are to sit down and talk more openly with my wife. We've been sitting down and talking every day, yet she still says I'm not respecting her thoughts!" - By thinking like this, we immediately miss the point. People can tell when you're not doing paying attention, or doing something with conviction. And thought we feel like we "tricked" people by living in our secret lives, people can typically tell when something is off...just like you can usually tell when a person is being insincere. Just by sitting and talking doesn't mean there listening and communicating.

Real respect, real compassion, real honesty cannot be described by a words like respect, compassion, and honesty. Real respect is what you DO and that comes across in all the ways you treat someone, listen to them, etc. Understand that, and you'll begin to understand the difference between intellectual vs. substantial recovery. Thinking that real respect can be accomplished by thinking "I want to respect people more" is like saying "I'm trying to respect you more!" while yelling at them.

Hopefully this post is insightful to some. :g:

FT

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"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha


Last edited by forwardthinker on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:37 am 
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Nice post. What you are describing is worth repeating. In recovery I have the uncanny ability to intellectualize just about everything, and complete just about nothing. From the ivory tower of my mind I have my whole recovery "thought" out. Shambala Buddhism, Eckart Tolle and meditation have been effective for me in returning from my mind to the breathing, to the body, to what is real.

I may not be a "great thinker" as many of my thoughts are rather useless and repetitive, but that is my comfort zone. As an engineer I tend to be analytical, looking for an algorithmic answer. I'll spend time making spreadsheets to list and chart the effectiveness of action plans...without ever really using an action plan.

I have plenty of functional knowledge of addiction, can quote facts and use all the definitive words. I know what it means to be compassionate...yet not BE compassionate. I spend a lot of time thinking about doing...and little time being. You are so right: More time BEING...less time DOING.

The thing is...I don't need to think to discover the answer to recovery, it's already been done. Laid out, step by step. Guys like you, Jon and all the other readers and supporters have already thought about it. I need to BE honest, BE aware, BE (insert value here)...

I do need to be reminded from time to time. I remember way back when, the vertical hold on the TV would go out...very annoying. A hard wamp on the side of the cabinet usually bought everything back into sync...thank you for the wamp.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:37 am 
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Timely and insightful, thanks :g:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:23 am 
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Hi FT great post very thought provoking
thank you
I would just like to add that you use the term
Quote:
REAL

unfortunately we addicts in particular when we start out on this road to recovery have no idea what real or reality is
we deny our actions
we deny that these actions are a problem
we deny that we are out of control
we deny.......... and we get very good at oit

As has been said so often by so many Coach Jon and his RN teachings give us the awareness so that we can see what we have denied to and indeed from ourselves

when we have intellectualised our reality then and only then can we act on it and as you say it is actions that we owe ourselves not to mention others in our lives
as said great post
keep up the very good work

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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 Aug 15, 2011 11:15 am 
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Hi FT

A really great post - one that speaks directly to me. I think the self-consciousness you describe affects many of us. I have been compassionate today...for a god 10 minutes. Therefore it is ticked off my list. Rather than working to a point where compassion, or listening, or honesty is a state of mind that you adopt - all the time.

I do have a question though -raised by this paragraph:

Quote:
It was like "all right, now it's time to exercise"... because exercising was something that was on my daily monitoring list. Rather than just going and exercising for the benefit it would have in my life.

This may seem like a trite, obvious point...but it seems to be a place where a lot of people who are sincere in their desire to recover struggle.

By doing this, you separate your "recovery activities" from your actual emotional life, thus causing your recovery to lack true substance and value.


I think it is the separation that caught my eye and made me think about the title: THinking vs Acting.

It seems to me that your description of successful recovery is about connecting thinking and action? That thinking and action are not necessarily opposed -except in unsucessful recovery - where we can think about healthy options but don't get to that next stage where we choose healthy options.

My compulsive actions were often an emotional response to my feeling a strong emotion - I think I compared this somehere to an emotional pendulum that swings wider and faster as you become increasingly unstable. There was, in short, no thought whatsoever. Part of each action plan I have involves getting the intellectual part of me working in a clear and healthy way.

At the same time - I hear what you say completely: if we only comprehend recovery, we will never understand it - in our heart, flesh, bones and soul.

My question is - how do we make that transition? Big question!!!! :s: For me, some of the limited strategies you describe - "I am off to be compassionate now, for 8.4 minutes" - are a stage on that process for recoverers. If you are - like me - effectively a child, and RN is teaching me how to act in a mature and healthy fashion - then you begin that process (sadly) is having to sit down and saying to yourself - "I am going to listen to my wife now. If I find my attention wandering, I am going to use that as a healthy trigger to draw me back."

I guess it is the first stage of what Coach Jon meant by Active Seeking - going out into the world to find opportunities to connect your values to the way you actively live your life. It begins with self-conscious exercises and through repetition and practice becomes engrained?

Or am I missing the point on this? Can I also ask - is this where Zen and Buddhism come in? I have been reading about Mindfulness and it seems to stem from some of these teachings.

It is the big challenge I face over the coming years - how to turn my character around from one that withdraws from reality to one that commits itself to reality.

All constructive advice welcomed. Great post! Thank you.

Shaw


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:04 pm 
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Hi Shaw,

Quote:
It seems to me that your description of successful recovery is about connecting thinking and action?


This is exactly it. You need to get to where doing these things is just about doing them, rather than thinking about doing them. In the latter, there is still a separation of thought going on.

Quote:
My question is - how do we make that transition? Big question!!!! :s: For me, some of the limited strategies you describe - "I am off to be compassionate now, for 8.4 minutes" - are part of the process for recoverers. If you are - like me - effectively a child, and RN is teaching me how to act in a mature and healthy fashion - then part of that process (sadly) is having to sit down and say - "I am going to listen to my wife now. If I find my attention wandering, I am going to use that as a healthy trigger to draw me back."


I do think this is part of the process. As I said in my post, I think that most people in sincere recovery start out this way. However, I think another fundamental point is that I think when you are still trapped in thoughts, you aren't fully, 100% committing yourself...because your attention is still focused on that as a thought, rather than as an action, a state of being.

I'm not exactly sure how to make someone "get it"...and I think I remember a post by CoachJon saying about the same thing, that he only wished he could make people see it for themselves. But that also kind of takes away the point of striking your own path, right? :w: For me, the simple realization that I was still thinking about what had to be done in a way that was separate from how I was actually acting was what made me realize what I had to change.

FT

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"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:24 pm 
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Cheers FT

Great point. Can I ask - is that where Zen, meditation and Buddhism has helped - in uniting thought and action?

I guess for me, thinking is always an important part of my life - I love ideas, I love thinking about recovery - what it means, why I got into trouble. But you are right - I think I have got trapped in a circular process that has separated me from a more instinctive kind of existence.

I am still compartmentalising areas of my life - this is recovery, and this is life. Therefore there are gaps where I am vulnerable, where my emotions tend to become destabilised. There are times when I am committed, and times when I relax. ARghh... I need to bring these areas together - compassion is somethin I exercise all the time, not an indiviudal act to be ticked off the list.

Cheers FT
Shaw


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:13 pm 
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Quote:
Can I ask - is that where Zen, meditation and Buddhism has helped - in uniting thought and action?


It did, but not in the way you'd think (or that I would have anticipated). One of the goals of Zen meditation is to have no goal. This seems paradoxical, but I've come to understand it this way - with such a practice, to have a goal is to have an expectation, when the point is to just do it because you know it's good for you. To go in with the idea that it will solve your problems can lead to disappointment. But if you go in with no goal, then you have no expectations...yet you can still figure out your own solutions to your own problems. And, those solutions may not be what you initially thought they would be. Another idea that comes from Zen (or at least, the type I've been reading about) is that you already know the right solutions to your problems...but typically, people obscure those solutions with thought and delusion. By "just sitting," your mind kind of unwraps itself, and you can see things more clearly.

The other thing I've really learned through it is increasingly learning to live in the present moment, which helped me with converting thought to action. The past still has important lessons (so you don't repeat previous mistakes), and it is naturally important to think about your future, but I think the important thing is not dwell in your past or future, as I've found for me that this is what creates most of my anxiety - wishing to change the past (which is impossible) or being nervous about my future. You can't change your past, and while you can imagine your future, it likely won't turn out exactly how you plan. So have a plan for your future, but work on executing that plan in the present. That for me, has been how to turn thought into action. :g:

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"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:22 am 
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It's quite a process. There's a lot of learning and development that takes place in between the beginning (answering the questions: What do I want my life to be like in the future? What do I value?) to truly internalizing your values and realizing your dreams and vision for who you wanted to become.

If I had to create the steps one takes to get to that point, I might imagine it like this:

1. Creating a vision/dream for yourself of what you want the future to hold.
2. Making a list of values that will help you achieve that vision.
3. Developing goals and consistently monitoring/protecting those goals and values.
4. Feeling in control of the present by acting for the future.
5. Realizing the enormous satisfaction and happiness one can derive from one's values.
6. Internalizing the idea that your values are building a bridge to your dreams and because of that, are also the source of true happiness/contentment.
7. Reaching a state of peace as you start to realize your dreams and develop new visions.

Like FT said, it's one thing to mechanically act out and go through a laundry list of value-based activities and it's another thing to truly value those activities and want to do them because you enjoy them and they enrich your life.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:13 am 
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bump (a lot of people either messaged me, or posted that they thought this thread was a good one). Glad you enjoy my random musings. :s:

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"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 2:15 am 
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Hi FT

Thanks a great and important post. I think it is partly about control - realising what we can and can't control in our lives. For me, my unhealthy rituals are about creating a sense of order in chaos - which is an illusion as the rituals firstly dont address the chaos, and then only increase it.

Doing something for the sake of acting a healthily - as opposed to achieving a specific outcomes - is a big shift for me. I really struggle - for example where friends, family, and my wife is concerned. I guess it is ego - I want this outcome and if I dont get it, I am upset.

IN my sexual rituals, I created a self-centred world in which I always got what I wanted - or rather seemed to. Again, an utter illusion.

I wanted to ask - is your own meditation concerned with working on your own sense of ego - balancing your needs with those of other peoples? I guess I veer from being 100% selfish to giving up all sense of responsibility.

Sorry if this is unclear - I realise striking a balance between my own needs and satisfying those of others is at the centre of my achieving peace of mind - and erradicating the old rituals.

Shaw


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:22 am 
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Very interesting post FT, a problem that I too struggle with. I was discussing it last night in a SAA meeting, I said 'I have a habit of talking a lot but not actually saying anything. In other words I philosophise without truly connecting with my thoughts. I explore ideas of recovery without converting them to actions in my everyday life. It was Gandhi that said: 'happiness is when there is harmony between what you think, what you say and what you do'. I have quoted this wise saying so many times but I feel I am just beginning to get to grips with it! I would say I am still at the stage where I am mechanically acting according to my values, perhaps not to the extent described in earlier posts, but none the less the tendency is there. It seems to be that this is a necessary stage in my emotional development: I have to consciously discard my old actions and thoughts and replace them with ones that are in harmony with my personal values and beliefs. I enjoy the positive benefits from my actions and the peace and love in my love and so they reenforced. Eventually (I hope) they will become engrained habits so I am living them rather than intellectualising them.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:41 pm 
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Quote:
As being more compassionate to people would a value I wanted to develop, I would think "all right, now I need to do something compassionate." But this separates your thinking from the actions. Thus, when I tried to do something compassionate by helping someone, it felt very forced and mechanical. It didn't feel real...because it wasn't real. Eventually, I realized that "compassion" itself came across only through my actions. I didn't need to think about being compassionate if I just WAS compassionate. I didn't need to think about active listening, so much as just LISTEN. This was when I recognized exactly how I was intellectualizing my recovery. It was like "all right, now it's time to exercise"... because exercising was something that was on my daily monitoring list. Rather than just going and exercising for the benefit it would have in my life.

This may seem like a trite, obvious point...but it seems to be a place where a lot of people who are sincere in their desire to recover struggle.

By doing this, you separate your "recovery activities" from your actual emotional life, thus causing your recovery to lack true substance and value. Now, people who do this can still quit their behaviours and are usually way more successful at it than people doing it to appease others. But they still aren't FEELING the change...and this further leaves them open to reverting to addictive behaviours.


Ya know, when I write on here alot, I always write up any words that come to my mind. at times, I either know what I'm talking about or I'm not and that is the growing aspect of writing essays/papers/etc... But what I'm trying to say here to truly understand what you're saying, thinking about doing something is not the same as doing it. The reason is because we're thinking of doing it instead of realizing that these values we hold dear are a part of us. So, if we think of performing an action plan, yet we don't do it without ever thinking of it, that means we must not understand that we ARE living in peace or being faithful or living a free life. For instance, I just had an emotional burst right now with the thought of trying to go act out somewhere else, so I go to proactive action plans, evaluate with absolute boundaries, then find the nearest value for decision making. I think to myself, "I want to be honest and explore what is going on within me". But I paused after thinking about what you said because if I'm thinking about being honest, but not doing it in connection with my self on an emotional/psychological level, then that means I'm intellectualizing?

I'd thought this is the first process of early recovery, but maybe the whole point really is to connect our values/dreams to our lives on a emotional level here. Like if I felt bored, I would be playing video games. But then again if I just think "I would like to play video games", it becomes an intellectual option. Whereas, if I just did it because it is a part of me to play video games because I enjoy playing video games without thinking of it then I'm Being Passionate about my hobbies than just thinking similarly as "I'm being passionate about my hobbies".

I gotta say there have been moments where I thought that when I did something, I carried out an action plan. For example, one of my values is faith. "I did it", i thought. "I acted out my faith." Or times when I read the bible I think of something like "I gotta help the poor to maintain my faith" when I found from an expert preacher that I'm supposed to LIVE and ACT in faith for I've been BORN in faith. In other words, I WAS in Faith and supposed to Be faithful to God. And from what you're saying, it's NOT to THINK to ACT like I'm in faith. It's because I already have these values from within me.

Did I get that right? :s:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 11:12 pm 
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Quote:
For instance, I just had an emotional burst right now with the thought of trying to go act out somewhere else, so I go to proactive action plans, evaluate with absolute boundaries, then find the nearest value for decision making. I think to myself, "I want to be honest and explore what is going on within me". But I paused after thinking about what you said because if I'm thinking about being honest, but not doing it in connection with my self on an emotional/psychological level, then that means I'm intellectualizing?


In a word: yes. Even just from this bit of writing, I can tell that you're intellectualizing things.

Quote:
I'd thought this is the first process of early recovery, but maybe the whole point really is to connect our values/dreams to our lives on a emotional level here.


Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Is that clear enough? :s:

Again, if you actually do this...connect with your values on an emotional level, and hence recognize that you need to make decisions that both build your values, and protect your values (ie. not engaging in behaviour that damages your values, whether it be compulsive or non-compulsive)...that's essentially the essence of recovery. All the other tools and skills are really to teach you how to do that on a consistent basis.

FT

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"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:30 am 
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Hi all

I thought I might post this little bit of motivational/self-help talk by Seth Godin:

http://blog.reemer.com/post/194456167/w ... ative-what

I think it is a fascinating way of pinning down procrastination. With regards to this thread, it suggests the pros and cons of thinking/talking vs doing. Or rather thinking/talking AND doing.

I love the idea that all of us can be creative - the challenge is shipping. Accomplishment. Re Recovery - deep down, we all know most of our issues (low self-esteem, insecurity, fear, etc), we all know our problems (sex addiction, compulsive use of porn, masturbation, love addiction), and we all know the way out (action plans, boundaries, values, mapping rituals).

So why is it so hard to just, like, recover?

Godin uses the image of the Lizard Brain - the part of ourselves that is frightened, that tells us people will mock us, that wants to distract us from committing to any long-term action. I love this - the Lizard Brain seems to be the part that pushes addiction.

It is the Lizard Brain, Godin says, that we want to quiet with repetitive, uncreative tasks - because to take a risk, to accomplish something that breaks the status quo, requires us to confront the Lizard Brain part of ourselves: We will never recover. We are weak. we havent managed to stop using porn in the past - what makes you think it will be different now?

Part of the reason - to use Godin's phrases - is shipping. We do the lessons. We make plans. We discuss ideas on the Forum. We post worries. We argue with each other. We finish the workshop - we re-do the lessons.

But at some point, we have to SHIP our recovery. In our lives - in our living room, in front of our laptop, at our jobs, on 27th November at 13.25 GMT. Here and now.

We have to do our values - not just think them, write them, talk them. We have to make them flesh. Let there be action plans, and there were action plans!!!

I also love the idea of Thrashing. For Godin, this tends to come right at the end of a process - a sort of panic just before shipping. I guess it is like the transistion from lessons to life. When we are faced with an urge, we panic rather than calmly assess what is happening and respond. We fall back on old habits.

Godin has this agreement - we thrash at the start of a project when it is cheap and not too late. If you dont wish to join in, fine, but realise you cannot arrive at the end with a list of demands.

I guess the RN equivalent is commitment. We agree to work the workshop. Do the lessons. Participate on the community forum. And at some point we say, OK> No more excuses now. I know better than to act out. The time has come to stop Thrashing. To just get on with recovery.

Anyway. It is more fun to watch the video. I hope it is helpful. I found it inspiring in all sorts of ways.

Shaw


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