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 Post subject: Lesson 17
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:35 pm 
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“Accidental” (so goes the delusion) exhibitionism: Solitude (alone in a hotel room or outdoors in public lands) -- boredom/loneliness/desire for excitement -- fantasy (what if someone saw me and wanted to watch!) -- DANGER (excitement) -- SENSORY (heightened sensory focus...fight or flight response set to high) -- SUSPENSE (maybe this time someone will see me and want to watch!; I can walk around naked, or partially naked and hide/dress before someone sees me; someone might see me walk by my hotel room window naked and it’s OK because it was an “accident”) -- ACCOMPLISHMENT (I was naked outside on a trail/mountaintop/whatever or walked by my window naked/near naked and no one saw me and I got to experience danger, sensory excitement, suspense and more; I’m so alert and clever I could walk naked or near naked in the woods/by my window and dress/cover-up before anyone saw me; I navigated close calls without getting caught)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:38 am 
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Lesson 18: II. Consider one of your own compulsive rituals. Identify circumstances when each of the three filters (time, habituation and intensity) have come into play. Make sure that you understand each filter to the point where you are able to identify them as a is being performed. Post these personal examples in your recovery thread.

TIME: A little over three years ago, I was acting on a fetish I had for women’s lingerie. My wife had purchased for me several pairs of panties, a bra, a teddy and stockings and a garter belt. These items were to be used just during our own sexual play. When I was working from home alone, I would put on some of these items and spend time alone wearing them around the house. The compulsive ritual began by removing the underwear from my drawer, and putting them on. I would spend several hours of time wearing the underwear while working or doing household chores.

INTENSITY: The intensity grew as I used dressing in women’s underwear as an escape. Wearing the underwear gave me the feeling of excitement that came from doing something verboten...something secret...something that belied my professional standing. It allowed me to escape from the stress of work, and of being a spouse, father and athlete.

HABITUATION: Habituation set in as I drew more energy from dressing in underwear by wearing in longer, or being on important conference calls while wearing it. In time, I occasionally wore the underwear under street clothes and would go out to run errands or pick up lunch. A few times, I unbuttoned my shirt so someone in a passing car or bus might see that I was wearing a bra. As with many things sexual, I can see how the habituation led to escalation as I sought to up the high, or energy associated with this turn-on.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:17 am 
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Lesson 21 Exercise:

A. What large goals have you attempted in your life and failed? Why do you suppose you failed?

I used to have the goal of living life with “no regrets.” Over the last five years or so, especially, I have failed to honor my commitments to my wife, which has put my marriage in jeopardy, harmed my relationship with my kids and alienated me from my family-in-law. I most certainly have, and am living with, regrets. I have failed to meet this goal because I have failed to fully address my emotional, self esteem, social, distractibility and compulsive behavior challenges.

Relatedly, I have failed in my goals to remain truthful to my spouse in all matters. I have had a very difficult time being vulnerable with her and sharing my struggles and my sexual slips. I have put self-preservation and ego ahead of that goal/commitment. I have failed to achieve this goal for several reasons, including a desire to retain sexual outlets for my boredom, sadness, hopelessness and other negative emotions. I also have been, up to now I hope, unwilling to really examine my behavior through a values-based lens. I have, indeed, focused on abstinence, rather than on a complete commitment to change myself.

B. What large goals have you attempted in your life and succeeded? Why do you suppose you were able to succeed?

I had a goal to live in the mountains. I achieved that goal by taking a few competent and well-timed risks.

I had a goal to be financially secure in my retirement. I have not fully achieved that goal, but I am very much on track and barring a major upheaval, such as divorce (!) I will achieve it. I have been able to get this far in my savings because I simply did what it took to save the money I would need to live well in retirement. No excuses. I just put money aside every year since I started working.

I had a goal to work for a specific non-profit organization. I met that goal by working hard so that when an opportunity arose, I was prepared and able to seize the opportunity.

C. List one recovery goal that you have and break it down into as many smaller, measurable tasks as necessary for you to manage it successfully. If you find this difficult, then you are probably starting off with too general of a recovery goal. Make it specific.

I will complete the Recovery Nation recovery workshop by December 31st of this year. I will complete Stage 3 by October 1. I will complete Stage 4 by November 1. I will complete Stage 5 by December 31.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:43 pm 
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Ritual Measured:

Nudity/exhibitionism in nature

Primary Elements Involved:

Danger. Fantasy. Accomplishment.

Values assigned:
Danger: 3
Accomplishment: 2
Fantasy: 1

Filters applied:

Danger:
*Time — Progressively increases the stimulation to a point; then significantly decreases that stimulation. At it's height, this filter would be a '9'.
*Intensity — Increased risk required to reach the same level of stimulation: '8'
*Habituation — No real effect '6'

Accomplishment:
*Time — Increases stimulation; no time limit: '4'
*Intensity — Feeling of accomplishment comes with successfully entering into risky situations without being caught; feeling that my acute senses and cleverness (power) kept me secure: '8'
*Habituation — As time goes by without a risky situation, the stimulation decreases. '3'

Fantasy:
*Time — Occurs occasionally: '3'
*Intensity — Increases overall stimulation: '6'
*Habituation — No real effect '1'


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:21 am 
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Lesson 23 Exercise:
In your recovery thread, share a brief summary of what practical uses the skill of measuring compulsive rituals can have in your recovery. Don't just copy the headings of this lesson, take a minute to see how you can practically use this information in YOUR life.

Early in my exploration of Recovery Nation, I created a personal tool I call SAM (Stop, Assess, Mark). When I feel an urge growing, or come to a place where I must make a choice about whether to violate my values, I try to Stop the ritual, Assess what is going on inside of me and what my other options are, and Mark the situation...make a mental note of it so that I can share it with my spouse, therapist or men’s group. I think the purpose of SAM is similar to the RN Measuring approach...breaking down the ritual chain so that one understands the underlying emotions and processes them to a point where a conscious choice must be made between continuing with the compulsive behavior, or making a values-based decision. One of my greatest challenges is stepping away from compartmentalization, where I make choices that my mind then neatly files them away to be forgotten, washed over or ignored. The measuring tools forces one out of the compartmentalization mindset and into present, conscious living.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:27 pm 
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Lesson 24 Exercise:

I. Create your own Wheel of Sexual Compulsion that is more closely related to your behavior. This can be done by simply listing the cumulative elements involved in your compulsive behavior. This shouldn't take you more than five minutes. List these elements (associated with no particular ritual — but more your addiction in general) in your recovery thread.

Danger
Suspense
Accomplishment
Power
Sensory
Fantasy
Orgasm
Poly-addictions
Past

Element #1: I feel bad about myself for work/family/marriage/etc… reasons
Element #2: I fail to master the skill of managing my emotions and seek ways to mask my negative feelings.
Element #3: Boredom sets in and seek ways to feel “excitement.”
Element #4: Experience desire to “feel good” by engaging in a compulsive behavior
Element#5: Slip into rituals associated with chosen behavior
Element #6: Experience wide range of sensory stimulation, depending on behavior
Element #7: Experience suspense as I seek the closer call; the perfect image; the sexiest underwear, etc…
Element #8: Sometimes incorporate fantasy into the compulsive behavior
Element #9: Sometimes masturbate to erection or beyond
Element #10: Sometimes orgasm
Element #11: Experience euphoria that comes with danger and successfully evading detection
Element #12: Feel accomplishment if behavior was not detected/I was not seen
Element #13: Feel disappointment/shame at having violated my personal values again
Element #14: Deploy compartmentalization skills to avoid negative emotions and “forget” value-violating behavior

II. Choose a real-life example of EVERY major sexual ritual that you engage in (these should be compulsive rituals, not healthy) and break each down into their smallest elements (based on the elements identified in your wheel of sexual compulsion).

Exhibitionism

Element #1: I feel bad about myself for work/family/marriage/etc… reasons
Element #2: Feel boredom setting in and seek ways to feel “excitement.”
Element #3: Feel need to be validated, affirmed or appreciated.
Element #4: I fail to master the skill of managing my emotions and seek ways to mask my negative feelings.
Element #5: Experience desire to “feel good”or “feel something at all” by engaging in a compulsive behavior
Element #6: Travel to a local open space park or semi-remote location and prepare plan
Element #7: Experience wide range of sensory stimulation (visual - my own semi- or complete nudity, careful focus on whether other people are around; touch - feel wind/temperature/warmth/chill on body parts typically covered; sound - heightened auditory sensation straining to hear whether other people could be near)
Element #8: Experience suspense as I spend more time in whatever state of undress I’m in...could someone walk down to this remote creekside location? Could someone be coming up the next hill?
Element #9: Sometimes incorporate fantasy into the compulsive behavior (maybe I’ll see someone else sunbathing naked along that stream; what if some woman enjoyed seeing me naked/nearly-naked?)
Element #10: Sometimes masturbate to erection or beyond
Element #11: Sometimes orgasm
Element #12: Experience euphoria that comes with danger and successfully evading detection (There could be someone just over that hill. Someone could just happen to be walking off-trail in this remote spot; my senses are so attuned and acute that I took these risks and wasn’t seen!)
Element #13: Feel accomplishment if behavior was not detected/I was not seen (I’m so smart...so clever, I was naked or partially naked outdoors and no one saw me!)
Element #14: Feel disappointment/shame at having violated my personal values again
Element #15: Deploy compartmentalization skills to avoid negative emotions and “forget” value-violating behavior

Voyeurism

Element #1: I feel bad about myself for work/family/marriage/etc… reasons
Element #2: Feel boredom setting in and seek ways to feel “excitement.”
Element #3: Feel need to be validated, affirmed or appreciated.
Element #4: I fail to master the skill of managing my emotions and seek ways to mask my negative feelings.
Element #5: Experience desire to “feel good”or “feel something at all” by engaging in a compulsive behavior
Element #6: Look at nearby windows when staying in hotel room on business travel
Element #7: Experience wide range of sensory stimulation (visual - maybe this time I’ll see someone walk by their window!
Element #8: Experience suspense as I glance out the window again and again.
Element #9: Sometimes incorporate fantasy into the compulsive behavior (maybe I’ll see someone intentionally showing off their body; maybe someone will see me and wave encouragingly...)
Element #10: Sometimes masturbate to erection or beyond
Element #11: Sometimes orgasm
Element #12: Experience euphoria that comes with danger and successfully evading detection
Element #13: Feel accomplishment if behavior was not detected/I was not seen watching (I’m so smart...so clever, I clandestinely watched and no one saw me!)
Element #14: Feel disappointment/shame at having violated my personal values again
Element #15: Deploy compartmentalization skills to avoid negative emotions and “forget” value-violating behavior

Pornography Viewing

Element #1: I feel bad about myself for work/family/marriage/etc… reasons
Element #2: Feel boredom setting in and seek ways to feel “excitement.”
Element #3: Feel need to be validated, affirmed or appreciated.
Element #4: I fail to master the skill of managing my emotions and seek ways to mask my negative feelings.
Element #5: Experience desire to “feel good”or “feel something at all” by engaging in a compulsive behavior
Element #6: Use my computer/phone/magazines/television to see something sexually stimulating
Element #7: Experience sensory stimulation (visual - seeing/finding stimulating images)
Element #8: Experience suspense as I spend more time looking for the perfect, all-fulfilling image.
Element #9: Sometimes incorporate fantasy into the compulsive behavior (what if she was undressing for me? What if she wanted me?)
Element #10: Sometimes masturbate to erection or beyond
Element #11: Sometimes orgasm
Element #12: Experience euphoria that comes with danger and successfully evading detection
Element #13: Feel accomplishment if behavior was not detected (I’m so smart...so clever. This is no one’s business but mine.)
Element #14: Feel disappointment/shame at having violated my personal values again
Element #15: Deploy compartmentalization skills to avoid negative emotions and “forget” value-violating behavior

Cross-dressing in women’s lingerie

Element #1: I feel bad about myself for work/family/marriage/etc… reasons
Element #2: Feel boredom setting in and seek ways to feel “excitement.”
Element #3: Feel need to be validated, affirmed or appreciated.
Element #4: I fail to master the skill of managing my emotions and seek ways to mask my negative feelings.
Element #5: Experience desire to “feel good”or “feel something at all” by engaging in a compulsive behavior
Element #6: Select items to put on, then put them on.
Element #7: Experience wide range of sensory stimulation (visual - seeing myself dressed in these “sexy,” taboo and feminine items, look at these verboten (for men) underwear items; touch - feel lace/satin/nylon on skin)
Element #8: Experience suspense as I spend time wearing these verboten items.
Element #9: Sometimes incorporate fantasy into the compulsive behavior (What if someone saw me dressed in this women’s lingerie! What if a woman directed me to dress in these items? What if she knew what I was wearing under these clothes?)
Element #10: Sometimes masturbate to erection or beyond
Element #11: Sometimes orgasm
Element #12: Experience euphoria that comes with danger and successfully evading detection (I was wearing stockings and a garter belt while at the store and no one noticed! I drove with my bra showing below my unbuttoned shirt...what if someone had seen me when I stopped at that stoplight!)
Element #13: Feel accomplishment if behavior was not detected/I was not seen (I’m so smart...so clever, I was naked or partially naked outdoors and no one saw me!)
Element #14: Feel disappointment/shame at having violated my personal values again
Element #15: Deploy compartmentalization skills to avoid negative emotions and “forget” value-violating behavior


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:20 pm 
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Lesson 25 Exercise:

I. Develop your own compulsive ritual. Make this relatively simple. List the primary elements in a similar fashion as exampled above in Compulsive Ritual: Exhibitionism. Post this ritual and its elements in your recovery thread.

Masturbation:

    Wake up in bed/lay in bed unable to get to sleep
    Begin to fantasize as means to move mind off work/family/marriage (stresses) or to relieve boredom or cope with loneliness
    Start fantasizing (usually ritual ends here)
    Decide that fantasy alone is not providing desired relief
    Fondle myself to erection, telling myself I will just touch myself a little bit (ritual sometimes ends here)
    Once erect, decide to more aggressively touch myself. Stroke myself to just shy of orgasm. (Ritual usually ends here, if I went beyond fantasy). There was a time I told myself this wasn’t “really” masturbation
    Decide that since I haven’t masturbated or orgasmed in X days or weeks, it would be OK to orgasm this time.
    Contemplate how good the cumming will feel, and how much I’ve earned it by waiting so long to do it.
    Masturbate to orgasm.
    Catch ejacutation in tissue or piece of clothing
    Dispose of evidence
    Get up (if time to go to work)/go back to sleep (if early AM or middle of night)/go to sleep (if late at night).


Last edited by COGrow on Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:46 pm 
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Lesson 26 Exercise:

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


Voyeurism

Return to hotel room after a long day of work/travel
Feel sense of loneliness and boredom
Experience feelings of mild claustrophobia
Open curtains to let in air and make room feel bigger, more open
Look out window to see if I have views of other windows
Note which windows have open curtains, lights or flickers of TVs, indicating that a room is occupied
Look for signs of movement, scanning walls of windows to note changes or signs of new occupancy
Fantasize about maybe this time seeing someone walk by naked/partially undressed
Repeatedly return to window/balcony (if there is one) to look again
Note off to the right a balcony door with curtains partially open and light on. Bed with a person, or persons on it in sight.
Return to balcony to check same room. Notice movement on bed that suggests some sort of sexual activity. Difficult to tell given distance and fact that curtains only partially open.
Look for full minute. Go back to room.
Return to balcony to look again.
Fantasize that curtains were more open and I could really see what was going on.
Repeat look/re-enter room/look again routine several times.
Feel frustrated that I couldn’t see more.
Fantasize about writing a letter and slipping it under their door letting them know I saw them and ask in non-threatening way for the opportunity to watch again and see more the next night.
Feel excitement that I finally saw something sexual from my hotel room window.
Justify watching by telling myself they wouldn’t have made love with curtains partially open if they didn’t want to be seen.
Feel anxious that I saw this because I know I must tell my wife about it.
Tell her about it when I get back home from trip.
Feel relief that I finally had courage to tell her something difficult.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:08 am 
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Lesson 27 Exercise:

Provide an example of two compulsive chains in your life. Post these examples in your recovery thread.

The first chain should be where multiple rituals are engaged in simultaneously — thus enhancing the overall amount of stimulation derived from the behavior.

I discovered a Website that allowed one to view peer-to-peer webcams. Random people on web cams would cycle by one at a time. If you didn’t like what you saw, you could click “next.” Many of the people were men masturbating. Occasionally, a woman would show up. I started participating in this site by offering to strip naked with few or no takers. Soon I realized to get women to stop and interact, I had to offer something unique...something surprising to get them to stop and not click “next.” I figured out that if I showed up on the webcam wearing women’s lingerie/underwear/stockings, I could get some women (and sometimes men when women were not showing up) to stop and interact. Once I had someone interested in watching, I would offer to do whatever they asked, which usually included masturbating. This chain began with voyeurism, progressed to exhibitionism, then expanded to include a women’s underwear/lingerie fetish, which took exhibitionism to a new place (more “exciting”) and then concluded back with a heightened masturbation experience.

The second should be an example of how you have strung together several rituals back-to-back and thus, extended the stimulation you were deriving.

While working at home, I would put on women’s lingerie, underwear and/or stockings and spend part of the day dressed like this doing conference calls and working on my computer. Most days, the ritual would end here. I would just enjoy the feeling of wearing these items and, in some way, pretending I was someone else. I would once in awhile masturbate to near orgasm. On occasion, I would put street clothes on over the women’s underthings and run errands. This “naughtiness” and secrets was exciting. Wearing something forbidden triggered those desired brain chemical reactions, thus adding another ritual. The chain continued by creating subtle opportunities where someone could “accidentally” catch a glimpse or see that I was wearing something “secret” under my street clothes (being next to a bus at a stoplight with my button-down shirt unbuttoned so one could glimpse the bra I was wearing), thus extending the high of wearing the women’s lingerie/underwear.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:28 am 
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Lesson 28 Exercise:

1. Develop a compulsive chain of your most recent acting out behavior.

On a business trip, I picked up a free publication aimed at convention goers featuring advertisements for strip clubs and other adult entertainment. I took the newspaper back to my hotel room. I looked through it there and touched myself to erection while looking at it (masturbation). With my upper floor curtains open, I roamed my room naked, or near naked in hopes that someone in the adjacent hotel building would look across the street and “accidentally” see me (exhibtionism). I fantasized about a woman seeing me and wanting to watch, or maybe she would hold up a note with her phone number (fantasy). I kept a regular eye on the windows across the street hoping to see someone else in some state of undress (voyeurism). Before going to bed, I touched touched myself to near-orgasm (masturbation, again).

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

Each element affected my emotional state by relieving loneliness and boredom, and bringing “excitement” into an otherwise dull evening. The exhibitionism fed my desire to be appreciated and affirmed (although no one saw me). The masturbation, done in front of a mirror, provided self-affirmation as I imagined myself being desirable and fit.

3. Thinking as an addict, look for areas within this chain where you could add additional destructive elements that would have (most likely) increased the overall stimulation of the event. The actual events that you add should be realistic, and related to the chain itself.

I could have added women’s lingerie/underwear/stockings to expand the chain and excitement. I could have purchased a pay-per-view porn movie to provide visual stimulation. I could have incorporated anal sex toys to provide additional physical stimulation. I could have taken pictures of video of myself and posted them to a voyeur/exhibitionsm Web site of some sort. I could have masturbated to orgasm to wrap up the chain.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:59 pm 
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Lesson 31 Exercise:

A. Make a list of all identifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate, severe or extreme stressor. Example: 1) Facing Possible Divorce: extreme; 2) Lost respect among friends and family: moderate

Facing possible divorce: extreme
Facing whether I want to stay married: extreme
Lost respect of my children: extreme
Dealing with teenage angst and distancing: moderate
Wife on multi-week business trip. Return date unknown: moderate
Managing home renovation project while wife on biz travel: severe
Father in assisted living rehab hospital post-surgery: severe
Assisting anxious stepmother dealing with my father in rehab: moderate
Regular work stress: moderate

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

I would say that pretty much all of the energy being drained from me is in pursuit of my highest prioritized values, specifically:

Guided by honesty/Live with integrity/Be transparent and open with the good and the bad/Be of strong character/Be trustworthy/Build trust
Feel that I am enough/Know that I am worthy/Feel good about who I am/Become a whole person
Be a good father and role model for my kids
Be a good partner to my spouse/Build emotional and physical intimacy with my spouse
Build intimate relationships/Strive to really know others/Be vulnerable/Allow myself to be known/Share my true self with the world around me
Be and feel selfless and empathetic /Be supportive
Feel emotional ups and the downs
Be self-aware

In many ways, I don’t as much like I’m “expending energy,” which seems to suggest I’m voluntarily devoting energy to these areas. Rather, I feel like energy is being siphoned out of me by external people/forces. I do feel a bit out of control. I have consciously been trying to roll with that feeling...not fighting it, or using it as an excuse to indulge in compulsive behavior. Still, this doesn’t feel sustainable.

I appreciated some of the charts in this lesson showing how compulsive behavior was used to compensate or mask stresses, giving me the false sense that I was in stasis. Looking back, I really do feel like I was generally happier and more balanced then. The catch, of course, is that it was a self-created delusion. I was creating ways to not feel, rather than actually dealing with the emotions I had, but quickly buried.

My goal now is to strike that balance with values and stresses. I see the path, but lament the feelings I have now of being weighed down and daily negatively affected by the stresses that seemingly used to be more globally “handled.” One day at a time.

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

I really don’t feel like I’m living a “healthy life.” I feel like I’m caught in a rip tide. I know there’s an end, and I just need to wait until I get far enough out that I can swim parallel to shore for a bit and then ride the waves back in. The trick, of course, is not to panic now. Rather, I need to relax, breathe, trust and save energy for the trip home.

So, right now I don’t see that I’m using energy building my highest priority values. I seem to be temporarily stuck in a swirl of self-esteem challenges, the uncertainty caused by a spouse teetering between divorce and staying married and difficulty communicating with my increasingly distant and separating teenagers. I need to practice patience, understanding, empathy, gratitude and love. It’s difficult some days.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:59 pm 
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Lesson 31 Exercise:

A. Make a list of all identifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate, severe or extreme stressor. Example: 1) Facing Possible Divorce: extreme; 2) Lost respect among friends and family: moderate

Facing possible divorce: extreme
Facing whether I want to stay married: extreme
Lost respect of my children: extreme
Dealing with teenage angst and distancing: moderate
Wife on multi-week business trip. Return date unknown: moderate
Managing home renovation project while wife on biz travel: severe
Father in assisted living rehab hospital post-surgery: severe
Assisting anxious stepmother dealing with my father in rehab: moderate
Regular work stress: moderate

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

I would say that pretty much all of the energy being drained from me is in pursuit of my highest prioritized values, specifically:

Guided by honesty/Live with integrity/Be transparent and open with the good and the bad/Be of strong character/Be trustworthy/Build trust
Feel that I am enough/Know that I am worthy/Feel good about who I am/Become a whole person
Be a good father and role model for my kids
Be a good partner to my spouse/Build emotional and physical intimacy with my spouse
Build intimate relationships/Strive to really know others/Be vulnerable/Allow myself to be known/Share my true self with the world around me
Be and feel selfless and empathetic /Be supportive
Feel emotional ups and the downs
Be self-aware

In many ways, I don’t as much like I’m “expending energy,” which seems to suggest I’m voluntarily devoting energy to these areas. Rather, I feel like energy is being siphoned out of me by external people/forces. I do feel a bit out of control. I have consciously been trying to roll with that feeling...not fighting it, or using it as an excuse to indulge in compulsive behavior. Still, this doesn’t feel sustainable.

I appreciated some of the charts in this lesson showing how compulsive behavior was used to compensate or mask stresses, giving me the false sense that I was in stasis. Looking back, I really do feel like I was generally happier and more balanced then. The catch, of course, is that it was a self-created delusion. I was creating ways to not feel, rather than actually dealing with the emotions I had, but quickly buried.

My goal now is to strike that balance with values and stresses. I see the path, but lament the feelings I have now of being weighed down and daily negatively affected by the stresses that seemingly used to be more globally “handled.” One day at a time.

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

I really don’t feel like I’m living a “healthy life.” I feel like I’m caught in a rip tide. I know there’s an end, and I just need to wait until I get far enough out that I can swim parallel to shore for a bit and then ride the waves back in. The trick, of course, is not to panic now. Rather, I need to relax, breathe, trust and save energy for the trip home.

So, right now I don’t see that I’m using energy building my highest priority values. I seem to be temporarily stuck in a swirl of self-esteem challenges, the uncertainty caused by a spouse teetering between divorce and staying married and difficulty communicating with my increasingly distant and separating teenagers. I need to practice patience, understanding, empathy, gratitude and love. It’s difficult some days.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:03 am 
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Lesson 32 Exercise:

1. Early in the workshop, you created approximately fifteen 'proactive action plans' that were intended to list specific steps to take to strengthen certain values that are important to you. Return to these action plans and for each, review your progress. Summarize your progress on your recovery thread.
2. Update your Proactive Action Plans as needed.


I think my action plans are still solid. I don’t, however, feel like I’m making enough progress. I find myself stymied by an overarching feeling of helplessness, hopeless and dread created by a marriage teetering on the edge. My spouse has made clear her need for space and distance to assess her needs. I appreciate this is a time for me, too, to assess my own needs and work on strengthening my values and aligning my behaviors with those values. However, at the same time, I’m being told I need to “prove that I’m different,” and regularly demonstrate this by communicating, empathizing and showing vulnerability. This all sounds great, but I struggle to identify what she’s looking for in these areas, specifically. As a result, I feel much anxiety about performing to meet her un-articulated standards. She says she’ll just know when I’m serious. This negativity knocks me out of positive grooves, seemingly, whenever I get into one (such as now, while she’s travelling). I am working on learning how to not have her moods and needs dictate my own, but I’m struggling with such complete loss of control or of being able to see a path forward. Blindly running through a forest full of tree trunks and rocks is scary and distracting.

As a result, with anxiety and stress running high, I find it hard to implement some of my action plans.

That said, I feel like I am learning a lot about managing future compulsive behaviors, and I’m learning to be gentle, patient and self-aware with regard to myself. If I can take that learning, and grow it to the point where how I show up is not significantly influenced by the moods or anger of others, I will be better able to focus on my values action plans. That’s my work for the upcoming week when my spouse returns from a 10-day business trip.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:07 am 
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Lesson 34 Exercise:

Immediate gratification plays the primary role in the lives of most people who struggle with addiction. In your Personal Recovery Thread, share the following:

A. Describe a time in your life when the "Immediate Gratification" principle has come into play:


After completing a climb of a mountain, I was on my way home, on an interstate highway that would take my straight back to my home town. As I approached one particular highway exit, I had a choice to make. Do I exit and drive a couple miles to a spot along a creek where I would strip naked, wash off the trail grime and lay nude in the sun; or, do I keep driving down the highway and just go home. After wrestling with the decision for a bit, I finally hit a spot where I just told myself, “You know you’re going to exit and head to the creek, so just stop debating it.”

B. As best as you can, describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying to NOT ACT on a compulsive sexual thought or behavior. Be specific. Compare it to other feelings of anxiety that you experience. The purpose of this exercise is to begin to define the limits of your emotions — and where your compulsive urges stand within those limits.

I don’t notice a lot of anxiety related to not acting out. When I feel the pull/compulsion/desire to act out, I can usually allay it by distraction. My mind is so easily distracted, that having some discipline to simply do something else can usually keep me solid. The really challenge, however, is when the inevitability of acting out becomes a dominant thought pattern, as in the example above. Sometimes, the acting out is all about distraction and resolving boredom. Stopping at the creek, as noted above, is a “great” way to break up a boring drive and bring some “excitement” into the day.

Lately, I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety, mostly tied to the uncertainty in my marriage, as well as the lingering guilt/shame from past acting out. The anxiousness I feel related to the status of my relationship with my wife and kids is far more affecting than any anxiety I think I’ve ever felt about not acting out.

C. As best as you can, describe the feeling that you experience while you are engaging in a certain compulsive sexual thought or behavior. Is it a trance-like feeling? Is it a hyper-alert feeling? If someone could get inside your mind as you were experiencing such a ritual, what would they find?

For me, it the experience I feel while acting out, especially when there is some risk involved, is a hyper-alert feeling. I feel like all my senses are heightened. They are working together, providing massive data collection services and my brain is accepting, filtering and processing it all with great speed and efficiency. I feel more clever, more alert and more in-tune than anyone else.

When I’m having a sexual thought, the feeling is different. More often than not, my sexual thought is fleeting, almost always interrupted by an unwanted, tangential thought, one that must be shooed away to get back to my sexual thought/fantasy. If someone got inside my mind, they would be covering their ears and yelling over the din, “How do you get anything done in here!?”


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:15 pm 
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Lesson 35 Exercise:

1) Evolve your daily monitoring as outlined above. Post the first thing you will be monitoring in this way in your thread for feedback and, share where you will be placing the reminder. Do not wait for feedback to begin.

"I will seek out opportunities to share myself openly and honestly" I will place the reminder on the dashboard of my car. This will help me keep focused on, and make progress toward, my “Be Guided By Honesty” value.

2) Create your weekly agenda. Post it in your Recovery Thread.

Question #1: Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment. Think specific actions you experienced, not general ideals.

Question #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? Did I practice positive self-talk?

Question #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? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means (e.g. compulsive behavior)? Did I express or feel gratitude?

Question #4: Over the past seven days, did I show up in a positive way for my kids? Did I engage them in positive conversation? Did I share myself/my feelings/my vulnerability with them?

Question #5: 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? Deadlines, reunions, holidays, dates, etc.


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