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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:43 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 28: Developing Compulsive Chains

1) Develop a compulsive chain of your most recent acting out behavior.
- The most recent chain is the one outlined in the previous lesson, regarding becoming more daring with my behavior over several nights to try and increase overall stimulation while rationalizing to myself that this is acceptable behavior.
1. Have a feeling of boredom or not wanting to work hard, just wanting to relax.
2. Go to different news pages to read news. Find myself not really reading the articles very deeply, and compulsively scrolling down to see what is recommended as the next article - and if there will be an attractive stimulating picture at the bottom.
3. Have a thought of an attractive model in an ad that I have seen previously on the internet.
- Filters - after having the thought a few times, I let it linger a little bit (time) - to increase the stimulation of the thought - and I am aware that I have already given in a little bit. Also the filter of Habituation because I haven't looked at images in a while, so this thought is more stimulating.
4. Have the thought that I can go to a certain "safe" website and view this ad, without having to confess to anything, or type in keywords to a web search. Feel accomplishment that I have found a loophole.
5. Go to this website, but don't see the ad I am looking for. Keep refreshing the page until it comes up, and stop to look at it for a moment, allowing myself to feel aroused for a few momenta (time).
6. Close the browser window and feel shameful about it. Have an intense feeling of guilt and what am I doing? I know this is wrong. Go on with trying to focus on a recovery lesson or whatever I was working on.
7. The thought enters my mind to look at this ad again. Since I have just allowed myself to look at it moments ago, it really is difficult to put up any kind of struggle. I am easily able to convince myself that I should look again.
8. Go to the website, and refresh over and over in order to find this stimulating ad. When it comes up, look at it for a few moments and then close the browser shamefully again.
9. This repeated a few more times, then eventually went to sleep.
10. Thoughts come back about this ad, and I start to have a realization, why don't I just do a search for this ad on google, instead of repeatedly refreshing this website. In the end that's all I'm looking for, I'm just looking for this ad. I fight this idea, but eventually let it keep coming.
11. Open a private browser window and type in the search term for this ad in google. At first don't look at the image results, because too scared of what I might see. Just look at the text in the results and read through it, seeing what might stimulate me, but there is nothing.
12. Eventually look at the image tab from the search, and see mostly not arousing images for this product, but some pictures of models are there as well.
13. Navigate to the website of one of the pictures - I have heard of the website and don't expect it to include any pornographic images, just attractive models. See some images of attractive women. Feel a rush of excitement over seeing these stimulating images. Feeling excitement at having convinced myself to look at something arousing. Continue to search through the website for more pictures, feeling the excitement of looking at attractive images again (habituation has not set in so this feels very powerful)
14. Eventually close the website and try to get back to something else. Open the website and browse a couple of more times during the night.
15. Occasionally wake up in the middle of the night, grab my phone and navigate to the webpage to look at some images again. Look at the images, and then shut the browser window and try to get back to sleep.
16. Start to get thoughts of other attractive images I have looked at in the past. Start to think about how I could look at them again without having to tell my girlfriend about it. Start thinking about one woman who I have found attractive in the past but can't remember her name - so spend time thinking about how I could look her up, letting myself spend time thinking about it, knowing this is bad.
17. In the evening, have impatience and a feeling of excitement after wishing my girlfriend goodnight - knowing that then I can spend time looking at things without fear of interruption.
18. Get more daring go to instagram and youtube to look up these women that come into my mind, and look through their pictures, see pictures that have crossed the line I have drawn for myself (see through shirts) but continue on - if it's on instagram, it must be ok. Feel a feeling of fear and shame about it - rationalizing to myself what I have seen and whether I should tell my girlfriend about it.
19. Feel excitement over the different pictures and fear over potentially seeing something explicit, feeling accomplishment in not crossing this boundary I have set for myself, and feeling aroused, feeling guilty and terrible for allowing myself to let this happen again.
20. As I look through more and more arousing images, the desire to masturbate is so strong that I just want to give in and let it happen this one time. Have a thought of how terrible it would feel to do it again after almost 1 year without doing it, how after doing this brief act, I will feel so terrible, is it really worth it? And these thoughts are able to keep me from doing it.
21. Finally after many nights of this, start to feel it is not so stimulating, and am able to convince myself to stop doing it. I no longer feel the good feeling from it, just the bad consequences, and am able to stop doing it.
2) Upon completion of the chain, review it to ensure that you can recognize the way each element affected your emotional state.
- For several of the elements, habituation played a big role because it had been a while since I had looked at these things, so the newness of it, the thought of what is the latest picture this person had posted was very alluring. Also early on, letting myself linger on thoughts is dangerous, and if I start thinking about what search terms I am going to use, or what a particular person's name is to search for, it should be a big red flag to me that I am letting myself already start to manipulate my emotions and push myself further along the chain.
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. Events should be realistic, and related to the chain itself.
- Certainly, the main thing I can see is giving in to masturbation and orgasm during the ritual to enhance the stimulation. Also looking at more explicit images would increase the emotional stimulation. In the past I have gone into the bathtub with my laptop to get more stimulation and enjoyment by running a hot bath while masturbating. Also looking at videos and putting on the sound to hear the sounds people are making during videos.

PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 7:13 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 29: The Role of Emotions

- Close your eyes and just feel. Think of things that are important to you, think of your values, think of your regrets, think of trauma you have experienced, think of wonderful moments, experience what emotions come freely.Focus on each emotion and stay in touch with the feelings, experience the emotions that come with the thoughts.
- Consider one of your milder compulsive behaviors and try to get in touch with the feelings that are generated with this behavior. Focus on the anxiety from not acting out, and consider that now or down the line you will have to face the decision of whether or not to act on these feelings.

1. Describe your emotions and thoughts that triggered them
- I thought about what moments were painful for me. What stands out is at the end of my marriage, when I finally she would no longer tolerate my behavior, and I kept begging her to give me another chance and to let us try and work this out, but she would have none of it. And at that moment I had the realization that we would actually get a divorce - I never thought it was possible, I never dreamed it would actually happen, and I finally came to grips with the cold hard reality that this was going to happen, and everything that comes with it. That life would be totally changed, and I would forever be "one of those people" who was divorced - that I had failed at marriage, and it was for a reason that I couldn't bring myself to tell people about. And then telling my parents about it, confessing to them about what I had done and the reason for our divorce, and when my mom scolded me about it, this was all so painful for me. And hoping and praying that it could somehow be reversed, that she would somehow change her mind. These were all terrible, gut wrenching feelings. Then when I relapsed again after the divorce 3 months later, how terrible this felt, to realize I had not figured this out yet, and I had just been complacent and sure of myself, and had not really accomplished any kind of recovery. And thoughts of my mom's disappointment and sternness and even harshness with me to get myself healed. All of this was very painful. I thought about nice moments as well. A lot of my thoughts were with nature, being outdoors, I have fond memories of this. The emotions are feeling very peaceful, and connected with the world, and appreciative of the beauty and uniqueness of everything. As a child hiking, going on walks, going to the beach, or to the forest, to waterfalls, this is all very pleasant to me, and I have a lot of fond memories of it. One recent memory is with my girlfriend where we went to this plant nursery that had so many beautiful plants, and arranged in a way that it was like visiting someone's garden and the whole adventure of exploring it was very pleasant. I have also experienced joy when finally getting something I really wanted - like getting a yes when asking out my girlfriend, or previously when my ex-wife asked me out for the first time.

2. In terms of your personal experiences, what has been the least anxious state you have experienced, and what has been the most extreme?
- In terms of anxiety, the most anxious moment for me has probably been before a big presentation that I needed to give, something where I have to do well on the spot, is very anxious for me. Because in the past I haven't always done well, so I have memories of this, so it feeds into my feeling of anxiety that I won't do well the next time. Very often this would keep me up at night. In wondering how it compares to the anxiety of not acting out, maybe it is greater, but maybe I have never let my not acting out anxiety reach this point - which I guess is a good realization - meaning that I have experienced things that cause more anxiety and have been able to survive it. In terms of least anxious experience, maybe this sounds odd, but when I am just floating in water, at a beach, or even a lazy river at a water park, I just feel so peaceful. I don't even need to stand up, I can just float around and just look up at the sky, and take in the vastness of it, while being pushed along without a care in the world.

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 1:57 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 31: Emotional Balance and Stability

- In learning to effectively manage your life (maintain emotional balance), it is important to develop an ongoing awareness of where the majority of your energy is being exhausted and where it is being derived.
1. Make a list of all identifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is mild, moderate, severe or extreme
- Having desire to act out, but knowing this conflicts with my values and isn't something I want to do: mild
- Having to clean up the house and get ready for a visit from my dad: mild
- Trying to solve a difficult problem at work: severe
- Having to give a presentation this week: severe
- Having to finish some editing work for a friend: medium

2. Return to your values list created earlier in the workshop. In a healthy life, the majority of energy being drainied should be related to the pursuit of your heighest prioritized values. Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the way that you are st expending your energy?
- I see this pattern in my life for the most part - some of my stress is coming from trying to achieve my prioritized values, but it feels like I am not putting in enough effort and time into a lot of my top values. I have some of my stress coming from work, and I do value being good at my job. Also, some of my stress is coming from procrastinating with things that are important to me, but I feel like I have been wasting less time lately, and have been able to devote more time to these things lately. But I feel like there are some things that I am not pursuing, but they have not really been giving me stress either - it has been kind of out of sight and out of mind. Perhaps this means I do not really value them as much as I want to value them or as much as I think I should value them.

3. In a healthy life, the majority of meaning and stimulation 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?
- At the same time, I do feel like a lot of my stimulation is coming from my values. I do feel the kind of reverse instant gratification when I am able to decline an urge to look at someone I think is attractive (objectification), or decline the desire to go and waste time on the internet. This has been very encouraging. I feel like I can do better - especially with finding true joy and meaning and purpose and passion in life. I feel like I am starting to transition away from instant gratification and improving my quality of life, and not feeling so ashamed all the time, and just having more confidence and a greater sense of peace, that I am not being a hypocrite.

PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 9:18 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 32: Evolving Practical Values

1) Early in the workshop, you created approximately 15 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.
- I had a list of 15 Values from early on in the workshop, with action plans for each.
1. Understanding myself and my purpose.
- Progress on this value has gone ok. I have learned from the workshop to take more joy out of not choosing the path of immediate emotional gratification. By slowing down the situation and focusing my thoughts on appreciating how nice it would be not to look at something arousing and how nice it would be not to sit around and waste time and instead to actually accomplish some things that I value, I have been able to gain more joy and meaning from my values. And I have noticed on times when I forget to do this that I really struggle, and go back to my old habits. One of my daily monitoring goals is to think about my greater purpose each day, but I find that this is a little difficult for me, and I really get caught up in my day to day life and haven't been stopping to ask myself why I am doing something, what is my reason, to really question myself and understand my motivations for things. This is an area I need to stress on more. I also have an action - to daily think of what were the nice and meaningful moments during my day - and this is something I haven't been doing, but I think can help me a lot in focusing my direction and where I want to be headed. Also one of my goals has been to pray every day, which I do some days, but not always, and when I do pray, I want to be more present in the moment and not a box that I just tick off.
2. Understanding others
- I don't feel like I have progressed far enough on this value, so I would like to take some steps into that. One action I had was to daily think about something nice I can do for someone, which I like because I have to think about what other people like - so trying to know more about others, and then to spend a little bit of time to figure out what to do. I feel like I have been batter at listening to people in conversations, and asking questions to learn more. Especially with my girlfriend, I have found that I have been doing this more, and thinking about her side more. I do feel like I have been able to get less impatient at people when driving, and have more empathy for others there.
3. Being sincere in my actions and putting my heart into what I do
- I feel like I have progressed a little bit more in this value. Lately, I have been able to focus better when doing things - I have been able to get less distracted when working on things and have been able to discipline myself not to just go off and check out something on the web when I should be focusing on a lesson or some work that I am doing. At my job, I have been able to control distractions a lot more, and have stopped going to news websites which I used to do a lot whenever something would just start to get a little difficult, or there was something I didn't want to do, I would procrastinate like that, and I have been able to reduce that a lot. I also want to be more present in the moment - and understand more about my emotions, what I am feeling and experiencing.
4. Having concern and empathy for others
- I have merged this value with value #2.
5. Taking care of the world around me
- I am happy with my progress on this value. I am definitely thoughtful about wasting and trying to conserver resources. One thing that I would selfishly enjoy is taking long hot showers, and then afterwards it is something I would feel guilty / ashamed about, and recently I have been able to shorten this a lot, so when I get out of the shower, I actually feel happy and comfortable, and not ashamed for how long I was there and how much water I used. I still would like to be better at keeping my house clean, but I have been pretty good about keeping my bed made and not letting clothes pile up in the corner (which was a problem in the past...). I think keeping my kitchen clean is something that I can focus on - if I let it pile up, it is just something that I don't want to do, but if I can stay on top of it, each day is not so bad. Also I started a garden and a compost bin, which I like - I can do something useful with my kitchen waste, and I can appreciate the growth and progress of my plants.
6. Being passionate about learning and teaching
- Progress here has been ok. I have tried to be more curious and observant of the world around me. One problem I have is that often I am in my head when I walk around and when I interact with people, and so I don't notice things. So I have gotten a little better at this when I catch myself. I have one action plan to experiment and try new things as long as they match my values - and I think I would like to put more focus into this, I feel like it would bring some more perspectives and depth into my life. Something I have always struggled with is remembering things - and so that is something I have been trying to focus on and would like to do better at it. I also had an action plan of connecting my learning back to my values, to make sure it is meaningful, and I think that is something I could spend more time thinking about.
7. Being disciplined
- I think I have gotten quite a bit more disciplined with my time wasting on the web, which I like, but I still have problems with this, and need to focus on it more. I find myself using sleep as an outlet to get away from things that I don't want to do, and this is really just like using pornography and video games as an outlet. So this is something I would like to focus on. One thing that I should use more is remembering how nice it feels to be disciplined and get closer to my goals, and how good it feels to be able to accomplish rather than just give in to my immediate emotions. I think my action plans here maybe need to be more step by step, they are a little too broad, so I need to update them.
8. Strengthening my relationship with my parents
- This has progressed ok. My relationship with my parents is good, and I do call them several times per week. I think one thing that I can be more conscious of is giving converstions with my parents my full attention and not to be distracted by something else when talking to them.
9. Developing emotional maturity
- I feel like I still have a long way to go on this value, as I am still letting my emotions control me, especially at night, when I am tired, I just immediately say - nope I'm not washing dishes, and nope I'm not doing this, and I just want to relax. And this is also when I have the most trouble with my compulsive behavior, so I need to focus more on this.
10. Expressing spirituality in my day to day life
- I have not really progressed here. Possibly I need to restructure this so that I understand better what it means in my life and how I can apply it and derive meaning from it. This needs some attention.
11. Being good at my job
- I feel like I have progressed well here. Since starting to waste less time at work, I am able to focus better and get more things accomplished. Also the work is interesting, so I've been spending some extra time on it, and able to make some progress on the problems that need to be solved for my job.
12. Building a stronger relationship with my girlfriend
- Actually this has gone really well also. One night not too long ago, we cooked together, and sometimes we get really annoyed with each other when cooking a dish together because we have different opinions on what to add to the dish, but this time we were very nice to each other and tolerant and understanding of the other, and it was a really nice and special moment. We haven't really gotten upset at each other lately, and I am finding myself getting less annoyed and more loving and understanding of her, and trying to be more accommodating. Lately I have had a few slips and have not mentioned it to her, so I need to work on how to bring that up to her so that I can be fully honest with her.
13. Caring more about what is going on in the world around me
- This has gone ok, but I have not really focused on it. Actually, lately I have tried to be very careful about my website usage, because often going to different news sites may start to trigger my desires and objectification of women through different images I see in ads and articles on some sites, so I have tried to avoid a lot of news on the web. Though I have discovered I can listen to the radio and podcasts to get news and that has been a good alternative.
14. Looking back and thinking about the bigger picture
- I need to focus a little more on this. To really judge if something I am doing is getting me a closer connection to my values.
15. Being proactive
- This has gone ok, I did start doing things I have wanted to do - like the compost bin, but I think I can do a lot more to move my life forward instead of stagnating. I did some things towards promotion in my job, and it was a bit of work and a bit of stress but I'm glad I did it. I need to put some more focus here.

Last edited by ziggy on Wed May 29, 2019 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 5:44 am 
Recovery Coach

Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: UK
Hi Ziggy
good post great work
well done
:g: :g:

Looking back and thinking about the bigger picture

reflection for sure is a very important part of recovery but when looking back we need to be aware of the possible danger of being enticed back, minimisation of our previous actions can easily follow complacency
stay alert and stay on course

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

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 7:01 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Hi Kenzo, thanks for the encouragement! I think you have a good point - minimization is something that I struggle with - which I think understanding my emotions and the guilt and shame and consequences I feel can help keep me straight.

Lesson 33: Developing Emotional Maturity
1. While you have no doubt already deepened the awareness of your now want to begin the process of mastering them. You want to make it a goal of yours to turn what was once a debilitating fault into one of your greatest strengths. That can't be done by reading. It must be developed in your day-to-day life. And so, that is your assignment. To take this next week to seek out opportunities to deepen an awareness of your emotions — both as they occur and as they can be anticipated. Each day, find at least five opportunities to assess your emotions. Don't do this in, you are about to go to bed and so, you review the day's activities and how you felt about them...this must be done in the here and now.
Additionally, add a few opportunities for developing this awareness by anticipating, role playing common rituals surrounding your past behavior. Or possible future behavior. Consider your emotions at the height of a compulsive urge. On the death of a loved one. On the experience of a child's birth. Think of the extremes.
The insights you are searching for throughout this exercise will be in relation to the finite qualities of emotion; the lack of fear/anxiety that comes with developing confidence in being able to anticipate emotional intensity; and the confidence that comes with the same.
2. Each day over the next three, share a few insights relating to these topics in your personal thread. Insights that you have gained from that particular day's focus.

----Some insights and thoughts I have had:
5/21 - evening - awareness about the desire - looking at it, I am able to subside it, that when I start to look and judge how strong it is, I have a moment to calm my mind down and it doesn't feel so strong. But it also can come back, so I have to be ready for it and ready to think about it each time that it comes up.
-Role playing future actions - Role play the thoughts of wanting to look at porn again later in the evening - when my willpower seems to deteriorate - think about the thoughts that will come, and slow them down enough to think about the consequences. If I keep entertaining the thoughts, they will only keep coming, because I am responsive to them. And then if I submit to them, I will first try to look at less explicit things, and get a moment of relief, but then I will feel sad and ashamed. Afterwards, it opens up the possibility of looking again, and pushing myself to look at more explicit things and even to masturbate. Understanding that I won't be satisfied, and will always push myself to more pleasurable things as habituation sets in, I will feel worse and worse the further I go, the longer spend wasting time with it, and the chances of just giving in and masturbating after a year without doing it. So understanding this, how I will feel when it's over, how even giving in a little only makes it easier and more likely that I will give in more later, and only prolongs these feelings of compulsion and strong desire, and that the way to end it is to understand and accept this uncomfortable feeling, but let it be, and think about how good it feels to hold my ground and not give in. How good it feels to wake up in the morning and know I don't have anything to be ashamed of.
-Again regarding role playing, I started realizing that if I can have a thought of pornography - the thought of a previous sensual image I have seen, that I have the desire to see again - if I can have that thought and associate with it instead negative feelings, this would go a long way to calming my desire. So I had the idea of practicing these negative emotional associations with these thoughts. The negativity not only that I feel in terms of shame and regret when I look at them and start to let them in, and let my behavior spiral downward as I chip away at my limits, but also negativity of what it does to society. The expectations that these sensual images create - not just pornography, but sexy pictures, women who have huge numbers of followers and post these attractive pictures - so young women (and old women) think they need to be attractive - that this is what men want, that this is what matters, and how damaging that is to their self esteem and their view of society and their place in it. This objectification and pervasiveness - this is a sad feeling that I feel when I connect and think about it. Of course the sex trafficking that is created by this industry as well, that causes people to want more and more and leads to the demand for this, so the demand is fulfilled and supplied. This is all very sad. When I think about it, I can associate these negative emotions with images of pornography in my mind. So my goal is to make this emotional connection automatic, by the effort of thinking about this whenever my thoughts come up.

5/22 - When I stop to think about what I am doing and my emotions, it becomes a lot easier to think logically and not act with a simple immediate gratification mindset. Sometimes I don't have a clear emotion or feeling that springs up into my mind, and when say I don't feel like doing a chore like doing dishes etc. And then I can just do it without much fanfare. But also sometimes I find that I really am very tired, but realizing this and understanding it, I can be a lot more forgiving with myself - when I know I really need to get some rest, I can say to myself, ok get some rest and do this in the morning - rather than consistently giving in to laziness and then feeling guilt about it.
Also I've found it is a lot easier to be grateful for things, when I stop for a moment and look at my feelings. Thankful for food, for the clothes that I can wear, etc. It's nice to stop for a moment and feel grateful.

5/25 - Had a slip and experiencing how disappointed I feel in myself. My method to prevent was to think about how bad it is for this to be in society, and how negative it is that these sites cause such unrealistic and unhealthy expectations in women and men. But I wasn't able to connect strongly enough to this. This tends to happen very late at night when I am already semi-asleep, and I just wake up and the desire rushes over me and I just want to give in. And so I acted out. I entered a search term and looked at some explicit images. It was very brief, just a few minutes, and it briefly satisfied the urge that I was feeling, which at the time felt very strong, but at the same time, I forgot to stop and face the urge and just look at how it feels and give it an objective measure - I don't have an excuse - whether, tired, or forgetful, wanting to give in to feel the release, I gave in and looked at porn. Afterwards, just feel bad and disappointed. What am I doing wrong? Why can't I overcome it - and I know it needs practice and dedication, but they just feel like setbacks that make me feel like I let myself down again. How can I connect to these emotions when I have the urge again? I want to make this a part of my emotional self control - to feel how bad it feels.

5/26 - Had the same slip this last night. This time I tried to prepare myself, by visualizing it and anticipating what would happen, knowing that it would likely happen again, or at least that I would have the desire to act out again. I think, unfortunately I did not connect well to the emotional side of it - I think that is still something that I am having trouble with - to connect with the emotions of something when I am not in the middle of experiencing it - in order to review the past or look forward and anticipate the future. I think that I wanted to feel the release - just a few minutes of looking is all that I wanted - and I feel I did not fight it off very well. Then I was able to get to sleep. And I think what I am not connecting with is how bad this is, how I am just allowing myself to ingrain these habits more, how I am undoing the progress I have already made, how I am working backwards and letting the emotions control me.
-Felt good emotion from following my values in the morning - reviewing the previous night, doing daily monitoring, reviewing my compulsive ritual. In the evening felt good emotions from working on some chores and things i need to finish and then going for a run. Noticing these same thoughts of arousing images pop into my head but they are unable to take hold. Connecting this good feeling with doing things that align with my values.
-Felt negative emotion from thinking about what will happen when I need to tell my girlfriend about this again.

5/27 - Feeling of boredom - after a busy weekend and having a lot of things to take care of, I finally have a moment to relax. I want to be productive and handle some things that I need to get done, but I really just want to relax and not do anything and not think and not put forth any effort. When I stop to think about this feeling of boredom and really look at it, it seems to go away, and I feel okay with doing something useful and meaningful, that will further strengthen my values.

5/28 - Feel bad because I let another compulsive ritual begin - opened a browser window, typed in a search term for pornography, and went to the second page of results, where images came up and I immediately closed it. This morning experiencing the emotional feeling of having another slip and not yet being able to stop myself. What excuses can I find for myself this time? Experiencing feelings of self-doubt. It is like a heavy, gloomy weight. Doing some work on things I value seems to help, and looking at the feeling and trying to experience it and really feel it seems to help.

5/29 - Feel a lot of stress from things in my life right now, and I just wanted to identify and think about them and evaluate how I feel. There are things that I need to do for work - there is a problem I'm not able to solve, and the deadline has already passed and It is very stressful. There is a presentation I need to do in a couple of weeks that I still need to do a lot of preparation for. There are the lessons that I need to do for the recovery workshop that I am a bit behind on - since I have set a goal for myself of completing 2 lessons per week. There are things around the house I want to take care of that I have been neglecting - growing some plants that I need to re-pot. There is stress from the recent slips that I have had, and not telling my significant other about them, and being scared to do so. Though I know I am making progress, I wonder about how well I am really doing on the road to recovery. There are a few other things here and there that I need to do, and all of these things are contributing to the stress that I feel. One thing that seems to help is feeling compassion for myself and understanding that if I put in a good effort, I don't feel bad and guilty. Even if I have a lot to do, if I put in a good effort and actually work towards them, there is a lot of relief in the stress. I feel progress, even if I am not meeting all of my self-established expectations.

I was trying to imagine myself 6 months from now, to imagine the habituation having worn off if I don't have any slips, to try and imagine the pressure to act out, and how it would feel and how I would deal with it. That somewhere down the line I would again feel tremendous pressure to act out, to wonder about what I am "missing out on" what new porn is out there, and to try and convince myself that I can just take a quick look, or convince myself to just do it - who cares? I think what seems to be effective is thinking about the tremendous emotional consequences of the aftermath. What would happen after that brief feeling of relief. Feeling hopeless and frustrated because of acting out again. Questioning what I have learned and if I have really progressed and if everything really sank in or not.


3. At the end of the week, assess the level of effort you put into this task. Did you remember to consciously seek out such developmental opportunities each of the seven days? Post your assessment in your thread.

I feel like I did put a lot of effort into this task. I don't know if I found 5 moments per day, every day, to evaluate my emotions, but I did try to repeatedly stop and just feel how I am feeling. So I feel like I did sincerely try to work at this. Of course life comes up and it is hard to always remember to work on these things, but I am definitely keeping my emotions objectively in my mind a lot more. And I feel like I am getting closer to unlocking the mystery of it, and being able to logically manage it and make some progress. That my emotions don't have to be the master of me.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:05 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 34: Obstacles to Emotional Maturity

1. Describe a time in your life when the Immediate Gratification principle came into play

- I don't have to look very far for a moment when immediate gratification has been present for me. I feel that I at some level go after it every day of my life. Commonly with regards to avoiding things that I want to work on - like chores I need to do around the house or a lesson that feels like a lot of material to read through, or some paperwork that I need to do - so my mind says - I don't want to do this or this is boring, or why don't we do this instead, or I'm tired, why don't we go take a nap. And I just follow my mind, and go to Facebook, or check my email again, or check the news, or go to take a nap, or go on youtube and whatever action I had prioritized in my mind and in my life, the action that I know will help to advance my values and ultimately make me feel better and more fulfilled has been hijacked by something that did not really need to be done right now, something that could have time set aside for it, but instead has cut in front to take my attention away. Afterwards I feel bad for all the time wasted, and again not reaching my goals, and not strengthening my values. Another typical example is with pornography - where I have an urge, and I know that I have a list of things I want to think about when I get an urge, but at some point I just say - I know, but I don't care, I just want to feel release, I just want to look at something and enjoy the feeling of it - and I know there are a lot of reasons why not to do it and I know I'll feel bad later, but I just want to ignore that and take a peek. This mind comes up and it is like a feeling of giving up and giving in, and just purposely ignoring everything that I have learned to get release.

2. As best 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.

- When trying not to act out, I do not always put forth a strong effort, and sometimes I just want to feel how nice it would be to give in - it is not always a connection to what I feel when I am acting out but just a desire to put down the discipline and strictness I feel I am forcing on myself, and just let myself do what i have done so many times before. But when I do put up a strong fight with myself, it can feel like a lot of anxiety. When I push the thought away, and it keeps coming back, there are moments when I feel tremendous anxiety to act out. I think the strongest anxiety comes when I have already given in a little bit, and stopped, and I am pushing myself to go further across my boundaries. Where I am saying to myself, I have already looked at sensual images, why not look at more explicit porn? Or I have already looked at porn, why not masturbate. When I have already somewhat given in to my desires, the anxiety to push it further and increase the stimulation I gain can create a lot of anxiety. If I try to compare it to other experiences, when it is at its height, it is similar to the anxiety I feel sometimes when I need to make a presentation but I don't feel prepared or when I am talking to my girlfriend and we are discussing some serious issues or having a fight and wondering if we are right for each other and I feel worried that I will lose her, or the stress I feel from being overwhelmed with things to do and feeling like I am not living up to it and I just don't want to do anything and I am so far behind. But normally I don't let it get to that point, I just give in much sooner. The moments when the intensity is very high is generally (maybe always?) when I have already given in a little and I am trying to keep myself from going further or doing it again.

3. 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?

- When I am acting out - say looking at arousing images on the internet or on my phone, it is like a singular purpose to keep finding more and more arousing images to get a reaction from my brain. There is always a little policeman in the back of my mind saying be careful, don't look at anything too explicit, be careful, we don't want to feel too disappointed at what we looked at when this is over, or we want to be able to say, oh we didn't look at anything too explicit if we get caught and have to explain ourselves. At the same time just looking at images - and quickly making a decision - nope, not arousing, oh wow yes that's arousing, let's look at it more closely, and then just looking, ok that was stimulating, and then moving on to the next one. And then eventually saying to myself, ok this is enough, and closing the browser or putting away the phone. Or if the images I find are very arousing, trying to convince myself to masturbate and just feel the release and enjoyment and emotion.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:52 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 35 - Health Monitoring II

1) Evolve your daily monitoring as outlined above. Post the first thing you will be monitoring in this way in your thread for feedback, share where you will be placing the reminder
- Seek out moments to slow down and think about my purpose in life - not to learn something or do something or accomplish something or earn something, or be comfortable and relax, but to grow virtue, compassion and integrity, and meaning.
2) Create your weekly agenda. Post it in your recovery thread
1. Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment? Think of specific items.
- On Saturday, I shared my feelings with some friends and it felt really nice, since I usually don't open up this much. Had a nice moment at work today with coworkers joked around a bit while preparing for a presentation - working towards a shared goal with a deadline that was approaching quickly, but we still kept a light hearted mood.
2. Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my energy go? Pressure/Stress management? Intense emotional events?
- A lot of energy went into stress about work - a missed deadline and trying to catch up.
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 (compulsive behavior)?
- This week went pretty well, but I did end up watching more TV than I wanted to - it's a time sink that I regret afterwards and would prefer to be using my time more meaningfully, but since it gives me immediate gratification, I still do it. So I have feelings of boredom that I need to manage. As far as compulsive sexual urges go, it had been dormant for a while but I had an urge yesterday and another today, that so far have been able to manage, but I'm worried about them increasing in intensity.
4. Looking ahead to the next seven days, are there any significant events that I need to prepare for, so that I am not caught off guard? Deadlines, reunions, holidays, dates, etc.
- Mainly I want to be on guard for urges to return after being gone for a couple of weeks. As I find I have more free time, the urges can appear more frequently. I would like to do some situational role-playing to try and visualize successful situations of mastering the urges.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:07 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 36: The Role of Boundaries

1) Describe a scenario from your past where not having a well-defined set of boundaries has prolonged and/or intensified the personal consequences that you have experienced.
- When I was younger, I didn't have a good limit on my own sexual boundaries, that put me in spot where when I encountered a situation, I didn't know how I would behave. I know I didn't want to have sex until I was married, but what did having sex actually mean? I didn't really talk about this kind of stuff to my parents or my friends at school. So when I did finally have a girlfriend, and I ran into a situation where there was a possibility to have some intimate and arousing behaviors, my emotions took over and told me just that I really enjoyed the feelings I was having, rather than establishing my boundaries based on what I objectively wanted and felt was right. And once I had set them at a certain point, they were ready to be slowly eroded since they were set partially by emotion and partially by my values. Why not a little bit more? Why not take it a little further? This same scenario has played out in my pornography use as well. Now that I'm doing it, why not take it a little further? Why not look at something hardcore, why not go ahead and pay for pornography? All of this has led to more self disappointment and more regret and more negative emotion that I have unable to break free from. I am realizing that I certainly haven't put enough thought into my boundaries in all different aspects of my life. And, in general, I haven't been thinking about my life in this sort of critical and goal oriented way nearly enough, and I need to start doing that.

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.
- I think that there are a lot of things that I am relaxed on, that I don't care too much about, or I think I don't care too much about, that sometimes conflicts with my boundaries. I generally try to avoid conflict, and so that turns into avoiding and then dealing with the consequences later (if they appear) rather than dealing with them head on. I leave consequences for my future self to deal with - guilt, shame, disappointment, frustration, feeling of powerlessness. Also what consequences I do feel maybe feel disconnected from the act of avoidance because it comes later and doesn't trace back so neatly to the source. With a good boundary, and courage to protect that boundary, I force myself to face the conflict and the situation right there on the spot, rather than pushing the problems to the future. This is difficult for me. So for example having a solid boundary of open and honest communication with my significant other, where there are no lies, no acts done to enable deception, no omissions of truth would help to protect myself from feelings of guilt and fear and the consequences of built up lies in the future. The difficulty is overcoming the initial fear from being honest when I have done something I am not proud of. To be honest with who I really am at this point is something that has always been very difficult for me. And the reason that I am in this situation in the first place is because I have trampled over and already crossed a different set of boundaries related to my behavior with masturbation and pornography. Without boundaries, there can be no values.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 2:13 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
1) List three of your highest values (prioritized within the top five)
(see below)

2) For each value, list at least five concrete boundaries (rules) that you will use to protect that value.
1. Understanding myself and my purpose
1) I will accept responsibility for my life and the situation that I am in
2) I will be grateful for this life and my experiences
3) I will find time to connect with pray and connect with God every day
4) I will not let the wants of my physical body determine my mood.
5) I will not let myself become complacent on my journey of life
6) I will not allow myslef to give in to the feeling of boredom
2. Understanding others
1) I will not selfishly think of myself ahead of others
2) I will not objectify others or dismiss others based on superficial discrimination
3) I will not become jealous of others
4) I will have compassion, empathy and forgiveness towards others
5) I will not become offended at others because my ego gets hurt
6) I will take time each day to think about the other people in my life, and their difficulties and struggles
7) I will listen attentively, ask questions when appropriate, and try hard to remember in conversations with others
3. Being passionate about learning and teaching
1) I will be compassionate and not become frustrated with myself when learning or explaining
2) I will not become jealous when someone is smarter or more talented than me, instead I will ask what can I learn from them?
3) I will not let laziness, fear, boredom, or other emotions keep me from putting in an effort to learn every day.
4) I will passively go through life without asking questions to myself of things I encounter in order to stimulate thinking and understanding
5) I will not keep things to myself, but rather seek opportunities to share what I have learned with others

3) Absolute boundaries are those boundaries that under no circumstances will you ever cross. These must be realistic AND you must hold them in reverence. Typically, everyone should have at least three such absolute boundaries. List three that you will use to help manage your life.
1) I will not do anything that I would feel uncomfortable sharing with my significant other or my parents.
2) I will not allow myself to mentally follow along with an urge and play tricks on myself - I will always slow down and think about the consequences of my actions and the values I would be eroding
3) I will not give up

PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:12 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 38: Developing Healthy Boundaries

1. Review the boundaries created to protect the values listed in the previous lesson.
2. Consider at least two situations where this value may be threatened. Are the existing boundaries enough to protect against this threat?
- Looking at my absolute boundaries created in the last thread, and thinking about protecting my values of being honest, and caring about others, caring about my significant other, my parents, I would look at the situation of wanting to act out - to look at porn and masturbate. The values there are clear, and if I follow them, they are enough to keep me from acting out, but it is difficult to stick with them when my mind is clouded and the urge is strong and I don't put in enough mental effort to talk myself down from the urge. The other problem is when I am feeling lazy, and I know there are things I can do to strengthen my values - clean my house, exercise, read something meaningful, learn something, call my parents, talk to friends, but instead I just feel "bored" and not wanting to do anything with delayed gratification, I just want to relax and surf the web and waste time, and that gradually leads to eroding my values - if I feel ok wasting time like this, what's wrong wasting time in another way (looking at porn)? Why don't I just do that? And my mind can just rationalize, and push on me and drive me to want to act out. So, at that point, bringing up these values seems a little week, to get myself to that point where I am almost at the edge, and then to look at these values, feels like maybe it is too late, I've already crossed some boundaries by that point. Reviewing my boundaries under - passionate about learning and teaching - I think there is something there that can help - the boundary of not letting laziness, fear, and boredom keep me from putting in effort to learn everyday. I think perhaps I need to expand that however

- Another situation where I feel my values (self worth, understanding myself, leading a meaningful life) may be threatened is the negative cycle of having crossed a boundary, or done something in general where I am disappointed in myself - either in acting out, in wasting time, in not doing well at work, or not acting lovingly towards my significant other, and then feeling self pitty or stress or depressed about how I'm doing - and giving myself a feeling that I'm always failing, and always doing things wrong, always falling back to my old habits. How can I be encouraging to myself and be more gentle with myself, and allow myself room and time to grow, realistically, without it being an invitation to act out and be lazy? I feel like perhaps my existing boundaries are not allowing for that at the moment.

3. If not, evolve your boundaries so that they are capable of allowing you to manage those situations.
Considering the first situation above, existing boundaries that apply:
- I will not do anything that I would feel uncomfortable sharing with my significant other or my parents
- I will not allow myself to mentally follow along with an urge and play tricks on myself - I will always slow down and think about the consequences of my actions and the values I would be eroding
- I will not allow myself to give in to the feeling of boredom
- I will not let the wants of my physical body determine my mood
- I will not let laziness, fear, boredom or other emotions keep me from putting in an effort to learn every day.

And What I would like to add:
- I will keep inapproriate sexual thoughts out of my mind - when I see there is something coming into my mind that will end up somewhere inappropriate, I will flush it out of my mind right away, and not allow it to linger and turn into something
- When encountering an urge, I will actively work to do something meaningful to put my mind off of the urge and build on my values rather than just using willpower to try and fight it as it gets stronger and stronger.

Considering the second situation, values that apply:
- Not allow myself to be complacent on my journey of life
- I will be grateful for this life and my experiences

And what I would like to add:
- Be understanding compassionate with myself, I will not try to do everything, but I will gently push myself a little more. I can always ask, is this the best way to spend my time?
- When I feel that I am in a dangerous space in terms of how I'm spending my time, I will spend the next 25 minutes on something that strengthens my values (give myself a small goal to push me in the right direction)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:13 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Lesson 39: Healthy Sexual Boundaries

1) Take Inventory of your current sexual values - Brainstorm a list of all sexually-related values that you currently hold. What are your sexual beliefs
Not a complete list, because I still need to spend some more time on it, and also because I'm not comfortable sharing everything:
- I think women are attracted to how I look
- I enjoy masturbating
- I enjoy looking at pornography
- I want to stop but deep down I really don't want to stop (is this true?)
- I think masturbation is bad
- I think masturbation is good
- I think it would never be ok to go to a strip club
- I think it is never ok to watch people have sex
- I enjoy watching people have sex on the internet
- I think infidelity is terrible
- I love looking at porn
- I hate looking at porn
- Why would anyone want to do such a destructive behavior?
- I believe sex is a beautiful union of a man and a woman, but I feel that I have rarely if ever accomplished this
- I believe sex is wrong outside of marriage
- I always try to think does this woman think I am attractive
- I am always thinking is this woman attractive
- When I see a couple together - I wonder - is she too attractive for him, is he too attractive for her, why are they together?
- In sex, I need to try and satisfy my partner
- I feel like I can't talk to anyone (including my partner) about my sexual problems
- I feel like I can solve this on my "own" and I want to solve this on my "own"
- I feel that what pornography does to society and women and men and relationships is terrible, but when I look at porn I distance myself from this feeling and ignore it

2) Define an Ideal Ending - Create an ideal set of 3-5 sexual values that you will strive to achieve in recovery. General, realistic, and healthy.
- I will only engage in sexual activity with my partner (wife)
- I will never purposely look at pornography and / or masturbate
- I will not objectify others - whether in real life or on the computer
- I will not think about what it would be like to have a relationship with another person who is not my partner.

3) Define a Beginning - take the list of values from step 1 / remove each value that is unrelated to or contrasting to the goal / remaining values are a starting point
- I think masturbation is bad
- I think it would never be ok to go to a strip club
- I think it is never ok to watch people have sex
- I think infidelity is terrible
- I hate looking at porn
- Why would anyone want to do such a destructive behavior?
- I believe sex is a beautiful union of a man and a woman, but I feel that I have rarely if ever accomplished this
- Sex is wrong outside of marriage

4) Define your existing vulnerabilities - What are the most likely obstacles that I will encounter on the journey to step 2?
- I will have a strong desire to look at pornography and masturbate
- I will encounter attractive people and judge them and want to look at them
- I will encounter people that I don't think are attractive, and will judge them and look at them
- A thought or something on the internet will trigger a sexy thought in mind which will lead me to want to look at porn
- I will think it's no big deal just one more time, I really want this
- I will feel lazy and just say: why bother, I just want to relax

5) Ask for feedback - take the list of healthy sexual values and ask for feedback from someone that you trust
6) Select an Initial Value for Development - Select a value from the list in step 3 to actively develop
- I hate looking at porn

7) Define the boundaries that will protect the selected value
- I will not look at porn
- If I look at porn, I will tell my partner about it
- If surfing the web, I will watch my mind and recognize if I am trying to get stimulated by images I am seeing from a regular website, and stop myself once I recognize it
- I will be aware of my thoughts and see when I am heading off track and trying to convince myself that it is okay to do it again

The remaining below are in progress:

8) Observe Others - take note of sexual values you see in others and then filter those values in your current foundation. Tools are books, observation, and asking questions - especially looking at people you admire and whose values you admire

9) Look for opportunities to Apply your values - being willing to consciously seek out opportunities to apply your current sexual values. Ex - relive past situations, role-playing potential situations you may someday face - or most effective - evaluating situations in real time - this allows receiving immediate emotional satisfaction, and can learn from the consequences of making decisions based on your developing value system.

10) Evaluate the Consequences - learn from consequences of decisions you make

11) Continue to ask for feedback - receive feedback from others to ensure that you are not redeveloping unhealthy sexual values

12) Redefine Values / Boundaries - make adjustments to your existing values and boundaries based on feedback from others and self learning

13) Update your list of vulnerabilities - make regular checks of what obstacles you expect to encounter

14) Return to step 7 - must put in a conscious, sustained effort to redevelop my values

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:38 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
I've been out of posting for a while - I had some slips/relapse, and then another discovery by my girlfriend + stress to work harder. There I started on the lessons again from the beginning, reviewing my values, and moving forward to start my proactive action plan up again. Then another slip/relapse and then a coming clean with my girlfriend and now continuing with my lessons up again, this time feeling a little different, with a more positive less fear based outlook. I had been doing the lessons without posting and finally decided, that I wanted to start posting again, and figured lesson 15 is a good place to start - since the exercise is:

Take a moment to review what you have learned so far - what is an example of something you have actively ingrained into your everyday life?
One thing that I have started to ingrain and started to appreciate and reflect on is that I need to find tangible joy and comfort from living with my values for it to be meaningful and something capable of driving me and propelling me forward. I have to really connect to a value and relate to how it is bringing tangible joy. Initially, I find that I need to manually make this connection for myself by reflecting on it and thinking about it, but afterwards it becomes more and more natural. For example, dishwashing is not an activity I have really enjoyed in the past, but a task or chore that I feel like I must do to keep some level of cleanliness in my house. What is able to change my mind about it is connecting with the feeling that I get in my future self when I come into the kitchen in the morning and everything is clean. I connect with the feeling of knowing that I stayed disciplined and was able to have compassion for my future self (real self-care). When I can really connect to the values and the joy that the task brings for myself in the future - even though it may not be immediate - I am actually able to change some of my bad habits and start new ones. And actually as I practice this more and more, the joy of doing it really is immediate - this connection really is immediate, and I can have a deep, maybe even one could call it spiritual joy, even though there is emotionally the feelings of boredom, tiredness, desire to do something more fun, the joy of connecting to this happiness and discipline is real. The feelings have to be real, and the connection has to be real. It cannot be lip service - I cannot fool myself! That has been the key for me to start to change my life.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:09 am 
Recovery Mentor

Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:39 am
Posts: 272
Hi Ziggy,

Welcome back after your months away.

I am glad that you decided to start posting again on RN.
For myself, I feel I am keeping myself accountable for everything, by posting regularly here.
It will be good to see you finish this time and remain true to your values, good luck :g:

“Change your thoughts, change your life.” ~Lao Tzu

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:35 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 80
Hi Theseus,

Thanks for the kind words and for checking in on me.
I do truly hope I can make it to the finish this time.

Lesson 16 Exercise:
Consider the positive role that addiction has played in your life. What purpose has it served?

Addiction has allowed me to postpone painful parts of my life and just keep moving without ever moving forward or having to get anywhere. With addiction, I can just put my life on autopilot and not worry too much about things. It has allowed me to sit back and relax and enjoy the ride; to avoid learning any sense of responsibility; to avoid ever really truly communicating with anyone. For all the things in my life that I have found difficult and scary, my addiction has given me a way to just stick my head in the sand and forget about them. It has been my constant companion, either through porn, video games, or mindless internet browsing. Whenever things get too tough to think about, I can just leave them for another day. And as the stress of not moving forward in my life increases, my addiction is there again through more creative new ways to act out, and new things to look at and provide me the emotional stimulation to keep pushing it aside.

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