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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:08 am 
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LESSON 1
A. Three keys to establishing a successful foundation for permanent change in early recovery are:
1) actively committing yourself to change

I feel like I have been going round in circles for so many years and it has to stop now. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to break this cycle and get my life back.
 
2) not allowing guilt/shame to sabotage your commitment to change
It is because I don’t want any more guilt/shame that I am doing this. Knowing I have light at the end of the tunnel means that I will go through all that is necessary to get there.
 
3) allowing yourself time to change.
Whilst I am keen for change to happen as soon as possible I realise that there is a process and it will take time. I will be patient and take the required time at each stage to digest what I am learning and to apply the learning into practice.
 
B. Beyond an active commitment to change, another important factor in determining your ultimate success is your motivation. Look deep inside and list ten to fifteen reasons why you seek to permanently change your life
1. I want to be honest with everyone and have nothing to hide
2. I want to start liking myself again
3. I want to be transparent with my wife about everything that I do
4. I want to feel like the chains that have been binding me for so long have been released
5. I want to look my son in the eye and feel confident that I will always be there for him
6. I want to feel like I am the person that others who don’t know my secrets believe me to be
7. I want to feel confident that I am able to enjoy everything I have worked so hard to build up over the years
8. I want my family to be proud of me and for me to know that their pride is well founded
9. I want to prove to myself that it is not inevitable that I will lose everything
10. I want my mind to be at peace and to be away from the exhaustion of holding and acting on the secrets
11. I want to have some certainty over having a bright and happy future ahead of me around my family.
  
C. To see your addiction within the scope of your life span
Looking at a photo of me when I was about 4 years old brings two immediate thoughts to mind.
Firstly, that there was a time where I was not plagued with all of these damaging thoughts, desires and secrets and my mind was free of that and happy and positive. My addiction is therefore something I have learned at some point and as a result I have the ability to unlearn it. This fact makes me feel more positive.
Secondly, I felt very emotional as I feel like I have let that young boy down by causing a part of his life to end up in such a bad place.
All of this has reinforced my determination to succeed with the programme.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:09 am 
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LESSON 2
My Vision

To wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and feel proud of the person that I am looking at.

To look my wife and son in the eye and know that they have every reason to be proud of me and to have me in their lives. That they are able to have first priority in my life, that they can trust me and know that I will always be there to support them.

To sit and have meals with my beautiful family in our beautiful home and take pleasure in knowing that I can now be confident that I will have that to enjoy for the rest of my life.

To have fun and enjoy each others' company by watching our son play football, by going on holiday together or simply chilling and having fun and doing every day things in our home.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:09 am 
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LESSON 3
Values List
To be faithful
To be trustworthy
To be reliable
To take pride in everything that I do
To prioritise the things that are most important to me
Take time to talk to my wife deepen the connection with her
Take time to talk to my son to better understand him
Making time to spend quality time with my family
To find and engage in healthy activities and pastimes that interest me
To read books again
To plan for the future positively
To take time to appreciate my wife
To tell my wife how good she looks
To give me wife a hug when she isn't expecting it just because it feels good
Bringing my sense of humour to others
To be honest
Physical healthy pleasure with my wife
To avoid conflict
To keep fit and healthy
To maintain ideal weight through healthy eating and regular exercise
To feel relaxed and have a clear conscience
To actually be the good person that others see me as

Dark Side Values
Selfish and put myself first
Worry about the consequences later
Everything could stop for my urges
Wasting large periods of this me pursuing thrills
Wasting more time wallowing in guilt and self pity
Despising myself and not being able to look family in the eye
Fearing that my world could fall apart at any minute
Waiting for the inevitable self destruction

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:10 am 
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LESSON 4
Prioritised Values List

To be faithful
To be trustworthy
To be honest
To be reliable
To actually be the good person that others see me as
To feel relaxed and have a clear conscience
To prioritise the things that are most important to me
Take time to talk to my wife deepen the connection with her
Take time to talk to my son to better understand him
Making time to spend quality time with my family
To take time to appreciate my wife
To find and engage in healthy activities and pastimes that interest me
To plan for the future positively
To tell my wife have good she looks
To give me wife a hug when she isn't expecting it just because it feels good
Physical healthy pleasure with my wife
To avoid conflict
To keep fit and healthy
To maintain ideal weight through healthy eating and regular exercise
To take pride in everything that I do
Bringing my sense of humour to others
To read books again

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:10 am 
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LESSON 5
Refined Values List

To be faithful
To be trustworthy
To be honest
To be reliable
To actually be the good person that others see me as
To feel relaxed and have a clear conscience
To prioritise the things that are most important to me
Take time to talk to my wife deepen the connection with her
Take time to talk to my son to better understand him
Making time to spend quality time with my family
To take time to appreciate my wife
To find and engage in healthy activities and pastimes that interest me
To plan for the future positively
Physical healthy pleasure with my wife
To avoid conflict
To keep fit and healthy
Bringing my sense of humour to others

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:11 am 
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LESSON 6
To avoid conflict
• Respect others may have a different view point to me
• Try to understand where they are coming from to have formed their opinion
• See if there is a compromise position where we can achieve win/win
• Be calm in my responses even if there is disagreement - remember that the argument is lost when the tempers are lost
• Choose my battles, if the concession is a small one then let it go
• See it as a positive challenge not to get uptight when I am not getting my own way

To find and engage in healthy activities and pastimes that interest me
• Identify pastimes or resume past hobbies that interest me
• Set aside periods of time (e.g. lunchtimes at work) where I can enjoy them and relax and switch off from work briefly
• Talk to my wife about having engaged in those activities so that I can share my experiences
• Recognise that I am engaging in activities that interest me but in a healthy way and that I can discuss openly with others

To keep fit and healthy
• Maintain the current exercise regime of taking spinning classes 3 times a week
• Use stairs rather than lift at work
• Maintain healthy diet
Keep treat foods for weekends

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:13 am 
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LESSON 7
To be faithful/trustworthy/honest/reliable
• Commit to the RN programme for the duration of its course
• Remain open minded and take on board the lessons which are provided
• Remind myself that my own efforts to beat this addiction have always failed so this tried and tested method is the only route to happiness for me
• Success in this programme and implementing the tools which I am yet to learn will help lead me to achieve my goals under this heading

To actually be the good person that others see me as
• Put myself in the shoes of my work colleagues and friends and picture how they view me as a decent person with strong values
• Picture how good that would feel to be living my life as they view me and be inspired by it to persevere with this programme
• Take time to absorb the lessons and go back to refresh my memory of each and how I responded to the exercises at each stage
[some of these values will need to be updated as my learning grows to better word them]

To feel relaxed and have a clear conscience
• Take time to think how good it feels to be approaching my biggest worry so positively
• Enjoy the peace of mind that I have through avoiding the pursuit of my former activities

To prioritise the things that are most important to me
• Understand that the most important things in my life all need to have some of my time allocated to it including:
○ My wife
○ My son
○ My wider family
○ Hobbies and pastimes
• I have a skill at being able to effectively prioritise my work so I can easily apply the same skill to prioritising my time to the other areas above too
• Make a conscious weekly review of whether I have allocated the correct amount of time to each category over the course of the last week

Take time to talk to my wife deepen the connection with her
• Make better use of the times that we already have set aside to talk (e.g. whilst dinner is cooking, after our son has gone to bed)
• Have any possible distractions turned off (e.g. phone, TV, crossword, etc)
• Actively listen to what she is saying and show understanding and interest by asking questions and passing comment on what she is saying
• Have topics of possible conversation ready to raise myself by thinking this through ahead of going home from work
• Make a note of what she and my son are due to be doing the following day from the kitchen calendar to help me proactively ask how those activities went rather than having her bring them up to remind me that is what they were doing

Take time to talk to my son to better understand him
• Make a point of sitting with him when he is watching TV to keep him company which he likes
• Listen to his accounts of computer games that he enjoys to learn a little about them
• Ask questions about his progress on the games rather than waiting for him to tell me first so as to show more interest
• Chat to him during his bath time rather than losing myself in thought elsewhere

Making time to spend quality time with my family
• Take more advantage of time together over weekends (e.g. breakfast, afternoons, etc)
• Encourage playing board games, etc after lunch on Sunday afternoons
• Ensure I am back home by 6pm weekday nights even when busy at work

To take time to appreciate my wife
• Now I am free of inappropriate distractions I can spend time looking at and appreciate what is right in front of me
• Tell her that she looks good when she does
• Notice when she is wearing something new and compliment her on it
• Thank her for looking after our home, preparing meals, etc

To plan for the future positively

• Look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead now that I have confidence that me and my family will form part of that future together
• Look ahead to holidays that can be arranged for the year ahead now that the "wait and see" approach is no longer necessary

Physical healthy pleasure with my wife
• Initiate without applying any undue pressure
• Start by encouraging more non-sexual contact (e.g. hugs, tactile, etc) to create an environment more conducive to leading to something more physical

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:14 am 
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LESSON 10

I. Consider those lies that are still being perpetuated in your life. Who you are deceiving. Why you are deceiving them. Consider the 'risks' of coming clean. No need to do anything about these thoughts...just have an awareness of them. 

II. If you are involved in a partnership, choose now whether or not you intend to continue deceiving them in certain areas. If the answer is yes, acknowledge that you are willing to jeopardize the future of that relationship by maintaining the deception; AND, admit to yourself that you are intentionally sabotaging your own healthy foundation by allowing such a huge crack to remain. 
I choose to avoid any future deception.

III. If you are involved in professional coaching (or outside counseling), choose now whether or not you intend to continue deceiving those whom you are working with. If the answer is yes, acknowledge that you are not fully commited to ending your addiction. Acknowledge that you are choosing to 'go through the motions', rather than actively pursue real change. 
N/A

IV. Make a list of all the places where you have items stashed for sexually compulsive behavior. List these items and their locations in your Recovery Thread
• Internet - porn website
• Internet - googling naked celebrities

V. Make a list of all the people that you use as compulsive sexual and/or romantic object. Post this in your thread.
• Lara: affair (in the past)
• Escorts (in the past)
• Lee-Ann: inappropriate emails and pictures (in the past)
• Former colleagues: one night stands (in the past)
• Celebrities: fantasy for masturbation
• Friends: fantasy for masturbation

VI. Make a list of all the places where you go to act out your sexually/romantically compulsive behavior. Post this list in your thread.
• Internet: googling naked celebrities
• Meeting friends: will use to fantasise about later when alone

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:16 am 
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LESSON 12

Identify those patterns that you currently recognize in yourself in relation to an unhealthy recovery. Post these observations into your Recovery Thread
I actually found this to be an interesting exercise. I looked at it firstly as identifying the patterns that I recognise from when I would have acted out before commencing this programme and then whether I honestly still recognise any of them at this stage of the programme now that I am 1 week in.

The patterns that I recognise from when I would act out previously
"Jumping from addiction to addiction"
I have felt for many years that I am drawn to addictions. I used to smoke and drink heavily and realised I did not use those substances like "normal" people. For me it was like a tap which was either on or off, you either did them to excess or not at all. I went through shame and guilt trips after heavy sessions on either and managed to stop both on my own by viewing them as things that I did not enjoy even when I was using them. I stopped smoking about 5 years ago and drinking about 1 year ago. I tried approaching sexual addiction using my tried and tested technique but it didn't work in the same way and realised I needed help with the approach. This is why the structure of this programme appeals to me so much.
Interestingly, when I have tried to completely abstain (e.g. masturbation) I have been able to do it where I have completely distracted myself by techniques such as gambling (but using small sums of money where it is the challenge of "bet small/win big" with a system that appealed to me rather than the gambling itself appealing to me). I became obsessed with finding a successful betting system though and now recognise that in a way I was replacing one addiction with another. In some ways I have probably become a bit obsessed with this programme but I am aware of that and am accepting of it as it will help carry my enthusiasm through for the initial weeks until I hopefully learn ways to avoid relapse which are healthier and more sustainable.

"They believe that they are suffering from a disease that is beyond their control, but not beyond all hope."
"They believe that they are defective in the sense that their emotions, urges, impulses, etc. are experienced with much more intensity than "normal people". And this puts them at a disadvantage for living a "normal life".
"They perceive "powerlessness" not as absolute powerlessness over their life, but a limited powerlessness over their urges."

I have grouped these together as they sort of say the same thing to me. I have felt for a long time that I am just different to "normal" people which has perhaps helped me justify to myself why I have acted out and gives me a reason to pin it on which I feel therefore isn't all my fault. I can certainly relate to the issue of feeling powerless over the urges - I can make myself promises over how I should act appropriately but when the urges kick in I seem to go into a different mode that chooses to ignore the sensible and rational thoughts and everything that I am risking in pursuit of my fix.

"Relapse triggers are feared, and so their lives continue to be altered as a result of addiction."
When opportunities have presented themselves or re-present themselves I can sense that the temptation is there and I will start to get anxious over whether I will have the ability to resist the urges.

"They tend to focus on controlling past behavior, rather than learning new behavior."
I recognise that any success I have had in the past of avoiding acting out is as a result of will power rather than it being as a result of an underlying sense of it being a new behaviour. I very much see that this is one of the root causes of my failure in the past to steer to a new path and stay on it. It is the vision of learning the new behaviour that appeals to me about this programme.

"They consistently measure the success of their recovery through abstinence, rather than emotional stability and personal satisfaction."
I would certainly have viewed the success of recovery in the past as being through abstinence as I felt that finding it through emotional stability and personal satisfaction would have been impossible as "that is only for normal people"!

"They continue to identify themselves with their addiction and cannot imagine a life without such an association."
The repeated failed attempts to abstain have made me feel helpless and depressed that I can not get out of this hole and therefore risk losing everything that I hold dear to me. It is like it was inevitable that it would all disappear and was a matter of "when" rather than "if2. Thankfully this programme has offered me renewed hope.


Summary of thoughts on the above since I have been on this programme.
I am only 1 week in so this is all still relatively new to me. My thoughts at this stage though are:
• For the first time in a long time I have the feeling I can abstain without having another addiction to replace it. If I am honest that is probably more willpower at this stage to consciously avoid triggers but I am looking forward to more sustainable guidance being offered on this front as the programme develops. I have felt good about myself over the last week and feel free from guilt and shame over that period and I don't remember the last time that I felt that way. I see this as encouragement for myself to proceed with the programme though.
• For the first time in a good many years I genuinely feel that this programme can give me the guidance to be free of this addiction and that I do have control over my own destiny and thinking - I was at the point of thinking that I could never say such a thing. A long way to go yet though!
• After only 1 week I can see that I am making a point of avoiding triggers which has slowly started me developing new habits. For example, I have just been in a business meeting with a beautiful young lady that I had not met before. I know that before last week I would have spent the meeting trying to flirt with her, picturing her naked and then built up a fantasy which I would later masturbate to. Instead I headed those triggers off as I could sense them entering my mind and had a good meeting, enjoyed her company and I left the meeting feeling some elation that I had left her with the impression that I was a nice and friendly person to do business with and not someone that was trying to get her into bed - this was one of the reasons I listed in Lesson 1 of why I wanted to change my life so I could feel like that. I feel emotional writing that as it sounds a bit mushy but I kind of feel proud of myself that I have already seen some return on the effort I have put into this so far. As I say, a long way to go yet but progress nevertheless.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:17 am 
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LESSON 13

Identify those patterns that you currently recognize in yourself in relation to a healthy recovery

My patterns revolve more around those in the Early Recovery stage as a result of only being on my 2nd week into the programme.

• I recognise doubts in my ability to change. I think that this comes from having had more years than I can remember being spent engaging in bad activities so it still feels difficult to believe that I can learn to think differently. I can see some early signs of the change though which is very encouraging.
• I have the temptation to "test the waters" to see how well I could resist situations but at this early stage it scares me that I might not be able to resist and would end up feeling awful afterwards. I know that I am avoiding triggers more by willpower than anything else at the moment although when I sense a trigger coming I have the words "CONTRARY TO MY VALUES" coming to the front of my mind while I try to engrain this new way of thinking.
• I sense a degree of powerlessness. Some of my urges revolved around controlling women and persuading them to do things that they did not voluntarily want to do. To have "control" replaced by "powerlessness" is a very uncomfortable feeling for me but I know that this is temporary.
I have been making a conscious effort over the last week to recognise that I can not do anything to change the awful things that I have done in the past however bad I feel about them. Rather than beating myself up about it I am having the mindset that what I do have control over is what happens from now and if I can effect change from this point onwards and lead a healthy life then that is my way of proving to myself that I will have done the right thing and will be able to feel proud of myself.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:18 am 
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LESSON 14

1. Did I encounter a conflict situation today?
a. If Yes did I manage the conflict well?
b. If I didn't how could I have handled it differently?
2. Did I read my book or do a crossword today?
3. Did I use the office stairs rather than the lift today?
4. Did I say or do anything today that I couldn’t have told my wife?
5. Have I consciously reminded myself of how well I am doing through this programme?
6. Did I hug my wife when I got home from work?
7. Did I talk to her without distractions of phone/TV?
8. Did I make a note of my wife/son activities for the day from Calendar last night and proactively ask them about it after work?
9. Did I engage in the conversation with my wife and demonstrate active listening?
10. Did I ask my son questions about his day/interests during his bath?
11. Did I pay my wife any compliments today?
12. Did I engage in any compulsive behaviour today?
a. If Yes what triggered it?
b. Did I break as soon as I became aware of the ritual?
13. How would I describe my overall emotional balance and stability at the moment?

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:20 am 
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LESSON 15

Perceiving Your Addiction
This lesson did not ask us to write down how we believe the compulsive behaviours were introduced into our lives but I think it would be helpful for me to write down some notes on this.
When I was 12 I had my first girlfriend who was 15 and was like a woman to me. However exciting it is was, looking back I was not emotionally ready for it at that time. I was able to ejaculate for the first time with her (although did not lose my virginity) and barely a day has passed since that time where I haven’t masturbated. I had discovered something very exciting in fantasy and I pursued it at every opportunity.
I didn’t have another girlfriend until I was 17 and had gone from having experienced sex too early to then feeling like I was being left behind by my age group. Around that time I developed panic attack’s through my first drinking experience that led to the mother of all hangovers which stopped me wanting to go to university or meet girls my age. The girl I was with wanted to save herself until she was married which was frustrating.
I then didn’t meet another girl until I was 22 (where I did lose my virginity) and ended up marrying her. Suddenly at work women were noticing me and I realised I could have almost anyone I wanted which led to many one night stands and affairs. All the way along masturbation and fantasy and control played themes.
Sexual acts particularly with people who were taken gave me such a rush and that excitement has been my fix ever since. I feel like I have been playing catch up and trying to prove something to myself because I lost my virginity later than most.


Of what you have learned so far, think of one example of how you have actively integrated that information into your day-to-day life
I think the biggest lesson that I have learned is that I do in fact have control over what I do and how I act. I have had my values at the forefront of my mind over the last 2 weeks and have started to feel good about myself which is an unusual feeling for me but welcomed.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:21 am 
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LESSON 16

Consider the POSITIVE role that addiction has played in your life. What purposes has it served (think short-term, not long)?

There are two main areas that I see the addiction satisfying. The first and main one for me is curing boredom. I can be at work and be content and then finish a particular job and then feel like I need to get a fix perhaps as some kind of reward for my effort in undertaking that task. The use of masturbation provides excitement so regularly that to be without it for any period of time (hours/days rather than days/weeks) makes me want it. Once I start to think about masturbating the buzz becomes all consuming and I sense that, once the process is started, it has to carry on to a finish. I will experience the guilt/shame afterwards (particularly at work where I have used pockets of time up doing online research in order to give me the mental stimuli to masturbate to) but it will give me my fix. Afterwards I will feel ready to go to my next working task.
I would say stress management will be another area as masturbation serves as a sense of distraction from the stressful situation as well as giving me my regular fix. Interestingly I haven't masturbated in two weeks since I started this programme and haven't felt the need to. It feels very strange and unfamiliar territory for me!

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:22 am 
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LESSON 17

[NOTE TO MODERATORS: I registered for this site nearly 2 weeks ago but have only just had my account activated. I have therefore posted all of my responses to the Lessons to date which I hope is OK]

Consider a particular compulsive ritual that you have engaged in and identify the elements of this ritual

I have used some of the recent and past activities listed earlier to consider this.

Affair
I pictured this former work colleague naked on a regular basis and imagined having sex with her (FANTASY)
I initiated innocent email exchanges with her which I turned into more probing ones which would have ended up very awkward in a work environment had those advances been rejected (DANGER)
There were one or two key emails where I asked her to meet me in London on an overnight trip and I got a real buzz waiting for her response to those (SUSPENSE)
At the end of the evening we went to her hotel and I saw her naked for the first time and touched her and had sex with her (SENSORY/ACCOMPLISHMENT/ORGASM)
When I saw her on other occasions my confidence grew and it turned her and me on for me to be dominating of her (POWER)
I ran through actual scenarios in my head when alone and masturbated (SENSORY/ORGASM/FANTASY)

Inappropriate emails and pictures
I pictured friends that were taken that I found attractive naked on a regular basis and imagined having sex with them (FANTASY)
I initiated innocent email exchanges with them which I turned into more probing ones which would have ended up very awkward had those advances been rejected as we would still see them in our friends circle (DANGER)
There were key emails that would tell me if they would play or not and waiting for their reply was very exciting (SUSPENSE)
When they agreed to play I could ask them anything I wanted and obtained the most personal information about them including their sexual preferences and details of their body (ACCOMPLISHMENT)
In due course they would be persuaded to send me naked photos of themselves so I would at least see what they actually looked like naked (POWER/SENSORY/ACCOMPLISHMENT)
I would use these pictures to masturbate to (FANTASY/SENSORY/ORGASM)

Internet - Celebrities
There are a lot of images on the internet where celebrities have had their phone accounts hacked which contained pictures of them naked which were not intended for public access. These pictures tend to be released in waves and they have a voyeuristic element to them.
Seeing celebrities naked when they did not want you to see those images would be very exciting to see and masturbate to. (SUSPENSE/SENSORY/FANTASY/ORGASM/ACCOMLISHMENT/POWER)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:57 am 
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LESSON 18

Inappropriate Emails

It takes time and patience to plan an approach to an unsuspecting victim that is known to me that is likely to succeed (TIME).
As part of the justification to myself that makes the acting out OK in my head I promise myself that I will only be asking certain personal questions and will not go too far.
Once the participation of the victim has been won the excitement is considerable and it becomes impossible not to get carried away. At times I have pushed too hard too quickly because I forget that I have run through the list of slowly escalating personal questions for days/weeks and they are still trying to get their head around the fact that they are chatting to me in this way and whether they can cope with doing something they are probably seeing as a breach of trust (say if they are in a relationship) (TIME/INTENSITY)
Regardless, I will quickly get to the point of asking the key personal questions that I originally wanted to get to (TIME) and then will feel that the goalposts have moved as I now want to know much more about them particularly as they would appear likely to answer just about anything I want to ask at that point (HABITUATION).
It then becomes not enough to just be asking questions (HABITUATION) and I will want to take it to the next level by asking them to take naked photos of themselves and send them to me (INTENSITY).
At each stage I sense that I need more to get the arousal and the feeling of power becomes consuming (INTENSITY).

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