Recovery Nation

Arete Recovery Thread
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Author:  Arete [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 18:

Here are the elements that I can identify with lesson 18.

Situation one:

Jerries compulsive rituals contain elements of sensory stimulation, fantasy, danger, suspense, accomplishment, power, and orgasm. For sensory stimulation, he uses photos of himself, the image of the person that he chooses at his store, and touch stimulation while masturbating. For fantasy, he imagines different situations and reactions of the women that he thinks about. There are elements of danger in his rituals, as he could be discovered while in his store room or sitting outside her house. Suspense is also an element, as he waits several hours for an opportunity to finish his ritual. He likes to exercise power over the people he fantasises about, with the usage of the envelope with photos of himself. Finally, there is accomplishment in finishing his ritual and orgasm at the end of the ritual.

Situation two:

With stephanie, there were elements of sensory stimulation, power, accomplishment, past events having an imact on what she experienced, some fantasy, and orgasm. For sensory stimulation, there was the physical stimulation from the animals and her own touch. For power, she is manipulating her animals into sexual situations. For past events that colour her experiences, there was the impact of the rape she experienced. Some fantasy was involved, with her treating her animals as if they were human beings with emotional responses. And finally, accomplishment and orgasm, when she reached a climax and her animals climaxed as well. As for filters, there was habituation with the usage of milk with her cat. At first the three drops, then a milk drip. There was time, as the longer the masturbation session lasted the more satisefaction she would get. Finally, there was intensity involved in her rituals. She became skilled at achieving what she desired, learning how to best create the situations she wanted.

So, I found these examples at once illuminating and also challenging. Like the workshop says, they are intended to be extreme so as to enable us to feel more comfortable with exploring our own rituals - to take the mystery out of them. Well, if I were to use the same tools to look at my own rituals with pornography, I can certainly see the elements involved. I explained my rituals in my last post. So, I'll just apply what I have learned. In my rituals, I can identify sensory stimulation, suspense, accomplishment, poly-addictions, and orgasm. So, with sensory stimulation, it is mostly touch, visual stimulation and sound. I use touch during my rituals for masturbation, while looking at photos and videos with sound. Suspense is involved, as I begin my rituals while looking for photos that are less pornographic and then moving onto more pornographic photos and videos. Poly-addictions are an element in my ritual, as I use alcohol during my rituals. Accomplishment comes because during my usage of pornography, I am looking for a photo or a video which is "perfect", which is to say, a picture or video that I find the most arousing. When I think I have found it, I end my ritual with orgasm. I can use the filters to have a look at these elements. With regards to intensity, I think over time I have become more skilled at suspense, spending a longer time looking at less pornographic photos before I move onto pornographic websites. The same goes for touch, as I learn how my body responds to it. Intensity is also a factor as I skip through a pornographic clip to the "good bits", which is the scenes with sex - skipping the introductory bits. This is incredible to think about, as these clips are only 5 minutes! But there we go. Time is a factor, when I have learned my thresholds and trying to get as close to them as possible without going over. And finally, habituation is there. I have to spend longer and longer online to achieve the same level of stimulation.

Like the last lesson, lesson 17, I found this exercise at once extremely helpful but also extremely difficult! It is not easy to look at oneself so honestly and then to take apart a ritual which I feel so terrible about. But I think I know what the lessons are trying to do. If we learn to step back and name what it is that we are doing, then the rituals themselves become less terrifying. To a certain extent, they become less mysterious. I am in the process of learning that what I am doing has a reason behind it. I am using these rituals specifically to alter my emotions, because I need to escape the emotions of my life. What I find so interesting is that I don't seem to be using these rituals blindly, going wherever the ritual takes me. But I am using the ritual for my own purposes. I am using the ritual, and the ritual is not using me. Of course, we could have a great philosophical discussion about whether I am addicted to the end result, and so I am bound in some way to follow my rituals. But even if that is the case, I seem to be making choices that are intelligently targeting the end result. Can I seriously claim to have no control over my rituals when I seem to be honing my rituals to suit me? At what point in my ritual do I lose control? Really challenging questions for me!

Author:  learningtorun [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Hi Arete,

Like the last lesson, lesson 17, I found this exercise at once extremely helpful but also extremely difficult! It is not easy to look at oneself so honestly and then to take apart a ritual which I feel so terrible about. But I think I know what the lessons are trying to do. If we learn to step back and name what it is that we are doing, then the rituals themselves become less terrifying. To a certain extent, they become less mysterious.

I can assure you that you are not alone in fearing recording in your post what your rituals are in detail. The act of publicising them here achieves several things:

1. You overtly recognise what your routine is
2. Once it is "out there" then the fear of being open and honest will quickly disappear, you are not being judged by anyone here and I can very much relate to a number of the things that you have stated. To the contrary, I think that the openness and honesty will help you as you continue to do this, I know that I felt some relief in openly admitting to myself what I was doing as until then it felt like I was carrying around some dark secret that everyone would hate me for if I said it.
3. You have your anonymity to encourage you to be open
4. By providing the details of what you do means that it is easier for coaches and mentors to provide comment and guide you in the right direction

Lesson 18 talks a lot about habituation and you will see from what you have written about how your routine has changed over time as what used to do it for you now needs more and more to achieve the same result.

Of course, we could have a great philosophical discussion about whether I am addicted to the end result, and so I am bound in some way to follow my rituals. But even if that is the case, I seem to be making choices that are intelligently targeting the end result. Can I seriously claim to have no control over my rituals when I seem to be honing my rituals to suit me? At what point in my ritual do I lose control? Really challenging questions for me!

Over the coming lessons you will be taken through this very thing for you to see that you do in fact have control over your decisions. Well done for reaching where you left off previously, if you are engaged with the workshop at this stage now then you should find the next several lessons of particular interest.

Good luck and I look forward to monitoring your progress.

Author:  Arete [ Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Hi L2R,

Thanks for your feedback! This naming of rituals and being open and honest about what I do is helping. I suppose true growth isn't easy. But I know that what we are doing is to construct a foundation on which we can build other ways of living. Important work!

I found lesson 19 very interesting. Basically what it describes is a utilitarian way of making decisions. As the lesson says, we can have a big debate about whether this way of making decisions is the way that the world does / should operate. But I suppose what I really got out of the lesson is that I realise how utilitarian I actually am in making my decisions. I get bored easily and I constantly want to alieviate my bordom. It is really bad with a smart phone also. If my mind is not stimulated, I reach for my phone. If I am bored with a piece of work that I am doing, I click on a news site, or three news sites! I want that fix quickly. Regardless of how I feel about utilitarianism as a philosophy of thought, I have discovered that I am quite utilitarian in the way that I live. Not easy to think about!

Which leads me onto lesson 20. How did I get here? What has been my history with pornography and how has it developed?

I was introduced to pornography in the early part of high school. Back then, the only access was in magazines like playboy and penthouse. Wow, to think that those days existed! I remember getting porn mags from friends and keeping them for when I needed them. I didn't use them often. Once every couple of months. Then the internet age started. I remember the exact day that I saw a pornographic clip on a friends computer. I was fascinated. It was a mysterious new world of sex. I saw it and it made an impact on me. But I never had a personal computer in high school. Only a family computer with a very slow internet connection. So, internet porn never made a big breakthrough in my life. I remember watching one porn clip on my family computer, my first video clip. It was intoxicating. But this experience came with tons of guilt and I was terrified about being found out by my parents. So, it never became a habit. Once every couple of months, I had access. But that was it.

Then came university and access to a faster internet connection. I had a personal computer by then, but internet porn was not an ingrained habit. Not yet. My internet connection was not unlimited and it was expensive to watch endless videos. So, no regular habit of porn. Only once every 6 months did I venture into that dark internet world. I could keep myself to once every 6 months, easily! Wow, those days seem so far away now.

Then came internet access over cell phones. Again, internet access was limited in the beginning. But as cell phones got better and better and their internet got faster, I remember starting to get sucked into that porn world. With this much access, I found it more difficult to keep offline with porn. Again, it was only once every 6 months, but perhaps it was getting more regular. And certainly my rituals only lasted about 2 hours max. It was too expensve otherwise. And certainly not mostly videos. Pics mostly, but videos were still the most exciting.

I suppose tumblr made a big impact on my porn watching. Vast collections of pornography just waiting for me. This made access to pornography even more easy. It also increased my saturation limit. I was becoming habituated to more and more amounts of pornography. And videos were becoming my porn of choice. The mixture of sound and image is really intoxicating.

Then came a period of my life in which I was able to give up porn, for about two years. To think about it, it was incredible. I gave up my personal computer and used a computer that I had access to with others. It was a great sacrifice for myself and I suspect I could not do this again. I need my own computer! But I was clean for two years. I suppose this proves that I can live porn free if I need to.

But then I bought my first laptop (of couse, for work reasons!) I got back into my habits again, spending longer sessions online than before. I started to struggle to keep offline. I was introduced to K9, the internet filter. I had friends that held my pass code and my settings on my pc were extremely strict! And yet, these filters are not fool proof. There are ways around them. It became like a game to me, to try to see how I could get around the settings of these filters. I think this provided the basis for my ritual of starting with pics that are not pornography but are close enough to be interesting.

When work started to get more stressful, my ritual developed quickly. It developed along with high speed internet. When high speed internet and unlimited internet came, porn just took over my life. Once a week I would have a binge session. I had not started using alcohol yet, but habituation started to set in. I needed longer and longer hours online. And it took me longer to find what I thought was exciting. I eventually went to a therapist for what I was doing. And it certainly helped. The therapist was a positive psychologist who tried to help me build up my strengths in my life. He also focussed on neuro-plasticity (the fact that the brain can be re-wired) and tried to help me to try to build up healthy habits. But I could never break the month cycle. 40 days is still my limit. I never once, in the two years I worked with this guy, broke my limit.

Just looking at the real substance of this lesson and looking at how my habit has developed, when did my pornography habit become a way to manage my emotions? I suppose it really started to become a thing when I started working and my life started to be more stressful. This is when high speed internet came too. And if I look at the moments when I was my most vulnerable, I suppose I was experiencing loneliness. I know that there is a connection between loneliness, stress and my habits. But if I am also honest with myself, I have led quite a high-paced life-style. I enjoyed my studies, I enjoyed achieving things at work. And pornography has become a way to prolong my high that I am used to. I have less and less space in my life to slow down. And when I do slow down, I do not know what to do to relax. I suppose pornography is the consequence of living a life dedicated to immediate gratification.

Looking to the future, this next year is extremely stressful for me. Lots of expectations on me and the need to achieve is incredible. The next major deadline for me is in February. And then I have some major stuff coming up for the first 6 months of next year. I could really use this time coming up to Christmas to reinforce any major changes that I am making to my life. I could plan for February and for next year. Looking back at my history, it has been almost decades that I have been using porn to manage my life. I feel that I have reached a point when it is no longer the fun thing that I did as a teenager. It is ruining my life and I really want to make the changes that need to be made in my life to get better.

I am not sure whether I did this lesson well enough or explored well enough the role that porn has played in my management of my emotions. But it is really frightening to see how easily it has slipped into my life and how seamlessly it has become a part of the rituals of my life.

Author:  Arete [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 21:

So, goals that I had and failed? For me, when I first got to university, I chose a major that I thought would be good to have but which I found completely boring. Of course, my family wanted me to take this major because it was more profitable. But I hated it. And I failed this major every year until I said to my family: guys, this is not working! I failed because I just was not interested in it. It was a good thing to do and a worthy subject to have. But just not my thing. I suppose this brings me back to the values that I have chosen to deepen in this workshop. If they are not my thing, but I think that they are great for another reason, I know I am going to fail. If I want to give up pornography because I think that others would disrespect me, or that there will be negative consequences in my life, but secretly I just love it and don't see a real reason why I need to give this up, I know that I will fail. This workshop seems to want to keep bringing me back to this question. Why am I here? What exactly am I looking for and how much do I actually want it? Not bad questions at all!

Goals that I had and I succeeded. I wanted to get into a provincial swim team in high school. Why did I have this desire? Sure, I enjoyed swimming. But the real reasons were much deeper for me. I got into competitive swimming because I was not very popular at school and I wanted to show people what I could do. I suppose I initially was motivated by anger, which can be quite a good motivator. But once I found out that I was good at it, it became a way of life for me. I enjoyed the exercise and the thrill of winning. Before the hours of traning started, I was not a very good swimmer. But once I started and I kept getting better and better, I really got into it. I suppose, putting these things into practise with this workshop, even if the things that I do or the programme that I construct for myself is odd at first, after changing my life and putting into practice the things that really motivate me and the things that I enjoy, I suspect my life will change. But it is that initial push that is perhaps the most difficult. If I manage to identify values that really excite me and which I am passionate about and try to deepen them in my life, I suspect that permanent change is possible. If I learn how to manage my emotions well enough that the quality of my life dramatically improves, I suspect that I will never look back to pornography as a way to deal with life. At least, I hope so!

Recovery Goal? Ok, I am not sure if I understood this one. But if recovery in terms of this workshop is living a better and more fulfilling (values based) life, and if one of my core values is creativity and expressing my passion, then I think one recovery goal could have something to do with my hobby. I enjoy calligraphy. So, one goal could be that by December 31 this year, I will have mastered at least one font that I am working on. So, what does mastered mean? That I can write the font without reference to a book. In order to achieve this, I need to practise every week, perhaps at least once a week. I need to practise writing without looking at reference material. And I need to make a space, no matter how small, to be creative. That means, giving myself time to play around with letters. I think that is a specific goal, it is measurable, it is positive and it is consistent with my values.

Author:  anon523 [ Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

It's clear you see the parallels between missing and achieving goals in relation to your journey to health.
You said:
once I found out that I was good at it, it became a way of life for me

So, what does mastered mean? That I can write the font without reference to a book. In order to achieve this, I need to practise every week, perhaps at least once a week. I need to practise writing without looking at reference material. And I need to make a space, no matter how small, to be creative. That means, giving myself time to play around with letters

So in your own words, mastering your life management skills and leaving your addiction behind will require practicing every week, making space (no matter how small) to succeed, and giving yourself time.
To me, this is identical to Lesson 1's exercise regarding the three keys to a successful foundation for change: Commitment to change (practice), Not allowing guilt to sabotage (making space), and giving yourself time.
It sounds like you're discovering that you're good at it and I can see it's becoming a way of life for you.

Go, Arete, go.

Be well,


Author:  Arete [ Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Hi Anon523,

Thank you so much for your message this week! It really boosted me up for the week and gave me some extra resources. I think the practice element to Recovery Nation is something that I can really work with and the last exercise helped a lot to make me realise that. Building lives based on values is something that I can work on and practice. Really important! And it involves a process that builds up slowly. A committment to a process is a great way to think about this workshop.

I got a lot out of exercise 22. Even though it was a bit complicated, what I took from it was a deepening of my understanding of how compulsive rituals fit together, like baking cookies. It really made me think about what I am doing and how what I am doing contributes to a particular outcome. It just made me more aware of my rituals. Which I suppose is the point. It also made me aware that every ritual is different, that it leads to varying intensities. And of course when intensities change and habituation sets in, I need to alter the ritual to get the same kick out of it that I got before.

Anyway, I had a look at my masturbation routine. I identified four elements to this: orgasm, physical stimulation, fantasy and suspense.
Perhaps the only new element here is suspense. I can explain this by the fact that I try and avoid the ritual for as long as I can, which perhaps increases its intensity.

So, like the example that the workshop gives, I saw orgasm and physical stimulation to be primary elements in my ritual, so I gave each of them a 3. Fantasy I saw as directly dependant on the ritual, so I gave it a 2 and suspense adds to the ritual so I gave it a 1. The filters were a bit more difficult to work with. All the elements got a 1 for habituation. Nothing is new these days with my ritual. With regards intensity, orgasm gets a 10, fantasy gets a 4 as well as suspense. Physical stimulation got a 1. With regards time, like the example, physical stimulation got an 8, orgasm got a low 2, both suspense and fantasy got also a low 3 and 5. Calculating this all together, my ritual comes to 23,75 in terms of an overall stimulation rating.

I recognise that this exercise can seem a little calculated and arbitrary. But as I said, the exercise got me to think about how my rituals are fitting together and how they contribute to what I am getting from my rituals. Also, it enables me to track my ritual over time. This was a bit insight for me. That my ritual can change over time and evolve. It is not set. Which means that even if I consider myself addicted, it is not to the ritual that I am addicted. Since the ritual always changes. I am addicted to what the ritual is giving me. And emotional changes are what it is giving me. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Author:  Arete [ Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 23:

I think I gave some indications in my last post about how I thought that the analysis could help me in recovery or what I thought the point of the lesson was. But maybe I can elaborate a bit.

I think in my head I have been treating my porn habit as one big, unstoppable thing. But I think that breaking the ritual down into its component bits helps a lot in self-understanding. I suppose from this perspective, the cookie example that is often used in the workshop is quite good. Each individual ingredient has a stand alone value. Chocolate chips can be eaten alone, or added to the recipe to make something else. Flour and sugar also can have their own stand alone values as food, but are really good ingredients when added together to make a dessert. This analogy actually makes sense with porn. Searching for pics that are arousing but not pornography can be a habit in itself, but when mixed into my own ritual, it provides a perfect starting point that I have used to move onto pornography. If I were to search for these types of pics now, I know what I am doing. I am starting down a road and I know where it leads. And I also know that these types of pics have an impact on me. Not an impact as profound as naked pics, but still, an impact. They can change my emotions. If I can measure this impact, even though this measurment might not be so to speak scientifically accurate, this gives me an understanding. If I search for these pics, they will change my emotions in a measurable way. And at the end of my search, I will be in a different emotional space, making it harder for me to take a decision to stop. Similarly, if I were to fantasise about sex, this also will have an impact. It might not be pornography, but it does have an impact that can be measured. If I start fantasising about sex, this could change my emotions, and perhaps lead me to start searching for pics that are not pornography but are arousing. Nowdays, when I start thinking about sex I start wondering whether I am stressed and how I am using my thoughts. What am I trying to escape from? If I am stressed, what am I going to do about it? Will I start to engage in rituals or will I think about my values? So, from this perspective, measuring behaviour allows me to both separate rituals into component bits and to see how they are adding to my emotional change.

Also, rituals are not stagnant. With the filter system in the measurement, I can see how rituals may change due to habituation. So, I used to think that, since I don't get turned on by pics that used to be arousing, I have defeated my habit. Yes! But, actually, no. This may be the case. Or it may be that I have become bored with this component of the ritual and that my need to change my emotions still exists. I will just find something else to replace it with. Each day is different. My body changes each day and my emotional make up changes each day. How I am going to react one day may not be the way I will react on another day. I suppose this is the chopping, changing dynamic of life. Measuring rituals and components to rituals allows me to track these changes. If I start using another ritual or component, I can start to analyse how this is changing my emotions and to see what I am doing, even though the behaviour might be new. This is quite a powerful tool. Of course, I get that the purpose of the measurement is not to be accurate numerically, but to note intensities and changes. And these are subjective elements anyway.

Author:  learningtorun [ Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Hi Arete,

To add to the encouragement that Anon has given you, I would say that your last couple of posts have shown that you have got exactly the learning points that you needed to gain out of those lessons. This awareness should give you a turning point now as you progress through the lessons from here as you become increasingly aware that addiction isn't something you are born with and more importantly is not some unstoppable force. You have the power to change it, the choice is yours. I hope that others are reading your thread and can derive similar value from your learning points.

Well done and keep it going.

Author:  Arete [ Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Hi L2R,

Thanks for your post! I really appreciate you reading my journey. I think for me, a couple of things are starting to make a lot of sense. Especially this tendency of mine to think of my porn habit as one big THING that I can't stop. But if you break it down into bits, it becomes a little more easier to understand. I had a success this week when I caught myself surfing for arousing pics that were not pornography and I was immediately aware that I was trying to change my emotions and I naturally wondered what specifically the impact was of the particular activity that I was doing on my emotional state. So, the lessons are having an impact on me.

Lesson 24 I found a bit complicated but I got a a lot out of it. First of all, elements of my own Compulsion Wheel. Ultimately I could identify 6 or 7 elements that seem to be involved in my wheel. They are orgasm, sensory, fantasy, suspense, accomplishment, poly-addictions. I wanted to add length of time from last acting out and stress as elements, but I can't control these or manipulate them to increase my stimulation, so I just left them out.

I chose masturbation and pornography as my two rituals to identify elements.

Thinking about my last acting out session and identifying the elements:

1. I had an emotional and work intensive week
2. I went out with friends for some beers (2.5)
3. I went online when I came home to relax on You Tube.
4. I saw a clip on you tube I thought was arousing (7.5)
5. I experienced a desire to physicially arouse myself. (5)
6. Began to search for arousing photos on google images. Found them. (6)
7. Thought about masturbating. (3.6)
8. Turned off my pc and thought about what I needed.
9. Lay in bed and fantasised about images I had previously seen on the web. (5.6)
10. Stimulated myself to increase arousal. (9.5)
11. Began masturbating. (7.5)
12. Stopped a few times before climax to increase intensity. (2.6)
13. Orgasm. (6.5)

Thinking about my last acting out session with pornography and identifying elements.

1. Had emotional stress and work stress.
2. Went out drinking with friends. (3.1)
3. Came back home and went onto you tube.
4. Searched for arousing pics but not pornography. (7.3)
5. Trying to see if I could find a naked picture using google image 'related photo' section. (2.8)
6. Found naked pic. (5.3)
7. Start to arouse myself physically. (7)
8. Go onto tumblr to find naked pics amongst ordinary pics. (5.5)
9. Find naked pics. (4.3)
10. Start to masturbate. (9.5)
11. Stop many times before orgasm to increase intensity. (2.6)
12. Find naked pics. Go onto porn sites. (6)
13. Start to watch videos and search for perfect clip. (1.6)
14. Find perfect clip. (4.8)
15. Orgasm. (6.3)

So, I included numbers based on the stimulation that I got from each element. What I find interesting is that my rituals have some common elements. It involves you tube as a starting place. It also involves alcohol. Also, searching for arousing pics that are not pornography seems to give me quite a lot of stimulation. It was just interesting to note how much some of the elements seem to add to my overall stimulation and sometimes these elements are quite surprising.

Author:  Arete [ Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 25:

Thinking about lesson 24 and how important my usage of you tube seems to be in my masturbation and porn habits, I thought about looking at my usage of you tube as a compulsive ritual for this lesson.

1. Starting point. I think a possible trigger or starting point is when I have either had a rough day or I have been on the computer for a long while and need a break. This makes me vulnerable. So, then the thought hits me to go onto you tube.
2. I look for my favourite you tube channels. Watch all of the latest vids from them.
3. Look at the time to see if I can watch other vids.
4. See that I have time.
5. You tube usually shows me stuff that I traditionally like. I click on something that appeals to me.
6. Feel stimulated, especially if the clip has been funny. Helps me to relax.
7. Look at the time again to see whether I can afford to watch more.
8. See that I have more time.
9. Actively search for old movie clips or clips that I have liked in the past, to continue my good feeling.
10. Find them. Click and continue watching.
11. Realise that I am getting close to the end of a time period.
12. Try to look for a clip that will take me right up to the end of the time period.
13. Find one. Click on it for one last view.
14. Enjoy the clip and realise that my time is up. Pack up my pc and go to my next thing I have to do. Or stay on my pc and finish working.

So, just trying to analyse the starting point, the point of no return and the end point. Starting point is when I am stressed and I have a desire to do onto you tube. This thought is something ilke: I have been working hard. I deserve a break from working hard. I need to relax. You tube will help me. The point of no return? It is either step 2 or 3 above. When I look at the time to see whether I can watch more you tube vids, I am not sure how much ability I have to stop my ritual. I suspect it is really step 2. When I start watching my favourite you tube channels. And the end is when the time is up and I have to stop. This depends on what I have next to do. If it is a pressing thing to do, this time is set and is certain. It determines when I stop.

Just a thought on this compulsive ritual with you tube. It is fascinating to think that you tube may actually be capatilising on compulsive rituals to keep people interested and using you tube. This is a subtle, or not so subtle, form of manipulation. I wonder if companies like you tube are consciously using the power of ritual to get people hooked?

Author:  Arete [ Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 26:

Ok, so I am mapping out a previous pornography ritual that I had, trying to be as indepth with emotions as I can.

1. Sitting in my room feeling stressed after having to do a lot during the day and feeling bored. I want a little stimulation (to relax?) before going to bed.
2. I watch my favourite you tube channels.
3. I had watched couples making out previously on some you tube clips. You tube shows me similar clips now. The thought of clicking on them excites me.
4. I continue surfing other clips, but I am struggling inside. I know I shouldn't watch these clips, even though they are 'safe' and not technically pornography. The thought hits me that I deserve to relax and have a little fun. I have been working hard.
5. I decide that one clip won't hurt. I click on it and I get the excitement I was looking for.
6. I am starting to use the adult section of you tube (yes, there is an adult section of you tube). It asks me to sign in. I don't want to sign in because that means moving closer to pornography.
7. I think of searching for 'safe images' on google. Arousing and not pornography. I still feel in control. I think of the consequences of looking at pornography. A part of me really wants to look at pornography and another part knows it is not great for me. I decide to get as close to pornography as I can without actually looking at pornography.
8. I start using google images. I see arousing photos and my emotions change. I tell myself that if I see one naked pic, then I have looked at pornography and that is it. I should just plunge in. Because of this, I get excited about seeing a naked pic even though I am technically not looking for pornography.
9. I begin to arouse myself while looking at arousing pics which are not pornography. I put a cover over the camera to my tablet.
10. I see a naked pic and my resolve begins to break. I tell myself that I can stop the resistance now. I feel the urge to go onto tumblr.
11. I go onto tumblr and onto accounts that have a mix between pornography and "ordinary pics". I see more naked pics and my resolve breaks down some more.
12. I look at my watch to see how much time I have. I tell myself just 30 minutes is all I need.
13. I put my tablet down and start to use my computer.
14. I am now looking at porn clips and searching for the perfect one, the most stimulating. I am starting to masturbate but keeping myself away from orgasm.
15. I go through all my favourite porn sites looking for the "new stuff".
16. I find a good clip and reach orgasm.
17. I feel tired and guilty. I spent too long online and I messed up.
18. I erase my internet history and get ready to go to sleep.

This may be too detailed or not detailed enough on emotions. But I think that gives an emotional picture of one pornography ritual in the past. Again, you tube seems to be an entry point for me. In fact, you tube is its own ritual for me, as I said in my last post.

Author:  Arete [ Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 27:

This lesson was quite challenging. I have already begun to realise that my you tube watching is a compulsive ritual, which seems to lead very easily on to pornography. But now I had to take a careful look at how I spend my time with my friends. I like to hang out with my friends at a bar, having a drink and a good conversation. Can I really look at the ritualistic nature of what we do and call it compulsive? Does such a ritual have a start, a middle and an end? Let us for arguments sake say yes. There is so called happy hour, when drinks are cheaper. We usually arrive for the start of happy hour and then we have our conversation and our drinks. It is always the same, so it is kind of ritualistic. It does serve to stimulate. Am I using this ritual to manage my emotional life?

Let us just say yes. Then a chain would be that I would hang out with my friends, drink the drinks, get stimulated. Then when I come home, I want more stimulation. So, I go onto you tube. That would be an example of a successive chain. Successive rituals. Then I would use you tube, which would lead on to pornography and masturbation. This would be rituals used at the same time to deepen stimulation.

So, that is a brief description of the successive and simultaneous rituals which form chains in my life. But this stuff isn't easy to think about. There is something in me that says, ok, I think that the you tube and pornography rituals are bad and are not a great way to manage my emotional life. I want to live in a better way that is more aligned with my values. But when considering the ritualistic nature of my time with my friends, I am thinking: Hey, this may be a ritual but is it that bad? I would not feel bad at all about going out with my friends and having a beer and chatting about life. But I will admit that it is a disconcerting thought - to wonder how much I need that beer with the conversation. Am I really and truly present to my friends and the conversation, or am I just using the conversation as a way to get the stimulation that I need? Can't it be both? I suppose that the answer lies somewhere with my values and vision. Are these conversations developing my values and vision? Something for me to think about.

Author:  Arete [ Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 28:

Ok, here goes describing my compulsive chain of my most recent acting out session.

1. I had just watched a series with friends in the house. It was funny and stimulating.
2. I was tired but I thought that I would drink beer in my room while watching you tube, to continue my stimulation.
3. I watched one of my favourite channels. The channel was funny and I relaxed a bit more.
4. I finished watching my channel and then started to look for other things on you tube that interested me (not hard to tube just gives it to you.)
5. Proceeded to click on other videos. The first compulsive ritual had started.
6. I looked at my watch and noticed I had more time. I enjoyed more videos.
7. The alcohole was kicking in and my inhibitions relaxed a bit. I thought I would search for pictures that are arousing but not pornography.
8. Through google related image search, I quickly found a naked picture.
9. I went onto porn sites and started to look at clips.
10. I had to get up early the next morning, so I speeded up my usual compulsive ritual. I started to masturbate and stimulate myself while looking at clips and searching for the perfect one.
11. I found a good clip and had an orgasm.
12. I erased my internet search history and finished my ritual.

So, there are two compulsive rituals inter-twining here, namely pornography and my you tube ritual. When I calculated the emotional stimulation derived from these, I was surprised that the chain was actually quite low in terms of stimulation. I was actually bored with both rituals a bit and sort of just going through the motions so to speak. Other porn and you tube chains that I have looked at scored 66 on my values calculation, but this compulsive chain only scored about 58. Just thinking like an addict, trying to see where I could have heightened stimulation. I did not have the suspense element in this chain. I could have spent longer searching for pics that are arousing but not porn. I could have used physical stimulation earlier on in my ritual. Just thinking about the example in our workshop, I could have saved some images on my pc and made a slide of this stuff (I don't usually save images), which I could have used to show all the good pics I found. I am habituated now to videos and photos. So, I suppose I could have varied the stimulation that I got, using sound files and using fantasy in my head to deepen stimulation. I also could have explored other types of porn than my usual stuff, to vary my habit a bit. I could have been more inventive in my physical stimulation to increase my arousal.

That is about it for now I think! Wow, that was interesting as an exercise. Firstly, I noticed that this acting out session of mine was actually really boring. And then I realise that it is quite difficult to try to shake up my ritual (I suppose I am just not used to thinking consciously about what I am doing, just following my ritual and patterns. But trying to think creatively about rituals makes me realise what my sub-conscious is trying to do. I am trying to alleviate my bordom or my stress, trying to handle intense emotions. There is a kind of a liberation about bringing this stuff out of the darkness of the sub-conscious and staring at this stuff and me from an objective point of view. Right, what the hell am I doing here? And how am I doing it? What is effective and what isn't. I suppose this is extremely important when it comes to finding other ways to cope with stress. Like trying to deepen the stimulation I am getting from my values?
Very interesting.

Author:  Arete [ Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 29:

So, this exercise of emotions surfing was really good. I feel deeply a range of different emotions. I thought of my values, of being the person that I want to be in my vision and I filled with joy. The joy of someone who is in alignment with what they really want and living a life of fulfillment. Then I thought of things that I feared, like when a relationship in my life changes when I have done something that could damage that relationship. I felt anxious and felt like I had lost something dear to me. This feeling of anxiety was in stark contrast to the joy that I felt at the beginning. But it felt a little more physical in my body. Very different tone of feeling.

Then I did the exercise of imagining what it would be like to be tempted to go online, what kind of feelings that come about in me. This was more intense than the first exercise. I felt tired and anxious and then joyful when I thought of going online - I felt tempted to disregard the consequences and just lose myself in a reckless decision. Perhaps this describes the experience of being tempted for me to go online. I am usually tired and stressed, and perhaps a little anxious. And then the thought comes to me of trying to escape these feelings that are clearly impacting me. I want to let go of anxiety. I want to feel ok again. The joy or rather excitement of thinking about going online is different to the joy of thinking that I have achieved my goals and values. The excitement comes when I think of the images that I can look at and the anticipated highs that would come with my surfing. Somehow this going online is a way to deal with the sometimes intense anxious feelings that I can experience throughout my day. But then the thought of screwing up my 'clean run' free of porn is disconcerting. It is again an anxious feeling. But I want to push it away and focus on the 'good stuff' that comes with going online. The thought is one of escape and trying to get away from my experience of life in the now which only sees the anxiety and the stress.

Just having a look at the range of feelings here, they are quite extreme. Joy, anxiety, excited anticipation. And the feelings are intense. Wow, quite an intense exercise but a really good exploration of feelings.

As for the most anxious and least anxious states, I'll have to think some more about this. I'll post that in the next post.

Author:  Arete [ Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arete Recovery Thread

Lesson 29 and lesson 30:

So, the one thing that I needed to do in lesson 29 was think about most most anxious state and my least anxious state. For my most anxious state, there are a lot of options to pick from in my life! Things that come to mind are big exams in my life when the future of my life seemed to hang on my performance in one three hour sitting. Would my memory hold up? Would I be ok? Other examples tend to be from my family environement when I was growing up, when the relation between myself and my parents were not going so great. This was interesting for me in the context of what this workshop has been talking about. If the family environment can teach us values and hold us while we grow into responsible adults, the same environment can be the source of great anxiety. I suppose from that perspective, the least anxious that I have felt comes from memories of when I felt the most safe and secure. These memories also come from the family environment. I remember times when I felt safe with my family and hopeful about my future. Chilled out and free. Liberated from the stress of tomorrow.

Concerning lesson 30, I know we don't need to record anything from it. But I just wanted to note some things. That question in lesson 30 - can emotions be managed or just experienced? What a great question. The premise of this workshop is that emotions can be managed. Our actions in life can stimulate our emotions. So, change our actions, we can change our emotions. Performing actions based on our values can result in value-based emotions and the good stuff that comes from that. This way of understanding emotions challenges me. If I experience my emotions to be intense, is that because that is who I am or do they result from the way that I am choosing to live my life? In some ways, this is the same question as above. If emotions can be managed and not just experienced, my intense emotions can be the result of the way that I am choosing to live my life and not just "how I am". Wow, this is something I need to think a little more about.

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