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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:30 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:49 pm
Posts: 92

I have a question about the workshop. I am diligently doing all the exercises for all the lessons. I think it will be valuable to achieve the 'mastery' that John talks about and I do my best.

However, in some of the lessons, I'm not sure when I should spend more time on a lesson and when I should move on. For example, in lesson 22 I learned about measuring and assigning values to each of my complusive behaviours. Then I completed the exercise: consider one very simple ritual that you have engaged in. So I did that.

However, in lesson 24, John says:

it took me breaking down a good fifty or so to feel comfortable with this...

So even though the exercises only ask for a simple ritual, how do I know if I should be doing more? Why did John do 50 when I am only asked to do a simple one? Is the workshop structured so that I will get more practice with these skills down the road? Or should I become completely comfortable, like John does, before moving on?

Another example is in exercise 24. It asks me to choose one real-life example and measure the elements. Is this just the bare minimum? I am ready and willing to do more but I am worried that I maybe the workshop is structured so that I will get more practice down the line anyway, and it would be most helpful to my recovery if I just did the simple cases first, like it says to do.

I am just unclear as to whether or not the lessons are the bare minimum and we are actually supposed to do more and expand on it. Or maybe the simple lessons are the only thing I should be doing now so that I don't get overwhelmed and I spend ages on each lesson.


Also a question about lesson 24: John talks about assigning values to the compulsive elements. Is this done the same way that I did in lesson 22 (ie. through the filters of time, habituation, intensity, etc?)

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:57 am 
General Mentor

Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:47 pm
Posts: 694
Hi there, KaizenKid,

I think your questions pertain to the discussion about implementing the workshop into your life. It's one thing to do the workshop (i.e. read the theory and do the exercises) and quite another to implement the workshop into your everyday life (which implies a change in the way you think, in the way you do things and ultimately in the way you perceive things, others and yourself).

I believe that doing the exercises as diligently and thoroughly as possible is only stage one of implementing the knowledge into your life through practice. There should be a constant process of self-awareness and self-analysis going on in your head following the guidelines set out in the exercises. You will soon notice that any life situation can be thought of/analysed/perceived in terms of values at play, prioritizing values, rituals (healthy i.e. in line with your values or unhealthy i.e. against your values/goals or health - mental and physical), emotional stimulation, emotional balance and dis-balance, values based decision-making, etc. You will be able to understand any situation you find yourself in, in terms of these concepts and from such an informed position you will be able to take informed decisions which will bring you closer to your long term goals. I would encourage you to use the workshop terms/concepts to talk (think) about yourself or others because learning and using language actually expands your thinking as well, your mind applies the learnt framework when you are using these terms in everyday situations and so your perception of reality slowly changes accordingly.

So, to answer your question, IMO, you should move on to the next lesson after you've completed the current one as diligently and thoroughly as you can at this point in time, but you should keep on practicing, applying and expanding what you've learnt the rest of the time, whenever you are, whatever you're doing, if the opportunity presents itself. Another way of putting it is ... recovery work should not be limited to the time you actually sit in front of your computer solving the exercises and writing them down. It should continue in your head after you've left the computer, the lessons and the exercises behind. I'm not saying you should become obsessed with rituals and elements and values and not think of anything but this. I'm saying that you need to start looking at the world around you and at yourself (your time, your actions, etc.) in terms of these concepts (values, rituals, decision-making, emotional stimulation, etc), way beyond the limited sexual area of your life.

For example, for me reading and watching movies are rituals. I derive emotional satisfaction only if certain conditions are met (good book/movie, if it's a "reward" for working hard, etc.), I can increase/decrease the stimulation through my choices and if the optimal conditions are not met, I would get a lot of negative stimulation (anxiety) instead of positive. I use these rituals on a regular basis but also in crisis situations when I feel my emotional balance is threatened. Those times I put on hold anything else which is not urgent and I take care of my emotional well-being. Examples of unhealthy rituals would be certain patterns of thought (negative self-talk, anger towards others, selfishness), certain patterns of interaction especially with my spouse, etc. It takes a lot of thinking to get to know yourself, what makes you tick, what are you mannerisms, your compulsions and how you can change/improve yourself. The workshop provides just the guidelines, the framework, it's like a skeleton onto which you must add all the flesh, blood and sweat of your own life. It should become a way of life because recovery work is nothing more than self-growth, living with self-awareness, becoming the best of what you can be. So, IMO it's completely wrong to think in terms of "doing recovery work for the rest of my life". It's actually about growth, knowing yourself, mending the relationship with yourself by giving yourself the attention you deserve and being there for yourself, become your own hero.

I hope I answered your question.
About lesson 24, IMHO, do it as diligently and thoroughly as you can, as long as you think that you derive self-knowledge. If assigning values opens your eyes a little bit wider about yourself, then do it. I did it only once myself, in lesson 22. Seeing all of my fears, weaknesses, dark shameful secrets of the past reduced to mere numbers and percentages of overall emotional stimulation needed to cover up for the fact that I'm emotionally immature and unable to stand on my own two feet, made me experience such tremendous self-hatred and disgust that I felt I got the gist of it all that very same day, so I've never done it again at that detailed level. But what we do have to is to be able to recognize the elements and how each of them contributes to the overall emotional result ... I would encourage you to look into all kinds of rituals ... the unhealthy ones as well as the healthy ones and why not - build new healthy ones meant to replace the unhealthy ones and help you move forward in your life.


"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:07 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:49 pm
Posts: 92
Hi Ursula,

Thanks for your insightful response.

So far in this workshop, I've felt good about what I've accomplished: I've spent 30 minutes almost every day for 3 months on recovery-based activities. I've spent a lot of time thinking about my life goals. And in three months, I've felt much healthier and I've had higher self-esteem.

To some extent, I've internalised what I've learned. I have noticed that I take my values into consideration before making certain decisions. And it feels good to make choices according to my values and bad if it goes against my values. I notice that I am more vulnerable to acting out if I've just made a choice that goes against my values.

I also feel that I've changed my perception about addiction: I no longer see myself as an addicted, unhealthy person who occasionally has healthy streaks. I regard myself as a healthy person who occasionally acts out. But that's okay because I can see that temporary hiccups are manageable.

So in summary, I feel good about truly owning some of the tools in this workshop so far. But I still have work to do...
I have trouble, in the heat of the moment, making those value-based decisions sometimes. I still act out relatively frequently. And I can feel that my ability to make value-based decisions is weakened if I feel overwhelmed by other things going on in my life.

I feel that I am improving slowly. Your comment has helped me see that I have internalised some of the tools in the workshop. But I can still keep improving, too. For example, measuring my healthy behaviours alongside unhealthy ones.

I really want to own these life skills, so here is what I will do:

- I will mark the most meaningful exercises as ones I would like to come back to and retain even after the workshop. These are skills that I want to carry and use even after I've completed the workshop. For example, the one about values, developing proactive action plans, noticing/measuring compulsive rituals...
- I will spend some extra time working and thinking about the lessons I feel are most important in my own recovery. For example, I want to measure at least one more compulsive behaviour and try one healthy one. I don't want to get stuck on the same lessons forever, but I really want to get more practice.
- I think that doing this will help me, like you said, become aware of my health in the larger context of my life. That is, extend it and apply it outside the workshop. Like I mentioned above, I feel that I'm already getting better at this.

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