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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 3:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:52 am
Posts: 98
Location: Ger
Hey, I've encountered a problem that I wanted to share, since this exceeds all my current knowledge and I'm a bit lost.

I moved to a new city and after the initial struggle I start to feel better around here. I decided to get active and try to seek out opportunities to find new friends. Opening up, getting to know new people (without a romantic/sexual context) and expanding my opportunities are some of my high ranked values. I'm eager to find some friends and make some nice contacts. So far, so good.

Despite my efforts at work, I joined a group on Facebook. It's directed to new people in this town and they organize meetings and you can introduce yourself etc. It's definitely just targeted at new people and dating stuff is actually prohibited. I'm totally fine with that, since I only want to socialize. But here comes the problem. By trying to socialize some compulsive patterns evoked. Fantasies and hopes are rushing through my brain, when I see new people. There's a sense of suspense like "what might happen, if I meet up with those people?". And I actually think that these thoughts are normal in this situation. But here's my problem...

I tend to strongly sexualize this context. I don't engage in any active behavior. I would never message someone with a soliciting message etc. It's more that the whole situation triggers porn-like thoughts and patterns in my brain. It's not that I actively fantasize about how I would like to hook up with one of those members or sth. similar. I just feel so excited and I can't control it. Like I said before, I actually think the underlying thoughts are just natural. It's excitement and curiosity. But I'm not able to express those things in a natural healthy way. I only know how to express them through compulsive behavior. Maybe it's because my existing values evolving those things are still too weak, I mean in the past 10 years I pursued 90% of my relationships with the goal to get emotionally/sexually or romantically stimulated. Like it's said in one of the lessons, the healthy behavior loses its appeal for the addict, and makes no longer sense.

How can I socialize without setting myself up for failure?

I mean, it isn't a solution to just don't socialize. I already set some boundaries, like only spending 10 minutes per day in this group. Or closing it, when I stop to think clearly. But I'm not sure how I could be able to meet someone new, when my brain is filled with these deceptice thoughts.


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 7:52 am 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3829
Location: UK
Hello AS

Quote:
How can I socialize without setting myself up for failure?


perhaps looking at the same thing from a different angle could you ask how can I not socialise and still succeed to become the best I can be
we are social animals, you need to take that leap of faith, trust yourself you are now six months better than you were, embrace that fact

Quote:
There's a sense of suspense like "what might happen, if I meet up with those people?". And I actually think that these thoughts are normal in this situation.


I agree, totally natural and not sexual unless you choose to make it so, and why would you?


Quote:
I tend to strongly sexualize this context.


why - that is what you need to address

then as said trust the new improved you

_________________
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


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 1:36 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:47 pm
Posts: 694
Axelswagger,

Funny enough, we are in the same boat.
I've recently begun to actively seek for friends and I found myself struggling at times with certain delusional thoughts and fantasies. Hiding is clearly not the way to go. We need to push forward, establishing boundaries and adjusting/readjusting them until we learn how to relate in a healthier manner to potentially desirable individuals. What seems to help me is the awareness that I tend to look at these people in a very distorted way, almost magnifying the positive aspects while ignoring or minimising everything else. I'm also accutely aware of my need to be liked or at least noticed/admired. I tend to measure my worth based on whether the person gives me attention or not. I have to constantly remind myself that they also judge me very superficially, that they don't really know me and their preference, irrespective on what it is based upon (my looks, my brain, my sense of humour ... I wish :)) ... ) definitely says nothing about myself and my worth. That is only on me to decide and as long as I remain true to my goals and my values, I am at peace and I have worth.

So briefly, some of the things I'm trying to implement myself:
- look for real life interaction, facebook and such preserve that fantasy feel we like so much which prevents us from seeing the person as a whole individual and also permits us to hide behind a more desirable image
- try and notice the mechanics that are behind your interaction ... Choose to see the strings behind the puppets ... If you cannot do so while you are interacting, take time afterwards to analyse what you did, what you said, what you felt, what you thought ... See where you went off the rail and make a mental note for next time
- earnestly acknowledge your desires and cravings ... Face them bravely because just because they exist that does not mean you have to indulge them. Equally acknowledge that part of you who would be betrayed, abandoned, harmed if you choose to act against your long-term goals
- remind yourself constantly that the excitement is short lived once it's allowed to unfold and then you will be left with a whole lot of mess that you will still have to sort out ... We can run only so far until we wake up ...
-make sure you take an equal interest in people who do not instantly appeal to you physically or otherwise. Take time to get to know each person who offers, really take an interest in the person's life or story or dreams, try to empathise, get involved emotionally, step outside yourself for a bit and share someone else's views and life experiences with no hidden intent other than establishing human connection
- choose to be upfront about your intentions and where you are in your life. Make it crystal clear that you are not looking for any kind of romantic or sexual opportunities. Say it like you mean it, to others and to yourself, as often as you get the chance. I would set a certain time frame for when I would feel prepared to pursue such endeavours ...something like ... I will not allow myself to pursue these things until I don't feel I have reached this points in my recovery (i.e. having a good grip on the following issues...a,b,c...etc.
- when the thoughts become intrusive and obsessive, insert a break ... It should be something inspirational which would bring you back to your vision and values ... I use guided meditation from youtube which I converted into audio and I have them on my mp3 player for instant access, inspirational books, I go to the gym and get some real pain in those muscles ... or I just fantasise about my vision and my goals and about getting where I want to and how awesome it will be ...
-make sure you spend quality time on your own, relax your mind, free it from compulsive and obsessive thinking ... Try and achieve a sense of peace and serenity at least once a day for half an hour minimum and make sure you balance this state of mind with your social interactions

I think this is pretty much it. Do notice how the intrusive thoughts about a particular person subside when you meet someone else more interesting or if you become preoccupied with some other things. That's pretty much the depth of it all, shallowness ...

Take a deep breath and proceed forward, you can do it, you have it in you. I know you also want it badly. Do not be scared. You have all the power. Trust yourself with your well-being and make sure you deserve your own trust.

Be well,
Ursula

_________________
"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


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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2016 7:38 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:52 am
Posts: 98
Location: Ger
Hey, thanks for both of your answers.
I followed your advice and tried to see things more differently. I think knowing that this is an obstacle is already a great help. I don't try to push myself to hard and see what's best for me, but what also provides a decent amount of growth. Luckily I went to a work-event on thursday which as a nice opportunity to socialize without any fantasies involved. I have put that group on the backburner for a while now and I just communicate with some people privately, with the goal of setting up a non-romantic activity. But again, not going to push too hard. I focus on being happy with all that's happening right now and socializing is, even though an important one, just a part of it.

Kenzo wrote:
I agree, totally natural and not sexual unless you choose to make it so, and why would you?


I think it's because this is the only way I've learned to deal with such a situation. I'm currently at lesson 39 and there was an interesting bit about us being "performers" instead of actively engaging in an act (though this was directed at sexual behavior, I think it still stands valid for other areas). I think this is the main point, I still focus a lot on the selfish aspects - in the sense of putting my emotional stimulation first. And therefore sexualization provides the best short-term stimulation. And the other aspect is, that I'm still working on my healthy boundaries so often all I have to fall back on is the unhealthy perception of human interactions. Your question really brought this out of me.

ursula wrote:
What seems to help me is the awareness that I tend to look at these people in a very distorted way, almost magnifying the positive aspects while ignoring or minimising everything else.


Oh, I can relate so much to this. This is what happened with almost every new person I saw. Initially I was all like "wow, maybe that is a friend for life" - not even sexualizing them, just thinking that they might be my perfect match. Although, from a more critical point of view it was my lack of boundaries that led to these assumptions. I just assumed that they mut be perfect for me, because I like how they look etc. So I projected my values onto them. Then, when I found something mismatching in their profiles or they lost their appeal I started to devalue them and stopped seeing that much value in an interaction with them.

I highly tend to create a certain scene, in which I feel safe. I create an act where I'm strong and relaxed. But actually there's still a false-bottom. My intentions are often still led by the wish for emotional stimulation, for being accepted and for finding solace in these interactions.

ursula wrote:
o briefly, some of the things I'm trying to implement myself

All of this is some real solid advice.

ursula wrote:
-make sure you take an equal interest in people who do not instantly appeal to you physically or otherwise. Take time to get to know each person who offers, really take an interest in the person's life or story or dreams, try to empathise, get involved emotionally, step outside yourself for a bit and share someone else's views and life experiences with no hidden intent other than establishing human connection

Despite my cravings for fantasy this is an area where I really struggle the most. I definitely try this. But I still realize how many times I tend to just seek out the "nicer" situation, without aknowledging some people that might have not catched my attention at first. I try to break this by becoming aware of it and trying to subtly break this pattern by opening up towards peopl I might not find initially interesting. For example, at that work event I made it a little task, to talk to everyone at least once. In the end there where still some people left and the later the evening went, the more I fell into a comfortzone where I just stayed with the same group of people, but I also talked to a handful of people I haven't established a connection with so far. Funnily I kind of felt guilty afterwards for just talking to them without any real "intent". But actually I think it's quite nice to do this, just talk to them and exchange. I'm too hard on myself and I want to show perfect social skills, I have to follow this general direction at first.

ursula wrote:
choose to be upfront about your intentions and where you are in your life. Make it crystal clear that you are not looking for any kind of romantic or sexual opportunities. Say it like you mean it, to others and to yourself, as often as you get the chance. I would set a certain time frame for when I would feel prepared to pursue such endeavours ...something like ... I will not allow myself to pursue these things until I don't feel I have reached this points in my recovery (i.e. having a good grip on the following issues...a,b,c...etc.


This is another good one. I used to set up those fake boundaries (that's how I call them). So I made up some rules to feel good about something but that actually didn't provide me with any meaning, just stress when I failed them. So I just set those boundaries to prove the point of setting boundaries, instead of having healthy intentions. So I said something like "I'll not engage in behavior XYZ until I've reached Lesson XY". But a boundary like this doesn't make any sense. It's more important to have a good grip on an issue. Just by saying "okay I'll not do this, until I know more about it intellecutally" isn't that helpful. By doing that I always found myself in situations, where a healthy opportunity arose to do "behavior xyz" but to do so, I had to dismiss my fake boundary, which led to stress. Thanks for that new perspective.

ursula wrote:
make sure you spend quality time on your own, relax your mind, free it from compulsive and obsessive thinking ... Try and achieve a sense of peace and serenity at least once a day for half an hour minimum and make sure you balance this state of mind with your social interactions


I love that :)
I actually do this already. I call this my time of reflection and I try to take some time to just see everything straight and clear. And when I'm not able to clear my mind, I try to relax and figure out why I'm not able to. I kind of try to find a place of serenity in my mind. And when I step out of myself I try to take as much of this into any new situation, as I can.

So much great input!
Let's see where this will lead me.
This weekend I actually decided to spend time on my own and not try to socialize. That work-event was really exhausting mentally, I'm just too introverted. And instead of overstimulating myself with more and more interactions, eventually setting myself up for failure by pursuing all of this with unhealthy means.. I decided to create a good time for myself.


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