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 Post subject: Exercise 36
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:03 pm 
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A. Make a list of all of identifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate, severe or extreme stressor.
1. Facing possible divorce or separation - extreme
2. Talking about past porn use - Moderate to Severe
3. Returning to work - Mild
4. Driving to work - Mild
5. Worrying about physical health - moderate
6. Weight gain - Moderate to severe
7. Maintaining recovery work with return to work - moderate
8. Maintaining garden with return to work - mild
9. more later if I think of them.


B. Return to your values list created earlier in the workshop. In a healthy life, the majority of energy being drained (e.g. stress) should be related to the pursuit of your highest prioritized values (top fifteen or so). Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the way that you are expending your energy?
No I do not see this pattern in my life. My biggest energy drain has been dealing with my inability to talk about my past porn use completely openly and honestly. This has led to major arguments, fights and overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt.
I believe this means that, while I know what my top value is, I am still having problems maintaining it when it comes to talking about the past and my porn use.

C. Likewise, in a healthy life, the majority of meaning and stimulation that you gain should also be related to your highest values. Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the quality of life you are living?
No as mentioned above, I am not deriving the majority of my stimulation and meaning from my top values. I think it means that the quality of my life is not very good at the moment.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:41 pm 
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re: "your daily montioring"

Remember, this isn't about your report being positive...this is about you developing ongoing awareness in your day-to-day life. This is about you shifting your perspective on how you manage your life...and all the neglect and wasted opportunities for meaning and fulfillment that you experience on a daily basis. You HAVE to break from "same ol'; same ol'" and challenge yourself over these next few months to rebuild how you manage your life. Your day to day life. As you will see, the acting out is a symptom of such mismanagement.

re: "Returning to work - Mild"

Any time you have an event that--even if it produces positive stimulation--can still be a major stressor in your life. Going back to work will shift the emotional balance of anyone's life. Add to that a life that was stressful to begin with and you have the makings of a very stressful week. Ironically, it is things like this (a return to work in the middle of a crisis that can also potentially lead to other compulsive rituals (e.g. workaholism). You can find the same patterns in religion, physical health, etc. Behaviors that are healthy on the surface, but potentially destructive when engaged in as a distraction or security net in recovery.

What to take from this? Not much. Other than that you might be minimizing the true impact that going back to work is having on your overall emotional balance this week.

re: "I am not deriving the majority of my stimulation and meaning from my top values. I think it means that the quality of my life is not very good at the moment."

Unfortunately, it does. And even more unfortunate, there is nothing you can do to change this equation. You must change the variables (what and how you are going about deriving meaning and fulfillment). You must attach yourself to a set of values that you have control over and can directly influence. That doesn't mean a wholesale exchange of values...but it may mean an evolution of them. Changing things like 'I want to establish intimacy with my wife' may be changed to 'I want to develop an intimate connection between me and the world around me.' That's a bit dramatic, but I hope you get the picture. You have to build a world where you are in control of the majority of what you value. If you aren't...it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to shift your life to the point in which you are.

Yes, we all go through rough times. Yes, you are going through a very rough time now. Perhaps the toughest of your life. And so, you will feel pain, exhaustion, confusion, vulnerability. Embrace it. I say this over and over again because so few people grasp what it really means. Embrace the pain in your life so that you can stop trying to avoid it. Instead, see it as a normal part of your current reality and begin to push yourself beyond it. Not by 'ending the pain', but by developing your purpose. That, even if you have nothing else, will be enough to end the deepest pains and provide you with sustained focus.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject: Exercise 32
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:29 pm 
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1. Early in the workshop, you created approximately fifteen 'proactive action plans' that were intended to list specific steps to take to strengthen certain values that are important to you. Return to these action plans and for each, review your progress. Summarize your progress on your recovery thread.

I looked back at my action plans earlier while discussing them with Coach Jon. I haven't been great about my first value: Integrity. I still have major problems when it comes to talking about my past porn use. Second was Be passionate about what is in my life. I think this one ended up higher on teh list than it should have. I am developing new passions and discovering old ones but I'm not sure this should be second. I have worked a great deal on my third and forth which are strengthening my relationship with my wife and daughter. One good thing about losing my job was that I was able to spend most of the summer with my daughter. I have also been working hard on talking to my wife and expressing my feelings to her. I have been working hard at showing her how much she means to me as well. I am trying to be a role model (#5 on my list) as well but I haven't been consciously working on this one. I have been very humbled by this experience (I don't believe I was ever that arrogant but I certainly be cocky). I have been faithful in the past and continue to be so. I am being honest with what I say but I am still struggling with omission. I am being truthful but again sometimes omit things. I have always been compassionate and continue to be so.

2. Update your Proactive Action Plans as needed.
Done


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:39 pm 
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CoachJon wrote:

re: "Returning to work - Mild"

Any time you have an event that--even if it produces positive stimulation--can still be a major stressor in your life. Going back to work will shift the emotional balance of anyone's life. Add to that a life that was stressful to begin with and you have the makings of a very stressful week. Ironically, it is things like this (a return to work in the middle of a crisis that can also potentially lead to other compulsive rituals (e.g. workaholism). You can find the same patterns in religion, physical health, etc. Behaviors that are healthy on the surface, but potentially destructive when engaged in as a distraction or security net in recovery.

What to take from this? Not much. Other than that you might be minimizing the true impact that going back to work is having on your overall emotional balance this week.

I will think about this over the next day or so. I certainly believe now that work stresses me more than I previously thought.

CoachJon wrote:
Unfortunately, it does. And even more unfortunate, there is nothing you can do to change this equation. You must change the variables (what and how you are going about deriving meaning and fulfillment). You must attach yourself to a set of values that you have control over and can directly influence. That doesn't mean a wholesale exchange of values...but it may mean an evolution of them. Changing things like 'I want to establish intimacy with my wife' may be changed to 'I want to develop an intimate connection between me and the world around me.' That's a bit dramatic, but I hope you get the picture. You have to build a world where you are in control of the majority of what you value. If you aren't...it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to shift your life to the point in which you are.

Yes, we all go through rough times. Yes, you are going through a very rough time now. Perhaps the toughest of your life. And so, you will feel pain, exhaustion, confusion, vulnerability. Embrace it. I say this over and over again because so few people grasp what it really means. Embrace the pain in your life so that you can stop trying to avoid it. Instead, see it as a normal part of your current reality and begin to push yourself beyond it. Not by 'ending the pain', but by developing your purpose. That, even if you have nothing else, will be enough to end the deepest pains and provide you with sustained focus.


I certainly know the pain, exhaustion, confusion and vulnerability you are talking about. I have never felt so spent in my life as I have these last few months. I haven't been avoiding it though. I'm not sure I have been embracing it either but I know I haven't been running from it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:58 pm 
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re: "I am developing new passions and discovering old ones but I'm not sure this should be second."

This is exactly what you should be doing at this point. That initial vision--and the values that were extracted from it--were just a starting point. Now that you are becoming PARTLY aware of the roles they play in life management, how accurate/practical they are will become clearer and clearer. Just make sure that you KEEP EVOLVING this vision. Keep reprioritizing your values until it becomes second nature to you. Eventually, you will establish a vision and a foundation of prioritized values that will remain fairly stable in terms of your identity and as a source of direction.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject: Exercise 33.
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 3:45 pm 
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I misread the exercise. I thought I was supposed to keep track, then post, which is what I have been doing. (Note to self, read more carefully next time.) Here is what I recorded so far. I started doing this August 22.

August 22, 2008

Just arrived in office and feeling good about walk here.

Very bored with work. I am working on documentation. I feel my talents are being mis-used (resentment??) as my time could be better spent on fixing the 500+ broken test cases instead of documenting code because someone else was too lazy to.

Talking on phone with my wife. The conversation started with a request for my first phone number from 20 years ago. She was trying to find out if I have a google email account. I could feel myself getting angry and frustrated. The conversation then turned to talking about a specific web site and pictures/videos. I felt myself getting very upset as the conversation continued.

Feeling sad right now when reviewing my recent conversation.

need fresh air will be right back

The fresh air didn't help and I am in a deep funk right now.

Feeling very frustrated right now. My wife called and asked if I am still reading her thread. I told her yes and that I had brought it up in a conversation we had on Tuesday. She got upset and doesn't remember it. Thinks she is going crazy. She got upset with my, accusing me of lying about it and trying to manipulate her.

just read her thread and tried calling her. She hung up on me and refuses to answer the phone

Feeling very upset/frustrated/sad/angry.

Went for a walk stewing about this morning. Just came back and I am tired. Need to get more exercise.

Sandra had sent an email telling me that she didn't appreciate my getting mad. It frustrates me that showing my emotions get that kind of response.

Just had a long conversation with Sandra about AA. She thinks I am in relapse. I am not and getting frustrated that she continues to think I am. Don't know how to show her I am not.
I am currently doing the following wrt to healthy recovery:
1. Sharing my emotions
2. Telling the truth
3. Letting my emotions range without trying to cut them off/censor/modify them
4. Trying to monitor my emotions and find out what starts differing emotions
5. Working on recovery workshop
6. Trying to be intimate with my wife
7. Trying to be more intimate with my daughter

Though about updating my list of core values.
Need to add
1. Physical fitness
2. Hobbies/Leisure

Need to move:
1. Honesty to integrity
2. Truthful to integrity


August 23
Didn't write things down as they were happening as it is Saturday and I wasn't in front of the computer. I did, however, attempt to assess my emotions throughout the day. These are below:


Sandra is off with a friend, missing her, feeling lonely and jealous.

Working outside feeling good. It is a nice day and I am enjoying working in the yard. Harvested a potato plant and was disappointed with the yield. The plant produced about 1.5 pounds, I had hoped for more.

Thinking about the potatoes and cooking them for breakfast tomorrow. Feel happy that I will get to share and enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Sandra and I were intimate this afternoon. Feeling fantastic and close to her

Went out for supper with friends. Met them at the restaurant, had a great time. Feeling happy and sated.

Went with them to a family gathering. The woman in the couple is of Scottish descent and her family was having a party. There was traditional Scottish music as well as other. Felt tired, happy. Watched Sandra laughing with her friends. Felt happy, a bit jealous, proud.

August 24
Woke up still feeling good from last night.

Made breakfast. Felt proud that the potatoes tasted good.

Worked in garden. Feeling good with the progress of my garden.

Went to park with my daughter and her friend. Had discussion with Sandra about her feelings wrt my SA. She was very unhappy and was crying. She feels lost and hopeless sometimes. Feeling sad and unhappy. Continued to talk with her and help her through the tough spot. Feel better.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:56 am 
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re: "I misread the exercise."
No problem. You got the gist of the emotional exploration and you offered some personal experiences with these emotional extremes. What you are trying to develop over these first few months is an emotional maturity where you are no longer driven by your emotions...not by fear of them or their intensity. Eventually, we will be learning (and by we I mean you, smile) to isolate our emotions from the compulsive rituals and from the decision-making process (two separate skills). For now, just keep developing an ongoing awareness of your emotions and how they influence your perceptions, decisions, judgment, etc.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject: Exercise 34
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:09 pm 
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Posts: 126
Immediate gratification plays the primary role in the lives of most people who struggle with addiction. In your Personal Recovery Thread, share the following:

A. Describe a time in your life when the "Immediate Gratification" principle has come into play:
Surfing porn at work. During an earlier attempt at recovery, using only therapy, I started acting out while at work. I surfed porn, ignoring the warnings posted during login and the warnings I had read during orientation. I knew it was wrong but wasn't able to stop myself. I justified it by saying 'just a little won't hurt' and 'no one will find out'

B. As best as you can, describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying to NOT ACT on a compulsive sexual thought or behaviour. Be specific. Compare it to other feelings of anxiety that you experience. The purpose of this exercise is to begin to define the limits of your emotions--and where your compulsive urges stand within those limits.
I would get nervous and erratic when I would try to not to act out. I would have trouble concentrating and focusing. The most recent example of something that come close to this is a job interview I had recently. After having lost my job for surfing porn, I had an interview and wasn't sure if I would be able to get through it. I was terrified that they would ask me about my job loss and demand to know details.

C. As best as you can, describe the feeling that you experience while you are engaging in a certain compulsive sexual thought or behaviour. Is it a trance-like feeling? Is it a hyper-alert feeling? If someone could get inside your mind as you were experiencing such a ritual, what would they find?
I get into a kind of trance. I'm not sure how to describe what's happening inside my head. My mind, which normally races and is very alert, goes quiet and numb. I stop thinking and simply go with whatever is happening.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:51 pm 
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Good effort here. Now with things like immediate gratification decision-making and 'all of nothing' thinking...it is not enough to understand them in the context of your past compulsive rituals. You must expand this awareness into your day-to-day life management--spanning all types of decisions, actions, etc. From driving to the store at 3am for a Diet Pepsi to making a mistake in balancing your checkbook, to ???????

Not that you are striving to live the perfect life. Some conscious immediate gratification is healthy and necessary. Your goal here is to recognize more and more the role that these two things have played...and more importantly, the role that they MAY BE PLAYING in your current decision-making. Such awareness can only be gained through conscious practice/experience.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:26 pm 
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CoachJon wrote:
Good effort here. Now with things like immediate gratification decision-making and 'all of nothing' thinking...it is not enough to understand them in the context of your past compulsive rituals. You must expand this awareness into your day-to-day life management--spanning all types of decisions, actions, etc. From driving to the store at 3am for a Diet Pepsi to making a mistake in balancing your checkbook, to ???????

Not that you are striving to live the perfect life. Some conscious immediate gratification is healthy and necessary. Your goal here is to recognize more and more the role that these two things have played...and more importantly, the role that they MAY BE PLAYING in your current decision-making. Such awareness can only be gained through conscious practice/experience.


The one that comes to mind readily is food. I am eating when I'm not hungry and finding myself going for food while at work even though I have brought lunch and snacks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:12 pm 
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re: "The one that comes to mind readily is food. I am eating when I'm not hungry and finding myself going for food while at work even though I have brought lunch and snacks."

In terms of gaining experience in emotional maturity, urge management and other recovery/life management skills...this has the potential to offer you so much over the next month. The trick is that you continue to expand your perspective of recovery beyond 'sexually compulsive behavior'...and come to generalize your application of these skills across all facets of your life.

For instance, being that you have taken these next few months to build a launching pad for the rest of your life...here is what I would do if I were you. I would recognize that, while my compulsive eating patterns may not be overtly destructive, they do provide me with opportunities to ingrain emotional management skills. And so, I would look for opportunities each day--let's say, just for the next two days (so that you don't get overwhelmed)--where every time I eat, I first filter that action through a values-based decision-making process. I determine whether the food going into my body is serving the purpose that it should (energy, nutrition)...or, whether it is serving an emotional purpose. Just for these next two days...I would challenge myself to engage in only healthy eating patterns that were within my values to energize and nurture my body. Then, when I would come across spontaneous urges to snack/over-indulge, etc., I then have the perfect situation where my potential actions will be in conflict with my values/boundaries. That will produce emotion. That will force conscious action.

For now, it's not terribly important whether you go on to eat the candy bar...or the bag of chips. Or the double cheeseburger. You are looking for experience. So what is most important is that you develop awareness in recognizing emotional/behavioral conflict...and that you get comfortable in being in such situations. This, as opposed to fearing/becoming anxious in such situations and actually intensifying the stimulation that is produced in such conflict.

So, with your recognition that food sometimes plays the role of an emotional crutch--you have opened up a new line of opportunity to exploit for your personal growth. Take advantage of this...and other areas. Not with pressure and perfection--but with the goal of developing emotional maturity.

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Jon Marsh
Recovery Coach
RecoveryNation.com


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 Post subject: Exercise 33 - Evaluation
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:43 pm 
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3. At the end of the week, assess the level of effort you put into this task. Did you remember to consciously seek out such developmental opportunities each of the seven days? Post your assessment in your thread

I feel I put real effort into this. I kept a log of each day, making entries as the day went along. (Saturday and Sunday were entered after the fact but the feelings were monitored as they happened). I did try role playing at least one time each day. I didn't write them down and now wish I had. The following are three that induced strong emotions in me:

1. Death of a loved one. I wondered how I would feel if my wife had died. I was amazed at the sense of loss and grief I felt even though I knew she was ok
2. I imagined that I had returned to viewing porn and living a secret life. All the emotions that I associate with it came flooding back. I felt nauseous, guilt, ashamed, extremely anxious, worried, scared. It was not a pleasant experience at all
3. The last one is a bit wierd. I hurt my back last week. It wasn't getting better and out of the blue my wife mentioned that a friend of hers suggested that when I went to see my Doctor, that I should get him to check that it wasn't my kidneys or liver or a sign of cancer. I hadn't thought anything like that until she mentioned it. I just assumed that I had pulled a muscle (which is what it turned out to be) I actually started feeling very afraid that it might be something else and started looking on the internet to see what it might be.


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 Post subject: Health monitoring 2
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:31 am 
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Weekly monitoring

Do I feel that I balanced my life across family, work and myself?

Relationship with my wife - Did I actively work to improve my relationship with my wife?

Relationship with my daughter - Did I actively work to improve my relationship with my daughter?

Did I spend quality (and quantity) time with my family?

Recovery - Did I actively monitor myself on a daily basis? Did I complete my exercises this week? Did I write down personal coaching questions and ask them?

Physical health - Was I physically active this week? Did I follow my Physical health vision?

Myself - Did I take time for myself this week?

Hobbies/Passions - Did I pursue any of my hobbies/passions this week

Work - Did I accomplish what I intended/needed to at work this week? If not why?

Friends - Did I make an effort to develop my friendships this week?


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 Post subject: The role of boundries
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:46 am 
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I. Describe a scenario from your past where not having a well-defined set of boundaries has prolonged and/or intensified the personal consequences that you have experienced.
Knowing that by surfing porn at work I was risking my marriage, job, career I continued, eventually resulting in my being fired.

II. Describe a situation in your life where having solid boundaries will assist you in managing the event in such a way as to protect your value system.
Knowing that surfing porn is detrimental to my marriage, my wife, my personal mental health, I will not allow myself to even consider it. Further, if I am ever in a situation where someone else shows me porn of any sort, I will let them know as directly as possible that it is not acceptable.


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 Post subject: Exercise 37
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:57 pm 
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I. List three of your highest values (values prioritized within the top five).
My top three values are:
Integrity, Be a good husband to my wife, be a good father to my daughter

II. For each value, list at least five concrete boundaries (rules) that you will use to protect that value.
Integrity
1. I will be honest with myself and others
2. I will tell the truth
3. I will ask myself if this is an action a person of integrity would take
4. I will not do anything I can't tell my wife about
5. I will not omit details

Be a good husband to my wife
1. I will treat my wife with respect
2. I will share myself openly with my wife
3. I will share my feelings, good or bad with her
4. I will tell her and show her I love her every day
5. I will be affectionate with her

Be a good father to my daughter
1. I will spend quality time with her
2. I will spend quantity time with her
3. I will help her when she needs it
4. I will comfort her when she needs it
5. I will tell her and show her I love her every dya

III. Absolute boundaries are those boundaries that under no circumstances will you ever cross. These must be realistic AND you must hold them in reverance. Typically, everyone should have at least three such absolute boundaries. List three that you will use to help manage your life.
1. I will no longer view or use pornography in any way shape or form
2. I will tell the truth at all times
3. I will not hide anything from my wife
4. I will take responsibility for my life, past present and future


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