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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:30 am 
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Lesson 46 Exercise:

A. In the long run, addiction is eliminated by altering the existing compulsive behavior (destructive, based on immediate emotional needs) to more stable, constructive chains that solidify the foundation of your life in a progressive manner. Before such compulsive chains can be reversed, it is necessary to begin mastering the ability to reverse single compulsive rituals. Begin this process now by considering a previous compulsive chain, identify the element immediately preceeding the 'point of no return' and then rewrite the remainder of the chain so that your actions are based on healthy values, rather than immediate emotional response. Share this in your recovery thread.

1. I’m at home without a plan for the day, or procrastinating on the plan. (bored, restless or lonely)
2. I decide to log on to the chatroom and say hi. (anticipation, suspense, relief at having something to do)
3. While chatting, the other person makes flirtatious comments and I feel a spark of interest. (potential, suspense)
4. I feel the urge to take the comments farther and see if I can get the person interested in me too. This urge is accompanied by fantasies that are almost unconscious, of us having an intense relationship, him finding me irresistible, and me feeling wanted and loved. (challenge/seduction, romance/intrigue, suspense)
5. Point of No Return: I could push the talk into more sexual territory and after that it would be hard for me to turn back, as I find it almost impossible to back out once the other person expects sexual activity.
6. Instead of introducing sexual talk, I run through past experiences in my mind and realize the amount of time that a relationship with this person--or even one sexual encounter--will take. I remember that my value is to spend my time engaging with life instead of on the computer.
7. I continue talking to the person but keep the conversation light and focused on friendship, staying aware of my value of being kind.
8. I practice my value of non-judgment as the other person tells me what’s going on in his life.
9. I limit my time in that conversation so that I can stick to my value of allowing time for creative pursuits.
10. I log off of the computer and make plans with a friend to meet for lunch the next day, according to my value of spending time with same-sex friends who appreciate and encourage me.
11. I work on a creative project for the next hour or two, which fits my value of value of being creative every day.

I'm not sure if this constitutes writing out an alternate chain since I pulled from various values. I don't see a chain of events here, except in the sense that my choices would be conscious and motivated by my values, but this feels like something that could realistically happen.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:29 pm 
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Lesson 47 Exercise:

1. Just as you have with your values and your emotions, it is time to transfer the knowledge that you are developing to a practical application in your day-to-day life. This cannot be done without first developing an awareness of the times when such information is applicable. Over the next 48 hours, envision at least ten different REALISTIC scenarios where you may encounter a compulsive urge in the future and documetn these in your recovery thread.

2. With each scenario:
• Identify how you would know when that urge/ritual would likely begin, when the likely 'point of no return' would be and when you would 'create the break'. Do this in your head.
• Anticipate the emotions associated with that particular ritual, isolate those emotions from your 'core identity' and prepare yourself to make a values-based decision (versus an emotions-based decision). Do this in your head.
• Choose one such scenario and document it in your recovery thread.
• If you are in coaching, you will be asked to review several of these to make sure that you understand the concepts involved. If you are not in coaching, feel free to post additional scenarios for review.

Scenario:

On a day when I'm feeling low for some reason, I hear a song on the radio that reminds me of an old relationship and I feel the urge to send a message to that person to reconnect. The emotions involved are nostalgia for the intensity of our past relationship, loneliness, anxiety that I've lost touch with them, and suspense as I'm wondering whether we could rekindle the spark.

Point of No Return: When I decide to contact the person in the hope of recapturing some of that past feeling.

Create the Break: By taking time to consider whether I really want to renew contact and whether that relationship fits in with my values.

The emotions involved in this urge are mainly longing for the safety and comfort of being intensely loved and admired. There is temptation to return to what's familiar, not only in that particular relationship but in the whole pattern of relationships that I knew so well. If I put myself back into that situation, maybe I'll feel reassured.

Part of my core identity now is that I've lived out those relationship patterns so many times that I'm sick to death of them. If I only take time to remember how things will inevitably play out, and compare that to my life now and how it feels to be focused on my values and feeling really alive, the temptation fades quickly.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:00 pm 
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I’ve been feeling weak and directionless for the past couple of weeks. Thanks to RN, it’s becoming clearer to me when I’m in this state of mind where I start to drift back toward old behavior and it gets harder to focus on my values.

I had my family event and it went fairly well but it left me feeling off balance. I’m frustrated that I don’t have closer, more supportive relationships with my family. I’ve never really grieved or felt that as a loss because I seem to be stuck in anger. I also feel a lot of guilt and conflict because two relatives are in very difficult circumstances right now and I feel the urge to help them, but I know it’s likely I’ll end up feeling worse later if I do.

Work deadlines are looming. I have multiple big projects due at the start of May but I’ve been going through a creative low. Stress and pressure to produce drive my creativity right into the ground, so I’m stressing and procrastinating at the same time.

Health problems are still an issue. They get in the way of things I’d like to do because I just don’t have the energy. I’m sick of feeling bad.

Overall I’m feeling frustrated, disgruntled, sad, bored, and just about every other negative feeling. I can see where there are big gaps in living according to my values. In fact, the only one that’s gotten much attention lately is spending time with family. I’m not sure which comes first, neglecting my values or feeling low, but it’s a vicious circle once it gets going.

I’ve been having dreams about past lovers. The dreams are romantic and good feeling, but at some point I realize that I don’t want this behavior and this isn’t right. At least my subconscious is on board with recovery.

It’s harder to deal with nostalgia when I’m awake. Over the last week or so I’ve been feeling sad about people who aren’t in my life anymore. Then I get frustrated that I still feel this way. It seems silly to be pining for them when they treated me badly during the relationship. I don’t want to be hung up on them anymore, or miss them, or feel sad that they’re gone. I want to be done with the whole thing and I wonder if I ever will be.

My husband suggested that I might not really be missing those people, but my mind is trying to reach an explanation for my general sad feelings. I feel a malaise so I stick a face on it and say that I miss ____. That could be true. I know it’s true that what I miss is the feeling that I had in those relationships, rather than the people themselves.

Maybe I’m just missing the high of the addiction, and it’s something that will creep in when I’m not consciously busy living my values. I’ve been spending a lot of time at the computer, looking at who’s in the chat room, reading Facebook and other sites. It feels like this could lead to going back in the chat room and getting focused on what’s happening there, which is not good for me.

I tend to spend a lot of time analyzing and trying to figure out WHY. Why do I feel so bad today, why do I still miss so-and-so, why am I procrastinating, etc, etc. It’s good to be self-aware but that can only get me so far. There’s a time to stop sitting around untangling the threads of my misery and just do something. Taking a couple of small healthy steps is more productive. It amazes me how easy it is to forget the things that work. Like how a small shift in thinking from “I have nothing to do all day” to “I can do whatever I want today” can change my mood. It takes constant focus to stay in the positive.

I took a small step today by organizing my work stuff so it will be ready to go when I feel better. That lifted my spirits a little, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:41 pm 
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I’m thinking about expectations and how they are the cause of most of my frustration and other pain.

I expect more of a connection between my family members and me and when it’s not there I feel disappointed and frustrated.

I expect to be feeling better on a day by day basis due to recovery and when I have a bad day I feel frustrated and discouraged.

I expect to be finished with my sadness over people from my past and when I still miss them I feel critical of myself and frustrated.

I expect my health to improve and when I still suffer pain I feel hopeless and frustrated.

I expect that the times when my creativity is flowing will continue, and when it dries up I feel scared and frustrated.

All this aggravation over things not turning out as I expect. I’ve known for a long time that expectations are a major problem for me but I haven’t found a way to let go of them yet.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 11:16 pm 
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I keep putting off posting here because my thoughts are so jumbled and it seems like a chore to make sense of them. I’ll dump out whatever’s on my mind at the moment and see if that breaks the trend of avoiding posting.

Work has been incredibly busy. In theory that’s a good thing because I’m self-employed and it means things are getting off the ground. In reality, it throws everything else off balance. When I feel pressure from work deadlines, stuff like meditation, exercise and healthy eating get pushed out.

I’m feeling insecure about the work that I’m doing. It took off so fast that I feel like I’m not solid in my plans or vision. I’m torn between wanting to grab the opportunities that have been coming my way, and feeling like I’m not ready. At the moment, those opportunities are controlling my time and output in a way that I don’t like. After my current projects wrap up, I plan to slow down and focus more on what I want to be doing. I feel good about that.

After my family event a few weeks ago, I felt emotional about a couple of relatives. I am sad and frustrated that we don’t have the kind of relationship I want—and need. It’s taken some time for that to settle down. I’m working on the idea that I can be angry with them for the ways they’ve let me down, and I can simultaneously love them and be concerned about them. I don’t have to make a decision to go with one feeling or the other.

Much of the sense of struggle in my life comes from the idea that I have to Make A Decision about everything.

It feels like my values have been coming into conflict with each other a few times lately. After all the work stress, I was feeling run down but I was supposed to attend a social event. I felt confused about which value was more important: taking good care of myself and listening to my gut feeling that I didn’t want to go, or pushing myself to get out and be social? After an hour or two of worrying about it, I decided to stay home and it was good that I did because I ended up feeling sick later. Another conflict is that I have a work event coming up on the same day that my son has a school event. So is it more important to do the work thing for the sake of my sense of self and my work, or to attend my son’s event because supporting family is one of my most important values?

I’m leaning toward skipping the work thing, even though that creates a lot of anxiety for me. In this case I think it’s most important that I be there for my son. That’s good for him and it also makes me feel like a good parent, which is good for me.

Between work itself, and questioning what direction I want to go in with my work, and analyzing every value-related situation that comes up, I’m pretty worn out.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 11:26 pm 
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Since my post sounded pretty negative, I want to add that although I’m tired and under a lot of pressure right now, I wouldn’t even be able to accept these opportunities if not for all the recovery work I’ve done. Earlier tonight I looked back a year and a half in my journal and that really showed me how far I’ve come. I have a much clearer sense of myself, I’m content and productive most days, and I have energy to tackle projects. It’s important to keep reminding myself, at times when I feel frustrated or worn down, of how much better life is now than it used to be.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 11:51 pm 
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Hi ChangingforGood,

Quote:
In reality, it throws everything else off balance. When I feel pressure from work deadlines, stuff like meditation, exercise and healthy eating get pushed out.


Yes, this is something to watch closely, as it works as a negative feedback loop...you feel pressure, so you work harder to get things done, dropping healthy activities that reduce your stress...which then increases your stress and makes you feel more out of balance.

Quote:
After my family event a few weeks ago, I felt emotional about a couple of relatives. I am sad and frustrated that we don’t have the kind of relationship I want—and need.


Yes, this reminded me of something CoachJon wrote in one of the supplemental lessons about dealing with family of origin issues in recovery (which I would recommend reading, if you have time). I definitely took this to heart when I was dealing with similar frustrations earlier in my own recovery.

CoachJon wrote:
It is important to remember that your goal in recovery is to transition your life from stress and compulsions to that of health and fulfillment. One of the easiest ways to lose sight of this goal is to begin taking on the role of trying to "fix" the problems that led to your addiction. Most commonly, this means trying to fix the problems associated with your family of origin. Don't fall into this trap. If your family is relatively healthy, the rewards of exploring your upbringing are great. If your family remains unhealthy, the consequences of pursuing this road can be not only distracting, but devastating.

Wait until you have made the transition to health before considering a pursuit of such things. Because of a human being's natural need for acceptance from their family of origin, it is one of the few areas of your life that can actually bring your entire recovery crashing down. The emotions produced within a dysfunctional family can be overwhelming to an underdeveloped value system...and until yours is developed to the point where you have learned to rely on it in a functional way, limit the role that your dysfunctional family plays in your recovery.


And just to be clear: it's not like you shouldn't work on improving your relationships with your family. That's an important goal. It's more a cautionary warning to not try to "fix" some of the issues that exist in your family, as this can prove incredibly frustrating and destabilizing at a time when your own identity is still being rebuilt.

Quote:
It feels like my values have been coming into conflict with each other a few times lately. After all the work stress, I was feeling run down but I was supposed to attend a social event. I felt confused about which value was more important: taking good care of myself and listening to my gut feeling that I didn’t want to go, or pushing myself to get out and be social?


This touches on issues of value conflicts...and it is a crucial one in re-learning how to make decisions. It's one of the subtleties of recovery and learning how to live again.

One thing here to consider: did you want to stay home because you didn't want to be social, or because you legitimately wanted to rest and rejuvenate? Gut feelings can be important to listen to. As you can see, it paid off for you. One crucial part of recovery is learning how to trust yourself again. In many situations now, as I have gotten closer to my true self and my true values, I have found that I know what decision needs to be made...and it is usually been when I've had racing thoughts and delusional thinking that has made me indecisive and confused about the answer that I already knew.

Another thing to think about (for example, with the decision you have to make now between your work event and your son's event) is consider the consequences of making each decision...both positive and negative for each, both short-term and long-term. And there are positive and negative consequences for ALL decisions, even destructive ones like compulsive behaviour...But, actually taking the time to write this out (like a pro and con list for each decision) could help you out.

Quote:
Between work itself, and questioning what direction I want to go in with my work, and analyzing every value-related situation that comes up, I’m pretty worn out.


I think this is a point we all reach in recovery...as we realize just how much we relied on our addiction to manage our lives. So I think it's normal that in our transition, you will hit points where you feel worn out and overwhelmed. To paraphrase something I remember Jon writing: expect life to hit you. Expect to struggle in many different areas of life that you used to handle with ease when you were in your addiction. It definitely is frustrating. The important part here is to make sure that you balance yourself out...because that worn out feeling can quickly send you backwards as well. Make sure to take time for yourself. Relax when you can...you can always breathe deeply and come back to your breath no matter where you are. And the more you can focus on living the present moment, the less anxious and more efficient you will be, no matter what you're doing.

:g:

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 8:15 pm 
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Thanks for the encouraging words, Coach Boundless. Learning to manage my stress better is definitely something I need to work on. I don't use my addiction to cope with the stress itself, but after things die down, my healthy lifestyle has been eroded by the busy-ness and I end up feeling weak and low. Then I'm more likely to miss my compulsive rituals and I slide back into negative, self-critical thought patterns.

What Coach Jon wrote is valuable for me to read right now. I felt like I handled the family stuff pretty well at this event, so I underestimated how just being around them threw me off balance emotionally. I'm not trying to fix them, just trying to survive them! Or more accurately, survive the anxiety that being around them generates. One thing that has helped settle this for me is my therapist telling me last week that I can feel angry at my relatives for the ways they've hurt me, and I can also love them and want to help them at the same time. That finally clicked.

Anxiety has been a theme lately. Perfectionism has been rearing up as I'm getting my fledgling business off the ground, telling me that this is all terribly important because I'm making contacts and first impressions. I've been overwhelmed because my hectic schedule means I've had to rush work out before I felt it was ready, and I hated that feeling.

It was the anxiety that was making me confused about the conflicting values. Once I felt calmer, I felt good about putting my health/rest and my son first. That wasn't really much of a conflict, it had just gotten blown out of proportion in my mind as I felt I needed to do everything and have it all covered.

What you wrote about decisions and consequences really made me think. So often, I'm trying to find the perfect decision that will make things turn out right. This is connected to my need for control (a need that a lot of us seem to share). Accepting that there is no perfect decision, and there will be negative consequences no matter what I choose feels strangely comforting. After reaching that acceptance, it's just a matter of which consequences I would rather live with.

It's amazing how I need to be reminded over and over that recovery is a process and I'm still in the middle of that process. It's ongoing. I keep hitting points where I feel frustrated to be struggling, like I should already be "there" by now. I don't think I was handling things with ease during my addiction, I just ignored them. I was tuned out. Being tuned in is hard! It's also very worth it.

Quote:
And the more you can focus on living the present moment, the less anxious and more efficient you will be, no matter what you're doing.


So true. :)


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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 8:49 pm 
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Quote:
So often, I'm trying to find the perfect decision that will make things turn out right. This is connected to my need for control (a need that a lot of us seem to share).


Yes, there are several different reasons for this, some that seem to be relatively normal to the human condition, others that are connected to unhealthy thinking and addiction.

I think it is normal for people to some extent to worry about the future. In Buddhist ways of thinking, this is a chief cause of suffering. Rather than staying in the present and just focusing on what we are doing in the present, our mind either worries about the past (which can't be changed) or worries about the future (which hasn't happened yet). Then, we imagine how we wish the future could be, and think that we will be so much happier, and that things will be so much better, when we reach that future. Then when we do...it may briefly be happier, but such happiness is still impermanent. Or, things don't turn out the way we want them to. So we are disappointed...then start imagining a new future. In this way, you're always chasing a future that is actually just images in your own mind, rather than living in the present.

However, in addition to this, there are several unhealthy patterns for people who've developed compulsive behaviours that only add to this "normal" stress. For instance, many people like us who developed perfectionistic patterns growing up learned when we were young that if we didn't act the way others wanted us to, we would be criticized, rejected, ignored, etc....basically, we could expect negative emotions. What this does is creates some rather strong boundaries surrounding ideas of good and bad, right and wrong. This expectation of criticism makes us feel like "If I could only do things exactly right, people will accept me" or other similar thinking...basing what is "right" on others' expectations (which as we know, is not always "right"). This is probably not all-encompassing; I would imagine that there are many ways people could develop these patterns. But this is what I experienced, and it is what I have consistently seen here.

Therefore, we were always thinking ahead, trying to imagine in many scenarios what the "perfect" or "right" decision would be that would make us "good", as you said. What we never seem to realize (or we do, but don't know how to break the pattern) is, as you said...ultimately, the only right decisions you can make are the ones you decide are best in terms of the consequences for yourself and others.

And, these are hard patterns to break. It's normal to "want to be good", right? So it can be unnerving to try to end them. Personally, I feared that if I eliminated these thoughts, I would suddenly become "bad". What is important to understand though is that the desire to be good her is NOT based on your own inner values, but rather a subconscious desire to be accepted by someone external to yourself (at least, in the case I'm describing...other emotions or desires could also fit).

Quote:
After reaching that acceptance, it's just a matter of which consequences I would rather live with.


Yes, this is a great insight. While I understand the principle, I've never heard it phrased like this, but you're exactly right. I learned something there, so thank you for that. :g:

Quote:
I keep hitting points where I feel frustrated to be struggling, like I should already be "there" by now.


Yeah, this is common for early to middle recovery...it is that "thinking of your life in steps and stages" that you may have read about back in lesson 13 about recovery patterns. You think that one day you will wake up, be "recovered" and then move on with life. Eventually though, you will realize that life is a flow. Really, all there is, is healthy and unhealthy actions...and again, only you can decide what is "right" and healthy, or "wrong"/unhealthy for you. And the actions you take today make who you are tomorrow, in a constant flow.

:g:

Boundless

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"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 3:57 pm 
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I’m feeling worn out. I keep catching myself thinking I need to take a break. At first I was thinking about it in terms of work, but it applies to other areas too.

It feels like there are a lot of plates that I need to keep spinning all the time. I can’t possibly focus on so many different areas so something inevitably slips and then it nags at me.

Health: I need to focus on nutrition and fitness to help an overall health issue, but I have a hard time being consistent about eating healthy food, and when I start exercising I keep getting injured in minor ways that stop me from continuing. Frustrating.

Pain: my day to day health issues have been worse lately and that affects my mood and energy.

Recovery: I need this for my emotional well-being but I’m stalled on the lessons. At first the section I’m on didn’t feel applicable to my current situation, then it seemed daunting to get back into them and now it feels like one more thing that’s hanging over me because I’m supposed to be doing it and I’m not.

Spirituality: forget about it. This is one of the most important items for my emotional state and it’s also the hardest one to keep in my life. Earlier I realized that maybe one reason I feel so exhausted is that I’m not tapped into any spiritual source. I’ve been making all these changes in my life from pure force of will.

Work: things have slowed down now that my deadlines are met. I decided to back off and put more time into developing and I felt good about that decision. It felt like the cart was dragging the horse because opportunities came up that seemed like gifts from the Universe and I wanted to step up, but after several months of that I realized the opportunities might not even be in the right direction for me.

Family: this is the only area I feel 100% good about. I’ve gotten some nice feedback recently from my kids about how they view me as a parent and it feels like I’m doing it right.

Extended family: After our event at the start of April I felt a lot of sadness because my relatives are not supportive or trustworthy. I did some journal writing about my expectations, and talked to my therapist and my husband to come up with my plan for dealing with the relatives in the future. I feel peaceful about that now but there still could be grief affecting my mood.

Marriage: When I feel my mood dropping, I start worrying about my husband having to deal with my depression again and what a burden that is for him. His nature is to be content and cheerful but he worries about me and I lean on him a lot. I don’t like feeling like I’m dragging him down with me AGAIN.

Friends: This area is going all right. I’ve met a lot of people and feel more connected in my community, though I haven’t gotten close to any particular friend. I’ve also showed up for a lot more social events and felt comfortable talking with people.

Although some of these areas are doing well, trying to keep track of so many different things all the time and improve in so many different parts of my life is exhausting. I’ve worked very hard to make changes over the past year and a half, to build a healthy, balanced life, and it is much better than it was before, but I feel worn down.

I’m trying to avoid dwelling too much on the why and just deal with the here and now, to do whatever I can to take care of myself and rest.

A couple of weeks ago when I was running around getting work done and seeing friends, I noticed that if I stopped to think at all, my eyes would fill with tears. I couldn’t understand why I had this undercurrent of sadness when my life was going so well. Then I realized that maybe that undercurrent of sadness was ALWAYS there and I was just avoiding it in the past through my love addiction.

It looks like there’s been a pattern the past several months of me showing up to post here when things get rough. I felt things were going pretty well in between those posts, but maybe not. Maybe it’s really been several months of drifting off course with my recovery. I’ve stopped the compulsive behavior and I’ve done as much as I could to build a healthy life, but something is missing and I’m not sure what it is. Or maybe I just have an unrealistic expectation that the sadness and tiredness are something that would go away at some point.


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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 4:11 pm 
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Thanks, Coach Boundless, and I apologize for taking so long to answer your post.

Quote:
I think it is normal for people to some extent to worry about the future. In Buddhist ways of thinking, this is a chief cause of suffering. Rather than staying in the present and just focusing on what we are doing in the present, our mind either worries about the past (which can't be changed) or worries about the future (which hasn't happened yet). Then, we imagine how we wish the future could be, and think that we will be so much happier, and that things will be so much better, when we reach that future. Then when we do...it may briefly be happier, but such happiness is still impermanent. Or, things don't turn out the way we want them to. So we are disappointed...then start imagining a new future. In this way, you're always chasing a future that is actually just images in your own mind, rather than living in the present.


This is especially applicable to what I just posted because a lot of my reaction to feeling depressed is related to past and future. If I woke up and felt low on one day without that context, I would probably think, "I feel bad today. Huh." Instead my thoughts are more like, "Oh no, I'm getting depressed again. I remember how bad that got before. It's been so many times now. Why is this happening again? Now my husband will have to deal with it..." And on and on.

Quote:
What this does is creates some rather strong boundaries surrounding ideas of good and bad, right and wrong. This expectation of criticism makes us feel like "If I could only do things exactly right, people will accept me" or other similar thinking...basing what is "right" on others' expectations (which as we know, is not always "right"). ...

Therefore, we were always thinking ahead, trying to imagine in many scenarios what the "perfect" or "right" decision would be that would make us "good", as you said. What we never seem to realize (or we do, but don't know how to break the pattern) is, as you said...ultimately, the only right decisions you can make are the ones you decide are best in terms of the consequences for yourself and others.


This is also applicable, not surprisingly. My "self talk" has gotten better but in the last couple of days I've been picking up on an almost subconscious stream of background noise, all about expectations. It's very negative and critical and focused on some imaginary other people and what they might think or do.

It seems like the very fact that I've stepped up and taken more responsibility for things in my life and become more active, means that I extrapolate even higher expectations. Like "Now that my business is starting to pick up, I can spend a lot more time working and really get professional about it." Huge overwhelming expectations about what "professional" means. No wonder I don't want to do any work at all. The same process has probably been happening in all of the areas I described.

I would love to settle down in the moment. I have occasional glimpses of what that feels like, but I can't hang onto them for long.


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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 5:36 pm 
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Hi ChangingforGood,

Quote:
I need this for my emotional well-being but I’m stalled on the lessons.


Why do you feel stalled on the lessons?

Quote:
...it seemed daunting to get back into them and now it feels like one more thing that’s hanging over me because I’m supposed to be doing it and I’m not.


I have a old post for you about this very issue from CoachJon.

Quote:
Taking “A Break” From Recovery

Q: "I have taken an unexpected break and I feel that I should have posted something on here to announce that."

A: Make this really clear inside your head. This is your recovery. It is yours to embrace as the catalyst for actively moving into the next phase of your life. It is yours to neglect, allowing known obstacles and threats to emerge unchallenged. You can take months to instill this foundation or you can take years. You can fully implement a transition to health or you can choose to only implement parts, thus insuring that you will always have addiction and addiction recovery to fall back on as a distraction to your life. My point: this recovery is yours and yours alone. You don't and shouldn’t answer to anybody in relation to the path you choose. This is fully your responsibility and privilege— or burden, should you see it as such. As for everyone else? They are left with the consequences of how active your path has been.

I hope you understand what I am saying, because it is not to make you question your commitment. It is to put your recovery in the proper perspective. That being, there are certain inevitable parts to ending addiction. Generally, the insights and skills needed to begin this ending take about two to three months to build. You have the choice of rushing through it in a few weeks and thus perhaps gaining some intellectual understanding but without a foundation to fully integrate that learning. Or, you can take years and years, allowing known obstacles (with known solutions) to distract you. Or, you can make a personal commitment—a personal investment—to your own life. Without excuse.

And so, break when you need to. Stop when you must. Continue when you feel like it. It is all a part of your unique recovery path. Just make sure that you embrace all of the consequences for the decisions you make on this recovery path—the good and the bad.

Why am I sharing all of this with overkill? Because it is important that you adopt the concept that you are the composer of your life. If you ever find yourself completing lessons because you feel pressured—you have lost your way on a healthy recovery path. If you ever feel like you are letting others down because you are not completing lessons—you have lost your way on a healthy recovery path. Recovery, true recovery, is a privilege that you offer yourself. It is internal. Eternal. It affects you, your loved ones, and the people that you have impacted and will impact over your remaining years. Recognize it as such. Recognize that crossroads you are now at for the rest of your life. And then do what you feel needs to be done.


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Although some of these areas are doing well, trying to keep track of so many different things all the time and improve in so many different parts of my life is exhausting. I’ve worked very hard to make changes over the past year and a half, to build a healthy, balanced life, and it is much better than it was before, but I feel worn down.


As someone who has dealt with a rather severe burnout myself, all I can say is: if you are feeling worn out, slow down. This may seem like simple advice (and is even advice that you've likely given yourself), but usually it is overruled in your mind by a continual feeling of "But I just HAVE to do this..." For me, there were a number of things that I could have slowed down on, but didn't...and these can be related to the same patterns that underpin the addiction (ie. fear of failure, or being a failure/perceived as a failure if you slow down). Recovery should not run you ragged. The things that you are doing, you should be enjoying doing (or even if you don't enjoy them, they should bring some kind of value to your life). Again, obviously, not everything that you have to do is emotionally satisfying...but, they should be at least tied to something you value that IS emotionally satisfying to you.

This could be a good opportunity for you to go back to your value list and take some time to re-prioritize yourself. Drop commitments that aren't necessary if you can. Rather than going out, take time to relax. I think one thing many people in early/middle recovery can struggle with is filling their life with activities...which can be a good thing (at least better than acting out), but it can also be used as a distraction from the same emotions that you were previously soothing with compulsive behaviours. Again, recovery shouldn't be exhausting. Your vision, values and action plans are there to help you organize your life better and keep you focused...not be a tool for slave-driving yourself. This can also relate back to perfectionism...thinking that if you don't achieve what you had set out in your plans, you've failed. But you haven't. You are the only judge. Re-evaluate your priorities and time management and go from there.

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I noticed that if I stopped to think at all, my eyes would fill with tears. I couldn’t understand why I had this undercurrent of sadness when my life was going so well. Then I realized that maybe that undercurrent of sadness was ALWAYS there and I was just avoiding it in the past through my love addiction.


Good insight. This is actually a good sign, part of the emotional relapse that many people experience as they continue to distance themselves from their compulsive behaviour. This is uncomfortable in the start, as it can be the first time in a long time we have truly felt these emotions. But you will get used to managing this with time, and it is a good indicator that real change is taking place; that you are "changing for good". :w:

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It looks like there’s been a pattern the past several months of me showing up to post here when things get rough. I felt things were going pretty well in between those posts, but maybe not. Maybe it’s really been several months of drifting off course with my recovery. I’ve stopped the compulsive behavior and I’ve done as much as I could to build a healthy life, but something is missing and I’m not sure what it is.


Good insight here too. What could you do to end this pattern? What may be the case here is that at least a part of your recovery is motivated by fear...so when things are going well, you manage fine; when things aren't going so well, you come back here. Which isn't so bad. I think everyone goes through this at a point. You've identified an issue though; what can you do to change it?

I would say, keep on with the lessons (of course, per CoachJon above, only if it is a decision you're making). Keep moving forward with sincerity, and you will discover what that something that's missing is.

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Instead my thoughts are more like, "Oh no, I'm getting depressed again. I remember how bad that got before. It's been so many times now. Why is this happening again? Now my husband will have to deal with it..."


It'd be good to come up with a plan of how to respond when your mind gets into these spirals, as they can be self-perpetuating and very tough to pull out of when you are in them. I remember times when my mind would start going and it had the potential to ruin an entire day. But, with practice, it does get easier to respond quickly and control your mind.

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My "self talk" has gotten better but in the last couple of days I've been picking up on an almost subconscious stream of background noise, all about expectations. It's very negative and critical and focused on some imaginary other people and what they might think or do.


This is another consequence in recovery. I liken it to a pot slowly boiling...or bubbles in molasses slowly moving to the top and popping. These are thoughts that for years, you have kept crammed down in your subconscious through the use of your addiction (and potentially even willpower). As you stop your compulsive behaviours, a whole bunch of junk from over the years starts to arise. As you deal with certain patterns, others start to pop up. The common initial response when this starts to happen is to retreat; either to distract yourself through some kind of other behaviour (even healthy), through willpower force these thoughts away, or even go back to compulsive behaviour.

Don't do any of these. Realize that it is dealing with these thoughts that is at the crux of ending your addiction permanently. It is stuff like this that drives the addiction. Those negative thoughts create negative emotions...which you then previously resorted to soothing with compulsive behaviours. The key to ending these is understanding the concept of finite emotions (recall lesson 30-35) and the concept of letting go. As these thoughts and emotions arise (even strong emotions), realize that even if they are strong...they don't force you to make decisions. You are still in control. Allow these thoughts and emotions to come, stay with them, recognize that they won't last forever, and by doing so, you'll let them go. And as you do, you will start to get at the core of some of these patterns...and slowly, as these thoughts and emotions get released, your perceptions will change, and your mind will start to clear.

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It seems like the very fact that I've stepped up and taken more responsibility for things in my life and become more active, means that I extrapolate even higher expectations. Like "Now that my business is starting to pick up, I can spend a lot more time working and really get professional about it." Huge overwhelming expectations about what "professional" means. No wonder I don't want to do any work at all.


To be blunt here: ensure that you put boundaries on yourself regarding work. Don't fall into the same trap I did...as it is easy to transfer your addiction from love to work, when in reality you can similarly be using work to avoid your issues. The reason that I think you're at a dangerous place with this (other than the fact that you already are saying you're exhausted) is the combination of feeling like you don't want to do any work at all, combined with a feeling of working a lot more. This indicates a value conflict in your identity...and I had much the same feelings, which led to a fairly severe burnout for me two years ago which still affects me.

So all I can say is, ensure that you aren't transferring your compulsive patterns to working, and put boundaries on yourself. Signs to watch out for include:

- taking on more work than you know you should or want to
- feeling like you "can't stop" or slow down
- feeling overwhelming expectations that you feel can't possibly be achieved, yet you want to try
- feeling like what you're doing is too important for you to stop or slow down
- working even when you know you want or need to rest or do something else
- pushing yourself past the point of exhaustion
- when you're not working, worrying about work excessively; being "always on" in regards to email, phone, etc.
- dropping other life commitments (hobbies, friends, family) in order to work more, etc.

There could be many other patterns, these are just ones I experienced myself. But if these sound like you...please, take time to slow down and re-evaluate your relationship with your work. Don't get to the point where you completely flame out, as it can affect both your physical and mental health.

To ask a question: what DOES professional mean to you?

Anyways, I hope you take time to rest and rejuvenate. :g:

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:23 pm 
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Thanks again, Coach Boundless, for the feedback and support, and especially for the post from Coach Jon. Apparently I needed a break from everything for the last month. My therapist said it's not uncommon for people to fall back into their comfort zone after making big changes. At first I had my usual reaction of anxiety, feeling like I was right back where I started, but now that I'm coming out of it and regaining some energy it's more obvious that I was resting.

There's also been a lot of emotional stuff to deal with regarding my relatives and my disappointment over the lack of a real relationship with them. Part of the break was taking better care of myself during that grief. At least I'm at a point now where I can feel and identify the grief.

It's so easy to forget the things that build me up and give me more energy and confidence, but after a few weeks of floundering I'm remembering that I always feel better and get more done when I'm gentle with myself and pay attention to how I'm feeling, instead of trying to push myself to do more and more.

None of this comfort zone time involved compulsive behavior.

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Why do you feel stalled on the lessons?


Sometimes they don't seem very applicable because they're more geared toward sex addiction than love addiction. The section I'm in now is about urge control and that hasn't been a big issue for me lately. I need more help in the areas of building up the life I want and being more mature in my relationship with my husband. These are things I'm working on, but the recent lessons haven't been addressing them specifically.

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This could be a good opportunity for you to go back to your value list and take some time to re-prioritize yourself.


It does feel like a good time to assess and update my values list so that I can refocus.

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Drop commitments that aren't necessary if you can. Rather than going out, take time to relax.


Done. :w:

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It looks like there’s been a pattern the past several months of me showing up to post here when things get rough. I felt things were going pretty well in between those posts, but maybe not. Maybe it’s really been several months of drifting off course with my recovery. I’ve stopped the compulsive behavior and I’ve done as much as I could to build a healthy life, but something is missing and I’m not sure what it is.



Good insight here too. What could you do to end this pattern? What may be the case here is that at least a part of your recovery is motivated by fear...so when things are going well, you manage fine; when things aren't going so well, you come back here. Which isn't so bad. I think everyone goes through this at a point. You've identified an issue though; what can you do to change it?


I think it may be that deep down I still believe there's a "there" to reach, that there will be a point when I'm all better. I need to keep my focus on the process rather than the outcome, which is never easy for me. As for posting when things are going badly, I'm writing tonight when things are going well, so I guess that's not always the case.

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This is another consequence in recovery. I liken it to a pot slowly boiling...or bubbles in molasses slowly moving to the top and popping. These are thoughts that for years, you have kept crammed down in your subconscious through the use of your addiction (and potentially even willpower).


Thanks, this is a helpful way to look at it.

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To be blunt here: ensure that you put boundaries on yourself regarding work. Don't fall into the same trap I did...as it is easy to transfer your addiction from love to work, when in reality you can similarly be using work to avoid your issues.


As a champion procrastinator, I spend a lot of time NOT working. The problem is that during that time, I feel anxious and guilty for not doing more. So the item that most applies from your list of warning signs is worrying excessively and being "always on." Something to work on.

I do feel rested and rejuvenated now, and maybe even ready to start the lessons again. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:59 pm 
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Quote:
My therapist said it's not uncommon for people to fall back into their comfort zone after making big changes.


Indeed. :w:

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Sometimes they don't seem very applicable because they're more geared toward sex addiction than love addiction.


Yes, the workshop was written specifically for sex addiction, with love addiction being worked in primarily through that one supplemental lesson (though one thing that will hopefully come to fruition is having the whole workshop translated to all forms of addiction).

The most important thing to realize is that the principles behind recovery remain the same, no matter whether you are dealing with sex or love addiction patterns (or, I would argue, any addiction, including alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.) Values and identity management, emotional management, life vision, action plans, urge control and healthy decision making...all of these are the same regardless of your compulsive rituals. Therefore, one important thing with love addiction recovery is to be able to understand the principles, then practically apply them to your own patterns, even if this takes a bit of lateral thinking.

For instance, urge control is still definitely useful in love addiction. Urges in love addiction tend to not be as intense as in sex/porn addiction (or rather, are intense in a different way), but can be more subtle and therefore not as easily recognized, since typically they can start with romantic fantasy and/or delusions. The other main difference here is that rituals can play out over the course of weeks and months (rather than minutes, hours, or at most days for most individual sexual rituals, though not necessarily chains.) Because of the delusional nature of the romantic thinking, and that the delusion can be transparent to you, standard urge control methods used for other compulsive behaviours won't be useful until you become aware of the delusion. So instead, you almost need "reality testing" urge control methods, where you maintain awareness to the point where you recognize that you are thinking delusionally, at which point, standard urge control methods apply.

Also realize that there are a couple reasons people at this point slow down or stop on the lessons. Many get bored, think they can do it themselves, think the workshop isn't giving them anything useful, so they leave, only to come back in a few weeks/months after they have again relapsed...having not actually practically learned the skills. In many cases, this is an emotionally based decision...thinking "I'm not getting what I want out of this right now, so it's no longer helpful" when in actuality, it would be helpful if they actually continued, since the lessons build to something. I'm not saying this is you, but it is something you may want to consider.

For the other group, the concepts of a health-based recovery have "clicked" for them...after which, they intuitively grasp the urge control and decision making skills, so no longer feel the workshop is necessary, or they keep going in order to deepen their understanding. As is said in the workshop, it is not necessary to complete the workshop in order to understand addiction and the life management components that are necessary for a healthy recovery and life. Just make sure that when you are thinking about whether the workshop is still useful, that you are coming at it from a perspective of understanding, rather than a perspective of impatience.

As well, since urge control deals with emotional management and understanding...which impacts maturity as well as communication...if you don't think it applies to your relationship, you may not be looking hard enough. :w: But again, do or don't do. Your choice, your workshop. :g:

Quote:
As a champion procrastinator, I spend a lot of time NOT working. The problem is that during that time, I feel anxious and guilty for not doing more. So the item that most applies from your list of warning signs is worrying excessively and being "always on."


Indeed. For those with these patterns, their "rest" time is typically fraught with anxiety and guilt. Then their work time is fraught with anxiety and guilt. Which makes their life anxiety and guilt...and if your rest and leisure time is also stressing you out, is it any wonder that we have turned to temporary compulsive means for escape?

Anyways, it sounds like you are doing better, so that is good. :g:

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:11 am 
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Quote:
That could be helpful. But all the same principles apply to ALL compulsive patterns, particularly in regards to emotions, so it may not be necessary to do the entire workshop again for your compulsive eating.


Good point.

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As well, later on in the workshop, poly-addictions are addressed.


Thanks, I'll wait for that. :g:


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