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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:30 pm 
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Posts: 110
I want to debrief some experiences I had this weekend.

Friday

Watched Scarface. Wife realized there were sexy scenes in this movie once we started it and texted me a reminder (is has been many years since I have seen the movie and had forgotten). I was able to prepare myself and basically kept a phone in my lap during the movie and if I felt like a scene was going somewhere triggering, I browsed on there instead of watching the screen for a few minutes. It worked alright. I did this rather than just get out of the room for the movie or just stop the movie because we were watching it with another person and I really did not want to have to do that because of feeling embarrassed or it seeming weird and also because it is a great film and I actually wanted to watch it.

Saturday

My wife and I have found a new musician that we both really like (Janelle Monáe). She has said that I should probably not watch her videos because they are quite sexy and that has been a gateway for me to get back into a porn habit (watching sexy music videos). So, while we had guests here this weekend and I was busy outside for quite a while, this artists came up in conversation and they wanted to see the videos. I came upstairs not thinking anything about it and then walked in while it was on the TV and it was right in the part of the video that was a bit triggering. I just kept walking and headed down the hall to our bedroom and sat there reading until I heard it was over and then came back out and resumed what I was doing. I felt like this was just fine. I need to manage my environment for myself and I don’t expect my wife to do it for me. But she felt really guilty about it. We made it through OK, but I’d welcome feedback if anyone has any on this situation.

Then to make matters weirder, another person later, while my wife was out of the house in the yard (just maybe an hour later) put on more music videos that were also sexy in a way that is triggering to me. During this I was in the kitchen, which is right next door and I could easily see the TV around the corner or in the window reflection over the sink. I had to manage my visual input pretty hard during that time. It also happened while I was doing dishes and as a result of all this I began to feel super sorry for myself and throwing myself quite the pity party. Feeling like I was working hard for this group of guests and while doing so I also had to be vigilant which doubled up my amount of effort. Being an introvert as well I was feeling pretty tired from all the social activity and started to get angry, irritated and feel sorry for myself.

One of the good things was that because of the emotional awareness that these lessons have provided I was able to reflect on this later on and tell my wife about it and describe it in a way that I felt I owned the experience and did not blame anyone. I just got wrapped up in my feelings, and it was a reasonable thing to find myself in. I did recognize that and became aware of the fact that as a result I’d need to be on guard the rest of the day and the next couple days as a result of feeling overly emotional and likely wanting to sooth that via addiction means and to seek out some healthy comfort and not go back to the porn to deal with it. I’m through the day following now and no relapse. Though my emotions have been more intense and raw all day, so I was right to expect a continuation of these emotional states for a couple days following.

Thanks for reading. I needed to get this out of my head and into my journal and posted here.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:15 am 
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Recovery Nation - Preventing Slips/Relapse:

Recovery Nation - Preventing Slips/Relapse:

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty

Lesson 60 Exercise:

Quote:
1. Develop a Plan

Engaging in these five actions will ensure that you maintain the most efficient skills for preventing relapse. Develop a plan that is unique to you. Post this plan on your Recovery Thread.

Prior to a Expected Triggering Event

  • Allow myself to believe that I am not prepared to deal with the event, thus prompting proper planning.
  • Create an action plan for this event based on values and boundaries. This is to remove the emotional component from the decision making process in the moment. Make it mechanical to do the right thing.
  • Get feedback on this plan from my wife.
  • Roll play / visualize this scenario many times in the time leading up to the event:
    • Imagine the emotions involved clearly
    • Always visualize successfully implementing the action plan
    • Experience and evaluate the positive consequences of these actions
Prior to a Spontaneous Triggering Event

Summary of what to begin on this one:

  • Begin fantasizing on a regular basis (visualize successful outcomes for difficult situations with urges and triggers)
  • Fantasize often
  • Begin with the most common triggers that you have experienced, and as you feel more and more comfortable in mastering a healthy reaction to those triggers, begin to branch out to other behaviors that are closely related to the original
  • For any events/triggers that you cannot clearly visualize in a healthy way, develop an action plan
On the Experience of an Urge

Previous lessons really fleshed this out. Refer there for more on this.

On the Discovery of Being “Off-Track”

  • Regain Stability
    • Sit down for a moment and think about where I've gotten to and then disclose to my wife.
    • Take some time out to process according to our shared process for when issues happen.
    • Make amends.
  • Evaluate/Update Your Values
    • Pull out the list and read through all of them and see if they need to be updated to account for any issues that have occured.
  • Update/Refine Your Goals
    • Same here, but with my goals.
  • Develop a Three-Day Time Management Schedule
    • Schedule out the next three days to make sure I don't have any opportunities to get further off track.
  • Map Out the Progression of the Relapse
    • Figure out what the steps were that lead to this situation and make sure to have a full account of them.
  • Analyze the Relapse
    • With the full account above, look for known triggers, new ones, tools that could have been used, etc. Document the process of buttoning things up so that it is no longer possible in the future.
  • Assess the Signs of Relapse
    • Look for secondary signs of relapse (signs beyond destructive behavior). Then ask my wife for her assessment of the same. Use this information for some of he stuff below, 'on schedule'.
On Schedule

Quote:
2. Motivators

A fundamental of early recovery is to establish a list of positive motivators that can be used to sustain one's focus and energy throughout the transition to health. Go back and examine your own motivators (Lesson One) — note those that continue to motivate you today and those that have lost their intensity. You will almost universally conclude that it is the positive motivators that have survived the crisis. Those based on negativity and fear (e.g. I don't want to lose my marriage; I hate who I have become) tend to lose their ability to motivate as the initial crisis wanes.

Here is my list from Lesson 1. I put my assessment of each one on the next line.

  • I want to be honest and transparent with my wife.
    • Remains true
  • I want to provide a loving and supportive relationship for my wife.
    • Remains true
  • I want to contribute to my marriage.
    • Remains true
  • I want my wife to feel loved and cared for.
    • Remains true
  • I want my wife to feel beautiful in my eyes.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be open to friends and family about my life.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be more productive.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be improve my mental health.
    • Remains true
  • I want to see other people as unique and valuable for who they are.
    • Remains true
  • I want to mind my own business.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be honest.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be confident.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be successful.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be kind.
    • Remains true
  • I want to be happy.
    • Remains true
  • I want my actions to align with what I believe to be the right thing to do.
    • Remains true


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:40 am 
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Recovery Nation - Managing Slips

Recovery Nation - Managing Slips

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-One

Lesson 61 Exercise:

Quote:
The further you get in the workshop, the less and less you will be asked to share with others. This is not because you shouldn't share these things, it is only to ease the transition of independence and self-guidance. And so, you share whatever thoughts, experiences and/or efforts you have with managing slips. Or, share nothing. It is completely up to you.

I plan on sharing slips and other issues encountered along the way in this journal. I’ve found it super helpful to get it out there and get the occasional feedback, so there’s no reason to stop!

Mentors

Quote:
1. Establishing a healthy vision for one's life is the single most important tool a person can develop in their recovery. That single vision — when backed by clarity — is capable of serving as both the beacon for change and, a means of contrasting what is healthy and what is a threat. Most people's visions, unless they put forth an extraordinary initial effort, require feedback in one of the following ways:

Quote:
i) Their vision is too limited in scope
ii) Their vision is too idealistic
iii) Their vision is too general/specific

Those with a limited vision will focus on two or three main areas of their life (e.g. career, marriage and family). By this time, you should know that no life can be sustained with stability and fulfillment by such a limited, top-heavy approach. Instead, a foundation of separate values must be established.

Those with an idealistic vision will list many of their top values as abstract concepts such as 'integrity', 'honor', 'respect'. These are indeed values — and important ones. But if this is all their vision consists of, it will be very difficult for them to gain practical clarity in pushing their lives forward. Instead, practical values such as "my relationship with X" and "spirituality" and "being in the outdoors" are far more useful in establishing clarity.

Those with a vision that is too general is one that, if you read it, could potentially have come from just about any stranger off the street. It is full of staple values with very little personality. A vision must be personal. When I read visions, I want to get an idea for the life that this person wants to live. I want to get a sense that I am inside their head — getting a peek at their unique personality. "I want to be honest. I want to live a healthy life. I want my family to respect me." These are too general — when these are all that is shared. On the other hand, "I want music to play a part of my life every day. I want to write a book of poetry that I can give to my kids as a means of teaching them about life. I want to coach my daughter's softball team. I want my wife to know that I cherish her." These are all practical and specific.

Finally, those visions that are too specific are tailored predominately towards a few main values. This is a bit different that their vision being limited in scope — as here, they tend to take those few main values (wife and kids, for example)...and base most of their vision on expanding the values associated with those two entities.

An ideal vision needs to be both general and specific, idealistic and practical. Very few are and so, it provides us with many teaching opportunities. The idea here isn't to demand academic perfection, but to get people thinking about their vision as a useful tool, not just an exercise.

2. Consider your current vision. See how it has evolved from it's initial state (Lesson Two). See which areas of this vision continue to guide you, which you have come to evolve, which you have come to neglect and which are now irrelevant.

Here is my vision from that lesson for reference:

RecoveryNation Vision

  • Relationship
    • I will contribute at least half the effort that goes into my marriage.
    • I will make it visible and apparent to my wife that I love her.
    • I will show my wife that I find her beautiful.
    • I will make a life with her that I feel proud of (keep up the house, cook good meals, actively engaged), and provide a solid foundation for our marriage.
    • I will be 100% honest and transparent with my wife.
  • Household
    • I will be present, helpful, and proactive when it comes to helping manage the household.
    • I will mentally work to consider myself a full participant in the ownership of our home, not just along for the ride.
    • I devote myself to our life together in our homestead.
  • Family
    • I will be actively engaged with my extended family.
    • I will be generous with my time and resources with my extended family.
  • Ideals
    • I will be free of addictions and live a healthy life.
    • I will employ knowledge, will power, courage, and silent meditation to engage fully with my life.
    • I will be honest and forthright in all my relations with those around me.
  • Hobbies
    • I will learn to fish.
    • I will hike regularly every year that it is possible.
    • I will increase my knowledge and skills needed to be a self-reliant home owner (woodworking, repairs, etc.)
    • I will read more frequently than watching TV or movies.
    • I will increase knowledge frequently.
  • Health
    • I will lose some weight and maintain a healthy weight for my self over the long term.
    • I will increase and maintain reasonable flexibility and mobility.
    • I will increase and maintain reasonable strength.
  • Spirituality (this was completely lacking in my original vision)
    • I will be thinking of my higher self when making critical decisions in my life, just as one more data point to see if I’m on the right track.
    • I will be engaged in a regular practice that engages my spiritual side (this could be small or large).
    • I will seek to see the influence of my spiritual practice in my life, via reviewing my journal, stepping back and seeing the big picture, etc. on an infrequent, but regular basis.
  • Money (I also added this one)
    • I will be actively working to become independent of financial strain.

Mostly unchanged, but when reviewing things that are important to me, there were two that were absent. I’ve since added those and noted which ones they are above. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this vision of my life.

Quote:
3. Use the insights from #2 to offer feedback to at least two people's visions. It doesn't matter if they are new to the workshop or not. If they are new, offer direct feedback relating to the practicality and clarity of their vision. If they are far beyond Lesson Two, spontaneously encourage them to examine their original vision to see how connected to it they remain. The only people you should avoid here would be those who are within one to three weeks of posting that original vision — unless NO ONE has previously offered them initial feedback on that vision.

I posted on a couple journals:

Wavemonk

MyRecovery18

I just hope it was helpful feedback!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:02 am 
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Recovery Nation - Managing Relapse

Recovery Nation - Managing Relapse

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Two

Lesson 62 Exercise:

Quote:
Develop three-five 'most-likely' scenarios where you might face relapse. Role play (in your head or with someone you trust) how you will manage these situations.

Most likely scenarios are:

  • Home alone after a long weekend of stressful socializing. Like after a trip to a conference and then I’m home and back to work and have not had any down time yet and then everyone is out of the house for a few hours.
    • When this happens I need to have a plan for alone time activities that actually recharge my energy as an introvert. This is at the core of what I’m seeking at these moments and I’ve just applied dysfunctional remedies over the years. Taking a walk, meditation, reading a book, sitting in the sun, having a cup of tea and enjoying the quiet and the view, etc. These are all things that if I engage in rather than go look at porn, I will feel much much better. Then I can journal about this, share the success with my wife and I gain a ton of new energy from the success as well as the alone time.
  • Traveling and there is an unexpected trigger when out and about and maybe I’ve been drinking. My ability to remember my values and to have some self control would be impaired and the surprise might make it hard to do the right thing.
    • Frequently reviewing my values and boundaries during times of travel and stress will keep my awareness at the forefront of my mind. If I can just remember when it happens that I see a trigger that I have a plan then I can do totally fine in these situations. I just need to have the awareness. I think a morning, noon, and night review of my values while I’m out in the world and can be exposed to triggering situations will be helpful. The image that comes up when I successfully navigate this situation is awareness.
  • Unexpected triggers in movies and TV, especially when watching with friends. I feel social pressure to not just get up and leave the room and looking at my phone is somewhat effective, but may not occur to me. I tend to easily think that I’m being forced to accept the situation. ‘Oh well, nothing I can do!’
    • Here, I think the best thing will be to move around. Go get a glass of water from the kitchen, head to the bathroom, go to get my slippers, or a hoodie, etc. Anything to dislodge my alignment with the situation so that I can then reengage and sit with my phone and review my values and boundaries and think about how this all affects my life. If I’m just with my wife, then giving her the side-eye and saying ‘elephant’ so that we can pause what is going on and decide whether this is a good choice for me and stopping if need be is definitely best.
Quote:
Explore one unlikely situation where you might face relapse. A situation that you couldn't possibly prepare for. Will your Relapse Plan allow you to manage it? Why or why not?

I’m having a hard time imagining a situation I couldn’t possible prepare for. I’ll ask my wife about this and get some feedback. I’m sure there is something, but nothing is coming to mind.

Mentors

Quote:
1. Once a person has created a vision for their life, extracted the values from that vision and prioritized them, it is safe to assume that the majority of that person's meaning and fulfillment should come from the top fifteen or so values on that list. This is one of the things that you should continue to monitor in your own recovery on a weekly basis: where is the majority of your meaning and fulfillment coming from. From a life management perspective, you should by now see how important it is to have a foundation of values that expand beyond a single pillar. That, when you establish a life based on say, six to eight pillars...any stress/trauma can be more efficiently absorbed by shifting the weight of that stress/trauma on to other pillars of your foundation. That's reactively. Proactively, you should also recognize the importance of deriving ongoing meaning and fulfillment from a staggered set of values — this, as opposed to establishing a dependence on establishing all of your meaning and fulfillment from a limited set.

2. Examine the top fifteen values (Lesson Five) of someone else's prioritized list. Consider temporarily adopting these values as your own to determine if they would be capable of sustaining a healthy life. If they would be capable of re-establishing balance in a life that has lost focus. If so, offer this feedback. If not, offer where you would make changes (e.g. make them more practical, more varied).

3. In your response, share a personal example of a time when you used this expanded foundation of values to help you manage a life situation. For instance, helping you to manage a death in the family. Or getting laid off from work. Or even something small, like an argument or misunderstanding.

I posted here on GetAGrip’s journal.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:46 am 
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Recovery Nation - Health Monitoring IV

Recovery Nation - Health Monitoring IV

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Three

Lesson 63 Exercise:

Evolve Your Weekly Monitoring

Quote:
Review your current weekly monitoring and assess whether or not the areas you are assessing are 1) necessary and 2) adequate in strengthening your value system.

I’ve let myself get lax on this and I need to redo my system for daily and weekly monitoring. I’ve not been doing this and blowing past it in my weekly reviews. I’m going to spend today redoing this system and then revisit this lesson later on to make sure I’ve really got this. I think as is mentioned below for the mentors, I took this to be a task and not a tool. Time to fix that.

Mentors

Quote:
1) Health monitoring has two major elements: daily monitoring and weekly monitoring. Daily monitoring is about gaining focus and awareness over a particular life area; weekly monitoring is about establishing balance and warding off complacency. By now, you should have evolved your use of these tools into a means of life monitoring and management where one (weekly monitoring) triggers the other (daily monitoring). For instance, while conducting your weekly assessment, you realize that you are becoming complacent in your transparency with your partner. This then triggers a daily monitoring assessment for a few days that will allow you to focus on this particular life skill. For a life that has been observed to have become out-of-balance (through the weekly monitoring), the daily monitoring would then kick in to help establish one's focus on priority and value. You must understand this evolution and if you don't, review the associated material to find out where you went wrong. Most likely, the answer will be that you took this part of the workshop for granted, seeing it as an activity, rather than a true, valuable tool.

2) Early in the workshop, people are asked to develop both a daily (Lesson 14) and weekly assessment (Lesson 35). Use your personal experience with implementing your health monitoring to provide an example of what was effectively implemented and/or what was neglected. The goal here is not to focus on yourself, but to teach people the importance of not just completing these health monitoring tasks, but actually understanding why they are completing them. That each has a specific purpose as a staple of life management.

3) As you examine their initial daily monitoring effort (lesson 14), offer them brief feedback on the following:

  • Are they limited to ten or so items (e.g. are they manageable)?
  • Are the majority of these items focused on values-based areas of their life?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
Posts: 3686
Location: UK
Hello AtR
great to see the progress that you are making / have made
IMO a little too quickly giving you the difficult task of absorbing a great deal of learning in a very short time
but that is my opinion only this is your recovery
Am I correct in assuming that you have contacted Coach Cheryl for a status change to mentor?
I do hope so but if not then you should
Mentoring provides us with so much, both for the mentor and the mentored
a different view point to consider, how much we gain from looking at things differently
Dont forget however to put yourself at the forefront of your time here, your own journey continues

_________________
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 Jul 25, 2018 9:30 am 
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Hey Kenzo,

Thanks for the feedback, as always. Yep, I did send a message as indicated in the lesson that first mentions volunteering to be a mentor. It says to do so here:

http://www.recoverynation.com/main/contactus.php

I wasn't sure if I should be waiting for a response before taking on the part of the lessons that indicates they are for mentors. I'm glad you mentioned this because it caused me to rethink and I'll wait for a response before continuing to do that. I suddenly feel like I've overstepped and may have started to offer mentorship when it may not have been appropriate.

And, yes, I did cruise through a bunch of lessons pretty fast. Once I get through the rest I plan to do the couples work with my wife and then revisit all of them to tighten up and take my time through ones that could use extra attention. It is a strange path through, but I think it is working for me so far. I feel far different and feel like I'm managing my life far more productively now than I ever have before with just an abstinence approach. So even though I could have spent more time on each lesson I feel great about what I've gotten out of it so far.

All the best,
AtR


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:56 am 
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Recovery Nation - Transitioning to Health

Recovery Nation - Transitioning to Health

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Four

Lesson 64 Exercise:

Quote:
Take today to envision where you are in your transition to health. What skills do you feel you have worked hard to develop? What skills need additional work? Explore your attitude in regards to whether or not 'addiction' is a part of you; or merely a pattern that developed in your life. Explore your awareness as to the role that your compulsive rituals played...and what it would mean should they return. Explore how you would respond? Explore your confidence level in that response. Explore your overall balance and stability...how much of your life is spent 'fighting urges, managing urges, acting out, engaging in recovery activities, etc.' versus how much of your life is spent just living. Assess your identity for hyper-sexuality. How prevalent is it? Assess your value system. How efficient are you in using it to make decisions, achieve balance, etc.?

Share any significant observations (from the questions listed above or others) in your Recovery Thread.

Here are some thoughts on these questions.

I’ve developed a strong sense of what my values are and think of them frequently throughout most days. This has been a huge change in how I see my life. Rather than what I should be doing or feeling guilty about not doing the work I thought I knew was supposed to be done, I have done the work to determine my values and can assess each of these things that I might feel guilty about making progress on in light of my values. If they are in alignment with them I can have a sense of rightness when spending time on them and devoting energy to them.

The compulsive rituals I am now seeing as unhealthy emotional management to an extreme. I’m starting to bust down the idea that I’m a broken person and instead that I simply have had a highly immature emotional management system. So much so that I was able to be taken for a ride via addiction and compulsion for most of my life. It was a pattern that tickled my emotional state and worked to soothe in the moment, but was far from effective long term and lead down a path of destruction and seeking increasing intensity out of a stronger and stronger emotional need. It really is a pattern of behavior and not who I am at the core of my personality. If it were to return, it would hurt my ego, no doubt. But I know intellectually now that it would not be because I’m a bad person, but that my new strategies for managing my life and emotions were not mature enough for the situation and that I need to redouble my efforts to figure out what strategy would be enough and begin working on that.

At the moment, I’m not having many urges at all. I know they will return, but my day to day life right now is packed from morning till night and none of it is involving activities that are triggering. The times that will be brining those urges back will likely be travel and alone time, of which I’ve not had lately. When they do, I’m preparing ahead of time and agreeing on pre-determined plans with my wife that I think will work. I’d say I’m still spending more time than I want on recovery activities, and still figuring this stuff out. I don’t see that lessening soon. After these lessons are complete, I’ll be diving into the couples lessons with my wife and then after that I’ll be going back through each of these lessons for a review and more of a deep dive because I did go through them rather quickly.

I think my identity for hyper sexuality is still there. I still think sexually about many situations, but they are just not causing urges the vast majority of the time. I do hope that the over sexualizing of my life in general does subside, but it has not yet.

I’m quite happy with my value system and it is helping tremendously with making decisions. I’m thinking of it more spontaneously when making decisions day to day and that is a big relief. I’m questioning myself and my decisions less and less as a result of doing the prior values assessment to determine if it is really in alignment with my values. So far I think this is the biggest benefit I’ve had from doing these lessons. I’m surprised at how much it has affected me, but I love it.

Mentors

Quote:
1) In forming a functional view of addiction and the compulsive rituals that accompany it, workshop participants are asked to select a particular ritual that they have engaged in and identify the overt elements that produce the main stimulation within that ritual (Lesson 17). Elements such as physical stimulation, visual stimulation, fantasy, suspense, etc. are examples of the expected responses. As you should have realized by now, this awareness of the overt elements is essential to advanced urge control and the implementation of reactive action plans. Further, it is not only an awareness of these objective elements that are useful, but the more subtle elements as well — the thoughts ("I shouldn't be doing this"); the preparatory behaviors (securing the lotion, locking the door, etc.); the guilt/shame; the mind games; the post-behavioral rituals — these are all instrumental in awareness and advanced urge control.

2) Consider the evolution of your own awareness from lesson 17 until now. Try to recognize how this awareness has impacted your approach to managing urges/rituals. Or, if it has played little to no role in such management.If you take this awareness and have learned to ignore it, recognize this for yourself now. If you take this awareness and use it as a "red flag" warning that your life is getting out of balance, then recognize that for yourself now

3) Examine the elements of one person who has recently completed Lesson 17 and share with them what you have learned about elements and the practical uses of such awareness. Include the observation of the need to eventually expand this current awareness to include all subtle elements of the rituals as well. No need to teach them why or how, just note to them that they will be continuing to expand their current awareness.

I’m not mentoring quite yet.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:37 pm 
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Recovery Nation - Life After Addiction

Recovery Nation - Life After Addiction

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Five

Lesson 65 Exercise:

Quote:
a) Envision your "life after addiction/life after recovery".

I’m seeing a life where I can move about my environment without being worried about what I might see or encounter. One where I have a lot less anxiety and feel confident because I’m not hiding a bunch of crazy nonsense. Where there is a deep and abiding trust between my wife and I because I don’t lie and I’m open about what I’m feeling and experiencing and it is no longer painful to do so. Life is good and positive and I’m regularly spending the majority of my time doing things that are in alignment with my values. I’m making good progress with my goals. I’m a homesteader and making things for myself in super productive ways. I’m on top of my game when it comes to my volunteer work and feeling proud of it. I’m camping, backpacking, and hiking quite a lot and loving it. I may even be skiing again. I’m lean and fit and mobile, no longer worried about dropping dead of a heart attack. I spend time training my dogs and they are awesome to be around. I’m kind and generous with my family and in touch with them often to feel like I’m really part of the family. My vision of life after recovery makes me tear up just thinking about it because damn if I would not just love this life. Cheers to getting there!

Quote:
b) Compare it to the vision that you began back in Lesson Two of the workshop.

All the bullet points are there in the old one, but this one has way more feeling. I can tell I’m really seeing this as a possible vision now whereas the previous one was more of a checklist of things that I thought would be there in an idea life.

Quote:
c) They should be nearly identical. Are they?

Very nearly. Different presentation, but pretty damn close.

Mentors

Quote:
One of the fundamental skills in a health-based recovery is the ability to isolate the rituals of one's addiction. There are several angles to consider in this isolation. One is to isolate the ritual to the point where it has a starting point, the elements engaged in that specific ritual, and an ending. Another is to isolate the emotions associated with this ritual from the behaviors. Finally, it is important to develop an awareness that isolates the ritual itself from one's core identity — to see it as an artificial means for generating emotional stimulation. We are going to focus now on the first angle: isolating the ritual from the addiction.

1) In Lesson 25, participants are asked to 'Map Out' a compulsive ritual for the first time. Our goal is to be very flexible of what they share here, accepting as adequate a ritual that at the very least identifies a starting point for a ritual, several elements that are involved with that ritual, and an ending. However, there is almost universal feedback that can be offered to this first attempt. Consider the following feedback and then examine someone else's attempt at mapping out their first ritual. Offer such feedback as appropriate.

Universal feedback to potentially offer:

  • That their initial attempt was a good start, but that evolution will be necessary. Specifically, they have grasped some of the overt elements of the ritual, but will need to gain much greater depth in the subtle elements. Note that this depth will be developed throughout the workshop.
  • If their ritual begins with something related to emotional imbalance (e.g. sadness, rejection, frustration, boredom, etc.), offer feedback related to the difference between experiencing emotional discomfort and responding to that discomfort with the ingrained response of sexualized rituals. There is no need to teach them anything related to this, just expose them to such a reality. Without direct coaching, it likely won't be until they get to the lessons on emotions that pieces of this particular puzzle will start to fall into place.
Note: if YOU do not have a clear understanding of this critical insight, seek it out now. You cannot succeed at this stage of the workshop without realizing that your emotions do not cause your compulsive behavior. That more accurately, you lack of emotional maturity opens the door for more rudimentary means for managing those emotions.

Not mentoring yet.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:38 am 
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Hi ATR,

Just to let you know that I have sent a separate message to CoachCheryl to ask her to change your status to Recovery Mentor. This process can usually take a short time to organise but I will let you know when it has been done. You will then have your new status shown in the bar on the left hand side of your thread and you will then be free to undertake mentoring activities.

I am interested to read your thread and the value that you appear to be getting from the workshop. To add to the previous comments made by Kenzo, please take care on the speed of working through the lessons. Speaking from experience, it is easy to get into the routine of ticking another lesson or two off in order to get the workshop out of the way and expect that recovery will therefore be yours. I became a bit obsessive about doing a lesson a day and I got through the workshop in 3 months. I felt good about that for a while and then started to realise that I wasn't feeling how I thought I should feel at that stage. Deep down I didn't feel like I had recovered properly and the cracks started to appear. I then took the decision to go through the workshop again and have been taking more time to pause and try and absorb what I have been reading about in a lesson and to relate it to my circumstances before moving on. I can tell that I missed some key points the first time around in my efforts to keep chugging through. I can also tell you that I feel very different now as I am actually mentally processing it before moving on. I see that you plan to finish the workshop then go into the couples one with your wife and then go back through the main one again. Whilst I can see from your thread that you are taking a lot of the elements on board there are also signs that perhaps some of the points are not fully registering and I would echo Kenzo's concerns that speed of travel may not be helping you.

I would hate to kill your enthusiasm and it is your journey to choose how you travel it but please make sure that you don't see the lessons as a race or tick box exercise. I am realising that I would have been further on the road to recovery myself had I gone through it a bit more slowly rather than having to do it twice.

If I may be allowed to comment on one particular area, you described in your thread recently about some music videos and films you had on in your house when you recently had guests around and how you had tried to avoid watching them. This stuck out at me because your reaction was very much like mine would have been after the workshop first time around. In Lesson 3 CoachJon writes:
Quote:
"Your goal in recovery is not to learn to manage addiction, it is to learn to manage your life."

When I read that the second time round the workshop it dawned on me that I was trying to manage my addiction by avoiding things that I knew appealed to me. If you think of an alcoholic telling himself that he can't have another drink and he then spends years avoiding situations where there is alcohol around and whenever he sees someone drink he tries to block it out then he is walking a very dangerous path as long as he feels like he is depriving himself of something. In order to recover he needs to see that the alcohol is not something that he wants and then it is easy to not have another drink and it brings no stress. CoachJon's quote above says exactly that, you need to really absorb that compulsive behaviour was something that you learned at one time and you have got into the habit (engrained) of making decisions on the basis of your emotions. After acting out we hate ourselves which shows that we didn't actually want to do what we did in the first place but it leaves the addict with the perception that we did somehow want it. It is an illusion though and we need to really understand that because then we can see that the compulsive behaviour and urges is not something that we actually want. We need to unlearn making decisions based on what may make us feel instantly better. At that stage there is nothing to give up and we can then manage our life differently and make healthy decisions based on our values. If you are unable to make that mental shift then you are going to be living a life of avoidance which is both dangerous and unnecessary.

I hope these comments are helpful, give you food for thought and wish you well on the rest of your journey with your wife through the couples programme.

_________________
L2R

"Should you fail to permanently recover from your addiction, it will be due to your inability to fully commit to recovery"


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:28 pm 
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learningtorun,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply!

I agree that I'm moving quickly, maybe too quickly and it is a totally fair opinion. For what it's worth, I'm going to keep at it for now and revisit all the lessons as I said.

Funny you should mention transitioning from seeing triggers as not something to manage necessarily, but needing to manage my life instead. I totally agree and in, I think, one lesson back coachjon said something that really struck me. I don't have the quote handy, but it was something like, 'eventually you need to move from seeing triggers as something to be wary of over to seeing triggers as an opportunity to do the right thing'. This hit me like a ton of bricks and I've been contemplating it ever since. Then I went to work on lesson 65 today and there it was: "Recovery Triggers vs Relapse Triggers". Good stuff in there. I'll be chewing on that for a while.

Oh, and thanks for the note about mentorship. I'm not sure I have a ton of time to devote to it right now, but I do want to offer something back for all the help I have received from this workshop. I also feel like seeing it from as many perspectives as possible for a while would be good for me. I'll try not to get stuck in 'recovery mode' while doing it.

Again, thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:29 pm 
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Recovery Nation - Recovery Triggers vs Relapse Triggers

Recovery Nation - Recovery Triggers vs Relapse Triggers

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Six

Lesson 66 Exercise:

Quote:
a) Consider your perspective towards potential triggers when you were in early recovery. Consider your perspective now. How has this changed?

At first I saw triggers as something that I could experience and they required a ‘locking down’ of myself and desires to deal with them. That changed over the course of these lessons into experiencing triggers then triggering action plans. I now think of my values when experiencing triggers, but for the most part I’m still thinking of ways to then avoid those triggers and avoid compulsive behavior as a result of them. Just the other day reading in these lessons I came across a statement that really hit me and then this lesson ended up being an expanded version of the same thing: changing the perception of relapse triggers over to recovery triggers. When that hit my brain the other day it was a pretty big moment. I’ve still not integrated it and I’m sure that will take some time, but it was a big realization. That instead of feeling like a victim of my triggers I can see them as an opportunity. Early days on this one, but I can see how this is a big thing and I look forward to working towards this as a goal and experiencing life like this.

Quote:
b) List five potential triggers for you — that may lead you into a compulsive crisis. How can you shift your perspective of each so that they are not only NOT a threat to your values, but you can actually use these triggers to strengthen those values?

  • Being home alone and seeing a sexy advertisement (either TV or internet)
    • Realizing that I have so many values I can spend that time on instead of a relapse and diving into those will make me so much happier. The relief I can imagine from doing that and sharing it with my wife is hitting me pretty hard just thinking about it.
  • Being out traveling and seeing a woman wearing tights in a way that triggers me
    • Being able to do the right thing (one of my values) has such a strong impact on me in the moment that those positive emotions often erase or replace those emotions surrounding the urge to relapse.
  • Being exposed to sexy TV or movies as a result of socializing
    • This one comes down to sharing with my wife when this is happening (text message across the room can work well). Becoming a team and having that be super transparent is far more satisfying than just indulging in that compulsive behavior.
  • Being at a conference and seeing folks dressing sexy
    • Seeing myself doing the right thing and really seeing them as human beings and not objects of my desire makes me feel free and as if I’m living in the sunshine rather than in the dark corners of my mind. This is an opportunity to feel good about myself and have right relations with those around me.
  • Being exposed to sexy halloween costumes (they often involve tights)
    • This is really an opportunity to see the creativity that these folks have come up with and put effort into. An opportunity to treat them as human beings and to again, do the right thing.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:33 pm 
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Recovery Nation - Poly-Addictions & Switching

Recovery Nation - Poly-Addictions & Switching

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Seven

Lesson 67 Exercise:

Quote:
a) List the most likely behavior that you will need to monitor for potential 'switching' and/or compulsivity now that the sexual rituals have subsided.

  • Alcohol - this one far more than cannabis. I even mentioned this to my wife earlier today and she agreed. The times I’ve been on an abstinence kick in the past I’ve increased my drinking significantly and now that I reflect back on it, it was totally to deal with my emotions. Just moved from one poor coping skill to another! For now I’m off the booze and have been for (let me check...) 19 days. It is good to have to deal with those emotions without trying to numb them out.
  • Cannabis - Not a big concern, but my teens and early 20s were spent under the influence so I’m aware that it could happen again (it is legal here).
Quote:
b) Are these listed anywhere on your weekly monitoring so that you can objectively assess them?

They are now!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:44 am 
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Recovery Nation - Anger and Rage

Recovery Nation - Anger and Rage

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Eight

Lesson 68 Exercise:

Quote:
a) Map out your own anger rituals in the same way you did your sexual rituals long ago. Look for patterns in relating to your partner, coworkers, friends, yourself...where anger is triggered and you find it difficult to disengage from that anger.

  1. Be working hard and near exhaustion
  2. Have something go wrong that is clearly my fault (this anger almost never happens as a result of someone else in this situation)
  3. Attempt to fix it with anger rising in me
  4. Have the fix go wrong because I’m being clumsy and rushed as a result of rising anger
  5. Have this amplify the anger to the point where nothing is productive any longer
  6. Likely continue trying to fix the issue and at this point start swearing and breaking things
  7. Maybe get to the end of the project, maybe not, but eventually get to a level of exhaustion that means I cannot continue and stop
  8. The rage subsides and now I feel dumb and shameful for my actions
Quote:
b) Can you identify the elements of these rituals where you actively intensify the stimulation that is experienced?

Oh yes. Definitely right at #3. That is where I should literally take a break and cool off and rethink the issue. Maybe just for a few minutes, maybe for a day to get some rest, but the entire project would benefit from me just backing away at this point.

Quote:
c) Do you think that 'creating a break' upon the awareness of these anger rituals will allow you to slow the situation enough to allow your values to take over? Why or why not?

Most certainly it would help to create a break point at #3 above. What a relief already to write this down. I’ll remember this and hopefully start acting on this idea while working on labor intensive projects around the house.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:08 am 
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Recovery Nation - Victim Awareness

Recovery Nation - Victim Awareness

Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Nine

Lesson 69 Exercise:

Quote:
While taking personal responsibility for your past through active change is important, it is also important that you do what you can to repair the actual damage that you have caused. Steps eight and nine of the Twelve Steps relate to making amends to those you have harmed. There can be no debating the importance of this in making a complete transition to health. To move beyond addiction, you must face the consequences that you have created and do what you can to minimize the damage. Whether these consequences were subtle or overt, recent or decades old, if you continue to harbor guilt and/or shame for the way that you treated another human being, then you need to come to terms with these feelings. This does not mean that you need to 'make things right' or completely eliminate these feelings of guilt or shame before moving on, only that you do what you can to make things right — in the situations where it is appropriate and safe.

The first issue to consider in making amends is who you should make amends to. Now that you have gained some experience in communicating with yourself using absolute honesty, the most consistent way to identify those individuals that you should consider making amend to is to allow your guilt and shame be your guide. Allow yourself to think back through your past and as memories come that involve people and/or situations where your actions have led to destructive consequences, write them down. This does not need to be a one-time event, but should be a process of awareness that evolves as you do.

I think that this list only consists of my wife. While others in my life have been affected because I am a different person while in the throws of addiction, it would be weird, and I think not helpful, to confess this to them at this point.

Quote:
Once you have such a list, consider the specific ways that you have impacted this person's life. Write down some of the more serious consequences in this person's life as a result of your actions. The purpose here is not for you to become depressed — making amends is not about you, it is about those who you have hurt in one way or another. And it is about finding ways that, when safe, can help repair that damage.

  • Caused emotional pain by being lied to and gaslighted
  • Was emotionally abused
  • Causing trust issues
  • Took away major healing opportunities
  • Caused and exacerbated body image issues
  • Eroded the closeness of our marriage and relationship
  • Took away significant amounts of time to deal with my own addiction
  • The list goes on... I’ll reflect on this and add more later.

Quote:
The next step in making amends is to go through the list and determine which people have been so significantly affected by your actions that some type of mending is needed. What action you eventually take is not important, your only goal here is to identify which people in your life deserve some type of additional attention.

Now comes the hardest part of making amends, determining who, of the remaining individuals on your list, would actually benefit from further action by you...and which might be further traumatized. As you consider these individuals, you will simultaneously need to consider just what actions would be appropriate given the consequences, the person and the situation. These are not easy issues to explore, and so you are strongly encouraged to speak with a counselor or someone you trust to help you work through these issues.

My wife.

Quote:
A few guidelines to remember when making amends:

  • Should you find yourself uncertain towards whether or not to make amends to any given individual (or what action to take), always err on the side of safety and respect for the individual. You are not making amends to relieve your guilt, you are making amends to take responsibility for the damage that you have caused another person. If your continued involvement might further damage that person, don't get involved.
  • You can only control the sincerity and effort of your actions; you cannot control how those actions are received. And so, it is imperative that you go about the process of making amends only when you have a solid foundation of your own, and that you engage in each action with a sincere heart.
  • Remember that your goal is not to repair the damage that you have caused, it is only to recognize that damage and to offer to help repair it. If you reach out in a sincere way and are rejected, allow yourself to move on without trying to force your sincerity on the individual.

  1. I’ll be doing ‘living amends’. This seems to be the most important. Be in active recovery and learn to manage my life without the compulsive behavior. To this end: finish these lessons; do the couples lessons with my wife; spend a month or so actively working and refining the day to day processes I’ve learned in these lessons (active visualizations of successfully dealing with triggers, daily and weekly monitoring, refreshing and reviewing action plans, making new action plans for specific events, keep up on communicating issues with my wife right away).
  2. Be honest and transparent with all my actions with my wife to rebuild trust and keep lying and gaslighting out of our relationship.
  3. Make a habit of actions that soothe some of the emotional distress I have caused over the years: brushing her hair before bed, massage, intimate and loving but non-sexual touch more frequently, helping to manage the household to get that responsibility on her reduced, help manage our relationship by scheduling date nights and being aware of when spending time together would be better than tuning out and reading alone.
  4. Focus on making sure that she knows that I find her beautiful. Even though I was a porn addict that I don’t only find porn attractive and that she is beautiful in my eyes and reminding her of this and showing her through actions that this is true.

2) Accept the life you are living...

Quote:
How frustrating it would be to spend months of active, focused effort on change, only to recognize that little measurable change has taken place. Your behaviors may have decreased. You may feel more confident in managing your addiction. You may feel better about yourself overall, but the real motivators for why you committed to putting addiction behind you — to develop strong relationships; to be a role model; to realize your full potential; to live a more fulfilling, stable life; to develop a more substantial meaning to your life — these are all elements of your life that remain elusive. Prepare yourself for this. Accept that it is human nature to look ahead and see where you want to be, as opposed to where you are. That is is natural to measure yourself in relation to the goals that you are striving for, as opposed to the goals that you have already achieved.

In addiction recovery, it is natural to minimize the importance of the changes that you have made to your life — mainly because there has been little real effect from these changes to date. At least form a healthy perspective. Yes, your behaviors may have subsided, yes your life may have stabilized, but what have you really gained? Not much...in terms of tangible measurements of a healthy life. But this is an unfair assessment of your progress. For the past month, two months, six months — however long it has taken you to get to this point, your goal has been to develop the foundation. To develop the structure for your recovery and your transition to a healthy life. This foundation, perhaps tangible to those closest to you, does not automatically translate to accomplishment and recognition. Prepare yourself for this reality.

Noted. Good observations.

3) Embrace the life you are developing...

Quote:
As you know, the impetus for motivation in a healthy decision-making process is your value system. This is something that should already be ingrained in your awareness. What may still need to be ingrained is the reality that your values will be a fluid, developing entity in your life forever. It will be this developing foundation of values that will provide you with the majority of emotional fulfillment and stability throughout the remaining years of your life. Spontaneity, impulsive decisions, emotion-based actions...these will continue to provide a healthy spark, but should you ever find yourself getting off-track emotionally, return to this foundation and you will always regain stability. So, as you continue to take responsibility for the person that you are, embrace the values that will allow you to develop into the person that you are striving to be. See them as a consistent source of pride and energy. Select goals that are rooted in these values and pursue them with conviction. Make decisions based on these values and accept the inevitable rewards that come from such a life management strategy. Take pride in the life and the identity that you are developing, as this too — the embracing of your future — is also a part of the accepting of your past.

Observing when I’m acting in alignment with my values has been a huge part of what I’ve gotten from these lessons. I won’t be forgetting this any time soon (ever).


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