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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:59 am 
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I read Kenzo' recent post the other day with some awe like i am sure many others did. With every word you read it jumps out at you that he has fully recovered and does not entertain one moment of inappropriate thought, it is all brushed aside without thinking now. Wow, what a place to be. I then read his final sentence saying that he was now taking a sabbatical from RN and my stomach turned in a knot. I have been asking myself over the last day or two why i had that reaction.

It seems fairly clear to me today that my response was caused by a sense of responsibility being passed to us mentors in the great Coach's absence. Of course there is no issue with that because i am sure that between us we can offer appropriate guidance to anyone who needs or asks for it but i clearly have a sense that Kenzo protects all those on our side of the fence on RN. I took my thinking a stage further and wondered whether my reaction was because it makes me feel like i have a responsibility not just for myself but for this community to stick to my commitment of leaving my past behind me and to look forward and lead a healthy life no longer as an addict. I think there is something in that, not that i am now scared to do that but i think the reality of it suddenly hit me. I reminded myself that i have all the tools that i need which i have gleaned from THE COACH, i only need to stick with my plan of having let go and trusting in what i have learned and moving forwards. I also believe that it is a compliment to the mentors that Kenzo feel comfortable leaving our side of the fence in our hands. We addicts are quick to self loath but slow to self praise where deserved. It gives me a feeling of liberation even if that does have a dash of anxiety attached to it!!

A new year though, a new decade and i hope a fresh start for many who look to rebuild their lives here. You only get out what you put in so let's all get on with it!

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:40 am 
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learningtorun wrote:
It seems fairly clear to me today that my response was caused by a sense of responsibility being passed to us mentors in the great Coach's absence.

Exactly what I thought when I read it too LTR :g:

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 1:03 pm 
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L2R,
Two things...
1)
Quote:
Am I a good person for knowing i will not take advantage of her or a bad person for even having those thoughts in my head?

All people, addicts or not, have thoughts. Some unusual. Some dangerous. But the difference between a healthy individual and a struggling addict is what we decide to do with those thoughts. So you had a thought of taking advantage of a woman. What did you do with that thought? Ruminate? Act on it and begin old patterns and compulsions of acting out? My guess is that you didn't. You made a decision that was filtered through your values. I wonder what it would be like for you to practice allowing the thought to come and go as you did... then taking pride in your ACTION instead of judging the thought....

2)
Quote:
I took my thinking a stage further and wondered whether my reaction was because it makes me feel like i have a responsibility not just for myself but for this community to stick to my commitment of leaving my past behind me and to look forward and lead a healthy life no longer as an addict.


One of the biggest transitions an individual can experience is the sudden absence of a mentor or the loss of a parent. It is at this moment that everything they taught us springs into action. You speak often of standing at the open door. I wonder how you'll pursue this next opportunity of health.

It is uncomfortable to walk into the unknown. And as you know, this is a primary theme amongst us addicts. What choices will we make when we're uncomfortable?

Be well friend,

Anon


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:34 am 
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Hi Anon,

Thanks for stopping by, your observations and feedback are always insightful.

On the first point, you are quite right, i forget that the difference between us and non-addicts is to not act out rather than to have the thought in the first place. I sense that the search of perfection and not even having the thoughts in the first place is not realistic, does not in itself represent recovery and will therefore be detrimental to me.

On your second point, you are again absolutely right. It would be good for us mentors to be in a position where we have all moved forwards in our own recovery journeys as well as having kept our side of the site afloat by the time that Kenzo returns.

Thanks again for your support.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:48 am 
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I have been thinking about what things could risk derailing my recovery. Now i have taken the bold step of walking through the proverbial door and slammed it shut behind me, i have been aware of the feelings of vulnerability that are not unexpected. So what could throw me off course?

This has led me to remind myself about what i already know will threaten me sooner or later and so being prepared for it now will help me as and when the time comes that they come at me when i least expect it.

My stance is to dismiss any inappropriate thoughts immediately and allowing zero time to dwell on them. This has actually proven to be the most successful thing that i have introduced over the last several months. Previously i had spent a lot of time finding ways of managing the stress of an urge once it has taken hold but actually it takes almost no stress at all to bat it anyway before you have paid any attention to it. It is an embarrassingly obvious strategy which i ended up finding the hard way (as usual!). I can not have all my eggs in that one basket though and i need to be savvy enough to realise that after 40 years of acting out i would be wise to have further layers of defence than just that from which i can draw as and when needed.

I feel that there is a world of difference between the theory and practice of recovery. In the cold light of day the workshop makes complete sense as you are coming at it from a perspective of "I want to do the right thing and not act like an addict". However, when you are in a live situation it feels very different and therefore the importance of linking the theory to the practice can not be overstressed. So what happens when an urge hits then? For me i can see it like a trancelike state where any sense of reason quickly goes out of the reason. I feel my brain choosing to block the very good reasons not to act out (my values) and my focus will go to the perceived enjoyment i will get from a rush of excitement, all of which is very much enhanced by a good sense of anticipation through planning and fantasising about the outcome. If i give into it then i am released into the indulgence of excitement and then i know (in the cold light of day) that in the instant that the act is achieved (and by this i literally mean within a second or so) i have instant regret and self-loathing. The veil that i have self-imposed over my head that stops me from looking at my values is removed and the possible consequences of my actions are suddenly thrust into the forefront of my mind. The important lesson to learn is that they were always there, it is merely that brain has learned to prioritise the excitement over the consequences because that is the drug that it seeks at the cost of almost anything else. And that is exactly what the principle of immediate self-gratification is all about. A key for me is that it is something that i have "learned" to do and not something i was born with (remember that photo of yourself a s kid in Lesson 1?). The challenge is that i learned it and engrained it across the last 40 years so of course it will take some effort to retrain my brain (or rather unlearn that). So what is necessary is to make a point, however uncomfortable it may feel initially, of knowing that my values will cause me to regret acting out and that ultimately is why i am here on RN, if that didn't bother me (as my brain will try to convince me is the case - just this once or just a little taste will be OK won't it?) then i wouldn't have joined in the first place. I am here because i have well and truly had enough. So this needs complete trust in your instincts, in the cold light of day i know that choices aligning to my values will lead me in the path i want to go down and if they don't then i need to stop in my tracks and remind myself to trust my instincts.

At times i wonder if i will ever achieve this long term but then i remind myself that i have been through very similar journeys with smoking and alcohol both of which i gave up years ago. I can remember how it initially felt stopping both in the first few weeks and how vulnerable i felt (sounds familiar?!) about how i would react when temptation and opportunity struck. Back then i stuck to my guns as i realised that both were ruining my life and i wanted to have a future life free of them. Of course i had urges early on but i batted them away and avoided dwelling on them. After a while i had engrained new habits which made avoiding thinking about those drugs almost effortless. Cigarettes and alcohol hold no appeal to me at all now so i know that with some applied effort on the same basis that quite soon the new habits will be engrained about sex, my third and final drug of choice, and then i will have no more significant barriers to me pursuing and enjoying the life that i want.

Suddenly i am feeling less vulnerable about it all.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:25 pm 
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Today has been a strange kind of day. I had quite a hectic morning with a number of things coming up that needed to get sorted out at work. By mid afternoon the urgent stuff had been resolved and then i was back on the other tasks which are less time pressing. As i eased off the gas peddle i could sense feelings of boredom creeping in along with a sense of entitlement to a treat because i had been working hard this morning. It is funny when you are alive to recognising how you are feeling and paying attention to your thoughts how your brain can so quickly move from being productive to feeding excitement inducing thoughts into your mind. I suppose it has been well drilled over the last 40 years or so to do that and i can see how easily i used to fall foul of it. So my ramblings of last week have been helpful as i can very much see the appeal of listening to those signals but i am sticking to the thought of the reality of the situation that even though these thoughts offer the appeal of a rush of excitement, i will be through the other side of it and feel rubbish about myself again before i know it. So they have been extinguished quickly and the stress goes with it. The other lesson i have learned though is if i just kick it away and do nothing else then it will come back again quite quickly for another try. So finding something else to focus on for a short while that i enjoy that is healthy by way of a break from work is also helpful, it gives me the treat i was seeking but in a healthy way and creates a long enough disconnect from those original thoughts for them to be more easily held at bay. It is really all about reprogramming your mind on how to think and react. It all takes a bit of effort until such time as it is engrained but it is entirely doable. Also reminding yourself of what went well (i.e. a plan followed through with the right outcome) is a helpful thing rather than dwelling on a potential negative (e.g. that the unhealthy thoughts were coming through in the first place). I think that Anon's comments to me of last week were very pertinent, as i strive to consider myself no longer as an addict i should be reminded that non-addicts also naturally have inappropriate thoughts pop into their heads, so it is about how those thoughts are managed appropriately that is key rather than getting frustrated that they have come to mind in the first place as that is not realistic.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:53 am 
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I am currently sat in a major city airport waiting for a flight back home later today having flown in this morning. I don’t often come here but have been here a number of times in the past. When I had my affair many years ago there was one meeting here and before then I had seen a couple of escorts here too. I have had a strong sense of pulling today where those memories having been trying to pop into my head. I probably notice it here more than in London (where most of my acting out took place) because I still visit there regularly on business. It is the feeling of going back to somewhere that feels weird and I have felt uncomfortable for most of the day. Interestingly I have felt no urges though, just feelings which are a mix of excitement (memories) and disgust (recall of acting out).

I was sat down in a waiting area earlier and a policewoman walked past me and sat down beside a girl the other side of me. I hadn’t noticed she was there (that in itself is probably a good sign of progress as I hadn’t scanned those around me, that used to be a given) and she had her hood pulled up and was rocking forwards and backwards. The policewoman was clearly concerned about her and I sense that she thought she was a runaway and was asking to see some ID and then went off to check it.

One of gifts (actually curses) i have is the power to manipulate people. Over the years I had become proficient at picking up on who would be prone to be turned to my will and quite often these women would be the last people that anyone (including them) would think capable of being unfaithful. I felt that I had a radar that was always on the look out for potential opportunity. Without that my life may have been very different! So the girl sat next to me was clearly very vulnerable, probably had no money or anywhere to stay. I would have to say that I have never picked anyone up on that basis but I have fantasised about it in the past (the whole power and control thing is a key theme for me). I could sense that I would feeling a sense of excitement if I was to allow it in (which I didn’t) but also a sense of concern that if the policewomen did not help her and take her to somewhere that she could get shelter and support that she could end up in a very bad situation - if I was capable of thinking about manipulation then there were far worse people than me around that would do much worse things. I felt this kind of push-me-pull you situation. To be clear, even in my past I would not have taken advantage of this situation, I guess I liked the challenge of people more stable and supposedly unturnable, but I could still sense uncomfortable feelings around it all. The girl ended up getting up and started to walk off. Part of me felt nosey and sorry I would hear what the outcome was and whether the police would help her and the other part of me felt worried about her. Then a voice said to me “It’s OK sir, we are keeping an eye on her” - it was the policewoman again. I clearly looked like a concerned citizen. I smiled back but immediately thought two things. Firstly, I wondered if I felt disgust as my thoughts might have been other than concern for this young woman and then quickly realised that I had not been fantasising, it was actually a genuine concern for her welfare. I actually felt like I deserved the policewoman’s kind words because, for once, I was looking out for someone rather than putting my own selfish needs first. That felt really weird, walking away from a situation and feeling good about myself is going to take some getting used to!

A final thought for today is that whilst I have felt uncomfortable for a big part of today, it has not once crossed my mind to develop any inappropriate thoughts. It occurred to me that I felt very similar once I stopped drinking, developing new habits requires a change of thought process and engraining new habits. No one likes change and it takes effort to stick to the plan and it will feel uncomfortable at first. So my feelings of discomfort are actually welcomed because it shows real change and a new way of thinking and living. Who’d have thought!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:42 pm 
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One of the healthy recovery patterns that CoachJon identified in those that have recovered was that:
Quote:
"They identify their future with a healthy person that once used addiction to manage their life; not as an addict that is managing their life with healthy behaviour."

That phrase has stuck in my head for some time. It comes to mind particularly when reading other peoples' threads where they talk about how long a streak they have gone without acting out and take pride in how well they are doing. Of course they are when compared to their lives before the streaks started but will they ever fully recover? The point that CoachJon is trying to make here is that if you see yourself as an addict then you will always be an addict. A person that is pleased with themselves that they have gone a whole week (or whole month - think about Dry January bragging by many in your workplace!) without having a drink or a bar or chocolate are actually fully focussing on something that they want and are depriving themselves of. That approach is setting yourself up to fail and sooner or later it will probably happen, streaks are just that, periods until they end.

My mindset is now very different, i am not seeing myself as having stopped acting out for a particular period of time or that i am depriving myself of something. I am now seeing myself as someone who has chosen now to live their life differently. I came to RN because i was fed up with how all the stuff i was doing made me feel, i was doing it because i thought it was giving me something i wanted but i always felt rubbish afterwards so clearly i didn't want it after all.

One area of frustration that i have had is that i know how much good work i have put into this and i have been (if i am being totally honest with myself) a bit disappointed not to get recognised for any of it at home. Rather than receiving compliments i would often find my wife snapping at me unnecessarily about many trivial things and that would make me angry. But addicts are selfish people and make everything about them. I remember that those selfish acts inflicted pain and misery on my wife and therefore i have no right to have any expectations of her now. Kenzo has mentioned this to me before and i haven't wanted to hear it, but as usual, there is probably more wisdom and benefit to me in the words i don't want to hear than the backslapping ones that i do. Over recent times i have been throwing these thoughts around in my head. I came to the realisation that i am doing this for me first and foremost and with no expectations of others through the process. If this proves to be successful and i change back into the person that i want to be then i will be the person that others want me to be as well. I have realised over the last few weeks that my wife's sniping has broadly stopped and we feel much more relaxed and closer to each other. I don't think that this is coincidence. I believe that where i now have a new outlook it has made me more relaxed and more easy going about things which has had a positive affect on my wife's interaction with me. I think she is picking up on the vibes of how I am changing for the better. It is a much nice place to be.

So if you are passing by and some of these traits i mention above apply to you then you could do well to see how a change of mindset might reap rewards for you too. Kenzo also makes the pertinent point about it not being about whether we should make choices or not, making choices is a given, so it is really instead comes down to choosing WISELY.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 9:05 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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Location: UK
Hi L2R
Quote:
I think she is picking up on the vibes of how I am changing for the better. It is a much nice place to be.


for the both of you :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g: :g:

well done,
as my ex often says to me
Do not f*** it up

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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 Feb 26, 2020 3:10 am 
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Thanks Kenzo and nice to have you back.

A lot has gone on in my life over the last couple of weeks. By way of recap where i had got to was coming to terms with the fact that my wife never seemed interested in sex and this only having happened once or twice over the last year i had changed my mindset to envisaging a life completely free of it even with my wife. I felt that it was easier to get my head around never having it at all than only once or twice a year, a bit like how i have approached drinking. A conversation with her last October revealed that she was in fact still interested and i explained my thinking to her. I said that if i was to change my mindset back again then i was prepared to do it but if it was to only happen once or twice and then stop for another few months that i would really struggle with it and she said that she recognised that. So, it happened twice within a couple of days and then nothing since Oct which really affected me again.

2 weeks ago my wife then brought the subject up again and for the first time for as long as i can remember we had a very sensible, open and calm conversation about it. She started by saying that over the last few weeks she has felt very different about everything and feels brighter about things. She didn't articulate but i know that she meant that she was finally wanting to put everything behind us and to start with a clean sheet. This makes complete sense of the change in her mood that i have noticed which has been consistent for about the last month now, there is no defensiveness of sniping which is so welcomed. She then talked about her reasons for wanting to avoid having sex a lot of which revolve around some medical issues which at times can make sex painful or uncomfortable and then we talked about how we might be able to manage that which would encourage her to be more interested. I stressed again about my difficulties in switching on and off and she said that she understood that and did not want to hurt me or cause me problems. One of the things that she said that she really missed (me too) was being held in bed without necessarily having it lead to sex but to have that physical contact. Kenzo has on more than one occasion commented to me about intimacy being more important than sex and this is the first thing that popped into my head. So we have now become more intimate and tactile and as i was on annual leave last week it gave us some good quality time together. We have had sex a couple of times which has been nice but it hasn't been the be all and end all, the intimacy and closeness has been nice too. When i reflect back it makes me sad though that my affair and other unacceptable behaviour has taken 7 years out of her life to get to the stage of feeling like she could put it behind her.

Whilst this has all been very welcomed it has nevertheless needed me to change my mindset again which has not been as straightforward as i would have expected. I find that one of the most unexpected things has been that i now have no justification (not that i ever really did) to act out - part of me would always have in my mind "well my wife isn't interested so why should i go through the rest of my life with nothing to get excited about?" which was a constant battle to overcome. The removal of the uninterested wife is welcomed but i also need to get my mind used to that argument being removed from the table which will stop that auto-response to potential urges once engrained. Another more sad area is that in order to stop myself from feeling so frustrated with my wife not being interested in me and for me to try to remove myself from all sexual thought i began to view her as a close friend rather than someone i would want to sleep with which made it all a bit easier. I now need to change that mindset back to where it was before which will happen but it is not a switch that can just be flicked on and off. It has made me realise what a mess i had got myself into.

Anyway, the upshot is that there is a very positive way forward for us now. Kenzo's latest valuable advice of to not f*ck it up has been ringing in my ears. I wonder if i am too honest and open at times in my thread but at the end of the day it is who i am and if others can take encouragement from anything i have said then it is worth it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:09 am 
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I can't believe that it was Feb that i last posted. Time just slips away and the current bizarre world that we are living in is not helping things either.

I have just read Kenzo's post to the community forum whose origins are a post that i made myself about reducing footfalls which seems to persist.

All of that said, whilst i have not posted for some time, my recovery has in front been at the forefront of my mind for a long time now. That makes it sound like it is something i should be proud of but that would be an exaggeration to say the very least. I will risk sounding like a broken record to anyone who has followed my thread in the past but i have felt for a very long time that there was something missing that I need in order to get me over the line. I have read the lessons over and over and i know what is in there, i completely agree with it but there is something that falls short when trying to put the theory into practice. I reached the stage where i wondered if i had got to the point of doubting it would ever work for me because each time i would go back to basics only to ultimately reach the same point - what is different each time i start again? But i know that everything the CoachJon says is entirely correct which leads to this never ending circle - sounds a bit like an addict to me! But something keeps it all in the front of my mind and it is CoachJon's lesson on relapses where he says that you have only ever truly relapsed where you turn your back on your recovery and give up on it. I do think that there is a fine line though between taking that as encouragement to pick yourself up and getting it right next time and using it as an excuse to allow yourself the odd indulgence which then makes a joke of your attempts at recovery.

So i thought long and hard about it and came to the realisation that my problems start when i dwell on inappropriate thoughts. This should be headed off by the very first stage of my action plans which make a point of not "dwelling" on thoughts for even an instant and to take the break and divert my attention elsewhere. Call it complacency, call it laziness, whatever, but the root of the problem is right there. I must say though that using my action plans when i am fully focussed tell me that they can work, i have gone months at a time in the past using these and have been very successful with it. I am not talking about streaks or counting, i am just saying that the methodology works because i know i get into the right mindset for a prolonged period of time until complacency kicks in and i allow it to. I realised that i needed to have something else, something new, to get my brain to accept that it will work now if i get back on track. The key to it for me i think is to be successful in creating the break when the trancelike state forms, that is perhaps stating the obvious but i know that that is it. So i read (or actually listened) to a very interesting audio book on Neuro Linguistic Programming ("NLP") which gave me some fresh insights and positive thoughts and actions to support my existing action plans. One area of NLP which i spent a lot of time looking at was "anchoring" where you practice getting yourself into a desired mental state and then have something physical that connects it to a trigger. So let's say you would like a calm mental state (which is essentially what i have done) then you close your eyes, picture the most relaxing place you can be, make it real using vivid colours, sounds and smells and then, say, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together. You have to keep repeating this again and again over a number of days and then you reach a point where, if stressed, you can squeeze your thumb and finger together and it returns you to that relaxed state. There is a lot of free writing on this online and also YouTube clips showing you how to do it if you're interested. I must stress that i do not see this in any way as a replacement for the lessons on RN but rather as a tool which will help implement my action plans. I have been using this for a few weeks now and it has proven to be surprisingly effective. As with anything it requires a lot of practice so that it works when you need it to but it has given me a bit of a new lease of life with my recovery. My plan is always to return to mentoring here but i have always felt strongly that i want to be heading in the right direction myself and to focus my attention therefore before i then come back to support others. I therefore hope to return in the coming weeks if things continue as they currently are. It is about engraining new habits so that presently still feels clunky and manual will become more smooth and automatic. Well that's the plan.

In the meantime i take immense encouragement from knowing that Kenzo has been there and come out of the other side, part of me feels a proper charlie for it taking me so long to get there but also i know that this really is doable and that i sense that i am not that far away from it. I am not going to be giving up, i will get there.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 6:00 am 
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As it was over a month since my last post i thought i would check in with an update.

As always RN and my recovery remains at the forefront of my mind despite not posting here that often now, i do check in regularly to keep an eye on what is going on though. I am pleased to say that things have been fine for a while now and has everything to do with having the right thoughts in my mind and well rehearsed action plans in place. When you have your head straight and are focussed on what you need to do then it can feel very straight forward to make the right decisions. The feelings of stress subside which makes it all a bit circular - the more straight forward, the less stress, the less need to turn to elsewhere and life becomes more manageable. I do feel like i have a habit of overthinking things and striving for perfection and life is not like that. I have now taken the principles of RN and apply them to my day to day life. The MLP tip mentioned in my last post is very helpful, as it happens it has not been needed much to date but practice it so i know that it is there if and when i need it and so adds another layer of protection - the reassurance of having another helpful tool in my locker makes me even more relaxed about things and therefore means i am less likely to actually need it.

My quick sense check is to review performance against my key boundary - have i done anything over the last few months that i could not have repeated to my wife? The answer is a clear and confident No which means i must be on the right track. I will post back again in a while to touch base with the site.

Keep making wise choices everyone.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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Location: UK
Hi L2R
Quote:
My plan is always to return to mentoring here but i have always felt strongly that i want to be heading in the right direction myself and to focus my attention therefore before i then come back to support others. I therefore hope to return in the coming weeks


It would be good to have you back mentoring, good for you as well as this community
I say good for you because I know in my own journey that seeing and understanding issues from another's perspective helped me enormously

For sure you need to prioritise your own recovery but you have encountered problems that you have resolved and that experience is priceless


to quote you

Quote:
Keep making wise choices

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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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