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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 1:52 pm 
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Lesson 34 (again!): Obstacles to emotional maturity

Quote:
You can learn all there is to know about recovery, perform all of the exercises and make all of your amends...but if you continue to hate yourself for what you have done, you will achieve only temporary recoveries rather than a single permanent one. Guilt and shame trigger intense emotions — which is the key trigger in relapse. It's a fact.

I've just been reading through lesson 34 again and reminding myself of some of the major obstacles to a permanent recovery. I was really struck by the focus on immediate gratification and also all or nothing thinking. Both of which were major obstacles to me over so many years, and which still linger on in the background of my thinking. But by far the biggest obstacle was guilt and shame. I continued to beat myself up for so many years, and it was a never-ending downward spiral. I can still be incredibly hard on myself now, but I'm slowly learning to take a more balanced and long term view, and ultimately to forgive and accept myself for who I am. And also to give myself credit for what I have achieved. Its not easy to commit to working through this workshop over a prolonged time period, and really embedding the change. Especially when so much of my nature was geared towards the "quick fix" of immediate gratification.

Quote:
This workshop is structured in such a way as to require the application of long-term emotional management skills. Much of what you learn will provide you with little immediate use, but rather, it will be the cumulative, ingrained effect of this learning that will provide you with the greatest value.


I would urge any of you reading this now who are struggling to keep going. Keep on putting in the effort required. Its not easy by any means, but the reality is that the long term gains are so worth the time and the effort that you're putting in just now. Stick with it and the rewards will follow.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 9:49 am 
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Lesson 47: practical urge awareness

I've been thinking that it's a long time since I last posted on my own thread, which reflects how I've been feeling recently. I'm tempted to say that everything is going brilliantly and that my transition to health is a smooth and painless journey. As a mentor, I feel some pressure to present a certain picture of myself (probably all my own internal pressure). But that kind of deceitful approach doesn't help anyone, least of all myself.

The reality is that I've struggled over the past few months to manage my emotional state. I've been very condemnatory on myself and have fallen back into old patterns of thinking. I've approached the RN workshop in a very mechanical way again, without really fully believing or applying the learning to myself. As a result, I've begun to slip back into trying to manage the urges that crop up rather than dealing with the bigger issues of life. I was really struck by reading through lesson 47 again and especially the quote below. When I'm living a "life insufficiently managed" then my focus becomes fixated on the symptoms rather than the disease itself.

Quote:
This is what is meant by 'practical urge awareness'. It is your ability to recognize future urges not as a threat, but as part of an effective warning system to detect when your life is slipping out of balance. By attempting to manage the urge alone, you are in essence treating the symptom and not the disease. On the other hand, when you recognize urges as the symptom of a life insufficiently managed, it frees you to use future urges as a part of your healthy monitoring system.


I have been doing my weekly health monitoring and other actions from the workshop, but without that sense of belief that it really makes a difference. I need to step back and look at the bigger picture again and the progress that I have made in this workshop over the past year and a half. I know that it works, because I have experienced it for myself. And I'm not going to give up on that just because it's been a rough time recently.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 6:18 am 
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Hi Tim
some six weeks ago you posted

Quote:
I have been doing my weekly health monitoring and other actions from the workshop, but without that sense of belief that it really makes a difference. I need to step back and look at the bigger picture again and the progress that I have made in this workshop over the past year and a half. I know that it works, because I have experienced it for myself. And I'm not going to give up on that just because it's been a rough time recently.


yet you have continued to provide support , advice and encouragement whilst mentoring, presumably benefiting your own recovery in doing so

Hoping that you did step back focus and reflect on yourself in this interim putting that "rough time" behind you :pe:

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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 Apr 28, 2021 8:13 am 
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Hi Kenzo

Thanks for your message and thanks for the challenge too. I'm still active in my recovery and in a much better place now, but I do need to think about the balance between recording my own recovery journey and trying to help others also. You're right that it helps me to give support to others, and leaves me feeling more positive about my own journey. But I do also need to continue reflecting in my own thread too.

It was a rough time, not least in terms of my own mental health. But I do feel that I've been able to reflect and continue to do so. I think to a large part I was over-complicating recovery and life in general. I'm trying to simplify things and have a much clearer focus. Not always easy but far more helpful to do a few things well rather than try to do everything and end up getting pulled all over the place.

Thanks again for your support and challenge. As ever much appreciated.

Tim


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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2021 6:19 am 
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Hi Tim
Quote:
I do need to think about the balance between recording my own recovery journey and trying to help others also. You're right that it helps me to give support to others, and leaves me feeling more positive about my own journey. But I do also need to continue reflecting in my own thread too.



three week later did you reflect further on your comment?
:pe:

remember that in your recovery, you are the key

_________________
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: Thu May 20, 2021 10:38 am 
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Hi Kenzo

Thanks for the gentle reminder. You're absolutely right! I did reflect and decided to post more in my own thread, and then didn't follow through with the actions. I'm actually in a good place at the moment with recovery, which is really the ideal time to "make hay while the sun shines". So I shall post an update this very moment!

I've made some changes in terms of my accountability. For a few years I've had accountability software on all my devices, but my only accountability partner has been my wife. That was actually not fair on her and it didnt really work all that well. A few weeks ago I met up with a colleague/friend and asked him to become an accountability partner. I chose someone who would deliberately challenge me on my actions and engage in an ongoing conversation. I know from my own experience that accountability software is not the final answer. Its a useful tool which doesnt always work, and it only deals with the symptoms rather than the root causes. However, along with a proper accountability partner it definitely helps to have another layer of protection there.

In general terms I'm feeling positive and motivated about life and in a much healthier place than I was before. Looking back, I've had an incredible year of change: COVID, moving house, new career, etc. I sometimes haven't given myself credit for how I've coped in the middle of all that and how much better things are for me now than they were before. But I am conscious that I need to post more on here and continue to move forward. Its all too easy to slide back into complacency and open the doors to old (and even new) behaviours.


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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2021 10:47 am 
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Lesson 49: Health Monitoring 3

Its been a long while since I last completed a workshop lesson. I kind of got stuck for a while and allowed complacency to creep in. To be fair, I have still been completing my health monitoring assessments, although it has become a wee bit rushed and perfunctory at times. I do feel it is a more ingrained process than it was before, but I still need to be consciously undertaking the tasks towards a health based recovery. I've been tempted recently to say that I don't need to keep on doing the same things and that I can start to take it a bit easier. However, the following sentence jumped out at me from this lesson:

Quote:
Values can take years to develop...so use your weekly monitoring to ensure that this value continues to develop even when it shifts to beyond your daily consciousness.

Working through Recovery Nation has made a huge difference on a daily basis. But I've been involved with RN for less than 2 years, whereas my compulsive behaviours ran wild for well over 3 decades beforehand. That's a lot of erosion of my personal values and my core identity, and it doesnt get built back up again overnight. So I'll keep working through the lessons again and embedding the learning deeper.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:20 am 
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Lesson 50: Values based decision-making

I've just worked through Lesson 50 again. It's great to be reminded of the fundamental truths of this workshop. Every so often as I go through a lesson, a particular phrase or sentence hits me between the eyes. It's not anything new or different, but it just acts as a vital reminder of what RN is all about. I love the clarity of this sentence, it kind of sums up the whole workshop for me in a very concise way:

Quote:
Compulsive Decisions are based on Emotions; Healthy Decisions are based on Values

I feel at this stage that my values are so much more consciously and positively integrated into my life than they ever were before. Not all the time, but more and more they are becoming the guiding force for the decisions that I make. I was also struck by this sentence below:

Quote:
addicted individuals no longer recognize the decision-making situations that involve the compulsive behavior, but instead perceive them as natural.


I can vividly remember in the very worst phase of my addiction, many years ago, when I imagined myself to be in the grip of some external, evil power. It felt as if I had no control in the process whatsoever and was just being swept along on a wave. Its great now to be able to have the perspective to see that was never the case, and to have demystified the process. I'm thankful to the workshop for giving me the tools to be able to recognise and commit myself to making healthy values based decisions rather than getting swept away on my emotions.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2021 8:31 am 
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Hi Tim,

Great to see how well the workshop has helped you and great to hear you are in a much better place.
:g:

_________________
“Change your thoughts, change your life.” ~Lao Tzu
Regards
T


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 12:38 pm 
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Lesson 51: Decision-making

I've just gone through this lesson again, and was struck by this line below:

Quote:
In order to master urge control, you must first learn to isolate your emotions from your identity.


That is always the number one priority for me. When my emotions take a negative turn, I have tended to equate them with the reality of who I am and started to judge myself and beat myself up. I've noticed over the past few days that my emotions are quite low for the first time in several months. As a result, the urge to start messing around the edges of my boundaries has flickered to the surface of my mind a few times in recent days. It's vital for me to recognise that my emotions are not me. I'm feeling tired after a really busy and stressful period at work; I'm moving into a period where things are much quieter, which can leave me feeling aimless and unfocussed; and I've got a few weeks holiday coming up which is causing me to take my foot off the gas. I can recognise all of the reasons why I'm feeling negative emotions just now, and accept that it's not a reflection on me or my ability to cope. It's just life, and as long as I continue to monitor my emotional state then there is no reason why I need to go back to unhealthy behaviours.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 10:38 am 
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Lesson 52: Isolating the emotions


I've been away on holiday for a few weeks and had a great time with the family. Just getting back into my regular routines now and realising that I need to pick up my RN lessons again. The summer time can be a tricky time to negotiate with lots of revealing clothing and the lack of a normal routine that can sometimes leave me feeling more vulnerable. There were a few times when I was away that I found myself drawn back to looking at attractive women when out and about. My ingrained response in this situation is to beat up on myself and start thinking that I will never change. Whereas the first step is actually to realise that I'm beginning to enter into a compulsive event, and then consciously work out how to isolate my emotions and make a rational decision in the situation based on my values.

For far too many years, I used the triggers that were all around me as an "excuse" for my compulsive behaviours. I remember on one occasion many years ago that a lap dancing club opened up across the street from my workplace. I can vividly recall how I felt an almost fatalistic inevitability about acting out there. It felt like I couldnt possibly resist such an obvious trigger, and that fate itself was conspiring against me. Obviously that's complete crap, and I'm now much more able to separate out the everyday triggers that I experience from my emotional response. I was struck by this line from the lesson:

Quote:
The single greatest obstacle you face in overcoming your addiction is not the triggers that you face; it is your emotional response to those triggers. How they skew and distort your reality to the point where you make some pretty irrational and destructive decisions.


I cannot avoid every single triggering situation in life. That just isnt feasible or even desirable for me to live a healthy life. Its about recognising when I've been triggered, and then taking the appropriate actions at that point.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:39 am 
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Hi Tim
Quote:
I've been away on holiday for a few weeks and had a great time with the family. Just getting back into my regular routines now and realising that I need to pick up my RN lessons again.

great to see you active here not only on your thread, but in helping others through your own personal experiences
:g:


Quote:
I cannot avoid every single triggering situation in life. That just isnt feasible or even desirable for me to live a healthy life. Its about recognising when I've been triggered, and then taking the appropriate actions at that point.


IMO it is equally, perhaps more important, to recognise potential triggers before they happen, not in order to avoid but definately to deal with via that appropriate action that you now have at hand

_________________
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: Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:49 am 
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Thanks for the encouragement Kenzo. Absolutely that anticipation is key rather than simply reacting after the event. Compulsive behaviours for me were all about passively reacting rather than proactively looking to change.

Glad to be walking this journey with you. Stay safe.

Tim


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 3:29 am 
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Lesson Fifty-Three
Decision-Making: Making the Decision


This was an interesting lesson, reminding me that pretty much always in life there are no easy black and white decisions with either all positive or all negative consequences. The key thing is to learn to work through as much as I can of the potential consequences before making the decision, and then to act accordingly in line with my values. I have much more confidence to make those decisions now than I did before. Especially when I was in the depths of active addiction, it totally undermined my ability and my confidence to come to a clear decision. It felt like I was constantly second-guessing myself. Its great to be able to have time and space away from compulsive behaviours, which gives me a far more secure platform to make my decisions from.

Life in general is good just now. Its been a great summer so far. We've just had friends staying with us for a few days with their young children. Its been very hectic and noisy in the house, but I really enjoyed spending time with them and especially getting cuddles from the baby. I find that I'm able to be so much more present in these situations now, rather than retreating into myself or trying to hide bits of myself for fear of being found out for who I "really am". As my core identity becomes more and more positive and divorced from compulsive behaviour, so it allows me to be more open and real with people. That's a precious gift.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2021 1:52 pm 
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Just a quick post this evening. I've kept on meaning to post for the past week but just never quite got around to it! If I examine my feelings, there is a little spark of possibly resentment at still having to post on here when I could be doing other things. If I'm honest, RN certainly hasn't been one of my top priorities over the past month. To some extent that reflects the fact that I am living life as it is and moving towards a healthy balanced lifestyle, but its also definitely something to be aware of and to challenge in myself. Maybe I also find it a bit harder to post when it's the summer time and there are a lot of other things to be getting on with? But I know from repeated and bitter experience what can happen when I start to take my eye off the ball and think that somehow I can start to relax about my compulsive behaviours. Yes I have changed in so many ways, but I'm reminded of a Bible verse that always causes me to sit up and take notice: "So if you think you're standing firm, be careful you don't fall!".


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