A Better Tomorrow

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by NewStart19, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Pete McVries

    I'm one step further. Deleted my only social media account about three years ago and haven't gone back since. This makes me think of @Living and his final post and recommendation: Digital Minimalism. I want to read it, but that'll have to wait until I finish the unfinished books piled up next to my bed.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
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  2. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Well-Known Member

    Well done mate! That’s a huge number of hours that you have taken back. That’s a huge accomplishment. I certainly noticed huge boosts in my productivity and learning from going P free.

    I also identify with the quest for never ending novelty. That’s where it really gets it’s hooks into you. The mix of the sexual roulette wheel and they constant updating.

    the important thing I have found is rediscovering passions that I used to have more energy for. Do you have something you are working on or working towards?

    congrats again.
    PC.
     
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  3. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Professor Chaos

    Thank you for the congratulations. The effects of the change are already quite palpable, and I still have more progress to make before quitting.

    As for passions--and let me also add purpose--I am definitely working on those to try and make my life fuller, more satisfying, and nuanced. I would probably put these two under the pillar I refer to as lifestyle change.

    To give a little more detail, I decided to work on adding seven hobbies (which I am trying to build into passions) to my life that are based around categories I am pretty sure are helpful for boosting well-being. They are: knowledge, creativity, language/culture, physical/outdoors, meditation (not sure what general category to give this...perhaps something like mental/psychological/spiritual...but meditation in and of itself has been so central to both working on this addiction and bettering my life that I am fine just leaving it as is), fun, and social/community. While I haven't got the ball rolling in some shape or form in every category (e.g. social/community is tough for multiple reasons, with one reason being the ongoing pandemic), I'm steadily working on implementing, normalizing, and then modifying each of these categories.

    As for purpose, once I've adequately worked on improving my life, I would like to focus on building a career that is fulfilling to me on multiple fronts (e.g. let's say I come up with ten points that can make a career worthwhile; I would aim for something like 5-8 of these points being fulfilled, and then work on building the requisite skills, experience, knowledge to make that a reality). This is a slow work in progress, but having worked a slew of completely unfulfilling jobs in my 20s (note, I mean unfulfilling for me; others who work these jobs may themselves feel fulfilled; purpose is a pretty subjective pursuit in the end), I know that this is something I do not want to continue into my 40s. If it ultimately means going back to school, that is something I am fine with. But I don't want to rush this either. Rushing through important decisions like this has never done me any good in the past.

    I would have to make a lot more progress with my life to reconsider dating, let alone building a family. There is a lot of personal growth that I need to do before I can a) feel confident enough to handle my own matters and remain relatively functional while being in a committed relationship, and b) have the wherewithal to keep my ship sailing while at the same time being available as a pillar of support for my hypothetical partner. Plus, if I do go back to school and/or "reboot" my career, there's the concern of finances and whether I can ensure that I could support a hypothetical child. I am pretty sure I would expect my hypothetical significant other to work. I don't see me realistically raising a child outside of a dual income household. And it would have to be only one child. But all of this is something that I will need to return to later on down the line when I am at a better place to make decisions of this nature.

    Let me take this opportunity to say: keep inspiring both the members and lurkers of this site with your progress PC. Whether you write one or not, you will be a success story someday. It's only a matter of time.

    Take care
     
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  4. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update:

    I haven't written one of these in a few days, so my summary may be a bit scattershot in its details.

    I will start with non-fiction reading. As usual, I have been maintaining with History of the World Map by Map. The last few topics have covered WWII (either its buildup or the war itself), and this will continue for the next few days. Not too surprising, considering the scope of the event. One thing that has been interesting about revisiting this gargantuan conflict are some of the details that had been unknown to me until now, such as some of the smaller nations that were allied with the Axis (like Finland, Romania, and Hungary), the relative incompetence (ineffectiveness?) of the Italian military, the German invasion of Norway, etc. To be honest, there are so many details, and while we did cover it in high school, there's only so much time one has to teach students.

    The Economist has been an arena of minor victory for me: I finally got caught up with the current issue, which arrived today. What's more, I have read about a quarter of it already. Reading about all this information makes me long to be a youth again, taking advantage of my more malleable brain and amassing more and more knowledge to build myself into a more informed adult...but this type of thinking is clearly unhelpful and leads nowhere. I am getting better and better (slowly of course) at recognizing this feeling and just letting it go (same goes for other unhelpful feelings; I don't blame myself for having them, and I try to apply self-acceptance and understanding when acknowledging them, but the more time and effort I expend on them, the more I empower them). I like how the time I spent on my mini-project of geography last year manifests itself sometimes when reading the publication.

    But there's always more to improve. There's always more to learn. I don't want to be overly ambitious, but I may return to tackling the book portion of my non-fiction reading hobby next week. I need to be careful about overwhelming myself though. What matters most is that each component of lifestyle change ultimately sticks, and I am not confident enough to say that my current events reading has stabilized, so I might be biting off more than I can chew by jumping back into the books...but I would be lying if I said I don't want to challenge them again.

    On the audio-visual front, I knocked a few more movies off the "list" I mentioned in an earlier post. Little piece of trivia, all of them (except one) are remnants from a bucket-list like project that I left unfinished a few years ago. While not that significant, it's nice to pick up where I left off and give myself the satisfaction of completion (hollow though it may be). Since my last update, I watched Thelma & Louise and A Good Year. One interesting point of commonality between the two was that they both included famous actors in the youngest roles I've seen them in (Brad Pitt in the former, and Marion Cotillard in the latter). I began watching American Gangster last night, but its the unrated version (≈3h), so it was a bit much to finish (plus I started it late and didn't want to regret it the next morning).

    There have actually been a few recovery-related videos uploaded in the past few days, one by Noah Church titled Saving our marriage after discovering his porn problem, and one from Gabe Deem's Reboot Nation channel titled Porn During Covid, Performance Anxiety, Magical 90 Days and More! | Reboot Q&A. Check them out if you are interested. The former is the second part of a success story (told from the standpoint of a PMO-user's wife) and the latter consists of some nice answers to various questions related to PMO addiction and recovery.

    I did my weekly "expedition" today, but I forgot to bring my phone so there aren't any pictures (which is a shame; in addition to beautiful flora and vistas, I encountered various fauna--including a blue heron sandwiched between two residential buildings and the remains of a seal carcass--, war memorials, and even some geriatric men sunbathing in their birthday suits; that was a first for me). It was a pretty good walk, as I was feeling very low in mood and just wanted to get out of the house for the day. The trek was about 4 hours non-stop. I may have tweaked my knee, but I am hoping the inflammation isn't too bad tomorrow. There was one point where a bicyclist was rude in an unnecessary and confrontational manner. While I didn't respond in kind, I did have a pang of anger that stuck with me for a little. I had a back and forth in my mind for 5-10 minutes, ruminating with a bit of violent fantasy, but I knew this doesn't help improve the quality of the rest of my day, and it'll only make responses like this more common if I add energy to them, so I was able to stabilize my mind and focus on the rest of the trek. I was pretty exhausted after returning home but tried to listen to a podcast after taking a shower. I nodded off partway through, but thankfully didn't sleep in for the rest of day (which would have hurt my currently good sleep habits). I woke up partway through and did some of the reading I mentioned in an earlier paragraph.

    Since the last update, I've gotten a couple of miscellaneous tasks done, which makes me feel better about the week overall.

    First, I completely updated/reconfigured etc. my dysfunctional laptop that I am forced to use because of my failed adventures with my desktop (which unfortunately is as I left it; I hope to attempt some personal troubleshooting during the rest of this weekend, and, if that fails, I'll try and take it to a professional).

    Second, I was able to get into contact with an electrician, and they will be stopping by next week. I hope it's a one-visit-and-done affair, but I'll have to wait and see. I'm glad I got something going. I was waiting on another for a few days, and this at times can make me delay tackling a task because I tell myself it is "being processed", whereas the truth is I should work on casting my nets wider to resolve the problem faster. I still have some unhelpful procrastination tendencies. But these too have improved as a result of my efforts over the last year and a half.

    Third, I learned of a covid testing center that gives results fast enough to satisfy the test-within-seven-days requirement of my upcoming deep cleaning. I can't make an appointment in advance however, as it is walk-in. But I did add a reminder to my e-calendar a few days before my dental appointment.

    As for caffeine, I made it through the lands of headaches and grogginess, but the miasma of increased bowel discomfort is still in the air. These caffeine-free teas help in giving me something to cover urges when I feel them. The bigger issue in the long-term will be the situations where my brain tries to rationalize its consumption because I can't (not true) do task X or task Y without it. It happens from time to time, and this will be the biggest stumbling block to sustainable caffeine sobriety. Not as big of a problem as my ongoing PMO addiction, but there are benefits to be had in this area as well.

    My final point is just an addition to my post covering my reduction efforts. While I am sure they go hand-in-hand, other changes for the better have been my use of less porn and more fantasy when I masturbate (my porn to fantasy ratio used to be 100 / 0; now it's more like 70 / 30...although the latter ratio may not be accurate as I am not looking at my data right now), and also a lot less content viewed per fixed unit of time when masturbating to porn (what I mean by this is you can use any fixed unit of time, be it a second, minute, or hour; the point is, the density of content I consume is considerably lower these days).

    That's it for now. Take care
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
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  5. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update:

    No progress with my desktop. Fingers crossed I'll handle this next week.

    History of the World Map by Map is done. Today's topic was again about WWII, and pretty bleak (covering the lives lost under the Third Reich outside of combat). I haven't finished The Economist reading for today (about 25% done at the moment). Since I am finally caught up and keeping pace with the current issue, I am trying to spend a little bit more time now learning some unfamiliar or unknown vocabulary that I encounter. I think this will be particularly useful for the Business and Finance & Economics sections of the magazine, as I am pretty illiterate when it comes to these disciplines. Looking forward to the time where I can comprehend these sections relatively easily.

    I watched another film on my "list". It was Scorsese's 1977 film New York, New York, starring Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli. My rental period for American Gangster ends today, so I'd like to finish that off too before the day ends. If I do, there are only two more left on my "list".

    Aside from the above, today was comprised of mostly chores, all of which I have successfully finished. I also remembered that the birthday of someone I know is up and coming. Thankfully, I was able to think of some gifts that she might like and ultimately settle on one. It's now purchased and on its way. I also decided to snag a card and some wrapping paper at the nearby stationary store.
    I also used my online purchase as an excuse to get a bird-watching book (National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition) and a hand lens for my weekly expeditions. Maybe they'll add an additional layer of depth to this hobby.

    That's it for today. Take care
     
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  6. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update:

    To my surprise, I have had a successful push with re-implementing the book component of my non-fiction hobby, all the while maintaining with History of the World Map by Map and The Economist. For the first of the three, I jumped back into Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn and The Four Agreements. I will post the notes from the two down below, but essentially I finished two chapters of the former (one covering a guide to recovery, which I took notes for, and the other being another section about the author's recovery story, this time in journal form--so no notes), and one chapter of the latter covering the fourth and final agreement. For the second, I finished two more topics. Both again pertained to World War II, covering the defeats of Japan and Germany. I think the next topic is the final one about WWII. For the third, I would say I have read about 75-80% of the current issue, which means it is likely I will be done with it before the next one arrives three days from now.

    I finished both American Gangster and Kundun. All that is left is for me to finish Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and then I have finished my "list". Hopefully I can start and finish it after posting this update.

    I have been helping out some people I know since my schedule has been pretty open recently. I actually stopped by the lingerie department of a department store to purchase some items for one of them (with their money, not mine of course ; ) ), which was an interesting experience. Thankfully, I took notes before going, as they wanted me to pick up five different items for them and I have next to no knowledge about lingerie. The problem was that most of the items were not in stock, but luckily they had an account on file, so I just used that to order what they did not have.

    I helped another person I know purchase an expensive item (jewelry I presume) from Cartier. It's for their partner's upcoming birthday, but Cartier is pretty bougie so they had to make an appointment in advance before going. I was actually a bit under the weather, but had already promised to drive them to and from the store, so I just had to follow through with my promise. It was downtown though, which meant parking was scarce and I really was not in the best mood...but regardless it all ended without incident. They got their present, and drove them back home.

    Lastly, I helped someone who is technologically illiterate transfer about forty albums worth of music to a flash drive, because they got a new car, but it does not have a CD player (but it does have a USB port; seems they are phasing CD/DVD readers out more these days, both in cars and computers). Luckily, I had a USB CD/DVD reader on hand (I mentioned purchasing it in an earlier post somewhere). It was not too difficult to get done, but it was unexpectedly time consuming. I think they had another 20-30 CDs left, but I tapped out at forty. In all honesty, that should be more than enough.

    My desktop is still unattended to. I just have not had the time or energy for it. There is probably some avoidance at work here too because a) I do not want to face the prospect that there is nothing I can do to troubleshoot it and thus I will have to pay to have it repaired, and b) it makes me remember that I was an overconfident idiot who bit off more than he could chew. But I do want to deal with it relatively soon, either within this week or by the end of next.

    One thing I am looking forward to is the visitation by the electrician tomorrow. Getting a cable outlet installed in the B1 of the building has dragged on longer than I had hoped, but I am really hoping it can all be resolved tomorrow. The thing is, I slept in late today because last night the cops were called into the neighborhood for a reason unknown to me (around 1:00 AM, the time when I got into bed), and their light bars were flashing the entire time their cars were parked outside (for about 2 hours). It is what it is, but the electrician is coming at 8:00 tomorrow, so I will most likely be sleep-deprived for the duration of the day.

    What else? Another boring little point, but hey, it is my journal ; ). My expedition last week left my outdoor shoes dirty with sand and mud, and being exhausted and drained by the time I got back from it, I passed on cleaning them that day. So yesterday evening, I busted out a technique I have used in the past of putting a bit of detergent in a large glass of water, mixing the two, using a clean toothbrush to gently clean the shoes and then leaving them out to dry (that was all done after removing whatever particles I could with a cloth). Anyway, I thought I might as well give my indoor shoes the same treatment, since I was already at it. I am happy to say it turned out well, without any noticeable color loss on my outdoor shoes. Even my indoor shoes--which are tattered and worn--look comparably better.

    Any Americans on this board will be aware that taxes are due next month. I have gotten the ball rolling with them, but my days have been pretty full so I have not made much progress (although I suppose I could have helped people a lot less; that would have given me more time). Regardless, I hope to get my state & federal returns and my FBAR (which is for my overseas account) done within the week. I am pretty confident I will.

    It's still early, but I am staying the course with being caffeine-free. I also have reflected a lot on my weed use (which I have abstained from for a while to help with recovery), and came to the conclusion that while I am not addicted to it, I just do not really have room for it in my life anymore. It felt more like I was trying too hard to find space for it in my life, even though I am slowly ramping up my efforts to fill it more with productive hobbies, pursuits, passions, etc. So, I just decided to say goodbye, and I dumped all my paraphernalia. Time is a limited resource after all.

    One final point before I post my notes: I tweaked my bum knee during the last expedition, and as a result relied more on my other leg (and that side of my hip, which has a bum joint as well). There has been some persistent pain since then, and with that in the background my mood has been a bit darker these past few days (most of this is because I used to have really bad pain in various joints in my body for a long period of time, and the non-stop, unchanging pain really put in me in a dark place then). Anyway, I think it has slowly been getting better, but this should really serve as an additional reason for me to jump back into my old physical therapy regimen again (which is about two weeks long, but consistency is key and I am worried about picking up the torch and then dropping it, which is part of the reason why I procrastinate). Either way, I will probably have to do something comparatively lighter for this weekend's outing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
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  7. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Alright, so let's start with Wack:

    A new life (how to heal—permanently) (pg. 60)
    • Quitting PMO is not a cure-all; it is a transformative process that allows one to live without artificial, empty satisfaction: “You have already read about how PMO can alter us and what benefits we may see upon quitting, but what comes in between is our transformation. I do not use that word lightly. Quitting PMO is not a cure-all that will change us into our ideal selves, but it does help clear the way for greater changes, which in turn will give us strength and reason not to return to bad old habits. This journey is not about altering just one aspect of our lives: it is about transforming ourselves into men who no longer require such artificial, empty satisfaction.” (pg. 60)
    • While others may benefit, this guide to recovery is for those who struggle: “Some will find it not very difficult to stop using porn, and by now those of you in this group have the information you need to decide if this is what you want to do. Many who want to quit, however, find themselves facing severe cravings and relapsing several times before realizing that they may not have the ability to break through this addiction without help. This guide is specifically for those men, but anyone who wants to leave behind his vices and strengthen himself and his relationships may benefit from it.” (pg. 60)
    • In the author’s view, there are only two paths forward for problematic porn users (using or completely removing): “There are only two real paths available to the problematic porn user. Path #1:…Continue to enjoy porn…Path #2: Realize how much porn use has hurt you and that PMO is completely incompatible with the person you want to be.” (pg. 60)
    • Some see an illusory, third path; keep using, but just use it a lot less; the problem is that the possibility of relapse will always remain: “Most porn addicts…will try to walk down…Path #3: PMO has hurt you, sure, and yes you need to take a break for awhile and greatly reduce your use, but never watch porn again?...You can enjoy all the benefits of quitting porn while still occasionally indulging…Unfortunately, there are major drawbacks to keeping porn as a part of your life—even a very small part…On path #3, porn always remains a possibility, and so those pathways will never die…You do not need to give a dog a treat every time it does a trick in order for it to continue following commands; you only need to give it a treat occasionally. It is the possibility of a treat that keeps the dog a slave to old habits. If you withhold treats for long enough, eventually the dog will stop obeying your commands, and if you abstain from PMO for long enough, eventually you will lose interest in it and move on with your life.” (pg. 61)
    • The author then lists 13 steps to serve as a guide for those who want to successfully recover: 1. Get Angry, 2. Get Excited, 3. Get Informed, 4. Purge, 5. Burn Bridges, 6. Abstain and Reboot, 7. Avoid Triggers, 8. Track, 9. Share, 10. Fill the Void, 11. Rewire, 12. Commit, 13. Relapse; they are covered in the following bullet points
    • Think of all you have lost and all that has been damaged by your addiction, and use this feeling to see PMO for what it is (a waste): “1. Get angry. If you have read this far and consider yourself a porn addict, then your habit has insidiously impacted every part of your life. You have been wasting your best years chasing an empty dopamine high when you could have been building valuable relationships, accomplishing personal goals, and contributing to your community and the world. Cultivate a disgust for the waste that is PMO.” (pg. 62)
    • Focus on and get excited about the future benefits of recovery (this will help with endurance in the long run): “2. Get excited. By now you have read about all of the benefits that you will enjoy by getting past your porn addiction. You will have more energy, confidence, focus, and sexual strength than you ever remember experiencing. You will leave behind shame, self-doubt, secrets and lies. Do you not want to reach this state as quickly as possible? Anger and disgust at your addiction and your past self will help you start this journey, but in order to remain strong and committed over long days and weeks, focus on your hope for the future.” (pg. 62)
    • Learn about addiction and recovery, then look for information that pertains more to your journey: “3. Get informed. Knowledge is power, and you need to know everything that you can learn about porn addiction and recovery…it is up to you to seek out the scientific and anecdotal information that best relates to your journey.” (pg. 62)
    • Your case isn’t as unique as you think (i.e. you aren’t as alone as you think), but you have to search for info and ask questions: “Often people feel as though they are the only ones to experience their problems…but this is an illusion. There are billions of humans on this planet, and there are no unique problems. Thanks to the Internet, it is no longer difficult to dispel the illusion of being alone with your issues, but you have to pursue the information…Read both general information and individual stories. If you still have questions, post them to one of the many online communities built around recovery.” (pg. 63)
    • Write down your sexual history and be honest to better understand your story; learn what led you here, and then craft your goals: “4. Purge. You have a sexual history, even if you are a never-been-kissed virgin. Write it down in all of its brutal specificity…if you leave something out because it shames you then you are cheating yourself out of the benefits of this step. The writing process will serve as an introspective journey into your past, and when you finish you will have a better understanding of your own story and how you became the man that you need to change…End this project by writing down your mission and your goals: what you want to accomplish and what benefits you hope to earn.” (pg. 63)
    • Use the SMART and SMARTER acronyms to come up with or optimize goals: “Whatever your goals, when writing them it is important to compose them in a way that facilitates their success…[use] the SMART acronym. A goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound…make your SMART goals SMARTER by Evaluating and Revising them.” (pgs. 63-64)
    • If you have any type of collection, get rid of it: “5. Burn Bridges. You have a porn collection. It might be DVDs under your mattress, magazines in your sock drawer, bookmarked streaming videos, saved files on your hard drive—whatever. Delete it. Burn it. Throw it all away.” (pg. 64)
    • The reboot allows your sexual response system to rest, makes you less dependent on PMO, and creates space for desire with a real partner (but you should avoid artificial sexual stimulation): “6. Abstain and reboot. The first leg of the healing process is known as the ‘reboot.’ Its purpose is to give your sexual response system a rest and allow your neurological dependency on PMO to weaken so that you can replace it with a stronger desire for real partners. But because this wiring for PMO is so strong and easily reinforced, it is imperative that you avoid all sexual stimulation that is not a real, attractive person in front of you.” (pg. 64)
    • But advice diverges at this point: some suggest MO to healthy fantasy, others just to sensation, and others recommend no MO: “This is where advice diverges depending on whom you ask and what case you consider. Some believe that fantasy and masturbation is fine and even beneficial as long as the fantasy is far removed from porn-like scenes…Another option is—if you are able—to masturbate only to sensation. Imagine nothing, look at nothing provocative…and enjoy the physical sensations…How well either of these options work or whether they are the right approaches for you depends entirely on your individual situation. The distinct disadvantage of these methods is that they do not allow your sexual response system the rest that many recovering addicts find necessary. For men who cannot find a partner to rewire with, these may be good recourses after an initial reboot of complete abstention…However, masturbation to fantasy or sensation is still masturbation. And more natural masturbation is probably not your end goal. If you want healthy, enjoyable sex with a partner and are having trouble achieving it, then masturbation of any type will likely slow your progress. This is especially true for men who have noticed physical desensitization of the penis due to consistent masturbation. The best way to re-sensitize the penis to the touch of a partner is with complete abstention.” (pgs. 64-65)
    • The rebooter should also consider what to do about fantasy (and what’s deeper: your need for porn or your need for fantasy): “The same applies to fantasy without masturbation. The more you do it, the more you reinforce the habit that sexual arousal happens when you are alone and in your head rather than with a partner and focused on real stimuli…Around this time is when men realize how powerful their addictions are and whether they are more dependent on porn or if the porn habit is built on top of a more deeply rooted need for fantasy. You have to decide for yourself if life would be better in the long term with or without sexual fantasy and masturbation, but abstaining at least during your reboot will likely quicken the healing process.” (pg. 65)
    • Edging: People who edge greatly exacerbate their addiction due to prolonged dopamine exposure (and often mistakenly think ejaculation is the problem): “Edging is masturbation without orgasm and usually involves approaching climax and then pulling back several times, resulting in longer sessions. People enjoy doing this because they are addicted to the dopamine rush that porn or fantasy provide. These users think that indulging does them no harm as long as they avoid ejaculation, but they are wrong. You do not need to orgasm in order to reinforce your PMO or MO addiction, and edging is relapsing. In terms of dopamine re-sensitization, edging is more harmful than PMO because by delaying orgasm we lengthen the heightened dopamine exposure.” (pgs. 65-66)
    • Testing yourself can be damaging; if you do it, make sure you’ve thought it out carefully: “Beware ‘testing’ yourself…This mentality can easily lead to relapse, so do no test too soon before your commitment has been cemented by action. If you do decide to test, make sure that you come to this decision over several days of reasoned thinking…Many men agree that after a 60- or 90-day reboot is the best time to test. They recommend only using sensation—no fantasy or visualization” (pg. 66)
    • Not testing is an option (plus testing alone doesn’t necessarily tell you how things will work with a partner): “Not testing yourself by yourself is also an option. How you perform alone is probably not a good predictor of how you will respond to a partner” (pg. 66)
    • Living without a sexual outlet may feel hard, but is doable (you won’t die without masturbation or orgasm): “Going without sexual release for weeks (much less months) may seem daunting, especially if you have come to rely on masturbation to suppress emotions, to fall asleep, or for any other reason. Sometimes it will feel as if your craving for porn or masturbation will just keep growing and growing until you have to give in, but this is an illusion. Craving comes in waves, and all you need to do to reach still waters again is to remain focused and let the wave pass. There is no physiological requirement to masturbate to orgasm.” (pg. 66)
    • Triggers can be obvious or subtle, but avoid them as much as possible for the first few weeks (they get easier to deal with over time); try to be thorough in identifying them: “7. Avoid triggers. ‘Triggers’ are cues or influences that start you back down the path to PMO. Triggers may be obvious…They also may be more subtle…It is especially important during the first few weeks of a reboot that you shun triggers as much as possible, though once you have built a solid foundation of strength and abstention you should find it easier to ignore triggers…You must do some critical thinking about what your triggers may be in order to preempt them. Be honest with yourself.” (pgs. 66-67)
    • Online protection and ad-prevention software can help prevent unwanted triggers (but they aren’t flawless): “Many men use web protection software like K9 to block adult content from their devices. Software like this can be helpful, but it is not flawless. Do not substitute it for your own willpower. Its best function is to prevent accidental viewings and give you a little more time to change your mind…I also recommend ad-prevention software to block potential triggers, such as Adblock Plus” (pg. 67)
    • You may want to reduce or temporarily/permanently remove substances (which are a common trigger): “Substances are a common trigger. If you get horny and lose willpower after using alcohol, marijuana, etc., then reduce your use or cut those substances out of your life completely—at least for the duration of your reboot.” (pg. 67)
    • Trigger test – Are you aroused by or pushed toward MO because of some stimulus? Then stop engaging it and come up with a precaution to preempt it: “If in doubt as to whether something is a trigger, there is a simple test that you can perform. Are you turned on or experiencing an increased urge to MO due to some stimulus or situation that is not a real partner? Yes? Then stop immediately and preempt that trigger so that it does not threaten your progress again.” (pgs. 67-68)
    • Subjectively and objectively track your progress: “8. Track. Monitor your progress, both subjectively and objectively. Subjectively, keep a journal in which you write your feelings, goals, experiences, temptations, etc…Objectively, mark days on a calendar or otherwise.” (pg. 68)
    • Counters can become double-edged swords, so try using a spreadsheet: “If you relapse, though, then a counter can serve as a reminder of your failure and an excuse to binge after one reset. In this case merely tracking the length of a streak starts to do more harm than good, and you should instead or in addition keep a spreadsheet that counts each relapse, the nature of the relapse, and the stimuli you relapsed to. Add whatever details you think will be useful to you. This spreadsheet method helps reinforce the fact that progress is not always all-or-nothing and that relapse is a setback but not a complete reset to your former self.” (pg. 68)
    • Share you past and present experiences, struggles, and efforts with others anonymously or in real life: “9. Share…share your past history and present struggle with others. The easy way to start opening up is by posting to an anonymous online support community…These communities can be a great source of information and emotional support, but do not stop at sharing anonymously. You need at least one person in your real life to whom you can open up. There are two reasons for this. First, the people you tell in real life can provide more concrete support for you on your journey.” (pg. 68)
    • Sharing in real life gives you stronger support and breaks down your self-limiting barrier that defends your ego: “Second, and most importantly, you must break through the barriers that you have set up over the years to keep your ego safe. You do not need them anymore. Not only do these barriers keep other people out: they also keep you locked in.” (pg. 68)
    • By sharing yourself with others, you accept yourself better and create a perennial sense of self-worth: “The true power of this step is that by sharing yourself you accept yourself, and by accepting yourself you acknowledge your own value—acquiring a sense of self-worth that can be an ever-present source of strength. This is your life, and it is time to stop hiding.” (pg. 69)
    • The ladder of destructive sexual action – the first rung is feel bad, the second is keep it to myself, and the third is the action itself: “Gerry Blasingame is a counselor who treats sexually compulsive developmentally disabled persons…Blasingame mapped the path to destructive sexual action in the form of a ladder. The top rung is ‘Bad Sex Behavior’, but to get there one has to climb the lower steps. The first rung on the ladder: ‘Feel Bad’. As recovering addicts…we are tempted in the hard moments…Feeling bad is an unavoidable part of life, so you will find yourself on the first rung of the ladder to relapse often. The second rung is ‘Keep It to Myself.’ Addiction thrives on isolation and secrecy. When we keep our pain private, it can seem overwhelming and insurmountable and lead us back to dark places. But the mere act of sharing your struggle with another person can lighten the burden immensely…Make yourself vulnerable and request help if you need it.” (pgs. 69-70)
    • Accountability software can be helpful: “If you do not trust yourself to succeed alone and need a friend to help you not use, consider installing ‘accountability software’ onto your devices. Such software monitors your online activity and sends reports to an email address of your choosing.” (pg. 70)
    • Deletion isn’t enough; you need to add things to fill the void: “10. Fill the void…Once you begin to abstain, you may realize that you used PMO in order to regulate your emotions, cover up negative feelings, and/or avoid having to confront your greater responsibilities and goals. It will not work just to remove PMO and hope for the best. You must fill the empty space left in your life by your absent addiction.” (pg. 70)
    • There are three great starting points for addition – physical fitness, finding passion and purpose, and developing social skills (pg. 71)
    • Physical fitness is an outlet for excess energy, combats depression, and improves health/mood/self-confidence: Physical fitness…it serves as a great outlet for excess energy, but when done right exercise will also improve your health, mood, and self-confidence. We are more vulnerable to relapse when feeling bad, and regular exercise has been shown to be just as effective as antidepressants in treating clinical depression.” (pg. 71)
    • Combine that with time in the sun, meditation & yoga, and improved diet for further benefits: “Exercise outside whenever possible. Sunlight has been shown to benefit health and mood as well…Some find that meditation in conjunction with yoga…helps them to achieve the self-awareness and self-control that is valuable to this journey. As important to physical and mental fitness as exercise is the fuel we put inside our bodies…In general, avoid heavily processed foods in favor of whole foods close to how they appear in nature—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.” (pg. 71)
    • Passions fascinate us, challenge us, and make our lives feel fuller; but it is purpose that provides true satisfaction:Passions and purpose…Passions are those activities and pursuits that fascinate and challenge you. Passions are what can fill your hours and leave you with a sense of pride rather than a sense of emptiness…Find yours and pursue them, but also recognize that they are side dishes. Passions are yummy and can make an underwhelming entrée more palatable, but to find true satisfaction we need purpose.” (pgs. 71-72)
    • If you have a good idea of what your purpose is, work on it; otherwise, it is up to you to find it (either through self-exploration or experimentation): “Do not gloss over this step, as this is the step most likely to help you succeed in this journey and in your life. If you already know what your purpose is…then there is no better time than now to throw yourself into that pursuit…If you do not know what you want out of this life, you must figure it out. No one can do this for you…The truth is that your head probably does not know what is right for you, either, which is why you must listen to your body…When confronted with a life-altering choice, close your eyes and visualize each option one at a time…As you visualize, remain aware of how your body reacts…The precise physical signs vary from individual to individual, but the principle applies to everyone…If you have no options to consider or all of them are shoulder-scrunchers, then you really must just start living. Experiment…Simply put, live as much as possible until you encounter that which feels right, and then heed that feeling.” (pgs. 72-73)
    • Recovery will have a noticeable effect on social skills and experiences, but remember that deeper connection comes from being vulnerable around others: Social skills…Whatever your previous level of social acumen, undertaking this journey will likely increase both your ability and your motivation to enjoy time with others.” (pg. 73)
    • Deep connections with others come from being vulnerable, and being okay with being vulnerable makes you more resistant to shame: “However, whether your goal is to meet new romantic partners or friends, know that you can only foster deep connections with others if you are willing to expose your vulnerabilities. The more people you allow to accept you for who you are, the less shame will hold you down and the stronger you will be at pursuing your new life.” (pg. 73)
    • Rewiring is mostly feeling and being physically close with your partner; with time, you will recondition yourself: “A big part of rewiring is simply being close with your partner, cuddling, kissing, and associating warm, sexual feelings with his or her presence. Over time you will condition your sexual response system to react to genuine rather than artificial stimuli, and real sex should only continue to get easier and better for you.” (pg. 74)
    • Everyone’s journey is different, but if you still experience physical difficulties, you may want to take a break from sex and orgasm (you can also leave your dependency on sex and orgasm behind): “Knowing when to start having sex again is difficult, and each man must experiment and find the timetable that works best for him…If you suffer from sexual dysfunction or believe that you are not enjoying sex as much as you should, however, then you may need a deliberate period of rest in order to re-sensitize your sexual response system. Know that continuing to have sex and reach orgasm soon after quitting PMO may slow this healing process considerably. Additionally, if you are accustomed to frequent sexual release, then this period of complete abstinence will show you that you can live without indulging lust.” (pg. 74)
    • The author’s general estimates for reboot duration for younger and older men: “Depending on the depth and consistency of your PMO abuse, you may need a longer or shorter reboot before you feel ready to rewire. Older men especially find that they need less reboot time in order to return to the sexual pathways they wired in their youth—approximately one or two months. Younger men who grew up on porn or who started using PMO before having real sex may need much longer. Many encounter success with 90 days, but you may need half of a year or more—or less. I recommend a minimum of 30 days without sexual release for all men on this journey. If you suffer from PIED and want to see a specific physical sign of recovery before trying to have sex, wait until you get strong erections just from passionate kissing.” (pg. 74)
    • If you have a partner, you should keep them fully updated to limit expectations and maximize the degree of help you can receive: “If you already have a romantic partner…you should keep your partner completely updated on your journey. The only way that he or she can fully help you is if you are open about the intimacies of your struggle…What you want to accomplish with this conversation is to limit expectations; if you do not, then expectations may end up limiting you.” (pgs. 74-75)
    • You still may experience performance anxiety after PIED has healed, so try and think less about erections and orgasms when being intimate: “Since PIED feeds performance anxiety and vice versa, you may still have trouble getting and maintaining an erection after a reboot simply because you are anxious about the results…do not worry about your erection or reaching orgasm. Know that it will happen eventually and that there is no need to rush it. Just have fun.” (pg. 75)
    • If you have DE, desensitization, or decreased libido after orgasm, make sure to only allow climax through a partner’s touch: “If you have DE or desensitization or your libido is greatly decreased over the days following orgasm…you should not use your hands to ‘finish yourself off’ during sex…If you cannot reach climax solely with the touch of a partner, then do not climax. This may take some willpower in the moment, but it will cue your body that sensitivity needs to increase in order to orgasm.” (pg. 75)
    • The Chaser Effect: “…some men find that frequent orgasm with a partner (especially during the first few months of their recovery) drains them of focus, energy, and libido—or it intensifies cravings for PMO in what is called the ‘chaser effect’.” (pg. 75)
    • The steps mentioned so far (or a combination of them) constitute true commitment; there’s a difference between actively living out your recovery and merely setting goals for it: “You may have noticed that the most important step has so far been left out of this list, but that is because each item above embodies it. The twelfth step is to commit to your new life. With the completion of each step, you are committing further and further to this journey. This commitment will shape your new reality…Understand that this commitment must exist at a deeper level than you are used to. You have probably ‘committed’ to endeavors in the past that you failed, but those were not true commitments. Those were goals, and goals can be missed. So do not think of this journey as a goal…you do not have to struggle with this decision because it is not really a decision…it is simply a fact of your underlying reality.” (pgs. 75-76)
    • Lived experience varies from person to person, and the same can be said for the criteria of recovery; just make sure you don’t omit any out of fear: “This list is designed to give you the best possible opportunity to heal yourself. That said, this is not a homework assignment. This is your life. Only you are in charge of your journey. There is no one right way to do this, and there are men who have successfully healed themselves without completing one or more of these steps—only you can decide what is right for you. Each addict is addicted to a varying degree, and some will be able to free themselves more easily and casually than others. Before you decide against completing any of these steps, however, ask yourself whether your decision to skip it is determined by fear: fear of commitment, shame, embarrassment, change, etc. If the answer is yes, then you are allowing fear to dictate your life. You have to decide if you can accept that.” (pg. 76)
    • There are many things that can be learned from a relapse: “13. Relapse…A relapse despite your best efforts can teach you many things: how strong your addiction is, what your triggers are, how your mind rationalizes PMO use, how you react emotionally to a relapse, etc.” (pgs. 76-77)
    • To successfully deal with a relapse means not dwelling on it and forgiving yourself, critically analyzing it, and then planning for the future: “The first step in dealing with a relapse is to forgive yourself. Regret the mistake, but do not regret who you are, for it is human to make mistakes…Second, analyze critically how it happened and how you feel about it…Then plan for the future, deciding how you will better avoid triggers and deal with urges…do not dwell on failure; this increases the urge to make yourself feel better by giving in again…Instead, be content with the new knowledge you have acquired and get excited about how it will help you to accomplish your goals.” (pg. 77)
    • If you find yourself continually relapsing, you may not be ready to quit; try focusing less on quitting and more on enhancing the positive aspects of your life so that you one day can beat the addiction: “If you continuously relapse, however, then you must consider the possibility that you are not ready to live without PMO. If so, stop trying to quit for awhile. Enjoy your PMO sessions and then move on, as berating yourself afterward only brings more negative energy into your life. Instead, just channel your focus into something productive that you are passionate about…After enough time enhancing the positive aspects of your life, you may find yourself strong and confident enough to move on from PMO.” (pg. 77)
    • There are tactics for those that don’t want to temporarily give up on quitting, but focus on 1-2 instead of all to better evaluate them: “If the proposition of delaying your new, PMO-free life even for that long disgusts you, however, then I have some more tactics for you. Each tactic is a tool in your willpower toolbox that, if used properly, can help you become the person you want to be. Instead of trying to employ all of them at once, focus and commit to one or two at a time in order to fairly evaluate its value in your own journey.” (pg. 77)
    • Tactic #1 – Understand the difference between guilt and shame, and release yourself from the shackles of the latter: Free yourself of shame…Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders. And here’s what you even need to know more: guilt—inversely correlated with these things. Guilt is what we feel after making a choice that goes against our ideals. Shame is what we feel when we believe that we are fundamentally bad, unsalvageable. Guilt is a powerful tool that drives us toward being the person we want to be. Shame is an anchor. You can and should let go of that anchor.” (pgs. 77-78)
    • Tactic #2 – Reframe the recovery process as giving up a better future, rather than as giving up PMO: Reframe your reality. We humans tend to want to hold onto what we have. Losing what we already see as ours hurts more than receiving something new helps, even if there is a rational net gain. So visualize yourself months from now and free of addiction, enjoying the benefits of recovery and the resolution of whatever problems brought you to this guide. You are happier, healthier, and more productive than ever before. Now accept that this future is what will happen—it is yours to lose. No one can take it from you but yourself.” (pg. 78)
    • Tactic #3 – Monitor your urges and determine if they are what you actually want, or if they are interfering with your greater goals, plans, or commitments: Cultivate mindfulness…We make the majority of our decisions on autopilot…Our limbic systems want social acceptance, fatty foods, and sleep, and this is good because all of them are beneficial in the right amounts. But because we live in a modern environment where overindulgence is a constant danger, we have to train our conscious minds to monitor those urges and make the final call about whether we truly want these things right now or if they are getting in the way of our grander commitments…The way we train this skill is by consistently reminding ourselves to be conscious of our thoughts and actions.” (pg. 79)
    • Specific technique for Tactic #3 – Whenever you have to exercise willpower for your addiction, write down your choices, then circle the choice you will make (you can switch to verbalizing this once it becomes second nature); if you circle your temptation, narrate the process aloud while you follow through with your decision: “Carry a piece of paper and pen with you. Whenever it comes time to make a willpower decision concerning your addiction…write down your choices. This will likely have something to do with your triggers…Circle the choice that you make, then do it…Once you practice this technique enough, you can just verbalize the choices to yourself rather than bothering with writing them down…If you do circle the choice that aligns with your unwanted temptation, then narrate your thought process out loud as you follow through with that decision.” (pg. 79)
    • Tactic #4 – Don’t try to control cravings or thoughts; instead, observe them and see that you don’t have to respond in the usual way: Accept your thoughts, control your actions. Part of cultivating mindfulness is learning to watch your own thoughts without trying to control or banish them…Instead, when a craving or thought about using rises, just breathe and observe your own mind and body…Accept that you are having these thoughts and feelings, examine them like a scientist studying wildlife…This process will teach you that your cravings do not control you…This technique takes a few tries to get good at, so practice and perfect it on less consequential cravings” (pg. 80)
    • Tactic #5 – Practice concentration meditation (the author recommends breathing as your anchor): Meditate. A proven way to strengthen your mindfulness muscles is through breath meditation. For as little as five minutes each day, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus on the sensation of your breath. Do not try to control it. Just observe and feel the inhalations and exhalations. If you notice other thoughts popping into your head or your attention wandering, simply take note of it and shift your focus back to the breath. Do not get angry at yourself for slipping or try to push these thoughts away. The goal of this practice is not to maintain a blissfully clear mind, but to notice when your thoughts wander and to nudge your focus back into line.” (pg. 80)
    • Tactic #6 – When you feel near the point of no return, tell yourself to abstain for just 10 minutes, and continue this process for as long as you can or until urges subside: Take 10 minutes…when you feel like you absolutely have to look at porn or masturbate, just abstain for 10 minutes…Ideally, you should use those 10 minutes to move yourself to a different environment, breathe, reactivate your mindfulness, remind yourself of your goals, and then start another activity…When the 10 minutes are up, you may find that the craving has dissipated…you may still want to relapse but can give it another 10 minutes, and then maybe another 10 after that…Or maybe you do give in after the 10 minutes, but at least you gave it 10 minutes, and that is a lot better than what you used to do.” (pg. 81)
    • Tactic #7 – Confront your trigger in a controlled manner; if that’s too daunting, come up with safe ways to do so: Extinguish triggers. If you find that the triggers you cannot avoid are overpowering you, you can take away their power by repeatedly confronting them in a controlled manner…Do this many times over many days and your brain will adapt to dismiss the former trigger instead of expecting PMO to follow. If you are afraid that you will just give in to the urge rather than breaking the cycle, first try this in a safe environment such as in public or with a friend present.” (pg. 81)
    • Tactic #8 – Raise the stakes of relapse by adding additional penalties: Raise the stakes. In the heat of the moment, it can be all too easy to forget why it is important not to just give in, so make it important enough that you cannot forget. For example, identify a charity, cause, or political party that goes against everything you believe in. Donate $100 to it every time you relapse, no exceptions.” (pg. 81)
    • Tactic #9 – Change your environment to break up your current way of doing things and eliminate potential triggers: Change your environment…the little world each of us lives in settles into a certain way of doing things, and to resist this momentum is like swimming upstream: usually doable but very difficult. If you need to transform your life, sometimes it is easier just to get out of the stream and walk somewhere else. You can change your environment in small ways…But you can also change your environment in drastic ways…Just be wary to not return to bad old habits when you return to an old environment.” (pg. 82)
    • Tactic #10 – Redefine your relationship to relapse and urges (from fear and fighting them to trust and levity): Lighten up. It is easy to become exhausted if you feel as though you constantly have to resist urges, but the beautiful and horrible truth about our own unwanted cravings is that they only have as much power as we give them. If you fear relapse then you allow for the possibility of relapse. If you fight urges as though they are opponents, then you give them a chance at victory. Instead, trust yourself. Decide to change and know that it will happen. You have complete control over this change, so there is no reason to doubt its certainty—it is not as if someone will force you to relapse. Once you trust yourself, urges are more like crickets chirping at your feet than formidable opponents. They are noticeable, but all they can make you do is smile in amusement as you move on with your life. When you wake up in the morning and the thought of relapse crosses your mind, laugh, shake your head at the funny joke, and go make yourself some oatmeal.” (pg. 82)
    Now on to The Four Agreements:

    Chapter 5: The Fourth Agreement – Always Do Your Best (pg. 75)
    • The Fourth Agreement is always do your best (pg. 75
    • Accept that the quality of your best will not always be the same: “But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” (pgs. 75-76)
    • Time will change the quality of your best (as does your implementation of the four agreements): “Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best—no more and no less than your best. If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best will not be enough. When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself, and it will take you longer to accomplish your goal. But if you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgment, guilt, and regrets” (pg. 77)
    • The fourth agreement removes the possibility of self-judgment: “…if you always do your best, there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself, there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment.” (pg. 77)
    • The fourth agreement makes taking action the reward, instead of predicating the need for action on a reward: “Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best.” (pg. 79)
    • Why doing your best releases you from self-judgment: “When you do your best, you don’t give the Judge the opportunity to find you guilty or to blame you. If you have done your best and the Judge tries to judge you according to your Book of Law, you’ve got the answer: ‘I did my best.’ The are no regrets.” (pg. 80)
    • Self-acceptance is important but don’t forget to practice and learn from your mistakes: “When you do your best you learn to accept yourself. But you have to be aware and learn from your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results, and keep practicing. This increases your awareness.” (pg. 81)
    • How to know that you’re doing your best: “You know you’re doing your best when you are enjoying the action or doing it in a way that will not have negative repercussions for you.” (pg. 81)
    • Expressing our existence means we are living fully, and we do this by taking action; otherwise, we are inactive and deny our lives: “Action is about living fully. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are. Expressing what you are is taking action. You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward.” (pg. 82)
    • Expressing our existence should include an awareness that allows others to do the same: “Taking action is being alive. It’s taking the risk to go out and express your dream. This is different than imposing your dream on someone else, because everyone has the right to express his or her dream.” (pg. 82)
    • Living in the past robs you of your ability to fully live in the present: “If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self-pity, suffering, and tears.” (pg. 84)
    • Embracing the fourth agreement allows you to more effectively live with the first three: “The first three agreements will only work if you do your best. Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word. Your routine habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind. But you can do your best. Don’t expect you will never take anything personally; just do your best. Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption, but you can certainly do your best.” (pg. 85)
    • Practice makes perfect, and the fourth agreement is no exception: “If you do your best always, over and over again, you will become a master of transformation. Practice makes the master. By doing your best you become the master. Everything you have ever learned, you learned through repetition. You learned to write, to drive, and even to walk by repetition. You are a master of speaking your language because you practiced. Action is what makes the difference.” (pg. 86)
    • The fourth agreement will lead you to love, personal freedom, and health: “If you do your best in the search for personal freedom, in the search for self-love, you will discover that it’s just a matter of time before you find what you are looking for…Respect your body, enjoy your body, love your body, feed, clean, and heal your body. Exercise and do what makes your body feel good…When you practice giving love to every part of your body, you plant seeds of love in your mind, and when they grow, you will love, honor, and respect your body immensely.” (pgs. 86-87)
    • All of these four agreements are a summary of one of the masteries of the Toltec: transformation; you transform an infernal, lived experience into a supernal one: “The Four Agreements are a summary of the mastery of transformation, one of the masteries of the Toltec. You transform hell into heaven. The dream of the planet is transformed into your personal dream of heaven. The knowledge is there; it’s just waiting for you to use it. The Four Agreements are there; you just need to adopt these agreements and respect their meaning and power.” (pg. 88)
    • Upholding these four agreements however, is not easy because the other agreements instilled in us by the dream of the planet are strong; we need to be strong and defend them to go beyond suffering and obtain personal happiness and freedom: “…you must have a very strong will, a very strong will to keep these agreements. Why? Because wherever we go we find that our path is full of obstacles. Everyone tries to sabotage our commitment to these new agreements, and everything around us is a setup for us to break them. The problem is all the other agreements that are a part of the dream of the planet. They are alive, and they are very strong. That's why you need to be a great hunter, a great warrior, who can defend these Four Agreements with your life. Your happiness, your freedom, your entire way of living depends on it. The warrior's goal is to transcend this world, to escape from this hell, and never come back. As the Toltecs teach us, the reward is to transcend the human experience of suffering." (pgs. 88-89)
    • Live in the present, don’t empower thoughts of failure, and always keep trying; you’ll get better with time: “…if you fall, do not judge. Do not give your Judge the satisfaction of turning you into a victim. No, be tough with yourself…If you break an agreement, begin again tomorrow, and again the next day. It will be difficult at first, but each day will become easier and easier, until someday you will discover that you are ruling your life with these Four Agreements…Do not be concerned about the future; keep your attention on today, and stay in the present moment. Just live one day at time.” (pgs. 90-91)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
    Gil79, -Luke- and Pete McVries like this.
  8. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    I really like your weekend trips and I look forward to the pictures. Should do something like that more often myself.

    Also thanks for your notes on the books. I think I'll share some of my own notes from books I've read here, too. Since I have them on my laptop, it's just copy&paste (even though some of them are in german, depending on whether I've read the book in english or german. But I think it's a good way to share.
     
    NewStart19 and Gil79 like this.
  9. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @-Luke-

    I'm glad to hear that! I wish I could upload more (of which there are, plus some short videos), but there's a file-size limit for attachments.

    You're welcome. It's just one more thing I can do to help reinforce the habit, so it's a win-win situation. There are at least a few other Germans on this board, so either language shouldn't be a waste.

    Thanks for stopping by.
     
    Gil79 likes this.
  10. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update (Part 1):

    So the astute observer may have noticed that my tracker has changed. About two days ago I relapsed to fantasy. The session was in the +/-30 minutes range, and I'm thinking it's perhaps safe (i.e. stable) enough to say that this is now where my new normal lies. It consisted of roughly 50/50 realistic fantasy and porn-like fantasy. While I am not pleased at the result--and I do indeed view it as a setback--overall I feel okay about it. Since I started using a tracker again because I cared less about my streak as a number and was focusing more on making overall progress with my addiction, I have been resetting it each time I relapsed, regardless of whether or not it was to porn or fantasy. But this time around, I am just going to switch to the porn only tracker, so that I can continue to refrain from counting days in my post but also give readers a better idea of where I am at on the road to recovery.

    I've made incredible strides over this past year, especially in terms of session-duration reduction. The thing is, if I have basically stabilized at +/- 30 minutes, then I think I have hit the ceiling for session-duration improvements. True, perhaps there is a little more ground to be gained here, but it won't really change much for me on the experiential level. In other words, stabilizing at around 30 minutes, as opposed to doing it for hours, has made clearly noticeable changes in my life at a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Shaving down the duration a little bit more and stabilizing that however will not lead to any perceptible changes in my life. Plus, there is a point where it becomes counterproductive. I mean, I don't want to train myself to orgasm unnecessarily early.

    So what's next? Well, I mentioned it in an earlier post, but I think the next two areas to make significant gains are either aiming for 100% no intentional sexual/romantic fantasy or the elimination of any masturbation to pixels on a screen (i.e. porn, porn substitutes, pictures of women). For me though, the latter is a bit riskier than the former. What I mean here is, now that my sessions are relatively short, when I masturbate to fantasy (remember I can't do it with just sensation), I have a lingering unsatiated feeling that makes me far more vulnerable to an additional relapse. I was lucky with the last relapse in a way because I was exhausted at the time, so I was able to fall asleep pretty soon after. But even then the ravenous hunger to go for another round was palpable.

    Because of this, I think I am going to focus more of my energy on the complete elimination of intentional sexual/romantic fantasy . I am at a point now where it is a relatively uncommon occurrence, so I think I am going to use my reserves (willpower, mindfulness, extra energy, etc.) to push this to the next level and cement stabilizing a fantasy-free lifestyle.

    Don't get me wrong, I still--and maybe I sound like a broken record with this--keep viewing my previous relapse as the last time, but these days I am all about tangible progress. It was a protracted effort, but bingeing is no longer a part of my life, and believe me when I say life is clearly better without it. If the last time is the last time, then finally! And if it isn't, then I can continue making progress elsewhere until I plant the flag at my last relapse and it stays there forevermore.

    Since I had something substantive to write about my progress with this addiction, I am breaking my update into two parts. The second will be more like my recent entries, covering addition (lifestyle change) and my life in general.
     
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  11. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update (Part 2):

    Let me start with reading. I reintroduced the third component of my non-fiction reading hobby at the start of this week, and it, along with the other two, are still going strong. In History of the World Map by Map, I covered four topics. The first was the last one pertaining to WWII, covering the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After that, I read about India's struggle for independence and the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Then, I learned about the founding of the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party). Today, I read about the emergence of the two global superpowers in the aftermath of WWII: The United States and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). As for The Economist, I've read about a quarter of the current issue, and I started spending a little (I mean only a little here) time looking into words/terms I am unfamiliar with. As for the non-fiction books, I finished rereading (and taking notes on) Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn, and almost finished The Four Agreements. More specifically, I read two sections in the former: how parents can approach and discuss the topic of porn (and more broadly sex and masturbation) with their children, and a collection of testimonials and success stories from rebooters (and sometimes their partners). For the latter, I read two chapters, the first discussing how to go about breaking your old agreements, and the second explaining how lived experience can be either heaven or hell on earth depending on your relationship to it. I'll include my notes down below.

    I started watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the other day, but something else came up and I unfortunately had to take a break. It was especially unfortunate because the scene I left off at had me cracking up. Maybe I'll have time to squeeze it in tonight? We'll see.

    The electrician came on the visitation date, almost exactly on time. Thankfully, it was a one-and-done affair. I'm pretty glad it's dealt with and there wasn't any additional work. The cable comes out right where I wanted it to, and they neatly snaked it around the ceiling and walls of the garage so that it doesn't even stand out (plus the cable matches the paint on the walls, which is an additional plus). Sometimes things do work out just how you want them to.

    Somewhere a few posts back I mentioned purchasing a gift for someone that I know. Well, Friday was their birthday, so, after consulting with a web page that conveniently demonstrated how to neatly wrap a present, I wrapped it, wrote a message on their card, and delivered it to them. They seemed pleased, which was nice.

    As for filing, my overseas accounts are all dealt with. I still haven't finished my state and federal returns, but I am working on them. I could finish them off tonight, or I could finish the movie like I mentioned above. Either one works for me. The deadline is in about a month, and I've already made a lot of progress, so doing something else wouldn't feel like lollygagging.

    Since there are some parallels that can be drawn to my addiction, there is another point that I would like to mention. From time to time, I get this itchy sensation on the sides of my hips, and it hit me again this week for the first time in a while. For the last couple of days, I haven't really been checking the impulse to scratch. But it dawned on me that it would be beneficial to my recovery efforts if I more mindfully resisted the urge and instead periodically lubricated the area with moisturizer. By doing so, I would be practicing better impulse control, plus the itchiness would die down, decreasing my total daily discomfort. If I keep it up, the rough, damaged skin should be back to normal in a few days.

    My desktop however, is still untouched. In the back of my mind, I am concerned about building a barrier of avoidance, but at the same time I realize that dealing with taxes this week understandably shifted my priorities. I should be able to get down to business next week.

    I am still caffeine free. Many bags of caffeine-free herbal tea have been drunk since I stopped. They help give me something to go to when I have urges. Sleep-deprived days are the biggest challenge, but the more I make it through them in particular, the better my chances are in the long run to quit permanently. Physical withdrawals are all but gone. Also, I don't take it regularly, but I do sometimes use my roommates ritalin. I may have mentioned somewhere that I was going to stop taking them as well, but I have been using them on and off. While it is neither an addiction nor a habit, I have decided to completely remove them as well. This is because I want to experience my recovery completely as is, without any drugs (excluding something I would take when sick, like cold or fever medicine) clouding the journey. If I have to go through this and suffer all that it entails, I want to make sure that I truly remember it all on an experiential level so that I am further motivated not to return. Plus, I want to get better at dealing with my life on my own terms, without any outside biochemical interference.

    Before jumping into my notes in the next post, let me end this one by mentioning my expedition for this week. This time around, I went to Treasure Island. The weather was great: clear, blue skies with a few fluffy clouds, a number of geese (I got pretty close to one goose, but it assumed its charge stance so I decided to stop approaching), and since the island isn't too large, I ended up walking around the whole thing. I also encountered an off-limits area with a radiation symbol on it; apparently, the Navy used to carry out nuclear training on the island. There is a limit on file-size for attachments, but, as usual, I'll share a few pictures here.

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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
    Gil79 likes this.
  12. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Let's start with the first book. While I did read the last two sections of Wack, the second was a collection of mostly success stories, so I didn't take any notes on it:

    Johnny’s in his room again (parenting: porn and sex) (pg. 98)

    • Things are no longer how they used to be; young people will learn about sex and sexuality on the internet, but they will encounter a mixed bag of information: “Decades ago children may have been able to find their own way to a healthy romantic life, but home Internet access has changed that. No longer are young persons figuring it out for themselves: instead, the Internet is their teacher, and it has just as much or more potential to teach unhealthy promiscuity, objectification, and addiction as it has to teach healthy sex practices. Sex education has become a race between the Internet and you, the parent.” (pg. 98)
    • Don’t rely on sex ed to properly prepare your kids for sex; it’ll be too late and is usually inadequate: “Neither can parents rely on schools’ sex education classes to teach their children everything they need to know. Most of these classes are woefully inadequate or come too late…children need a home environment in which they are comfortable discussing sex. When parents provide that environment, their children will come to them for answers. If the subject of sex seems at all taboo, uncomfortable, or shameful, then children will seek answers elsewhere.” (pg. 99)
    • What’s a parent to do? Get informed, practice talking about it with friends, and then talk to your kids about it; make sure you talk about it multiple times instead of only once: “The first step toward avoiding this trap is to educate yourself about sex…Learn everything you can, and get comfortable discussing sex with your friends and/or spouse. Children are very receptive, so if you project reluctance or discomfort they will pick up on it and try to eject from an awkward conversation—which is why you must first practice with other adults…Dismiss the idea that there is one ‘sex talk’ that parents have with their children before putting the topic to bed. Sex is a very important part of life, so it should be a common topic of discussion throughout your children’s lives.” (pg. 99)
    • If you learn your child is masturbating, avoid responding in a way that makes them feel ashamed: “If your young child is touching him- or herself or masturbating, do not snap in anger, try to distract him or her, or avoid the topic. Doing any of these things only communicates that sexual pleasure is shameful and not to be talked about, which is an attitude that can last a lifetime.” (pg. 100)
    • If you are asked about sex/sexuality and don’t know or feel unsure, try researching the answer together with your children: “As your children get older, maintain this forthright attitude. If they ask you something that you are not sure about, just admit that you do not know and suggest that you research the answer together. This will allow you an opportunity to demonstrate how good research is done” (pg. 100)
    • If you hold certain views on abstinence or safe sex, explain your views and discuss them instead of enforcing rules: “As far as encouraging abstinence versus safe sex…you are more likely to succeed in fostering a healthy adult if you explain the reasons for your beliefs and open up an honest, comprehensive dialogue rather than just enforcing rules.” (pg. 100)
    • One review of national data showed that teens who received comprehensive sex ed were more likely to abstain from sex and impregnate/get pregnant less than those who received no sex ed or abstinence-only sex ed: “…a University of Washington review of national survey data showed that those who received comprehensive sex education were the least likely to engage in intercourse and 60% less likely than those who received no sex education and 50% less likely than those who received abstinence-only education to get pregnant or impregnate someone during teen years.” (pgs. 100-101)
    • The best time to discuss pornography is when your kids first start using the internet: “As for discussing pornography, the correct time to broach the subject is not after you discover some disturbing web history on the family computer, as this is likely to feel more like a confrontation. Instead, bring it up as soon as your child starts using the Internet.” (pg. 101)
    • To help protect your kids, only allow family computers and use internet accountability software: “You should not allow children to have personal computers in their rooms…Instead, keep a family computer in a common area in which it is easy for anyone to see the screen…Internet accountability software…tracks web use and sends reports to your email, allowing you to keep an account of Internet use in your home and open a discussion with your family if you see anything inappropriate.” (pgs. 101-102)
    • If you find your child using porn, respond calmly and try to spend more time with them in the future: “If you do discover that your child is using porn, whether online or off, it is very important to maintain a calm and easygoing dialogue rather than confronting your child with anger and disappointment…Take it as a sign that your child may need more of your time and attention in positive ways.” (pg. 102)
    • If you have already made a sex-negative environment at home, reflect on past approaches you have experienced and what you would like to change; then, make this taboo topic a more frequent part of conversations and don’t be discouraged if they don’t open up at first (and don’t pressure them to talk): “If you have already created a sex-negative atmosphere in your household and regret it, you are not too late to forge a more honest and open relationship with your children. Think long and hard about how your own parents handled discussions about sex, whether that was healthy or not, how you have discussed sex with your own children, and how you would like to change…Depending on how old they are and your family’s history with sex, shame, etc., your children may already be firmly uncomfortable discussing certain parts of their lives with you and will resist open communication. Do not be discouraged. It will simply take time for them to believe that they are safe talking to you and that they will not be judged, shamed, or punished for being honest…Do not pressure your children to talk to you about their own private lives as this will only cause them to retreat further into their shells. Instead, make sex, drugs, and other taboo topics a more common feature of family conversation.” (pgs. 102-103)
    • Depending on the age/maturity of your child, one way to connect is to talk about your struggle with a vice and how you overcame it (current struggles can work too, but you need to be more careful): “One of the most powerful techniques for helping your child to relax and open up is to share your own story…Show them that you, too, are fallible and vulnerable to temptation, and also that vices can be overcome. Your example of trust and honesty is likely to inspire them to do the same, thought not necessarily right away…On the other hand, do not burden and confuse children too young with your baggage. Teenagers are usually ready to hear about their parents’ flaws, but each child’s needs and capacities are individual and must be assessed by you, the parent…When your struggle…is current, however, disclosure to your children can still be beneficial but must be facilitated with greater care.” (pgs. 103-104)
    • When to disclose and how much to disclose (remember to do it as a team with your spouse): “The degree of disclosure that is appropriate depends on the children’s age and maturity as well as the nature of the issue, though disclosure should always be a united effort by both parents whenever possible. In cases of current sexual addiction in one or both parents, experts suggest disclosing the full nature of the problem no earlier than mid-adolescence, except where the child needs the information for his or her own safety or is in danger of hearing about the problem from another source. Younger children, however, can still be told about their parents’ marital and personal problems in more general terms, along with reassurance that the parents are working hard to solve the issue.” (pg. 104)
    Moving on to The Four Agreements, the notes from the first of the two chapters covered are as follows:

    Chapter 6: The Toltec Path to Freedom – Breaking Old Agreements (pg. 93)

    • We stop ourselves from being truly free because we have forgotten what that means – to be who we really are: “Are we free to be who we really are? The answer is no, we are not free. True freedom has to do with the human spirit—it is the freedom to be who we really are…Who really stops us from being free? We stop ourselves…We have memories of long ago, when we used to be free and we loved being free, but we have forgotten what freedom really means.” (pgs. 93-94)

    • Young children are free because they live completely in the present, living fully as experience: “If we see a child who is two or three, perhaps four years old, we find a free human…As children we are not afraid of the future or ashamed of the past. Our normal human tendency is to enjoy life, to play, to explore, to be happy, and to love.” (pgs. 94-95)
    • In general, adults are not free because their experience is filtered through the systems of agreements wired into their minds: “But, what has happened with the adult human?...What has happened is that we have the Book of Law, the big Judge and the Victim who rules our lives. We are no longer free because the Judge, the Victim, and the belief system don’t allow us to be who we really are. Once our minds have been programmed with all that garbage, we are no longer happy.” (pgs. 95-96)
    • It is not surprising that those whose dreams were domesticated did the same to you, so there is no need to blame them; but to break the cycle, you need to change your agreements: “The chain of training from human to human, from generation to generation, is perfectly normal in human society…They had no control over the programming they received, so they couldn’t have behaved any differently…There is no need to blame your parents or anyone who abused you in your life, including yourself. But it is time to stop the abuse. It is time to free yourself of the tyranny of the Judge by changing the foundation of your own agreements. It is time to be free from the role of the Victim.” (pg. 96)
    • We lack freedom because our agreements orient our behaviors toward others, instead of toward expressing ourselves: “The freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves. But if we look at our lives we will see that most of the time we do things just to please others, just to be accepted by others, rather than living our lives to please ourselves. That is what has happened to our freedom.” (pg. 98)
    • To become free, we first need to realize we are not free: “The worst part is that most of us are not even aware that we are not free…and therefore they don’t have a chance to be free. The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free.” (pg. 98)
    • The dreams that domesticate are just that – dreams; by making different choices, you challenge your dream’s agreements and release yourself from suffering: “There is no reason to suffer…You can look for a way to heal and transform your personal dream. The dream of the planet is just a dream…If you go into the dream and start challenging your beliefs, you will find that most of the beliefs that guided you into the wounded mind aren’t even true…Dream masters create a masterpiece of life; they control the dream by making choices. Everything has consequences and a dream master is aware of the consequences.” (pgs. 99-100)

    • The way of the Toltec is to understand and live as your subjective experience: “To be Toltec is a way of life. It is a way of life where there are no leaders and no followers, where you have your own truth and live your own truth.” (pg. 100)

    • A Toltec requires three masteries: “There are three masteries that lead people to become Toltecs…[first] the Mastery of Awareness. This is to be aware of who you really are, with all the possibilities. The second is the Mastery of Transformation—how to change, how to be free of domestication. The third is the Mastery of Intent…Intent is life itself; it is unconditional love. The Mastery of Intent is therefore the Mastery of Love.” (pg. 100)

    • Domesticated humans are sick from a parasite (the internal Judge, Victim, and the Book of Law) that feeds off one’s negative emotions and controls their dream: “From the Toltec point of view, all humans who are domesticated are sick. They are sick because there is a parasite that controls the mind and controls the brain. The food for the parasite is the negative emotions that come from fear…The Judge, the Victim, and the belief system fit this description very well.” (pg. 101)

    • There are two choices – keep living this current dream or rebel against it (while understanding you won’t win every battle): “One choice is to keep living the way we are, to surrender to the Judge and the Victim, to keep living in the dream of the planet. The second choice is to do what we do as children when parents try to domesticate us. We can rebel and say ‘No!’ We can declare a war against the parasite…That is why in all the shamanic traditions in America…people call themselves warriors…But to be a warrior doesn’t mean we always win the war; we may win or we may lose, but we always do our best and at least we have a chance to be free again. Choosing this path…ensures that we will not be the helpless victim of our own whimsical emotions or the poisonous emotions of others.” (pgs. 102-103)

    • There are three ways to rebel and eliminate the parasite – confront each fear one by one, avoid fueling emotions that come from fear, or live each moment without forgetting it could be our last: “If we want to be free, we have to destroy the parasite. One solution is to attack the parasite head by head, which means we face each of our fears, one by one. This is a slow process, but it works…A second approach is to stop feeding the parasite. If we don’t give the parasite any food, we kill the parasite by starvation. To do this we have to gain control of our emotions, we have to refrain from fueling the emotions that come from fear. This is easy to say, but it is very difficult to do…A third solution is called the initiation of the dead…This is a symbolic death which kills the parasite…When we ‘die’ symbolically the parasite has to die. This is faster than the first two solutions, but it is even more difficult to do.” (pgs. 104-105)

      The Art of Transformation: The Dream of the Second Attention (pg. 105)
    • Our attention was first used to domesticate us and create our first dream; it’s up to us now to choose to use our attention to change our agreements and thus change our dream: “The process of domestication can be called the dream of the first attention because it was how your attention was used for the first time to create the first dream of your life. One way to change your beliefs is to focus your attention on all those agreements and beliefs, and change the agreements with yourself…thus creating the dream of second attention…Now it’s up to you to choose what to believe and what not to believe. You can choose to believe in anything, and that includes believing in yourself.” (pgs. 105-106)

    • Continued awareness of your dream is important, but to truly change, you need to harness your attention to identify the fear-based beliefs that make you unhappy; you then overwrite them with alternative beliefs (e.g. The Four Agreements): “You must become aware that you are dreaming all the time…However, to really change your beliefs you need to focus your attention on what it is that you want to change…So the next step is to develop awareness of all the self-limiting, fear-based beliefs that make you unhappy. You take an inventory of all that you believe, all your agreements, and through this process you begin the transformation. The Toltecs called this the Art of Transformation…You achieve the Mastery of Transformation by changing the fear-based agreements that make you suffer, and reprogramming your own mind, in your own way. One of the ways to do this is to explore and adopt alternative beliefs such as the Four Agreements.” (pgs. 106-107)

    • Breaking smaller agreements gives you more energy to tackle the bigger ones: “The stronger you get, the more agreements you can break until the moment comes when you make it to the core of all those agreements. Going to the core of those agreements is what I call going into the desert. When you go into the desert you meet your demons face-to-face. After coming out of the desert, all those demons become angels…Every time you break an agreement, you gain extra power. You start by breaking agreements that are very small…until you reach a point when you can finally face the big demons in your mind.” (pg. 108)

    • This process takes time and you should replace agreements of suffering with agreements of happiness: “That’s one way out of the dream of hell. But for every agreement you break that makes you suffer, you will need to replace it with a new agreement that makes you happy. This will keep the old agreement from coming back…There are many strong beliefs in the mind that can make this process look hopeless. This is why you need to go step-by-step and be patient with yourself because this is a slow process.” (pg. 109)

    • The energy it took to make an agreement is similar to the energy it takes to break it: “We need the same amount of power to change an agreement. We cannot change an agreement with less power than we used to make the agreement, and almost all our personal power is invested in keeping the agreements we have with ourselves. That’s because our agreements are actually like a strong addiction. We are addicted to being the way we are. We are addicted to anger, jealousy, and self-pity.” (pg. 110)

    • Our daily energy is limited and can be depleted by certain actions: “Every day we awake with a certain amount of mental, emotional, and physical energy that we spend throughout the day. If we allow our emotions to deplete our energy, we have no energy to change our lives or to give to others.” (pg. 111)

      The Discipline of the Warrior: Controlling Your Own Behavior (pg. 111)

    • Analogy -> The mind is an organ infected by emotional poison and people consider this normal: “Every human has an emotional body completely covered with infected wounds. Each wound is infected with emotional poison—the poison of all the emotions that make us suffer, such as hate, anger, envy, and sadness…The mind is so wounded and full of poison by the process of domestication, that everyone describes the wounded mind as normal.” (pg. 113)

    • The dream of the planet is contaminated with fear, which infects us and makes us suffer and lose our ability to reason: “We have a dysfunctional dream of the planet, and humans are mentally sick with a disease called fear. The symptoms of the disease are all the emotions that make humans suffer: anger, hate, sadness, envy, and betrayal. When the fear is too great, the reasoning mind begins to fail, and we call this mental illness.” (pg. 114)

    • To heal, we need to forgive others and ourselves so that we can let go of resentment (the parasite = Judge, Victim, the Book of Law) in order to replace self-rejection with self-acceptance: “…there is a cure…First, we need the truth to open the emotional wounds, take the poison out, and heal the wounds completely. How do we do this? We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much we don’t want to keep paying for the injustice…We can let go of resentment and declare, ‘That’s enough! I will no longer be the big Judge that goes against myself. I will no longer beat myself up and abuse myself. I will no longer be the Victim’…Once you forgive yourself, the self-rejection in your mind is over. Self-acceptance begins, and the self-love will grow so strong that you will finally accept yourself just the way you are.” (pgs. 114-115)

    • You know you have forgiven someone when they no longer generate an emotional reaction within you: “You will know you have forgiven someone when you see them and you no longer have an emotional reaction. You will hear the name of the person and you will have no emotional reaction. When someone can touch what used to be a wound and it no longer hurts you, then you know you have truly forgiven.” (pg. 115)

    • The truth is painful because it cuts through the denial system, which has its function but is unnecessary once we have obtained self-acceptance: “The truth is like a scalpel. The truth is painful, because it opens all of the wounds which are covered by lies so that we can be healed. These lies are what we call the denial system. It’s a good thing we have the denial system, because it allows us to cover our wounds and still function. But once we no longer have any wounds or poison, we don’t need to lie anymore.” (pg. 116)

    • Most people’s behaviors are enslaved by their emotions, but a warrior controls (their responses to?) their emotions so that they can refrain from acting on them until the right time: “The problem with most people is that they lose control of their emotions. It is the emotions that control the behavior of the human, not the human who controls the emotions…We must learn to control the emotions so we have enough personal power to change our fear-based agreements, escape from hell, and create our own personal heaven…The warrior has control. Not control over another human, but control over one’s own emotions, control over one’s self. It is when we lose control that we repress the emotions, not when we are in control. The big difference between a warrior and a victim is that the victim represses, and the warrior refrains. Victims repress because they are afraid to show their emotions, afraid to say what they want to say. To refrain is not the same thing as repression. To refrain is to hold the emotions and to express them in the right moment, not before, not later. That is why warriors are impeccable. They have complete control over their own emotions and therefore over their own behavior.” (pgs. 116-117)
    The Initiation of the Dead: Embracing the Angel of Death (pg. 118)
    • The initiation of the dead is acknowledging we don’t know when we will die and living every moment like it’s our last; this makes us more open, freer from fear, and kinder towards others: “The final way to attain personal freedom is to prepare ourselves for the initiation of the dead, to take death itself as our teacher. What the angel of death can teach us is how to be truly alive. We become aware that we can die at any moment; we have just the present to be alive. The truth is that we don’t know if we are going to die tomorrow…The angel of death can teach us to live every day as if it is the last day of our lives, as if there may be no tomorrow…that is what the angel of death taught me—to be completely open, to know that there is nothing to be afraid of. And of course I treat the people I love with love because this may be the last day that I can tell you how much I love you. I don’t know if I am going to see you again, so I don’t want to fight with you.” (pgs. 118-119)
    • This process kills the parasite, but it is difficult because the parasite will fight this and because we are afraid to let this part of us die: “What is going to happen in the initiation of death is that the old dream that you have in your mind is going to die forever. Yes, you are going to have memories of the parasite—of the Judge, the Victim, and what you used to believe—but the parasite will be dead…It is not easy to go for the initiation of death because the Judge and the Victim will fight with everything they have. They don’t want to die. And we feel we are the ones who are going to die, and we are afraid of this death.” (pg. 120)
    • The result of this process is that we return to the freedom of our childhood, but this time around we have wisdom to manage our life: “Whoever survives the initiation of the dead receives the most wonderful gift: the resurrection…The resurrection is to be like a child—to be wild and free, but with a difference. The difference is that we have freedom with wisdom instead of innocence…we are free to use our own mind and run our own life.” (pg. 121)
    And to conclude, here are the notes from Chapter 7, the second of the two chapters:

    Chapter 7: The New Dream – Heaven on Earth (pg. 123)
    • How we relate to experience determines the quality of experience: “The dream you are living is your creation. It is your perception of reality that you can change at any time. You have the power to create hell, and you have the power to create heaven. Why not dream a different dream? Why not use your mind, your imagination, and your emotions to dream heaven?” (pgs. 123-124)
    • Others have transformed their lived experience into heaven through their use of love: “Only love has the ability to put you in that state of bliss. Being in bliss is like being in love. Being in love is like being in bliss. You are floating in the clouds. You are perceiving love wherever you go. It is entirely possible to live this way all the time. It is possible because others have done it and they are no different from you. They live in bliss because they have changed their agreements and are dreaming a different dream.” (pgs. 126-127)
    • Perceiving your experience and surroundings through the lens of love, you dispel the mitote and obtain happiness: “You can see everything with the eyes of love. You can be aware that there is love all around you. When you live this way, there is no longer a fog in your mind. The mitote has gone on a permanent vacation. This is what humans have been seeking for centuries. For thousands of years we have been searching for happiness. Happiness is the lost paradise. Humans have worked so hard to reach this point, and this is part of the evolution of the mind.” (pg. 128)
    • Perhaps things are written in stone, but one thing you can choose is whether to identify with the mitote; you can choose to suffer or be happy: “Unfortunately, your identity is mixed with the dream of the planet. All of your beliefs and agreements are there in the fog. You feel the presence of the parasite and believe it is you. This makes it difficult to let go—to release the parasite and create the space to experience love. You are attached to the Judge, attached to the Victim. Suffering makes you feel safe because you know it so well…But there is really no reason to suffer. The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer. If you look at your life you will find many excuses to suffer, but a good reason to suffer you will not find. The same is true for happiness. The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering…Maybe we cannot escape from the destiny of the human, but we have a choice: to suffer our destiny or to enjoy our destiny.” (pgs. 128-129)
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
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  13. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update (19 days without porn; 3 days without MO):

    So, as the above shows, I have decided to start counting days within my updates. While personally I am sticking with trying to keep my streak number out of sight and out of mind for almost all of my waking hours, as well as trying to avoid assigning any emotional importance to where my counter currently lies, I think it serves as a nice reference point for anyone reading these posts.

    Let me begin by writing about the addiction directly. Ever since this evening started, the day has been pretty tough. I periodically am being hit by bursts of urges and/or sexual thoughts + images, but my responses so far have been impeccable. What matters most is now (i.e. dealing with the urges/thoughts/images in the moment whenever they appear and every time they appear), and I have been living from that space for the entire evening. But you know what helps a lot with reinforcing that?...Lifestyle change.

    So let's jump into it.

    First things first, taxes are done. I basically finished them yesterday night, but because of some of the idiosyncratic details of my returns, I was told I couldn't e-file, and instead would have to send them by mail. I didn't post yesterday, but that evening was also a rough ride. A combination of doing my taxes--which unfortunately made me fluctuate from feeling humiliated, like a loser, and at times like I didn't even exist--and having a false scare with one of my external hard drives (which has over a decade's worth of personal data on it) was putting me in a really bad place internally, and there were a few times where I felt sharp pangs that made me want to reach for a release from it all. Thankfully, just like today, my responses were impeccable, and it turned out my concern about my hard drive was unsubstantiated. Even better, there was a point where I still didn't know it was a false scare, but in spite of that I resolved myself to accept the situation and work from there. I was definitely hyper-sensitive internally, and I think the recent MO session holds some--but not all--of the blame. But hey, I worked my way through it AND I followed up with taxes today, looking up the smartest way to send my returns via the mail and later left to the post office to have them sent and done with.

    There was also another disconcerting development yesterday. The new internet service for which I signed up for and went through the trouble of hiring an electrician to get some cable set up in the basement was experiencing some errors while I was trying to activate it. A technician will come tomorrow though, so I hope to truly get this done and over with then, but I think this time around I will refrain from an optimistic expectation of, 'It's over and done with', and just keep trying to work on getting this resolved until it actually is. At least I've already initiated the next follow-up step.

    My desktop is still untouched, but hey, I've been preoccupied with other things, and this laptop, while dysfunctional, continues to pull its weight. You need to be able to develop some capacity for gratitude to healthily relate to life, and I think this is one opportunity to do so. So I'll take things as is, and when I get a bit more time, I will start working on it.

    As for the reading hobby? It's still on course. The last two sections in History of the World Map by Map covered the Cold War and the Korean War. I am about halfway through the current issue of The Economist, with a few days left until the next one arrives, so I am making good time. And I have been spending a little extra time looking up terms, locations, figures, etc., that I am not familiar with, which is a step forward as well. As for the books, well since I finished Wack and The Four Agreements, it's time for me to jump into one of the other books I mentioned purchasing a number of posts back. From here on, I am going to stick with one book at a time; I don't want to juggle more than I can handle. For my next read, I decided to start Matt Fradd's The Porn Myth, a book recommended by some members of this forum as well as by Noah Church. I do want to review my notes for the other two books for at least a few days so that their contents can better stick in my mind and have a longer-lasting impact on my life, so that may mean I'll be taking it slow for a bit with this one, but I'm looking forward to an additional perspective on this issue. With that being said, I've already read the foreward and introduction, but haven't taken any notes. I'll try to take some and post them tomorrow.

    I finally got around to finishing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Admittedly, I was pretty entertained from start to finish. It's a Tarantino movie, so most likely if you aren't a fan of his films, you won't really enjoy this either, but it was surprisingly less cartoonishly violent compared to his other pictures, and if you are familiar with the stars of Hollywood at the time, look forward to various big names popping up in the film (played by other people of course). Anyway, I had a good time watching it, and there was a nice little scene with DiCaprio's character that encapsulates some of the mental insanity that addicts can experience (emotional outbursts, internal self-abuse/criticism, exasperation at being unable to control oneself, acknowledging you're addicted, resolving to quit...but after reaching for the addictive stimulus yet again). Check out this link for a clip of it.

    I'm also trying to squeeze a bit more Japanese shows/news in here and there to sharpen my listening comprehension (no subtitles unless they are in Japanese) before I try to jump back into a more serious effort of regularly improving my language proficiency on all levels (this is another one of the seven hobbies--or passions--I want to make staples of my life for both the sake of recovery but also to make my life fuller; FYI this category is the culture/language component). Having moved back to the US about a year and a half ago, I just have no opportunities to use or be exposed to the language, and I know my competency has dropped, so this is a nice way to inch my way toward more comprehensive, but also more difficult and demanding, language training. For the time being, I probably won't write much about this until I get a more concrete picture of what it will look like. For the time being though, I have to be careful not to expose myself to anything too risque.

    That's it for today. Take care
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
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  14. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    It is always very interesting to read your posts. You write about lifestyle changes, but isn't it something deeper than that? Isn't this really at the level of exploring and expressing yourself and developing self-love and love for others? To me it reads like that is the path you're walking.

    Cool pictures of your trip again!
     
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  15. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Gil79

    Thanks for stopping by. Glad there's someone checking them out. Sorry for the cellphone camera quality.

    While it encompasses what you mentioned, the way I use lifestyle in reference to one of my pillars of recovery is broader than that. I am using it to refer to the way in which I live my life. Pretty broad right? It consists of a lot of exploration, experimentation, dead-ends, changes, additions, etc., and serves as a convenient catchall for basically everything outside the other three pillars (mindfulness, reduction, and structure...though you could argue that all three of these fall within my definition for lifestyle change, which is fair).

    If I were to try and make it more specific, I would say it consists of various efforts to make my life fuller and more textured, incorporating some of the virtually infinite amount of life-altering/life-expanding experience out there in the world in an attempt to enrich my lived experience...and keep me from falling back into the gaping maw of my addiction. Going a bit further, and depending on how you look at it, you could say it consists of developing hobbies or passions, which I initially structured with general ideas or categories that I want to pursue: 1) Physical activity/time outdoors, 2) Meditation (you could give this a broader category title I suppose, though I am fine with it as is because of how central it alone has been to changing my life), 3) Knowledge, 4) Language/Cultural, 5) Creativity, 6) Fun, 7) Social/Community. I have various reasons for coming up with these base categories, but I'll refrain from writing too much and going into the details.

    There is also the notion of purpose, something I want to further refine and pursue at some point, but I do not want to rush this, as I think it would be counterproductive. I think it will ultimately consist of at the very least a career change, but that very likely will include going back to school (something which I am coming more and more to terms with and slowly looking forward to as a future chance for self-development and growth). There is also the possibility of a future romantic/intimate relationship and perhaps even a family and a child, but there is so much for me to work on personally before considering this. What's more, these hobbies/passions that I am building into my life may morph someday into a purpose, or at least comprise a part of it.

    But yea, I do think some of what you wrote is definitely there. Exploring and expressing myself, with this single life I have to live. I think addicts in particular suffer from an inability/unwillingness/diminished capacity to truly live their lives. Someone might furrow their brow and think, "What does that even mean?", but that's the thing about the subjective character of experience. You're the only person who will ever be it, and it's up to you to, using your words, to both explore and express it. It won't always yield what you want, sometimes it will, other times it'll bring suffering, while during others it'll be something sublime. But the most important thing is you did what you could to fully inhabit this space. You lived it. Whenever the final period is put to the last page of your life story, you can look back on it all and think, "I lived!"

    As for self-love and love for others, that is not an intended aim of my efforts, but if I do develop some of it in the process, all the better. I have, and still do, stick more with the term self-acceptance, but I do see some connections with the concept of self-love. In the long run, I would like to be the type of person who on the whole adds value both to their individual life as well as to the lives of others, all the while minimizing the amount of suffering I cause.

    This is quite a long response to your relatively short post, so I hope you'll forgive my ostensibly excessive musing.

    Wishing you the best of luck. Take care
     
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  16. Doper

    Doper Well-Known Member

    I knew the scene you were talking about without you throwing up that clip cuz it's so hilarious.

    "If you don't remember your lines I'm gonna blow your f'n brains out." ... or something to that effect.

    I sure hope Tarantino doesn't retire after his next movie or whatever. That's a depressing thought.
     
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  17. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Doper

    Did he mention that at a press conference or something like that?

    But yea, good memory. That's the scene. I had a good laugh when watching it, in spite of still struggling with this addiction and with others in the past.

    The scene that came after was one of my favorites in the film, where he astounds everyone by pulling off perhaps the best bit of acting he has ever done in his entire career. I particularly liked when the precocious child actress (or in her words, actor), told him in admiration that that was the best acting she had ever seen. Maybe that's the turning point that got him to...well I shouldn't elaborate to avoid further spoilers.

    Anyway, WWJBD? Not sure, but I think Doper is going to keep working on doing what he needs to do to stop being what he thinks leads to being--in his words--a mediocre person. Or perhaps to put it in a less stark way, he's going to keep working on himself to live a life where he feels more substantiated and fulfilled. It's only a matter of time.

    Glad to see you back on the forums from time to time.

    Take care
     
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  18. Doper

    Doper Well-Known Member

    Yeah he said he's making ten and that's it... but you know how that goes.
    I liked that kid as well.
    Thanks for the kind words. Only drank once in the last 7 weeks or so. Like you've mentioned, quitting P without quitting booze is almost impossible. At least, it seems to be in my current environment.
    Good job on your current run.
     
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  19. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Doper

    Thank you kindly. I definitely think I wouldn't have a chance to beat this thing had I not taken alcohol out of the picture. Wish you could enjoy the ambrosia every now and then, but if really does make your life worse overall, then it's best to say goodbye. I like those numbers. Keep it up!
     
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  20. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update (21 days without porn; 5 days without MO):

    Today's entry is going to be short, since I am tired and I want to get in bed now to help with my efforts to improve my sleep schedule.

    That last two days continued to present me with difficulties, mostly urges and thoughts, thankfully not too many withdrawals. They were made extra difficult because of sleep-deprivation (yesterday), and listlessness (today, but not due to sleep-deprivation). Regardless, my "recovery performance" was yet again impeccable. And that's something to be pleased about.

    Not sure where in the world whoever reading this is, but good night. Either that, or good morning or afternoon.

    Take care
     
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