Learning to be myself

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Thelongwayhome27, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Quanta

    Quanta Member

    Wow, thanks for the detailing out your game plan @Thelongwayhome27. That makes a lot of sense. I will try what you suggested and start observing my inner critic and thinking about it. I see now how little I actually understand him.

    The words you said about your father ring true for mine as well. Big expectations, only ever hearing criticism and your opinions not given any value. That's the root of my issues too, I think. Yet I don't have hate for him either, because I recognize now, that it was just at the beginning of a long chain of unfortunate events. The pron thing, leading to social anxiety, leading to drinking, leading to giving up on developing/fixing myself, leading to where I am now.

    How long did it take you to get over the jogging thing? How long have you been at this?

    PS: That reminds me I should finally read 'Fealing Good. The new mood therapy'. I think it has very similar advice.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
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  2. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Quanta I'm glad this may help you. Check it out at your own pace and see if it's true for you or not. Again I must stress that I still have a lot of difficulties. Just this weekend I went to a social gathering that I had a lot of anxiety about. I had a lot of stress, it was very tiring for me and I was stuck inside my mind and fear (instead of present and enjoying the moment) for a big part of the event. I barely could sleep the night after (over agitation) and the next day I was quite depressed and sad (and had cravings for a binge, which thankfully I was able to resist). But I still think I'm making progress and just the fact that only 2 days after I'm back at working on my life and brushing it off is a good indication I think.

    For the jogging example, after a few runs I felt a lot more okay with it. The initial self consciousness and internal critical dialogue/fear went away quite fast (after a few days of running consistently). It's not exactly something I'm totally afraid of to begin with but it still showed as a good example of the same process I believe. The very essential thing in my opinion is to remember that the lack of comfort will pass and to not stop after only once or twice. That way we frame the experience, which seems unpleasant, in it's positive and realistic light. It's the same with my social event last Saturday. I wasn't my "best" self out there but at least I went and tried. If I keep at it, and build up the proper inner self support and self compassion (such as this dialogue right here) I think things can get better. Just like with the jogging. Only it will take a lil longer cause the fear is a lot more deeply ingrained. The shame to dissolve in this situation is larger.

    The jogging is also, for me, a good example of the "right level challenge". It was something that I felt uncomfortable about, but I wasn't extremely afraid of it. And on top of this it was self chosen, self imposed, and for myself - not to be accepted by a group or to gain some kind of a social role (such as doing something out of character at a party in order to look cool instead of shy). So the jogging, felt uncomfortable at first, but I kept at it - I both accepted the inner critical dialogue (thoughts of what people thought of me) and kept running while building up the supportive voice/inner coach (reminding myself why I'm doing it, and how it's good for me and how it's cool I been running even if I felt a bit self conscious about it).

    Also I forgot to mention that another thing that can help with building compassion I think is just reflecting objectively on our past and understanding how we build our social anxiety and addictions. How it was an honest method for trying to survive in a painful moment. How it's not really our fault. In the same time it's good not to fall in a victim mentality too much. Just like well it happened, that's the way it was, wasn't my fault, but now I'm starting to understand all this and I can maybe start improving it. It's a journey. Might as well take it, what else do I have to do with my time ?

    I found this YT channel, just a few days ago when I searched for "accepting my social anxiety" (as a way to transcend it ; instead of fighting it). I must say, so far, I find this person very well informed on social anxiety and shame and I agree with most of the things he says. He's even got a podcast where he interviews Gary Wilson from YBOP lol. And he's also of the opinion that porn (abuse) doesn't help with confidence around women.

    Anyhow, especially this vid below I like how at the end he talks about just how an important step it is to get to the point where you understand your social anxiety reaction. It's not something to beat down. It's just a way that has developed in order to protect you. From this perspective you can start finding creative ways to deal with it instead of repressing it, resisting it, and beating yourself up for having it.

     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
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  3. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    This is a great post. I should print it out and have a tattoo artist draw it on my face. I guess then it would be hard to read due to small font and I would need to carry around a portable mirror to read it.

    I really like this point of view of thinking that the inner critic is trying to help us. I was thinking along these lines a few years ago and it was really helpful. I remember watching some video about how we are not our thoughts. Furthermore there is no reason to think that our brains are going to make sense all the time and be trustworthy, although they are trying to help us. My arm does not always do what I want it to or operate correctly, particularly if it is injured, so why should all the thoughts coming from my brain always make sense or be true?

    My therapist gave me some CBT workbook that includes some exercises like what you mentioned. I have been so lazy about trying to start it because it requires to carry around a notebook (wow that is near impossible! Carry some paper!) I really need to get off my butt and try these things.
     
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  4. nuclpow

    nuclpow Active Member

    I guess the advice to find a life vision in fantasies was crazy.

    For me, telling myself "you can have fantasies if you want to, but they can't have anything to do with naked people or sex" helps turn my thoughts away from fantasy. Maybe this is a better suggestion.

    Do you still not have a life plan? I tried to work on mine and I think I have some suggestions. For a short term life plan, look at where you are now in life, and how you can improve it. A long time ago I was living in a really bad place, but eventually I improved it. That's a good goal. Now I'm living in a better place for me and the life plan is to take advantage of it. I am hoping to make it great and to get a girlfriend. This is pretty reasonable. I suggest taking inventory of what your life is like right now, and see what you can work on. Got a disorganised room in the apartment? Work on it. Wish you had tastier food? Work on it. Feeling unhappy? What makes you happy? How are your relationships? Are your home decor, all your paperwork, and all your technology, and your kitchen utensils exactly the way it should be?

    Long before I started rebooting, I decided that if I tried to work on anything in my life, and it didn't work, it meant my whole life wasn't working. Therefor I could just pick something to work on, and it would start to reveal everything else that's wrong in my life. This has helped, although it hasn't fixed everything. Jordan Peterson is probably right (not to mention millions and millions of mothers everywhere), "Clean your room.". It'll help you find what to work on in life. After that, a life vision may be easier to form. At least, I think that's how it's been working for me. So, I'd work on your life, and then daydream a bit afterwards, and then work on your life some more and daydream some more... and eventually you might be able to come up with more a life vision.

    I hope that helps a little bit. Every bit helps in rebooting.

    Thanks for your accurate reply, by the way.

    Edit: Also thanks for the posts about social anxiety, I feel like everyone thinks I'm a weirdo, too. But, I look at your posts, and you don't seem unreasonable or self-centred at all, just a little insecure or something. You're helping me focus to do with social anxiety.
     
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  5. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Merton - Thanks a lot! I'm glad if there was anything that you found interesting in that post. Although I do think there is value in this approach and I like how it doesn't use medication or other shortcuts, it's all about relearning how to relate to ourselves. However to put the theory in practice is hard I find. To the point that I sometimes get discouraged and start questioning if it's possible in practice. But I may just get discouraged a bit too fast. I know you were joking with the tattoo comment but even that joke shows a bit of self harshness. You gotta remember you're working hard at improving your life. It's hard for many of us, even "healthy" people, to remember that all the time. I think so many of us are much harder on ourselves then needed. Ironically we are overall less performant because of that (in my opinion). I guess that may come from parents and society's pressure to be better then others. And maybe also from the "fight for survival" ? Maybe it's in our genes to a certain extent. Regarding the CBT exercise I always had trouble practicing such exercises that were in these kind of books. I much prefer eastern based mindfulness practices. Such as being present to whatever happens in your body, observing the thoughts and so on. The CBT exercises are often more complicated. I never liked the idea of carrying a notebook around either, at least not for such purposes. The one I wrote though on the other post has been somewhat helpful for letting go a bit of a fear, but after the event. I would do it mentally. I got it from a book called "How to be yourself" (by Ellen Hendricksen). It's pretty recent and has some good advice I think for people who are not satisfied with how comfortable they are in they're own skin or who feel they give to much importance to what other's think of them. My whole post was actually pretty heavily based on ideas from that book, including the notion of embracing and understanding your inner critic as a faulty way to self protect. I like what you say about how we should not always trust our minds (just like how an arm should not be trusted when it's broken). It's tricky though because as humans we do have to trust our minds. This is the pickle we find ourselves in. But a good thing is perhaps not to trust our minds when in overly stressful situations indeed. I'm sure my mind is way more worthy of my trust when I'm calm then when I'm highly stressed. A good point to remember indeed.

    @quitprofoo - Thank you for the advice quitprofoo and the support! I still don't have a clear defined life plan. But there are some emerging core values. One of these is emotional balance. Another is spiritual growth. Yet another is being self sustaining in terms of providing for myself. Finally to live in a minimalistic way. But these may be a little on the idealistic side. With more "concrete" choices (house, kids, career, etc.) I have some anxiety to even address them. But I feel that when I am gathering good momentum (as I have been to a certain extent in the last month - I hope) such things come naturally to me. It's like there are new ideas coming up. Almost like discovering a new world. Which is hard to see when I'm in a lower place. I also have a belief that if one reaches inner peace he is okay with any context actually (which to me sounds like freedom and bliss). And you won't reach inner peace by building the perfect context (this may be idealistic also, but it's a belief of mine). Regarding the dreaming and doing alternation you talk of I think that is such a good point. Maybe lately I been "dreaming" a bit too much and not enough doing (I was writing how I have big problems with doing the unlikable to do's, how I procrastinate with them). Reading a lot of self help and thinking about life and even writing on here is like the dreaming part. It's good I guess because it gives the direction. But then if there is not enough action to follow it becomes kind of stale or something. And then there are some hard feelings to deal with (doubt, fear, despair, frustration). On the other hand, only doing the "action" without thinking for what and why, well I'm not sure that works either or is desirable.
    I also like how you talk of all (our) problems being related, connected. I feel the same way. Everything seems to be a manifestation of the same principal. My place is not dirty, but there is a lot of clutter in it. There is a lot of stuff it would be great for me to organize. It's probably the same as my unconscious or my mind. Holding on to things instead of letting go. I've herd about Jordan Peterson's clean your room thing. Maybe I'll get his book the 12 rules of life at some point. Or maybe I'll just go clean my room directly actually !
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
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  6. nuclpow

    nuclpow Active Member

    I read your core values and they're very good. I just want you to think about 1) where you are now, and 2) how to get to where you want from where you are.

    Yes, I think imagining has to be balanced with doing.

    Well, I have his book, maybe I can read it and tell you how it is. Most people listen to his lectures online on Youtube for free, though. Everytime I work to clean my room something good happens, though.

    Your thoughts are good. I don't know much about how your life is. Are you keeping from porn now? Have you got alternate activities set up, motivation, filtering and maybe a counter?
     
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  7. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    General update of the last week

    Doing pretty well on the discipline front these days. Have been sleeping pretty well (at least 2 out of 3 nights), exercising quite a lot, going to my fitness classes, running. I've also meditated a lot more consistently in the past month. I'm often meditating twice a day at around 25 minutes. But if I miss out on a session I don't stress it. It does help that these days I have some more free time on my hand. But in the past when I had free time I often used it to have "fun" (usually vices or just living in an unruly way) and loose all discipline. So using free time well is a good step I think. It's something I think I've gotten better at doing in the last 5 years, I mean with more consistency (since I still have moments when I fall off the good habits). I've also been going out less lately overall and I think that's good. I have to find the way to socialize in non drinking settings more.

    I feel I'm in generally decent control of the P urges these days as well. I haven't used P in a few weeks. It seems that I'm getting better at handling the days when I'm in my usual routine but the moments when the urges will be dangerous are if there is some seriously stressful event (urges before and as well after, often because of some kind of depression) or if I indulge in other vices such as drinking on a night out. If there is a stressful event and I use alcohol to cope then the next day my desire for P will be much stronger. So again it's important to remember I have to be careful with these things.

    I had strongly stressful social thing to do last weekend. Socially it was pretty difficult. The good thing is I went instead of avoiding. Also I was in control of my drinking. Maybe that's also why it was more stressful then I was expecting, because I did not use alcohol as much. I then had to feel my anxiety more. The next day I was quite tired and depressed (I had slept only about 4 hours because of overexcitement). I ended up allowing myself to MO twice. Once was the night after the event (when I couldn't fall asleep) and the second one was the next day when I had strong urges and fantasies in that low mood and energy state. I have not MOed since. And I don't feel any regret over having MOed. I think I got off well and it helped to handle the urges and fantasies. It would have been easy to do more then just a MO. I was quite close to going on P the day after and just doing an MO was already a win I think.

    Writing on here is helping. But it also sometimes makes my mind go in overdrive. Gives me a "running mind". Which at some point becomes difficult to take, well it produces anxiety and panic. So I have to write on here in the balanced way. Enough but not too much. I already have a tendency to overthink (agitated running mind) so it's good for me to be aware of this and know when it's best to simply disconnect totally. Another thing, as I have already touched upon in older entries, is that it also makes me too focused on my own problems. Part of getting better is just letting go and enjoying the present as it is. I have to work on my problems and try to grow but when this is overdone it creates some unbalance itself.
     
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  8. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thank you. I'm not exactly sure where I want to get, in terms of external stuff. I know I'm looking for inner peace and emotional stability. If I reach that whatever the external world brings I'll deal with it. To build up my inner stability I have to try my best at walking the good path and staying away from stuff that I know hinders. I need to be honest with myself as much as I can and most of all be gentle and compassionate with myself (bottom line denominator). No matter what I do (including a fall in the vices) kindness to self will help. I have to challenge myself socially at my own pace. And learn to have patience and support myself through this process. If I do these things with consistence, and then when I stumble I find my way back, well then I think slowly I'll know more where my place in life is. And I'll drift towards it.

    I really believe you here ! I've experienced this myself. However I still have problems starting this process.

    Thanks !

    I've added a fitness class to my schedule and it's really good. It's helped both socially and with the physical exercise. I am getting close to working on adding activities here. I really feel like it's the next important step for me in growing. It will be either a dancing class, a book reading club or a writing club, or maybe a drawing class. The most important thing is that I do add one. Career wise, I'm not very happy with my line of work right now but I'm accepting it. It may be something I'll have to change at some point but for now I'm going with it. I'm also more and more interested on minimalism as a way to live. I'm thinking on cutting down on some stuff such as cable and maybe internet on my phone. And de-cluttering my place. But I'm getting carried away. One thing at a time and I am my friend. I have value whether I do all these things or not. It's just that these things may help me feel better. Essentially, in my opinion, if I gain some control over my social anxiety (which is a form of fear that has grown too much for me) then things will improve naturally. I'll have clarity. With clarity I'll know.

    For the P I've been pretty decent at handling it the last few weeks. I'm not counting right now as that approach wasn't helping me I find (this is something I had to relearn these last months as I was getting very obsessed with the day counting and the streak mentality once again, something which I don't feel is the proper path for me). I'm just trying my best to stay off it and if I use it I'll try to stay off it again. I'm not using any filters right now.

    Here are some interesting words from Carlos Castaneda - about Fear :

    And thus he has stumbled upon the first of his natural enemies: fear! A terrible enemy--treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest and he will never learn. He will never become a man of knowledge. He will perhaps be a bully, or a harmless, scared man; at any rate, he will be a defeated man. His first enemy will have put an end to his cravings.

    It is not possible for a man to abandon himself to fear for years, then finally conquer it. If he gives in to fear he will never conquer it, because he will shy away from learning and never try again. But if he tries to learn for years in the midst of his fear, he will eventually conquer it because he will never have really abandoned himself to it.

    Therefore he must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! And a moment will come when his first enemy retreats. The man begins to feel sure of himself. His intent becomes stronger. Learning is no longer a terrifying task.


    When this joyful moment comes, the man can say without hesitation that he has defeated his first natural enemy. It happens little by little, and yet the fear is vanquished suddenly and fast. Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity--a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed.

    Spoiler : Clarity is his next foe !!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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  9. Merton

    Merton Well-Known Member

    Your writing certainly helps me!
     
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  10. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Active Member

    He man,

    Read through some of what you wrote. That part about not using filters and not measuring your progress, I don’t think that’s helpful. I think that’s a part of you that doesn’t want to give this up. It’s WANTS access.

    My mind was very good at bullshit. One of the most bullshit things I’d tell myself was that I’ve got control over this. I don’t. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t. It’s habit and it’s keeping an eye on my own bullshit. The mindfuck looks a little like this “clearly my problem with quoting Porn is the quitting Porn part”

    Sorry man, but we gotta keep each other in check. I’m reading what you wrote and I smell BS. If that makes you angry me saying that? Ask yourself where that’s coming from. I think you are intellectualizing yourself into a dangerous place.

    PC.
     
  11. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Professor Chaos - That's okay. Thanks for the honesty. And I can understand this perspective.

    I do keep track of my progress; I’m just not using a counter nor trying to put too much focus on whatever day I’m on. I also usually report here when I use porn or even when I MO. I do log my PMOs and MOs just don't try to count days.

    For the filters, I do have some very basic stuff such as not using a computer I’ve heavily used for PMO and keeping it somewhere out of view. I also have uninstalled some tricky programs. Finally, I don't have any porn on my computer. It' true that such stuff helps indeed with building some distance between myself and an urge.

    I don't think I'm telling myself I have everything under control. I agree with you it's important we keep a humble mindset and not get cocky. I realize the "danger" is always close. I've had various close calls in the last weeks, especially when doing stuff that stresses me or if I drink (so it's best if I am conscious of this and careful with those). However, right now I do feel I've gained a bit of stability (I think as a result of a calm discipline and of compassion and learning to trust myself better) and I'm focusing on building the positive. I'm just kind of trying my best every day to do what I think helps rather then hinders. I don't think I can really ask much more of myself then that.

    I also agree with you that the mind can play tricks on us. I think if there is one thing I've gotten a bit better at in these last months is becoming more ruthlessly honest with myself. I don't know if meditation has helped here, but I have been admitting to myself stuff that I think I use to automatically push away from my conscious because I was uncomfortable with it. I think if one is honest with himself and in the same time gentle (credit here Pema Chödrön) then he'll - hopefully - find his way, whatever that way is for him. Sorry if this sounds a little cheesy. I'll also add I still have more work to do on this topic, I can still catch myself often pushing stuff away.

    It just became very clear to me, at one point, how being dishonest with myself is the root of all my issues, including my compulsive sexual acting out.

    That's why my signature reads "Be your friend". I'll be my friend whether I PMO or not. I'm always going to be my friend from now on. Or at least I'll try. And when I'll catch myself being harsh on myself, I'll try to forgive myself.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  12. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Active Member

    Sounds like you got a good handle on it then. Was just a bit worried about you and I went through a phase of ‘maybe this is OK’ without realizing that I was pretty much giving up.

    Self compassion is an important step in the process. Keep meditating and listen to that part of yourself.

    Good luck.
    PC
     
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  13. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    That's basic stuff but most people - me included - often forget about it.

    What helps me is asking myself the question "What if a good buddy had the same problems?" Let's say a friend tells me that he relapsed on porn and asks my opinion. What would I tell him? Would I tell him that he is a disappointment and he totally fucked up and I'm disgusted by him? Off course not. That would be horrible.

    But why do we think it's a good idea to tell ourselves stuff like that when we're alone with our thoughts? Why should we treat ourselves different than a good friend? That wouldn't make any sense.
     
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  14. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @-Luke- Yes, same for me. I'm hoping that working on this with consistence and patience (ironically with self compassion) then many things will fall into place naturally. I see it as something that is deeply rooted in the psyche (even if very simple, almost "esoteric") - and thus it takes time to modify. I don't see how being kind to myself while also as honest as I can be with myself cannot help out things. The confusion comes from the idea that if I am kind to myself I'll obviously slack off and everything will go down even more. I don't think so. I think the "going down" comes from a lack of kindness to the self. I also agree that using the "good friend asking for help advice analogy" can help us gage our level of self compassion. I sometimes also think of it like a little sibling I'm trying to help out kindly. Say I'm really good with the ladies and I wanna help my lil bro who's clumsy. Would it help if I call him names, play it rough ? Or is it better if I always see and point out what he's doing well and gently try to correct him on what he's clearly doing wrong ? In my opinion if I would only point out what he does well and show him honest support, the proper natural self confidence will grow in him by itself. The wrong may even correct itself naturally as long as I keep seing the good in him.

    If I see the actual good in him, and point it out to him in a smart way, then he will gradually awaken to the good and the beauty in him. From that point on, any clumsiness in him will correct naturally, or he'll make a strength out of it. When you are self compassionate you end up self accepting and when you are self accepting you find the ways to correct your flaws or integrate them into yourself. You realize you're uniqueness. You are both bold and humble. You self actualize and flow in this life more effortlessly. You bring kindness to others as well.

    From The six pillars of Self Esteem :

    "To be self accepting is to be on my own side - to be for myself. In the most fundamental sense, self-acceptance refers to an orientation of self value and self-commitment that derives from the fact that I am alive and conscious. As such, it is more primitive than self-esteem. It is a prerational, premoral act of self affirmation - a kind of natural egoism that is the birthright of every human being and yet that we have the power to act against and nullify.

    Some people are self-rejecting at so deep a level that no growth work can even begin until and unless this problem is addressed. If it is not no treatment will hold, no new learning will be properly integrated, no significant advances can be made."


    This kindness has to precede whatever I do. It does not mean that I must not be honest with myself when I think I have erred. It does not mean I allow my little brother to eat 20 cakes in the evening if he wants to be fit for the ladies... But it means I'm not gonna slap him and kick him around the house if I discover him having done that.

    @Professor Chaos - Thank you !
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
  15. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Active Member

    ...but what if you catch your little brother for the 99th time secretly stuffing himself with cake after midnight while the whole family is asleep? I'm all for self love and all that but to me real friends are not only the ones who have my back at all times but also the ones who have the strength to be honest with me when I'm seriously doing something wrong. Even if that means that I'm on the receiving end of a kick in the butt from time to time. Don't be your own yes-man, that's the message I'm trying to convey, I guess. You are dealing with a serious addiction and it should be treated as such. Relapsing is part of the process and getting healthy but don't let yourself get away for free. Self love also means responsibility for your actions, especially for your actions that you control directly. You didn't manage to get the number of that cute girl last night? It wasn't your night and you'll do better next time. You didn't land the job you were aiming for? Well, you've prepared really well but they decided to hire somebody with more experiece. You binged to P for 2 hours straight? (...)

    I think, giving yourself a pat on the back for it won't be necessarily the best thing to do in the situation. Of course, I don't want to advertise negative self talk but perhaps you gotta develop some urgency to change things, to make it happen that you are able to prevent these situations. Imagine yourself doing coke every weekend. From an outside perspective, what friend would you prefer to have? The one who never brings up the topic, never talking to you about your behaviour or the one who confronts you again and again about your consumption? Well, I knew what I would prefer.

    I really, really don't want to lecture you on this topic, all I'm saying is, don't let yourself get away so easily when you relapse. You are addicted to PMO (just like me, or the next member on this forum) and it should have a really high priority in our lives (if not the highest) to get it fixed. Permanently. And that also means, that we are in a constant process of adjusting the variables in our life so that the chance of relapsing is really really low. Remember how I advised you to stop drinking a few months ago? That's a really obvious parameter that increases your chances of relapsing. Find more. Keep moving, deal with the problem, and don't get complacent when you relapse. That's all I'm trying to say. And, of course, don't beat yourself up, if you should fail temporarily. But now is the time to grind. Embrace it until you find your individual formula that works for you!

    Take care!
     
  16. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    I think what @Pete McVries writes here is based on a common misconception of what self-compassion is. Self-compassion is directed at the 'self', not at the things you do. You can be gentle towards yourself and be critical towards your behaviour at the same time.
     
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  17. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Trust me dude. I've been in the gutter an incredible amount of times. Yes, at that point you give yourself a pat in the back.

    There is nothing better you can do.

    Beating yourself up when you're in the gutter, when you have messed up does not help at all with anything. You can make dramatic and passionate vows to yourself or others, you can write a 10 page letter to yourself, you can go out in the streets screaming "I will never PMO again", you can even go post publicly on FB "I'm the dirtiest human alive I have failed myself again, I will never PMO again I promise you all". Or further punish or humiliate yourself. All this is hurting yourself more. All this is incredible anger. All this will make everything worst. All this is the addiction.

    If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. ...... Yes I am quoting the Bible lol.

    I've seen people here write how they ate they're semen when they lapsed. WTF ? Or how they promise to pay this amount of money if they slip again. This is all waging a war against yourself. This is not the correct path to health. Health does not grow from an unhealthy and violent manner.

    You break the cycle of addiction by breaking the toxic shame when you relapse. Then abstention is way easier handeld. Yes abstention has it's place but it's essentiel the motivation for abstention comes from LOVE and not from FEAR or SHAME. A streak has to happen as a simple by product of a healthier life. One must not even pay a lot of attention to it. When one reaches this mindset a slip is nothing. He truly brushes up and keeps going in his healthy life. On the other hand when one is fighting the addiction because of shame and fear and bullies himself into a great streak, then when he loses that streak he will hurt himself so bad. I doubt that's you because I am convinced you have done so many good things in your life besides the abstention. I'm sure in your case your current streak is clearly a by product of your life improvements.

    A streak has to grow like a flower on your balcony, placed in a sunny spot, that grows while you're busy going to work everyday. And that you take a look at from time to time and enjoy without too much pride or fear. It must not grow as a plant in a pot while you sit obsessively next to it, sweating with effort and grinding your teeth with urgency and seriousness and dedication, watching it every second only thinking about this plant.

    All this is not a lesson for whoever has reached long term stability. I am sure that person has naturally integrated this approach. This is a lesson for those, like me, who have kept in the purge relapse purge relapse cycle for a long time (the "serial relapsers"). The ones who know they commit very honestly to stopping and still find themselves using again after some time for various reasons. It's a very difficult emotion to deal with and puzzle to crack but the key is this : these people are stuck in this pattern because they're effort at quitting are drivent from fear and self shame. The very problems which have brought on the addiction in they're lives are now perpetuated through the battle of breaking the addiction. They are trying to shame themselves out of the addiction when toxic shame is the soil on which they grew this addiction.

    At the moment you pat yourself on the back after you PMOed, it's not the addiction. It's the beginning of health. Sure it maye take a long long long time to undo the addiction. But that's how it begins.

    If I catch my lil bro stuffing himself with cake for the 99th time and I kick him around that will only increase the odds of him stuffing himself again. Actually indeed at some point it's wise to give him a pat in the back and say okay man. Do as you want. You know I don't agree. But do as you want.

    An act of Faith ! And this is how you tie all this into step 1 ... of the 12 steps. The powerlessness. You stop trying the old methods of fighting the addiction head on and you focus instead on understanding what Love is and trying to let it in. The unconditional self kindness and self forgiving.

    "Understand that I don't think stuffing yourself with the cakes will get you to where you want, know that I don't see that as a good choice, but I will not hit you if you decide to keep doing it". "I am sad for you, and it breaks my heart, but I won't hit you."

    Self honesty balances out self kindness and keeps it in check. Like you said, by being kind to myself when I slip, that does not mean I tell myself it's a good thing that I have slipped.

    Conclusion : this is all theory and is all my opinion. Everyone must follow his own instinct his own path, whatever works for him. Everyone should experiment for themselves what works and what doesn't. I am not claiming this is some absolute truth (despite the tone of the post) all I am saying is this is what I believe at this point in time and it's what, I believe, has proven to work better in practice (experimenting) in my own life for my own addiction (type and strength). When I take a more calm and loving approach it seems to foster a longer term stability and capacity to stay off the unhealthy habits then when I take a more violent all or nothing approach (which can work for some time and then usually stumbles out). Basically all I am saying is I agree with the mantra .... progress not perfection.

    I've been at this for a long time and it has taken me many approaches to understand the inner act of unconditional self support at all times (the pat in the back even if I PMO while knowing PMO was not a good thing to do) is the best way for me.

    Look at how I use to write to myself, at 27, about 5 years ago .... From my own journal on here. You can see the lack of self compassion and the self harshness. The public insulting of myself as an attempt to make myself feel better.... All the unskillful unnecessary drama. (The formatting is the original, it's not stuff I'm pointing out now). The stuff I wanna actually point out now here is the phrases where I start bashing myself calling myself a pussy and how I am such a weak person.

    Back then I was obsessed with forcing myself to beat this with an incredible all or nothing streak. Back then I was very very very hard on myself when I relapsed. My old journal was a constant repetition of this mindset.

    The value in this approach was to experiment with it and show me it doesn't work long term. There had to be a switch in paradigm. I still envy and admire a good streak but I will only get there when I stop being so proud of my own streaks or so ashamed if I lose them. I will get there when I let go of the streak approach and only focus on the current day. I am confident people who achieve long periods of stable abstinence (i.e. long streaks) have this healthy detachment from they're streak. They are proud of it and they sure should be, but it's a healthy and detached pride.

    The pat in the back and the quietly getting on with it is the best thing to do, even if it was the 99th time I binged on the cakes at midnight when everyone was asleep. In practice it's hard to do this. But the more you come at the addiction from a place of love and kindness and patience instead of a bullying place of shame and fear and dare I say of too much urgency, the easier it becomes to give yourself an undramatic pat on the back and keep on going. And ironically the less I shall find myself binging on those cakes past midnight secretly.

    I didn't expect to write such a long response. I told myself I will answer in a few phrases .... :oops:

    But this stuff hits me deep. Because I know how much I tried to stop this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
    -Luke-, nuclpow, cjm and 1 other person like this.
  18. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Active Member

    Firstly, I wanna say that I think I have been misunderstood a little bit. Secondly, I want to clarify that I'm not positioning myself to tell anybody what to do ever or thinking I know best what's good for anyone. Sometimes, it can be thought provoking to play the devil's advocate for a little while :). Also, I just about managed to make sense of the concept of self-love as I practice it myself. Furthermore, I'm following your journal for a while now but I haven't read it from the beginning so I'm only familiar with the recent storyline. I suspected that the whole positive/negative self-talk is a big personal topic for you, as you pointed out by yourself in your last post. Big surprise, this is also something that I have been dealing with in the past and sometimes still do. I used to throw in the towel too early many times in the past because I set standards for myself sometimes that I couldn't meet but which I also wouldn't set for anybody else but myself. I failed many times and then insulted myself. For the most part, that's in the past luckily.

    Back to topic and I try to make this as short as possible: What I meant by "don't let yourself get away so easily when you relapse" is not that you should eat your ejaculate next time as a punishment (wtf...) or do other weird stuff but rather continue to take a close look at the relapse and find sustainable ways to prevent it that work for you personally. I kept relapsing hopelessly for 3 years after being clean for ~120 days. And I didn't beat myself up for it once because, as you've pointed out correctly, that is not a working solution. It's not the case that I'm preaching water but drinking wine. And in hindsight, I suspect that perhaps I wasn't ready for a pmo free life because I was a picture of misery emotionally. Interestingly, becoming pmo-free fixed my depression but hasn't been directly caused by it. Totally weird.

    What worked for me personally was to create a new mindset which coincidentally happened directly after a relapse as I didn't plan to do it. I had sort of an aha-moment, where I took a step back, tried to look at my situation from an outside perspective, confronted myself with 'if this, than that facts' (if you continue to binge drink once in a while, you will relapse at least twice the next day while being hungover; if you continue to relapse, you will not recover from PIED; if you can't recover from PIED, you won't be able to have sex; if you won't be able to have sex, you won't be in a healthy relationship ever; if you won't be able to maintain a healthy relationship, you won't be able to raise a family; and so on and so forth). And that mindset fueled me to improve a lot of other things eventually that had been lacking the past three years like my diet, my food intake in general, no more alcohol, more social interaction, less screen time, (...). I'm sharing it, because it worked for personally. Might not be your solution, or the solution for anybody else. The Underdog wrote about creating a life vision for yourself. While I don't have it mapped out decidedly, I have a few things that I want to have in my life eventually, and of these "things" is a long term relationship with a loving partner. Ideally, I would like to have at least two kids. But that's about it, when it comes to family goals. Before I conclude, I'd like to add, that I've also took a closer look at the 40+ journals after said relapse in the beginning of the year and I really took my time to read some of their journals where 'older' men write about the pain, the divorces, family problems, the misery, the financial chaos, health issues, etc. porn has caused. Where the PMO-Lifestyle made them end up in life. The PMO-Lifestyle will take a huge toll on you. It already has (at least in my case as I haven't had any sex or meaningful relationships with women in my twenties, but that's a different story...). And if you don't manage to fix it, you will probably end up looking back at some point in your life thinking, man I effed up big time. I threw my life away. So much wasted potential. So many wasted opportunities. Because that's a fact. At least in my case. And that's why I'm writing in your journal because I hope, you can extract something from it. I read a lot because I don't want to make all the mistakes that have already been done by another rebooting fella. Sort of like a tribe or a pack of rats if you will :D.

    Urgency panic mode
    being aware of facts implementing drastic measures
    recognizing how PMO has affected you negatively dwelling in the past
    not letting yourself getting away so easily negative self talk

    I hope, I did a better job this time, trying to explain what I meant with my first message. You'll figure it out eventually, I'm sure of it!

    Take care!
     
    -Luke-, TrueSelf and Thelongwayhome27 like this.
  19. NewHorizon

    NewHorizon Member

    TLWH27, you have always been engaged in my journal, since day 1, (thus in my recovery) even though i have been very absent from other people's journals. Thank you. Let this message act as a reminder that I should participate in other people's journal.
     
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  20. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Doubts and negativity these last days

    These last days I’ve been feeling some doubts about my current progress in fixing things in my life. I am doing well on living a healthy lifestyle, but I am stagnating on the more real and concrete element of the “stuff I need to do” (administrative, financial, organizing my place). I am also stagnating on taking up challenges that take me out of my comfort zone (for example joining some kind of a club of interest). This lack of real action is making me question my healthy lifestyle as just a form of denial.

    Faced with these feelings, I think it would be unwise to use this negativity as justification to drop down even lower and quit the healthy habits. But they are a sign I need to see how I can improve my approach in order to do more and “talk less”.

    The healthy habits bring me to a certain level but if I don’t take further action it creates a feeling of stagnation and then I often go back down. As I recognize this pattern, it’s important for me, right now, to not beat myself up about the good stuff I been doing, but to try harder to do more. Or to say it better, to fine tune my approach. To keep doing what works but realistically look at what doesn't, and try to improve it.

    Another alcohol binge and commitment to stop drinking


    I had an alcohol binge relapse this last Friday. I have taken the decision and commitment to not have another drop of alcohol for the next month. If I go out I will have non alcoholic beer. It’s time I implement this simple habit that can only make things better. After this initial month I will evaluate if I keep going with no alcohol. I think it would be a good idea for me to quit alcohol completely for 1 year. But right now I’m going start with this month 1.

    It’s good that despite the alcohol binge I did not go down even further. I did not relapse to P, despite feeling very bad yesterday. I did MO twice though, to fantasy that is quite fetishistic (not exactly the vanilla realistic healthy sex type).

    Defining myself further as an individual - exploring and developing my interests

    I have never really developed my interests. I always had a certain inclination towards artistic expression. I enjoy literature a lot and love watching “good” movies. I also think I could explore drawing or painting and creative writing. Unfortunately, as I was a lost teen, I never “found myself” at that critical age. I’m thinking that if I manage to somehow reconnect with myself more here, to try to develop some authentic inner passions, I will become a healthier person. I have read a lot more self help lately and spiritual literature, but I have stopped reading classic literature as I thought it was less well invested time.... Maybe I should get back to this latter one. I saw a movie a few days ago and it was about a bunch of youngsters (late teens, early 20s) back in the 70s. The main character was trying to become a painter and I was amazed by how much of an inner world he had and how much he was trying to develop it. His social connections came as a result of being himself and trying to discover who he is. He wasn’t actively pursuing social stuff. But it came naturally. I think I should try to do more of this. However, it’s true this is harder done in your 30s then when you’re in your teens or early 20s. But I can still think about this and explore it. I just see how I dont' have much of a rich inner life. I'm always looking for stimulation (social being one of them too). Despite my potential, right now I lack a bit of depth. So I can see how I can explore developing more depth as a person.

    PMO/MO/Fantasy

    Right now, I am somewhere over a month of no P and that is good. It’s a good start for fixing my life. I’m going to keep allowing myself to MO when I feel too horny but will try to keep it under 3 times a week. Also I will do my best to keep it with realistic imagination or only touch sensation.

    Conclusion

    I have talked a lot about self kindness, self support and a lot of spiritual type of inner work (feel your emotions, be present, process the pain, stuff like that). Now I don't think this is complete BS. And I do think self compassion, having inner self support is so damn important. But I need to find a way to mix self support with pushing myself a bit more. Yes I have done good efforts, and I need not forget I am trying, but I have to be careful not to use self help and spirituality as a crutch as a way to not take further action.

    @Pete McVries - Thank you Pete. Thanks for taking out the time to write such a balanced response. I think I completely agree with you. I keep talking about self compassion because I feel that if it's missing the rest doesn't work or is built for nothing. But I can imagine how self compassion alone has no meaning if there is not concrete action taken on top of it. I would like to reply a bit better but I have nothing further to say on this matter. I simply agree and my task is now to try to incorporate these elements in my life. To talk a bit less, do a bit more.

    @NewHorizon - Thank you man. Appreciate it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019

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