16 Principles of Recovery

Caravan7

Member
Great list thank you! I agree wholeheartedly, and in reference to the last point, I think that a two-fold approach is the most powerful:
1) Working on habit change (as per your list)
and
2) Working on your won personal history, psychologically (or even psychoanalytically) to revolve any deeper issue (trauma, early disappointment and the like).
I think success in any dimension helps to make progress in the other one as well, though I'm convinced that we need to work on both levels for the best results.
 

EarthWalker

Well-Known Member
Re: 16 The process is habit-change, emotional healing is separate and can come later.

In my own experience. What is working for me. I am focusing most on psychological healing, changing my perceptions, beliefs and values. I noticed that wanting to go for a walk is coming naturally. E.g. I didn't focus on it. My value system is changing. So my habits in my view are the reflection of my value system to some degree. Everything is interconnected. So what I am saying is that habits follow psychology. By changing the underlying psychology the habits will change. But whatever works for you. We each have a unique journey to take and unique points of view.
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
@ Caravan, and @ Earth Walker ~

You both are absolutely correct. I didn't mean to word it in such a way that it sounded so linear or Newtonian. Just so many conflate the two, especially in the disease-model of addiction, that they make it sound like we're hoplessly chained to complex, hidden and unknowable traumas that must first be untangled, sorted through, endlessly analyized, before the actual addiction can be addressed (and yet never fully resolved).

We are multidimensional beings, and can operate on separate (yet interconnected) planes simultaneously. To EW's point, working on our psychology will definitely affect our addictions and habits, as to ignore this, certainly has the opposite and damaging effects.

In my own approach I use spirituality, mindfulness, CBT, ERP, the science of habit change, etc..., while these seamlessly interweave for me nowadays, I do try to approach this holistically, taking nothing for granted.

However, based on cutting edge approaches (e.g., mindfulness, rational recovery, and other methods), I find it necessary to not delay the actual breaking and ending of the habit (addiction) itself, in the name of 'inner healing'. While they're definitely linked, as EW noted, the habit itself can be ended by simply not responding to it, for or against. As we dismiss urges over a relatively short time (between 90 to 120 days), we will change and/or end our habits.

To Caravan's point, we can (and should) work on our deeper issues simultaneously, but know that the habit itself needn't take as long as our inner healing often does. The lower brain (animal) may use this complexity as an excuse to continue its drip-feed (or flood-tide) of dopamine to stay alive, as it were.

Lord knows, for me, I have deep rooted trauma: emotional neglect and abuse, physical abuse, runaway teenage trauma (one can imagine), rejection, bullying, etc, etc...., and so my own addiction, which has continued in various forms for almost 30 years, has many deep emotional drivers. However, what I've discovered through my own hit-and-miss efforts over the years is that I can deal more effectively with the habit in the immediate, even as (though I said 'before') I deal with the deeper emotional/spiritual aspects.

Thank you both for your very important discussion.
 

EarthWalker

Well-Known Member
I love that more of us are not just looking into psychology but work on applying it in our daily lives. I think we have no choice but to become our own psychologists. Seeing what works and what doesn't. Thank you for writing this article Phineas. You make some good points. We each have pieces to offer to each other.

Wish you well.
EW
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Earth Walker > I love that more of us are not just looking into psychology but work on applying it in our daily lives. I think we have no choice but to become our own psychologists. Seeing what works and what doesn't.

Yes, definitely! For many of us, our crash course in psychology was in trying to figure out what the hell happened to us, in terms of what were out of control obsessions, and addictive behaviors...

Then comes the different schools of psychology we may have encountered, some good- some not so good (if not down right harmful). But, we each had to find out what worked for us on an individual level.

We each have pieces to offer to each other.

Couldn't agree more!
 

Caravan7

Member
Hello again guys,

Phineas, I wrote your 16 points into a personal file: the act of retyping them made them even more vivid!
Yes, I agree: no need to wait for a deeper healing before we break the habit.

I am also focusing on habit change, and man it's difficult. Finding that space between cue and response is hard because it happens in a microsecond: I see a woman on the street and boom! - dopamine, her image now possesses me. Jee dopamine is powerful!

So I must have a game plan: a strategy already in place that I can activate immediately (and eventually, I hope, automatically) when I see a cue.
So I came up with one, and I'm struck how it aligns well with your 16 principles. I wrote another post here about it (check it out if you want, it's called "Try R.E.L.A.X."), but here it is in brief:

Immediately when perceiving a cue (external or internal), think R.E.L.A.X. =

Recognize that attraction itself is rooted in nature, a much stronger power than our own individuality. But of course our reaction has become too extreme from porn conditioning (this is similar to your point 6)
Evaluate (quickly) whether dwelling on that lust is all that important for you: and unless you are single and actually interested in that person (in that case, the cue is a healthy sign), your evaluation should make you realize that the stimulus is random and insignificant. Thus:
Let go: let the image go, let it wash away. Breathe (this is like your points 4, 5 and 10), then:
Acknowledge that you have a deeper issue/history. That will take time. Tell yourself "I'm working on it". Be patient and give yourself empathy (this relates to your points 8 and 16). Finally:
Xplore: Explore other thoughts, ideas. Direct your mind to interesting non-sexual ideas that excite you: your creative project, lofty philosophical thoughts, a hike in the mountains..., a beautiful melody you love, your social group, whatever! Get dopamine from meaningful thoughts and feelings.

Repeat the cycle if necessary.

Caravan out. :)
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Thank you, Caravan! I like your R.E.L.A.X. acronym, and I do see the similarities! I'll check it out in a while on your journal. It also reminded me of an acronym I use for when urges come, though I don't think of it as mechanically as before, as it's become second nature. But you can check it out here:

It's called A.W.A.R.E. (you can click on it, if you like).

Peace.
 

Caravan7

Member
Like minds think alike :)

I love AWARE too, it and RELAX are like cousins, eh eh

No-porn now for 6 months. But I still check people out in the world too much, so that's where I'm focusing now, with mindfulness and these acronyms. But I confess, I feel energized when I write here and thinking about my techniques (or yours): when I am at home, without cues, it feels doable. But when I see an actual cue (regular film, advertising, or just someone passing by) I feel a crash: it's so strong, it overwhelms me. I feel powerless, as in "I really want that woman (or someone like her)"... so I immediately apply the techniques but they can only do a bit at this point. Perhaps because I'm only at the beginning. I've got lot of motivation, but in the battle "on the field" I feel weak: women's bodies (especially young and fit) are like giants magnets. Even if I manage to stay away (interrupt the gaze), their silhouette is now in my brain. A battle begins: that image of a body against my technique and attempt at relaxation. I fight, but the image (so far) is still stronger. Eventually the fight subsides just because time passes and I get involved in something else (such as work).

Is it only a matter of insisting with mindfulness and tolerating the urge without giving in to fantasy and masturbation? Will the giant (objectified women bodies internalized in my imagination) become weaker in time? That's my hope.

Best
 

Phineas 808

Respected Member
Yes, definitely, Caravan! As long as we neither react for or against the urges that seeing beautiful women may cause in us, the neural pathways will desensitize over time.

The images of them stay with you, but just observe this as a nonjudgmental outside observer. Accept this disinterestedly, and like you said, the images eventually pass along with their urges.

AWARE and RELAX are like cousins, lol...! Exactly.

Be well!
 

Caravan7

Member
You're right for sure, Phineas. Thank you for the insights! Truly appreciate the support and exchange of ideas.

Actually just yesterday I had a decently positive experience being out in a very busy social area (bars, clubs) in a hot place, so imagine the number of scantily dressed young women (and provocatively dressed young waiters) I saw in just a few hours. But it so happened that during the day I had done a pretty long meditation session and a good stretching session, so my body and mind were already in optimal condition and relaxed. The women I saw were still strong cues, and yet the obsession/frustration reaction was a bit less then before. I was able to think "she's hot" but also remain calm (which is not what happened in the past). Not ideal yet, but in the right direction.

Actually I started running RELAX in cycles, I repeat the key words in my mind multiple times in a row: it does reduce the impact of the sights! Feeling hopeful about this. The last bit, "Xplore", takes me to completely different thoughts (such as a book I'd like to write).

And here's one more idea: I tell myself "humans are not actually sexual being, they are spiritual beings". Even if that is not literally true (yes we are sexual), the thought helps reframe the visual cues: "ok, she's attractive, but why is that aesthetic detail so important? She is a spiritual being and I care for her well being" I don't mean this as some kind of New Age cliché but completely earnestly. One must TRULY see all people as full humans, not as shapely forms with smooth skin and desirable featured. God knows, I had not realized the extent to which I had come to objectify women! I did not realize it because I was always respectful of them in words and actions, so the MO objectification in my mind did not feel wrong, because after all I was doing it only in fantasy. I would think "who cares, in my own mind I can indulge in anything I want, that's nothing illegal or immoral about that, and I'm also not watching any porn" Yeah, ok, but the way you train your mind then alters how you see reality.....

The journey continues .... grateful for this forum
 
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