Journal: striving for change

Discussion in 'Ages 20-24' started by Freedom from Servitude, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. Day 382,

    I met with the aforementioned individual who has offered to mentor me, yesterday. Ahead of the meeting I was feeling a mixture of apprehension and excitement. I was excited at his obvious confidence in his ability to help me improve my speaking and felt apprehensive because I believed us to be different personalities and I feared rejection. From the perspective of low self esteem, my mind automatically puts people who I perceive to be better at me in some area (in this case public speaking) on a pedestal, and I negatively compare myself to them. I also find myself easily swayed by their opinions (because their opinion has got to be worth more than mine, right?). Happily, my belief in this way of thinking is waning.

    I am so glad that we did meet yesterday. I found him to be a highly interesting individual with clearly a lot of wisdom and experience to offer. Although we are different personalities, we also have a lot in common in relation to where we have both been in the past with mental health. I think that he assumed my story had been similar to his and recognised a kindred spirit. He stated that he sees so much potential in me and wants to help develop my confidence. After the few hours that we shared together, I was left feeling ecstatic about the conversation we shared and my future growth as a speaker. I enjoyed our conversation immensely and it is clear that there is much I can learn from this individual. He has put together a plan of action for developing my speaking confidence which involves doing lots of table topics. My anxiety came up in the conversation. He said not to see it as an obstacle to effective public speaking but an aid. It will never go away no matter how accomplished a speaker I become. I have to learn to channel it.

    I'm coming to an end of month's trial of a gluten free diet. I am inconclusive as to whether it has made a difference to my mental health. I can still experience pretty strong episodes of anxiety which cause me to despair, but this is within a picture that is altogether more brighter. I have become a more optimistic, positive and self-loving person. This isn't possible without the daily effort I make to congratulate and be kind towards myself. In truth, my diet hasn't been entirely gluten free. I have eaten small amounts of gluten accidentally before realising that certain products contained the protein. I may have to go on a gluten binge to see the difference, yet if I have eaten some gluten already, the experiment may never have been valid in the first place. Regardless, from the things I have read about gluten so far, it seems like a good thing to cut out from my diet permanently.

    Over the past two weeks, I have also tried to follow Dr.Perlmutter's guidelines closely on a high fat and protein and low carb diet. Within the past few days I have had to deviate from this diet because I was losing too much weight that I cannot afford to lose. I also felt tired and lacked energy and concentration in the day at work. As vegetables don't produce much energy, the only way to get the calories I needed on this diet was to eat a ridiculous amount of meat, fish and eggs. I am a pescetarian, so it was already difficult getting my daily recommended calorific intake after cutting down on carbs. . I have decided to create my own middle way diet based on wider reading. While the evidence on gluten being harmful for the body seems pretty damming on the whole, the jury is still out on Perlmutter's claims that it is best to reduce or even cut out carbs altogether from the diet. My new policy is that I will keep up the fat and protein intake, while eating moderate amounts of carbs. I am eating gluten free bread again, but only 3-4 slices a day. Essentially, it is a balanced diet with a nuance about not going overboard with carbs, and refined carbs in particular.

    I sorted out my holiday this week and have got round to finally booking some time off. I couldn't find a residential retreat running in August easily accessible by public transport, so I decided to opt for a small break down in Kent, where I studied at University. I am going to spend a few days with a relative who lives in the county before going back to my University city and revisiting the old haunts. I love this beautiful county. The Garden of England is an apt description for a stunning landscape of rolling hills and rich woodland. I am looking forward to having a relaxing break, spending time with friends and family, and being spiritually nourished by nature. Although I wasn't able to find a residential retreat for the time of my annual leave, I have managed to put together my own retreat weekend of sorts by combining an afternoon retreat at the Zen temple and another, day retreat on Sunday at the Triratna Buddhist centre, both of which I am looking forward to greatly.

    My progress with sleep has reached a plateau. I had a few days when I woke up feeling a bit groggy, but I have had some goodish nights too. I still seem to be waking up around 5.00-5.30 and I don't know why that is. In my struggle to keep on top of everything, I have been pushing myself to get a lot done in the evenings. The downside of this is that my mind doesn't always get the period of calm it needs to settle before sleep.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  2. ace1234

    ace1234 A woman simply is, but a man must become.

    Hi there Freedom, nice journal. I read a bit of it and I like your tone. It's kind of comforting and calming just reading it. Also congrats on 400 days. It's very inspiring.

    For someone who went 90 days and is at 400 what advice would you give to yourself after all this rebooting? I ask because I've been to 90 and I've gotten to 140, but now I haven't been able to make any further progress. In fact I believe I haven't been able to hit past 20 days for maybe 2 years now. I feel very depressed just thinking about this.

    For the record, I live in Russia and there is no SA group near me. I live and work at home and it's kind of far from the city.

    Can you give me some kind of push or anything that I could use to break through and do a whole year like you?

  3. Hi Ace, thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to post in my journal.

    There have been so many things that have helped me. For example, I looked into living a more balanced lifestyle. Meditation is great for generating awareness of the body and mind. Exercise and taking cold baths also gave me the extra momentum to get past the first 90 days. It has been a challenging year and more difficult than I thought it would be. Undoubtedly, I owe my continued sobriety to SA. I don't think that I would have got to where I am now without the continued support, love and accountability of my SA fellows. I have discovered that one of the root causes of my addiction was a lack of connection to others and of being loved for the individual that I am. When my addiction started when I was at high school, I felt disconnected with my peers, a social outcast. I didn't have many friends until later on in life. When I go to the meetings and speak to my sponsor, I always feel unconditional love which I give to them in turn. I mention this because in my conversations with other addicts in SA, there is often a common story in our backgrounds. This is confirmed in Dr. Patrick Carne's work where he claims that the sexual addictions often have socially related causes. Moving aside, SA has a programme that has proven to work time and time again.

    I can see your problem in living far away from an SA group. Why don't you start one? The chances are that there are going to be quite a few people who will need it in the area where you live. There wasn't one where I live either but a few of us established one back in January. There are also telephone and Skype meetings that you can attend. I can also put you in contact with people in the UK that would gladly help. My sponsor, who lives in Edinburgh, currently supports an individual who lives in Egypt. Distance is not a barrier.

    Don't be disheartened by your relapses. I discovered yourbrainonporn in the winter of 2012 and it took me 5 years to get as far as a year of sobriety. Even longer when it is considered that I tried to quit porn pretty much as soon as I discovered it as an adolescent.Perseverance is a quality that cannot be undervalued on this journey. Keep on getting up and travelling in the right direction. Learn from your mistakes and you will continue to grow. Always keep an open mind and be willing to learn from others too.

    I'm happy to go into detail into any other techniques that have helped.
  4. Day 403,

    I am a week or so behind again in my journal. I'll start off this week and then try to recollect what has happened in the previous weeks events within the next week or so.

    This week has been very challenging with my emotions. In Tuesday, I discovered that the woman that I have feelings for is leaving the service. That meeting was our last appointment together. I was left with overwhelming feelings of depression. I felt sadness that I would never see her again and a sense of loss over a relationship that could never be. I also felt the usual feelings of low self-esteem, a product of the rejections at school from girls, difficulty interacting with them, and the negative self-talk that arose as a result of both. These emotions have been with me for the entirety of the week. I was grateful for the SA meeting that evening in which I shared my inner turmoil with my friends. Their continued support over the following days has been profoundly touching. I also found going to the Toastmasters club Thursday evening helped. I stood up and spoke about the duty I was responsible for that evening despite that I wasn't well in myself. That was a huge achievement. Indeed, just getting through this week and carrying on with life has been a monumental achievement in itself. Unpleasant though it is to admit it, it is probably a good thing that i may never see her again, her presence causes heartache within me and, as explained before, our respective situations means that there is no realistic possibility of me acting on my feelings for her. In time, they will go, but I sense that this is a tender wound that will take a long time to heal. I have followed the only course of action available to me which is to ride out the emotional storm while continuing to meet with this women in a professional capacity. The journey these past 6 months in relation to this individual has been a huge act of courage: I have kept moving forward despite exposure to these challenging emotions.

    A fellow's contribution in open sharing at the SA meeting, has caused me to think about the wide extent that I have lived my life to appease others. My years in the education system were one frantic chase after the other to prove myself to myself and to seek validation in others. I believed that if I could achieve academic success and receive complements for my ability from my peers and teachers, I would have the cast iron guarantee that life would be OK for me. Everything would be OK if I did what my parents told me and tried to avoid getting on the wrong side of them. I would be loved, get a girlfriend even, if I changed my personality and acted to appease others because I was fundamentally unlovable as I was. Even coming off porn was another means of proving to myself that I was a worthy human being. 'When I get sober, I will experience all of the incredible gains that recovering addicts have posted in their journals and everything is going to be just fine', or so I told myself. I was chasing a ghost, until I discovered the truth.

    I have decided that I do not need fixing and I never have done. I have always been enough. I have always been worthy of love. I deserve nothing less than to remind myself of these points in my affirmations every day.

    Low self-esteem has also had its advantages. It allowed me to do very well academically, and helped make me a diligent, kind, empathic and compassionate person. It has also helped build a passion for learning and self-improvement. This presented to me a dilemma earlier in the week. If my desire for self improvement has its origins in the desire to prove myself to other people and persuade myself that I am good enough for the world, am I not just perpetuating the very line of thought that I am trying to change by acting from this desire? I looked out of the train window on the way to work and drew upon the inspiration of mother nature, of the cows grazing in the marshland. I was reminded that life is all about change. We grow from cradle to grave. It is not this fundamental law of the universe that is at fault but my previous perception of it within the context of my own personal development. I can realign my desire to grow with healthy motives.When I work on self-development it is for the joy of learning in its own right and to be able to acquire the knowledge and experience to be of service to others. I am enough and will always be in the present, regardless of what I choose to do with my spare time.

    I have been faced with the daunting thought that the desire to prove myself influences much of what I do. Even this online forum can be a source of unhelpful pride. I try to impress others with my journal, with my sobriety of 400+ days. However, this journal also serves a really useful purpose in that it allows me to keep track of where I have been. It would be a waste to discontinue it. I plan to use this record to one day write a guide on how to overcome this addiction. I also hope that my honest reflections help other people with their recovery. Importantly, this is my gift to others without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Again, its about aligning the helpful things that I already have with my core values.

    This may actually be connected to another obstacle that I have in my life, which is actually knowing what I want out of life and making decisions that are in attunement with my true feelings. Communicating with my core values and acting from them can help me move away from the compulsions and imperatives that drive me forward. It is about acting because I want to and not because I feel that I have to out of fear of the consequences. Intense anxiety and depression can flood my system, making it difficult to tune into what I really want to do. Nevertheless, there are moments of calm and peace where valuable insights have been made.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  5. Day 416,

    Writing an entry for week, 31st July- 6th August:

    I went to a classical music concert with a friend of mine from the SA group on Tuesday. It was a beautiful performance and a movingly inspiring experience. Naturally, seeing my friend was a pleasure in itself. He thinks that I should try online dating. Its an idea that I have flirted with for the past few months but have backed away from taking any serious action. Input from other people has reinforced my concerns (and fears) that it would be a bad idea. Unless, someone just magically walks into my life, it may be the only chance I have of meeting someone. I am still undecided.

    I spent a lot of energy preparing for a talk on mental health to a group of young people. I felt anxious about giving it, worrying about what others might think of me. Thoughts of seeking approval from others were also been present.. I occasionally got frustrated with the presence of these thoughts. I wanted to share my knowledge to help others and be of service to them, not to prop up a misconceived notion of personal inadequacy. I must not place too much significance on them. They are the inevitable product of the fearful mind, that cannot be avoided. If I simply watch them and let me be, they can do no harm. I constantly remind myself that I am a enough, utterly brilliant, and that I love myself always. I have been trying a new affirmation. Every evening and morning, I look at myself in the mirror and say 'I am enough' and 'I love you'.

    I went round my Toastmaster mentor's place on Sunday. I was feeling apprehensive about this for some time. It sounds odd that performing practice speeches in front of one person can seem just as fear inducing as speaking in front of a whole audience. I am proud that I did it. I practised several table topics in a row and made a pretty good stab at them too. I usually struggle to think of anything to say on topic, so the fact that I was able to put together a speech is a sign of progress.

    My feelings for 'the woman' are gradually fading. There have been a few days when depression has bitten hard. I clearly recall the slow slogs through afternoons at work when it feels as though I am trudging with a ton of bricks on my back. I also felt demoralised at times by persistent social anxiety that activates whenever I speak to my colleagues and customers at work. I felt impatient that my positive affirmations weren't allowing me to feel confident and relaxed in social situations. Also that my repeated exposure to social anxiety triggers through actively socialising and doing public speaking didn't seem to reduce the level of threat that my system goes through. My perfectionist mind churned out self critical thoughts every time I struggled to think on the spot or stammered in my sentences. I watched these thoughts in mindfulness. I also made sure to diligently challenge them. I attended an introductory afternoon at a Zen Buddhist Priory this morning, which reminded me of the true meaning of mindfulness. My anxiety is not my enemy, it is simply a product of where I have been in life. I am no less of a person for feeling it. It may always be there and that doesn't matter. It deserves to be treated with unconditional love. I lapsed into the attitude this week of craving for another experience, as though it is not part of me, an alien tumour to be ripped out from my psyche. This perfectionism emerged from fear of the presence of anxiety itself. that it is holding me back, which is not true. What matters is how I respond to my fears.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017

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