Neurons that fire together wire together

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Wabi-sabi, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Endeavour

    Endeavour Member

    Very inspiring stuff. Someone recently told me some wise things about labels. We very readily label ourselves and ofer in negative ways. We call ourselves failures. We can accept to fail but shoukd not accept failure. Like a child learning to walk , we try , we fall down and we try again. We failed but we fid not accept failure. Labelling especially self-labelling can be very unhelpful. There is a lot in your pists that I find very uplifting. Thank you.
  2. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thank you for your support, Endeavour.

    At the time that you label yourself, you think you're making a great excuse that will help you feel better about yourself. But within moments it becomes a weight you have to carry around, a self-fulfilling prophecy that only hurts you further. If you tell yourself you are going to fail at something you probably will. . . and even if you succeed you tell yourself it was down to chance and so the good stuff can be taken away at any time. For years I had this paranoia that I was going to be discovered as unworthy and lose everything. I felt that I didn't deserve the good stuff - that was all down to labelling.

    I'm only just starting to be aware of how much labelling I do. It's just wallowing in bad news. But I'm learning that there is no failure. Every relapse, every stumble, every urge is a message from my spiritual teacher, gently pointing out ways I could do things better. It's not about morality, it's about moving on to an enjoyable, satisfying life. Relapses just delay that moment, that's all.

    As my reboot goes on, I'm getting more aware of my emotions - my good days and bad ones, and the things I do to manage my emotions when I'm feeling low.

    Bad days are becoming milder and less frequent, but still happen. I was feeling low last night, and I just wasted my time online. I'm learning to live with bad days, rather than fearing them. I'm learning to accept that it's all part of life - you don't get sunshine every day! It's strange how when you stop numbing yourself out with porn you notice this whole emotional life, which includes times when you just feel crappy. At the moment, inspired by Pema Chödrön I'm learning to spot the habitual - non-thinking - things I do to soothe myself at these times, which usually involves shopping for stuff I don't need online while eating sugary food when I'm not even hungry. (Even if I'm not buying stuff there and then I make up lists of what I'll get when I get cash.)

    Along the way I've realized that tiredness is a major indicator of my mood - if I get less than seven hours' sleep I'm just less resilient. When I'm tired I see problems, not solutions. I slouch, and feel sore and even more unhappy. I just can't remember stuff.

    The most important thing is to start out by being diligent about sleep. The irony here is that when I'm feeling low I tend to stay up late online, but when things are good I meditate and take an early night. And when I'm starting to feel down I'm much more likely to fantasize. It's another red flag to watch out for.

    On Saturday I got out for a run, then later got a bunch of books out of the library about happiness. Looking ahead, I'm going to continue to focus on anger - the 90-second-rule - and fear and habit. I've also been practising gratitude, which makes a huge difference. All different layers in the toolbox.
    Billy B. likes this.
  3. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    Thanks again for your great posts, Wabi.
  4. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Feeling positive. Life is good right now.

    My wife had a poor weekend, particularly Sunday. I was able to be present and strong, to help her as much as I can and to be there for the children. I'm rebooting so I can become a stronger person, which involves supporting others - which in turn makes me feel better about myself, and my reboot stronger. (That's why I spend so much time over on the main forum answering newby questions.)

    My knee was been painful after running on Thursday night, so I went out for an easy 5k yesterday but it was sore afterwards. I'll rest until all the inflammation is gone before trying another easy run, at slow speed without any hills. Looks like I've got to start running over again and build up gradually. But to my surprise this doesn't bring me down. It isn't a competition - I run for the sheer joy of running.

    One of the things I do when I meditate is a few repetitions of I do not need porn in my life: it has nothing to offer me. When I did it this morning I realized I'd not thought of porn or smut for days, despite a difficult wife and a gimp leg. This was because I was feeling good. When I'm positive I don't worry, and when I don't worry I don't have any need to hide from the world. (Two things drove my addiction: fear and habit. Fear drove my habitual response, which was to surf for porn. Fear was also itself a habit, because I was unable to deal with change.)

    I read a great Japanese proverb yesterday: fall down seven times, stand up eight. There is no failure when you get back up again and keep on trying.

    I've got another job interview later in the week. I'm going to prepare for it, but if I don't get hired I will not be angry at myself, I'll keep applying elsewhere. So I can walk into the interview room without fear of failure. Same with running. I'll rest and try again, and keep trying, until I rebuild my stamina.

    This takes me back to something I read a while back: antifragile.

    I've quoted from this Art of Manliness piece before, but I'm only just starting to put it into practice: "Things that are fragile break or suffer from chaos and randomness. Fragile systems/people/things seek out tranquillity because they have more to lose than to gain during volatile times. . . Things that are antifragile grow and strengthen from volatility and stress (to a point). When people or systems are antifragile, there’s more upside than downside when Black Swan events occur. Antifragile systems feed on chaos and uncertainty like a primordial god."

    It's about having different coping strategies in place so uncertainty and bad news actually makes you stronger, which I'm slowly building up. I'm learning to deal with stress, how to cope with change, how not to get caught up in my own thoughts/emotions and not to label and judge things. I'm becoming grateful for my life, and I'm starting to see change as the life force of the universe, as my spiritual teacher. My wife being unhappy and my knee swelling from a light 5k run actually are helping me be antifragile.
    Billy B. likes this.
  5. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

  6. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Yes, fear...fear was definitely intertwined with PMO addiction, below the surface, it was a power struggle. PMO gave the illusion of power, but in reality took all my will power away -- paradoxical indeed.

    All along I was in total darkness, for me that was the most heinous thing about the disease, I thought my behavior was 'normal'. For years it ate away big chunks of my life.
  7. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    I relapsed two weeks ago, while the site was down.

    I don't want to get obsessed with day count and all that, but for the record: I relapsed March 29, on Day 247. I'd gone eight months from July 24, 2016 - albeit with a fairly significant stumble around the six month mark.

    Really, it's where I've been for the past couple of years: I can quite easily go six months, and then I lose my focus. When I started this journey I'd have accepted only one PMO a year as an end result, but I want to remove this behaviour from my life, and to continue working at things. (If I don't, I'm going to fall back into old ways over a period of time.)

    Here's the good news: over the years I've overcome the habitual need to PMO, healed my PIED, rebuilt relationships with my wife and at work, become more compassionate to myself, and learnt to manage my emotions. I have better self-esteem, I'm pretty much able to deal with stress now, and I'm better with fear.

    But - and here's the bad - at the moment it's rejection that gets me, or basically anything that triggers a pity party.

    I relapsed after hearing I'd failed to land a job, after being interviewed by two of the hottest women I've spoken to in years. It felt like a personal rejection, on top of the feeling that I'd failed the family (we need the money). Also, I'd stopped meditating and running, due to injury, around the time of my relapse - and fallen back into fantasising. Meditation takes off the rough edges and running has been my greatest rebooting discovery - and fantasy is fatal to reboots.

    Relapse continues to be my greatest teacher. I learned the importance of habit, of keeping with the good ones like meditation (which basically means making myself the time every evening) and exercise, and of the danger of fantasy. And that when I don't meditate for two days in a row that's a red flag. I accept that I still need to do more to improve my self-esteem, so I won't fall apart when I get rejected. I need to work more on being happy - I'm sure this is just a skill, like everything else in life.

    Thank you all for your support. The journey continues!
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
    Billy B. likes this.
  8. What an inspiring post this is. You have demonstrated maturity and self-awareness in light of your fall.

    Relapses were always my greatest teachers and I wouldn't have gotten this far if it wasn't for the countless times I failed. Each misstep is an opportunity to learn and grow. This blip will be the making of a happier, healthier and better you.

    Good luck in your continued journey of healing and growth, Wabi-sabi. I am rooting for you.
    Wabi-sabi and Billy B. like this.
  9. jjveetec

    jjveetec Active Member

    sorry to hear about the relapse - but that's just the part of it.

    Personally, I slack on stuff a lot. No meditation, very little exercise, not too many "good habits"... I dirnk, smoke weed and whatnot.... and I'm on my longest streak ever.
    Wabi-sabi likes this.
  10. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    Rejection is tough. But, you're strong and this will be a blip for you. So many great things going on in your life.
    Wabi-sabi likes this.
  11. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!


    Great to see you doin' well, despite the blip.
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  12. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thank you, these are beautiful words. I am healing and growing - family members have noted improvements to my emotional maturity and social skills, and that I'm happier and more relaxed.

    I'm pleased with the journey I've taken to get here. I've been hiding behind something - alcohol, drugs, porn - since I was a teenager, and it stunts your emotional growth. I'm 46 now, so my rebooting has really been about fast tracking 30 years of emotional maturity.

    I'm now stronger in many areas - interpersonal skills and coping with fear and stress - but I still stumble over rejection. I think this means that I've been building self-esteem, but my self-confidence is still lacking. From what I've read, esteem is more of an inner feeling about your worth, and confidence is more action related - and you build it through successful experience. So, it will come.

    I have confidence in many areas. I'd much rather start a new job tomorrow than be interviewed for one. . .

    Ha - crazy wisdom! I love it.

    I have to make sure that I remove worry from my life - I'm worrying less and less about relapsing, thanks to your advice, but I now need to learn to worry less about meditation, running and the other self-esteem-building stuff I do. Activities I should do because I enjoy it at the time, not because I fear not doing it. (I'm still not running because of injury, but I don't have a problem about that.)

    Really, I should put my attention to learning to be happy. That's all I need - happy people don't hide from the world, and don't do stupid things just to spite themselves (like I did recently).

    Thanks. I have found that I'm stronger for calling it a relapse and getting back to my reboot, as pretending that I stumbled just devalues rebooting. That aside, I have made fantastic personal progress. Part of this is embracing all my emotions, no matter how negative or embarrassing. This last couple of weeks I have embraced my feeling of rejection, and the underlying insecurity and need to be loved by all women everywhere. . . and even my desire to relapse to porn to spite myself. These are just emotions - here now, gone in a couple of minutes. But they are all part of what makes me, and I can't pretend otherwise.

    Strangely enough, I'm stronger for it. By accepting my dark places I have grown.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
    Billy B. likes this.
  13. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    So it turns out the book I've got from the library has a big message about how to get happy. It's what I was reading immediately after making my last post - I didn't have to look for it, it found me (which is the message of the book, funnily enough).

    It's interesting how the universe sends me what I need, when I need it. Actually, that's what this whole reboot process has taught me.

    I'm reading Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are. Yes, I know I'm a fanboy - but you gotta love a girl with more umlauts than Motörhead.

    Here are a few quotes:

    "One of the most powerful teachings of the Buddhist tradition is that as long as you are wishing for things to change, they never will. As long as you’re wanting yourself to get better, you won’t. As long as you have an orientation towards the future, you can never just relax into what you already have or already are."

    "One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have is to feel that now is not good enough. . . We don’t give ourselves enough credit for who we are in the present."

    "One of the things that keeps us unhappy is this continual searching for pleasure or security, searching for a little more comfortable situation, either at the domestic level or at the spiritual level or at the level of mental peace."

    "As long as you’re wanting to be thinner, smarter, more enlightened, less uptight, or whatever it might me, somehow you’re always going to be approaching your problem with the very same logic that created it to begin with: you’re not good enough. That’s why the habitual pattern never unwinds itself when you’re trying to improve, because you are going about it in exactly the same habitual style that caused all the pain to start."

    In order to get happy - now, rather than planning for it in the future - all I have to do is lighten up, relax and notice what's going on around me without wanting to run or hide, or wanting to cling too hard.

    I'll come back to these ideas later. Right now I'm trying to turn it from an idea into a working reality.

    EDIT: I posted this in a hurry and failed to make it clear that the quotes were taken from throughout the book and had no narrative structure. I posted them as reminders for my own reboot - I come back to the philosophy behind it all in my next post.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
  14. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Powerful message...I can see how thinking this way leads to more success, your subconscious is getting programmed with warm and fuzzy thoughts all day!
    All is well.
    Don't worry be happy.
    Wabi-sabi likes this.

  15. A fascinating post. I may just have to start reading some of her work. I have long held an interest in Buddhist philosophy. There is something very true about these words, but I also find them uncomfortable reading. I don't think that it is a recipe for unhappiness to desire to improve oneself as long as it is not a means of self validation. We are good enough as we are and we do not need to do anything, or seek approval from anyone in order to prove this. I think that it is possible to want to improve yourself without making it an act of self-rejection. All of this is probably what she is saying anyway, it's just I think that it is easy to get the wrong impression from reading that extract.
  16. Billy B.

    Billy B. PMO is NOT an option!

    I've requested that book from my own local library. Thanks, Wabi.
  17. Saville

    Saville Well-Known Member

    I have found this to be utterly true this year. For years I wished to have a great sex life, with a wonderful woman who would respect and uplift me. If I'd had a better partner, I reasoned, I would've found my potential years ago and would be a happy person. Wrong! Giving up P, M, and F, I found that my life was great just as it was, if only I could embrace it. Not every day is amazing, of course, but overall everything is much better. I consciously disallow thoughts of "wishing" about something else in the future. We either act toward something or we don't.

    Thanks for the great post!
    Wabi-sabi likes this.
  18. kira

    kira Member

    Wow, wonderful post Wabi.

    You have got some serious reading skills. I generally take six months to read one book and that too later forget what I learnt. :p

    You have been reading books after books and even implementing the ideas for real.

    Keep going man!
  19. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Great question - I've been dealing with the same dilemma for a while.

    When I last posted I really should have given more of an introduction to Start Where You Are, to give an overview of the philosophical background. It opens by telling us "There is no need for self-improvement." This is based on Buddhist non-dualism: the metaphor of enlightenment is of clouds parting to reveal the sun. The sun was there all along, it was just obscured. We are perfect beings - we just need to change habitual behaviours and ways of seeing the world, and in particular overcome the three poisons of craving, hatred and ignorance.

    Chödrön writes: "People and situations in our life are always triggering our passion, aggression, and ignorance. A good old cup of coffee triggers some people's craving; they are addicted to it; it represents comfort and all the good things in life. If they can't get it, their life is a wreck. Other people have an elaborate story line about why it's bad for you, and they have aversion and a support group. Plenty of other people couldn't care less about a cup of coffee."

    It's these poisons - habitual behaviours - that stop us seeing the world as it really is. We respond by acting out or repressing, "the main ways that we never really connect with our vulnerability, our compassion, our sense of the open, fresh dimension of our being."

    She continues: "When these poisons arise, the instruction is to drop the story line, which means - instead of acting out or repressing - use the situation as an opportunity to feel your heart, to feel the wound. Use it as an opportunity to touch that soft spot. Underneath all that craving or aversion or jealousy or feeling wretched about yourself, underneath all that hopelessness and despair and depression, there's something extremely soft, which is called bodhichitta." (Chödrön previously describes bodhichitta as "our awakened heart" and Wikipedia defines it as the "wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings.")

    So let me take a step back an apply this to my rebooting experience.

    For years I used porn to cope, to hide from the world and repress uncomfortable emotions. It doesn't make me a bad person - this is a moral system with no mortal sin, just unskillful action.

    But as a porn addict I was lost in the poisons of craving, hatred and ignorance. My only options were to act out or repress - masturbating to porn, then feeling terrible about myself the next day and vowing that I'd never do that again. The story line was self-pity all the way - women don't like me, so it's OK to catalog as many of them as possible in stashes on hard drives.

    For years I hated what I was and desperately wanted to stop using porn, but the more I despaired over the present and the more I dreamed of the future, the deeper I fell into the abyss. That comes under the category of "approaching your problem with the very same logic that created it to begin with: you’re not good enough."

    I think the trap is that in desiring to be a happy, well adjusted person you can be opening yourself to one of the three poisons, and maintaining the system of acting out or repressing. Wishing is fantasy, and that's built on seeing your current life as hopeless.

    I started rebooting the time honoured way of white knuckling my way through the magical 90 days, still fantasizing over women, still with low self-esteem. I was trapped between acting out and repression, relapsing and despair. I think repression is just lust that you are able to hide, but it erodes your self-esteem worse than if you'd just acted on the impulse in the first place as you end up feeling week and unworthy.

    Having said all this, you would be right in observing that I did aspire to more. I knew that this negative, miserable man was not me. But wishing for things to change didn't make anything happen. I didn't see progress until I started doing things that changed the story line.

    One day I got smart and asked myself what I was hiding from when I was looking at porn. It lead me to a lengthy process of self-awareness ("an opportunity to feel your heart," as quoted above), during which I began forgiving myself. I found ways to stop hating myself - ignoring my inner voice, and working on self-esteem. After that I just got busy so I'd have less time sitting in front of a computer monitor at night. After a while I just started to feel a tiny bit better about myself. Later on I read The Slight Edge and Power of Habit and got more of an idea of what I was doing, how I fell into all this and why things were starting to look up.

    In short, I reinvented myself - I began seeing myself as more successful. I stopped reacting to everything. . . I started observing, noticing people around me, and their needs. It felt great not to be hiding from the world, worrying about what people were thinking about me. But I think it begins with action rather than intention - or rather, for years I was unable to turn my intentions into progress.

    Yes, I relapsed a couple of weeks ago. I'm still walking this long road. I'm still learning, right now how to use my suffering as the springboard for further self-awareness and self-forgiveness, and to avoid falling into habitual responses (self-pity, sexual fantasy, procrastination and PMO). And, yes, I do aspire to avoid these traps.

    For me, at my stage in rebooting, Start Where You Are tells me that I'm being mistaken when I get fixated on seeing my day count at 365 and posting in the main forum about how great I am for being one-year without porn. That's using my reboot to build my ego and complacency. It's hollow.

    Here's a quote from the last page of the book which talks about relaxing into the process of renewal:

    "We try so hard to hang on to the teachings and 'get it,' but actually the truth sinks in like rain into very hard earth. The rain is very gentle, and we soften up slowly at our own speed. But when that happens, something has fundamentally changed in us. That hard earth has softened. It doesn’t seem to happen by trying to get it or capture it. It happens by letting go; it happens by relaxing your mind, and it happens by the aspiration and the longing to want to communicate with yourself and others. Each of us finds our own way."

    PS - sorry for going all War and Peace on you.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
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  20. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Funny you should say that - I just attempted to renew it, but it didn't go through because someone else had requested it.

    So if you are in the Vancouver, BC area I'm going to freak out!

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