Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Wabi-sabi, Jan 1, 2014.
Great stuff, great stuff. Thanks for sharing Wabi.
Amazing ideas! Since you have triggered me with these Pema Chodron quotes, I will have to read the book now
Somewhere in those lines I read about how thoughts and emotions are not 'us' and we are just humans fallen into habitual patterns. I came across a very interesting anecdote from an Indian Guru. He says that your body, your thoughts, your brain and your emotions are not you and once you keep them aside together in a heap, you will find who you are.
Negative thoughts and emotions are like a traffic jam, when you are in it you get frustrated and angry but when you distance yourself from it and watch it from say a hot air balloon in the sky, the traffic doesn't bother you anymore and you feel peaceful.
("how to make stress your friend")
("urge surfing- a mindful approach to overcoming addictive behaviours")
Once again, Kira, you’ve explained very succinctly what I was stumbling towards.
My problem is that I feared the world – because I can’t control it – so I habitually hid in fantasies of power, including porn, which just brought me down by making reality seem worse. The way out of this is to learn not to get trapped in my own emotions. Once I can truly observe them coming and going, I will accept that the world is likewise full of phenomena that arises and disappears, and enjoy it all for what it is.
Like the guru observed, my body, thoughts, brain and emotions are changing all the time so there really is nothing to grab hold of – I exist only in the present moment and every emotion lasts scant seconds; the man in my memories is not me, and the future is just a fantasy.
The trick, of course, is not to repress emotions, and not to label things. I've got a way to go yet, but I'm being triggered less by emotions, and consequently spend less time dwelling in negative places. I'm learning to let go of suffering and move on. I no longer fear suffering; that’s what fasting, running and cold showers have taught me. I'm also finding that the idea of constant change works both ways: suffering is fleeting, so long as we decide to let it go.
A colleague at work this morning was ranting about her ex-husband, how he was getting a bunch of sympathy from family over his recent health scare. . . actually jealous of his bad heart! I tried to convince her to let it go, to ditch her hard luck stories that have become self-fulfilling, but she was stuck in the emotion and didn't hear a word. Her misery is a constant she holds onto because she’s frightened of the world.
Meanwhile, I’m learning to see the world as sacred – “precious, rare, fleeting, fundamentally genuine and good" – and everything in it as a lesson.
On Sunday morning I got lost in the woods, in a snowstorm. I was trying to cut between two trails, but couldn't see either because of the snow - it's real easy to follow the bare earth around trees because that's what you are programmed to see as trail, whereas the actual trail is covered by snow. There were trees down and streams/swampy areas that caused me to take such a round-about route that I came across my own footprints at one point. Right then I did that thing people do when they realize they are lost – I started to run. I immediately realized this was the worst thing I could do, and was able to put into practice some great survival advice: don’t just do something, sit there! In other words, stop and think, don’t run blindly into more trouble. I worked out where I needed to be, and set off, patiently making my way through the brush. I started to enjoy it, the aliveness I felt being lost, cold and wet. I was also grateful for the chance to put things I read about survival into practice, albeit in a small way.
Another lesson came the next day. I went for a run Monday evening, and when I got home I took a cold shower and sat to meditate for 30-40 minutes. Problem was my children came into the room to interrupt me: whispering in my ears, poking me. . . It was just teenagers showing they have power over adults. I yelled at both of them to fuck off, which set my wife off. But by the time she was nagging me my anger had gone – which meant I didn't escalate the situation.
I learned about anger being fleeting - the 90-second rule - but also how it's caused by trying to deny change and putting labels on things. So don't get so attached to the idea of meditating – I should enjoy it when it works, let it go when it doesn't. It's futile to put labels like success or failure onto meditation. Interruptions become part of the meditation; meditation (mindfulness) becomes part of life.
Life is better without labels - there's nothing to fear, nothing to cling on to.
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.
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.
Thanks again for your great posts, Wabi.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Rejection is tough. But, you're strong and this will be a blip for you. So many great things going on in your life.
Great to see you doin' well, despite the blip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I've requested that book from my own local library. Thanks, Wabi.
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