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Topics - Phineas 808

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1
Success Stories / 60 Days In!
« on: January 05, 2021, 12:06:30 PM »
Day 60!

This is 50% or 1/2 way toward my overall goal of 120 days.

This is also 1 month and 30 days into this recovery effort.

These 60 days are without P, PMO, MO, and 99% without P-Subs or edging.

Also, this is without support groups (like AA, SA, SSA, other than RN), twelve steps, accountability partners, porn-blockers, or other disempowering methods (...if these help you, I'm not knocking them, but they should be only training wheels toward your [actual] recovery).

So, halfway from my goal, how do I feel? Really good, and very optimistic for the future. I know I could, even now, turn heels and fall headlong into porn, and other related habits, but I don't want to.

I have no desire to go back to porn, and if I see a scene on T.V. that's suggestive, or an ad on FB or elsewhere, there's a natural attraction maybe, but there's also an aversion, like, I don't want to tarnish, soil, or compromise my recovery efforts this time... The couple of times, so far, that p-subs (strangely) became an obsession were only episodic moments with no judgment, as they were ultimately dismissed, even if momentarily acted on.

Neural Chemicals and Habit change:

One thing I wanted to mention last 'goal-post' was that I passed what are neural chemical levels acquired during porn use:

DeltaFos B: 6-8 weeks (42-56 days, or between 1 month, 2 weeks to 2 months).

Hypofrontality: 8 weeks (56 days, or close to 2 months).

Having hit 60 days, I've surpassed these limitations concerning neural chemicals. I honestly don't think I was so addicted that I had hypofrontality (slowed blood flow to the prefrontal cortex), but who knows? For certain, if DeltaFos B was acquired, and I'm sure it was (it locks in our memory of porn use), that has subsided. And I feel that, too, meaning that the memories of porn use, while there, seem to no longer have strong feelings attached to them for me.

I'm confident and feel good about my overall approach, which is mostly not spent thinking about it. And while sometimes ambivalence toward p-use exists (between lower and higher brain, or between flesh and spirit), this is becoming less and less, and I'm excited to leave these habits behind as last year's news, and in the rearview mirror of my life.

Let's walk this freedom out together.

2
Porn Addiction / Are We Escaping or Just Avoiding PMO?
« on: December 10, 2020, 11:53:50 AM »
What’s the difference between escape and avoidance?

I call my journal, How Shall We Escape? It's a reference to the patriarch Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s sexually aggressive wife. It also refers to the biblical injunctions to ‘flee’ sexual temptation.

(references: Gen 39:7-12; 1Cor 6:18; 10:14; 2Tim 2:22; 1Jn 5:21)

Yet, in behavioral addiction such as PMO, MO, etc, there is such a thing as avoidance itself being bad, or harmful. Avoiding triggers and cues actually strengthens your urges, keeping addictions or habits alive. This is also seen in OCD and other anxiety disorders.

If we put ourselves in certain situations that cater to the addiction, our resolve weakens, and we give in.

But in the lower animal-brain there is fight or flight, which if we respond to, we perpetuate our addiction.

So what is the difference between the two concepts? Fleeing temptation as in escaping versus the ‘fight or flight’ response to addiction?

Fleeing as the Bible teaches, is toward an immediate escape from sexual sin. It’s what we want to do toward our addiction to P/MO.

But there are also warnings toward legalism, ...touch not, taste not, handle not (Col 2:20-23). Avoidance toward these actually strengthens our desire toward the forbidden or illicit behavior (Rom 7:18-25).

And the flight of avoidance seems like it wants the same goal of “recovery”, but it's only a reaction toward the urges.

Again, to flee or escape from addiction itself is from our higher brain (the prefrontal cortex). So our planning out situations, changing habits, is about actual change.

Whereas avoidance, fight-or-flight, is from the lower brain. And so avoiding triggers and cues are in response to urges, and so only perpetuate the addiction.

The bottom line? It’s a choice between:

1. Fleeing bad habits because it’s rational and common sense in ending our addiction. We control our environment ahead of time, and not in response to urges.

2. Or, avoiding triggers, gives external things and situations power over us, thus strengthening our addiction.

The first is running in a straight line away from addiction. The second is running in circles around the addiction.

3
Porn Addiction / The Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO
« on: December 04, 2020, 04:37:40 PM »
This post is adapted from the book, Brain Over Binge Basics, by Kathryn Hansen.

While this book deals with binge-eating, it has crossover applicability toward PMO. I've applied this simple approach toward my own porn and sex addictions for years with the best results. My hope is that you will too!

Herein, P/MO = Porn and/or Masturbation Orgasm. While this post is copied from her book, I replaced binge or binge eating with P/MO as applies to our goals. I've also redacted or edited out unnecessary portions. Her book is linked on page 1 of My Journal

The Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO

Component 1: View Urges to P/MO as Neurological Junk

The most important thing to remember while learning the Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO is that the urges are not you.

The voice that encourages P/MO sounds very much like your own voice, but it is not. The urges arise automatically from a more primitive, animalistic part of your brain (which I refer to as the lower brain).

The urges are a product of survival instincts and/or habit and do not indicate what you truly want or need.

Your urges are only faulty brain messages.

You cannot make these urges go away; you only need to learn to experience them differently so you can stop acting on them. Then they will go away on their own.

In this component you’ll start to see that any thought, feeling, or sensation that encourages P/MO is neurological junk.

The goal is to see that these thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations are temporary, faulty messages that are out of line with your true self.

You may find yourself believing the faulty messages when you are in the midst of an urge, but when you are not experiencing an urge, you realize that those messages do not indicate your true wants and needs.
 
Between P/MO urges, your rational self can see that the urges aren’t truly valid. Knowing this makes you feel less compelled to take them seriously when they arise. You don’t need to argue or fight with them, just relax in knowing that they are automatic and not deep and meaningful.

Component 2: Separate the Higher Brain from Urges to P/MO

You know your urges are neurological junk from the lower brain (a result of habit). Now you need to know and feel that you—your true self—is completely separate from your urges and fully capable of dismissing them. This is what you will focus on in this component.

Although part of you wants to hold on to your habit, you know that you want more for your life. There is a greater part of you that wants to quit.

What you may experience as mixed feelings about recovery are the result of the two brains that are at work in P/MO: your lower brain and your higher brain.

You’ve already learned that the part of you that produces the P/MO urges is the lower brain. Now we’ll be focusing on the higher brain, which is the part of you that is actually you. It’s the part of you that has long term goals inconsistent with P/MO and the part of you that wants to recover.

Your higher brain (which can also be called your human brain, and more specifically, your prefrontal cortex) gives you the power to dismiss the urges, provided you separate yourself from your lower brain’s faulty messages.

The difference between the higher and lower brain is an important reason why traditional treatment approaches (which focus on the deep emotional or psychological meaning of the urges) often fail.

Spending time analyzing what is wrong with you in therapy is ineffective when it comes to P/MO because the urges don’t come from you at all!

Everyone has flaws and problems. You had problems before you began P/MO and you’ll have problems after you quit.
Remind yourself daily not to connect the above problems to your addiction/habit.

Instead of focusing on your problems and less-than-ideal qualities, it’s more helpful to focus on your inner strengths that you can use to your advantage while recovering.

Once you separate from the urges, you gain the ability to dismiss them. This is because you—residing in your higher brain—can veto any urge from the primitive brain, and only you have control of your voluntary muscles. The lower brain cannot make you walk to the [computer and look up porn].

The higher brain gives you identity, reason, and most importantly for P/MO recovery—your self-control functions. All the lower brain can do is encourage you to P/MO, and send the signals of craving, but you always can decide what to do when you experience the urges.

If you think about your life now, there are times when you use self-control very effectively. There are also certain things you would never consider doing, because of a strong moral conviction or simply because the actions would be absurd or too dangerous. These actions are simply not an option in your mind.

When the action is not an option for you, it’s effortless to resist. The more you can move P/MO into the category of behaviors you would never dream of performing, the easier it will be to feel separate from the urges.

The resistance you feel when you view P/MO as not an option is from your lower brain. When you feel this resistance, try telling yourself this:

My lower brain wants to hold on to the habit, but P/MO is not an option for me. I always feel bad afterward, and I do not want to do things that make me feel bad.

Know that, if it weren’t for the urges, you would naturally view P/MO in the same way that you view...absurd or dangerous activities...

Your urges are only temporarily convincing you that you want to P/MO, but you naturally view this as not an option.
Now you know you don’t have to identify with your urges anymore. You are separate and capable of choosing another path.

Component 3: Stop Reacting to Urges to P/MO

The goal of this Component is to minimize and often eliminate the uncomfortable feelings that the urges create, because those feelings can be what leads you to give in to the urges.

Often, you may P/MO just to make those uncomfortable feelings go away. Without those feelings (or by reframing how you think about those feelings), you will be better able to let the urges come and go without giving them attention.

The uncomfortable feelings you experience are often due to your reaction to the urges.

Some of your reactions are automatic and come without your conscious input, but some reactions are of your own creation.
 
(*Once it’s there it doesn’t matter why it came in the first place. Furthermore, finding a hypothetical reason for the urge often equals finding an excuse to give in.)

To stop reacting to urges, it’s helpful to use detachment.

Detachment is when you (the real you in your higher brain) aren’t involved in what you are experiencing. Even though the internal and external factors are still there, you are no longer personally invested.

Detachment is when you simply let the urge be without fueling it with your mental and physical energy.

If you look at how you go about your day, you’ll find that you naturally stay mentally and emotionally detached from certain things/people/places/situations that don’t matter to you. Otherwise the world would be too overwhelming and distracting. You have to filter out what’s NOT important to you.

It’s possible to do this with P/MO urges as well, because the urges truly don’t matter to you. They are just neurons firing in lower brain and there is no reason to become emotional about them.

Don’t offer any counterarguments to the thought [or urges]. Don’t engage in any mental dialogue with it (if other thoughts come up automatically, that’s fine—simply observe them)

Notice that when you don’t react, no strong or uncomfortable feelings surface.
 
Just because you hear something in your head, or feel a physical sensation in your body, it doesn’t mean you have to let it affect you.

Component 4: Stop Acting on Urges to P/MO

This step is the cure for P/MO. You have a P/MO habit because you’ve acted on urges many times. The only way to reverse the habit is to stop acting on those urges. In this way, recovery is vastly simplified.

Repeatedly following your urges to P/MO has created strong, organized neural pathways in your lower brain that support your behavior. The only way to weaken those neural pathways is to stop following the urges.

When you stop P/MO, the neural connections that supported the destructive behavior will fade, and the urges will go away. Each time you don’t act on an urge, you are actually utilizing neuroplasticity to rewire your brain.

To avoid acting on the urges there is nothing you have to do. When the urges arise, your only goal is to remain detached and not act on them; but you can do anything you’d like during the urge. For example, you can just go about your day as usual, pick an activity you enjoy until the urge passes, or just sit quietly in a comfortable spot and observe your brain.

If there are times that you do act on urges, don’t dwell on that. Come back to the page above and read about how you succeeded in the past, so you can move forward with renewed focus on what works.

When you change your perspective surrounding the experience of the urges, dismissing them may be easy for you. You may have instant success that snowballs quickly into complete recovery.

Alternately, it may prove to be uncomfortable at first and take some time before you can consistently not act on urges.

The discomfort of an unsatisfied P/MO urge goes away relatively quickly, but the post-P/MO discomfort lingers and grows and affects all parts of your life. It’s important to recognize that you do have a choice, but for the vast majority of people, P/MO causes much more discomfort than any unmet cravings.

Remember that discomfort is part of most beneficial changes in life; it only signals that you are growing into the person you want to be. Furthermore…

The discomfort you feel when not acting on an urge isn’t actually your discomfort; it’s the lower brain’s.

When you feel uncomfortable not acting on an urge, remind yourself of this:

The lower brain prefers comfort (it’s a normal survival mechanism), but its comfort (P/MO) causes you much more discomfort and pain that you aren’t willing to live with anymore. You are actually much more comfortable dismissing urges.

Component 5: Get Excited (About Resisting P/MO Urges and Recovery Itself)

Component 5 is a bonus, and for most people, it’s a very natural product of Components 1-4. When you don’t act on P/MO urges, you are excited!

This excitement isn’t just about feeling good; it actually has a useful neurological function. It speeds along brain changes that erase your P/MO habit.

Praise (including praise from within), and excitement for learning something new cements that learning on a physical level in the brain. In other words…

Celebrating a new discovery or skill increases the likelihood that it will be remembered and repeated.

Congratulating yourself serves to strengthen connections in the prefrontal parts of your brain and weaken the pathways in the lower brain that supported your habit.

As you have more and more success dismissing P/MO urges, you’ll notice other things in your life that are worth celebrating as well.

Without P/MO, you have the wonderful opportunity to do other things. Although doing other things won’t magically take your urges away, focusing attention elsewhere can actually help the faulty brain pathways change faster.

So try to get on with your life and put your attention on things other than pornography or masturbation.

Of course your life won’t be perfect, and you’ll have problems just like everyone else in the world, but turning your mental energy away from P/MO, as well as being excited about the positive effects of being P/MO-free, will help weaken the habit.

4
Porn Addiction / Triggers or Cues?
« on: November 18, 2020, 11:55:29 AM »
I've been watching Dexter a lot lately, and there are scenes in there which occasionally show nudity or compromising situations.

This is a good opportunity for me to exercise control, and look away, or go do something else while that scene plays out.

This is my approach, to take a cue- not on purpose, but as happens in our daily life, and use it to control..., or better, to not respond to it. That's when real habit change occurs.

This is our power. How we react to cues:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

― Viktor E. Frankl

This is the difference between 'triggers' and 'cues'. The concept of triggers is that it takes away your power, and sets off a series of events that end up with using or performing whatever addictive substance or behavior. Cues are different, because they acknowledge that, 'Yes' things cause a reaction in us, stimulate us to use or behave according to our addiction. But the difference is that we still have control, we always have control over whatever our cues are.

I challenge any here to think about their stimuli differently, that 'No'- you're not triggered that you must now use. Rather, you were 'cued' by something, but you always have the power to say, 'No', and act differently than you did before.

5
Ages 40 and up / How Shall We Escape?
« on: November 17, 2020, 03:56:32 PM »
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation...?" - Hebrews 2:3a.

This text has much significance to me. The patriarch Joseph fled and escaped from Potiphar's wife, who was sexually aggressive. Potiphar's wife represents pornography and the porn industry. Joseph represents our ability to flee and escape PMO.

(Gen 39:7-12; 1Cor 6:18; 10:14; 2Tim 2:22; 1Jn 5:21).

My Story

I am a man in his early 50's. I am finding freedom and victory over sexually addictive behaviors. Though the fight is decades old, I have found what works and what doesn't work for me.

I grew up in a loveless home, where emotional and sometimes physical abuse occurred. As a child, I found pornography on the playground in the 4th or 5th grade, and took it home as a keepsake. My neighborhood friend also had a stash.

I ran away from home at age 13, kicked out at 16, and grew up on the streets. I was the victim of trauma as a runaway, which commpacted shame based thinking.

I became a Christian at age 18, but struggled with masturbation for years. I was in a legalistic and spiritually abusive church for 9 years. I found freedom for a limited time (1990-91).

When I began to date my wife, shame based behaviors resurfaced and escalated. These struggles included pornography and masturbation. Getting married didn't end the struggle, as I created a double-life. I also had an obsession with prostitutes (ended in 1994) and going to video porn stores (ended 2003). As my struggles morphed, I became more secretive with T.V., home computer, and later the iPhone.

While trying different things to quit, I learned more about my addiction. I had different degrees of success, though often shame would drag me back down. My legalistic mindset led to a lot of white-knuckling approaches.

I embraced the radical grace of God in 2013, and it began to undo my shame, a major driver of the addiction.

I also joined Reboot Nation under a different name (2014-16), and accomplished long streaks without pmo or m/o. I deleted my RN account, having hit my goals. I also didn't want to identify with these behaviors any longer.

I had hit 116 days without porn at least two different times. I even hit over 300 days, close to a year (March 2019 - March 2020) without going to porn sites!

But then the pandemic happened! I retired from a 22 year career (ending a friendship) at the same time. Needless to say, I turned back to old habits of pmo 1-2x a week. This was due to unhealthy habits with social media: Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Since June of 2020 I've been counting days again, at least until I can break this habit. First, my best didn't go past 24 days (July 2020), and I would average 8 days more or less without looking at porn.

I finally dealt with my social media use, and the relationship with my iPhone in general. This has so far given me 34 days free! This latest streak was significant, because I'm no longer using p-subs with social media, or edging! I'm yielding a more 'honest-reboot', a true and clean abstinence, one I can feel good about.

My Purpose in this Forum

First to help myself. This journal will help me to stay accountable to myself, and to focus on my current goals to end this habit. After reaching my goal of 120 days, I'll just live my life with new and better habits, without P, M/O. 

Second, to help others with what's working for me. I plan to post often, and help out on other's journals and topics.

All are welcome to my journal! No matter your beliefs or non-beliefs, I just hope to help you in your own struggles.

My Approach

All my successes have been without porn filters or blockers, and accountability partners. We can also break this habit without first trying to heal the past, though our head will be a lot clearer to do that once we're free. 

My approach does not embrace the disease model of addiction or 12-Step programs. But if this helps you, I won't knock it! We can help each other, despite our differences in approach.

First- My approach is spiritual using various disciplines. This will include prayer, reading Scripture, etc... But I have learned the hard way not to be legalistic with yourself, as that only strengthens the habit.

I've found the most victory and success under grace, radical grace. This is to believe that, no matter what, you're forgiven of all your sins: past, present and future. And that you're loved and saved, even before you were born.

Second- I use mindfulness. It's about being in the present moment. Instead of fighting urges head on, I use awareness, focusing on the breath. Simply watch the urges go on by. We repeat this for every wave of urges that come.

Third- I use the science of habit-change. We may retrain the brain (neuroplasticity) away from these learned habits. This is more empowering to me than the disease model of addiction. We have the means of change in our hands, as we take back power from unwanted behaviors or pornography.

My Plan Executed

My plan is to abstain from acting out to P/MO for 120 days. Afterward, I'll have retrained myself toward different behaviors and habits for life's circumstances. More important, how to not react to old cues or stimuli that used to fuel the habit.

Why this number? 120 is very spiritual (Gen 6:3; Acts 1:15; 2:1-4).

Also, it takes 90 days to promote habit change, and deal with the neural chemicals released during P/MO:

DeltaFos B: 6-8 weeks (42-56 days, or between 1 month, 2 weeks to 2 months).

Hypofrontality: 8 weeks (56 days, or close to 2 months).

120 days = 15 x 8 (counting from 11/6/20, with completion dates):



1. 8 days: 11/14/20.

2. 16 days: 11/22/20.

3. 24 days: 11/30/20.

4. 32 days: 12/8/20.



5. 40 days: 12/16/20.

6. 48 days: 12/24/20.

7. 56 days: 1/1/21.

8. 64 days: 1/9/21.



9. 72 days:

10. 80 days:

11. 88 days:

12. 96 days:



13. 104 days:

14. 112 days:

15. 120 days:

Blessings.

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