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Brian

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  1. Brian

    It's time.

    Day 1: Steam confirmed that my account is frozen and will be permanently deleted in 30 days. I feel a lot of acceptance with this... a lot less squirrely than last time. Denial kicked in hard and fast last time. I also feel sad - video games have been a part of my life since I was a teenager (I'm in my 30's now). This sounds dramatic when I write it and I think it has merit: I am burying a part of myself; a friend who has provided me with a lot of fun times, a coping mechanism. I hung out with this friend too much, to the detriment of other parts of myself that I want to cultivate and other relationships in my life. The brief overview of the last couple of months: I completed my first 90 day detox at the end of March. I introduced video games again with a strict behavioral contract. I stuck to that contract for about two weeks. I felt a lot of internal dissonance about the contract - I was feeling the pressure of wanting to play and also the restrictions I set out for myself. I abandoned the contract. I started to play more than my pre-determined limit (2 hours per day maximum). I had been tracking my gaming hours with my phone - that was eventually abandoned. I told myself I wouldn't play first thing in the morning - that was abandoned. I eventually played all day. I still went to work, I still left the house and spent time with family and friends. Everything else was falling behind in importance - 'The Brian Project,' reading, studying, house projects, creative pursuits... My preoccupation with gaming returned: thinking about the game when I wasn't playing it. I lost control. It is funny how quickly my conviction to quit kindled. I played off-and-on for a couple of hours yesterday. I took a shower in the early afternoon. As I looked into the bathroom mirror, it just clicked. "You need to give them up. This isn't the life you want to live. There are other ways to have fun. You'll be OK. It might hurt but you'll live." Time to grow up. For real this time. To do: 1) Add gaming websites to my web blocker. Reset the password to the blocker. 2) Wipe my laptop and post it for sale. 3) Post again this weekend detailing the events of the last two months. 4) Hold a ceremony this weekend, bury my 'friend.'
  2. Brian

    It's time.

    Day 0: I'm back. I just requested that my Steam account be deleted. Deleted gaming bookmarks. Reset YouTube and unsubscribed from gaming channels. To do: 1) Add gaming websites to my web blocker. Reset the password to the blocker. 2) Wipe my laptop and post it for sale. 3) Post again this weekend detailing the events of the last two months. Additional steps and suggestions welcome. Currently listening to 'The Cave' by Orphaned Land. In the dark I liveWithout any freedom in lifeThose darkened shadows do not deceiveThey are all I see and knowThis cave is all I breatheIn chains 'til the day that you dieThis crimson fire burns at my backLike waves of nothing it flowsOne can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the darkBut one cannot forgive a man who is afraid of the lightGods. Blind. Death. Chains. Dark. Bravery.War versus peaceIgnorance versus strengthFreedom versus slavery
  3. Experiment Trial 3, Day 2: Howdy folks. It's been a little over two weeks since my last post. A lot has happened since then: I started playing video games again after my 90 day detox. This was planned - I wanted to find out what it felt like to play again and if it was possible to sustain other pursuits while playing. When I play I am averaging about 90 minutes per day. I called off 'Experiment 2' which was guided by the contract posted above. The contract and pressure I felt was too much and I realized that I was doing this to myself - driving myself insane. I talked about this with my wife and my therapist and they both agreed that I created something with good intentions but poor execution/foresight. I have been diving deeper into 'The Art of Manliness': reading a lot about their perspective on what it means to be a man in this age of the world, about Stoicism, and listening to podcasts regularly. This is really good stuff and resonates with me deeply. I feel at a loss when it comes to men in my life who role model healthy masculinity. 'Toxic masculinity' is a buzzword in today's world and I am convinced that the answer is not a full shift to the feminine. I feel a firm conviction that the world needs men who are powerful yet know how to channel that power in a manner that builds relationships and creates a better world. I think about Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia (see below). I am about to finish book 8 of the Wheel of Time: Path of Daggers. I'm really enjoying this series. The immaturity of the characters bothers me from time to time, but the struggle between masculine and feminine really resonates with my last bullet point. I have also been working on reading faster... My wife is an avid reader and can finish a 300 page book in one sitting. I have been taking a page out of her book (see what I did there?!) and skimming until the plot gets juicy. Physical exercise has been one of my anchors during the last four months. I'm still struggling to get to 5x/week consistently (my work schedule makes this difficult). It feels good to be sore and the mental challenge of CrossFit is a phenomenal struggle. Mindfulness meditation has been my other anchor. This one has been easier to get more consistent with: I'm averaging 4-5x/week for at least 20 minutes/day. The discovered the acronym 'RAIN' which has been helpful to ride through cravings and urges rather than act on them: Recognition Acceptance Investigation Non-identification The basic premise is that you recognize a feeling, accept that you're feeling it, analyze it and feel it fully, then remind yourself that 'this isn't me' in the sense that it isn't all-encompassing. It's like a rat in a lab that has learned that by pressing a lever it gets a hit of cocaine: by using RAIN, the little lab rat in your brain presses the lever but nothing happens. Eventually the cue/stimulus extinguishes and loses strength. Work: The Passion Paradox is a book I haven't bought yet, however the authors were on the AoM podcast and a few things really clicked for me related to work: I have been working more for external drives than internal drives over the past six months which has been leading to resentment and burnout. I have been journaling about this regularly to shift the percentage back in favor of internal drives which lead to greater fulfillment and sustainability. Three elements of any passion are 1) Autonomy 2) Mastery 3) A supportive community. This helps explain why work was such a struggle during the hard times within the company in the past six months. Autonomy and community were called into question which left me feeling fearful. Finances: My wife and I are digging ourselves out of debt after a natural disaster last summer. I feel a lot of fear related to our debt burden - it feels like a guillotine hanging over our heads. This financial fear has been the source of a lot of external motivation and resentment related to work - I believe I am underpaid, that my company has the ability to pay me more, and I feel stuck. We are tracking our finances differently than we ever have in an attempt to get to work on getting out of debt. Vacation: My wife and I went on two vacations in the past three weeks. I feel grateful for this time away from work to connect with her, her family, and cool places out of town. All of this brings me to 'Trial 3:' PMO Yesterday was Day 1 of a 90 day detox from PMO. I have engaged in this from time to time over the last several months and it's time to focus on it exclusively. My short-term plan (to be fleshed out as the detox progresses): Firm up my website blockers. Close loopholes that I can easily exploit. (Make it harder to access, put more barriers in place.) Practice RAIN when urges and cravings come up. Change my environment (get into a public place) when cravings are strong. No phone in the bathroom. Talk with my wife about my urges/desires to be intimate with her. That's all for now. I feel relieved to be active in this community again. Getting started with writing about this stuff is hard, but I'm almost always glad that I did it after it's done.
  4. Thanks for commenting, @AssellusPrimus. I really appreciate the encouragement, the disclosure, and the challenge. Experiment 2, Day 2: Contract is in effect, signed, and posted. I played for less than two hours both today and yesterday, both times with a timer running next to me to hold me accountable. The temptation to play more is there, as well as a familiar voice that chides me to throw away the contract. My addict voice. I'm aware of this and am tracking it, which I count as a win in itself. Shifting my space/moving my body has been a great way to shift my mindset. I also want to increase my mindfulness meditation practice again - from 20 minutes to 30 minutes 5x/week. I'll be honest: I was hesitant to post about the next phase of this 'experiment' here. I'm concerned that anything less than total abstinence won't be accepted by the community. I'm concerned that my attempts to 'moderate' will inspire others to do the same, which will set a poor precedent. I'm concerned that I'll fail and will be received with "told ya so." I'm concerned that I really am selling myself short and am not 'living up to my potential' now that I'm playing video games again. I'm concerned that I'm not 'doing the right thing' or made the 'wrong' choice. I could go on. So there's that. A lot has been on my mind over these last couple of days. A lot of future-oriented, anxious thoughts. Self-acceptance, self-compassion, self-love are in short supply right now. I was chatting about this with my therapist last week... A big realization I came to is that no one is grading me... aside from myself. I think a pattern I'm discovering is how important social acceptance is to me: I live in a very active community and I hide the fact that I enjoy playing video games from others in the community. I'm embarrassed and ashamed by it. External validation feels really important to me right now - more than I want it to be. I want to be OK with myself. Time to do some shame cycle work. I'll post about this in the other thread tomorrow and will add to it throughout the week/weekend.
  5. Starting a new thread with this project as the centerpiece. I'll be adding to it, and amending it, as life unfolds.
  6. THE BRIAN PROJECT Version 1.03 (first version, 3rd draft) This is one of those projects that will never be completed. It will always be a work in progress. It is informed by life events and edited as life works on me. My core purpose: To live a meaningful life and help others do the same. Beliefs that inform this purpose: Life events are going to happen whether I invite them or not. How I prepare myself for them and respond to them is everything. The primary thing I can control is my mindset and interpretation of life events. Doing hard things stretches me. What was once uncomfortable becomes more bearable through trial and effort. At a minimum, this is the 'silver lining' or optimism I can find when in the midst of trials. It's how I can find meaning in struggle. It's how I can come back to feeling gratitude despite overwhelming circumstances. Self-care and wellness is restorative and necessary to reflect on life events. These are the 'air pockets' between pushes. Like 'rest days' are important when weightlifting so that the body can recover, slowness and stillness are the mental 'rest days' that allow for reflection and meaning-making. I am an instrument for the work of others. Through how I carry myself and relate with others, they are impacted. I think about this like a human hand: I can extend a hand to others, make a fist, create, carry, destroy, connect... Regardless of the form, I want to be aware of how I can impact others. My core values: Relationship Connection, friendship, intimacy, quality time, gratitude, love, trust, appreciating the fragility and value of relationship, focus when in relationship. Learning Self-discovery, curiosity, inquiry, wisdom, reflection, meaning. Growth through challenges Courage, bravery, adventure, getting outside, natural beauty, feeling alive and embodied. Skill development Achievement, progress, competence, experience, mastery, passion, recognition of effort. Health Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, professional, relational/social. (Name undecided... Maybe 'cohesive teamwork,' 'vision-oriented effort,' 'system oriented teamwork...' I don't like any of these yet. Teamwork, respect, accountability, trustworthiness, responsibility, loyal opposition, justice, strategy, vision. Guiding philosophy: Stoicism Central concern/question: What must one do, or be, to flourish? The goal: To live a fulfilled life with joy and tranquility. 5 Stoic Practices (drawn from 'The Art of Manliness' podcast and website): Visualize life without the things I love. Intention: to more appreciate my blessings, to feel gratitude for the things I do have. "Flickering thoughts" - don't dwell on this. Memento Mori - Remember Death. Intention: I will not live forever. Simply reminding myself of this helps me spend my time because it is a valuable and limited resource. How will I spend my time to live a fulfilled life? Set internal goals and detach from outcomes. Intention: To recognize what I can, and cannot, control and spend my energy on what I can. Set goals related to my own efforts, NOT results I am seeking. Welcome discomfort. Intention: To reach greater degrees of contentment and fulfillment through welcoming challenges. Embrace the grind: give it my all despite likely failure. Amor Fati: Love of fate. Not simply to become fatalistic, but to accept life on life's terms. Vigorously pursue character and virtue: Intention: Finding personal fulfillment AND enriching my community and society as a whole. What would my best self do in this situation? Habits and Skills I wish to cultivate: Emphasize physical health: Exercise at least 5x/week Track my nutrition at least 5x/week Dance A love of the outdoors: Exploring new places Walk/hike or snowshoe Sail Bike Ski: downhill or cross-country Climb Actively pursue knowledge: Reading at least 2 minutes every day for personal or professional growth Podcasts Listening to differing opinions Creative pursuits (one of the following at least 1x/week): Drumming Wood carving Poetry Recording dreams Working on my home Sketching/drawing Listen to music; read lyrics Emphasize mental/emotional health: Meditate for 20 minutes at least 5x/week Write in my journal daily OR post on this forum Reading at least 2 minutes every day for fun Connection with my spouse at least 2x/week via vulnerable conversation, physical touch, or laughter Connection with/training my dog at least 2x/week Connection with family members at least 1x/week via phone, video, or in-person Emphasize spiritual health: Start and end each day with gratitude: right after meditating in the morning and right before bed Pray; remember I am an instrument NOT the player Ask for help Amend 'The Brian Project' at least 1x/week Emphasize professional health: Be boundaried with myself: not allowed to check emails on the weekends unless absolutely necessary Practice loyal opposition Give and receive positive and constructive feedback Engage in continuing education and professional development opportunities Emphasize financial health: Budget (this one needs a lot of work) Dream and set goals financially; develop action plan to achieve these
  7. @fawn_xoxo Thanks for challenging me. Now that I've gone 90 days without them, I want to know if I can play video games "in moderation." I want to know if I really can't control my use when it comes to gaming. I might be able to, or I might not. I want to find out, definitively. Fortunately my negative consequences of gaming weren't high risk before this detox. I say this in a risk management context: the risk of an experiment like this one for an alcoholic could result it jails, institutions, or death. My worst-case scenario is that I play for more time than I want to each day and start to neglect my other habits and relationships. Quality of life diminishes. The intention of the contract I posted is to catch myself when/if I start to slide and arrest my behavior. Day 90 y'all. Today just feels like another day. I don't feel this big sense of accomplishment that I probably would have predicted in my first week. I feel content, which is pretty awesome considering how discontent I felt at the beginning of this thing. (I re-read my first posts in this journal.) Thank you to everyone who has posted/commented on this journal - the encouragement and challenges were invaluable. Having not tried to make a big behavioral change like this before, I undervalued the strength of a supportive community. I get it now that I've experienced it firsthand! Onwards to the next adventure.
  8. I really enjoy following your posts! I appreciate you sharing your insight, struggles, and successes! Keep it up, friend.
  9. Thanks @cammyhammy! My plan is outlined in the drafted 'contract' from Day 81. I am going to try to limit my video game use to two hours per day and leverage my desire to play against other habits/skills/pastimes. There are steep penalties if my video game use goes beyond two hours per day or if the other habits/skills/pastimes aren't fulfilled. I'll post about my progress here under a separate thread. This plan may fail, and if it does then I know I need to completely abstain from gaming because I can't handle it. Thanks for your comments about Jordan Peterson and living a meaningful life. That's how I'm currently defining my core purpose: To live a meaningful life and help others do the same. Jordan Peterson has been on my list of people to look up... I'll get on that later this weekend. Day 89 journal: I can't understate how effective physical exercise is for stabilizing my mental/emotional health. I just went for a jog/run with my dog and I feel physically relaxed and my mind seems de-cluttered. I listened to the following podcast from 'Art of Manliness:' https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/podcast-491-everything-you-know-about-passion-is-wrong/ This stirred up a lot for me, especially related to work. I love the work I do, I feel passionate about it, and I know it helps people. It also taxes me, drains me, and I give away a lot of my energy in doing it. This, I believe, aligns with what they discuss about passion on the show: It has a double-edge. My plan going forward is to continue carving out time for short practices I can do at work that restore me: reading, walking alone, meditating, other introverted activities. I also plan on continuing to be boundaried, to say 'no,' and to demonstrate "loyal opposition." I will be mindful of my values and time being out of balance and will act to correct this. Lastly, regular vacations are necessary and I'm happy to say that I'm on PTO next week! I have cleared my work schedule and will not check work email until next Friday. Have a good one.
  10. This weekend: Today: Training at work (not happy about this, but I accept it) Tomorrow: Playing board games with friends tomorrow night! The daytime hours are full of possibilities... Skiing perhaps? Sunday: Nothing on the calendar yet. So many possibilities!! I'll probably start building the structure of our kitchen pantry.
  11. Day 88 journal: 88 days, damn. I have been reflecting on what this 90 day experiment has been about as I near the end. This is what I have concluded so far: I was controlled by compulsive behaviors before the detox. Video games and PMO were the primary culprits, food/overeating were secondary. I knew I was controlled by these behaviors and I couldn't break the cycle. I was on the 'hedonic treadmill.' Knowledge isn't as powerful as we think - ACTION is power. And repetition. I learned a lot about how my brain works, how I came to this point (hedonic treadmill, insanity = doing the same thing expecting different results), and what to do to interrupt this cycle. I began practices that were better for my long-term mental/emotional/physical/spiritual health. I identified my values and have begun to live within them. A co-worker introduced me to the concept of "eudaimonic happiness." http://positivepsychology.org.uk/the-concept-of-eudaimonic-well-being/ I felt like I was wasting my time and life when I was playing video games all day and was enslaved by my hedonic desires. Now I feel much more fulfilled and 'on the right track.' I feel better: I am more aware of my emotions, am physically stronger (from hitting the gym/exercising regularly), and am mentally more focused. That's all I have time for right now. I'll check in again tonight or tomorrow.
  12. I really appreciate you sharing your honest introspection and internal process.
  13. Day 81 journal: Day 90 is coming soon and I'm going to try another experiment: controlled gaming that is leveraged against the continued development of the habits and pastimes that have begun during this initial detox. I want to find out if it is possible for me to control/moderate my gaming. If it isn't... sayonara gaming. Below is my drafted contract - please give me feedback. I want to know where gaps in my plan are so that I can take them into account. Contract This contract will take effect on 3/25/19, the day after Brian completes his 90 day detox from video games. Permissions: Brian will be allowed to play video games for up to two hours per day. Restrictions: Brian will not be allowed to “store” any time he does not spend playing video games on any particular day. Binging sessions longer than two hours per day are not allowed. Additional requirements: Brian must maintain the following daily, weekly, and monthly habits. All of the following habits must be fulfilled according to their guidelines or the consequences section of this contract will take effect. Physical exercise for at least 30 minutes 5x/week. All weekly chores completed (discuss with spouse). Complete at least one home improvement project 1x/week. Meditation at least 20 minutes 5x/week. Daily journaling or forum post on GameQuitters. Read at least 15 pages per day for fun, personal/professional development. Connection with spouse at least 2x/week. Connection/training dog 1x/day Wednesday through Sunday. Connection with family 1x/week via phone, video, or in-person. Amend ‘The Brian Project’ 1x/week. Engage in one creative pursuit 1x/week. Consequences: Immediate uninstallation of games and Steam from laptop PC. Immediate 90 day detox from video games, associated websites, and streams. 90 day detox includes all video games, watching others play video games, reading news on game websites or web searches, forum posts, and streaming video. Immediate post on GameQuitters forum admitting relapse and broken contract. Spouse will immediately receive $300 to do whatever she pleases. Brian cannot have any say in what she uses this money for. If this contract is broken three times, Brian is required to disassociate himself from his online accounts: Steam, Blizzard, etc. He is required to immediately turn over his laptop and other gaming devices to spouse. Laptop and gaming devices will be immediately posted for sale. Brian may never again play a video game on any platform EVER. Limitations: If a habit from the ‘additional requirements’ section is not met, Brian may appeal the immediate consequences for one of the following reasons: Illness or injury. Third parties named in a habit are not present or unable to connect. Regardless of reason, time playing video games may not exceed two hours per day.
  14. Hey, I just want to let you know that I hear that you're struggling right now and I'm rooting for you. Thanks for being so open about what you're going through and what help/support we can offer!
  15. Day 79 journal: I just returned from a difficult shift at work. This was one of those challenging experiences that tests me and also raises doubts about my abilities. I encountered some of my growth edges: embracing conflict, setting firm boundaries, toying with the idea of objectivity versus joining my clients in their drama... I could go on. The doubt that comes up has the same roots that it always does: The belief that I'm not good enough. Countering that belief: I can't control others, I can't control their desire to change, I cannot make others change. I knew, walking into this one, that it would be on the edge of my capacity and theirs. Invictus: In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed. I feel grateful for: Being home, being safe. My dog sleeping next to me. Being able-bodied and healthy. The roof over my head. Feeling warm and dry.
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