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Suritus

Matt's Journal

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Hey guys. I'll use this journal also as an introduction, since this is my first post on the forum.

My name is Matt, I'm from Slovakia but I live and study in the UK. I study Maths and Computer Science, which I'm quite happy about, since it keeps me busy during the semester. However, now as I'm on my winter break, I find myself with a lot more free time, as I'm sure most of you do. I'm celebrating my 20th birthday tomorrow, which I'm quite nervous about, solely because of the number. 20 is the age when you're no longer a teenager and, at least to me, it means I can't use that excuse not to grow as a person. Oh well.

I've been playing games since I was six, and it's been over a year since I recognized it as a problem in my life. I used games as a friends, since I am not very sociable - even writing this and knowing it will be read by others feels strange to me - and this has kicked me in the ass, as I find myself struggling in social situations now as I emerge from all those years. Things could be worse, I suppose, but I really want to become more comfortable around others.

I'm actually starting a journal because of one of Cam's e-mails. He offered a half-hour Skype call, which I gladly applied for, and one of the things we discussed was the forum. I used to keep a journal by myself, as a Word doc, but I'm excited to see where this format brings me. Every time I've stopped playing games before, I could last up to three months, but I really feel like this is the tipping point, and I'm excited to be here.

Alright, with that out of the way, I'll start the journal. This is day two, I suppose, so I'll start with day one

I spent most of the day yesterday flying back home from the UK. My girlfriend was out at a flat party, and she came home at 6 AM, when we had to leave at 8 AM. Fun stuffs. The flights were not that interesting in themselves. I read half of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. If you watch Cam's videos you'll find many repeating themes, but there is a lot of wisdom to take away from the book. I'll share one: The author states that all addictions originate in pain, whether open or hidden in the subconscious. They are emotional anesthetics. Something to think about.

After I came home, I talked with my mom and sister, and then headed out to a party. It wasn't that great - see a paragraph above on my social life - but I caught up with a few friends, had some drinks and came home at 2 AM. Fade to black.

To give you guys something of value from reading this self-indulgent journal, I'll try and share one thing I learned each day. They are aimed at me personally, despite the second person.
What I learned today: Finding your tribe matters. Even though the search sucks, keep searching. Also, when you come home at 2, just brush your teeth and go to bed, you don't have the willpower to do anything else.

Thanks for reading :)

 

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 I've been playing games since I was six, and it's been over a year since I recognized it as a problem in my life. I used games as a friends, since I am not very sociable - even writing this and knowing it will be read by others feels strange to me - and this has kicked me in the ass, as I find myself struggling in social situations now as I emerge from all those years. Things could be worse, I suppose, but I really want to become more comfortable around others.

I see what you mean. Well the advantage of the internet is that you can reveal yourself or not, it's your own choice. I know that I like to keep up appearances in real life @work or elsewhere. I don't talk about gaming and the issue elsewhere than the forums and my wife. And told the wife gaming was over so there isn't a lot left to talk about :D

I read half of 

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

. If you watch Cam's videos you'll find many repeating themes, but there is a lot of wisdom to take away from the book. I'll share one: The author states that

all addictions originate in pain, whether open or hidden in the subconscious. They are emotional anesthetics.

 Something to think about.

Yes that's true. While gaming can be fun and make us feel all kind of emotions, it hides or numbs the bad ones. Gaming for me was sometimes a hideout when real life called for me to take actions. You are 20, that's a great age to start taking actions now rather than later! Remember that and take advantage of it.

Thanks for sharing Matt!

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Thanks for the b-day wishes guys, was a good one :)

Alright, I'll do days two and three together, since it's late in the evening and I might as well batch them together.

Day two:
I woke up really late and the day for me was playing catch-up. I was trying to do some programming but what I had to do instead was to redownload and reconfigure Android Studio a few times, since there were some complications with the download. By the time I was done, two hours later, it was time to leave the house for a meeting of our school's alumni. I was glad to go, as it took me out of the house, but it also took away from my time to read and learn, which I'm not super happy about. But everything has its cost, and nobody can have it all, so I'm not brooding over this stuff. After that meeting, I had another meeting, this time with a friend of mine who started his own business in the last two years and now is doing really well. I admire his mindset, and have to say, am rather jealous of him, but I know I'm on my own path and have my set of issues I have to work through, the first of which are video games. We talked for solid two hours, and I've learned a ton of stuff from him, and his experience as an entrepreneur. To use a term from yesterday's journal, I feel like he's one of the people that I feel belongs in my tribe, and I'm glad we had the chance to meet.

What I've learned: People can always work harder and better. Saying 'I have no time' is most often only an excuse. I know this from my own life, god knows how many times I've stumbled out of bed an hour after waking up, or instead of reading or writing I was on Facebook and Youtube. 

 

Day three:
Birthday, yaay. I spent most of the day outside. First I had to deal with logistics with the family, as my sister and mom argued about something, which led me to cancel some plans and so on. Family stuffs. After I ate breakfast I read for a while and went to the gym. Afterwards I went to see the new Star Wars with my girlfriend, which I don't think is as good as everyone I talked to said, but whatever. There is a Christmas Market in the city, so we went there after the movie to spend some time outside. Later in the day my mom took me shopping, since this is really the only time I get to do shopping. I kinda feel like I don't deserve her treating me so well, since I'm old enough to care for myself, but I think that my studies make her proud enough, especially since I went into something she really wanted me to study. I realized I can't do the work I set out for me to do in the evening, so I have to start getting up earlier.

What I've learned: Don't think you can 'meditate' by lying in bed for 10 minutes after your alarm goes off. Your brain doesn't work like that. Also, put your alarm out of your reach, so you have to get up to turn it off. You don't get that hour back.

Thanks for reading :)

Edited by Suritus

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Hi Matt, I hope you become comfortable here quickly, and Happy Birthday!

Keeping your journal updated every day will keep you accountable for keeping away from games and for making progress towards improving your life. I wish you the best of luck, and we are here for you along your journey.

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Day four, here we go:

Again, I went to bed really late so I woke up around nine. I really want to start getting to bed earlier. Anyway. I did some work around the house and cooked some food. During the day, I frequently found myself blankly browsing YouTube and replying on Facebook. It's hard for me to stay focused when I'm beeping with messages, since I'm organizing a birthday party and have to talk to friends frequently, but that's what I get when I don't get up before everyone else is up. Anyway. I was able to do some programming, very basic stuff, but better than nothing. Later in the day, I went to the gym and after the gym my dad come to our apartment (he lives elsewhere) and we had a chat, since I didn't see him since summer. He took me to the city, where I met my high school friends again. I find myself out of the house a lot during these days, which is good, since I can catch up with my friends, but I find myself struggling to make time for intellectually stimulating work, which I have to start getting done earlier in the day. Oh well. It's Christmas tomorrow, so at least I won't be going out with friends. 

What I've learned: I've learned this a while ago, but: knowledge is not enough. We have to apply what we've learned. I was in the trap of reading book after book of material that was supposed to improve my life, but I didn't apply the material enough. Knowledge is often good, but too much of it leads to inaction, which is the opposite of what the knowledge is supposed to aid in the first place.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays :)

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These days I only write the journal at night and then go to bed, where I either read or browse the web on my phone. I've been using flux for about a year now, it's an awesome program, but my issue isn't as much falling asleep, but getting to bed

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Day five

I'll be short today, because it's late and after Christmas Eve here in Slovakia. 
Today my day consisted of helping around the house and getting ready for the big dinner. My sister was planning to have three Christmas dinners in the same day, so she organized the whole family around. So, after a dinner with my mom, my dad took us to his apartment where we had another dinner with him and his girlfriend. As you can imagine, the logistics were quite stressful, but whatever. 

I'm starting to feel cravings again, since I've played games every year while I was on my break, but since I keep out of the house a lot, it's something that is manageable. I've been feeling quite well, since I get to see my family again and I don't need to play games, but I know we're never completely safe. We have to stay vigilant, especially now during winter when it's cold and dark outside (at least where I am).

I've finished Into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. It was quite good, although it took a while to get through. One of the things written in the book is the author's own addiction, which I found rather absurd, but it only shows just how much of a hold compulsive behaviors can have.

What I've learned: Do your difficult work before everyone else is awake to distract you. Focus, focus, focus. With that in mind, I'm going to bed before it's 2 AM again and I wonder where did the time go. 

Thanks for reading :)

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What I've learned: I've learned this a while ago, but: knowledge is not enough. We have to apply what we've learned. I was in the trap of reading book after book of material that was supposed to improve my life, but I didn't apply the material enough. Knowledge is often good, but too much of it leads to inaction, which is the opposite of what the knowledge is supposed to aid in the first place.

This. This is exactly where I need to pay more attention to. It's so easy just to rush through good books and after a few months just to forget all you've read. Well, of course you won't forget everything, but putting the information working for you has been the idea behind most of the self-improvement books I've read so far.

Great posts! I'm out of likes but I will come around later. :P Happy Holidays Matt!

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Day six

I did my usual routine today: Reading, programming and writing throughout the day. Me, the sis and our dad went to our grandmother's apartment where we spent a good portion of the evening. However, I got a call in the evening. It was from my girlfriend. "We need to talk," she said. You can guess the rest...

Yeah, we broke up. It's been a long time coming, but it still hurts. if I were to assign blame, most of it is on me. I took her for granted too much and she felt neglected. Besides, we were spending way too little time together, and deep down, we were not compatible. She was an artsy, dancing, singing spirit, while I was burying myself in books and programming. Last year we both pretended we're someone else, and this year we both understood that it wasn't meant to last.

Yeah. To be honest, I don't feel sad in the moment, but that's how I always am. It usually hits me a few days later, so I'm NOT looking forward for the next week. I would like to ask you guys, anyone been through a breakup recently? Any tips on how to avoid relapsing? We had plans to go see Prague and Vienna during the break, but now I don't have much to look forward to. How do you find meaning in situations like this? Anything will be greatly appreciated. 

What I've learned: If you love someone, don't take them for granted. Books and computers will be there later. People might not. Appreciate what you have. 

That's all from me today. I'll probably write like three sentences tomorrow, since I'll be on mobile.

Thanks for reading guys. This forum is an awesome place.

 

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Hi Matt,

I wish you a lot of strenght and courage for the next few days. I haven't been through a breaukup as I'm married for about 10 years already. But I can't imagine how I would react if this would happen to me as I have a kid, etc ...

Well, you could still read a book about relations and apply it in real life being single. Maybe that's a positive thing? :P

 

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Day 7

I felt empty today. I'm giving myself space, but it's difficult. It's gonna take time to get well. 

I wasn't on a computer today, so I couldn't do much. I spent most of the day forcing myself to read. 

What I've learned: despite my mood, exercise makes me feel good. I'm glad to have a walking habit and for that the weather is good

Thanks for reading

 

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Hey Matt. Hang in there brother, it will get better. The mantra that helps me a lot during this time is this too shall pass. Each day you're one day closer to be being back to your full self. Breathe and remember, this journey is similar to the one you're taking moving on from games. You may experience cravings/compulsions, feelings of emptiness, etc. Focus on your good habits (meditation, exercise, etc) and keep going. If you read Travis' journal, he went through a breakup as well shortly after he quit gaming and shared some good insight.

I also like this article.

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I also like this article.

Thanks Cam, that article is exactly what I needed. I love Mark's posts.

Anyway, day eight

I spent the morning reading again and then my mom and me took the train back home from my grandparents. I did some programming again, feels good to get back into the habit. A friend took me out shopping and then we went to my birthday party. It was a low-key event with a lot of talking, some wine and beers, exactly what I wanted for my 20. I felt really good, even though my ex was there. We're on really good terms though, because the break-up was as smooth as you can imagine. We basically acknowledged our differences and decided to move on. The only thing I don't like is the fact I'll be going to bed late again. I'm having troubles falling asleep at night, and I don't know whether going to bed early or late is better.

What I've learned: Being young is great, but being somewhat older is even better. You can't have certain conversations at 15. I'm sure I'll say something similar in a few years time, but it can apply for any age.

Thanks for reading guys. It means a lot.

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day nine

I woke up really late, so there isn't much to say. I did my usual routine of reading, programming and going to the gym, and in the evening I went out with friends again. We had fun, but I felt a little guilty, since I keep going out when I'd like to work on myself, but I know I'll return to that when I fly back for the second semester. Most of my friends are working alongside university, so we concluded early and I went to bed.

What I've learned: I am subscribed to way too many people who blog and write articles. More isn't always better. Filling my mind with the thoughts of other people isn't a good way of living.

Thanks for reading

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day ten

My dad wanted to go skiing, but there is no snow anywhere in our vicinity (climate change sucks!), so he took me and my sister to Vienna for the day. We've seen the city, but it was really cold outside, so we gathered in a museum for a good portion of the day. After we returned home, I've finished a book, did some programming and then talked to my mom about relationships. I planned to go to bed, but once again, here I am at 1AM :(

What I've learned: My needs and wants are different than the needs and wants of others. I should be more respectful of the needs of others

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Love Vienna! Can't wait to go back some day. Have you ever checked out the classic chess cafés in Vienna?

Never heard of them to be honest :D I have to check them out when I get back home in the summer.

Also, here's day eleven.

Today was one of the worst days since I started. The trouble started yesterday, to be honest. Before I wrote my journal entry last night, I spent an hour looking up an online game I used to play with my friends 5 years ago. There was a new update, one thing led to another and there I was, at 1 AM creating a new character.

Whenever I relapsed in the past, it was always worse the day after, and today is no exception. Almost from the moment I woke up, I was online, rationalizing. From the game I moved on to Youtube, where I spent three hours watching game-related videos, for a total of four hours. I know it's not the whole day and things could be worse, but when I took a step from the computer, when I woke up, I was dazzled. It felt like a bad dream, my vision was blurry, my mind was foggy, I was hungry and felt morose.

Since the beginning of November, I am keeping a private relapse journal, so that I can learn from each one. What I found is that my relapses are often caused by a several smaller causes working together, each compounding the next one. The root cause in this case was my staying up late. Willpower wanes during the day, and generally is the weakest before one goes to bed. It is completely true in my situation, and I'm glad I realize the causes, but it's one thing to realize the cause and another to improve.

I'm also still recovering from the break-up. I keep going back and forth, seing it as a terrible mistake, and as an opportunity to move forward. The romantic songs I keep hearing on the radio are definitely not helping, and it is difficult for me to avoid the radio altogether, especially since both my mom and dad are used to listening to it all day. Oh well. Such is life.

I'm writing this journal from a bar/coffee-shop, just to be out of the house (thanks Cam for the inspiration). After my streak of events, birthday parties and hang-outs, I found myself with a schedule emptier than usual, so I went out, just to be among people. I don't trust myself alone after the events of today's morning.

What I've learned: The bit about willpower. I can't trust myself with a computer after a certain time, which for me is usually around 9PM.

Thanks for reading

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One of the things Jeff Olson talks about in The Slight Edge is that just as your positive habits build into big rewards over time, the same is true for your negative ones. It's rarely BIG events that cause us to get off track - just a few small ones compounding over time. If you haven't read that book yet, it's a great one to begin with.

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One of the things Jeff Olson talks about in The Slight Edge is that just as your positive habits build into big rewards over time, the same is true for your negative ones. It's rarely BIG events that cause us to get off track - just a few small ones compounding over time. If you haven't read that book yet, it's a great one to begin with.

That's really true. I've read the book, and I kinda feel that as soon as I fix one habit, another negative one takes its place :D

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