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Brian

Sometimes ambivalence, sometimes conviction.

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First journal entry, day 2:

Dammit @Cam Adair. Module #2 hit me right where I needed to be hit. Fuck, I'm conflicted... feeling and thinking different things.

On one hand: nope, not gonna do it. Not gonna give up Civ. There's an expansion coming out in under two months and you want to play that. Things weren't that bad with Civ... You listened to podcasts and new music while playing. See? That's not that bad. You're not like these other people here. They are WAY worse than you. Maybe you can restrict your time playing. Maybe that will work this time. Maybe set a stopwatch next to you while you play. Cut yourself off when you hit your time limit. Yeah, that'll work. And permanently delete your Steam account?! Are you insane?!? You've spent too much money to give that up!! What if you want to go back and play?? You'll have to buy the game all over again!! 

Fucking denial. Minimizing, justifying, rationalizing, comparing. Cognitive distortions all over the place. :deep breath:

On the other hand: there's a reason you have been saying that you've wanted to quit gaming for a long time. You always feel less good than you think you will. Even when playing Civ. Sometimes gaming was downright boring. The same old thing. Done this before, done that before. Been here before. And think of all of the things you can DO with that TIME!! You have a backlog of books! You've wanted to get back into drumming! There's an artist and writer inside of you that is just ACHING to come out! You've been striving to know your purpose, your reason for being on this earth. Not spending time gaming loosens up time to find out!! 

:Sigh: I'm alright. Everything's going to be OK. I've got this. Now that the anxiety has passed, I just feel sad. I know what I have to do, but... Fuck this is going to be hard.

I didn't game today. I didn't watch streams or check forums or websites. I worked on my house, journaled, set up a habit tracker, went to the gym, did some work, played with my dog, spent time with my wife. 

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Ugh, civ was the last straw for me.  I went "just one more turn" for so many hours.  Even two and a half years later I still think about that game.  Thankfully, I also still remember how I hit rock bottom playing that game.

It'll be hard, but it will also be transformational, freeing, and gratifying.

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Hi Brian, welcome to the boards. In my experience, when you really hit your lowest you have absolutely no doubt about quitting. Did it ever happen to you to think that, concerning gaming, your own life was on the line if you didn't quit immediately? I don't mean to discourage you, on the contrary! I've seen many people come here "conflicted" and quit quitting after four days. I just want to put you in the right mindset to succeed! If you want to quit you have to know why quitting is important for you and be fully aware of the consequences, which are:

1) You will not be able to play any videogames for 90 days. I also strongly suggest not to watch any gaming video or stream, nor read any articles or even talk about games with your friends. Detach yourself from all gaming content. It's just a lot easier this way. This means that the new Civilization expansion will come out and you will not read about it, you will know nothing about it. In my opinion (it's just my opinion!) if you don't accept this, succeeding will be very very hard for you. One article leads to one video which leads to one stream which leads to just one game which leads to just one more game and we all know where "just one more game" leads.

2) With effort and dedication, you will see your life improving, getting better and better. At first it will be hard, but once you'll be on track you'll feel full of gratefulness and you will thank youself for this decision. On the other hand, if you fail, all the effort will be wasted and you will be back at square 1.

Are you ready to change your life? If you are, you have to give it your very best, you have to be 100% dedicated to it. Gaming is a very subtle addiction, understanding how to beat it is part of the process. Journaling is a very good first step. It helps a lot. I wish you all the luck!

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Thanks @wookieshark88, @Cam Adair, and @info-gatherer for the replies and encouragement. I'm pleasantly surprised with how much a supportive community is helpful! 

Day 3 journal:

I'm definitely feeling a craving to play today. Right now, in fact. As I write, the urge is slowly dissipating. I feel irritable and anxious, which probably stimulated the thought train of "you know what would help you NOT feel this way?!" I meditated instead and got on with work. Now I'm here writing about it. I also felt a strong sense of 'not being good enough' related to work. That definitely stirred up feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, which contributed to wanting to game. That's actually a pretty big reason why I game: I have a strong sense of power and control within the game. Basically, I can prove I'm good enough because I get feedback from the game that says so. 

I hit the gym this morning (I do CrossFit) and lifted more in a power clean than I ever have! (Measurable growth, achievement, progress, BOOM.) I have been reading more over the last three days and am finally digging into my backlog of books. I have played board/card games with my wife over the last couple of days, which I hadn't done regularly before. Gaming was a big temptation in the mornings for me too. Instead of gaming in the morning, I have either woken up and meditated or gone to the gym first thing. 

I feel relieved and more relaxed now. Thanks y'all. 

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I'm glad that you find it supportive!  When I quit games, I absolutely knew that I needed a support system to be successful.  I also didn't have anyone in my life that really understood my gaming problem.  Hopefully this community can do the same for you!

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@wookieshark88: It's working! I'm recognizing the thoughts/cravings to game throughout my day. Coming to these forums helps, especially when I engage with others' journals and get into a cycle of replies.

Day 4 journal:

I recently discovered traditional pagan Nordic/Viking music on Spotify: Wardruna and Danheim. I'm currently listening to Danheim's 'Runagaldr' album with headphones - it's epic. 

CrossFit: Third day in a row! My previous front squat one rep max was 175... I did two reps at 170 today. That one rep max @ 175 is going to get blown out of the water. 

Friends/family connection: My wife and I spent some time in our gym's hot tub together, which we hadn't done in about a month! I have plans to ski with a guy friend tomorrow and also a board game night planned with my wife and another couple. 

Career: I turned down a part-time job because the salary was lower than I hoped for and the non-compete clause was too restrictive. It would be a fantastically educational experience, but I'm not a professional student anymore. I'm going to explore other options and possibly pursue my own practice. We'll see where this one goes. 

I also thought a lot about Civ and giving up gaming for good. I'm still not ready to sneak-delete my Steam account and give up Civ and the Endless games. :sigh: I've been reading articles on artofmanliness.com and this epigram from Napolean Bonaparte came up: "Space I can recover. Time, never." And THAT'S my conundrum, friends. I can never recover the time I spent gaming or will spend gaming. I'm more clearly seeing the things I can do with that time and have been engaging in them over the last four days since I stopped gaming. 

Thanks for reading and letting me talk out my ambivalence.

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Day 5 journal:

Skied (is that the correct spelling?) for 5 hours with a friend today for the first time this season! Worked on technique related to moguls and intermediate routes. My legs are BURNING.

Played "Descent" (board game) with my wife and another couple tonight for 4 hours. This was a great opportunity to connect with some friends we hadn't spent time with in a long time. 

Aaaaand now my day is over. 

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Day 6 journal:

This will be a brief entry because it's late and I'm running out of energy.  Strike that, there's a lot on my mind right now.

I'm feeling accomplished today. My wife and I have been slowly renovating our house and I completed two projects that I'm proud of: building a table-like support structure for our kitchen counter top (which will hopefully be installed soon) and stair skirts (basically baseboard that run diagonally along the stairs). Both required a lot of mental energy, math, and patience. Both projects took the entirety of the afternoon. The day began with an ill turn: our hot water heater breaker unexpectedly blew, which led us to discover a leak and frozen water outside of our water heater. I ended up draining the heater while my wife called a plumber. So basically today was filled with house work. 

Tomorrow will be day 7 - one week since I stopped playing games, watching streams, or looking up content on websites and forums. I have definitely accomplished a lot more than I would if I had played. I booted up Steam early this morning and calculated my hours invested in gaming since we moved out West two-and-a-half years ago. At a minimum, I have spent:

  • 1733 hours gaming
    • That's 72 days/2.5 months
  • Approximately 87 hours/month gaming
    • That's 4.5 hours/day

Doing the math gave me pause. That's a lot of time I could have spent pursuing other passions. I feel a strange mixture of acceptance and regret/guilt when I look at those numbers. There's more to unpack here. For another time.

It has also been strange to feel more during the last week. Gaming numbed me, that I know well. Emotions have been more intense and lasted longer in the past week than they did when I was gaming. One of my primary coping skills has been set aside! I feel like I'm in an identity crisis right now - an ego death, perhaps. My confidence feels shaky: not my confidence that I can make it through not gaming day-by-day, but my overall sense of self. This is an exceptional time for introspection and growth because I'm calling into question a core part of who I am. And it's really fucking hard at the same time. 

:sigh: I go back to work tomorrow. My job takes me off of the grid for 48 hours, so my next update will be Wednesday night. Be well, y'all. 

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Gaming definitely numbs, and one of the transitions you make after you quit is beginning to feel again. That can be a bit intense and confronting but also very freeing as you learn to navigate your emotions. The emotions were there all along, you were just avoiding them. @giblets has come far in this process, maybe he has some advice.

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Happy to talk via PMs, but the main thing I can say right now is don't try to fight the emotions - it just makes it worse and they 'dig in'. They most likely feel quite strong now because you haven't been dealing with them, rather you have used escapism to pretend they are not there, and therefore not established the skills of emotion regulation. It may mean a lot of jargon type words, but the more you can work on your self awareness of them, the better you will get at recognising them, and steering the negative ones (frustration, anger, anxiety, depression) into directions that can be productive/less impactful.

 

Don't dwell on how many hours you have spent - they are gone. What matters is how you'll spend your next hour.

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Day 10 journal:

@Cam Adair and @giblets: Thanks for your replies, input, and support. Seriously... the engagement with other souls who have gone through, or are actively going through, what I'm going through is what keeps me coming back to this journal. Giblets: the jargon makes sense. I'm a therapist and it's my job to lead people through emotional experiences. I'm a classic case of being the teacher that doesn't always practice what they preach. The word 'hypocrite' comes quickly to mind, and that's my self-critic coming up. This is easier to tell others to do than it is to do myself. 

I feel stuck. Anyone have suggestions for getting through ambivalence? When it comes to Respawn, I stopped at Module 2 when the assignment was to delete Steam increase the cost of entry. That seems too much like giving up gaming forever which is stopping me from pulling the trigger. I'm feeling torn in half. 

I uninstalled all games from my laptop, the Steam client, and deleted all bookmarks to websites. Even my holdouts: Civ and the Endless games. I feel relieved, actually. 

I'm committing to 90 days of no gaming. 

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Day 12 journal:

Yesterday, I reflected on making a big behavioral change like giving up video games and PMO for 90 days. I don't think that I have ever attempted something like this by choice. Previous big changes have happened because of a geographical change (move), job change, relationship change, etc. This time, I'm doing this because I want to find out if I can do it. I want to re-evaluate my relationship with gaming and intimacy. Approaching this with the mindset of it being an 'experiment' helps me ease back on the anxiety. There's less pressure because sometimes experiments fail or the results turn out differently than the hypothesis. If I relapse it's an opportunity to check out my plan: what went wrong, what was I feeling, what didn't I account for, etc. 

I told the therapist I'm seeing about PMO yesterday. That was FUCKING SCARY. I felt overwhelmingly anxious and disgusted. It's a dark secret that I hold very close because I'm embarrassed and ashamed of it. Writing about it here is easier than telling another human being. Thankfully, he received it compassionately and helped me explore it a bit. One of my goals through this detox process is to begin owning these parts of myself, gaming and PMO, rather than them owning me and feeling the compulsion to hide them and be secretive. 

We tested one-rep maxes for front squats yesterday! I pushed my max from 175 to 200, which I feel proud and accomplished of! Hitting the gym regularly is fulfilling a lot of needs: social connection, measurable growth and progress, and challenge. The mental game is exciting too. I get to be my own cheerleader and coach, and also practice some self-compassion too. 

I picked up the fifth book in the Wheel of Time series, The Fires of Heaven, from the library yesterday too. Gaming got in the way of continuing to plug through these books and now seems like the perfect time to pick them back up. Getting out of the house, changing the space, was great too. I did a lot of journaling and reflecting on the New Year. I've been reading more poetry too and I found some excellent new poems from David Whyte that really resonated. 

Until tomorrow....

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2 hours ago, Brian said:

This time, I'm doing this because I want to find out if I can do it.

There is nothing stopping you or holding you back from doing it, Brian. You can do it and you will do it if you choose to remain consistent every day. Everyone who puts one foot in front of the other and takes action gets there, some people get there sooner, some people get there later. But if you understand that there is no failure in life and only feedback we can learn from, then you will see that anyone can achieve their goals as long as they put in the time and effort. 

There is no reason to be anxious, at all. Just like every artist who started by drawing stick figures and ended up being paid for realistic paintings years later, the only thing that stood between them and that end result was time - this applies to any goal. Arrange your every day life in the way that works for you, that makes you feel good about yourself, that makes you a happy and healthy person. There is no doubt that you will get to your end goal, so there is no reason for stress. Embrace the fact you need to be patient, good results need time. It's how things work, real things in the real world.

If you aren't persuaded by my word alone, feel free to search about the habits of successful people.

 Feel good, because now you are in control of your circumstances. You already made that good choice by coming here. Keep making good choices and you'll arrive where you want to be faster and easier.

 

On 1/4/2019 at 4:15 AM, Brian said:

I'm a therapist and it's my job to lead people through emotional experiences. I'm a classic case of being the teacher that doesn't always practice what they preach. The word 'hypocrite' comes quickly to mind, and that's my self-critic coming up. This is easier to tell others to do than it is to do myself. 

"Do as I say and not as I do."  The death of our dignity and self esteem, if we're being real. The first book in my signature opened my eyes to this and ever since I read it I've been trying to do exactly as I say and be an example of my ethics, live a life in accordance to my beliefs. I went from rock bottom self esteem to trusting and liking and accepting myself more. Especially because you're in this job, I highly recommend it.

Edited by fawn_xoxo

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On 1/5/2019 at 3:04 PM, fawn_xoxo said:

There is nothing stopping you or holding you back from doing it, Brian. You can do it and you will do it if you choose to remain consistent every day. Everyone who puts one foot in front of the other and takes action gets there, some people get there sooner, some people get there later. But if you understand that there is no failure in life and only feedback we can learn from, then you will see that anyone can achieve their goals as long as they put in the time and effort. 

There is no reason to be anxious, at all. Just like every artist who started by drawing stick figures and ended up being paid for realistic paintings years later, the only thing that stood between them and that end result was time - this applies to any goal. Arrange your every day life in the way that works for you, that makes you feel good about yourself, that makes you a happy and healthy person. There is no doubt that you will get to your end goal, so there is no reason for stress. Embrace the fact you need to be patient, good results need time. It's how things work, real things in the real world.

If you aren't persuaded by my word alone, feel free to search about the habits of successful people.

 Feel good, because now you are in control of your circumstances. You already made that good choice by coming here. Keep making good choices and you'll arrive where you want to be faster and easier.

@fawn_xoxo: I really appreciate your compassionate perspective. Thank you. I'm my own best/worst critic and I can be harsh with myself. I think a big side-effect of this 90 day journey is getting in touch with an inner voice that approaches problems with curiosity and compassion versus guilt, shame, etc. 

On 1/5/2019 at 3:04 PM, fawn_xoxo said:

"Do as I say and not as I do."  The death of our dignity and self esteem, if we're being real. The first book in my signature opened my eyes to this and ever since I read it I've been trying to do exactly as I say and be an example of my ethics, live a life in accordance to my beliefs. I went from rock bottom self esteem to trusting and liking and accepting myself more. Especially because you're in this job, I highly recommend it.

I will definitely pick up that book. One of the difficulties I've had with such recommendations in the past is that I have consistently jumped to "oh, this would be a good resource for my clients." Everything became about becoming better at my job, accruing resources... I'm glad to say that that mindset is starting to turn around. Being an example of my ethics, values, and beliefs is exactly why I decided to do this thing in the first place. I want to re-evaluate my relationship with video games, to have more objectivity, and to get started with alternative habits. 

Day 13 journal:

Today was a chill, indoor day. 4 inches of new snow meant that I missed the gym but got out and did a lot of playing in the powder. I spent a lot of time reading the fifth book in the Wheel of Time series, proving that a good fantasy novel can engage me just as much as a good game. I felt bored at times today, and am pleased to report that I felt a drastic reduction in cravings to play video games, watch streams, or check forums. Getting outside and changing my space/environment was essential to success I think. Having developed a list of resources from the Respawn modules was also clutch! 

I'm heading out of town/off the grid for work for a couple of days. My next check in will be Wednesday.

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Day 18 journal:

I'm visiting my in-laws this weekend and am away from home. I just realized how important my routines are: I need to engage in my habits in some manner because they are a bulwark against cravings and temptation. I just sat down for 20 minutes of meditation and feel much more centered and focused. I've been off-center for all of this morning... I engaged in PMO when I got a spare moment, which I feel guilty about. I'm going to download a website blocker and shut that down.

I picked up James Clear's book 'Atomic Habits' at the airport yesterday and am moving through that quickly. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to make big changes in their lives. I'm going to dedicate any future spare time to reading Atomic Habits, journaling, and doing my best to maintain my healthy routines despite being away from home.

Still haven't played video games in 18 days! That's a victory. I have checked forums and updates on the new Civ expansion but this has been drastically reduced in time. As I mentioned, I had my first relapse in PMO today. 

Onwards.

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I have seen Atomic Habits a few times, would you recommend buying it? I am trying to form stretching & meditation into my daily routine and I can't get it to stick. I've also succumbed to the snooze button 😴

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@giblets: Yes, I would highly recommend it for what you are trying to do. The book is action-oriented and has supplementary exercises akin to Respawn. There are a lot of tricks to establishing new habits that you may have never thought of before, and some ways you have too.

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Day 26 journal:

Phew, it's been a long time since I posted. A lot has happened this week! I have been maintaining a daily written journaling practice... I do want to post more frequently than once per week though. I'll re-commit to that. With my daily journaling practice, I have adopted four questions that I'm reflecting on morning and night:

  1. What are my responsibilities today?
  2. What is a skill that I want to work on today?
  3. How do I want to have fun today?
  4. How might I become 1% better today?

The last question, becoming 1% better, is borrowed from James Clear's "Atomic Habits." This short practice alone has really helped me maintain my focus on a purpose-driven life. 

The past week has been full: 

  • I worked in the field (away from technology, in the wilderness) for three days. There are no video game temptations out there. I have come to appreciate the three days I get each week to leave civilization and just be out there. Granted, I'm working, so this isn't time to do whatever I want. I'm BUSY.... but just being outdoors helps reset my system.
  • My dad came into town! He lives across the country and we haven't had this much one-on-one time... maybe ever. We have been discussing work, life, purpose, family issues, and connecting through activities. We went skiing yesterday and have plans to do more of that this weekend. Discussing family issues has been particularly rich. Our dinner last night turned into a 3 hour conversation about the shifts in our family, past family trauma and the rippling effects across more than two decades, and what we might do about that going forward. My takeaway is that my sister and I need to lead the family more than we have. We need to step fully into adulthood rather than follow the lead of our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles 100%. 
  • I turned 34 yesterday! An old friend of mine introduced me to the concept of "God winks" - coincidences that are too perfect to be just coincidence. Several 'God winks' happened yesterday:
    • We awoke to 8-10 inches of snow. My dad commented that when I was born, 8-10 inches of snow had fallen! I have considered my 33rd year to (humorously) be my "Jesus" year... and it seems all too fitting that on the first year after that there are similar weather conditions. It's like rebirth in some ways. It's also too coincidental that I'm also undertaking Respawn and am reevaluating my habits and life purpose.
    • My mom's impeccable timing. When I meditate I use my phone as a timer. I set my phone to 'do not disturb'  so that I'm not interrupted. When I opened my eyes after the timer had gone off, my mom was actively calling me. 20 seconds more and I would have missed her. 
    • The several spontaneous run-ins with friends yesterday. My dad and I went skiing yesterday and we parked directly adjacent to some work friends of mine! Later, we ran into other friends on the mountain more than once. After dinner, we ran into more friends as we were walking to the car! All of these were spontaneous and surprising! 

I haven't gamed in 26 days. I feel proud of that! I have been following updates on the Civ 6 expansion. I was watching a developer livestream a couple of days ago and surprisingly I wasn't as excited about it as I have been in the past. Thoughts have been popping in about the gaming from time to time, but it is getting easier to let these pass. Mindfulness meditation practice helps with this too. 

Until next time...

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On 12/27/2018 at 1:08 PM, info-gatherer said:

Hi Brian, welcome to the boards. In my experience, when you really hit your lowest you have absolutely no doubt about quitting. Did it ever happen to you to think that, concerning gaming, your own life was on the line if you didn't quit immediately? I don't mean to discourage you, on the contrary! I've seen many people come here "conflicted" and quit quitting after four days. I just want to put you in the right mindset to succeed! If you want to quit you have to know why quitting is important for you and be fully aware of the consequences, which are:

1) You will not be able to play any videogames for 90 days. I also strongly suggest not to watch any gaming video or stream, nor read any articles or even talk about games with your friends. Detach yourself from all gaming content. It's just a lot easier this way. This means that the new Civilization expansion will come out and you will not read about it, you will know nothing about it. In my opinion (it's just my opinion!) if you don't accept this, succeeding will be very very hard for you. One article leads to one video which leads to one stream which leads to just one game which leads to just one more game and we all know where "just one more game" leads.

2) With effort and dedication, you will see your life improving, getting better and better. At first it will be hard, but once you'll be on track you'll feel full of gratefulness and you will thank youself for this decision. On the other hand, if you fail, all the effort will be wasted and you will be back at square 1.

Are you ready to change your life? If you are, you have to give it your very best, you have to be 100% dedicated to it. Gaming is a very subtle addiction, understanding how to beat it is part of the process. Journaling is a very good first step. It helps a lot. I wish you all the luck!

That's very true!!!

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