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Sometimes ambivalence, sometimes conviction.


Brian
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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. 

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This is your journey. I tried moderation BEFORE I committed to 90 days, thought I could make changes happen without abstinence. I couldn't, but nobody came to judge me for thinking else and nobody will judge you for trying it out even if it doesn't work out how you hope. 

My suggestion? Sit down and write down your newly emerged concerns since day 91 and then the benefits of 2 hours of gaming. Is it worth it for you? Can you make it so it has no negative effect on you?

People who play games some times don't need timers, don't feel concerned, just like you probably don't need those things about your food portions or glasses of drinks. I experienced these concerns myself, and that's how I knew I was still an addict and it was hurting me mentally to play.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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. 

Aslan not safe but good.jpg

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