Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeling Triggers and Internet Compulsivity

As promised, slow but steady progress on the next work book is being made. An update of the feeling trigger topic. I apologize for the loss of formatting. (I hope you buy the book instead!)

A major factor in the acting-out cycle is the presence of a feeling trigger. As we’ve said elsewhere, we agree with clients when they say, “I don’t know what I’m feeling” at the beginning of the therapy process. In may circumstances, the words below are simply words without any real understanding by the individual caught in the compulsive cycle. The growth process is about learning to identify the feelings.

Identifying feelings is more difficult than most people realize. To that goal, the process is designed to help you increase your awareness. As you sit down before the computer, ask yourself "What am I feeling." Other strategies include asking, what would others be feeling? Am I feeling this? Or, “What feeling might I guess that I’m having? In both of these situations, end with confirming whether or not this feeling is present. It is important to remember that feelings are based on thoughts and the interpretation of the world around you. You might also ask, “What am I thinking?” and as a result, “How do I feel” given that I’m thinking this. In a future topic, (see Topic XX Behavioral Analysis strategies for identifying feelings will also be reviewed).

Below is a list of feelings that many people have highlighted as contributing to their Internet use. Notice that both positive and negative feelings are associated with the cycle. Keep in mind that feeling confident may lead to feelings of overconfidence, where you then place yourself at risk for an acting-out encounter. Another feeling might be anger or hurt. In some circumstances, some clients have reported they acted-out sexually as a way to get back at their partners. Review the list of feelings as they relate to the acting-out cycle. Which are your major feeling triggers?
Abandoned Despondent Hopeful Protective Vengeful
Accepted Disappointed Hopeless Proud Wary
Afraid Discontent Horrified Provoked Weary
Alone Discouraged Humble Reassured Worried
Amazed Dissatisfied Humiliated Regretful Worthy
Ambivalent Distressed Hurt Rejected Defensive
Angry Drained Indignant Relief Defiant
Annoyed Eager Irritated Relieved Dejected
Anxious Ecstatic Jealous Reluctant Desire
Apathetic Embarrassed Jolly Remorse Despair
Apprehensive Empathy Joyful Resentful Glad
Ashamed Empty Jubilant Resigned Grateful
Awe Encouraged Let down Sad Guarded
Brave Energized Lonely Secure Guilty
Calm Envious Merry Selfish Happy
Careful Exasperated Miserable Self-pity Peaceful
Caring Excited Mortified Shocked Pity
Cautious Exhilarated Murderous Stunned Playful
Cheated Fearful Nervous Surprised Pleased
Cheerful Flighty Numb Thrilled Possessive
Confident Free Overcome Tired Defeated
Courageous Frightened Overjoyed Triumphant Panicked
Cowardly Frustrated Overwhelmed Uneasy Unworthy
• Identify 3-5 feeling triggers you have in your life.
• Review the list of feeling triggers with your support network. Which feeling triggers do they suggest might be consistently present?
• Review and update the following list after reviewing the feeling triggers in this topic. What are your initial plans to help you cope with these feeling triggers?
• Return to the list and update as necessary.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Small Gifts and the Persistence of Recovery

My office away from my office away from my home is Bruegger's Bagels in Uptown Minnesota on Lake and Humboldt. I'm "well-known" by the staff, who often treat me like "Norm" from the sit-com "Cheers." My Diet Coke is poured and ready by the time I make it to the register! (Thanks Guys!)

While working on a presentation (which I will post on Thursday), a client I haven't seen in nearly two years stopped by out of the blue and said hi. I had heard bad things --bad relapse, bad consequences, and the like. He filled in the missing blanks and acknowledges significant recovery --the longest in a while.

I took away from the conversation two important things.

First, the power of awakening. Whether you use spirituality, 12 steps, religion, or CBT, there is a moment of choice. In that moment, I choose "A" or I choose "B." And these moments are often small (I call them pivot points), but the long-term impact is significant. I heard in his story the moment of choice. I heard in that moment a choice to live. He started to create a new future.

Second, often in my role as a clinician, I never hear about the long-term impact of my work. I am humbled to hear and accept his gratitude for our work together. When clients "disappear" I do find myself concerned; I'm also constrained that I'm not able to follow-up. The update is appreciated. In his update, I'm re-affirmed in my comment to sexual health and the work I choose to do.