Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How your own thoughts limit and control yourself

A metaphor to help express the power of thoughts can be illustrated by my two dogs. I put a lot of energy into training my dogs to walk beside me. Today I let them go off leash, and they stayed right beside due to their training. Even when I tried to have them run free, they followed the training. They didn’t know they were even free, and simply followed the training. In many ways, our thoughts are what limit us, when in fact we are free to begin with. Our thoughts are the equivalent of our training. We follow our thoughts without thinking. Often, we don’t know we are free, so we continue to act according to how our thoughts trained us. The key is that you are free to start with, and the key to discover how you limit your own freedom.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why talk about sexuality.

One of the obvious reasons for developing a support network when starting this process is simply to gain support. A second reason for developing a support network is to help you discover who you are. It isn’t until we start talking about this sexuality that we understand the layers and connections of sexual health. We may not recognize sex negative thinking until someone says, “Wow I really hear a lot of negative talk.” Your ability to cope with shame is supported by a network, but in talking with your network you may actually talk through a solution that dispels the shame leading to a breakthrough in your sexual health.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Toward the future of your sexual health

We can never see past the choices we don't understand. (Matrix Reloaded)

The process of sexual health is a journey, a journey that leads to places you may not understand. This is scary, and a normal part of the process. The goal of the process isn’t to make you turnout or behave in a proscribed manner. Instead, it is helping you chart a path for your future addressing things you may not necessarily understand in this moment.

This process of change has a predictable pattern. Weaved throughout the process are concepts from of stages of change model which helps individuals understand how a person changes behavior. The first stage is precontemplation; its focus is the lack of any change, any desire for change, and /or no perceived need for change. For many individuals, this might be the first time you’ve read anything on all or any of the topics. Phrases such as, “I didn’t know it was a problem” Or, “I didn’t see the connection before.” illustrate this stage. Contemplation, stage two, is when an individual might be aware of, or recognize a problem, but not make any changes either because they are too overwhelmed, or not willing to commit to change the behavior. Avoiding a topic, or not talking about something are examples of this stage. Stage three, preparation reflects when an individual recognizes a need to make a change, and even has an idea about what to do. For some reason, however, the plan isn’t started, completed, or other addressed. “I haven’t done that yet.” Or, “Yes, but…” statements are expressive of this stage. Stage 4, action is when the individual actually changes the behavior. It is here when the work and struggle often occurs. This is also where a client can look back and see the progress. It is also when failure or giving-up can occur. Understanding that the struggle, and even failure, is simply part of the process allows the individual to re-start plans and celebrate when the plans are completed. The fifth and final stage is maintenance. This is where the new behavior is now the new habit, and it continues on its own. Sometimes continuing care plans (also called relapse prevention plans) are designed to reduce the risk of relapse or a failure.

This model is helpful because it allows the individual to identify where he or she is at in the process of change, especially when the path is not understood. It allows the individual to reframe any action (or lack of action) into the process of growth. If you're not willing to make a change, the model can be helpful to understand why and what can be done. For example, you can ask if you need information, what the avoidance may be about, figure out what else is needed, or implement the plans. If you aren't willing to make the change, an underlying issue may be discovered that is the barrier to be addressed first. As you move through the process, reflect where you are at in your willingness to change. The topics are set-up to help you clarify what you need to do for you to allow you to address your stage in that topic. There are no right or wrong responses, simply what you will do next.

Through the process

that doesn’t necessarily have bout value clarification.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A list of Virtues

One of the approaches I use in the treatment of sexual compulsivity is a list of virtues. See the link for a list of more than 100. Which words inspire you to learn more?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Best Predictor of Future Behavior is Current Behavior.

Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either. Albert Einstein

The best predictor of your future behavior is your current behavior. Individuals will often say they did something because of a past incident. I think that is often a convenient excuse to avoid responsibility. Building on the concept of parallel process, what you are doing in the current moment reflects what you will do in the future. How you approach even the small things gives insight into how you will address the big things. In examining your approach you can find your motives, desires, dreams, thinking errors, excuses, and payoffs that you seek. In the discussion on integrity, it isn’t your past deceit that is a concern, but the current deceit. It is important to be open and honest about what is going on in the moment. If you’re lying about the small things now, my guess is you’ll lie about the big things in the future. If show courage in examining the small things now, you’ll show courage in addressing the big things that will occur in the future. How you change your behavior now will tell others you will change your behavior in the future. The past is the past (which doesn’t mean you get to ignore it). All you have is what you are doing in the now. When you say I did this because of “________,” you rob yourself of an opportunity to make changes the current moment. The things you avoid will be the same things you avoid in the future. As you move forward in the workbook, how you address the assignments will give insight into how you will shape your recovery. When you transcend your small barriers, you’ll be able to transcend the big barriers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Full disclosure to others.

This exercise is a helpful template to facilitate full disclosure. Use/adapt as you both find necessary. After both you and your partner have completed the above questions, first confirm that you are both willing to go through the process. This starts with a confirmation by each of you to use the information to strengthen the relationship (and not as a reason to end the relationship). If you cannot confirm this commitment, please post pone disclosure and address the underlying issues. Clarify and negotiate a neutral setting for the disclosure to occur. Consider if you need someone there DURING disclosure: sometimes this may need to occur in a couple’s therapy session. Please make sure you schedule enough time. Pick a date that is NOT already emotionally charged (in other words, don’t do this on your way to holiday dinner with the in-laws!). Consider if you want a support person nearby or on standby.

Start by reviewing the receiving partner’s response to the questions on page 187. Use these questions to structure the discussion. Start by answering each of the questions, allowing the partner to ask clarifying questions. Remember to respond openly and honestly; a lie of omission is as damaging as a lie of commission. Take a break when necessary. Ether of you can call a timeout and/or suspend the disclosure if necessary. Identify a plan to resume the disclosure process if you call a timeout or suspend the disclosure.

After disclosure, debrief the experience. This includes asking each of you, “What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are you present to? What do you need? End with a ritual to celebrate the relationship and the reaffirmed connection that occurs in disclosure. (Yes, conflict is a form of healing intimacy, see page 165). This ritual could be dinner, a walk, a date, meditation, burning the papers created to answer the questions.