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Shteeble's collection of inspiration
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If you've made progress - thank G-d, double your merit by inspiring others as well! Post the tips and advice that worked best for you in your journey to sobriety or tell us about recommendations you heard from others that work.

TOPIC: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 13837 Views

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 22 Dec 2016 13:59 #300830

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#44

eslaasos wrote on 08 Sep 2015 13:15:
Hi ShmaYisrael,

I am so sorry to hear about your illness and that your daughter also has it R"L!

I will bli neder keep you in my tefillos throughout the Yoomim Noraim. As Chizkiyah told Yeshayau, Afilu cherev chadah etc.
With all the Gedolim telling us that mashiach is imminent, motzai shevi'is etc., signs all around that this is a zeman mesugal for Mashiach, it's very possible that the future may be very different for all of us that we anticipate.



Why then, when Gehinnom is looming on the horizon (doubled up with the fear that I can die any moment Rachmana Litzlan) do is still get in this frenzy of "having to see" and behave like a madman.


I can't answer you why anyone does anything, but I can only tell you my own experiences. Without your terrible illness, R"L, I too have felt this sense of wonder of how spiritually suicidal my behavior is. The YH is extremely smart and has an immense strength in the ability to direct our thinking and he can manipulate a situation in contradictory directions (see Michtav M'eliyahu).
The very fact that I have a looming appointment with the Yom Hadin can itself cause me to feel like screaming "Aaaaah! how am I going to get out of this? My scale is too heavily laden down on the aveiroh side! The Din is implacable and cannot be bribed - all summed up in one word - YIUSH.
With such tension building up inside, I need some method of comfort/escape to distract myself.

This is the ultimate vicious cycle...

ShmaYisroel wrote:


Unfulfillment leads to feelings of depression and worthlessness which leads to trying to escape from the truths of life.

This double life; fooling my friends, family and (almost) everybody who knows me (including myself) is very depressing and painful.




My friend, I went through this cycle over and over for years, with each cycle getting exponentially more desperate, and cycling quicker and quicker.

Did you ever watch the spokes of a wheel on a bicycle as it picks up speed? In the beginning you can see a distinct direction of movement until it speeds up to the point where it all blurs together, and then it looks like it reverses direction. So too, the cycle sped up until it was almost one long stretch of pain, and the situation was reversed from occasional depths of pain to one long stretch of pain and despair punctuated by occasional glimmers of fake comfort which kept feeding into the negative emotions.

It was only when this deteriorated to the point where I could no longer maintain the facade, and it started visibly affecting my interactions with my family that I went for professional help.

Even then I was not able to stay dry!

The RBS"O in His great kindness helped me by orchestrating events so that other areas of my life that had been stable also unraveled, and I had nothing left that allowed me to continue fooling myself that my life was basically manageable with only a little problem that I would one day in the future find a way to resolve.




I guess I can only daven that Hakodesh Boruch Hu will have mercy on me and my family.


NO! it is the YH telling you that your only option is to daven to Hashem for mercy. Of course, you can and should do so, but if you allow yourself to think that this is your only option, that has to be atzas hayetzer.

When I hit my rock bottom, the RBS"O again sent me a yeshua, which I won't get into details about, but although the way events happened was without a shadow of a doubt all directly His hashgacha, and only went well because He allowed it to be so, it did start with some direct actions that I took in the right direction, like a sleepwalker trying to fumble in the dark towards a light that I could only see a reflection of.

Everyone has his path to follow, may the RBS"O help you find yours bkarov with as little pain as possible... avol lo al yedei yisurim v'cholaim ra'im.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 22 Dec 2016 14:06 #300833

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#45

eslaasos wrote on 09 Sep 2015 20:03:

AlexEliezer wrote:
Maybe start with watching a half hour before going to less noble material.
It's possible to re-train your mind to enjoy shiurim. Hashkafa stuff can be very engaging. Find a speaker you like. You'll have stuff to say at the Shabbos table.

Baby steps. But you gotta take them.


I have no clue if it's right or wrong to deliberately watch TV as a distraction, but I can only say that I did it, and I can attest to the truth of AE's claim that it is possible to retrain your mind to enjoy shiurim. I used TV as a half way house between shmutz and Torahanytime (that sounds weird)!
It took a few years, but I would never have believed that I would one day be as interested in a Torah shiur as I was in TV. It helps if the speaker is entertaining and light, with a few interesting concepts buried among the funny stories.
Mind you, some shows like Breaking Bad are in a class of their own and I have not yet been as excited by the latest release from Rabbi Orlofsky as I was by the new season/episode of BB, but you get the picture.

I am 99% sure that by itself it would not have been successful, but it was helpful. You have to start with sur mera before you can get to aseh tov. This is like sur from very ra to not so bad ra.

Another thing I found helpful was Jewish music videos on Youtube.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 22 Dec 2016 14:31 #300839

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#46

eslaasos wrote on 09 Sep 2015 21:31:
What exactly is sharing and why is it one of the steps in the program? Here are my thoughts, good and bad.

1. Denying denial. A cornerstone of addiction is denial of the severity of the problem. By standing up and saying "Hi, my name is beep and I am a ....olic" you are facing up to the painful truth you have been denying to yourself. Without this admittance, recovery is impossible. In this context, the introductory statement is really the most important part of it. This is similar to the essence of the entire vidui summed up in the introductory sentence - חטאנו אבל אנחנו ואבותינו.

2. Repudiating secrecy. The twin brother of denial is secrecy. My therapist once gave me the moshol of a stone buried halfway in mud. The underneath is dark, slimy and inhabited by worms and beetles. Just turning it over and bringing it out to the light of day is halfway there. Sunlight dries the wet mud and sends the creepy-crawlies scurrying for cover. Then a little washing (tears of repentance?) does the rest. Secrets fester and grow in darkness. This would be the details of the "share" or the text of the וידוי where you "air" the secrets you have been harboring, then ask for forgiveness from those who you have harmed.

3. The bastard child of denial and secrecy is isolation. You turn inwards, hurting people close to you and cutting off connections to possible avenues of healing. Standing up and sharing is an effective way of becoming a member of the club - the group or friends who will be your support network as you battle the addiction. אז נדברו יראי ה' איש אל רעהו.

4. It is NOT a dark, private confessional booth where you can almost pretend there is no-one listening. Sometimes self-serving actions can also be productive to others, but this is just enjoying a cathartic experience which is irrelevant to recovery. Even worse it is very easy to fall into the trap of the "den of thieves recounting their exploits" as discussed by the Chovas Halevovos.

At the end of the day, we don't like the secrecy, lies and isolation. This can create a desire for sharing for the wrong reasons.
Bringing this from the abstract to the actual, I shared with someone from GYE a few weeks ago. He advised me that sharing is a one-time event that is not revisited, which made sense to me. I no longer feel the need to share my story with anyone except my wife and therapist (not the same person ). If the urge returns, I will have to think about what is motivating it.

All feedback welcome.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 25 Dec 2016 01:37 #301029

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#47

AlexEliezer wrote:

Regarding your eyes needing video.
This is a whole nother big topic.
It's about the need to escape into the digital void.
We addicts have a need to escape.
For many of us, we have channeled that need to the endless escapist world of video.

I think we need to learn to live without escaping.
To live. Really.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 27 Dec 2016 01:48 #301238

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#48

Bigmoish wrote:Although I have been staying out of this discussion, I have been following, and I will just state one opinion before retreating to the shadows once more.

I very very strongly disagree with the notion that women dress up or wear makeup so that men should lust after them. Maybe there's a psychologist who can back me up, but my personal understanding is that women need to look good for themselves. It makes them happy to look good. Even attractive. Not just neat and put together. See how your wife get dressed to go to a shiur for women. Ain't nobody lusting after her there. Or a separate seating simcha. She's not getting all dressed up and made up for the 5 minutes with you in the car, when you're going to have your eyes on the road most of the time anyway. 
Men don't understand this concept, because we are so focused on sex, so we assume that all women are dressing provocatively so that WE can enjoy the view. We're just a bunch of self centered pervs. 
In truth, looking good is vital to a woman's self esteem.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 29 Dec 2016 03:56 #301480

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eslaasos wrote on 21 Oct 2015 16:44:
Yesterday, Skep, one of the moderators, gave me a new understanding of addiction. I can't access the chat session so I'm paraphrasing, hope I get it right.

It's not about lust, per se. The way he explained it, it's a condition that I personally refer to as escapism. Lust is only one of the manifestations, and a common one (I guess it becomes a favorite drug of choice because it's a strong drive we naturally have, is enjoyable and easily accessible among other reasons).

I may not be lusting, but I'm still obsessing, still escaping. 3 years ago it was lust, last year it was something healthier, today maybe it's GYE. As long as I'm still escaping, I will always need to be vigilant because it's the escapism that will drive the lack of control that turns the first "drink" into a free-fall.

What are we running away from? Some people know of traumatic experiences they went though. Some don't.

I'm guessing it's a combination of nature and nurture. Maybe I have a natural tendency that tends to ignore problems and pretend they're not there rather than facing them and dealing with them.
This became the oft-referenced vicious cycle where the escape itself became a problem that was too painful to deal with, requiring further escape. The habit of escaping instead of accepting becomes more ingrained.

With siyata dishmaya, we can retrain our behavior patterns; find healthier escapes, take baby steps at accepting instead of escaping. Over time we can lessen the strength of the nurture aspect, but the nature aspect is likely to be there a lot longer, hence the necessity for the ongoing vigilance (and the opportunity for ongoing growth).

I think that's 2 or 3 therapy sessions accomplished by 3 sentences, thanks Skep! If I misunderstood or misquoted you, or took it further than you meant, please correct me. As always, all feedback welcomed!

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 30 Dec 2016 02:53 #301583

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#50

eslaasos wrote on 02 Nov 2015 16:32:

Moshe271 wrote:
I'm reaching out. There's a girl in the office who is so friendly, and her outfits are usually tight with a low neckline. I have such a problem with this. All I see is someone saying "I want you." and I want her back. It's a mirage, but it doesn't feel that way. I imagine she will give me all the love and nurturing I crave. I cannot be in the same room with this girl without getting a turn on, feeling the blood drain from my head, and getting dizzy. I know myself well enough to know I would never actually touch her, but it definitely will lead to fantasies and mast***ation. This is why I'm writing about it - to expose this urge to the light and let it wither.

Hashem, You love me. I know You do. I love You too. I don't love this woman. I am an addict, and I want to fantasize about her and run away from all my problems. I am prepared to surrender this urge to You. Please, please take it away from me. Protect me in Your love; keep me sober and clean just for today. Thank You. That's much better. I'll be in touch.


Kol hakovod for expressing it so well.

How long has she been working in your office?
My own personal experience is that over time as you get to know people, they change from being golden pedestals of fantasy into regular human beings. I have someone in my office for 8 years who I would consider a friend (in the workplace sense at least) and has a terrible neckline. It's actually not a neckline anymore but a ... let's call it a chestline.
It still takes effort on a regular basis to keep my eyes where they belong just because it's all so out there, and I still have to be careful not to shmooze too much, but I no longer see her as an object of lust. She is a person with issues, a family, strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.
I'm not recommending getting to know her better, that would be counter-productive, and possibly ossur as well. It's just a mindset you can have as a goal when engaged in necessary interactions.
Hatzlacha!

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 30 Dec 2016 03:04 #301585

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#51

lavi wrote on 08 Jul 2014 20:06:
hello everbody,
i like the name of this category" what works for me, because there is an opportunity to write about true experiences that already was, without the great unknown future being a factor.
having said that i want to tell the oilam, what i have learnt and what i feel about movies ie. watching for entertainment any kind of show which involves acting. ( i mean to exclude nature and science shows- to some extent.
absolute poison. clouds the mind. pumps the imaginations. wastes time. destroys true emotions. kindles lust (oh so gently), makes the fantasy real, makes real fantasy.
makes you oiver a whole bunch of issurim, which does tend to push away siatta dishmaya which we need so desparately. how on earth are you suppose to concentrate on any good thing, let alone a tosafos or a shmona esrei, with "stuff" flying through your mind. i know we need outlets, but there gotta be things that are exactly that outlets, not inlets, healthy stuff, and the way to tell is by seeing if they disturb you when you are trying to focus on doing important things.
i haven't seen youtube for a month and i feel a different person.
can you relate?

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 30 Dec 2016 10:17 #301604

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#52

Serenity wrote:maybe I would ask myself. What's lacking in my life, that I have this need to... ? What am I escaping from? Where am I discontent with what I have? 

I might answer that, I'm afraid my life isn't going so well. I think I could have done better for myself. I'm afraid this world is it, and I'm missing out on the pleasures. I'm afraid that when I'm old, I'll regret how I lived life.

Then maybe I will ask Hashem to show me his will and surrender myself to His plan. Maybe I'll be comforted to know that He is with me and has a plan for me. Maybe that will assuage my fears. Maybe I'm still overwhelmed and afraid and I need look more at my relationship with God. Maybe I need to pray. Maybe a review of steps 2 and 3 is in order. Maybe I need to sit down and work on step four and list my fears, so I can see how much fear effects my decisions.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 30 Dec 2016 10:27 #301605

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#53

eslaasos wrote on 17 Nov 2015 15:35:

Moshe271 wrote:
eslaasos

There's a level of pain at losing my sweet escape, which is why I need the filter, but although I don't enjoy it, I know intellectually that I will be happier in the long run without it.


I relate to this very much. I would even say more: I mourn the loss of my crutch. I feel lonely, unloved, and unworthy, and I want to feel good and secure and safe, which my crutch used to give me. I miss that. What I'm finding, though, is that I'm gradually learning how to pick up the good feelings from my connection with Hashem, from my connection with my wife, from taking care of myself. This is a very slow process of retraining, of unlearning habits that are 40 years in the making. It's hard.


Thank you, this is so true for me as well. I think this is one place where an aspect of surrender is called for - or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it acceptance.
The quicker I accept that escapism is something I may have to deal with for the foreseeable future, the quicker I will be able to be gung ho about making progress in retraining my thought patterns and actions.

THERE ARE NO QUICK AND EASY SOLUTIONS, so I need to suck it up and enjoy make the most out of the battle Hashem chose for me.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 01 Jan 2017 01:00 #301670

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#54

eslaasos wrote on 10 Dec 2015 20:22:
A Rebbe told me once with regard to lust - you can't control what comes into your head, what happens next is up to you.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 02 Jan 2017 04:25 #301781

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#55

gibbor120 wrote on 21 Dec 2015 16:36:
It struck me when dealing with an issue with one of my children that she was acting out of pain, not spite. Often, we react to what people do as if they chose to do someting wrong or hurt us. But, if we take a step bakc to understand why they did it, we will have an entirely different reaction. (yes, i realize a person has bechira)

No one responded to my scenarios and said "what a rasha, doesn't he know that it's assur to be chovel b'atzmo, or that suicide is a lav". Our natural response is one of empathy. Although those halachos are true, but they never really enter our minds. We naturally feel for the person.

Our addiction (for many of us) is similar. We had pain growing up for various reasons. We turned to acting out to ease our pain. Yet, we blame ourselvs and think we are reshaim. We don't look at the bigger picture and have some compassion towards ourselves.

Finding a solution to our addiction presents a similar problem. Try talking to someone deeply depressed about the lav of suicide. You are not likely to get very far. The problem is not the issur of suicice. The problem is depression.

Our problem (for many of us) is not acting out. Our problem starts way before that and we must treat the problem, not the result. Trying to learn mussar etc. will have very limited success.

Dr. Sorotzkin gives an example. If someone speaks loshon hora. They should learn the halachos and mussar. But, if it is a chronic problem, they likely have self-esteem issues and have to put others down. In that case, we must adress the persons self-esteem, NOT the aveira of loshon hora.

Yaakov Avinu is "criticised" by chazal for the way he replied to Rachel when she complained of having no children. He said "Am I Hashem who prevented you from having children?" His response was 100% true, but wrong nonetheless.

How many times does one of our wives say something that bothers us, but she had a hard day with the kids and is on edge. We can look past the comment, and see that it was said from pain. Often, if we do not respond, she will later apologize realizing that she spoke harshly.

Acting out is an aveira, a severe one, it's true. But, for many of us, at least at this point, it is not very relevant, and only distracts us from the real work.

In any event, understanding the source of an action can help us both in dealing with ohters and with ourselves.

I hope this made sense (I realize I rambled a bit) and I didn't mislead anyone to thinking I had some big chiddush to share. Just something that occured to me.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 02 Jan 2017 19:23 #301841

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#56

eslaasos wrote on 18 Jan 2016 16:13:
I don't have a lot to offer for your specific question because what works best for me is the ounce of prevention rather than the pound of cure. My issue is escapism, not lust per se, so I need to head off the beast by fighting it while it's still at the stage of escape before it turns into straight lust.
To accomplish that, I need to remember how important it is to me not to start slipping. I do that by browsing these forums. By keeping it in the forefront of my mind, it trains me so the knee jerk reaction to the escape urge is aversion. Every second I entertain the idea of escape makes it exponentially harder to regain that lost ground.
I also attend one of the phone conferences which is actively working on changing my mindset so I don't need to escape as much.

There are times when I am in a close range firefight to escape. When that happens, this is what works for me.

1. I setup my daily schedule to have no down time. If I'm lucky enough that the timing is right, when the mood hits I might have a shiur/chavrusa or some other activity that is already habitual that will get me out of myself.

2. Reaching out to GYE buddies, poor guys.

3. Music! I have a large collection of favorites, and have found music to be a great mood changer. Only Jewish music, the other stuff would work against me as it has hashpo'os of tumah and makes me despise myself. Some of the Jewish singers have the same nauseating effect as non-Jewish singers - just saying.

4. Lastly, let's say it's Shabbos, no music, no chatting with friends online, no shiur or chavrusa scheduled, I play through an imaginary conversation in my mind. (This would be more embarrassing if it wasn't anonymous). I talk through the situation exactly the way I would if I was sharing it with a friend. Sometimes I even imagine the response!
Years ago, when I was very close to the mashgiach in yeshiva, I often held imaginary conversations with him. I knew him well enough that I felt I could predict his response.

Hope this helps. In my experience, even the close range strategies work best if you invest time in them before they're put to the test.

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 02 Jan 2017 19:30 #301844

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#57

bearman13 wrote on 26 Jan 2016 05:23:
There are techniques which are common in what's called CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It basically is the idea that our patterns of thought affect our moods and our being. And if we can change those patterns then we can have a positive impact on our well-being.

When being engaged in this struggle it's important to remain optimistic. Being optimistic will give you greater energy, help you avoid falling, and if you do fall it will help you to pick yourself and keep going.

Don't fall into the thinking trap of the three P's:
Permanence: Pessimistic people think that their failure is permanent. This demotivates them and prevents them from continuing the struggle. Optimistic people recognise that while they may have failed now with hard work and diligence they can beat it. It is not a "permanent" failing and they can succeed. This energises them to keep up the fight and eventually succeed.

Pervasiveness: Pessimistic people assume that failure in this one area of their life means they are a failure in life as a whole. This demotivates them and prevents them from continuing the struggle. It also prevents them from participating fully in all other aspects of their life which reduces their overall well-being which then in turn makes it even harder to succeed in this struggle.

Personalization: Pessimists blame themselves for every time they fail whereas optimists apportion blame on causes outside of themselves. Optimists are therefore generally more confident. Optimists also quickly internalize positive events while pessimists externalize them.

Applied to this struggle:
  • Permanence - The struggle isn't permanent. There are a number of people on this site who have had great struggles but have succeeded. With effort you will succeed.
  • Pervasiveness - Just because you struggle in this area it does not mean you are a bad Jew in everything that you do. This is a particularly strong perception in the Jewish community. Yes many of us struggle with this. But we can still be successful in other aspects of our lives.
  • Personalization - Don't blame this all on yourself. Yes we must accept responsibility for our actions, however also recognise that this is one of the greatest challenges of our generations. No other generation that has ever lived has ever had to live under such constant bombardment of sensual imagery and with such ease of access. We live in a very difficult environment.


Additionally when experiencing negative thoughts there is a thought process to go through which can help turn your thought patterns around. It can be usefully remembered with the mnemonic ABCDE:

A = Adversity - This is the event causing your negative thoughts. Whether it is a fall, or you've been reflecting on past behaviours.

B = Belief - These are the current beliefs that you have about this event. (Think the three P beliefs I listed above)

C = Consequence - This is how you feel as a result of your beliefs interpreting the event.

D = Disputation - This is where you become a good Jewish lawyer! Argue with yourself and dispute those erroneous beliefs that you have. E.g. It isn't permanent and you will do better, it isn't pervasive and you do succeed in other areas, it's not personal and you live in challenging times.

E = Energization - This is the end result how you feel now that you have successfully disputed the beliefs that previously had. Hopefully this would result in a more optimistic mindset which will make you more motivated to keep on with the struggle and to eventually succeed!

If you want more information you can look on wikipedia here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_optimism

Re: Shteeble's collection of inspiration 02 Jan 2017 19:34 #301846

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#58

eslaasos wrote on 26 Jan 2016 17:41:
I don't have a lot to offer, I just want to share that I relate strongly. Therapy helped me a lot but at the end of the day im ayn ani li, mi li.

This morning I realized (again) that the term surrender also means that I give up my expectation/hope/right of having that excitement and that enjoyment. As Cordnoy says, sobriety can be scary because it's boring. So I surrendered that to Hashem, I gave it away, and He gave me back a feeling of satisfaction for taking another baby step to return to Him after the thousands of leaps and bounds I took running away from Him.
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