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Overcoming the cycle of doubts

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 week, 2 days ago.

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  • #297775

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Hello all,

    I will preface my post with the summary below

    I posted on here a while ago and had to ask for my post to be deleted due to a breach of privacy by a roomate. I don’t think it was done intentionally and I wasn’t upset more so very anxious. Had I been close to the roommate I actually wouldn’t have mind but because I didn’t know them that well it triggered my anxious mind. In that time I have a new roommate and I think its safe to post here.  I want to thank this community and in particular Anita for helping me through a real tough time with my previous post about sexuality anxiety. I am so happy to report that things are a whole lot better. I have accepted that the inability to accept uncertainty is the root of my a lot of my mental health issues.

    So on to my actual post topic

    I developed a porn watching habit during a sexual orientation anxiety. I had a history of viewing porn/erotic movies but for most of my life it was very rare (once or twice every year or years). As soon as the anxiety developed it triggered the viewing and it became more regular. Now that my anxiety has greatly reduced I have noticed that my porn viewing habits haven’t actually reduced. I assumed because the two were linked together, the porn would go down. I thought “okay so this has now developed into a habit and I’ll need to make an effort to end it”.

    This is where the doubt issues occurs. I originally wanted to stop viewing porn because it didn’t allign with my principles and because well the habit developed into a regular one due to anxiety and wasn’t reflective of a habit developed out of a healthy and balanced mindset. I was in a dark depression. However, I told me moms friend about my issues as she  like me has also battled with anxiety issues in the past and overcame them and she informed me that avoiding porn was actually not helpful in my case because she considered my issues to be an issue with an inability to accept uncertainty. Since the porn didnt allign with my real world desires and this started me to develop anxiety over my sexual orientation she considered avoiding porn and fantasies as a way for me to avoid dealing with accepting the feelings of uncertainty viewing porn and the fantasies they raised. She makes a lot of sense but to be fair I have already come to terms now (even if not 100%) that its okay that I am different than others. Its okay that my porn and fantasies don’t allign with my real world feelings. If it does for a lot of people, great but I have a long history of escapism where I morph into different people to escape me. I still struggle with needing validation because a lot of people don’t quite understand the complexity of  sexuality and just assume because their porn/fantasies align with their real world it must mean I am lying to myself.  During the height of my anxiety a lot of my validation seeking was because of so much opinions like that and it shook me because I know deep down there is no denial there so I felt alone in my experience, an oddball, a freak of nature. I am now learning day by day to be okay in being different. That some things align for others and don’t for me is okay. It’s more than okay, it makes me ME.

    Back to my moms friend. I agreed and so what happened was that my reason for quitting porn end up no longer being a strong reason. I don’t want to avoid porn to avoid my anxiety, that won’t help me. Morally, I don’t feel porn aligns wit my views but I also challenged this as a reason to quit porn because I don’t like making decisions based on judging things as I feel it causes feelings of shame. I don’t feel shame is a healthy feeling nor have I ever found it motivating. It actually goes against who I am.

    So I then decided to go on a porn free journey because i liked how it made me feel to be focused on my real world and because I was fully engaged with ME. I didn’t like how escaping into porn fantasies made me feel like I was two different people and so the journey began. I was fully engaged with my present- setting daily goals and meeting them and things were going great. I felt peace, real peace. Then two weeks of no porn was nearing and I developed doubts as to why I even needed to quit porn. I wasn’t an addict? Isn’t that why people quit? Then I realized that I started developing doubts about whether by quitting I was now voiding being okay with having a fantasy. Shouldn’t I learn to be okay with having a fantasy personality instead of feeling the conflict of two people living within me? And by quitting isn’t that essentially saying I am avoiding learning to accept those two different aspects within me? And because all these doubts triggered a desire to watch porn, I relapsed.

    Now I have doubt in my head about this whole desire to change. No reason to quit withstands doubts. Interestingly these doubts may come at particularly vulnerable moments but not always. I have thought about my reason for quitting now that all my other reasons have crumbled due to the doubts and the only things I can think of that quietens the doubts is the way I feel when I quit porn and that is peace and fully engaged as the me that is in the real world. Doubts have come that maybe I could feel this peace by moderating porn use but I am not sure what that will do? If I already feel peace when I quit porn, shouldn’t that feeling be the feeling I need to be chasing.

    I write the above fully knowing that a mark of OCD is doubts but I also think I have this incessant need to over analyze things to just make sure that I have covered all basis so that when I embark on a change I am doing it for all the right reasons.

    Maybe people don’t think this much when quitting a habit? I don’t know to be honest. If anyone has any pointers, great but just writing this out has helped me out a lot.

    Not sure if anyone has made it this far. If you have thanks for reading.

     

    #297855

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    Welcome back. Your overthinking is extreme. You really do live in your head way too much. If this is still the case, and if my memory serves me well, you have been obsessing about sex, previously about your sexual orientation, now about porn watching, whether it is a habit, whether you were an addict of viewing porn, what is the reason you should stop watching it, and so on and on and on and on..-

    – while all along you never had sex with another person, while all along you have no experience whatsoever having any sexual interaction with another person.

    Am I correct?

    anita

    #297887

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Hey Anita, thank you and I hope you have been doing well.

    So I am overthinking it. Figured as much.

    Yes in the past it was my sexual orientation anxiety specifically only that caused a very dark period in my life.

    In my real world, I do not desire intimacy with anyone and this is because beyond maybe thinking a guy is cute I do not have the desire or yearning to entertain a date or be sexual or romantic. I noticed at a young age how different I was from my peers but thought when I got older it would change, nothing has changed to be honest and I have come to embrace this as my truth especially after talking to my mom and boyfriend about relationships and desire and I noticed that other people have a real desire for partnering with someone and failure to do so long term can actually cause them to feel like something is missing. Whilst I  do lean more towards a romantic attraction to men in the real world and had opportunities to date the reality of dating (both the beauty and difficult parts) doesn’t seem alluring enough. There isn’t a strong pull to do so physical or emotional. I remain open to this changing and will be open about maybe trying out dating but I only want to do this if I have a strong pull and desire to do so not so I can gain experience and see if I like it or if that makes sense.

    #297899

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    You are welcome and I am doing fine, thank you.

    Without a desire for a romantic/ sexual relationship and with none in your experience of life so far, all the thinking of past about sexual orientation, all the thinking about sex, what is the use of that thinking?

    Let’s look at the past sexual orientation thinking- with no desire, no plans and no experience with a relationship with another person, male or female, what is the use of all that thinking?

    It is as if you are living life in theory, as if life was a theory, not a practice.

    I don’t remember if we communicated about you possibly going on OCD medication, SSRIs in particular, so to short circuit unproductive thinking?

    I am wondering if you are still working in an animal shelter,  I think I remember that was something you did? And the therapy practice you planned on opening before, is that plan no longer your plan?

    * I will soon be away from the computer for a little while. If you reply I will be glad to read and reply more when I am back.

    anita

    #298013

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Living life as a theory. Never thought about it that way. Really good points Anita, thank you. I guess I was trying to understand ME. Why the ME in my fantasies did not connect to the ME in the real world. My desires in fantasies were different than the real world.I needed to make sense of that. I think those questions  were normal but it was how I ruminated on it and allowed it to lead into obsessive thinking that alerted me that my issues are actually an issue with not being able to emotionally handle uncertainty. I didn’t receive a lot of emotional support as a kid and I can see that scared kid was looking for reassurance. A hug. And now I see how uncertainty brings up that scared little child who is confused about something and needs reassurance. I am not a kid anymore. I can learn to let go from needing every answer. It’s okay, I won’t drown. The fear doesn’t have to be there anymore. I can relax into acceptance.

    You ask about why it the sexual roeintation question matters if I have no real world desire to be with a man or woman and that is a logical question. Well my mind made me doubt my real world feelings. Doubt took over everything. I’ll give you an example, I looked at a womans cleavage. A thought told me to look at her cleavage. I don’t know why the thought told me to do so. It was the height of my anxiety but doubt made me doubt it was the anxiety doing and so I couldn’t even use that as an excuse for why the thought appeared and still don’t. I then analyzed what the thought mean’t. Did having the thought and complying with the thought mean that I was attracted to her? Doubt then made me question what I always knew about myself which is that I have never felt any attraction to real women. It then made me doubt what attraction felt like.

    It made me think “well since I dont feel a desire to date or be  with anyone, how can I be sure that I can decipher what attraction feels like if”? So doubt led me to ask my mom, her boyfriend and anyone else who would listen what attraction felt like. Lol, now that I recollect some of their facial reactions to those questions, it makes me laugh. I am a grown woman asking these questions. Someone told me I’d want to kiss and be with her. I didn’t want to do those things but doubt kept telling me “are you sure”.  In the end, I saw how mad this all was and how none of the doubts were stopping and had to resign into the position that if I was attracted to her I would have to just trust that I would somehow know. The anxiety and doubt made me question my real world feelings mainly because I had the faulty assumption that fantasies and porn habits must connect with the real world. If it does for others, it doesn’t for me. Making peace with that and being okay in my truth and being different has been the ultimate healing for me. Things don’t have to make sense. I don’t know where that thought came from.
    I don’t have to know all the answers to every thing.

    The woman cached me glimpsing at her cleavage, I wanted to run away in that moment from embarrassment. Later I wondered if she thought I liked her. All kinds of negative thoughts held me in hostage. Who cares, you know your truth,I’ve been trying to say this to myself when those flashbacks occur.

    I haven’t seen a medical team to be honest. I have always believed my issue to be a cognitive one. Learning new techniques to overcome old ways of thinking. have seen improvements through using the above techniques of acceptance and letting go. I do need to work through learning when a thought is introspective and therefore helpful and when it is rumination because my issue is every thought is important to me. I realize I have the faulty assumption that every thought or issue reflects something or means something about me. With the quitting porn thing, doubt just comes along and I am certain it has to do with the fact that uncertainty is what is at play. Any reason I give myself to quit porn ends up being attacked by doubts by my mind after a week of embarking on a non porn journey.

     

    Yes, I do work at the animal shelter and it has been really brilliant. It seems me and animals there get along really well. The therapy practice is something I have been reevaluating only because I am not sure if it was something I wanted to do because I too was in pain or if its really my dream. I have decided that just taking time out to see where life takes me in terms of what I am passionate about is okay. Right now I am good.

    Thanks again Anita. Just writing this post and the thread in general has helped. Wishing you well.

    #298017

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    In the heart of OCD is anxiety and a belief that thoughts are powerful entities. It is a false belief, a delusion. In some people this delusion is so extreme that they “hear” their thoughts as if they were spoken by other people or entities, believing their thoughts are real voices existing outside of them. This is psychosis.

    In your case and in mine, in the past, having been diagnosed with OCD, you realize your thoughts are not voices outside of you, but you do belieeve your thoughts are powerful. In reality, they are not. No one knows of them but you (unless you tell others what they are), everyone has many thousands of thoughts a day and nothing happens as a result (unless a person acts on a thought), these are mental events that come and go.

    “I looked at a woman’s cleavage. A thought told me to look at her cleavage. I don’t know why the thought told me to do so”-

    – the thought told you to do something, almost like a voice telling a psychotic person to do something. My thoughts too told me to do this or that (the different compulsions involved in OCD), but this is a delusion: our thoughts are not entities that tell us what to do. These are mere mental events that people who do not suffer from OCD (or psychosis) do not get alarmed by.

    We get alarmed by our thoughts only when we believe that our thoughts in themselves can harm us or others.

    anita

     

    #298069

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

     

    Great points Anita and thank you again for your insight. Yes, I realize that those of us who have experienced OCD give way too much meaning to thoughts than other people. For me it was really not knowing that every thought I had did not reflect me and learning this started helping me piece thing together. I realize though that other people who do not have ocd symptoms did not need to learn this and that is interesting. I guess control and not being able to handle uncertainty was for me the driving reasons for me to develop ocd symptoms. That why I end up ruminating because it’s this perfectionist trait of needing to know every little thing because the unknown feels scary much. Accepting this unknown when over-analyzing proves unhelpful is helping me calm down.

    I realize with the doubts around my porn habits that I will need to just accept those doubts and accept that if I want to quit that is all that matters. I will welcome the doubts and not react to them. This is hard because a part of me feels conflicted because what if those doubts raise another good point that I should analyze a little. I liked the critical angle of analyzing if shame was attached to my reasons for quitting porn because it made me think and reevaluate any decision to quit that may bring about shame like feelings so that analysis was actually very helpful. Again balancing healthy introspection v rumination is the balance I am learning to be conscious of and more importantly learning how to react healthy to doubts and not fear them or get angry at their presence.

    I remember in my last thread that you wrote that anxiety always move from one issue to another and whilst my current issue is still on sexuality but more on another specific issue, it is interesting that just as I came to start healing from my sexual orientation issue, the reasons why I was quitting porn then became the next issue. Before sexuality I off course have a life history of anxiety over various things. Your feedback helped me out a lot in realizing the obvious connection in all my anxieties throughout my life has been a fear of the unknown. Almost every anxiety was focused on needing answers. Needing reassurance. That little kid inside me who didn’t have emotional support developed fear as a result and a need for reassurance all along. Thank you dearly Anita. None of what you wrote in my last thread went unnoticed. I think I needed to really see that the doubts would never stop for me to give up on trying to outsmart it. Every doubt brought a “this is the last doubt I’ll research and analyze” and just as I did that, I’d have a moment of peace but also fear of another doubt looming in the background and sure enough another doubt would come and rob me of my peace. With this current situation at least I am able to really start seeing that this is what may be starting to happen here. I am starting to go down a familiar path but this time I have more tools and wisdom to try to do better and not let this issue drive me down into depression as the sexual orientation one did. This is the hopeful me. Doubts linger in my head now if what I am even writing is true. Maybe I still haven’t figured this all out and I may get pulled back into the sexual orientation anxiety again. Maybe I’ll never recover. I am choosing right now to accept those doubts. To accept all of it. It’s okay. I am still alive. Breathing. I can go for a walk. I can eat something nice or watch something nice. Doubts don’t need to ruin my day. So many dark days, so many times thinking engaging with the doubts would make it better. It doesn’t. The only answer seems to be accepting the unknown and trying my very best to engage myself in thoughts, habits and behaviours that make me feel good about myself and help me live in my reality and not run away from it. At least this is what I’ve learned.

     

    #298093

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    I believe your most recent post is the most honest and the most insightful post by far, that I read from you. I am pleased and hopeful.

    You wrote: “I end up ruminating because it’s this perfectionist trait of needing to know every little thing because the unknown feels scary”-

    – I learned that my fear was not about what may happen in the future, that unknown you referred to. My fear was about what already happened in my life, the past. I thought I feared the future and indeed I had lots of fear regarding the future, but my fear was born in the past and it was about events in the past.

    So the unknown that scares you, I believe, is not about what is yet to happen but about what already happened. After all, our brain is formed during childhood, many thousands of emotional neuropathways are formed. The fear in those pathways is … sort of unsettled, it vibrates so very often, and the doubts, the obsessions, those are the vibrations, so to speak.

    “Almost every anxiety was focused on needing answers”- the answers I needed in my healing process, the answers that served me well are these:

    I was born a good little person, all loving, all trusting and eager to please. I was good at the beginning, a good little person. (Fast forward->) I am a good person now- and what a relief that was, to finally rest in … being a good person.

    anita

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