5 years left (on the clock)

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Leonidas
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5 years left (on the clock)

No, I don't mean to be melodramatic.  I don't think I'm gonna die in 5 years.  But it could happen... I mean accidents happen all the time, cancers appear out of nowhere and I've known of at least one person who unexpectedly collapsed one day, never to be revived again.

The point is this: if I only had 5 years to live, how would I like to live those years?

This is the spur-of-the-moment realization of a 40+ year-old, after going through a difficult stretch these past few months.  It's an intentional return, scrapping the old journal in exchange for a fresh vision: that of VERY limited time left.  After all, as Seneca said: death owns us.  Life is but one long (or short) march towards it.  So I might as well dispense with the fear of dying and finally gather my courage to start living, and savour each moment I have.

There's probably a bucket list of sorts I would like to come up with soon enough.  But I also need to ask myself where is my time being idly lost?  What are some activities that upon closer look, are things I will want to let go if I want to fully enjoy those short 5 years.

Today is July 7th 2021, and it is day 0 with regards to gaming (as well as with other behaviors that are not gaming-related - and that I also wish to let go of).

So here we go!

Polga
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Hi Leonidas

Hi Leonidas

Great to see you and I'm glad you are back here with renewed vigour to grab life by the throat !

Funny I was just thinking today whether it was really possible to imagine one only had a limited time on earth to enjoy life as a way to change behaviour and feelings, or whether that kind of urgency can only kick in if you really have been told that as fact. I hope the former is possible for you. 

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Ritchy
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welcome back

Glad you're back and not giving up. I too went through a long period of repeated relapses back into games before I became ready to do whatever it takes to abstain completely.

There are highly effective methods to stop gaming completely and start living life more fully. I hear them talked about at every meeting. I hope you're able to take advantage of them. You don't have to keep going the way you have been. Change is possible.

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Hey Polga, I think it is

Hey Polga, I think it is possible BUT it has to be constantly in mind... which is the reason I put that reminder as a journal title.  Too often, other things get in the way of new beginnings and so this imagined reality goes by the wayside.  Of ourse, if it's all too real, then there's no question of its effectiveness as a daily motivator to enact change!

Hi Ritchy, I believe you may have made a very good point about attending meetings, something I wasn't too keen on doing last year.  What I like about it is the social interaction, and also the exchange of ideas like you said.  Thanks for the kind words!

Onto log#2...

Feeling a bit down for some reason.  I should be feeling more upbeat though... as I have reason to believe that finally, after more than a year of waiting, I may finally get the elusive job offer I've been seeking.  It would be a very challenging role, one where I would finally be compensated for all my years worth of experience.  For too many years, I was content to go on a meagre income paid by an academic research lab.  Of course what had drawn me in was the complete creative freedom to do as I thought best, but that created a financial prison of sorts where I was never able to save or engage in activities like travel for more than a couple of weeks.

Anyway, I may be on the cusp of a life change, and that is also bringing in a set of other worries.  I need to consider whether to part ways with an aging parent: my being there helps; but I feel that it is hindering on my autonomy and to expanding my social circle.  ****ed if I do, ****ed if I don't scenario.

As for gaming, I used a simple nondescript online card game as a stress reliever yesterday, so count is reset to 0.

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Hi Leonidas

Hi Leonidas

Sounds like a dilemma you have there. Maybe it all rests on what you think is the meaning of (your) life and when you look back on yours, how comfortable you will be with your choices. Where does all this striving get us ? Is that where you want to be ? 

This quote from Carlos Castaneda may help you 

 

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Day 2

Thanks again Polga, for the great quote.  I remember having read a portion of it in a self-hekp book... "the path with a heart".  I was impacted by his idea that no matter what the path, in the end it won't  matter.  Then might as well choose the path that beckons, the journey that will provide most joy.

It's a very philosophical take on life, and we are far from knowing what is ultimately right.  I guess I've been stumbling along, by trial and error, seeing what seems to carry me aloft and what seems to plunge me deep into a pit.  I've always wondered that about the choice of work.  Now I am at the bend of an intersection: taking care of an aging parent or striking out and seeing a bit more of the world on my own.  To be honest, both paths have heart and they also present problems.  Ideally, I could muster the energy to juggle both... but it may have to be intermittent, with time spend abroad with the occasional return to check up on them.  I feel I have missed out too much from life to dedicate my all to their care.  Competing drives, I don't know.  It'll have to clarify sooner or later.

Day 2 no gaming

I got some bad news on Tuesday, unexpectedly hearing that I didn't fit as a candidate to the position I was hoping to get.  The reasons given were shady, as they related to character traits more than competencies... also disheartened by the snap judgments hiring managers make, as though they fancied themselves as experts on the capacities of others.  Felt the blues for the rest of the day and gamed that evening and the following morning to deal with the negative emotions.  Feelings are back to baseline today, I am getting back into the job hunt mood.

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I have always had the opinion

I have always had the opinion that HR professionals are just in it to justify their own jobs. What a lot of hocus pocus and time wasting goes on in candidate selection. Sorry that you did not fit their algorithm. I don't suppose Einstein would have either.

Have you ever tried writing down the things you want to achieve ? Then put the piece of paper in a special place like a box.  It can be very powerful so I am told, as long as you don't expect instant results..

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Day 8

From what friends have told me about their own job hunt experiences, it seems to mirror what you said about the justification of HR jobs.  I guess I don't blame them, I mean the HR people... they also have their necks on the line, knowing that job could be gone in the not-so-distant future.  The other day, I got my application duly rejected a full day after submitting.  Sure enough, it was an algorithm that was responsible for the call.  Well, at least the email said it was the algo's doing... was taken aback by the level of honesty (so I'll give 'em that!)

I seem to be in a better stretch at the moment.  I struggled much in the first 2 weeks to keep gaming at bay, but now that I am in a more routine, get tasks done frame of mind, I don't feel the pull I usually feel.  Reading time is becoming a LOT more consistent... I am liking the new habit I've adopted of dedicating 30 minutes each afternoon to down a chapter.  It's almost become clockwork, it just feels like the natural thing to do.  There are other things I would like to implement: such as taking an hour to dedicate to studying a project idea.  But I dneed a bit more time before I come around to implementing that.  So far, so good.

Now that Polga mentioned it, maybe that idea of writing the things "I'd like to achieve" might be helpful in kickstarting the new project plan.  Sounds intriguing... all I need is to find a magic box. :)

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Its something i have thought

Its something i have thought about doing but not done it myself. I get stuck at the question 'what do I really want' ! The question is immense. The writing it down and putting it in a box is the easy part.

It is stuck in my memory that Geri Haliwell of the Spice Girls, before she became famous wrote down that she wanted to be best friends with George Michael. And years later it came to pass. 

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Day 20

Polga: in all honesty, doing introspective work is one of the hardest things to pull of.  It takes a lot of effort and concentration, and oftentimes when one is leading a regular work life, it is rare to find the time and energy to do this kind of work-on-the-self.  The advantage of ancient Greek philosphers is that they had the luxury to call that a day-time job!  Thanks for the Geri Haliwell reference, it'll make for an interesting off-the-cuff remark... when being 'social' will one day be a 'thing' again ;)

The mental struggle that usually creeps up on me before I give in to gaming is now slowly vanishing into the background.  I can see it coming back in some form or another, but I fear it less now.  The return to reading, the more focused search for work opportunities, the wrapping up of loose ends (aka an unfinished article I had left on the backburner for years) are all contributing to a feeling of progress, or in the very least 'movement' in the right direction.  This feeling contributes to setting up a more fertile ground to continue blooming those good habits, while uprooting the weeds from fields that make it ripe for leisurely time-wasters such as gaming.

One thing that still bothers me is the feeling that I could be more 'productive'.  Some days are quite good in that regard; while others leave a bit of a sour taste, feeling that I could have done better with that day.  Sure enough, when too many of those 'sour' days pile up, it sets up a woeful condition that can make things like gaming all too easy to give in to.  I suppose I am learning to accept these 'unproductive' days as misshaps and wipe out the negativity before getting a fresh start the next day.  So here's to a day where I'll try to get as much done and to try to enjoy the process of progressing a little further down the path.

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Sometimes we can be our own

Sometimes we can be our own worst critic; and is that really helpful to us ?

It sounds like it demoralises you. 

When I catch myself doing it I decide now to stop and give myself a mental hug instead

For me it has helped me to accept myself for who I am right now, even the so called bad bits, and know that I have the right to be here in this world, the right to be accepted and respected and cared for, as i am,  just because "I am" . 

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"New" days often leave us (or

"New" days often leave us (or me) feeling as if we'll wake up and often have a clean slate. When in reality you can start a new anytime of the day. Had a morning you're not proud of? Fix it now, not tomorrow. You choose how your day is going to go! It doesn't have to end bad, even if it started bad. 
 

The journey to staying clean isn't easy. You're going to feel crappy some days and amazing the next.  We've been gaming for so long that we have to get use to living without it. I think you're doing great and each day doesn't have to be perfect nor does each moment.  Keep documenting your journey and stay on track as much as you can.

I'm a little over 2 weeks now and the dreams have started and I'm making the choice every moment to pause and see it as withdrawal and realizing what's causing it. Still clean and will continue to be as much as I can! Every moment, not everyday.  

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Day 0 - reset

Well, the writing had been dimly on the wall for the past few weeks... so it was just a matter of a slip coming by any day.  Slight 3-day binge, with about 2 hours per day.  Now I'm at the point where this isn't me, it's about time to snap out of it and move on.  I thinks LorasStory has got the gist of it: feelings change moment to moment, and this is one of those moments where I feel more decisive about not wanting to lose more time with gaming.  On the upshot: I got upwards of a month game-free.  I'll still keep a tally of days for now, especially in the early goings of a new streak.

Fundamentally though, I don't REALLY like counting days.  But I see it as the stepping stone, the must-be-dones: the shower in the morning, keeping a tidy room and cleaning the dishes by evening to avoid facing a huge pile in the sink by morning.  Of course, once all is on auto-pilot, it'll make sense to ease off of it.  Noticed in the past few days that I got careless with exercise and reading.  The self-awareness of it depresses me, but it just saved me from getting swallowed up whole for full-day binges.  So, I'l take the silver lining!  Onwards then.  What is it that I had in mind for reading now?  Best check in with myself.

LorasStory: Glad you popped in to share a few words. Hopefully, your routine of replacing gaming with other options is still working out for you.  You said the word: it's a process, and I'll be sure to remind myself that "bad" days are a part of it.  How we react to them on the following days is what will define progress.

Polga: You're so spot on!  It DOES demoralizes like nothing else.  Maybe one of those personality disruptions that pop up sporadically.  Still, that ou can manage to claim self-acceptance for yourself... that must not have come by easily.  I wish I had that reflex.  I think I can understand the idea of giving oneself a "mental hug".  Just very hard to imagine putting that into practice. :(

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Hi Leonidas

Hi Leonidas

Welcome back !

Self compassion can be learned even if you don't buy into it as such. You could check out some self compassionate guided meditations online to help tap into your self compassion. "Compassion focused therapy" (CFT) ; there are resources around CFT that may help you.

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Day 0, yet again

It's been a very odd stretch.  Summer went by without so many gaming hiccups, but then September comes around, and I can't seem to get off card-based games.  I don't know what it is, maybe it's the "happy medium" between standard computer game and a family board game... or maybe it's just the simplicity of it that I find appealing.  I don't know exactly what gives.  But I've just seemed to investing my free time into them, and when I'm not I sometimes think about them.

Of course it goes without saying that it does make me feel somewhat ashamed for not having things 'under control'.  Definitely a blast to the ego, but on a physical level it is cannibalizing on sleep time and making me feel groggy throughout those days.  Oh, and it certainly also puts a dent into my recovery efforts as I'm loath to come around every 4 days to announce a new reset. I realize I don't have a huge audience anyway, so why should appearances matter?  Perhaps it's enough for me that an imaginary audience looking in is probably not very impressed at my puny attempts.

On the upshot, I have been looking into CFT (thanks Polga!).  I took out the book: "Self-confidence using CFT" by Mary Welford.  It's a great beginning.  I'm trying to tackle the concept of shame and to revisit past occasions to relive the feelings shame brought on.  The point later on is to work out a way to unlink the automatic mechanism of defaulting to shame every time some event feels 'shameful'.  Since I'm on the topic of games, I'll have to see how I can turn this around so as not to take it as badly as I have been taking it.  But CFT clearly states that it is not about self-indulging and passively accepting one's lot... it's about having enough presence of mind to say 'enough with this, we need changes'.  It's a great book, but I'll have to think about getting my own copy as I foresee needing a couple of months to go through the series of exercises.

Polga: As I just stated above, I started getting into CFT.  I loaned out the Mary Welford book but if you can think of another that is as good, please feel free to suggest it to me.  There are not a whole lot of CFT books available for purchase, even online (tried used books stores as well... alas none to be found).  Thanks!

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Hi Leonidas

Hi Leonidas

Its good to hear that CFT has some meaning for you. Most of my investigations are from the free resources available online such as here:

https://www.compassionatemind.co.uk/resource/resources

If you search compassion focused therapy  or CFT on youtube you may find some nice guided meditations

The author of that book is one of therapists behind the CFT movement so I would think your choice of book is a good one. 

I am really interested about how you go on with this (or not !)

 

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Day 6

Wow, can't beleive I've been absent for a month.  Anyway, it's been mostly time spent in confused contemplation... I don't know if there's much to show for it, but it appears that my mind is slowly coming out of the shadows.  I don't really feel like talking about the addiction.  Besides, 'addiction' is the wrong word for it: it's about knowing when and how to replace some behaviors with actions that end up generating more feelings.  I was tempted to say 'positive' feelings but actually want to refrain from that... ANY feelings experienced are good (even if it is sadness or fear) as opposed to being numb which brings absolutely zero value to the human experience.

Right now I am dwelling on being preoccupied by the state of the world.  There are forces that I have sensed over the past few weeks and months which lead me to believe that a period of so-called 'darkness' will envelop humanity in a not too distant future.  It even feels like our current situation is witness to a setup of necessary conditions before the eventual catastrophe is unleashed.  I can't help feeling what I have been sensing lately concerning the themes that have been running through the media on a daily basis.

The overall lack of concern for the environment, from the continued exploitation of sources of fuel to the accumulating wasteland of discarded electronics.  The slow but steady erosion of employee rights.  The blatant unconcern for the indigenous people (Canada).  The growing divide between the rich and the poor... and the emerging 'classification' of our society.  The slack or completely absent regulations on ultra-rich multinational companies.  And the mother of them all: an apparent disdain for the principles of democracy and for hard-won human rights, via the coercive measures implemented by governments recently.  "You'll all be laid-off if you don't comply!", our politicians threaten us on the daily.  The standard behavior of a bully, which in usual circumstances, wouldn't give me cause for alarm.  But when that narrative is actually accepted without challenge by the media and by certain medical authorities, then I can imagine how powerful forces have been maneuvering and pulling strings in such a way as to create our current scenario: one where totalitarian measures are accepted by the majority without batting an eye.  Something which would have been inconceivalble 10-20 years ago.

Anyway.  That's the kind of depressed state I am feeling at this moment.  My outlook for the future isn't optimistic to be honest... and this coming from someone who identifies mostly as optimistic by nature.  Perhaps my ramble may have nothing to do with 'gaming'.  But then maybe it has: to all of you out there stuck in a mental haze caused by excessive gaming, there is yet hope.  Some day, something, a cause or a strong desire will move you in such a way that you'll want to wake up from your torpor and DO something, even if it is but a tiny contribution.  That's all it takes to break an addiction.

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Welcome back Leonidas !

Welcome back Leonidas !

I also feel these are challenging times. However folks have been fortelling the coming of the "end of the world" for thousands of years. 

The media paints a pretty bad picture but does not tell us of all the good things that continue to happen in the world. Because of tech we know so much more about what is going on. It can become quite a burden on us. And because of tech there are powerful distractions that lead to apathy about getting things done and being engaged with the wider world which is new and the effects still unfolding

What can we do about it? Gandi is attributed to have said words to the effect of “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” If catastrophe actually happens we just have to go with it. But while we are in stasis we can influence our own part of the world and this can have a beneficial ripple effect. 

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree"  Martin Luther

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