213: Tracking Connection – The Experimental Relationship Journal (Sort Of)

In this episode of “Recovery Sort of,” we delve into the concept of the Experimental Relationship Journal. This unique experiment, serves as a powerful tool to confront feelings of loneliness and worthlessness while fostering a deeper sense of interconnectedness with those around them. Through a straightforward approach, one can reflect on the order of daily interactions, encompassing various connection points, including social media engagement.

The Experimental Relationship Journal transcends a mere tracking system, evolving into a reflection on the profound role interconnectedness plays in our lives. The discussion extends to potential benefits, noting its positive impact on self-perception and seamless integration into daily routines. The Experimental Relationship Journal allows us to contemplate patterns and reflections on busier weeks, the experiment becomes a source of self-awareness, emphasizing the importance of setting healthy boundaries to avoid under- or overstimulation. We talk about potential enhancements to the journal, such as incorporating a rating system for emotional states which could offer valuable insights into the impact of varying levels of social interaction on overall well-being. We invite you to explore similar tracking and journaling methods, and share your findings with us.

Join the conversation on our social media platforms and share your insights.

⁠Interconnectness episode⁠

⁠Journaling episode

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Transcript:

welcome back it’s recovery sort of the podcast where we explore the struggles of Life the challenges of mental health and Recovery in the spaces between we express our personal views on life here and this podcast is not meant to replace medical advice or tell anyone the right way to live this podcast is best used as a place of curiosity and questioning to accompany you on your journey be aware there is strong language here we

go [Applause] [Music]

welcome back hi Jenny how you doing good morning it’s morning now yeah I don’t know when I don’t know when everybody’s listening to this but it’s morning good morning hi if not fill it good afternoon good evening good night okay there you go there’s all your options all covered yep so uh you’re here we want to talk about obviously what we always talk about which is human humanness Humanity Being Human how to relate to other humans like how to get along with people how to make a meaningful life you just want to talk about relationship Journal uh well it’s an I think it’s I’m doing an experiment so this is what I thought to share okay I’m doing an experiment I’m calling it the experimental relationship Journal I love it okay oh good good got a title I thrive on encouragement so that’s great I mean usually I’m just like I’m going to journal I’m going to meditate I don’t give it a fancy name name you like you created a whole new practice and titled it and well we’ll see cuz it’s an experiment uh no but copyright something okay experimental relationship this my I wanted to share about my experimental relationship Journal tell me what you think I’m I’m open to criticism it’s an experiment you know uh you know

I I can revise so all right the point of it is rooted in um interconnectedness do you remember when we we did a show on interconnectedness you know it so interconnectedness if people aren’t familiar is uh we don’t get through this life not without connecting with other human beings and you know anything that you know like nature you know Spirit whatever right you know we don’t get through life alone even if you think you’re alone or like nobody helps me well guess what you know like that shirt you’re wearing was made by someone and it was grown you know the cotton was grown on a farm and that soil was tended to for you know centuries you know to to grow the cotton that was spun into your shirt you know we are interconnected and you know every day you see people in the store or uh you know I don’t know you like I guess even social media um when you do your you know people at work you’re always interconnected anyway so there are times when my mental health issues will tell me that I’m all alone or um that I’m no no good to anyone or you know it it doesn’t happen a lot these days is is this your version or or slightly different version of a uh I think mine is more like nobody loves me is this the same feel or is it slightly different yeah there are times when I I’ll get well I I do feel loved like there’s always that I always have my kids like I’m like well they love me but then I always I I’ll go to but I’m no good you know like they love me because

I’ve fooled them I’ve tricked them okay so see I don’t that’s interesting cuz I I definitely have a people would be better off without me in their life kind of phrase that happens for me um but but I think there’s times when even I get to that that disregulation where it says your kids don’t really like yeah they love you on a kid level but they’re still going to pick a tablet over saving your life if if like it came down to it you know what I mean so like I don’t know it’s just interesting I’m just curious what everybody’s yeah I think mine is slightly different I think they love me but they don’t really know me they love me cuz they think I’m something else they love me cuz they’re stupid I don’t actually use those words but no I think that I’ve I’ve fooled them or tricked them or like they don’t really know me if they really knew me they probably wouldn’t like me that script will run H so I got one kind of like that that’s more I’ve used it more in the relationship world like the Romantic relationship world around like they only love me because of this or because of that you know because I do this for them because you have a podcast yeah sure that’s totally my my memes it’s my recovery me that’s yeah that’s what it is that’s all they’re here for guaranteed there is someone okay yeah so I got us a little yourself in the comments right I got us off track um so your intent with this experimental relationship Journal is to combat that inner voice that tells you you’re not good enough to combat the inner voice to say that um well a couple things that I’m alone I’m no good to anyone um no one helps me because sometimes that happens too where I’m like God I’m I’m so alone I don’t have any help and this is so far you know the intention is it’s a good reminder of you have a lot of help out there and I need to ask for help when I am struggling so um that people help me and care about me and want to see me and

I help people I am valuable to other people in my life because sometimes I forget like I am a good friend I am a good family member I do help the community my neighbors you know like I am a value and I’m not uh U manipulating them like I’m truly like here’s an example this sounds like I’m toting my own horn but like yesterday I haven’t elderly neighbor and she’s like Jenny can you help me with my car I am just not well enough we have snow right now in Maryland and I was like yeah sure you know like like I’ll go help her and uh like that means a lot to her she’s you know too old to take care of it herself right I was delighted to get a text this morning that she’s like oh my brother-in-law’s coming over I’m like cool I don’t have to do that but like she’s like thank you so much and I’m like hey you know what I’m meaningful to Gretchen you know like that mattered to her you know and I I forget that I am a good person sometimes I forget that I’m a good person sometimes like I just say yes to you know seniors living in the neighborhood you know so I hope that my relationship Journal will help me remember that I’m a valuable part of other people’s lives in addition to them being important to me so I’m trying to grow up you know

I’m trying to do the right thing I’m trying to like take care of my money you know I’m almost oh my God people I am almost 50 years years old you know I’m like a year and 3 months shy 50 months old 50 years old and I still don’t have like a solid handle on finances like how many months is 50 years I 600 yeah I think it’s 600 yeah you’re almost 600 months old good job with the math um like but I can ask for help you know like you know like finances is not my like huge Forte like I’m stable but like I should be like planning for old age and stuff and I need help go ask for help there’s people in my life that can help me and like so doing this relationship journal helps me remember like there’s people older than me that have experience this there’s actual professionals out there that do this so um if do you have any questions otherwise

I’ll tell you how the journal looks yeah yeah I got I got I got questions so uh just to clarify your intent with this I’m guessing uh sounds to me like you’re noticing there’s times when you don’t seem to have access access to the full picture of your reality and that maybe your brain takes you to just seeing some negative pieces or or some yucky feelings or maybe seeing the world through the lens of a yucky feeling you know what I mean almost like sunglasses it’s tinting everything to look darkh um and and the intent of this experimental relationship Journal I’m thinking is a place to go during those times to remind yourself or maybe just the daytoday practice so that it’s fresher in your head which yeah I would say it’s more preventative okay okay yeah had you thought about using it at a time when you’re having one of those moments where it’s like yes just pulling it out and being like yeah FP through mhm yeah and it does look kind of like a spreadsheet this is cool no this is awesome so it’s just right now it’s simply the date and then anyone

I have meaningful contact with in that day and so far I I’m curious about about the order so like who am I talking to first in the day you know like is it my family is it online is it you know like so that that is a that already that’s part of the experiment is like oh wow look I didn’t even think about that you know I was on Facebook before I even talked to my husband like that’s weird you know yeah yeah no I’m super interested in how too so I definitely want to get there I’m just really interest like this is fascinating okay so so pause here for a second pausing has your inner child had a moment how long you been doing this the experimental relationship Journal uh like like a little less than two weeks okay no that’s great has your inner child had a chance to like I I want to say say thank you but really just feel the appreciation that the loving parent Jenny is taking this kind of time and dedication to like make her life better for that little girl no we haven’t had that sit down yet amazing yeah I think we will maybe sit down and celebrate that you know yeah and then maybe like I don’t know some other part of Jenny can come in and just be proud of like loving parent Jenny that’s [  ] amazing for doing this that’s cool a

I mean really that’s a big investment in yourself to to do something like this that’s awesome and I think we get more benefits from the backend pointing that back out to ourselves you know what I mean it’s kind of what you’re doing with your with your uh experimental relationship Journal is trying to point how good you are out to yourself and I want to stop you along the way and do it again because this is awesome uh well thanks and um yeah I I do uh appreciate that I also try to include in the journal when I spend time with me because that’s part of my I don’t my mental health practice I don’t have a fancy title for that yet but but experimental mental health practices so you know I’m a journal like cuz I did the journaling show here and um so journaling is like my go-to tool for a lot of my mental health stuff and um so I make sure to note in the book you know special time with me and that would be something like communicating with little Jenny or uh plotting out some dreams or goals or plotting out just even my week like just spending time like all right how do I want my week to go so

I do put me in there too me exclamation point me so when okay so you have mentioned that you keep track in order throughout the day of when they happen yeah do you mark the time too or it’s just the order no time okay so just the order and then are you tracking CU you said you mentioned like the ways you’re there for others and the ways they’re showing up for you are they separate columns not separate columns it’s basically just like when I say spreadsheet it’s like date and then a list of names so it’s it’s not a very big spreadsheet and and as long as there’s a name that means there was a meaningful contact that’s what I’m calling cont so um which includes social media because I had to think about my relationship with social media that is contact in a way so if I’m like liking a post no but if I get in a messenger discussion that’s yes and so I guess you one could pick apart the gray area of meaningful contact of social media but do I feel like we’ve had meaningful interaction yeah

I mean what at the end of the day when you lay down at night it doesn’t really matter what the other person in the other house is thinking or feeling about that it might have been a passing you know moment for them and not that big a deal but if you lay down at night and it felt meaningful to you that that’s what matters so yeah I don’t think there is a gray area I think if you felt it was meaningful then it was meaningful yeah good thanks for backing me up on that because there’s people like across the country that I am not going to see for years but we have a great correspondence and you know they matter to my life yeah so yeah how do you and and this isn’t to pick it apart in any way just out of curiosity like how do you feel through the variety of text messages and I don’t know I don’t get a a crap ton of text messages but maybe three out of 10 are meaningful conversation to me I would think whereas other ones are just like more day-to-day planning or scheduling or how to get through your day what do you need you know okay so far I think I’ve included all my text conversations like even if it’s somebody just saying you know like oh like Caroline’s sick she couldn’t make it today like

I was like oh man I hope you feel better that was meaningful to me like I wanted to you know sincere about like oh I’m sorry about her you know like you might not have as many meaningless conversations through text as I do you I don’t know I not that I have a lot of meaningless conversations I don’t know I guess I’m trying to think of like somebody texting me at work and being like hey do you have do you know how to work the printer or something and me being like yeah I’ll show you real quick you helped that person that’s meaningful kind of meaning damn maybe I’m selling myself short you’re you were important to that person they could have reached out to anybody but they reached out to you and why probably because they knew I was there but also probably because they think I know [  ] yeah and you have a podcast why do they think I and the recovery memes and the memes

I forgot it was memes not the podcast yeah the podcast was like you know he’s kind of attractive he’s got a podcast but the memes that’s the panty dropper some of those memes are mine everybody oh yeah yeah yeah it’s the boxer droppers the funny ones are mine the boxer droppers are his so how have you felt so far I know you said you’re a little under two weeks into this how has it felt to do this practice good yeah yeah very really positive um and so far not a burden and I think that’s when I’ll end up dropping the practice when I’m like I got a good I have the same pattern if I do like a calorie counting app like I’ll do it until I get into a new habit then I’m like okay I don’t need this anymore and then I know I can pick it back up if I’m feeling low but I’m going to keep doing this it’s not a burden to like whip out my phone and just add another name um so I have I have no end goal in mind but it’s interesting to see what little side observations come in like who do I talk to first in the day I don’t know what’s next you know like what other maybe I will add columns you know later so it’s it’s just let’s see how this rolls out well when you first mentioned it to me and you were talking about the idea and you kind of I don’t

I guess just to convey the idea you were talking about like things ways you show up for others ways others show up for you so I was hoping it didn’t turn into almost a a competition sheet of like oh God they’re outdoing me you know I got to show up more I was worried about that for a moment no um didn’t really think about that but my mind could go there maybe if I had more free time I might really pick apart that but is there any space where you could see the tracking itself turning against you so to speak like oh there’s too few names over the course of this last week look at me I’m slipping or something like is that a chance or is there potential for that or have you kind of built in what to do for that yeah no I I haven’t really thought that it would ever be a negative like that never considered it I should consider it um I have thought I’m like oh

I wonder what days you know I wonder how low I might go on a day how few names I have been curious I’m like I wonder how few names I can get in one day and you know Pur yeah like and I haven’t like taken that personal challenge but like let’s F I’m like I’m hard you know I have a family you know like and I’m like active in the community there’s there’s not a day where i’m not at least getting texts or taking care of my kids or you know like I just don’t know I I would actually like a day of peace you know like if I could which is funny because I was just on a retreat but oh my God it was so full it was so busy I was I you know I didn’t even list all those names I just put a group I could see like going camping by myself in the woods I know that for a day I would yeah I that would be and I’ve read of other people in recovery who have done that I’m like when will I get a chance to do that you know I just got to set it up but I have to balance it out with all the other like social things I want to do like I it’s so yeah it’s hard I I definitely have been noticing that for me um you know and and

I read this book 4,000 weeks probably two years ago at this point but he was talking about the average lifespan is is 4,000 weeks um which isn’t a lot when you put it in that kind of number and that we generally wait we wait till the last like two or three to live the way we actually want to live that is so sad I know when somebody finally retires and then they croak oh my God that is the saddest or or you get a you know you know what you would do if you went to the doctor today and they said you have two weeks to live you know how you would spend that time and his argument is he was like a a guru for like time hacks to get more [  ] done and that’s what he was doing with his life and then he stumbled across all this information and he says why do we wait till the last two or 3 weeks of our life to live it in the way that’s meaningful to us why wouldn’t we do that sooner and he talks about the way of getting there is like listing the top six things you care about doing and then dropping the last three and never doing them again because you don’t have time for all that [  ] and like that’s been where I’ve been in my life is like what can I get rid of cuz

I don’t have time for all this [ __ ] stuff wise event wise like I kind of just want to do less all around yeah so that’s I don’t know it’s interesting to try to like simp a simple life yeah much much more simple yeah that does sound nice you know um I know I think I think I mentioned this on the show before but like uh Peter Levine wrote a year to live and then it’s a book where like all right you have a year to live go do all the things you want to do and then you you know go on and live and you have a nice simpler life um having hav done that but I’ve like thought about the concept of it no I love that idea I love that idea

um is there any other useful purpose for this tracker like as you’re tracking could it also be telling you something else about yourself like oh when I have more names I must be feeling uh more calm and restful in my nervous system because I’m more social and then when I have less names I must be more maybe disregulated or a little bit more survival mode where I got to kind of protect myself I didn’t consider that so thank you but I thought too about like times in my life where I’m a little too connected spin oh that’s what you’re driving at yeah spinning up my nervous system getting me Astra anxious like wow I’m feeling extra anxious well look how many people I’ve been in touch with the past week yeah no wonder I’m feeling really anxious because I think I tend to uh I’ll take everything coming my way and I forget that boundary of like whoa whoa whoa okay you know what I’m not going to go to that meeting tonight I’m not going to do that social thing this weekend

I’m not going to um so yeah I am going to look for patterns like that like that was a really busy week no wonder I was freaking out you know how many names are you getting on your list each day on average CU I feel like that could quickly even even me in my life I don’t feel like I talk to a lot of people but I’m like oh [ __ ] my list would kind of grow quickly man um it yeah it might so I’m pulling up my journal so like like 20 people a day 40 people a day MH I when so Electronic Connection is Big so like yeah you know um group texts you know like and how do you count that is that one so what I know I kind of make a note like I’ll you know like I’ll I’ll note like the group text and then anybody in the particular group text that I might have had a meaningful exchange with I don’t list every like oh and like Thursday night is my inperson sa meeting so I’ll put s but then I’ll list you know maybe it’s like three people that I personally interacted with like I don’t list everybody at the meeting if all we did was say hi I gota you know but

I still think it’s worth to Note S like I was there for people right but these are the three that I so now like for the podcast do you count that as like this morning is it just oh I had an interaction with Jason because we’ve gotten plenty of emails that say thank you so much for your information you’ve been useful to us yeah no I just so this is the first time I’ve recorded since I started this experiment right and I would just put Jason um I wouldn’t put like the audience but I think I will note RSO just so I know you know that this was a recording date yeah I mean maybe even if it’s not necessarily the audience just the topic or the mind frame that we’re in when we come to talk about recovery things like feel like that’s a that’s like spending time with healing or with the the growth part of you I don’t know something in there something in there feels better than the average day I’m just doing what I got to do cool but it’s more about the relationship I think more about the giving what am I what am I giving to the well fellow humans I

I don’t know I guess I find that in there MH like whether it’s I don’t know yeah I’m not gonna go down that route it’s fine um I think it would be really cool to add a like how I don’t know how you want to conceptualize it but some kind of ranking or rating system for how you’re feeling oh maybe at the end of each day right because you might be able to notice a pattern of the right amount of social interaction or relationship interaction for you there might be a this is too much and this is too little and here’s my goldilock sweet spot yeah and so when would I rate that when I’m going to bed I think so how’s I think at the end of your day like cuz if you’re feeling I’m going to call it the Goldilocks column well and maybe even like you can put the ranking in at night or the next day but yeah like I mean you might know by 5:00 p.m. I’ve been overwhelmed today I’ve had too many requests or demands on me or so what’s the scale it’s like overwhelmed at peace that seems very personal to me like okay that might not be other people’s issues but could you put a percent of that yeah let’s just start there and see where it goes I am going to add a third column and it that’s because that’s more my issue is I’ll get over stimulated overc connected and then um I get like a I’ll get like a negative thought patterns like you know like I don’t know like that I’m not good enough kind of thought patterns right becau

se my brain’s out of control I think it’s a neat idea I think one the one thing I know is the best way to to change or shift any behavior is to track it like you don’t have to do anything just track it because you’ll see it and then you’ll do something about it um but yeah any kind of shift we decide to make towards a a more positive lens or like combating the old thinking or the story through you know collecting information like this is all what I think we need to do um I don’t know that it necessarily eliminates the yucky story stories in our head or fixes anything in that manner but it gives us more it builds up that other part that can come in when the story starts and say hold on what about this other thing we’ve been looking at you know what I mean and like if we don’t have any information together it’s hard to argue against that feeling inside that’s saying no you don’t do enough or you’re not enough or nobody cares but when you have the data that’s something there that’s substance that’s like wait a minute been doing this I think it’ll be interesting to track when I’m doing that yucky feeling when

I’m doing too much with certain people you know maybe um you know maybe interacting so social media again I bring that up again but like May hey you know what you’re not feeling good and look social media was really popular these days so I’m I’m always on like going a love hate with social media because it is awesome for connection and uh like even just getting here today I saw there was a snow drift on the road that I was supposed to come so I was like cool I won’t waste my time going down that road you know like just even like news bits like that but you know like maybe I’ll see a pattern like um you know what I don’t feel good whenever I interact with her or something I can’t think of anyone right now but it depends how long I’ll do this experiment but uh yeah I didn’t know about that tracking part thanks doctor you know like but uh I don’t even know how this came to be but I I guess I was just curious like I was like let me just track stuff that is interesting I feel like that was my next question like what led you here what I don’t know I might I might have to go back and look at my journal the day

I started this like what what in particular I think I was starting to feel low and I was like no you do help people Jenny let’s go see and like you do have help that’s been a big one for me lately is like I mentioned the financial thing but there’s other stuff like Jenny ask for help like you have people who want to help you go let them help you yeah you know you you have people in your life that you know you have helped and they want to help you and there’s people that want to help me that I haven’t helped it’s not a scorekeeping thing so I think that’s what started me I was like well let’s start tracking it it’s not hard and I’m definitely not trying to add more chores to my day that’s why I’m just keeping it real easy but I can add one more column yeah well and I think you know you call it the experimental relationship tracker uh it’s like a connectedness Tracker it’s it’s tracking your connection you know and like I’m really moving towards the belief that that is the I don’t know how to express it exactly but biggest reward Giver to us is positive connection with other life um I’ll cosign that that’s think it’s bigger than food I think it’s bigger than you know buying stuff I think it’s bigger than sex and the connectedness is at the end of the day it’s that after 1: p.m. when I’m laying in bed and I can actually fall asleep cuz I feel that connection and not that you know that disconnection that

I think a lot of us feel when we start spiraling so there you have it it’s the experimental relationship Journal uh feel free to try it out and see how you like it and what it tells you about yourself and what you learn um feel free to reach out on our social media and tell us about the different tracking and journaling methods you guys have tried in your lives that you found to be pretty cool and have a great [Music] week have you found that listening to the recovery sort of podcast has helped you in your day-to-day Journey please share the message of compassion and well-being with the loved ones in your life connect with us more at recovery sort of.com Facebook Instagram threads YouTube and other social media spaces and have a great week [Music] [Applause] [Music]