Battles Against the Bad Guys: Nightmares, Negative Self-Talk, Guilt and Avoidance

This week was for some reason tough. I had a nightmare every night about being attacked. One night the nightmare was about being attacked in my home again. I ended up leaving the house to the back yard and found all these dead bodies were strung up in the trees. One of the bodies fell down and I found she was actually still alive so I started to untie her and help her get to her feet as the perpetrator started to come towards us very angry that I was helping her and she was still alive. Then I woke up.

In the SuperBetter forum a little discussion came up about what qualifies as a Battle Win vs. a Battle Fail against our Bad Guys. Since you don’t really have control over having a nightmare or not, I considered that I didn’t wake up drenched in sweat and in tears, that this nightmare was a win. Just like if someone was experiencing pain from an injury, you can’t prevent the pain, but you can bare with it and get through it. As someone explained it best, “I think a win is you come face to face with the bad guy, but you don’t let it ruin your day. None of us can really expect to completely avoid our bad guys, but just not letting them take us over is a big win.”

This week I helped someone else through SuperBetter also. While being conscious about their thing that they need to quit worked for them, the more I thought about when I was saying something that was negative self talk (“I would have…”, “I could have…”, “I should have…”, “I’m sorry”, “I feel bad for…”), the more I ended up doing it. As I remember Jane McGonigal explaining in her book Reality is Broken, you can learn from and even enjoy failure. And it will help you get to the wins! So I’m not going to let a few losses get me down.

In therapy I talked about someone at work I find I’m standing up for more and more now that I understand why she does certain things. I need to do that for myself. The negative self-talk and guilt go hand in hand. I feel guilty about doing something for myself and standing up for myself because it may not benefit or interrupt someone else. But, I need to do things for myself and not worry about how it impacts someone else. I am human too and deserve to be treated like everyone else.

I also discussed how I use exercise as a way of coping or a way of avoiding dealing with things that bother me. It’s the one thing I feel like I have control over. And I may over do it sometimes. This week’s therapy session was probably the first time I just ranted for 5 minutes or so about things that bother me instead of just avoid them. I felt a little out of control, but also that it was a major break-through in some way.

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  1. #1 by destroythequeen on May 15, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    Hi, I found this post through google when trying to decipher my nightmares of the last week.

    I am a survivor of child abuse, and suffer from a range of mental illnesses (PTSD, GAD, Bipolar 2).
    I have been having regular nightmares for months, but haven’t really been able to remember them (thankfully). But in the last few weeks I remember them, mostly they are about people dying in gruesome ways, zombies and one particularly bad one where the “bad guys” were killing everyone in horrific and cruel ways and then murdered the “good guys” the same way.

    I just wanted to thankyou for this post. It actually gave me that “lightbulb moment” where it finally clicked what these nightmares are about.

    So thankyou! While unknowingly, you have just helped me so much. Thankyou. And keep on surviving, pretty soon it will turn into actual living (so I’m told).

    – Fiend.

    • #2 by miaquinn on May 15, 2012 - 8:25 pm

      I’m glad it was helpful! It’s a big reason I chose to share the work I’m doing to get better. It’s also helpful to have people to talk to who are going through similar experiences and learn what works for you too.

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