Quest: Bust Hypervigilance

The past couple of weeks I thought I did pretty well on my last quest to be my own self-advocate that I decided it was time to move onto a new quest, to work on hypervigilance or what I call “my broken babel fish” to channel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

That’s a pretty tall order, so I decided to use one of SuperBetter‘s Power Packs, the Mind Master, to help me. First let’s explain what hypervigilance is, as I didn’t even know what it was before the workbook, Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence, the Internet, and therapy brought it to my attention.

Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats. Hypervigilance is also accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. – Wikipedia.org

One of the Power Pack’s Quests did a pretty amazing job of demonstrating my hypervigilance or hyper arousal. It was to Track Internal Dialogue for 24 Hours! From just going to bed to commuting to work, I already saw how much negative internal dialogue I have and it’s mostly around how I think people are judging me. Here’s some examples:

10 PM Monday, March 19, 2012 through 7 PM Tuesday, March 20, 2012 Log:

  • “coworkers perceive me negatively because of X”
  • “I’m taking too long to do those things”
  • “I feel like everything is just magically expected to happen”
  • “I think they think I’m lying and that I’m the bad guy. I’d like people to acknowledge for just once that I didn’t do anything wrong. Why do I have to feel guilty?”
  • “Afraid someone is upset at me for something I did”
  • “Why are they being so backstabbing about needing more time to do this work?”
  • “They think I’m ridiculous for playing this game and spending so much time on this”
  • “No one is really supporting me so why am I bothering?”

That’s a whole lot of negative thought! So now how do I change my negative dialogue?

There seems to be a bunch of good tools to help you do this. Here’s a few I learned so far:

  1. Question yourself: In the workbook, they talk about in the chapter “The Power of Negative Thinking” to stop to think to ask yourself questions like, “Am I responsible?” “Am I obligated?” “Is that a feeling?” “Is that really how I feel?” Or what one of my allies asks me a lot, “Do you think that’s really true?”
  2. Give yourself a pep talk: And to stop to give yourself a pep talk “to help you sufficiently increase your commitment and determination to break your negative self-talk habits.” For example, say something like “I did it again! Darn. How frustrating. I’m going to break these habits if it’s the last thing I do. I know it’s not good for me!”
  3. Witness your experience: In SuperBetter, in the “Mindfulness” Power Pack, they offer quite a few ideas for being mindful, including: “Witnessing your experience means you watch yourself with the same detached, neutral attention you’d use to glance out the window. Notice the thoughts or physical sensations in your body without labeling them as “good” or “bad.” Stay present to your experience without trying to stop it.”
  4. Live in the now: I read this article on the Tiny Buddha blog that just reminds me how I don’t take the time to really live in the now. My mind is running full steam often thinking all those negative thoughts I demonstrated above. I also don’t ever really take a few minutes to just relax. The SuperBetter “Mindfulness” Power Pack also has quests to take 5 minutes to just breathe.

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And that brings me to a Quest I decided to pick up I learned from the Tiny Buddha blog “The Tiny Risk-Taking Challenge.” The author suggests you ask yourself the question, “What would my life be like if I did something that scared me every day?” And then to live that question for 7 days. So I decided to incorporate some of the quests I’ve given myself to tackle hypervigilance, anticipation, avoidance, and other symptoms of PTSD with this challenge. The first one starting with taking 5 minutes to relax and meditate. We’ll see how it goes by the end of the 7 days!

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  1. Quest: More Tools to Bust Hypervigilance « 4ptsdhealing
  2. Quest: Guilt & Forgiveness « 4ptsdhealing
  3. Therapy | The Common Room

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