Expectations, Hypervigilance & Internal Conflict

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Last weekend I dealt with a very irate person. It was a very hot weekend and I also heard about a lot of other violent events from
the weekend. I noticed this week I was a lot more hypervigilant as a result. I understand that this event came as a surprise to me and it’s perfectly rational for me to be worried about my safety concerning this person. Their behavior was pretty violent and extreme.

This week I also noticed I had a lot of internal conflict. This is a very new experience for me because in the past, I have always let others make decisions for me or not had any opinion or preferences of my own. Everyone else and their needs had always come first. Being hypervigilant from the event with the irate person last week, I wondered if I was just being hypersensitive to other people, that I asked in therapy, “Is this what normal people go through? Always having these internal conflicts and decisions to be making?” To my surprise, it is. The fact that I’m having these internal conflicts where I want to express my needs is proof that I am getting better from post traumatic stress! While that should be a relief, I’m finding it’s really tough to be dealing with these things. But, what’s also strange is how I’m feeling a lot less concern than I used to with expressing my needs, opinions or preferences. Because I’m often now thinking, well I have every right as anyone else right? And if I make someone upset, well maybe I don’t want to go then or maybe I’ll just do this on my own, and etc.

In therapy, we’ve been talking a lot about expectations, which I think has a tie into my hypervigilance. I am often having expectations of people without really being aware of it. For example:

– At work, I expect my coworkers to be respectful and professional as I am. This is not always the case. Some situations at work have arose that have made me uncomfortable. While they may see these things as a way to open up or break the ice, I saw them as disrespectful and bullying. I think it is a lot clearer what my expectations are and what I need to feel comfortable.

– Have you ever read the 5 Love Languages? My ex-husband was very good at fulfilling “Words of Affirmation”, but not good at showing me he really cared. My new partner does not do that. Instead he shows me he cares and loves me through “Acts of Service”. It took me a lot of time to adjust to not hearing the words of affirmation. But, once I came to understand how my partner shows me he loves me and cares, I was able to adjust my expectations and be a lot happier.

– With friends, I expect that we should share experiences and things about ourselves. If I open up to you, I expect you to open up back. When this doesn’t happen, I don’t feel comfortable around people. I feel closer to some of my friends more than others. I also am finding I become wary of spending time with people who do not reciprocate. I’m finding I need to adjust this expectation. Different people expect and need different things in their friendships. People are also at various spaces in their lives and sometimes we click and sometimes we don’t.

With hypervigilance I’m always being attentive to what others are thinking or feeling, but don’t realize that I am often having similar expectations of others. I am learning how to be aware of my expectations and when I am being hypervigilant. This way I can adjust my expectations when I need to, or stand up for what I need, and enjoy my relationships with people with a lot less anxiety.

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  1. #1 by vincenzofrancesco on October 5, 2013 - 12:04 am

    Your expectations sound quite reasonable. Unfortunately others don’t have the same high standards you mention and this makes life challenging.

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