Posts Tagged Anticipation

Falling off a cliff in mountain snow

Finally, my life feels stable. I am extremely happy and I can do anything I want. Yet, there is always that foreboding feeling that something bad is going to happen because that’s how the past has been, even the last two months have had difficult things to deal with. But, I know, no matter what happens I will prevail because I always have. This last week I had a dream I was driving on a mountainside with two family members in the car. The mountain roads were slick and covered in snow. Like in a video game I’ve played I accidentally fell off the cliff and into a bottomless ravine. I felt so much remorse for taking my family with me. Yet, I had this feeling “we’ll be ok, we’ll get out of this somehow.” And then I woke up before I’d find out if we were dead or not.

I don’t know exactly what the dream was about. If its just me dealing with the feeling that something bad could happen again next. Or if I’m feeling like I need to protect my family. One of my closest friends expressed the opinion to me that if they were in my shoes with the person who abused me when I was a child, they would confront them now and tell them how much they hurt me. I don’t feel that’s necessary, but a large part of why I don’t want to do that is more because I want to protect that person. I truly believe they did not mean to hurt me and that they did it because of how they were treated as a child. I’m at the point where I want nothing more than to just break the cycle. I want to get better and stop thinking the ways that I do (my PTSD brain) and I think from the conversations I’ve been having and dealing with the difficult coworker, I am doing a very good job at it. Just sometimes I get worried I’m forgetting to pay attention if I’m doing negative self talk or anticipation. But, I think I have been doing that a lot less lately because my self-esteem has grown. I have surrounded myself with some loving people and have done a lot of self-acceptance. I have been recognizing when some people make me uncomfortable and recognize that it’s their insecurities they are projecting onto me and I don’t need to worry about those. I’m not saying I should stop caring about other people’s feelings altogether and not do nice and thoughtful things for other people. But, what I’m saying is their problems are their problems and I don’t have any real control over their happiness. But, I do over my own.

This whole weekend I had someone worrying about whether or not I was happy. While its nice that they cared how I was feeling, I wanted that person to concentrate more on enjoying themselves this weekend, not worry about me. One of my biggest strengths is I find a lot of positivity in everything, even an injury. Last year if I had never gotten an injury running, I would have never done a triathlon. Traveling, I hear people constantly gripe about the plane and the seats and whether the wine is crappy or the plane being late. I’m just happy to have hours to read and catch up on news and my thoughts. People constantly gripe about how hard it is to exercise and eat right. Every time I run I feel a zillion times better and I have taken up learning how to cook healthy and delicious meals. I set aside time for these things because they are important to me. I wish more people would find the joys in their life. Because at this stage in the game I am feeling truly blessed to have the amazing life that I do. A huge turn around from 3 years ago.

So maybe “falling off a cliff in mountain snow” is nothing to worry about. I know great things will come of it later because of the resiliency I have gained.

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Quest: B Causes C, Cognitive Restructuring

I’ve been quiet for a while now because I’ve been so busy reacting. Weeks ago I left off in therapy and in my last post, working on memory of the last (or first, however you want to look at it) trauma of the 3 traumas I experienced that I haven’t addressed. The past 6 months have flown by faster than I’d ever want my life to go. My memory problem keeps popping up. What was 6 months ago feels like yesterday and what was yesterday feels like days ago.

We remember that a major PTSD treatment goal is to integrate dissociated trauma material with associated memories so that the fabric of our memory becomes like one continuous memory. The problem is that traumatic memory doesn’t mesh with the way we want to look at the world. The dissociated memories often contain misinterpretations and inaccurate conclusions that were formed under great duress, while strong emotions and arousal continue to interfere with processing.” – Cognitive Restructuring Chapter, The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook

Every day I am making unproductive thoughts. I still stay “I’m sorry” too often. I still make decisions within split seconds in order to “protect” myself. The Chapter on Cognitive Restructing addresses a lot of the automatic thoughts and distortions that I am dealing with day in and day out.

A —-> B —–> C

A is the Activing (or upsetting) event. B is the Belief (or automatic thoughts) that we tell ourselves about A. C is the emotional and physical Consequences (or arousal).

I can think of several situations in the past few weeks where I have done these things.

  1. Flaw Fixation – Fixation on what went wrong
  2. Dismissing the Positive – Discount positive things, as if they don’t matter
  3. Assuming – Mind reading, jumping to conclusions, and fortune-telling (or what I call anticipating what will happen and trying to prevent a negative outcome except you have no control over the situation)
  4. Catastrophizing – making things much worse than they actually are
  5. All-or-None Thinking – or Black and White Thinking
  6. Shoulds (Should Haves) – “I should have done this better…” “I must be strong”
  7. Making feelings facts – I don’t know if I have this problem since I still have a hard time even expressing my feelings in the first place though I have really made an effort to
  8. Overgeneralizing – “Things always go wrong”
  9. Abusive Labeling – “I am the only moron who didn’t do this right” which I said tonight actually
  10. Personalizing – Seeing yourself as more responsible or involved in a given situation than you really are. I do this at work ALL the time.
  11. Blaming – I don’t do this one either and think I’ve talked about it in a previous post because I have a real pet peeve with people not taking responsibility for their own mistakes. I own up to my mistakes even when I am not really responsible (see Personalizing).
  12. Regrets – “If only I hadn’t…” In therapy I still catch myself doing this in regards to my marriage and divorce on why I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship earlier and leave it much earlier, even before marriage.

So now that I torn myself down more, how do you fix this? Which I’m sure everything I’ve worked on is not to be thrown away. But, apparently I need a refresher course in this.

1. A Daily Thought Record

You know those “Things That Bother Me” posts and reflections I do? And the Babel-fish cartoons? Yes, those are good for this. But, I need to dive a little deeper. What are my thoughts? How much do I believe in them (rate them)? What have I distorted? Then be more self-compassionate. What would you say to a friend if they had said or thought these things?

The next chapter is on Confiding Concealed Wounds, which talks a great deal about Trauma and Avoidance, something I have discussed a lot. “People might find ways to avoid the topic by staying occupied with trivial distractions such as work, cleaning, or exercise.” I know I can be guilty especially of the exercise and talked a good amount about. But, this is for another day. Good night!

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Lab Tools & Equipment for Getting Better from PTSD

I realized the other day that I have been playing SuperBetter for over 6 months now since the end of February and beginning of March 2012. This morning I was reflecting on all of the tools and Quests from SuperBetter, the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence, and working with my SuperBetter allies and therapist, that I’ve used to work on PTSD and was thinking, hey, I should create a toolbox or to be more appropriate for my SuperBetter Hero who is a scientist, “A Summary of Laboratory Tools and Equipment!” So here goes.

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Summary of Laboratory Tools and Equipment (to Get Better from PTSD)

PTSD / Trauma Symptom Lab Equipment, Tools or Methods to Use
Anticipation

Hypervigilance

  • SuperBetter MindMaster PowerPack
  • Be aware of being hypervigilant
  • Be aware of my expectations
  • React instead of anticipate
  • Broken Babel Fish Quest – Read about it in my post here
Supposed To Beliefs

Expectations

  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapter on “Supposed to” Beliefs That Lead Women to Stay or Go Back
Dealing with Conflict

Avoidance

  • Deal with conflict instead of avoid it
  • Make Quests to do things I’m avoiding like go to the dentist, say “Excuse me”, go to a place to make new memories I associate with my abuser
Negative Self-Talk
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapters Feel Better by Changing the Way You Talk to YourselfThe Power of Nonnegative Thinking
  • Track your Negative Self-Talk – see my posts here and here
Assertiveness

Self-Advocacy

Self-Compassion

Body Image

  • SuperBetter The Mood Elevator: Ground Floor PowerPack
  • SuperBetter Being Awesome PowerPack
  • SuperBetter Better Than a Chill Pill PowerPack
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapters on Self-Advocacy: An Overview and Initial Self Assessment and Assertiveness, Aggressiveness and How to Take the High Road
Stress & Muscle Tension
  • SuperBetter Stress Buster Power Pack
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapter on Managing Stress By Controlling Muscle Tension – See my post on this chapter here.
Anxiety

Isolation

  • SuperBetter MindMaster PowerPack
  • Quest to Ask for Help
  • SuperBetter Social Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day PowerPack
Guilt
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapters How to Get Rid of Your Guilt  – See my post with my results here
  • Talk with a veteran or other domestic violence victims with PTSD and their experience of how they overcame guilt (this can be via an online chat, in person, etc.) – It helps!
  • Forgive yourself – This will happen!
Nightmares
  • Remember: Nightmares are just reminders of the types of people and behavior you need to be wary of – Read my post on this here

I’m sure I’m missing some tools, but can always add them in later, or new ones as I learn about them.

What things have worked for you to get better from PTSD? What do you want to try? What are the biggest obstacles you are facing?

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My Scientist Hero’s SuperPowers

In playing SuperBetter you can play whatever Hero you want to be to get better. I had picked a great scientist.

But, to make it a little fun, I was lately thinking of the X-Men and Jean Grey. Kind of a scientist of some sort and for some reason she was always my favorite character in the X-Men.

I was trying to think how Jean Grey’s super powers could relate to getting better from PTSD and here’s what I came up with:

Super Power As it relates to getting better from trauma
Telepathy
  • Awareness of being hypervigilant
  • Awareness of my expectations
Telekinesis
Phoenix Force grants the ability to:

Travel unaided through space

  • Resilience!
  • Ask for Help
  • React instead of avoid conflict
      Psionically manipulate matter and any form of energy
  • Keep Positive
  • Do my power ups on a daily basis, especially:
  1. Running, biking, or swimming
  2. Spending time with friends

 

      Create powerful “cosmic” fire
  • Overcome anxiety
  • Manage stress through muscle tension exercises and breathing
  • Deal with nightmares

 

      Resurrect from death and manipulate life energy in others
  • Practice Self-Compassion
  • Practice influence – optimism, relate to people
  • Spend time with friends and family
      Manipulate timelines
  • Overcome Guilt
  • Witness your experience
  • Live in the Now
  • Stop Negative Self-Talk

This was pretty fun to come up with. 🙂

Who would you be and how would you use your super powers to meet your goal?

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Quest: Broken Babelfish Cartoon

Quest: Broken Babelfish Cartoon

I had set this Quest a long while back, actually at the beginning of starting to play SuperBetter. It has now been 6 months that I’ve been playing SuperBetter and finally sat down and did this quest for a few scenarios in my life where I have been hypervigilant. It didn’t exactly come out like I envisioned it, but I did it! And it has helped me become more aware of situations where I am hypervigilant and misinterpret what people are saying and actually mean and have a much better understanding of why I do it, which I’ll talk about in a future post on Expectations and Hypervigilance.

Here was the original Mission / Quest:

Mission #3: Help Fix My Broken Babel fish – Every other week

This mission got turned down already! But, I think it would still be fun.

I have what I like to call a broken Babel fish. I hear people say something and think they mean something else, which is usually something negative. I almost see drawings being involved here with what was said, what was heard, what they really meant. Then I’d figure out why I thought they meant something negative and stop doing that. This is something we could do once a week or every other week.

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Struggle with Disclosure and Uncertainty

One thing I have been struggling with since I am no longer in an abusive relationship and have grown significantly in decreasing my social anxiety and expressing myself is when it is appropriate to disclose something. Reading about the DISC personalities of people with high Influence scores, I can identify with this exact problem:

“By their nature, High-I’s are extremely trusting and ingenuous. Their desire to be open with other people can lead them at times to reveal information or express feelings that more staid types might prefer to keep hidden. For this reason, they are sometimes seen as lacking in tact.” – http://www.discusonline.com/udisc/i_influence.html

I don’t really consider myself trusting, but maybe I am more so now. What I don’t understand is why I choose to tell people information about myself. For example, with inviting SuperBetter allies, I’ve realized I made a lot of friends uncomfortable by sharing my history of being a domestic violence victim and that I am trying to work on things I recognize as needing improvement. Some co-workers also know a bit about this history and I think they’d rather not know as well. At the same time, I feel angry at myself for sharing something personal with people as well as feeling angry at them for the way they seem to act after I tell them, not being supportive, not asking me how I am doing, not reciprocating by opening up with things that they are working on too.

Last night I had a dream that I think was dealing with this issue. I dreamt I was looking at houses with my family. I liked the first house we looked at, but for some reason, maybe cost, it was out of the question. That house had a lot of light and an open floor plan. The second house we looked at, the whole downstairs, especially kitchen was very dark. The upstairs had this gigantic attic that was really a hardware store. The backyard was strange. It was more like a courtyard mixed with golf course. The grass was very light green and almost fake looking like turf.

I think I was walking through these houses and backyard to deal with emotions and feelings I’ve been repressing for some time, including when and what I should and shouldn’t disclose to people. Earlier this week I broke down after I heard someone talking about marriage. I know a lot of people who are getting married and are having children this year. I keep having people ask me if I want to get married again and if I want children. I really haven’t been able to get to why it bothered me so much. Part of me feels like I still feel like a failure for ever getting married in the first place with such an abusive person. Part of me feels as if I will never get to be married to someone who is so loving and caring. Part of me feels like everything feels so uncertain. And for a person who loves change so much, that’s an odd feeling to have.

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Just For Fun

Ok this post is really just for fun.

On the Media: SuperBetter Diaries Entry 3 – http://www.onthemedia.org/blogs/on-the-media/2011/oct/19/superbetter-diaries-entry-3-movin-along/

I liked this guy’s post about the quests his allies had given him and Jane directing him to check out Omar Little on Twitter: “Take strength! Take courage!!!! Be a warrior not a worrier!”  Some of the quests his allies gave him could really brighten up your day. It makes me think I need to seriously do some of my fun quests I gave myself, like the broken babelfish cartoons.

The Hybrid Athlete: Why You Suck and Look the Same – http://www.thehybridathlete.com/why-you-suck-and-look-the-same/

Ok, I think this post can be a little extreme, but I get it and feel that way about people, life in general, and my own physical fitness and battles. I may catch myself complaining, “the course was too hilly” or “so-and-so didn’t communicate with me”, but often I just take full responsibility for what went down. “Your outlook sucks” is often a good reminder to pull me out of poor mental states. And then that brings me to the next two things I read that help explain some things about why I’ve always been able to meet my goals and be so damn driven.

Pick the Brian: 7 Habits Highly Effective People Don’t Have – http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/7-habits-highly-effective-people-dont-have/

At work, I probably annoy people because I am always evaluating the priorities of things and focus on completing one thing at a time according to that priority. My desk is also always completely free of clutter. I don’t even print out much. Everything is organized on my computer. I am always asking the question, “What is the worst that can happen if I do this?” and just get on with it. I’ve always been a pretty clear goal setter and luckily had training on how to do this. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who blame other people. I actually pride myself on taking responsibility for my failures. I have done it a zillion times at work and personally. Life is not about being perfect. Life is about living it. We shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and try things. That’s my take.

DISC Personality Test – http://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/

My results explained a lot.

Influence – 32%

  • are strongly interested in meeting and being with people.
  • are generally optimistic, outgoing, and socially skilled.
  • are quick at establishing relationships.

Sometimes their concern for people and people’s feelings may make them reluctant to disturb a favourable situation or relationship.

Dominance – 28%

  • enjoy competition and challenge.
  • are goal orientated and want to be recognised for their efforts.
  • aim high, want authority and are generally resourceful and adaptable.
  • are usually self-sufficient and individualistic.
  • may lose interest in projects once the challenge has gone and they tend to be impatient and dissatisfied with minor detail.

Steadiness – 24%

  • tend to enjoy change and variety in their work and non-work life.
  • are expansive by nature and tend not to like routine and repetitive work/activities.

Compliance – 16%

  • are independent and uninhibited.
  • resent rules and restrictions.
  • prefer to be measured by results and are always willing to try the untried.

Free in thought, word and deed, they long for freedom and go to great lengths to achieve it.

discusonline.com talks a lot about the negative traits of my results as well, which I can identify with.

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Next Epic Win: Crack Conflict Avoidance & Be Assertive

I’ve set my next Epic Win in SuperBetter to work on Conflict Avoidance & Assertiveness. I’ve been avoiding conflict my entire life. The hypervigilance/anticipation is all tied into that. I will anticipate what someone will say or do to avoid conflict. I also struggle with being assertive. I often put everyone else’s needs and wants before mine. I feel obligated to do things when I am not. So I’ve set up some quests over the next few weeks to work on these things.

Quest: Keep a Journal

I have a hard time recognizing when something bothers me. Keeping a journal over the next two weeks may help me identify easier what is bothering me an how I can address it.
Quest: Say No or State Your Need Without Giving Reason Why

I often have this problem especially with people at work who always want to know my business, like why I have a doctor’s appointment, and I feel like I am obligated to give them an answer, but I am not.
Quest: Express My Feelings to Someone

Once a week for the next 5 weeks, express how I am feeling to someone either at home or at work. If I need something for things to work better, then ask for it.

Quest: Be assertive – Use “I messages”

Often I don’t make decisions or say what I want because I feel like I don’t have the right to have needs or wants. But, over the next few weeks I would like to push myself to be assertive more often and express what I want using “I messages” more frequently. For example, “I am feeling frustrated about X. I would really like it if we did X about it.”

Do you struggle with these things? If so, what types of things do you do to deal with them?

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