Posts Tagged Society

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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Could Self-Compassion Be the Foundation for Cracking Avoidance & Being More Assertive?

It has already been a month since I’ve set my next Epic Win to crack avoidance of conflict and to be more assertive. I can certainly think back to quite a few examples where I have faced conflict head-on and have been more assertive. But, more importantly, I have noticed I’ve been a lot more confident and self-accepting.

In therapy, I have been talking a lot about changing your point of view or attitude about things, being assertive, asking for things I need, taking time I need, understanding specific situations and why people act certain ways, and how I have been feeling more relaxed. The change of mind for the game I think has helped big time. I am more focused on living in the now and enjoying life. I had an incredible weekend after a week with work life balance. (AND I just can’t wait to set new Epic Wins that are much closer to my own personal goals!)

In SuperBetter, I added in a few new Power Packs, which reminded me to chill out, be more self-compassionate, and stay present:

  • Being Awesome
  • Better Than a Chill Pill
  • The Mood Elevator: Ground Floor

Last week with the SuperBetter Quest, “The Compassion Express: When You Think You Might Suck”, I read the articles on the Science of Self Acceptance:

Self Improvement at the Risk of Self Acceptance – NY Times

Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges – NY Times Well Blogs

And took an online quiz to gauge where I am at with Self-Compassion and Self-Acceptance. I wasn’t too surprised to find I was in the pretty high ranges, with a 4.1 out of 5.0. Anywhere from 3.5 – 5.0 was considered excellent. You know that old saying, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I think I’ve been applying the reverse principle, “Treat yourself as you treat others.” I have a lot of compassion for people and often I find myself thinking these days, everyone is dealing with similar problems and its ok. It’s even ok for me to reach out to others for help and help them when they need it. This is all part of life and its journey.

I think two years ago I was a completely different person. When I was a teenager, I used to think I was pretty awesome. Now, I finally feel that again. I am an amazing person who has led an amazing life and have much more ahead of me I am excited about. Each day, I want to enjoy something and grow closer in my relationships with my friends and family. I have my whole life ahead of me and I could choose to be miserable, but I would much rather choose to be awesome. And then doing things like dealing with conflict and being assertive become so much easier, because I know I can do it and I understand, hey, my needs are important too, just like yours.

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Quest: Guilt & Forgiveness

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I know this is another post on guilt, but I needed to continue to work through to end of this week. I asked Thomas Skinner, a US Army veteran who writes about his battle with PTSD on http://www.understandingPTSD.org, earlier this week, what things have worked for him to overcome guilt? He responded with:
“working on forgiveness, and living, thinking and talking in the present.”
I knew what he meant by living, thinking and talking in the present as I’ve worked on that a lot already in earlier Quests in SuperBetter, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by forgiveness…

Until later in therapy this week, I worked through that my guilt is very connected to the belief I built when I was a child that everyone should be forgiven no matter what. I developed this belief to help me cope with the way my caregiver treated me when I was a kid. And then when I met my ex-husband I applied it then to when he first showed signs of abuse, that he should be forgiven. “It’s ok. He’s just having a bad day and things are difficult and that’s how some people react to that.” The same idea could apply to myself. I never knew what I always did that was so bad it made my caregiver angry as a child and then again with my ex. So I needed to be forgiven for what I did that was wrong that made them so angry, which was nothing really or nothing in my control. I need to forgive myself. I need to let go and realize I can’t possibly be responsible for everyone. And I will make mistakes and it’s ok.

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Quests: Overcoming Guilt and Thinking Errors

I have a lot of ground to cover in this post. In my last post on Guilt, I had only gotten through the first 2 parts of the chapter “How to Get Rid of Your Guilt” in the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence. A few weeks later I have finally finished the 3rd and 4th parts and the Analyzing a Second Guilt Issue section of the chapter. I have still not gotten the results that the authors of the book expect, for me to feel “I was in no way responsible for causing what happened.” I still feel responsible for not recognizing earlier that I was in an abusive relationship and for never mentioning what was going on to anyone in my family or to a friend. So I need to walk through this again one by one and have some kind of conclusion I can live with on it. Here it goes.

Analyzing Guilt — Part 3: Analysis of How Responsible You Were for Staying

Who or What Contributed to My Staying?

  • 50% – My history of good times with my partner
  • 100% – My socialization or learning history that taught me to believe that marriage is forever
  • 100% – My socialization history that taught me “if you make your bed you have to lie in it”
  • 100% – My partner saying that I promised him that I would never leave him
  • 100% – Friends and relatives who encouraged me to stay
  • 70% – My socialization history that made me very prone to guilt, allowing others to influence me by making me feel guilty
  • 100% – My socialization history that taught me to believe that if the marriage doesn’t work, I failed.
  • 100% – My socialization history that taught me to believe that if someone apologizes to me, I am obligated to accept the apology and go back to the way things were – a fresh start, so to speak.
  • 100% – The abuse by my partner that resulted in my self-esteem going down so much I didn’t think I deserved better
  • 90% – My partner making me believe that I would never find another man who would accept me for who I am
  • 50% – My partner’s guilt trips that he would fall apart or commit suicide if I left him (I didn’t believe him, but still worried it may be true.)
  • 100% – My social isolation
  • 75% – My partner’s abuse of me that caused me to develop PTSD (I had experienced abuse and trauma before my relationship with this partner. It is not all caused by this experience of abuse.)
  • 60% – My PTSD, which impaired my ability to concentrate and make rational decisions
  • 85% – My partner’s threats that he would physically harm me if I left
  • 100% – My naivete or lack of knowledge about domestic violence (e.g. “I didn’t even know I was a battered woman”)
  • 50% – My socialization history that taught me to believe that all relationships are like mine
  • 100% – My socialization history that taught me to believe that if I get out of this relationship, the next one will not be any better — maybe even worse
  • 90% – My lack of knowledge about domestic violence resources, such as support groups or shelters
  • 70% – My socialization history that taught me to believe that the violence was my fault (e.g. My partner always said, “Why do you keep making me do this?”)
  • 100% – My trauma history that resulted in my self-esteem going so low
  • 100% – My socialization history that taught me to be so ashamed about the violence that I was ashamed to tell anyone
  • 75% – The continued physical and emotional abuse that taught or caused me to believe that it would be impossible to get out of the abusive relationship
  • 80% – My memory of how charming and wonderful my partner was at the beginning of our relationship
  • 70% – Drugs or alcohol that clouded my judgement and my ability to make logical decisions
  • 80% – My partner’s pressure on me to use drugs or alcohol
  • 100% – My partner’s repeated apologies and assurances that he would change
  • 100% – My dissociation or emotion-focused coping that prevented me from even thinking about how to get our of my relationship
  • 100% – My socialization history that taught me to believe that I had to keep my promises
  • 100% – The social stigma of being a divorcee

Reappraising My Degree of Responsibility

d. I was largely responsible for staying

Who or What Contributed to the Negative Outcomes of Staying?

  • 90% – My partner, who inflicted the abuse
  • 60% – Alcohol and/or drugs that increased the likelihood or severity of my partner’s violence
  • 30% – Overuse of alcohol and/or drugs that resulted in lowering my self-esteem

Reappraising My Degree of Responsibility

c. I was moderately responsible for the negative consequences associated with staying

Analyzing a Second Guilt Issue section

The following are the common issues of guilt I related to:

  • guilt about starting arguments or talking back
  • guilt about not doing more to stop or prevent the abuse
  • guilt about using alcohol or drugs
  • guilt about having an abortion
  • guilt about a rape or incidents of childhood sexual abuse
  • guilt about the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one (for example, guilt about not spending more time with someone prior to their death)

Initial AAGS for a Second Guilt Issue

Foreseeability and Preventability Analysis

1. What is it that you should have known better?

  • That my ex-husband would be abusive from the first time he had done something to indicate he would be
  • That my relationship with my ex-husband strongly mirrored the one with someone growing up where I had to do everything I could to keep him happy so he would not hurt me

2. What are some of the negative outcomes that could have been prevented?

  • Continued abuse from my ex-husband. If I had said something to someone I could have left much sooner.

3. What is it that you should have done differently?

  • I should have talked about what was going on with my family or a friend

4. When did you first realize or learn that this was what you were supposed to do?

  • When I was so afraid of going home, I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to so I called a Domestic Violence hotline

Reappraising My Degree of Responsibility

b. I believe slightly that I should have known better

If you still answered anything but a. There is no possible way that I could have known better, there is a good chance you are still remembering some unforeseeable outcomes as foreseeable. What were some of the negative outcomes you could have prevented?

I feel like I could have prevented all of it.

Justification Analysis

1. What were your reasons for doing what you did?

I was afraid for my own safety, for my own life, but I still stayed because of the reasons answered in Part 3.

2. What alternative courses of action (if any) — did you contemplate or consider (but rule out) at that time?

a. say something to someone earlier

b. recognized early on that something was very wrong

3. Why did you reject or rule out each alternative course of action? In other words, what did you think would happen if you had taken each alternative path (knowing only what you knew back then)?

a. my ex-husband did not want me to say anything negative about him because my family already did not like him and he was my husband so I should fully support him

b. Because I felt everyone should be forgiven no matter what

4. Review your reasons for what you did and for each alternative course of action that you contemplated but rejected.

I didn’t have good reasons for not doing either.

How justified was what you did?

c. What I did was not justified in any way (very poor reasons)

Although I continue to think I am responsible for what happened to me, I understand that I could not have prevented or foreseen what did happen to me. I really wish I could help everyone who is going through abuse to get out sooner. It’s not worth it to stay. It really changes a person and it’s very hard to undo all of what you have learned when you are abused. I am still paying the price of it. And that goes onto something else I wanted to talk about again, nightmares. But, all I can do at this point is to show you some of the things I am doing to get better.

Earlier this week I had a nightmare that my ex-husband showed up at an arcade I was at with my brother. He got up next to me and waited for me to react to him being there. I felt so shaken up, I turned to walk out of there and he grabs me and shakes me and says, “You have no right to leave.” My brother went to stand up for me and my ex-husband hits him. I woke up and was so shaken up. My brother always stood up for me when I was a kid and was the rebellious one in the family. So it shook me up to see my ex-husband over power him. It shook me up to hear those words I heard so often. “You have no right.” I heard words like that growing up too because someone would have complete power over me. But, why wouldn’t I rebel and not put up with it like my brother? People have different temperaments and develop different ways of dealing with things. I shut down and develop an incorrect way of thinking. Now I am working on not doing that.

I notice though that these ways of thinking run very deep and are on complete auto-pilot. Someone asked me the other day why I never say hello to someone. I had quite a few reasons: 1) They never talked to me as if they were too above me to talk to me, 2) They never asked me why I left my last job, 3) And sometimes I just don’t see someone to say hello. I am passing judgements on people all the time for things that they cannot know without me saying something. I need to stop doing these types of things.

Anyway, I know I’ve turned this blog entry into a big tear myself down session, but I needed to work through it and recognize these things so I can get better. And hopefully sharing it with others who have survived domestic violence or are dealing with related guilt issues, it helps you too.

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Quest: More Tools to Bust Hypervigilance

In my last post on Hypervigilance, I talked about some tools to help you break it down, to question yourself, give yourself pep talks, witness your experience, and live in the now. I hope to do that this weekend to continue working on my current Epic Win to Bust Hypervigilance.

Some more of the SuperBetter Quests from the “Mind Master” Power Pack were quite fun to do in working to bust hypervigilance. A really good one was to write your “Side Kick”, which is that part of your brain doing that ultra-fast reactivity or working over time to over analyze everything, a Thank You note to tell it 10 reasons how it helps you both survive and enjoy life. Here’s my Thank You note to my Side Kick:

Dear Side Kick,

Thank you for helping me survive and enjoy life. There are a zillion things you do for me, but I want to thank you for the following 10 things today. Thank you for helping me:

1. Keep safe, by recognizing strange behavior and possible predators on the street
2. Do well at work
3. To understand what’s important to people
4. From saying things that I shouldn’t say
5. Make decisions about what I want
6. Identify my goals
7. Set boundaries that keep me comfortable
8. Identify what is normal and what’s not
9. Cope with things like nightmares or high stress
10. Be a great problem solver

Best Wishes,

Mia

Another thing I liked learning about this week from another SuperBetter Hero was to make a list of everything you like without any influence or thought of what someone else thinks of it. I think this is a good quest for Hypervigilance and Avoidance. One of the things I’ve been dealing with this past year is continually hearing when my abuser said things like “You shouldn’t like this. It sucks.” And then I felt like, I couldn’t like those things. Now I have no one to judge me for what I like and don’t like. I can like whatever I like and do whatever I please, whenever I want. So I’m going to give that a whirl.

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