Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?

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Morelia

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Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« on: February 08, 2018, 02:55:28 AM »
I think I'm having low-level emotional flashbacks nearly every time I interact with other people. The flashbacks are not obvious and therefore hard to describe - and catch! For example, I worry that I'm bothering someone or that I'll be met with a negative response if I express an idea. I fear my needs and wants are not important and if I state them out loud I'll be ridiculed. These little moments are accompanied by a surge of anxiety.

I realised this could be happening when I had an informal meeting with someone, where I suggested that I wanted to try a particular project that's a bit "out there" for me. This someone is a safe person, and I know that intellectually, yet the rest of me was waiting for him to pour scorn on the idea or outright laugh at me. When he said "Yeah, yeah, that's a great idea!" and ran with it I was so surprised it felt like the world lurched sideways for a moment. His response was all positive and I think he was even a bit proud of me. It made me realise how skewed my inbuilt expectations are.

If it's true it would explain why anxiety is pretty much my constant companion, alleviated greatly, but not entirely, when I go home and shut the door behind me. It would also explain why I struggled to cope with flatmates when I had them.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? How did you deal with it?
« Last Edit: February 08, 2018, 04:50:38 AM by Morelia »

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sanmagic7

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Re: Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2018, 07:31:07 AM »
it sounds very familiar.  i even experience it when posting here at times. 

being anxious about the worth of what we think and say is so common to many of us.  i like to think that i usually know what i'm talking about, but the doubts are often there, and i get that same kind of lurch when what i say, especially if i'd been anxious about it, is supported or thought well of.

as time has gone on, and my experience here has strengthened, the anxiety has gone down, but it never really leaves, and sometimes is greater than other times.  as far as people in real life, the same thing can happen, unless i'm speaking about some innocuous subject like the weather. 

i don't know if it will ever leave completely.  in the meantime, even this response i'm writing has a little nagging anxiety behind it.   i kind of just plow ahead, wait and see, and deal with the results as they appear. 

best to you with this, morelia.  warm, caring hug to you.
learn something from everything.

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Hope67

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Re: Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2018, 08:25:15 AM »
Hi Morelia,
I definitely relate to what you wrote - infact I was thinking about this very thing at the last gathering of people I was at - and I was feeling 'hyper-vigilant' to the possibility of someone 'asking me questions' about myself - - because for me, there feel like many areas I don't feel comfortable talking about IRL (in real life) - and I am able to be open more in this forum (but even here - I feel it also triggers EFs depending on what I say - so I try to tread carefully).

I think that it's using up a lot of extra 'energy' and that's tiring.  But at the same time, I often also find that in the end the thing I feared would happen, doesn't actually happen, so in a way that makes me feel that I should try to face another situation, and maybe it won't be so bad the next time.

Anyway, I feel like I'm 'waffling' now - which is an example of beginning to feel a bit 'triggered' as to whether what I'm saying makes sense.

What I'm trying to say, is yes, I do relate to what you said, and it can be hard - but hopefully the EFs will be something that we can cope with - and get through. 

Hope  :)

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Morelia

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Re: Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 04:36:32 AM »
Thanks for your comment and support, Sanmagic7. I have the same thing you do when writing contributions here and on other forums. I've written so many replies that I've deleted and when I am brave enough to hit "post", I can stew in anxiety until I know how it's being received. I'm trying to get braver, while not overdoing it. My philosophy is that it's okay to take it slowly, as long as I am making progress overall. Fortunately we have places like this one, which are pretty safe to test the waters.

Many thanks to you, too, Hope67. Your post makes complete sense. I certainly understand being uncomfortable about being asked "dangerous" questions, as I experience the same thing myself. People asking the "getting to know you" questions are unknowingly walking through a minefield. For example, I am very guarded about revealing my tastes in books, music, TV and movies because I was often criticised for my interests as a child. I try to answer those questions these days but I'm always cringing internally, waiting for the ridicule. And heaven forbid they ask about my family.  :stars:

It is exhausting being like this, but you're right: one positive interaction provides courage to face the next one. Reasonable people are quite nice and forgiving of mistakes, and there are quite a few of them out there.

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ah

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Re: Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 04:23:57 AM »
I feel exactly the same way.
It's taken me a long, long time to notice it because I was so used to it. It was too familiar. But yes, I have constant low level EF's around people.

It makes it hard to talk to them because it's an extra layer in between me and them, you know? I often won't see the other person, instead I see what I think they are based on all my pain.

But it's also very helpful around unsafe people. I sniff them out faster than people who don't have this hypervigilance.

(Now if I could just refrain from blaming myself when I sniff them out, that would be an improvement)

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Gwyon

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Re: Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 10:01:38 AM »
An absolute yes to this. This is my life.  In describing the Freeze/Dissociate Defense (http://pete-walker.com/fourFs_TraumaTypologyComplexPTSD.htm) Pete Walker describes it as an unconscious belief that people are dangerous. That unconscious belief permeates all my interactions and makes them quite stressful.  Mindfulness practice has been very helpful to me in becoming more conscious of, and larger than, this perpetual fear.   Tara Brach's  podcasts have been especially useful to me: www.tarabrach.com.  But it has been a slow process, and is still a fledgling work in progress.

Thanks for sharing. It's always so validating to know others live with the same struggles.

Gwyon
"It's not survival of the fittest.  It's survival of the nurtured." -- Louis Cozolino

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Morelia

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Re: Constant low-level EFs when interacting with other people?
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018, 08:53:28 PM »
Thanks, Ah and Gwyon. I'm both glad and sorry that I'm not alone. It makes it difficult to get close to people when your first response to a new person is that they're dangerous until proven otherwise - and it's a gut feeling so ingrained that you can't simply talk yourself out of it. My experience is that most people don't stick around long enough for me to trust them enough.

Ah: Yes! I didn't notice it for so long because it was my normal. In my case I'm not sure if it gives me the power to accurately detect the truly dangerous because I think my spider sense is way too oversensitive. While I'm probably detecting unsafe people I'm probably also catching too many innocent people in my net. Now that I've recognised what's going on, maybe I can hone it - it's certainly a useful skill to have.

Anyway, in the last year or so I've gone from not being able to recognise emotional flashbacks at all to realising I have quite a few of them. I suppose you could call that progress.  :cheer: