Becoming less reactive

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Rainagain

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Becoming less reactive
« on: December 25, 2019, 12:04:21 PM »
Just something I would appreciate some comments on:

I am becoming less reactive to things which happen, mostly.

A little distance between actions of others and my reaction is probably a good and healthier way to be.

But it might also be numbing, depression or dissociation, which is not good.

There is no clear way to steer between getting triggered by everything and becoming withdrawn and immobile.

And perhaps keeping yourself in between those two different types of calamity doesnt mean you are healthy anyway, just trying to delay crashing into either isnt the same as health or recovery.

Anyone else recognise this?

I am trying to improve my life but not sure how to do it.

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saylor

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Re: Becoming less reactive
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2019, 05:42:09 PM »
For my part, I’m not sure about the “withdrawn” aspect of what you mentioned, but “over”reacting to comments/actions of others has long been a vexing reality for me.  It’s been so intense at times that I’ve been chided or ridiculed for it (in many different settings, and at various points throughout my life). I know it’s not healthy for me. In fact, in subtle ways, it’s been retraumatizing to a certain extent. I’ve been trying to figure out how to free myself from it.

I think the high reactivity ultimately has to do with defending my ego. I have a tendency to take things personally and get defensive, as though I were protecting myself or “my good name”. But, boy, does constantly being on the defensive take a lot of energy (not to mention the embarrassment when I realize that others see they’ve gotten my goat and are amused by it). Dissolution (or at least taming) of the ego seems to be the remedy. I’m trying to figure out how to do it, or if it’s even possible.

It’s theorized that there’s a part of the brain that is the “seat of the ego”, called the default mode network, and it seems that, as folks who dealt with major interpersonal trauma, ours can be maladjusted. Research shows that things like meditation and even certain psychedelics can tame this part of the brain. If you’re interested, I found this lecture quite enlightening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeNmydIk8Yo
I would classify the thoughts that lead to toxic reactivity as a component of the “blah blah” brain chatterings that the lecturer refers to. I view it as at least one piece of a puzzle I’m still trying to solve. I hope it’s a bit helpful as something to consider
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 05:45:07 PM by saylor »

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Blueberry

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Re: Becoming less reactive
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2019, 07:06:43 PM »
I am becoming less reactive to things which happen, mostly.

A little distance between actions of others and my reaction is probably a good and healthier way to be.

But it might also be numbing, depression or dissociation, which is not good.

I am becoming less reactive to things, certainly as a general trend. My view is that I have fewer and less deep, less prolonged EFs. It could be numbing I suppose, but a few years ago when one of my Little Furries died and I didn't react with  almost unbearable emotional pain and grief as I had done in previous years, my T thought that my emotions were leveling out into the realms of "more normal". To me it felt numb because I was used to much more gut-wrenching emotions.

I still get depression but for me it's like with EFs - it's becoming less frequent, so ime 'less reactive' doesn't mean depressive.

Re: Becoming less reactive
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2019, 07:10:30 PM »
Hi, Rainagain. I understand your concerns, and I think that saylor and Blueberry made some good points. I do tend to intellectualize rather than feel, and I sometimes willfully ignore attacks because defending myself never did any good. (Unless I think I'm being bullied, intentionally or not; then "* hath no fury.") I want to comment on the spirit of your question rather than the details, though, if I can.

I have questions like this all the time. They take different forms, but they generally start with "Should I" or "Am I" and boil down to not trusting myself and wondering if I'm doing a "good job." When you grow up being told that you're inherently bad and wrong, it's natural to seek out external confirmation for your thoughts, feelings, and actions because you have no faith in them.

It took me a long time and a lot of practice to find my internal compass. Maybe people who don't have CPTSD have access to it from childhood - I wouldn't know. It took a lot of meditation and inner work, and to me it feels like a superpower. But now that I've found it, I don't have to ask these questions of other people, and I always get a better answer from myself than I would from others because I know me best. (That doesn't mean I never ask them of others; when I'm in a bad place, it's easy for me to look outward.)

The key is what I call radical honesty, and it happens in conjunction with what I think of as my connection to my higher power. I feel it in my heart area. If I have a question like this, I can ask it there, and my heart tells me what the truth is. It's gotten to the point now that I can feel when I'm about to say something that's not true - this makes my therapy sessions much more productive.  ;D

I have to be willing to be really, painfully honest with myself because the answer is often not what I want to hear. I can only speak for myself because I have no idea how this works for other people, but I've found that, in general, if I have an impulse to ask someone else one of these questions, it's because I know I won't like the answer. For example, when I found this forum last week, I had tons of questions. I wanted to know if I should go no contact with certain family members, if what I was feeling was normal, what books I should read, and how I should start my healing. Basically, I had a lot of anxiety about the past and what lay ahead. But no one could ever have answered those questions for me, although I'm sure the kind people here would have done their best to give their perspectives. I know roughly what I need to do right now, and what I don't know I trust that I'll find/be shown when it's needed.

I know this doesn't really address your question, but that's because I know with 100% certainty that some part of you already has the answer and that your conscious mind can find it. Part of this process is learning to trust yourself, and a lot of other healing can only happen after you do that. I could be way off base, but it sounds to me like you're feeling anxious about the changes you're noticing and that you don't trust yourself to be making progress. If you were me, I'd say to sit quietly, do diaphragmatic breathing until I felt calm, then ask the question and wait for the answer. I'd probably get a lot of mental answers, but the real answer generally feels deeper and almost like it comes from my body (specifically, my heart and/or belly) rather then my mind. It usually has a much calmer, quieter, slightly deeper voice, and I feel more relaxed and confident when I recognize it.

I hope that's useful to you in some way. Maybe it's not useful now but could be later. This journey is a process, and it's not linear, but my experience was that this self honesty and trust was absolutely necessary for other things to become possible for me. Your mileage may vary. And please feel free to remind me of this answer the next time I post a question like this on the forum.  :doh:

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Libby183

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Re: Becoming less reactive
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2019, 10:38:51 AM »
Hi Rainagain. It's so good to catch up with you after so many months.

It was incredibly interesting to read your initial post, and previous replies.

Since I was last here, I have made huge progress overall, and becoming less reactive is a huge part of my recovery.
I am not depressed, but don't over react either. It sounds as if you are making progress, but still have a small voice of self doubt.

I wish I could be definite about what has led to these changes in me. I think it must be a combination of EMDR and therapy dealing with the childhood trauma and EFs, a low dose antipsychotic to calm my nervous system and help me to sleep, no contact with my FOO and very low contact with my in-laws.
Being widowed a few months ago should have been very traumatic, but I have coped so well. I think I was being constantly triggered by my husband. He was a good man, but had so much anger, probably from his own family.

I don't know if any of this helps, Rainagain. Just wanted to say that I get what you are saying. Embrace this reduction in reactivity. It feels like a really positive thing.

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Rainagain

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Re: Becoming less reactive
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2019, 10:24:42 PM »
Thank you all so much for your replies.

So many ideas and insights, I'm very grateful.

Will need to read them a few more times.