Posts Tagged ‘Emotions’

Understanding why I have been a loner

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Trying to heal has given me insight into the causes of my suffering. In childhood my naricsstic father tried to control every attachment.

Actually, he controlled every aspect of my life, trying to fulfill his desire of me playing professional baseball.

Any friend or acquaintance had to meet his standards, then their influence over me would be limited or cut off by good old dad.

Assessment: This week it dawned on me that I did not attach to either parent or anyone else beyond a shallow friendship.

My father would severe any relationship that he thought diluted his control. The natural desire to connect with others was cut off for me many times.

After you tell a couple of guys you can not be their friend anymore, word gets around. Oh, having a girlfriend was out of the question around my father, he owned me.

This means my social network lacked connections and attachment was unfamiliar to me. Social emotions lacked experience in my consciousness while athletic willpower and strength dominated my development.

When my first real attachment in college betrayed me, I had no one to confide in.

This week is the first time I became aware of this. I guess it was normal facing life alone for me.

I did not feel loss, I never experienced love, or kindness in my childhood. Criticism and fear dominated my existence.

Trusting someone was a foreign emotion for me.

Being a loner was so natural for me, in fact I never felt safe around people.

I did not know why, now I do.

It will be a massive undertaking rewiring 69 years of life.

With meditation and years of healing, my empathy center is open, I am a giver at my core.

For a loner, I ran a mindfulness group. Somehow that was a safe space while around people.

A triumph in my life, I have helped others heal in spite of my suffering and fears.

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“All human experiences are suffering”. Is this actually true?

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Rick Hanson from “Neurodharma”

“There are times when the mind is filled with physical pain, grief, fear, outrage, depression, or other overwhelming kinds of suffering.

I’ve had those times myself, and and it feels like suffering is all there is. There are also countless people who each day must bear pain, illness, loss, disability, poverty, or injustice.

And in a blink of an eye something might happen–perhaps a car on the highway swerving into you, or a shocking betrayal by someone you’ve trusted– that changed the rest of your life.

Suffering is certainly around us, and often if not always inside us. And still– are all of our experiences suffering?

Suffering matters because it is a particularly kind of experience–one that is unpleasant— so there must be other kinds of experiences.

The pleasure in eating a juicy peach is not itself suffering. Nor is virtue, wisdom, or concentration. Awareness itself is not suffering.

Human experience certainly contains fear and grief, but that’s not all it contains.

Further, any experience, even a painful one, is highly pixelated, with many elements like the individual brushstrokes of a painting.

Most of those elements are not themselves suffering. The redness of red, the knowledge that a ball is round…none of these is itself suffering.

These points may seem merely technical, but if we overlook what is not suffering, then we won’t truly understand what is suffering.

And we will miss out on experiences and resources that we could use both for increasing health and and well-being and for reducing suffering.

Recognizing suffering in yourself and others opens the heart and motivates practice. But these good ends are not served by exaggerating it.”

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When you were young

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Rick Hanson:

Every child is particularly vulnerable during the first few years.

One reason is that the primary neural trigger for experiences of stress and fear—the amygdala—is fully formed before most babies are born.

This “alarm bell” in your brain was ready to ring loud as you took your first breath.

Second, a nearby part that calms down the amygdala–the hippocampus–deoesnt become completely developed until around the third birthday.

The hippocampus is key to forming episodic memories—specific recollections of personal experiences—and it’s slow maturation is why we we don’t remember our earliest years.

It also signals the hypothalamus to quit calling for more more stress hormones (”Enough already”).

The combination of a ready-for-action amygdala and a needs-years-to-develop hippocampus is like a one-two punch: young children are easily upset while lacking internal resources for calming themselves and putting events in perspective.

Third, the right hemisphere of your brain got a jump start in development during your first eighteen months.

This matters because that side of the brain tends to emphasize the perception of threats, painful emotions such as fear, and avoidance behaviors such as withdrawing or feeling… which intensify the negative effects of the amygdala-hippocampus combination.

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A giving Heart by Rick Hanson

Cat yoga at my place

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Besides the absence of the bad, warmheartedness in action involves the presence of the good.

Many ethical principles are expressed through negation–for example, thou shalt not kill–but its also valuable to consider them in terms of affirmations.

For instance, you could explore how to give life, through planting trees or protecting children, or how to replace a harsh tone with encouragement and praise.

Generosity is rare in the animal kingdom, since in most species it lowers the odds of individual survival. But as our ancestors lived and evolved in small bands, altruism helped others with whom they shared genes.

And as our brain gradually grew larger—tripling in size over the past several million years–our ancestors became more able both to appreciate and reward one person’s giving, and to criticize and punish another persons freeloading.

This promoted positive cycles of social and moral evolution whose traces are now woven onto our DNA.

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Learning in the Brain

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From Rick Hanson:

1. Experience what you’d like to develop.

2. Turn that experience into lasting change in your brain.

I call the first stage activation and the second stage installation.

This is positive neuroplasticity: turning passing states into lasting traits. The second stage is absolutely necessary.

Experiencing does not equal learning.

Without a change in neural structure or function, there is no enduring mental change for the better.

Unfortunately, we typically move on so quickly from one experience to another that the current thought of feeling has little chance to leave a lasting trace.

In working with others, we might think that something good will somehow rub off on the people we are trying to help.

It may for some, though not very efficiently,and for many there is little to no lasting gain.

As a result, most beneficial experiences pass through the brain like water through a sieve, leaving no value behind.

You have a good conversation with a friend or feel calmer in meditation– and then an hour later it’s like it never happened.

If awakening is like a mountain, in some moments you may find yourself far up the slopes– but can you stay there, on firm footing?

Or do you keep slipping back down again?

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How I calmed my fight or flight mechanism

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https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

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Acceptance and Committment therapy introduced me to meditation.

At first meditation seemed abstract, simple and benign.

Took me awhile to see its enormous power and healing properties.

My triggers exploded violently, solar plexus jolted with fear, actually a big dose adrenaline and cortisol is dumped into our blood stream.

Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration increase, we lose fine motor skills, get tunnel vision along with cognitive functions becoming cloudy and limited, we are ready for imminent danger.

Until I calmed this mechanism, PTSD kicked my Ass, badly.

I built my focus, meditated everyday, learned to stay present when my fight or flight mechanism fired.

Every time it exploded, I watched intently, became familiar with all the body sensations and the attached emotions.

Then in ten minutes or so, the drugs were absorbed, my system returned to normal.

No damage, just my defense mechanism firing erroneously from PTSD.

In time, after many tries or failures, I succeeded.

My fight or flight mechanism calmed, stopped firing for traumas triggers.

Life changed that day.

The storyline was left unprotected and vulnerable to be integrated.

Pick one thing to work on at a time.

I chose to limit my Dissociation while I unplugged my fight or flight mechanism.

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Take the Power away from your Triggers

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The skills learned to heal from PTSD are accumulative.

They are similar to lifting weights. If you build a solid foundation over a long period of time, you can stop for a while, then return and muscles have memory.

A daily meditation practice calmed my fight or flight mechanism.

My triggers lost the power of cortisol, adrenaline and the physiological changes.

Triggers did not explode anymore, the storyline stood by itself for the first time.

If my fight or flight mechanism did not fire, trauma had lost its most powerful weapons, fear and panic.

No need to run or avoid triggers anymore.

The thoughts were isolated now, vulnerable, ready to be integrated.

Calm your nervous system using your breath, meditate and learn how to dissipate cortisol and adrenaline.

Practice when it is calm, then apply when all hell breaks lose.

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Complex PTSD a subtype of PTSD

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“Complex PTSD is a subtype of PTSD with complex symptomatology in response to chronic trauma (Herman, 1992).

Usually, the patient has an extensive history of childhood abuse where the patient can’t remember a time when they weren’t being abused.

Another example of chronic trauma includes victims of long-term intimate partner violence.

In comparison with textbook patients with PTSD, who have a distinct life before and after their traumatic experience, patients with complex PTSD are only familiar with the traumatic experience.

Patients with complex PTSD have issues with emotional regulation, and can range from rageful to regretful in a single session, much like patients with borderline personality disorder.

Patients with complex PTSD often get caught up in cycles of re-enactment where they act out in their personal relationships, and even in their therapeutic relationships, in ways that mimic the trauma that they’ve felt.

In Dr. Jain’s experience, although patients with complex PTSD exhibit emotional lability, just like borderline personality disorder, she would think a diagnosis would lean more towards borderline personality disorder if the classic symptoms (such as identity issues, self-injury, chronic suicidality and attachment issues) were present (APA 2013).”

From: https://www.psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/6/12/the-unspeakable-mind-stories-of-trauma-and-healing-from-the-frontline-of-ptsd-science

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overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented,

Pixabay: cocoparisienne

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The Body Keeps the Score

The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own.

The sensory fragments of memory intrude into the present, where they are literally relived.

As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed.

Unlike Stan, however, many people may not be aware of the connection between their “crazy” feelings and reactions and the traumatic events that are being replayed.

They have no idea why they respond to some minor irritation as if they were about to be annihilated.

Flashbacks and reliving are in some ways worse that the trauma itself.

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My two big traumas laid dormant for decades.

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I knew something was different about me, but had no idea why I did not feel worthy as others or could not trust.

Childhood trauma exploded first with a family crisis and my inability to help one of my kids.

My dominate trigger happened in restaurants with someone staring at me. A daily benign slice of normal life, anyone can do. I was ashamed of this limitation.

Always knew there was no danger but my fight or flight mechanism sensed imminent danger and would explode.

Two months ago my girlfriends gangraped surfaced, my second big trauma.

Finally I understood my trigger.

It was from college, the aftermath of the frat boys who assaulted her would stare at me, kind of celebrating their gangrape at my expense.

Public shaming and them bragging about pulling a train on Cheryl, made a permanent mark on my being.

Hard to believe college guys could be this barbaric and demean for no reason.

Lesson: Now that I understand the origin of my trigger, unplugging it should be easier.

This event needs to have all the stored danger and emotional damage exit my body.

The last two months have been hell as this trauma exploded inside me.

Hopefully the intrusive thoughts run their course and I can integrate what’s left.

I can not run from this or suffering will never end.

As I use to teach, trauma is up, active and available for integration.

Childhood trauma makes us vulnerable to being traumatized in the future, our brains did not wire like a normal brain, with some parts of our development damaged.

I had to learn survival skills, ways to endure physical and emotional abuse instead of developing social skills.

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