I want to be able to relax completely. I want to be able to enter a state of deep relaxation that overflows into my everyday life.
So how do I do this?
I’ve tried breathing exercises and meditation many times in the past, I’ve also tried yoga, massage, reiki, spiritual healing, psychotherapy, nutritional supplements, warm baths, cold showers, qigong, and seen Physiotherapists, osteopaths, and a handful of others I can’t remember.
But in the past I didn’t understand CPTSD, emotional flashbacks, or dissociation. I didn’t understand how mental representations create my reality. Following on from yesterday’s post: I know now that long-standing behaviours like dissociation and hyper-vigilance have a cognitive basis.
In other words, I can’t relax because I have some kind of belief that it is more important for me to remain alert and vigilant.
So no matter how many exercises or methods I use to relax, part of me is adamant that I remain alert and on guard at all times.
Brainstorming relevant thoughts about being alert, I come up with:
– I need to pay attention in case something bad happens
– I need to be aware of everything around me
– if I don’t pay attention something bad will happen
– you can’t take your eye off people
– you shouldn’t ever let your guard down
– better safe than sorry
– if you’re not paying attention, anything could happen to you.
These sound a bit nebulous, but they were backed up by bad experiences of being caught off-guard by awful people, leading me to subsequently reinforce the fallacy that “this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t let my guard down”.
Why is this a fallacy? Because being eternally guarded and hyper-vigilant is not the answer to a happy and safe domestic environment. While it may be true that guardedness and vigilance could pre-empt instances of abuse and harassment, they aren’t viable solutions to abuse and harassment.
And while it’s also true that abuse and other forms of trauma might be more jarring if they happen when we are relaxed and unguarded, it’s ultimately a deeply maladaptive strategy to therefore determine that we will never again be caught relaxed and unguarded.
So in order to relax completely it is necessary to first remove ourselves either temporarily or permanently from sources of abuse, harassment, or danger in general, and second, to acknowledge and accept that being guarded and vigilant is unsustainable. Find a safe space, and really affirm that it is now safe to be – in the best sense of the word – careless, inattentive, oblivious and forgetful; to well and truly let go of any thoughts of threat or danger or negative consequences of being deeply and satisfyingly relaxed.