Mind Monkeys: Our Worst Enemy

I’ve been looking more into the polyvagal theory and it is checking off a lot of boxes for me, especially the “shut down circuit” Dr. Stephen Porges talks about. I’ve known for a long time my ole’ brain and nervous system do not stop and they are misfiring big time yet trying to do all of this in a shutdown circuit state.

It feels like my brain is trying to stay afloat through a quagmire of quicksand and honey (the shutdown state) all while thrashing and flailing about to stay afloat ( the does not stop and misfiring part)

I took part in a research study a few years ago that measured brain activity. The scientist put a cap on my head and hooked me up to a bunch of wires. He had a small and a large cap and said most people needed the small cap . My head was large however and needed the large one. I suggested in a tongue-in-cheek way, perhaps I needed the large cap because I had so many brains. After a contemplative pause and in a ‘no-that’s-not-a-thing-but-we-can-say-that-if-it-makes-you-feel-better’, tone, he said, “….sure…. we can go with that if you like.” (I now tell people the scientist said I have a lot of brains – which he did — I just leave out a few of the details *wink*).

For things that should have been an almost flat line, mine was off the chart. I can almost feel this because what I saw on his screen is what my brain feels like — but how do you stop this or turn down this volume??? I know where I want to be but have no idea how to get there.

I am fortunate to take part in a pain outreach clinic at a local school. I’ve been told I am a “unique case”. My current student therapist is very focused, very driven and very thorough. At our second session, he told me after our first appointment, he read up on my disease both in his notes but also in his books. He made specific notice there was a long list of pharmaceutical medications listed for my diseases but also noted I did not take any of them. He went on to say he was impressed and surprised I was managing them all through natural methods and supplements. He was genuinely intrigued as it was something he’d never seen or heard of or ever contemplated.

I was impressed that he noticed but was also taken aback as it’s not anything I give any thought to any more. He’s not the first person to express this either, yet I never give any thought to it. Instead, I always feel like I’m not doing enough, not eating well enough, not trying hard enough — just not doing enough otherwise I’d been doing better.

This really illuminated the fact we need to let go of the negative thoughts we have about ourselves and see ourselves through the eyes of others. When we do this, it can be an eye-opener. Many times it shows us, as this experience did to me, we truly are our own worst enemy. Those mind monkeys are hard at work. There is wanting to improve ourselves, and then there is this unrealistic, perfectionistic tendency which can (and does) push us over the top.

This describes me exactly, at the start of my disease — so much stress, flailing about while dealing with so many details, handling it all – every single detail, to perfection, enjoying that challenge because that was how I rolled, until I couldn’t and was pushed into that shutdown state.

No doubt, change has to come from within but easier said than done!

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