Thursday, January 20, 2011

My own personal time machine

I have a personal time machine. No, it isn't some tricked out car, a phone booth, or even a hot tub. Mine is packaged in about a 5'10 medium build frame. It is nestled inside of head with medium length, brown hair. It sits behind hazel eyes and a life time of pains, and quite often...under my hat. It is my Amygdala . 


This part of our brain gives us the fight or flight reflex. By definition this action is subconscious. It is instantaneous. When there is a perceived threat our amygdala does the "talking" It tells us how to respond, do I run? What can I do to protect myself? This little bit of our brain becomes hyper-vigilant and remains that way if it has been exposed to trauma. 

Trauma is the key that starts the engine of our time machine. Trauma can come in forms of tiny negative experiences that are linked to larger experiences or events. This hyper-vigilance is guised as "a protection". In reality, it drains your energy and your effectiveness. DBT works well for keeping things on a manageable level, but if you cannot figure out how to reset your own amygdala to a more functional level, then you will burn yourself out and you will continue to crash.

How do I relate that to time traveling? 
A hyper active radar of danger, as I said, is the spark to start the time travel machine. It sucks you from the present time and your amygdala tells your brain that these hurts and trauma from the past is happening in the very moment you are in. Notice, this is a perceived threat to your well-being. You may simply be walking through the grocery store and with all of the other customers the rows feel a bit cramped, your hyper-vigilant amygdala sends the alarm that you are crammed into that closet again from when you were eight. All of sudden you have just transported from this moment and sucked yourself back in time 20 years. Now that you are firmly established in the past when you were horribly abused and made to sit in a dark closet, you will suffer all those fears, pain and wretched thoughts all over again. You will suffer them in the here and now, as if you really were that eight-year old child again. Then, when the flash of feelings and the flash back of those body memories has come full force, your time machine lurches forward again and in a moment of time you are back to the present. 

You stay in the present and experience all of the ineffective behaviors attached to time travel and those trauma memories. As you go by the rest of your day or the days that follow, you realize you need to go to the grocery store again, you are out of milk. Whoosh...off you go again, you are transported in a split second to a future that puts you in the grocery store with the walls closing in on you. You are perceiving your future to consist of you being trapped somewhere like when you were eight. Do you see how the pattern goes? It stays on this course and before you know it, your time machine is highly trained in flawed, perceived threats and can react for you before you are even cognitively aware there was anything in your environment that posed anything that resembled a threat... and you are a recluse. 

This is just one scenario. I am sure many of you are relating to this method of time travel. You know doubt have:

Suffered the past and/or suffered what you thought to be the future in the moment you are in right now. 

What can be done? Well first and foremost, some trauma work is definitely recommended. To tolerate until you can overcome the trauma (or in cases where you time travel from only negative experiences and not trauma) there are some questions you can be mindful about in an effort to curb your time traveling, or to shut off the source feeding your time machine. I urge trauma work, because in reality your amygdala will continue to be hyper-vigilant until you teach it to send alerts when it has evidence of a threat, not just a perception of one. 

The questions:

What am I expecting to happen? 
How likely will what I am expecting to happen, happen? 
Is this situation connected to the one in the past, if so, how?

Take a mindful look at this information. Does this ever happen to you? What are some things that you notice about when you time travel? How do you cope with it now? Please come to the forum and share with us or comment here. I would really love to discuss this topic further with the readers. 

MJ