This is sort of a this-and-that conversation, stemming from earlier comments with another blogger on his site. My response was going to be long so a post with more room seemed like the way go. Besides, I’ve been wanting to explore some of these thoughts on here anyway.
In his comment section we were talking about triggers, mood swings, living with integrity and how to calm things down. He says:
I am honest, make pretty good choices
How does integrity work with ptsd?
“I’m working on trying to change this. Consciously recognizing the times where I’ve taken insult and accepted rejection where none was meant. Baby steps, but it is making a positive difference.”
Ptsd is still raging from intrusive thoughts and trigger and spotting danger.
For me; living with integrity (honorable, honest, dependable etc) adds up to good mental health – positive mental attitude. Living this way fosters a lack of shame, guilt, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, fear (fear we will be caught doing something wrong.).
There are other reasons (like the past) we can have these negative experiences but if we do life with integrity the negative emotion load will be reduced significantly. It’s hard to be fair and kind without feeling good about my everyday life and my interactions with people.
Feeling good about life and people has a calming influence on my triggers.
It’s easy for me to mistakenly think I’m doing well in this area if I’m not paying attention. Bouts of anger, impatience, road rage, and any other similar emotions can crop up as I do life. I have to deal with them, let them go and move on to preserve peace.
Aside from the integrity aspect, I’ve worked hard to keep bitterness, anger, and other such related emotions out of my everyday life. Forgiveness is important to my well being.
Most of these negative emotions are relative to the past rather than the present. I’ve forgiven my dad and I can talk about him now without tears or anger. Not so much with several others, tears still flow easily but that is a work in progress.
Another thing that helps me considerably is thinking through what just happened; once the emotions are settled down. Examining memories to identify the original event behind the trigger and facing what happened has helped take the punch out of the trigger.
It doesn’t sound like it should work but it does. A disclaimer though: I don’t know what you have been through so be careful with this one. Some memories should not be explored alone.
For me, an example of a memory to be explored would be the bathroom. For decades I wouldn’t/couldn’t go into a washroom, public or otherwise, if I had to do so within sight of men. It took a few more decades for me to realize the reason; as a child, bad things happened to me in bathrooms. I could have figured it out sooner if I had been willing to think about the why. It is what it is, leave it alone, was my attitude.
All of these things, and probably more, have been helpful but the one thing I use on a day to day basis is change-the-channel. It was validating when I heard they were doing this successfully with soldiers. They found that early interruption of debilitating thoughts brought an early end to the episode. They were using computer games to be the distraction.
For a good while there, my whole day was destroyed if I was triggered. It was frustrating. Especially when I was supposed to be working.
By accident I learned that if I went to an activity requiring my whole mind, the channel would change in my head and my thoughts would move on to a better place. Later I may think about whatever triggered me but the adrenaline reaction was no longer there.
I read books, play computer games, follow podcasts and vlogs, write this blog. Some days these things are literally my sanity. I run to them before I dig myself into a deep hole.
I don’t know if this makes sense or is even helpful but this is how I maintain my sanity and avoid major triggers. This is not the final word on the subject either. It is much too complex for that and I’m no expert.
Now I just have to figure out how to avoid the minor triggers.
I don’t think I will live long enough to deal with it all. 🙂
A parting thought: there are many self centered hurting people who do not lead a life of integrity. They would be happier if they did. If you lead a life of integrity you can check this box off the list. I have.