Easing off avoidance activities that are soothing right now, but are hurtful long-term?

I'm not sure if this question goes here, or if I'm making any sense - but does anyone else struggle with repeatedly doing the same "avoidance" activity over and over again in order to have a non-stop soothing feeling? I have a tendency to watch the same "feel good" movie or even listen to the same "feel good" book over and over on loop while carrying out my daily activities. Ever since starting EMDR, this has escalated to a point where I can barely even shower or have a meal alone without something playing on loop in my headphones. It's even starting to affect my ability to do my EMDR homework, because my therapist asked me to sit in silence and let myself recognize how I'm physically feeling, etc. But it's like...something in me pushes SO HARD against that and I have a mini-panic moment whenever I'm sitting in silence. And it's almost like I *cant* do that.

Can anyone else relate? If so, have there been ways you eased yourself into sitting in silence with yourself? Or even eased yourself away from these avoidance activities? I know what I do helps me get through the day, but I'm also seeing how harmful it is for my long-term healing journey. Any advice or perspective would be appreciated!
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
yes, i relate. those old habits die hard.

inside my own skin, i place my smoking habit in that category and believe i have channeled most of my avoidance tactics in to that one vice. i have fantasies that one day i will cough up the remnants of my psychotic herstory in one massive psycho snot knot. just fantasizing. . . spare me the public service announcement, please.

is it harmful to my long-term healing journey? dunno. . . fact is, i'm already more than twice as old as the prognosticators who still hold that people with my childhood predicted. very few of those prognosticators believed i would ever see my 30th birthday. i'm currently 67 and coming up on my 42nd wedding anniversary.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I don't know....

I think soothing is good but as avoidance goes recognising your thoughts and feelings now and again and meeting those things head on is useful. "What am I feeling" "why am I feeling that"?

I watch alot of TV and listen to alot of music because it's soothing and my isolation is partly so I don't do something bad to people that have harmed me.
 

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
I engage in the exact same behaviors! It feels excruciating to just “be” in the silence or in my head a lot of the time. The more I work through things in EMDR, the easier it’s getting to sit with my emotions instead of avoid, but it’s hard. IFS is helping me understand my inner conflicts and begin to really listen to all the noise in my head without getting so overwhelmed. EMDR has been helping me listen to what my body is trying to tell me. The more things I process, the better it’s getting. If you want to cut back with the avoidance, maybe you can start with a chunk of time that you can be with yourself and increase it little by little over time. Yoga has been a big help for me, too…guided silence is easier for me than doing it alone. I still revert to this kind of avoidance when my emotions feel too huge too manage and it can help me from engaging in SH behaviors. You aren’t alone here!
 

Sideways

Moderator
Totally me. Especially with music. A song fixes itself in my brain as the one that I need to listen to, and it gets played on repeat, often for days.

Coming out of it usually takes a concerted effort: I have to decide, okay, I'm gonna find other stuff to listen to. But, since it doesn't usually impair my function, I don't let it stress me. There's nothing harmful for me listening to a song on repeat for a while.

I have a mini-panic moment whenever I'm sitting in silence. And it's almost like I *cant* do that.
This feeling? Is probably the one that your T wants you to practice sitting with.

It's uncomfortable. But...you can plan ahead: I know this is going to make me feel panicked. So I'm going to sit with it for 15 minutes, set my alarm, and after that I'm going to (whatever activity will feel better, or at least be grounding, listening to whatever soothing music you want!).

It's okay to feel panicked. Panic after EMDR makes sense. Panicky feelings are appropriate.

But, when you make a point of sitting with it: (1) your brain is being trained how to cope with overwhelming feelings, so that eventually panic like this? Will be "meh"; and (2) so that the emotion runs it course and passes. Which is what emotions do, when we acknowledge them and give them space.

To me? This sounds like things are on track. Uncomfortable, distressing, but running roughly as would be expected when a person is recovering from trauma. It's shit, but at least with this distress we know it's coming, and can plan ahead with how to manage it. Like practicing with big, awful emotions. Which is equal parts horrible and incredibly useful!
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
I can sit in silence for a bit - but not when I'm past a certain point in hyper arousal or dysregulation.

EMDR adds to your overall stress by using brain power to reprocess memories. So out of what you used to have you have less to work with now. That means you can't take on as much as usual without getting overloaded. I'm doing EMDR and around the time I was working on trauma there was very little left and getting to overload was really easy. It means your therapy is working though.

First thing when you wake is the best time to scan, when everything isn't rolling. Awake and lying in bed is a great time to do your body scan. It's kind of a baseline for where you are to start the day. It's easier to feel, it's easier to think and its easier to get a baseline to start the day.

Don't start cutting off your coping mechanisms until you replace them or you can cope without them. PTSD on the whole is more dangerous than most coping mechanisms so like my T says we can clean those up when everything else is under control. They may go away on their own as you heal but in the end they will likely be easier to deal with than your PTSD.
 
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