November 2017
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anxiety workaround: turning off my brain and doing the scary thing on autopilot


icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

Actions that are emotionally scary but physically simple, I can do more easily than most. I just decide to do it, then turn my brain off and do it on autopilot. So, if I'm scared of applying to something, I will prepare the application while carefully not thinking about what I am going to do with it, and upload it. Then before I click the submit button, I turn off my brain so that I am not thinking about what the click means, and click it automatically. Usually then I have an explosion of panic, but it is short-lived most of the time. If I have to face heights without safety restraints, or catch a wasp, or deal with something really gross, or handle a dead/wounded creature, I do the same thing.

The only thing is that the more complex the action is, the less possible it is for me to turn off my brain and use autopilot. I can't do this for a conversation (which is the most scary thing for me to face, especially one that is related to job or money), or for something that takes multiple steps. If I didn't already have a cv prepared and hadn't written dozens of cover letters lately I wouldn't have been able to trick myself into editing them for this job that I really want. If I had to start from scratch I would have had to face that I was doing the actions specifically for this job, and it would have frozen me.

I suppose it's a kind of disassociation. I turn off my decision-making and consequence-considering capabilities. It's almost like being super drunk for a very short time. I wonder if I learned this from disassociating when I was younger, or if it's a thing anyone can do.

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Comments
fireflypup ══╣╠══
Dissociation can be a very beneficial tool. But please, please, please be very careful! I used dissociation for years after being able to control when to dissociate and how much. My brain was apparently "stuck" on a low level for a while and a few weeks ago everything blew up like a flood gate.
Now I'm training myself to kick that habit so I can start from scratch again.
Always be aware of everything. Sometimes coping mechanisms like this... Can backfire. I found out the hard way. Love you. <3
belenen ══╣artless╠══
mm, yeah, I do tend to disassociate more often than I want to. It's been a longtime thing for me. I have gotten pretty damn good at being present when I am deliberate about it, but I don't always remember to be deliberate in situations that are better with presence.
bobby1933 ══╣╠══
Thank you for sharing this. It helps.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
welks, glad it helps!
ragnarok_08 ══╣Disney ★ Belle╠══
Thank you so much for sharing this.
belenen ══╣artless╠══
you're most welcome
medesign ══╣╠══
I do this as well when i really need to get shit done and then later it takes me time to process it all.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* I know what you mean about the processing after!
kehlen_crow ══╣books - avid reader╠══
I do something similar in work situations that require actions that are normally difficult, like calling people, taking about money, all things similar to yours.

I don't feel like it's an autopilot though, more like emotional divorce from them (...is that dissociation? I don't know). It's like 'I need to get this done, so I do it'. [Body functions]Sometimes it's kind of similar to just getting things out of the toilet where you dropped them (had to do it twice, and once was really unpleasant because had stomach problems).

I don'tdon't like to use it for things that are entirely for myself. (Making a call for work vs calling a theatre about tickets for example.) I prefer not to, for myself, because those actions do not seem 100% real then, so it's better to work through whatever makes the action difficult instead — if I can and if there's time and if the action is not very necessary...

belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* disassociation ranges from so-not-there-that-you-don't-remember-it to really mild stuff like just not thinking about what you're doing. So I don't know if that is disassociation, I just know it feels similar to me.
b00kl0ver ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣ADD-PI╠══
*nods* oh, unplanned conversations are so hard for me, ugh. I can manage planned ones sooooo much better. It's like I have to rearrange my mental space and that is very hard to do on the spot with a time crunch.
wanderipity ══╣╠══
This is a very interesting description.. I had to reread this about 7x haha.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
oops, sorry it wasn't more clear! It's hard to describe.
antuvschle ══╣╠══
Gosh I can totally relate to all of this. The approach and its limitations. And, I freeze all the time. People talk about fight or flight like there are only two options...

Though I never before connected it to dissociation. I always figured I was sort of setting my jaw and toughening up or girding the loins or something. But it is turning off the part of my brain that is resisting the action, after I have finally decided to act there's this extra step I have to do before I can.

Can't tell you if it's a talent for non-dissociators since I'm in the club. :D
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
*nods* interesting that you do this too!
call_me_katya ══╣╠══
This is really interesting, as this is something I have begun doing when writing poems. For example, if I usually think of my thoughts emanating from my brain in a sort of 'sunbeam' shape: my brain is the sun and my thoughts shine out in all directions. But to do this it's as if I create a shield and I only use a cross-section, let's say an inner rectangle. I deliberately shut off the outside [where it feels like I do the emotions and understanding] and just use the fact part in the middle, searching for rhymes mostly and note them down quickly, not really stopping to think if I really like the line [although I've never written anything absolutely nonsensical, so there is an element of linearity there]. I'll read back the next day and use my entire brain; the thinking and feeling brain. I think I started this when writing essays in university, when the workload was heavy so I employed this almost automatic writing simply to get words on the page, and worry about editing later.

Usually the stuff is a lot better on the reread than I first thought. I never thought of using it for other areas of life but I could certainly try.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
oh wow, that is fascinating. I never thought of this as a tool for art, but I can totally see that working!
call_me_katya ══╣Plans╠══
And I can see it working for the purposes you use it for, but have never tried! Perhaps I will give it a try in that way. I don't think it was ever a conscious decision for me to start it in art, but perhaps there's a tendency for me to care too much about what I create, which in turn reduces the output and this turns off that filter for a while, to just let me put words out there that I can edit/judge later.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.