Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about something that most of you will have asked yourself “Why do I sabotage myself?” often the word keep is found in this sentence.
Despite our best efforts we seem to run into the same issues again and again. We need to break the cycle, which starts with talking about it. So let us talk about it.
I am sure most of you - if not all - have been in this situation, where you caught yourself in a behavior you had sworn not to do again. Or you realize you are in the same situation again you never wanted to find yourself again in. Or you recreate your trauma.
It is something that is hard to explain to anyone not involved and surely something that can not be explained with everyday logic. If you have a wound on your body you usually try to avoid damaging it further and not redo the wound every now and then.
This is once again a conflict between what the brain tries to do to survive and not communicating it properly - or it not being understood - and what we would consider common sense.
Or at least what it thinks it has to do. This is not the same as repeating relationship issues - as in keep picking the same type of person, being in a specific role and the like - this has a different cause, which we talk about in another episode.
But it does include dreams - as they are the way to process things. Therefor we keep having the same dream (at least basically) until we resolve the issue.
Life on repeat - why it happens
If your brain finds a trauma, a mystery or anything it can’t solve, it is like when you are cleaning and there is that one weird spot, that just won’t get clean. And you will be drawn back to it - in an attempt to clean it.
You can try to step away from it. Try, but you will most likely keep being drawn back to it. Why is it there? Why can’t I remove it? Most likely you won’t find peace until you managed to remove it.
And - as you might have guessed it - that is the same mechanism we are talking about. We do have a deep rooted need for answers, the reasons for that is up for debate, but the advantage we get from that is pretty obvious.
Similar to the spot that just won’t get clean - so is an unresolved issue for our brain a stone in the system. It stops the machine from running smoothly, therefor it tries to get the stone out.
It picks the stone up again and again and again - to see if it now has a place to put it. That is why when we have any sort of conflict, we can’t just let it go without thinking about it.
Now if we let an conflict escalate or suffer trauma - this mechanism takes a more twisted turn. Our brain isn’t just trying to pick a stone, but instead now made the machinery center around that stone - so now your brain is drawn to that scenario.
Since that stone has grown too large to sort, the brain made the machine work around it - which means recreating what caused the stone again and again. In hopes to keep the machine alive.
Life on repeat - why it fails
So why does the mechanism of the brain not work? Why does it keep failing and we just keep re traumatizing ourselves? First it is important to remember that the brain HATES change - it rather keeps a model that kills it slowly than changing to an unfamiliar one.
That means one possible explanation is, that the brain is used to doing it this way. Similar how you keep hitting your fingers while trying to hit a nail - your brain needs to get aware it does it wrong and needs to understand why and a better way to do it.
That is the easiest solution. It gets a bit more complicated if the behavior you try to unlearn is linked to something you hold dear or is connected to someone you love or the like - see episode 82 regarding cognitive dissonance for this.
The more complicated explanation is, that the brain tries to resolve the situation by facing it again - similar to a training exercise in an effort to remove the stone that grinds it gears - so to speak. Often this works, but then you wouldn’t be sabotaging yourself.
What happens in most of our cases is, that the brain instead of removing the stone - it makes it bigger (or creates a pile of stones) which now blocks the machinery even more. The brain unable to change it ways will keep repeating this mistake.
Until more and more gets blocked and can’t be used anymore or even worse outcomes. So the key to stop this cycle is to understand where this stone comes from and put it away. Which is sadly easier said than done.
That was it for todays episode, I hope you found it helpful. Hope you are safe and well. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/Podcast, information regarding therapy you can find under johannadraconis.com/Therapy and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.