If you read relaxation and maybe you even tried it you might have noticed that it created unrest inside.
Maybe not all of you are ready to relax. But relaxation is am important part of self-care, you all need the balance of tension and relaxation to be healthy.
Have an inner team meeting. Get everyone involved who is interested.
It helps when the meeting is organized a little bit. Let one speak after the other and have everyone else listen. Maybe you can have a symbol to show whose turn it is to speak.
Let everyone present their arguments, for or against relaxation. Write things down if it helps you to stay focussed. See if you can find compromises that everyone can live with.
Remember that the goal is not to relax completely, just to increase relaxation a little bit. You cannot force each other into relaxation. But you can try to find common ground and negotiate.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can agree to try something and if it doesn’t work you can meet again to find something else to try. Take every concern seriously, even if you can’t fully understand it. Respect that you are different, everyone is important. Always check if beliefs that create problems might be based on an old truth from trauma time. You cannot find a solution for the past, only for today. Connecting to the present might be the solution you need.
I will share some of the different positions we have inside and how we are trying to solve them.
Belief: Relaxation is not safe. We need to be hypervigilant and ready to run or fight at all times. Relaxation would make us drowsy and lose control over the body.
- only work on relaxation while alone and in a safe and locked place.
- Get oriented in time& space: there is no threat today
- choose a relaxation technique that allows you to be alert and aware of your surroundings
- keep your eyes (and ears) open while relaxing
- choose a technique that involves movement like Qi Gong or Yoga
- maybe take turns with relaxation, so that there is always someone on „guard duty“
Belief: We don’t deserve to relax. We need to earn our right to breathe by working all the time. Relaxation is not efficient, we need to get life done.
- read science about the importance of breaks: they increase efficiency. The idea that they are a waste of time is simply untrue and that is a scientific fact.
- Understand that while one part might not feel like they need breaks the others do and if they don’t get them, they slow everyone down
- you cannot earn a right to be alive. You got it the moment you were born. Nobody can take it from you, if you are efficient or not. There are more beliefs behind this, talk about it with your T.
- Did I hear some shame in there? Who taught you this lesson and why would their opinion be important today?
Belief: Bad things happen when we relax. It is very scary.
- get oriented in time& space. You are not living in trauma time anymore. Things that used to happen don’t happen anymore
- keep your eyes open and remind yourself where you are
- maybe use imagery instead of physical approaches to relaxation
- only try for a few moments at first and see if anything bad happened. If not, try longer next time.
- Maybe have a protector watch over you while you relax
- maybe keep an inner helper near to calm yourself down while practicing
- if it’s a Little, maybe a save story and a stuffy would be a good start (stuffies are awesome protectors, they always keep their eyes open!)
Belief: relaxation is very uncomfortable because it means feeling emotions and the body. It is better to avoid feeling things.
- Your emotions and the body are always there, you just numb yourself to not feel them.
- Feelings and body might be uncomfortable but they are not dangerous
- If you deal with your feelings more often it gets easier
- maybe just relax for short periods and go back to numbing when you had enough
- agree that you can stop any time
- do pleasant things for relaxation so the feelings and body sensations are positive
Belief: being in the present is very uncomfortable. It is better to dream. Conscious relaxation is such an effort. It is so much easier just to dissociate.
- be honest with yourself: how often does your dreaming lead you into trauma time?
- Dissociation is one way to cope. It gives you the illusion of safety while you are not alert enough to protect yourself from real danger anymore. Is that a price you (all) are willing to pay?
- Learn more about the nature of dissociation. It is the opposite of relaxation.
- Try stories and imagery: absorption is a concept similar to dissociation and daydreaming but you won’t lose control
Belief: relaxation triggers traumatic memories. When I relax I will be flooded.
- you could try it in your Safe Place where memories can’t come in
- stay oriented in time& space, keep your eyes open
- think about ways to regulate yourself, prepare containment in case of memory coming up. You got this.
- You could use the distant observer and not get pulled into what is coming up
- choose relaxation that keeps your mind involved.
- Maybe have an inner helper with you
- find out if there is someone inside who causes the flooding for some reason, it might be a misled attempt to protect you
- maybe it is a part who wants to be heard? Let them spend some time in their Safe Place and promise to listen later. Then listen later!
Belief: I am not allowed to relax. I will get into difficulties and be punished if I do.
- get oriented in time& space, you are not living in trauma time anymore
- do a reality check: who would punish you? If you don’t do it yourself, nobody else will do it. Agree not to punish yourself.
- Make a deal with parts who might threaten you. They might be stuck in trauma time too!
- Set aside a certain time where the rule is to relax.
Belief: I don’t know what to do with free time. I will just be bored and do nothing. I don’t feel like doing anything
- brainstorm relaxing activities with your inner team, let the others inspire you
- make a list and try these things, if you feel like it or not
- ask others what they do to relax
- search the internet for ideas and make sure to try them
- notice if there is something that you enjoy a little bit and repeat that
- make a plan, don’t just sit there waiting for relaxation to come
- find a relaxation partner for healthy activities (like a workout partner but chilled)
Belief: I need to relax all the time. When I start, I can’t stop. I can’t get up again, I am just so exhausted, I need to sleep for 100 years.
- short periods of relaxation sum up as well. You probably need them more regularly, not all at once
- see if your inner Team would give you more breaks over the day
- find a healthy time limit for relaxation. More than 10 hours of sleep will create other problems in your life
- schedule breaks, several of them, they don’t have to be long, just used for relaxing on purpose
- see if your inner Team could give you some alone time to pamper yourself
- are there other ways to take some stress from you, maybe others taking over some responsibilities?
Your don’t have to solve it all in one team meeting! Take notes and come back to talk about this. Maybe you want to sort problems by difficulty level and start with the easiest. Progress, not perfection.
Here is an idea: maybe you can create a relaxation kit, similar to your Skill Kit, but with all the things you might need to help you all relax.