Vertigo – any help would be appreciated.

640px-Glass_Floor_of_the_CN_TowerI’m trying to put things in perspective here,

for myself as much as for anyone who reads this. I am NOT scared of heights. Of course, there’s the old joke that says, “I’m not scared of heights, I’m scared of falling.” Not so funny because it’s true. However, I don’t have any problems with heights in general, except that every once in a while something will trigger either vertigo (as I understand it) or something else that makes me feel like I’m going to lose control and fall over or worse.

Because this feeling is induced by heights, for the longest time I thought I was afraid of heights and I stuck to the ground as much as possible. But over the course of time, too many things have happened for my problem to come from the fear of falling.

Vertigo as I understand it:

640px-A_leaning_child's_view_through_a_skyscraper's_window_and_glass_floorI somehow fear that my body will lose control. There’s no actual fear played out, I don’t feel dizzy, I don’t feel like I’m going to fall over, there’s no “end result” that I’m scared of. It’s hard to describe, I just feel like I might lose control of my body. I also have a physical reaction, a not quite painful feeling throughout my body that I can only describe as sharp. I feel it in my legs, stomach, groin, and arms. It’s the feeling I get when I’m going down a hill in a roller coaster, but it happens when I’m standing still.

The internet is full of articles, but vertigo is always described as dizziness or the feeling that one might fall over. None of the descriptions of the problem have ever been close enough to my own symptoms for me to feel comfortable diagnosing myself with the word.

When vertigo “kicks in”:

When I am up high, like in the mountains, and I am trying to walk closer to the edge. Even if the edge has a fence and there is no way that I could ever accidentally fall, the vertigo still rears its ugly head. I was in Washington just a few days ago at the Columbia River, and we pulled over at a scenic viewpoint to take some pictures. I did okay…

IMG_0768

 

If you see the plaques on the lower left and right hand sides of my photo, you will understand that this “edge” is a tourist attraction, and people are meant to walk right up to the plaques and read them. I couldn’t do it. This photo was taken with my iPhone about 10 feet away from the edge. I just wanted to walk up and touch the stone at the lookout point, and I took steps towards it, but just couldn’t finish because each step got more and more painful. But it’s not only being up high that  causes my vertigo…

When I look up at a high object, even though my feet are solidly on the flat low ground. The higher the object, the more intense the feeling of vertigo.

One time I was (as a car salesman) carrying helium balloons outside to affix to the cars in the morning. I was actually scared to carry them to the car because I had the feeling that if one of the balloons got away I would experience that loss of control. The thought of watching a helium balloon go up and up and up triggers the vertigo.

Nothing to fear but fear itself…

As I was driving through the mountains the other day I realized that I wasn’t scared of driving through the mountains. I wasn’t scared of going off a ledge and dying. I was scared of experiencing that loss of control that comes with SEEING the heights, and the expanse of nature. I have the same exact feeling if I’m on the low ground and see a huge mountain next to me, and I’m scared of that, too. So it’s not heights… But it does create a lot of fear – I’m scared of the vertigo, the problem, itself.

So when I head towards the mountains again on the way home, I will be scared, but not scared of the mountains.

WebMD on Vertigo

Wikipedia on Vertigo

Wikipedia on Acrophobia (fear of heights) with special guest star, Vertigo

This represents three of the sites I used to look for my specific issue, but I researched quite a few more that all said about the same thing.

Kennedy, Lincoln, and Snopes oh my…

256px-Abraham_Lincoln256px-John_F_Kennedy_Official_Portrait

Every once in a while I wander over to Snopes.com and hit their randomizer button in order to see if I can learn anything new. A few days ago, I landed on the Lincoln/Kennedy Coincidences rebuttal, and I was entirely surprised at the demeanor of the unnamed author of the rebuttal. I have read hundreds of Snopes articles by now, and I have never seen one that seemed as distressed or as angry as the article on this urban legend. The author seems downright irritated that this particular legend persists. Usually Snopes has a good sense of humor about their mission, but there is a tone throughout the piece that is somewhat distressing, and it makes me wonder what set the writer off on the tangent. Below are some quotes, but it is the article in its entirety that has the underlying anger.

QuoteWe’re supposed to be amazed at minor happenstances such as the two men’s being elected exactly one hundred years apart, but we’re supposed to think nothing of the numerous non-coincidences

QuoteAnother non-surprise. Absent all other factors, the odds were already one in seven that both killings would have occurred on the same day of the week. (Don’t even think about writing to tell us that we’re wrong and the odds are really one in forty-nine. If you think we’re wrong, you don’t understand the question.)

QuoteThis is one of those coincidences thatisn’t a coincidence at all; it’s simply wrong.

 

QuoteCoincidence? Neither their first nor last names have the same number of letters. And why should it be significant that both assassins had the same number of letters in their full names when the same wasn’t true of Abraham Lincoln and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, or of Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Baines Johnson?

A side note!

I found it kind of humorous that in the rebuttal of coincidences, Snopes actually gave us one more coincidence to consider (underlined in quote):

QuoteThis “coincidence” is another one which is exceedingly trivial in nature. The only two types of shots which reasonably assure a dead victim are chest shots and head shots, so two assassinations committed by head shots aren’t the least bit coincidental — especially when one considers that since both Lincoln and Kennedy were shot from behind and while seated, so their assassins had no other practical choice of target.

A note to the author of this Snopes piece:

It’s all gonna be okay! It really is. Have some tea and enjoy the evening.

The psychology of my embarrassment.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Perhelion
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Perhelion

So, I’m driving down the road listening to music, with my mind wandering all over the place, and somehow I land on the memory of something from my past that was really, really embarrassing to me. I dwell on the thought, and somehow find myself actually embarrassed again, for something that happened twenty, even thirty years ago. I catch myself speaking out loud to the situation, saying the things that I wish I would have said, or somehow rationalizing or explaining my behavior. I live through shame long past, shame that should have been long buried. I’m not sure why this happens, but it happens often.

My mind seeks moments like this from my past. I’m not talking about any one situation. It’s more like my brain is actually seeking moments from my past that I can somehow rectify. It’s almost like my brain is looking for it, bringing it to my conscious level, and saying, “here – deal with it so we can get past it.” Unfortunately, that part of my past is exactly that – my past. So there is no real way of dealing with it. Sure, I can keep wishing that I could go back and change what I did or said – but it can’t happen. And figuring out what I could have said or done differently is not therapeutic, all it does is cause further shame, for what I “should have” done.

I want to emphasize that there are very few “serious” situations involved in my embarrassing memories. These are tiny little things that happened that are long forgotten by the people who witnessed the events, the people in whose presence I was embarrassed. These things were not in any way life-changing events. Just something stupid I did or said, that I wish I hadn’t done. By my mind gives these amazing weight, and once again I don’t know why.

There are sites on the net advising that you “forgive yourself” and “retrain your brain” but I’ve tried things like this with no amazing results. Probably the biggest reason I have found to feel better about all of this is that after searching for “reliving embarrassing moments” I discovered that this happens to many people, and it happens often enough for me to consider myself “normal” in regards to this issue.

It is also very cathartic for me to blog about these things, so I’m sure that after I hit the WP “Publish” button, I’ll start to feel better about the situation already. I may still experience all of these moments, however now when they come, instead of “forgiving myself” or “retraining my mind”, I’ll be able to say, “Oh yeah! I wrote about that once.”

Train Yourself to React to Any Situation in 7 Steps

Abbot_of_Watkungtaphao-Luang_Phor_Somchai_
Photo courtesy of Tevaprapas (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tevaprapas)
http://commons.wikimedia.org

 

Do you ever find yourself in a social situation where you’re not exactly sure how to react, and you don’t trust yourself to simply act naturally? This principal (old as the hills) can help you dispel your fears of any situation that comes along. All you have to do is take that one particular scene that currently makes you unsure of yourself, and decide specifically how you are going to react before the situation ever comes along. I call this a simple principal because this is how all training works.

Let’s take the police – they train for situations over and over again throughout their entire career because when it’s “crunch time” they don’t have time to think, all they have time to do is react. If they have been trained properly, their minds and bodies will do what they were trained to do. It’s not a situation where the authorities want guesswork. The police are trained according to the best methods available at the time (at least someone decided that they were the best methods). The basic principal here is that people react in the manner that they were trained to react. When fear sets in and people aren’t sure how or what to think, the training kicks in and they do things automatically. This isn’t always a physical training. The police go through verbal and situational scenarios as well as the physical aspects of training.

Courtesy of Chuangzu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Chuangzu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m not saying that I always agree with the police and the way they do things, but they served as a really good example of how and why training works. And this applies to you. The training doesn’t have to come from someone else, or a book. The training can come from you. Your own training can come from what YOU have previously decided was the best course of action for YOUR GOALS in any given situation. It could be as variable as asking the girl at the bar for her number to getting yelled at by your boss in public.
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Easy Steps:

1. Ask yourself which situations scare you, or at least make you worry that you won’t be prepared to handle if they ever come up. These are probably the scenarios that you should begin with in training yourself and your mind to deal with in the manner that you consider appropriate.

2. Play the situation in your head. This should be easy because if it gives you any fear at all, it probably plays out in your head often, which is actually causing you more fear.

3. Decide how your “best self” would handle the scenario if it ever occurred. Be as specific as possible, even go as far as writing down exactly what you want to say.

4. Allow the situation to play out in your head again, this time visualizing yourself reacting the way you want to react, they way you DECIDED to react.

5. Try to maintain the same response, or as close as possible to your original response. This will reinforce your training every time your mind wanders to the scenario at hand. The only time this would change is if you have changed your decision on how you want to react.

6. When the situation actually occurs, and you think you may freeze in panic, you will be surprised to find yourself reacting in exactly the way you want. Congrats!

7. Possibly keep a journal of all the situations that you have trained yourself for, and look through them once a week to reinforce your training or see if you have changed your mind about the way you want to react.
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Keep in mind that you can use this to train yourself for hypothetical or generalized situations. You can just decide the manner in which you want to react in general, and every time you come up with a scenario in your head that is not exact or specific, you can decide on general guidelines that fit the mannerism you expect from yourself, the idea of yourself that you would like to project . (For more on composing your identity, see this article.)

This is definitely a part of “programming yourself” into who you want to be, so have fun coding your mind.