(excerpt from PTSD)
Someone once said that we all have a musical soundtrack that plays in our mind. Where did this come from? My guess is years of programming from everything from commercials to music. Everything we have ever seen or heard is in our brain somewhere. Have you ever wondered why a song is in your head and you cannot seem to get rid of it?
My research and questions to people have found that it may pertain to our emotional and psychological state at the time. I wake up and hear a song that may be a “trigger” or an “anchor” to something from my past. Sometimes it is about a girl, other times it will take me to places I do not wish to go.
Remembering things and forgetting them constitute two ways that our subconscious protects us. For some reason Veterans like us find ourselves vividly remembering incidents, people, places, and things that may have warped our thinking and judgment. Sometimes this will manifest itself negative ways, we may become isolated, have panic attacks or bouts of confusion. The practice that works for me is replacing those old songs with something new and different until I can handle them. Sometimes it takes leverage (pain) to take action on these situations. If we are in enough pain, we will respond with whatever action is needed for change to take place.
Create new memories with these songs or replace the words with something that makes you feel good. My neighbor burns his trash on his farm, I can smell it a mile away, and it takes me back to Somalia just about every time. Alternatively, another personal favorite of mine is when he shoots one of his cows in the head when he sells one. Just the gunshot makes my mind move into fight or flight mode. The other day I opened my truck door to let my dog out when we went to the park. Just the way the handle “popped” put a ringing in my ears and I was instantly back to a place I did not want to be. By practice, taking action and using trial and error I have learned to change my state in a split second and move to a more comfortable place.
I have become a firm believer in “garbage in, garbage out.” I replace those songs (old ways of thinking) with other motivational material or with new songs (new ways of thinking) and I create a peaceful fun environment for my subconscious. Remember that our subconscious cannot distinguish between reality and fiction. It will only do what our conscious mind tells it to do.
If we say, “I can’t” the conscious mind tells the subconscious “okay boys; he says he can’t do it so let’s prove him right.” If we say, “I can” the conscious mind says “okay boys he says he can so let’s make it happen.”