An important theme recently among my clients has been the vacillation between hypervigilance and collapse. How do these two states live in your body? Hypervigilance is often a state of anxiety, of production, of doing – being early or on time, accomplishing tasks for a deadline, making lists in your head of all the tasks you have to do, shutting off many parts of yourself in order to please a boss or appease a customer. In essence, it’s a results-oriented stance.
On the other hand, collapse is a state of unconsciousness – watching TV, checking out after work with a few beers, sitting down with a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, surfing the internet for hours, shopping for a new outfit, or just roaming the stores. Ultimately, these are ways to dissociate from the present moment. These are the behaviors we do to offset the hypervigilance.
Although I don’t know much about Stephen Covey, or the Franklin-Covey systems, someone once brought his time management matrix to my attention. His graph has four quadrants: urgent and important; non-urgent and important; urgent and not important; and not urgent and not important. Just notice which quadrants you generally live in – the majority of Americans live in Quadrants I, III and IV.
Relaxing and being calm without going unconscious is quite challenging – maybe it means lying on the floor and breathing, lighting some candles and listening to music, taking a stroll for pleasure (not exercise), building a model airplane, any number of crafts projects, or calling a supportive friend.
I wish you all the best in this exploration.