Question of the Day – No. 209

How does hypervigilance help/hurt?

proposed by Carine De Lozier

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26 thoughts on “Question of the Day – No. 209

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  1. I had to look this up🤓…it can help when you are aware of others whose intentions aren’t good or when a threat is imminent but… it can hurt when you’re too ready for bad things to happen, or you are always looking for the worst in everything, trust issues, etc.

    There will be bad things that happen just as bad people in the world but we have to trust that things will work out.

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  2. Hypervigilance is a normal biological response that gets exaggerated through psychological distress. All of us are wired with automatic nervous system responses to stress; this used to serve us as a life saving functions when we lived as humans who needed to be more aware of our surroundings. The fight or flight nervous system cascade was what kept our ancestors alive. Even as modern humans, it still serves us in some situations. Walking down a dark road at night, hearing things making noise in the woods bordering the road.. are those footsteps behind you? Maybe, try listening harder. Wait to feel those hairs on the back of your neck start to tingle. Be ready to run.

    In this way, being hyperaware of your surroundings serves you. It protects you from unknown but very possible real dangers. I am thankful that my body and brain respond like this, when I need them to.

    But how painful and intolerable it is to have these experiences when you are sitting in a college class trying to pay attention to chemical equations flying across the blackboard. How excruciating to feel that all eyes are on you when you walk through the mall during holiday season. How exhausting it is to jump at every normal groan and creak your house makes on a cold winter night.

    Is the world really out to get me? Nope. That’s just my dumb brain in chemical/electric overdrive playing tricks on me.
    ~Allie~

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you for this amazing comment! And yes, our brain can screw us up.
      “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Albert Einstein

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was prone to being hypervigilant, considering my history with abuse. It is no doubt exhausting. It helps most of the times. But as time passed I realized I need not be so guarded at all times. Now I have toned it down to a much manageable level.It hurts in the sense that after a point I forgot how to behave in a crowd. The world seems to be a difficult place to live and my relationships suffered. Finding the middle ground is the most essential thing to do for me.

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  4. Surprisingly the more I traveled the more I loosened up. I still can’t go and talk to random people on my travels for fear! But there are some strangers around whom I usually find myself comfortable, be it the service staff in hotels I stay, or the road side vendors selling indigenous stuff or even the ubiquitous roadside tea seller one finds almost everywhere in India . I gravitate towards these most often and get into conversations. Slowly, I found the world to be friendlier place than what my mind had conjured up so far. The more often I do that, the better I am at building relationships. And it resulted in me being more open and adventurous in my daily life too. I guess I could say my travels helped me stop fearing my own mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess it’s because you encountered the situations and because you could accumulate the experience, you managed to develop some answers so you didn’t need to go to that hypervigilance state. This is great! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I also had to look the word up. Honest question: Is it the state of mind one is in when they are about to have a panic attack? On the surface, it seems to be just another word for intense anxiety, which is never a good thing to have. I know that the definition in Google states something along the lines of intense awareness, but it also lists hypervigilance as a symptom of anxiety disorder. Therefore, I just don’t see this being a helpful feature for humans to have. When in fight or flight, for example, you’re not paralyzed by fear or busy struggling to breathe; and if you are, then God help you, because you’re going to die. In the classroom setting, feeling such a way is merely being overly paranoid which is caused by overthinking: I would know, because I experienced it every day.

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    1. Interesting point of view. I think the difference is made by the reason behind that hypervigilance. If it comes from a continuous fear of something bad happening all the time, it’s very hurtful and, as you said, it is part of disorders. But if we look at it as being present in the moment with all the senses, it’s not necessarily something bad because it allows for more experiences to get in. Does that make sense?

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    1. Yes. Imagine seeing a horror movie. If you get scared by it, you’ll hear any little sound that happens in your house in that moment because the fight or flight mode is triggered so your senses are enhanced to spot any danger. But maybe we can call also hypervigilance when you’re playing poker and you try to spot any sign from your opponent that could give away the hand he has. In my opinion, hypervigilance is when our senses get enhanced. Even though this mostly happens when we subconsciously detect some threat, maybe can happen in other situations as well? Like let’s say, hunting. What do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhh. Now I see where you’re coming from… It’s funny that you mention hunting. I’ve personally never been, but I come from a family that does. I’m starting to think it’s in the name: hyper, meaning extra or super, and vigilance meaning awareness. Yeah, that makes sense.
        Thank you for your discussion!

        Liked by 1 person

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