“There are 3 main dysregulation patterns: Hypervigilance, hypovigilance and vacillators. This episode is all about Hypovigilance. “

Episode 288

The Dysregulated Nervous System: Hypovigilance

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Hello, Gorgeous Soul.

All right, we are in part 3 of the Nervous System series.

Let’s do a quick recap in case you haven’t listened to the first two episodes

In part one, I shared that, in my work with clients over the last 12 years, when people feel stuck, it’s typically stemming from dysregulation in their nervous system. And I see 3 pretty typical patterns of this dysregulation.

Hypervigilance, Hypovigilance, and Vacillators.

I also shared the Calm AF Scale, which is maybe one of the most important tools that I teach my clients, to help them recognize their own dysregulation, help them PREDICT and PREPARE for when they’re likely to move into a dysregulated state AND how to get OUT of it faster. I think it’s one of the most powerful tools in the calm AF toolbox because why do we usually fall back into old patterns? Because we think we have no control over our shit. We DO. And once you spend time really getting to know your pattern, then you can create an individualized PLAN for yourself. If you haven’t taken the dysregulation quiz yet, go do that now!

In part 2, we talked about the hypervigilant state. What it looks and feels like and also I shared 7 really common ways hypervigilance shows up.

Next week, in part 4 we’ll be talking about the vacillators, which means you are constantly racing back and forth between hyper and hypovigilance, you’re either going a million miles an hour or you’re going zero.

But today, in part 3, we’re going to dive into the hypovigilant pattern.

The Hypovigilant Pattern

If hypervigilance is urgent and frenetic, hypovigilance is shut-down and stuck.

Now I’m going to say this a million times in this series, but it’s because it’s VERY important to remember, if you WANT to break free from these patterns that these two states are NOT opposites of each other, they are two sides of the same coin, that coin being dysregulation.

The opposite of both hyper and hypo vigilance is calm AF.

When someone shows up in my world and their dominant pattern is HYPOvigilance, there are two things I have noticed after more than 10 years and hundreds of clients. HYPO vigilance is either a learned pattern from childhood OR a result of complete energetic exhaustion.

Either this person learned way back in childhood OR maybe in some toxic relationship in their life that the best way to stay SAFE, from physical, emotional or psychological harm is to be invisible. A lot of them learned to stop trying because no matter WHAT they did, it was going to be criticized or punished or not good enough. To them, hypervigilance and TRYING to be perfect or please another person created more problems than simply shutting down, so they learned to shut down.

That would be how it looks as a learned pattern from childhood.

The other reason I see is from complete and total exhaustion from alllll the time spent in that hypervigilant state.

Next week we’ll talk about the vacillator type, and that is a VERY common pattern, this kind of the dizzying back and forth between hypervigilance and hypovigilance, but getting STUCK in hypovigilance, based on my observations, are because you have burnt out SO hard from hypervigilance, that you just STAY in hypovigilance because you have burnt yourself out SO much, you have crashed your system. Like your car ran out of gas a LONG time ago, but you spent years figuring out how to start the car and run on the fumes, but now you don’t even have fumes. No gas, no fumes, no movement.

The energy of the hypovigilant side of the calm AF is shut down, low, heavy, stagnant.

It’s very Eeyore.

If you’re on this side of the scale, you might feel hopeless, stuck, frozen, tired.

And the thoughts you’re probably thinking sound like: Why bother? Nothing works, so why bother? It’s not going to work out, so why bother even trying? What’s the point? I suck and nothing ever changes or gets better or works out for me, so don’t even try.

In my coaching program, Calm AF Life, we spent a month going through the calm AF scale and all 3 different types of dysregulation and by FAR the most enlightening conversations happened when we were talking about hypovigilance and here’s why. We are groomed, we are programmed to believe that hypervigilance is desirable. The whole BUSY-ness equals worthiness narrative has us BELIEVING that this urgent state of being is productive. We are very in tune with our hypervigilant state because we’ve spent most of our life trying to figure out how to STAY hypervigilant. And we have spent most of our life trying to figure out HOW to stay OUT of the shutdown, how to get OUT of the ruts, how to get unstuck.

So when we actually spent time learning about how these patterns show up, SO many aha moments. SO many Oh my gosh, I thought I was hypervigilant, but I’m actually in hypovigilance a LOT of the time.

And why that matters? Because the only ONLY way you will ever stop a pattern is if you have awareness of that pattern.

So, let’s talk about some pretty common ways that hypovigilance tends to show up, how you can recognize it in yourself.

  1. You’re tired even though you haven’t “done” anything. Let’s go ahead and dispel the myth that hypovigilance equals laziness. Think about ALL the energy you are expending by beating yourself up. Think about ALL the energy you are expending by AVOIDING your thoughts, PUSHING AWAY your feelings, FIGHTING with procrastination. You might be in a stagnant energy state, but that energy is HEAVY. Hypovigilance feels like every move you make you have a 50 pound weight in your backpack. You aren’t tired for no reason. Hypovigilance is just as exhausting as hypervigilance, if not more.
  2. You low key want to stay stuck because you think the only way to get out of this state is to go back to hypervigilance and you’re TIRED! The thought of having to go back to urgency and busy-ness and frenetic perfectionism, overwhelming energy managing…you just want to stay stuck here just a litttttle bit longer. You don’t have the energy to go back to hypervigilance yet. Oh my gosh, THIS is important for you to hear. And this is why I will shout from the rooftops now until forever, this is why you want to learn how to be calm AF. Because You are WAY more productive in Calm AF energy than in hypervigilant energy. People are SHOCKED to discover that they often fly through their to-do lists when they’re in calm AF energy than when in that hypervigilant state. AND this leads into the 3rd way hypovigilant pattern shows up.
  3. You think shutting down and numbing out in hypovigilance is the ONLY way you will ever get any rest. If you believe that the only way to get shit done is if you’re aggressively pushing yourself, going 1000 miles per hour, then the only option to get some rest is to completely shut down. But do you actually feel rested after a night of numbing out on your phone? Do you feel refreshed and invigorated after you use food or alcohol to shut off your brain? No, friend. You aren’t getting a break from the stress by shutting down, you are ADDING to your stress. You are perpetuating the pattern. You’ve GOT to learn how to TRULY rest and that happens in the calm AF state.
  4. You don’t trust yourself. You don’t believe you’re capable of trying and succeeding, you don’t believe you’re capable of handling people being mad at you or disappointed or negatively impacted in ANY way because of you. You don’t trust your decisions, your thoughts, your resilience, your strength. You trust the familiarity of staying stuck.
  5. You spend a lot of time trying to get motivated, waiting to feel motivated in order to get moving. Let me translate what this actually means. The motivation you’re waiting for is your hypervigilant voice, that awful inner critic voice to get SO loud “Omg you’re so lazy, omg get UP, get GOING, what is WRONG with you” that you get up. You’re not waiting to feel motivated, you’re waiting for the shame to be so unbearable that you are hurled back into hypervigilance.
  6. You feel like you’ve lost your sparkle or you feel like an empty shell. So hypovigilant thinking may have tricked yourself into thinking that this shutdown state is a better use of your energy, like it’s better to not care at all than to be on high alert, like you’re protecting yourself from disappointment or conflict or criticism. But apathetic isn’t calm. Apathetic isn’t the absence of chaos. It’s the procrastination of chaos. Calm AF is the absence of chaos. Which shoutout to my client for dropping that wisdom – that calm AF is the absence of chaos. She said it during a session and I just about lost my mind. It’s so good. It’s so spot on.

Now, let’s talk about WHY you want to stop the hypovigilant pattern.

Because like I said earlier, you might be thinking, “Yes, I want to get out of this hypovigilant state for SURE, but not yet. Like, give me a few more days to rest before I swing back over to hypervigilance.” OR, “This is the only way for me to stay safe, for my SAFETY I need to keep this pattern.”

Which means that you need a really strong WHY. Why it’s safe for you to stop numbing out, why it’s safe for you to move out of this hypovigilant state.

  1. It’s a waste of time. Your hypovigilance isn’t keeping you safe from feeling bad. You feel bad in hypovigilance.
  2. This isn’t rest. Numbing out isn’t resting. The opposite of hypovigilance isn’t hypervigilance. It’s calm AF.
  3. Your life isn’t waiting for you to get up. It’s not stopping while you numb out. It is happening and you are missing it.
  4. There’s no one coming to save you. There’s nothing, there’s no one who can get you out of this but you. You aren’t avoiding future pain by staying stuck in a holding pattern, you are perpetuating the suffering.

That said, I can absolutely teach you what you need to know in order to disrupt your dysregulated patterns. Make sure you take the quiz (tap here!) and it’ll tell you which type you spend the most time in, but also I will share with you more on how to break those patterns. And the best way to break them for real, for good, for life is to join Calm AF Life. I’m teaching you how to get and stay in Calm AF energy every single day. It’s the best investment in your future you might ever make.

Next week, we’re going to talk about the third dysregulation type, Vacillators. You are not going to want to miss this episode. I have a feeling this is gonna be one of those episodes where people email me to say “Omg are you in my head?? Are there hidden cameras in my house?”

Don’t miss it.

– Kristen

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