Peace Through Acceptance

October 3rd, 2015

Last night I attended a private Mastermind hosted by Joe Vitale (of the movie The Secret).  During and afterwards I had a chance to speak of how important Acceptance is in creating peace in your mind and your life.

Compassionate Donators

Private Master Mind hosted by Joe Vitale for Wimberley Flood Victims’ Large Donors

An excerpt from a follow up email I sent one of the participants:

Acceptance doesn’t mean “agree with” or “like” or “approve of”, it just means give yourself and the world the gift of being able to “accept” what is in front of you now.  Remember we spoke briefly of perspective.  Having the ability to generate a new perspective in the moment can greatly enhance your ability to accept what is in front of you.  Another way to understand Acceptance is through its opposites.  One opposite of Acceptance is “Projection”.  This is where you are in a situation you don’t want to accept so instead of accepting it, you project your own fantasy or “version” of the reality you want on to it in your mind with your thoughts, actions and words.

The Master Mind was a wonderful surprise full of interesting and kind hearted people.  I overheard the word Ho’oponopono more last night than I had since my last Zero Limits Seminar.


Emerging Sanity Trap

September 3rd, 2008

In my personal PTSD-Recovery experience nothing is more important to re-establishing my sanity than those loved ones that are in it with me every day.  I have no clinical proof that what I’m about to say is true or false so you must weigh it in your own lives to know for yourself.  If there isn’t at least one person in your daily life that knows of your PTSD, has at least a basic understanding of how that impacts you and the world at large and can commit to at least one aspect of your PTSD in terms of them helping you, then you might as well get that cardboard sign out and start writing down what you want to tell the world when you find yourself living under a bridge because you can’t stand to face the world outside of your personal version of the foxhole(s) that put the monkey on your back to begin with.

So, to all you loved ones out there that have the courage to stay in it during PTSD-recovery I say Thank you and God Bless You for your strength.

This post is as much directed at the well-meaning loved ones as those of us that want to go hide in the attic or think we might any-minute take enemy fire as we drive down main-street USA in our ill-armored compact car.  Helping us with PTSD really means understanding what triggers our PTSD-Grid, how to help us decompress from a PTSD energized state and assisting us in deconstructing our PTSD triggers/behaviors while helping us construct a new – a functional, healthy life.

Some of you, like my wife and I have achieved some success.  I bet you wonderful loved ones have also discovered how hard it is to navigate through the tortured landscape of the PTSD-Survivor’s PTSD Grid. The lure for you loved ones is when things start to get better.  It’s very difficult to overcome the non-PTSD metaphors for how PTSD works.  “Finally, he/she is feeling bettter, going back to work, having social interaction without doing strange or scary things…we can go back to being normal.”

No you can’t!  You might eventually achieved “Normal” – I definitely want that for every single one of you out there.  BUT YOU CANT GO BACK.  The person who existed before the PTSD was consistently manfiest in the PTSD-survivor’s life was eaten by the PTSD.  The easiest way to think about what happens to a person that has PTSD is that one day an alien invaded their body and has been in control every since.  It is possible to remove the alien eventually with a lot of hard work but what is left when the alien has gone is a very very very different person than before the alien arrived.

The job of the survivor and the survivor’s loved ones is to identify this new person being born out of the removal of the PTSD-Alien.  That person’s tastes, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, fear, loves, likes, dislikes and interests will only hold an echo of the pre-PTSD person’s life.  It is the instinct of the loved one to seek out the “normal” through their memory.  They remember How you used to be.  That’s their criteria for you getting better.  And of course this is a trap.  It is the very trap that often derails PTSD-Recovery and the interest and contribution of the loved ones.

The loved ones try to talk to the old-you, which of course was the you that eventually walked or was dragged into your PTSD-Imprinting experiences.  By talking to the old you they’ve built a bridge instantly back to some things that are more likely than not to trigger your PTSD-Grid. They almost certainly don’t know this and you probably won’t know or understand it until it’s happened a few times and you have someone to help you sort it out.  Like me.  I had to sort this out myself and it wasn’t easy and if it wasn’t for very loving wife I’d be drowning in my PTSD on this topic right now.

So, give yourselves a great gift.  The gift is what to do when the survivor emerges from the triggers/PTSD-Behaviors that I refer to at the PTSD-Grid.  Discover who that person is without their metaphoric PTSD-Alien.  Be open to the mystries of the universe, don’t try to control the PTSD-Survivor with thoughts of how they should be or what they should do, etc.  Let them be who they really are. You will never be able to have a genuine relationship with a PTSD-Survivor if you can’t allow them to recover and discover their Post-PTSD self.

If your survivor is open to it the next time they show some progress in their effort to regain their sanity, then celebrate their success by encouraging them to do something new – their “new” not yours of course. Exploring newness together as you support them in their climb out of the PTSD-Blackhole will create a powerful bond between you and the new person that is all that is left after the PTSD has been conquered.

It is ever my hope that my blog helps you Erase Your Own PTSD.

Bruce Burns, PTSD-Survivor

Trauma Detector

July 16th, 2008

Recently I’ve had the remarkable fortune of witnessing someone I’m very close to ride the drama-coaster.  I am not immune or unable to ride it myself, so that is not a judgement, just an observation colored in with my own life’s flavor.  Just hearing a little about the drama is enough to make me scream or break something.  Of course drama seldom comes in small doeses, instead drama usually shows up in a family size container that never seems to be empty.

What causes me to want to scream and run from 2nd hand drama?  Why am I so full of wisdom on how she can stop the drama in her own life and why do I feel so passionate about STOPPING IT NOW!!? To answer this question, we must first answer a more basic question.  What is drama ? I am not a Thesbian so you’ll have to settle with my brown-paper sack definition until you decide to create your own.  Drama is the superimposing of a personal or collective fairytale upon actual events through time.  Now if that didn’t sound like it came right out of your 8th grade science textbook I don’t know what would.

Another less lofty version of my personal definition is this: Drama is what each individual fills in or adds to a real-life picture in order to bend that picture in such a way as to have it mean what they believe it means, instead of simply seeing real life as it is.  I’m certainly not trying to replace the mystery of the universe with my brand of empiricism; however my definition takes into account that the director of any drama (that’s you or me or anyone else that entertaining drama)is aiming not at the mystery as much as the misery.

It is my observation through decades of plain old living that brings me to the current conclusion that the inspiration of drama is pain.  Pain shows up in all kinds of forms: fear, hunger, anger, sadness, numbness … .  We manufacture the drama to manage the pain.  We replace genuine fulfillment with a masterful distraction.  And what does this have to do with PTSD you might ask?  Great question.

PTSD is the exaggerated, burnt-into-your-nervous system big brother of drama.  Before I understood even the little bit that I know now about my current dysfunction, when I felt unsafe, when my PTSD-button got pushed, I would have to summon up an equally scary response to try and balance out the equation in a futile attempt to regain equilibrium.   Another way of saying this is that I would have to become as threatening or scary as I felt threatened or scared. The PTSD logic was that the world is ALWAYS a dangerous place and I’m just not predatorial or dangerous enough to survive.

I’ve clarified drama, now lets compare it to PTSD.  One aspect of PTSD is the reaction to current events based on non-current experiences.  You are standing on the street corner sidewalk and a bus drives by a bit too close honking it’s horn and suddenly you are also re-living the car wreck you were in where large objects were colliding with you, making gastly noises, creating unimagineable pain in your body and filling your mind up with immense fear.  Your sudden reaction must be equal to the unresolved and terryfying not-here-and-now traumatic memory.  Even as your PTSD grid gets lit up a part of your mind is trying to reconcile the honking bus with the traumatic cellular memory of the accident.  Unfortunately the trauma memory is so much bigger than life compared to the here-and-now experience of a PTSDer that the living moment is swallowed by the traumatic memory.

What comes next is the focus of this post.  My reaction.  Your reaction.  The Reaction.  That bus’ proximity and honking horn has alerted your mind that you are in perilous danger and you will NOW experience flight or fight.  Perhaps you turn to nearby pedestrians and usher them away from the curb with a commanding voice or even physical contact trying to protect them from the danger that only you are experiencing.  Perhaps you are more in control than that and you simply yell at a loved one or tell them how stupid they were for insisting you stand on the side walk (in danger).  The Reaction is as unique to the individual as their shaping trauma(s) were.

What do we do?  What are we always doing with our minds?  We seek out potential threats, we are scanning for the danger that the trauma-memories insist are all around us RIGHT NOW! In most instances we are looking for something that is not there.  We are relating to conditions, people, events and circumstances that aren’t necessarily here and now.  Even in a story told by someone else.  My loved one that has been riding the drama-coaster has unknowingly been taking me with her.  I must board the coaster to check for personal dangers to myself.  We are all hypersenetive to various forms of truama.  In the PTSDers mind oftentimes drama gets translated as truama.  When you tell me a dramatic story I can always find the vulnerabilities and dangers that lay on the surface or hidden in the drama.

Each of us is at his or her own place in the healing from PTSD.  Right now, for myself I am learning how to create new behaviors and choices and surrender the old trauma-reactive ones up to my history.  This blog is part of that process.  What is required to turn the honking bus back into a bus?  How do I absorb the cause of my trauma in such a way that allows me to eventually release it and move on?  I don’t know.  I’m learning but I still have much to learn.


Suffering from mind breaking PTSD for over 44 years.  I just want to be free.

The Memory Delimma

July 2nd, 2008

If you thought I was going to talk about memory challenges – then you re in for a surprise.  Today’s topic is about how the available memories of the PTSDer guides post-recovery choices and behavior.

I suppose I should define by what I mean as post-recovery.  MY Meaning is simple.  In any context when you have untrained your brain to respond to danger signals of past traumas and start responding to the stimuli of the here and now then in that particular context I would say you are in post-recovery.  Notice how I frame my definition to be “context” related.  Here is an example.  I’ve trained my brain to drive without hypervigilance. Before I did that I was like Robocop seeing everything, everybody, every slight detail while driving.  That kind of resource sounds valuable doesn’t it?  It would be except the mere process of hypervigilance stimulates the entire PTSD grid or by maintaining hypervigilance I activate my PTSD state.

Now I will agree as a driver it’s much safer to be hypervigilant than it is to be vigilant, except for the fact that I might as well be driving down a street in war-torn Bahgdad for all the non-present danger signals I process.

Back to the example.  Now I drive with Vigilance.  I’ve trained my brain to let driving be something other than fleeing for my life or heading to battle.  I’m learning to enjoy seeing the sights as I drive, having a conversation with my wife and even listening to music (I didn’t before because it would decrease my hypervigilance).  I remember the first day I achieved this vigilant/non-ptsd state.  I almost got in a wreck.  For those of you who are reading of course you see yet another delimma besides the one I wish to talk about.  “Bruce if you almost got in a wreck DONT YOU NEED YOUR HYPERVIGILANCE?” I pulled out into an intersection a block from my house at a 4 way stop sign.  I didn’t check right BECAUSE I’ve always driven with hypervigilance.  My body-brain doesn’t know how to drive without it.  So I have to practice just driving with vigilance – where I consciously check left and right, front and back while I drive instead of scanning constantly like Robocop.  And so the answer to your question I presume is “no”.  I just need to get through the growing pains of having transformed the driving context into a post-recovery context.

So memories.  When you start to recover in any given context you’ve been so crazy, so functionless for so long YOU JUST WANT TO BE FREE!!! One of the things I noticed myself doing was testing my new freedom. But I didn’t know how.  All I had were memories of an entire PTSD Life to guide what to do next.  As a result of that I would literally re-energize the PTSD Grid because every memory of what I might do next was shaped in a PTSD state.

Here is an example.  One of the challenges I currently face and have faced for about 3 or 4 years now is that my capacity and ability to manage is almost completely gone (or unavailable). About a month ago I was trying to help a daughter and mother manage some teen-age crisis the daughter was having.  From the time I began until about 4-5 minutes into the “help” I pretty much had a PTSD meltdown.  So one of the ways that I take responsibility for my PTSD is to be very honest and real with myself.  Instead of trying to force management, I accept that currently I am a very poor manager.  What that means is that instead of insisting that I engergize my ptsd grid by forcing myself to manage, I create a rule for myself in order to heal.  I am unable to manage effectively, therefore I am going to take off every managing responsibility or choice that I possibly can.

That day that I tried to help the daughter and mom, I was feeling better.  I was feeling free and wanted to demonstrate that freedom to myself by doing what I’ve always done.  Trying to fix others instead of myself.  In this context I was attempting to manage something and that very choice was contrary to my rule, which looks like “I will not choose to manage new things and will attempt to reduce the management of old things as much as humanly possible.

So what do we do when we feel better, feel free?  I don’t have all the answers and I may never have all of them for you or myself.  I suspect that the next step for me is to have a solid plan.  I don’t that plan yet, but a consistent program that’s designed to help me uncover the PTSD Grid and recover my sanity and fucntion is essential.  If you don’t have a plan or the answer to the above question (like me) then work on getting one.

I’ve been in contact with someone to work with me and my PTSD recovery.  I don’t have any news yet to report, but I am taking action toward sanity and healing.


Planning vs. Spontaneity

June 30th, 2008

One of the greatest challenges I face today with my own PTSD is my intense need for preparation.  I am currently in between treatments and though I would like to have something stable that I can trust and do now, I do not trust, I do not see “something stable” and so I’m going to do the best I can with what I have until I can find someone to work with me that I am willing to trust AGAIN!

What I am doing is creating a life-environment that eliminates as much of the triggers for my PTSD as possible so I can finally rest, let my guard down and start learning to feel safe. I’ll get into how I do that at some point but today I want to talk about the loss of my spontaneity.

My wife can be a very social creature.  She is precious in how she’s always willing to mingle and share herself with her loved ones.  Most of our friends and family are beyond 9 to 5.  They usually own at least one business, work for themselves, work from home, etc.  So no one keeps “regular hours”.  Last night after she went to a “Goddess Party” (don’t ask I didn’t go), she called me and told me we were invited to dinner at a close friends house.

Now the woman who invited us can cook and I have no aversion to eating her fine food.  However for me to leave my “safe zone” I need hours if not days notice.  I need to see the target of my reluctant ambition.  There are things we all have to do so most of those I require to be planned out in as much advance as possible.  I get angry when someone drops something on me that requires spontaneity because I don’t have it to give right now.

The reason I require this is that I have to literally psych myself up to go out into a world full of trauma-triggers.  It’s not unlike what a young man might have to do to ask a girl out on a date or an athelete and the rituals they go through to get ready for a game.  I suspect this is some weird form of control that I demonstrate over a nervous system that is mostly out of control.

What I do find though is when I do this ritual of getting ready that it’s not the same as the always ready state that PTSD had me in.  Although there is still residue from the PTSD always ready that spills over into my getting ready rituals.  If my wife and I have agreed to leave at 8pm and she’s still gathering things to go out the door at 8:03 I start to get angry.  My PTSD-think is in the form of alarming questions “What danger will happen if we are late?  What will happen to us if we stay here any longer?” I know this sounds like a movie script but it’s not, it’s my PTSD script.

I suspect the reason for the anger is that I’ve spent all that time building up to leaving and now I need to do it! Being ready and not leaving is the opposite of feeling safe in my own home.

So how do I manage this dynamic?  I have boundaries that I define, explain and enforce.  If “you” want something from me beyond what I’m offering then you have to give me the space to get ready.  You see I could go back to the PTSD readiness and always be ready, but with that comes all the inappropriate responses and the complete exhaustion from living with an incessant danger signal clamoring in my head.  I am ready to be free of my PTSD.

This site will grow and as a professional internet marketer (don’t hold it against me) I’ll be equiping it with interactive features, etc.  If there is something you would like to see on my site, please fell free to leave a comment with your email address included and I’ll get back to you.  Thanks for reading if you made it this far.


A newbie PTSD Recoverer

What is PTSD

June 25th, 2008

First and Foremost I’m not a doctor, I don’t have any special training (besides life) in telling you or anyone else what PTSD is and is not.  With that disclaimer out of the way, here is my Translation.

Every behavior no matter how small or complex can be described as a relationship between the brain and the body connected by your nervous system or more specifically for the purpose of this post a neuro-pathway or set(s) of neuro-pathways. Many of you have probably heard of people who’ve had accidents or injuries and they had to “Learn to walk” or “Learn to write” again.  These are two examples of someone who has had to develop new neuro-pathways in order to function again after a major body or head trauma.

PTSD can also be defined by sets of neuro-pathways.  One behavior that I’ve had most of my life that is PTSD connected (*I’ll explain this in a moment) is something called Hyper-vigilance.  Hypervigilance is the accumulation of my eyes, ears and other seneses probing my environment CONSTANTLY for Danger.  I even do it in my sleep.  So my body has provided me with a “tool” to “manage” my PTSD called Hyper-vigilance. The way my eyes participate in this process can be talked about in terms of neuro-pathways between the brain and the eyes.  Same for the ears, same for the other senses that contribute to a PTSD Behavior described as Hyper-vigilance. Hypervigilance is just one of many behaviors that have coresponding sets of neuro-pathyways that define My PTSD.

*Explination of A Behavior that is PTSD Connected: All the different types of behaviors that I have (Hyper-vigilance being only one of)that form a vast network of Neuro-pathways that can be mapped out and understood even by someone who’s never heard of a neuro-pathway before, make up the structure of my PTSD.

PTSD in my layman mind is The well-trained response by my brain-body relationship defined by my neuro-pathways to past and or current Trauma(s) that were/are so severe the body’s danger-alarm has been going off continuously since the first Trauma was experienced.  My body is literally “convinced” that it is ALWAYS IN DANGER.  My mind continuously seeks ways to avoid or eliminate the Danger.  This set of behaviors is so large that it consumes nearly all of my focus, attention, memories and ability to learn from one moment to the next.  It is the totally loss of function that brought me to a point after 44 years of living with stacked Traumas to seek out help, treatment and a way to Erase My PTSD.

You may find similarities with my experience and knowledge of PTSD to your own.  Mine does not represent the totality of what PTSD is or can be.  Just with what I’ve learned I could fill page after page of What is PTSD.  I don’t want to drown in that knowledge anymore than I want you too, so I go at a pace I can manage.  I hope that my words are helpful.


How do you know?

June 24th, 2008

I turned 44 a few days ago and I suppose I’ve been toying with the fact I “might” have PTSD for at least a decade perhaps as many as two decades.  That comment sounds simple enough but the truth of PTSD is far from simple.  On the surface you have 20 years + the idea I might have PTSD + Me.  I’m a trained Interventionist and I’ve worked with people ALL of that 20 years.  Here’s the kicker, I’ve had PTSD since before birth.  Pre-Natal.  So it took me 25 years to start to consider I had PTSD.  Then another 20 to begin to take responsibility for that.  My point PTSD touches and often consumes every part of your existence.  There is no being “objective” about it.  You can’t “think” away PTSD.

Often one of the training guides I would give my clients in Intervention was “You can’t think your way out of desperation, you have to behave your way out.”  Oh and before I go any further my references to Intervention does NOT include helping people with PTSD.  I am at the very beginning of the road to ERASING the impact on the the neuro-pathways that the letters PTSD represent.

How do you know? You hear the letters “PTSD” enough when you have it sometimes you have to add PTSD to the long list of things you HOPED were wrong with you so you could treat it and get on with your life.  Contrastring that phenomena is that perhaps almost everytime you heard the letters “PTSD” you wanted to ignore it, disregard and I know why.

You Don’t Trust! You don’t trust me, my words, this website or anything else you are aware of.  You pretend to trust because normal people require that from you.  So, even if you are pretty sure you have PTSD, you don’t trust that you have it, you don’t trust that this could be the hurt that defines you well enough to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

How else do you know? Well for myself I left huge clues strewn in nearly every room in my life.  By the time I was 6 years old I couldn’t go to sleep UNLESS I had made the room completely dark and eliminated any sounds. I didn’t know why I did this, I just knew sound and light irritated my little boy mind at night.

Today in order to get a good night sleep I wear ear plugs before going to bed or any time during the day when I feel the decades long established PTSD pattern begin to close off my ability to do the most basic things.  This pattern often emerges as I suddenly loose focus and can’t remember what I was doing or why I was doing it or what I’m supposed to do next.

I will certainly add more as the days go by.  Thank you for reading this far if you have.