Several months ago, I wrote about dissociation, or being tranced-out. Trance feels like confusion or sleepiness and it blocks our energy in relationships. Trance envelopes us when we can’t make sense of the mixed information we’re receiving inside our relational space. It paralyzes us into inaction.
Am I crazy?
Am I paranoid?
Did I imagine that?
Remember the old movie, Gaslight? The woman being gas-lighted in the movie had a stress-induced psychotic break as she tried to manage all the mixed information being fed to her. Her husband systematically invalidated all her suspicions and emotions…leaving her to doubt her very reality. A trance-induction. Most people don’t induce trance intentionally, but the effects of mixed signals/information can still turn us into zombies.
Is he hearing me?
Is she there for me?
Am I worthy of relationship?
Trance-induction happens when someone claims to love you but keeps a major part of their humanity out of the relationship. This sounds like:
Of course I love you. Why would you even doubt…., or
This is for your own good…, or
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
You’re just sensitive because of what happened when you were growing up.
You don’t really know [what you think, feel].
Expression that mismatches a moment. Words that throw us off. Behavior that seems opposite the professed love, or just a blank look that belies the trouble you know is there. Mixed signals shake the I-Thou of relationship like tornadic winds uprooting trees.
Zombification comes from the stress of mixed signals. Mixed signals create an information vacuum that sucks up energy as we try to sort out what is really meant or how the person really feels or if we’ve been left emotionally abandoned or if we’re really crazy.
When we’re mystified by someone important to us, we dissociate, or slip into a trance. And trance leaves us vulnerable to accidents, depression, lost information, and lost moments. If you feel like a zombie, you may be in trance – and there’s probably a relationship trigger to it.
Steps to Demystify Yourself and Come Out of Trance
- Practice being angry. Pretend you feel angry and whack a mattress with a tennis racquet. Do this for 30 seconds while yelling obscenities at someone (who isn’t there). Stop and breathe. What do you notice?
- Make a list of everything confusing in your current relationship (whether this is a love relationship or a family relationship or a friendship). Write a scene involving your anger at someone. Writing Wife Material helped me take hold of some highly confusing childhood signals and sharpen my sense of what was real. It helped me break out of trance.
- When you start feeling sluggish or tranced-out, focus on your five senses. Hold a rock and feel its texture and temperature. Go outside and touch the grass. Breathe. Keep your eyes moving. Write down what you see, hear, taste, and smell.
- Think about the relationship troubling you and walk briskly. After 20 minutes, stop and jot down your thoughts/feelings.
- Tell your partner (or family member) how you feel when they invalidate you. Hold on to your reality. Breathe. Remember it’s okay to feel like something isn’t quite right, even if someone says you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Remember, you have the right to your reality, even if someone else says you’re imagining things. Let me know if you’d like to talk about trance and de-zombification.
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