“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference”
 What a great time of year to write about what scares us!  I know without a shadow of a doubt that there are two enemies when it comes to being afraid. Enemy no1 – the “things” that are on the outside of us and Enemy no 2 – the “things” that are on the inside of us.  

In essence, when it comes to fear my job is to help people to make a choice. The choice between falling victim to the fear of what they have no control over versus the choice to raise the courage and compassion to connect and communicate wisely with what they can control.  

The power to choose is where freedom lives.  

I know it sounds so simple and when we are in the grip of fear it certainly doesn’t feel simple.  In fact it can feel crippling.  The truth is that human beings are reactive to three subheadings.  We react to outside influences, Inside influences and the Influence of time.  We don’t always have a lot of control over the outside stuff or over time.  So speaks a menopausal woman caught in the headlights of the drama that’s called Brexit.  

However we absolutely can do something about what is winding us up from the inside.  For example: Can I personally change the horrific personalities of some political monsters in the arena at the moment? No.  Can I personally do anything about the time it is taking to find out how things are going to pan out for people? No.  Can I save my children from the climate mess that is their legacy? – No.

What I can affect considerably is how I talk to myself about it. How I soothe myself through the waiting game element of it.  Who I choose to talk to about it. How much time I choose to give to thinking about it.  What actions I can take to support what I personally stand for, and who I care about.  

I get to choose where my attention goes.  I get to choose what language I use. I get to choose how I breathe and how I ease my own conscience.  I get to choose what adjustments I make to my lifestyle habits.  

The truth is that one of the biggest culprits when it comes to fear is in fact ourselves. Human beings are amazingly good at scaring ourselves!  We invented drama. We love drama. We can’t help ourselves creating dramas out of molehills.

Shakespeare knew it.
Journalists know it.
Netflix knows it.  

It’s not our fault we are wired for drama.

Tick or Treat 
Just like the guisers that dress up at halloween we have aspects of ourselves that turn up in our lives wearing certain disguises.  Their personalities trick us into thinking that we have no control over ourselves, when in fact, when we learn how to treat them they will absolutely be better behaved. 

Here are 3 classic disguises of the human psyche.

The Chimp
Bless it, the chimp is trying to keep us safe and a lot of the time does a fantastic job.  The chimp represents the primal part of our brain, the limbic system which houses our fight, flight or freeze reactions, the sympathetic nervous system. When it is functioning well it warns us and keeps us out of danger. However if a chimp is not well managed it can get really tricky to handle.  It can start to create a real fuss at the slightest thing, becoming hyper alert and uber cautious. Behaving rather like a too sensitively set smoke alarm. Some warning signs of a tricky chimp would be overly zealous grumpiness, easy to anger temperament, fearful thoughts and erratic behaviour.  A wound up chimp does not take kindly to being asked to slow down. We know our chimp is wound up when we feel over reactive about something.
Our chimp can hijack us and the turning point can feel sudden and scary rather like our own internal military coup.

The Wounded Child
The wounded child is trying to get our attention in the only way it knows how – by becoming childlike.  It wants to feel safe, loved and comforted but will often behave the way it did when we were much younger.  Before we know what we know now.  Even the most successful and highly competent amongst us can feel irrationally vulnerable, sensitive and lost when it comes to certain people, places or topics.  Like the story of the woman who was afraid of buttons. It turns out when her bullying father was holding her over the banister, as a child, by her ankles all she remembered was the buttons on his waistcoat.  Buttons got linked to terror and in the face of this everyday object a normally confident woman reverted back to being a terrified child.  Apologies I know this is an upsetting and extreme example.  In essence our wounded child didn’t have the skills back then to know how to handle a myriad of complicated scenario’s so they did the best they could and sometimes those childlike strategies get hard wired into us.   
When we don’t feel safe and loved our wounded child can hijack us with vulnerability.

The Internalised Parent
Most parents absolutely are doing the best they can.  Like us all they may have regrets and would love to wind back the clocks when their work stress was over or their relationships were better or they had simply grown older and wiser. They wished they hadn’t been so strict or argued so much.   Perhaps they wish they hadn’t worried so much or been so controlling in an attempt to raise us well.  As we grow up we vow never to treat our children or friends the way the less appealing side of our parents personality treated us. Unfortunately we relegate this influence to the shadow side of our psyche.  We turn a blind eye to their existence, rather like a ghost in the attic, and then we may treat ourselves harshly behind the closed doors or our internal world.  This can show up in lots of tricksy kind of ways. If compliments were rare as a child we find it hard to compliment ourselves and rely too much on reassurance from others.  If tenderness was absent as a child we don’t have the skills to be tender with ourselves. If worrying was the family vibe we may live with a background noise of fretting. Or if cracking on with a stiff upper lip was the rule then we may find it hard to ask for help.  This of course is not an exact science it paints a picture though.
When we feel that we are struggling our internal parenting skills can switch to an old unhelpful autopilot mode.

This is just a flavour of some of our internal guiser’s and of how dramatic we can be on the inside.  We can all take heart that this is part and parcel of being human.  It is comforting to know that, when we feel hijacked by one or more of them, this is normal.  

It is a call to action from our system to step up and take charge of these aspects of ourselves.  In fact it is an exciting opportunity to get to know ourselves better.  To create a better relationship with ourself.  They are not trying to persecute us they are trying to get our attention.  This is a challenge who’s time has come to be dealt with.

My encouragement to every person that comes to see me is: “Embrace this challenge, it is here anyway so you might as well get excited about conquering it”

When you feel scared or overwhelmed by what life has brought to your door. Repeat this verse to yourself like a mantra.  Your internal librarian will hear you.  In other words your amazing subconscious mind will see it as a command to find the right solutions to your dilemma and will absolutely start to navigate you out of fearful deep water and back into to safer, shallower shores.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference”

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference”

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference”

(“Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment”
Zig Ziglar )

Happy Halloween!  Here’s to getting excited and enthusiastic about connecting and communicating with yourself a whole lot more creatively.