How do you feel?

‘How do you feel?’ Is a question I ask people frequently …

Not everyone has the words to express how they feel…
‘Okay’! … is a popular answer -but what does ‘okay’ actually mean?
T truth is, not everyone knows how to feel their emotions let alone knowing how to describe them.
Have you ever considered why do so many adults bury their emotions rather than feeling them?
Or Why so many adults feel the need to try to suppress other people’s emotions? Feeling uneasy and embarrassed when someone else displays frustration for example?

Adults and parents today understand far more than previous generations did about emotions .. although we still have a long way to go…

Reminder…
Emotions - E… Motions = Energy in motion
Trauma = Energy compressed … compressed energy that we keep adding to when we bury rather than Feel our emotions…

What do adults tend say to a child who reacts with frustration or snatches back when another child takes a toy from them?
“Don’t do that - play nice” perhaps ?
“They are younger than you - they don’t know any better, let them play”?
What were you taught as a child? What is your experience? Were you encouraged and told it was okay to feel upset or frustrated or were you told ‘No - don’t act like that?
What is a child who is upset likely to be feeling inside?
Frustration, Anger, Hurt, Injustice?
What is the child taught to with these heavy painful emotions?

“No… Don’t …. don’t react that way!
Okay .. so what Do we do with these heavy emotions?
Who taught you how to deal with those big feelings that you experience growing up?
Hurt, anger, frustration, etc..

How?
Where did they go? The Body keeps the score!!! Emotions are held in the body and come out either as physical ailments, self harm or explosive fits of anger & rage when triggered!

Some adults don’t know how to deal with other people expressing emotion…
They feel uncomfortable ..
Congruence is a word we use a lot at A Positive Start ..
Congruence is when your inner feelings match up with your outer expressions..
Happy = Laugh
Sad = Cry
Etc…

Learning how to express emotions in a healthy way is important..
It’s important we understand that our behaviour impacts others…
Throwing or punching in anger is an outer expression of an inner feeling but it’s a destructive behaviour that can negatively impact others..
Learning how to express emotions in a safe and healthy manner is an essential part of the healing process… otherwise we calm down and feel guilty for reacting badly and further add to the negative feelings…
How you feel matters …
How you feel about yourself matters most…
Learning how to feel is essential for recovery …

‘You cannot heal what you cannot feel’

Self Discovery for Recovery … compassionate self-leadership program by A Positive Start CIC
https://apositivestart.org.uk/contact/


Chasing Safe

‼️Trigger Alert‼️ this post shares lived experience of Domestic Violence and trauma …

“Trauma is not what happened to you…
Trauma is what happened inside of you, because of what happened to you” - Gabor Mate

You are a whole person - mind, body, soul … connected. When something terrible happens to you - a traumatic event for example, it affects all of your being - not just mentally - you are not merely a head on a stick, you are a whole spiritual being.

When something traumatic happens to you, your body is taking in and absorbing information quicker than your mind is able to.

Your mind is focused on what’s happening in the moment -  as Bessel Van Der Kolk explains in his book ‘The body keeps the score’ - it  remembers things that your mental mind/memory may not be able to access - known as ‘implicit memory.

The information is stored in your body - trauma remains in your body until it is addressed and processed. It doesn’t go away over time, rather the sensations resurface and are felt in the body as triggers every time you encounter anything remotely related to that original trauma.  You may feel nothing for a time, and think you’ve got away with it. Or you may feel increasingly agitated and stressed - like a slow simmering pressure cooker, or until something unexpected happens and brings a flood of unresolved overwhelming emotions bubbling to the surface.

You may suddenly experience painful emotions such as - dread, trepidation, impending doom, anxiety, fear, worthlessness, hopelessness, shame, embarrassment, aloneness.. somatic memories; felt memories in the body - you are being triggered;  It might be a word, a glance or expression, a sound, a smell, an image or taste… this is your body remembering and warning you … ‘hey, sit up and pay attention.. this looks a lot like that trauma situation again that wasn’t great for you the last time.. nearly took you out’… thus tripping the Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn response …often referred to as emotional flashbacks…

 

I offer lived experience insight in my live trauma informed TRUST workshops ..(if you’re interested in attending, please contact me for details via the contact page of this website)

“It took over 50 moves before I recognised the pattern of ‘trigger equals flight’ for me and this is what was happening in my body …. I would try to resist, try to fight against it.. I couldn’t - the compulsion to run overwhelmed my ability to cope and I’d flee. One of my bosses would occasionally send a car to fetch me back into work after the flight response had taken me over. Red faced, I’d slip back into my seat at my desk, ashamed and embarrassed, the butt of the jokes ‘another woman unable to cope with the pressure of a man’s world’ was the assumption - or rag-week, as it was described by my colleagues. I was incapable of explaining it at the time, I didn’t have the vocabulary .. ‘

Over 50 relocations!  … imagine that!
Moving house is a mammoth task.. moving location… finding a house… a new school.. a new job, Doctors, Dentist, Library, etc… moving house once or twice is enough for most people, and yet once triggered, the compulsion to run was so strong in me I could have my entire life, family, dog, possessions packed up and squeezed into a Nissan Micra and away within a matter of hours! From experience I learned - Trauma shows itself in relationships and toxic work environments..

Imagine how exhausting it would be to keep moving like that! and yet the adrenaline from the trigger filled me with so much energy - I never felt more alive than when I was in a space of ‘compulsion to run - determined to flee..’

I once managed to secure school places, a job with a car and a rented cottage in a new location all within the space of a day and with next to nothing available financially.

I‘d inadvertently developed a rare skill set! #PlateSpinning - a tolerance for intensely stressful situations… Impressive? Absolutely not, this is no way to live/exist! It wreaks havoc on the nervous system and the nervous systems of those who dragged along for the ride. Trauma is passed on in our DNA and in our language and behaviours.. Albeit unintentionally, I was teaching my children the opposite to what I intended to teach them.. If Stephen Porges social connection system is safety and connection, and optimum wellbeing is a result of integration. my example was the polar opposite so instead of a healthy calm, peaceful and joyful life experience for the children I love so deeply, I was imparting  a high tolerance for chaos and suffering… rather than safety, connection and stability, I was showing them, the worlds a hostile place, no one can be trusted, it’s safer quit and run.. it wasn’t an intentional lesson, more of a side effect of the trauma … nevertheless, the baton of generational trauma continued  along its path journey to the next generation ..

"Those who flee are not yet free." Hegel.

Why keep running?

As explained in previous blog posts … this compulsion to run is triggered by a real or perceived threat..

‘A rolling of the eyes, a sideways glance, a sudden silence or whispers on entering a room, a critical word, or even an unintentional but perceived as being a critical comment- to name just a few instances that were once enough to set off my nervous system and trigger in me a panicked flight response! #compulsiontorun

If we look deeper and examine what is actually really happening…

a trauma event - life threatening.. (real or perceived)

A physical attack.. ongoing domestic violence - often referred to as type 2 trauma…

Overpowered by someone aggressive .. bigger, stronger, more powerful ..

(consider a time when you’ve felt powerless against someone or something more powerful than you! - how does your experience compare?)

Likened to Dr Peter Levines explanation of the Impala and the Tiger in the wild .. I represent the Impala, the aggressor represents the tiger! I’m in a confined space with no means of escape.. under attack! I’m no match for this level of aggression.. nothing has prepared me for it… like the impala who can feel the sharp claws of the Tiger reaching out - we realise we are caught.. as a result, the body releases chemicals that numb the pain and the immobility response is triggered .. the Impala falls to the ground and plays dead - it’s the impalas last remaining shot at survival, numbing the pain before life draws to it’s an horrific  end.

This happens to all mammals .. you & I, we are no different …
I’m under attack, I collapse, I can’t breathe…

I lose consciousness as the grip of the aggressors hands tighten around my neck… …….like the Impala - I’m out..

As the impala lies helpless, the tiger withdraws to admire its win and catch its breath .. when suddenly- the impala jumps up and runs off before the Tiger realises what’s happening.. The impala gets away!

I stir, regaining consciousness.. my aggressor is perched, head in his hands on the end of the bed, undoubtedly contemplating the rest of his life behind bars - he thinks I’m dead - he believes he’s killed me this time.. he gets up, runs down the stairs and leaves..slamming the door behind him..

Leant up and supported by the wall, my mind and body are in shock, I can hardly move. I sit there for hours.
Over the coming days I feel as though my soul has been sucked out of my body and is standing outside of myself- observing from a distance. My physical body is heavy, I’m going through the motions, disconnected, disengaged.
Silent tears fall uncontrollably from my eyes though I feel nothing - I am exhausted and numb. I’m in a different place. Things look similar but they are different..dark, empty, disused and derelict. Cobwebs and demons, like a haunted house in a horror movie..or a sunken pirates ship… dark, dismal with the stench of rotting corpses.
Stephen Porges knows this place as Dorsal!
If I were a client and you a therapist - and I I was trying to describe this place to you, I would use words like ‘void, empty, dark,  cold, damp, eerie, lonely …pay attention therapists ..this may be a nervous system in a dorsal vagal state …

When I think of it, I’m reminded of a psalm I heard in church as a child ..

‘As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.. I fear no evil’  and for me at that time this was true, for I felt no fear- I felt nothing.. I was completely and for a while, comfortably numb.

Somehow I muster the energy to drag myself to my parents house and knock on their door and wait.
Someone answers ..

I watch myself - by body, go inside .. I cannot speak to them, they appear panicked at the sight of my bodies distress .. water continues to fall out of my eyes- I have no control over anything, my body sits down while I observe from a safe distance. I’m trapped in this Dorsal world but I do not consider or even contemplate leaving. I recall thinking - My children are safe. They are being cared for,  I can stay where I am. Dorsal feels safer than the other.. real world - even though it’s dark and murky - I am alone, hidden from sight.. I stay put…

I observe as my concerned parents escort my heavy clumsy body into the car and then into to the GPs surgery. It looks like me but it’s unlike me ..  my body is doing as it is told without question or back chat. My parents & Dr P exchange words - I’m not paying attention. I can see my physical body slumped in a chair, sandwiched between my two concerned parents.. the Doctor, sat behind his desk, in front of these 3 bodies .. is saying words, but I’m not there. I’m elsewhere and something else has my attention..

Its a voice coming from within… faint at first but getting louder … it’s warning me - “get up, don’t just sit there you idiot” the voice is familiar.. it’s forceful .. determined

“ Medication… Really? ‘ … the voice is yelling at me.. sarcastic and demanding ..‘“okay - let’s just sit here shall we while they medicate you!, let’s make it easy for him why don’t you   -just give up and let him win .. and that will be the end of it … and the end of you…! ..”  Louder, more forceful - the voice insists .. and calls me by my name - “… get up now and take care of your children - they need you, they need you well -  Now!”.. and I’m back in the room …
“ I’m okay - my physical voice announces.. I will be okay”. I am back inside my body - Im not myself by a long way, Im not free..  - still one foot in dorsal but I feel different. Thoughts -that had previously stopped altogether since the attack started to enter my head.. like a frozen computer,  buffering back into existence. “We need a plan”  the inner voice advised and so started daring to allow thoughts about what should happen next to whirl inside my head. Unsure, uncertain thoughts and feeling very unsettled and unsafe I thought about finding the exit. From the comfort of my parents sofa where I stayed, hidden from the world for several weeks while a tended to my wounds, nurtured my children in safety and eventually contemplated the terror of jumping back on the conveyer belt and rejoining the real world.

On the morning that I returned to my smashed up house,anxious, fearful, with trepidation filling ever cell of my being despite the assurances from the powers that be that it was safe for me to do so.. the abuser was waiting in the wings with a lump hammer, determined to end my days.

Some how, some way .. that my body would remember.. I managed to run to safety. This attack correctly triggered my flight response and the compulsion to run locked on .. Had I paid attention to my body, I would never have returned to that house..I believed I had no choice .. I now know - we always have a choice…. listen to your body and choose life!

What should happen following an attempt to end a person’s life? The same thing that should happen (but doesn’t happen often enough in reality) when a person is injured or abused .. .

Wrapped in care, concern, compassion, love, warmth, safety, protection… it’s the the perpetrator who should be seeking help to understand their disordered behaviours.. not the victims!

Social animals - We are hard-wired as humans to receive support through loving, caring, protective relationships .. that’s how human attachments form… it keeps us safe and regulated and has done since we were cavemen foraging for food … if we don’t receive support, we become disconnected …

In order to lessen the impact of trauma, victims should be seen, heard, supported, wrapped in love, protected and cared for.. not made to feel like the problem because they are an nervous, fearful, anxious wreck..

#CUE

#congruence = the first core condition of the person centred approach..

when I’m sad - I cry ✅

when I’m happy -I laugh✅

When I’m angry - I stomp and shout ✅

when I’m abused - I’m an anxious wreck ✅

When  I’m attacked, when my life’s threatened - I run ✅

when I can’t run because my abuser is bigger, stronger, more aggressive, more powerful than me .. I collapse into a dorsal state and become detached and numb…✅

Natural and correct responses! ✅

For me, the flight response was well and truly locked on, and was tripped by even the slightest hint of aggression directed towards me. ‘A rolling of the eyes interpreted by my hyper-vigilant brain ‘that persons disapproving of you .. they are annoyed.. they are angry .. they will kill you - run for your life! And run I did.. over and over and over again..

On the outside I appeared to be crazy..  ‘unsettled, dis-organised, irresponsible, irrational.. a whole cluster of labels considered ‘disordered’ that could apparently be easily numbed and reordered by medication. What I really needed to experience was TRUST … Trigger= Reassurance, Understanding, Safety and Truth. Once I found someone who was able to support with Reassurance, Understanding, Safety and Truth, in a safe, non-judgmental way, my nervous system calmed and the compulsion became more manageable allowing room for healing and recovery. Healthy, supportive relationships matter and aid our recovery ..the opposite is also true - unhealthy relationships hinder recovery… boundaries are essential..

I didn’t ever consider myself disordered.. I knew what had happened- I was there, When someone is trying to kill you and nobody is trying to stop them!
The correct response is to run ..

The only disordered aspects of my experience was the behaviour of the perpetrator and the lack of interest and protection afforded to me by the people tasked with protection.

He’d walked away with a fine he never paid and got on with his life. I spent my life running around the country, trying to escape the trauma that I hadn’t realised was trapped inside of me and like an unwelcome stowaway - I was running and taking it with me!
‘Different places, different faces.. same old set of circumstances’ - all roads leading back to square one - until you pay attention and notice the patterns .. round and round we go..

My advice ..

Stop running ….
Stop hiding …..

Stop and pay attention…

Trauma, like vampires thrives under the cover of darkness ..my suggestion is ..

Become curious about what’s happening to you…

Get yourself some support from someone who knows the truth about trauma and it’s impact..

Get yourself active and burn off the chemicals… cycling worked for me which is why we offer a free cycling for mental project…

Find an holistic therapy that works for you.. EFT is a good one for bringing trauma into the light and set yourself free…hence our affiliation with Helena and the EFT and Mindfulness Centre.. highly recommended ..

Remember…
“Trauma is not what happened to you…
Trauma is what happened inside of you, because of what happened to you” - Gabor Mate

If you are interested in attending our live, CPD Accredited Trauma Informed TRUST workshops - please email Deborah to info@apositivestart.org.uk for details.

 


Us & Them

I recall the day that my last unhealthy relationship ended ..

I wasn’t expecting to be in an unhealthy relationship again to be honest… I was older now, wiser (allegedly), more self-aware. I’d overcome.. I’d been there, done that… got the T Shirt, and matching sweater… I’d worked on myself… I knew stuff… at least I’d convinced myself I did…

… The last words he said to me as he threw his belongings into the back seat of his car .. hit me so hard I was sent reeling backwards, winded..

Awful, hurtful words… that would change me and
my life forever…

“ You were no challenge for me … far too easy … you were so desperate to be loved”

Ouch….

wounded…… viscerally…
I knew by how hard it had landed that as hurtful as it was.. there was truth in it …… #emptynest

and so the real journey of recovery began …

I learned an awful lot from that experience… including this… 👇

No one is more vulnerable than the person who believes they are not!

Don’t kid yourself… Ask yourself, what makes a person vulnerable? We all fit into it somewhere …

Every last one of us is vulnerable.. one way or another…

I regularly notice, especially in services … there’s this unspoken belief that the service user, client/patient/customer… are the vulnerable ones and we, over here .. the service providers .. we are the helpers….. the fixers… the not-vulnerable support …

Not true …

We must be mindful .. that we are all too often leaving ourselves out of the judging!

A truly person-centred approach recognises the individual as the expert…

not the service provider.. the service user … don’t let ego convince you otherwise..

Pay attention…

Don’t fall into that same trap of believing ‘it’s other people over there who are the vulnerable ones and I’m all sorted I’ve lived.. I know stuff …
Because life as a way of bringing us back down to Earth with an almighty bump… teaching us a lesson we convinced ourselves we’d already learned…

#personcentred
#healingjourney
#livedlessons
#TheTruthTheWholeTruth


Radiant Aura: A Vibrant Visualization of Your Energy Field 10

Awakening Vs Evolving

There's a lot of talk about 'awakening'... Seeing the world as it really is...
Awakening is important.. but it's only part of the story - and it's not even the most important part...
Awakening allows us to see 'the world' i.e. others' as it really is - or as 'they' are...
But let's not leave ourselves out of the judging here... we need to be asking' - 'what part do I play in this'?

Self awareness allows us to see ourselves for who we truly are.. to hold up a mirror... to recognise the impact that we have on the world and the people whom we share the world with ...

We need to be self-aware in order to evolve..

Evolving .. which is the most important aspect of Awakening requires;
Self-Awareness...
Self-Leadership,
Self-Compassion, recovery & healing

How do we become self aware in order to evolve in the world? ...

There's so much pain and suffering in the world.. we carry that pain & suffering in our bodies.. we pass it on from generation to generation in our language, behaviours & in our DNA.

There's only one way to heal the world - and every single one of us has an equal part to play!

The road to recovery is through compassion, empathy, love, kindness, understanding, fairness, peace & truth...
Human to Human,
Soul to Soul ..

Recovery includes...

CUE - A Person-Centred approach
Congruence
Unconditional Positive Regard
Empathic Understanding

Being trauma informed... Trauma Informed TRUST©.

Trigger =
Reassurance
Understanding
Safety
Truth

RAPPORT©.
Creating a close and harmonious relationship with self..

Recognise
Accept
Process
Practice
Observe
Reflect
Transform

Self discovery for Recovery with Emotional First Aid designed to regulate the nervous system...  a compassionate self leadership program that requires commitment, courage, curiosity, clarity and self-compassion...

Positive Outcomes begin with A Positive Start


The Illusion of Ethics

Cancel culture... manifested on the back of decades of installing an illusion of ethics.
You know the kind of ethics I mean - the ones that are copy & pasted into every business & workplace, and nobody really knows what they mean.
The kind of ethics that are so transparent they don't actually exist!
The kind of ethics that organisations roll out of the cupboard and pay lip service to whenever they feel the fear of a complaint looming...
Ethics that promise to uphold & protect - then fight to the death in order to  prevent upholding or protecting .
The unethical ethics, that are used as a big stick to devalue and minimise the experience and learning of others...
Lets consider for a moment - what are Ethics? ... what do Ethics really look like?
Truth
Integrity
Congruence
Respect
Equality
Honour
Choice
Trust
Inclusion
Consideration
Accountability
Transparency
Understanding
Fairness
Kindness
Compassion
Empathy
Freedom
Value
Protection
Rights
Privacy
Confidentiality
Not an exhaustive list by any means.
.
Ethics are not just wording in policy documents to be utilised in a defence or to criticise the behaviours of others ... ethics are the actual Thoughts, words, beliefs and behaviours that are compassionately shared between humans to ensure we are all treated fairly throughout our lives.
Ethics are a way of life ...
a way of being in the world..
Ethics are how we treat each other .... anything less, is unethical!
What ethics are not...
It's unethical to secretly dig for dirt on someone, and then reveal undesirable information in the name of 'ethics' - whilst leaving oneself out of the judging.
Transparency, Truth & integrity are all missing ...
It's unethical to devalue people because you disagree or disapprove of their viewpoint..
Compassion, Empathy and Respect are all missing ...
It's unethical to judge, gossip, to blame, to exclude ...
Congruence, Accountability Fairness, Equality and Kindness are all missing..
It's unethical to bully & shame others and then use your power & position to silence their voices.
Truth, Fairness and Accountability are missing..
Ethics are nothing but an illusion without thoughts, feelings words and behaviours to match..
CUE - the person-centred approach... ethics to live by...
Congruence
Unconditional Positive Regard - for self and others
Empathic Understanding..
Please say what you mean & mean what you say ... with compassion and empathy

When the question is always Why?

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for me, it remains a life-affirming pursuit.

From as far back as I can remember..around the age of 3, I’ve been asking this question Why?

‘Why would someone choose to do that?
“What would motivate that decision?
“How did they arrive at this point? “
“When did they first feel this way? “
“What were they thinking at the time” ..
‘How did it feel when?’

An insatiable appetite for understanding..

Of course, It’s natural to want to make sense of the things that happen in life.. making sense of a situation makes it easier for our minds to accept, thus allowing us to move forward ..

Being curious about others is important, but being curious about self is equally, if not more important.

‘Why do I do that?
‘What makes me behave in this way?’
How do I feel about this? Why do I feel this way?
Where does this belief come from? and on and on until there are no more whys to be answered on that particular question.

When we are curious, it is also important to recognise when we need to step back and separate ourselves from the understanding of why…

It’s very easy when we have an understanding nature, when we care about someone who is rude, unkind or abusive towards us, to try to make sense of why and then on understanding the why, unwittingly excusing and justifying their behaviour.. accepting it and inadvertently allowing it to continue..

‘Oh their parent mistreated them when they were young which is why they behave like this towards me .. they don’t really mean to’..

I spent many years justifying the abusive behaviours of others due to my ‘understanding of why’.. and essentially ‘allowing’ and accepting responsibility for their behaviour towards me, thus allowing it to continue.

It’s too easy to fall into this trap when we care about the other person/s - because we tend to put their thoughts and feelings before our own.

It’s important to remember - regardless of the ‘why’, as adults, every one of us has a duty to understand ourselves and manage our behaviours, recognising when our behaviours negatively impact others…

If a person is able and willing to understand and tolerate our behaviour, it shouldn’t follow that we relinquish all responsibility and accountability, rather it should be seen as an opportunity for connection and work on ourselves supported, to grow and do better..

When we find ourselves in such a situation - understanding the why is important, but separating the why from the bad behaviour is essential…

i.e although i understand why they lose their temper and lash out…
The fact that ‘they lash out’ regardless of why, is what matters - I have a duty to protect myself!

The ‘reason’ is no longer as important, as the fact that they continue with the behaviour..
and we must recognise that this needs to be their journey of self discovery, not ours.

#LivedLearning
#lessonslearned


The Lived Experience of Integration in Relationships

The Science…

‘Secure attachment creates integration in the brain because communication in relationships early in life have been integrative.

When you have experiences in relationships where honouring of differences & then promoting of compassionate, caring linkages ….  those relational connections that are integrated, seem to actually cultivate the growth of integration in the brain in the individuals involved’

(Dr.Dan Siegel. IPNB)

The Lived Experience …

Insecure attachment followed by many years of unwittingly falling into the same old patterns of destructive, often violent, always controlling relationships, where betrayal is expected and heartache is the norm. 

Despite the expectation… the impact always landed like a hard hitting baseball bat to the solar plexus, flicking the interior survival thermostat to supercharge, and forcing any hope of trust to escape through the nearest window .. the destruction had began, the inevitable end, although outside of my awareness, was already coming into focus. 

Hyper vigilance kicked in, picking up even the slightest whiff of dishonesty. Inner turmoil led to bizarre outer expressions that made sense to no one but the host..

Rage filled excuses and gaslighting led to confusion & disorientation as my internal navigation system struggled to find its footing, attempting to re-navigate & balance itself.

Like a ferris wheel in a fair ground, round and round we go… leaving a trail of shattered dreams, bruised egos and punctured hearts in its wake.

Until… one day, a new relationship … and as the inevitable thermostat flicked to high.. the response to my panicked flirting accusations hit an unfamiliar pause …

‘I’m sorry - I will never intentionally hurt you, I’ll do whatever it takes to regain your trust’ …

Not just words … but felt truth, delivered straight from and to the heart … my body experienced the genuineness in the words being spoken… my eyes witnessed a draining of colour from the cheeks… hurt expressed on behalf of the heart, an expression of remorse.. my ears picked up the familiar echos of fear … my skin felt the warmth in a reassuring touch & instantly my nervous system acknowledged & accepted the truth and calmed to ease …

The internal thermostat that had raged on high for years, for the first time experienced congruence - the language of trust…  and reset itself … a shift that would allow space for healing… integration was underway!

( Deborah J Crozier, APS CIC).


Lost

I remember the first time I ever used a Sat Nav. I was sent on a training course by my new employer, to an unfamiliar town.

A short time after starting in my new role as a Sales Executive, my employer had volunteered me for a training day which meant driving a far distance from where I lived and worked. I was summoned to the office and informed that I would need to get myself away early to ensure I was not late for the mandatory training course. I hadn’t long since passed my driving test and I was required to make my own way to the remote training centre. I managed to force a smile as I was handed the course details, but I was terrified if truth be known. I wasn’t going to admit it to my new boss, and by this time in life, I was well accomplished in the art of incongruence. Grinning like a Stepford wife, I took the details being handed to me whilst trying to hold onto my churning insides heaving up onto his desk.

I hadn’t driven any distance at that stage in my life, let alone entertained a motorway and as the date grew ever closer, I struggled to suppress the panic that was silently consuming me while my brain conjured up a million and one reasons as to why I shouldn’t and couldn’t attend. Every cell in my body was pleading with me to cancel, planting increasingly bizarre excuses into my mind; the kind of ludicrous stories children might come up with when they feel back into a corner.  The adult in me reasoned & rationalised constantly, I needed the job, I needed this job to be different, I needed to – as my new manager put it ‘give my head a shake and get on with it’. For the next two weeks, I pushed it to the back of my mind, prayed for divine intervention – freak tsunami hitting North Yorkshire or something, anything that would bring this awful situation to an end (the awful situation being driving from A to B like many people that are not me manage to do without breaking a sweat). I avoided conversations with colleagues on the lead up as just the word ‘training’ now triggered me into panic and brought me out in hives.

The day prior to the dreaded journey, I was really struggling to remain focused. I was in my head watching reruns of scenarios where I was lost, late and alone, none of which ended well for me.  An observant colleague approached my desk and suggested, rather than worrying about getting lost why didn’t I just take ‘the Garmin’. I had no clue what the Garmin was at the time, so holding his hand out for my car keys, I watched and listened as he fitted the Sat Nav into my car, punching in the destination postcode as per the details provided.

I'd never used a Sat Nav prior to that, so a colleague kindly set it up in my car & punched in the postcode as provided in the course details.

The following morning, I set off early on the almost four-hour road trip heading for the remote training centre. A glorious sunrise got up to greet me as I drove along unfamiliar country lanes surrounded by glistening green fields & rolling hills and for a short time at least, all was well with the world.

Focusing intently as the Sat Nav croaked his instructions - I drove as I listened, and I listened as I drove, switching off my redundant brain. I played scenarios in my mind, reruns of me entering the training room, mentally rehearsing the inevitable dreaded 'introductions' once I arrived.

A good few hours into my journey I developed an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, when the Garmin that was suckered to my dashboard suddenly announced the destination was 500 yards on my left. The vehicle and I slowed to a stop.

Unless the training centre was a derelict farm building in the middle of nowhere, which it wasn't!,  the overconfident Garmin was wrong and I was stumped!

I could vaguely recall passing through a handful of quaint villages earlier,  but now there was nothing, not a soul nor a training centre in sight.

Parking outside the old farm building, my hands visibly shaking, I reached into my bag for my phone.

"Damn it - No signal"

I tapped the phone on the palm of my free hand and shook it in the air a few times trying to will some life into it. Like rolling dead batteries between your palms in an attempt to lengthen the battery life – I can confirm this 'shaking some will' technique doesn't work either.

I was lost.

I was completely well and truly effing lost.

I had no idea where I was.

I had no idea where I was supposed to be.

I had no idea where I was in relation to where I was supposed to be in just under 60 minutes time.

I felt sick.

Right on cue, my trusty inner critic popped up eager to have her say and remind me of the fact that  ‘I was lost’…

New mental imagines of a room packed to the rafters of disapproving faces stared disappointedly at me as I imagined loudly stumbling through the door, disturbing the entire class - late, late, ever so late….  rushed & apologetic! Embarrassing images swamped my mind, causing it to short-circuit.

Utter panic had taken hold ,I couldn’t catch my breath. I opened my car door, desperate to let in some air,  my internal organs knotted and twisted, the mist of confusion descended as my mind buffered to offline.

Throughout the journey, my focus had been so completely engrossed in the other - the now conveniently silent Sat Nav had nothing more to say and I had lost my bearings entirely.

I'd paid no attention whatsoever to any landmarks or street names. I'd dismissed any sensations of familiar intuition as unreliable while continuing to blindly follow this complete stranger, confidently placing 100% trust in 'my journey' somewhere other than self.

In this snippet of time, I was filled with a sense of knowing. The familiar feeling of being lost - disconnected, ran parallel with my life.

I'd lived much of my time on this Earth inside my head, pre-empting, imagining,  paying no attention to my internal sat nav, disconnected from my body, unplugged from my emotions. And just like now - finding myself lost outside this derelict building, I didn't know how to be. what to do, where to go, how to move forward.... I felt unprepared with absolutely nothing to draw on.

I recognised how throughout my life, I'd been a follower, kidding myself on that I was in control. Always putting other people’s opinions, needs and viewpoints in front of my own. Always aiming to please or appease.  I trusted anyone and everyone’s judgement before mine. In my mind and in the mind of others - as far as I was concerned,  my opinion counted for nothing - I was voiceless.

I was agreeable, eager to be liked & desperate to be approved of. The boat rocker who tried hard never to rock the boat; the eternal peace-keeper.

I was forever following the lead of seemingly more confident others, others who had in truth misplaced their own maps - and as a result, I usually ended up on some wild goose chase or getting led and lost down the garden path.

I sat there motionless for a while. I felt stuck with no sense of direction – aware that the clock was ticking …trying hard to pretend it wasn't!

I became angry, enraged – Swearing at the Sat Nav for misguiding me.

Directing blame at my no longer considered kind colleague who suggested using the Sat Nav in the first place.

Angry with my New Boss for making me do this stupid training...

Angry with the Training Centre for being remote and difficult to find...

Angry with the trainer for not being clearer on his instructions, for not starting later, for not being closer....

Furious with my crappy phone that had no service... Angry with the phone manufacturer for making phones that could have no service....

Angry with the journey for being long and tiresome...

Furious with the day for rushing ahead without me...

Furious with God for making my life so difficult and complicated…

Angry at the world for not caring enough to help me find my way…

I cried.

I sat in silence for a while longer… long enough to realise I was angry and disappointed with myself ….

I leaned forward and switched off the Sat Nav.

I took a deep breath and commanded my mind to 'think'! I drew a blank.

Nothing came to mind.

With my hand on my heart, to stop it from pounding out of my chest and tears spilling from my eyes, I asked God; the universe, to help me.

I never liked asking for help, but I knew that help is what I needed.

"Guide me, Show me the way' ...

I Felt ...... something, a sensation, a fluttering within...

I started the engine, the fog was lifting, my mind, re-navigating and attempting to reconnect…

"just keep moving forwards" my timid internal voice suggested. My inner critic had thankfully taken a back seat as a much less confident internal dialogue took over - not nearly as confident as the Garmin Sat Nav had been, but as I moved forward, the outline of rooftops in the distance came into view. Nervous flutters turned to flutters of excitement and the inner dialogues confidence grew... louder, stronger… more certain 'this is it, see, I told you,  you're on the right track, keep going, forward has to be the way"!

Making mental notes as I drove, paying attention to my internal Sat Nav, I felt my way forward guided by internal dialogue and intuition. Suddenly the place felt familiar, I recognised the name of the town. My body relaxed as my brain read out the words 'training Centre' on a large white building standing before me...

I was no longer lost, my mind body & soul while working together,  instinctively knew the way.

As I recall the thoughts and feelings of this past experience, one of hundreds of thousands of similar experiences, I’m reminded of how far I have come. For many people, getting lost is no big deal, nothing to worry about - none of those thoughts & feelings mentioned above would even enter their heads… and there in lies the truth.

When you do experience constant fear and terror in everyday situations, you constantly compare yourself to others who don’t, and criticise and judge yourself harshly… and the reverse is also true. People who don’t experience life in the same way often and sometimes unintentionally, view people who struggle emotionally as weak, chaotic and dramatic - their perception of the situation is entirely different. Chaotic and Dramatic are words that correctly describe the experience.

These days being lost wouldn’t concern me in the least, my first thought would be, how lost can you really be on an island the size of the UK? That’s because my perception, mindset and nervous system are no longer permanently based in fear. This persistent ‘negative energy and information flow’, is what we refer to as ‘trauma’.

I remember how terrifying it was and can empathise with those people who do experience life this way. I advocate for a Trauma Informed Society.

I recognise the chaos & rigidity in my nervous system as I struggled to regulate my emotions back then, in comparison to the harmony, calm, balanced thinking and good health that I appreciate today thanks to my healing journey.
I no longer feel the need to compare or to pretend or hide my feelings for fear of judgement or embarrassment, I have traveled a long way.  I am finally comfortable with who I am, I approve of myself and I recognise it as being part of life’s journey as we grow, develop and evolve.

If you find yourself lost, disconnected, dissociated or stuck, and you resonate with the experience of feeling lost – reach out, we are here to help…. and remember to always look within, the answers for you are always within you.

#disconnection

#disocciation

#lost

#outsideofself

#lookwithin


Jimmy Savile: A Netflix Documentary

Last night I observed the recently released Netflix documentary about the serial child sex offender; Jimmy Savile...

I don't watch much television these days, apart from the occasional documentary as and when I find the time. I stopped watching the News completely a few years back, after becoming consciously aware of how the 24/7 fear mongering in its various forms, was impacting my emotional and physical health.  It was during the outpouring that followed Princess Diana's passing, that I first noticed how the media held the nations collective attention in a headlock; driving our thoughts and feelings about issues that we rarely have any control over. Draining emotions and shaping perspectives, I liken it to an abuser in a toxic relationship, which sadly, I have ample experience of.

I became mindful of the need to protect myself and to manage this constant assault on my senses, having experienced the joy being sucked from my body and replaced by fear and anxiety -  which isn't conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Keeping good health rates high on my list of priorities, if it rates highly on yours, may I suggest being mindful of what you are exposing yourself to on a regular basis. I digress.

As a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's however, it was an entirely different story.  I loved watching television and it consumed a huge chunk of my time. The TV was always on in our house, often with subtitles AND sound, which demanded our full attention. The constant distraction made conversation with other family members almost impossible, as we each followed the words on the screen, feeling the uncomfortable juxtaposition whenever the written words and moving mouths didn't sync. Onomatopoeia for 'be quiet'  'Shhh', and 'Shush' were the only exchanges heard, as the characters of 'Lizzie Dripping and Grange Hill, Sapphire & Steel and Jim'll Fix it' regular favorite's  held our attention and captured our imaginations. As a child the notion had crossed my mind of how this 'staring behaviour' might appear to lifeforms on other planets, assuming they exist. Observing humans spending most of their time staring at a box in the corner of a room, rather than participating in real life - how bizarre might that appear to an onlooker, I'd puzzle.

These days I deliberately choose when and what I watch, I tend to have more important things to do with my time. Even the briefest glimpses of so called 'entertainment' programmes I find deeply disturbing. Destructive relationships, grandiose personas and narcissistic behavioural traits irresponsibly portrayed as 'acceptable' or 'normal' in the name of entertainment for ratings, being constantly streamed into living rooms, influencing  young minds everywhere; shaping the thoughts and behaviours of tomorrow.

I use the term 'observe' rather than watching this documentary, as I didn't view it for entertainment value. The subject matter is relevant to my work and links in to last months Deb-On-Air podcast - 5 Ps of Grooming featuring the emotive interview with Jill about her families experience of being groomed by a perpetrator who presented as a helpful community minded sports coach.

( Here is a Link to the podcast on Spotify: 5 P's of Grooming https://open.spotify.com/show/5mtNIBOG7FAFg9dcaHq2Fx .)

This months podcast, which is currently being recorded continues along the same theme with Narcissistic Behavioural traits. I am keen to raise awareness about the subject of grooming and dispel the common myth that  many people buy in to that grooming isn't relevant to them. It is, because in reality You are being groomed, you just don't know it yet - which is also the title of my book and one of our CPD Certified workshops.

A reminder of the 5 P's of Grooming...

1. People,  NOT Monsters

The first of our 5 Ps is PEOPLE - People Groom, People Manipulate, People Abuse!

From the outset, Savile is labelled as a 'Monster' in this documentary - which links perfectly to the catchy title; 'A British Horror Story.

I raised the question in our last podcast about how the media's portrayal of 'Stranger Danger' in the 70's and 80's,  led us to look for the wrong people in the wrong places. The media shapes our perception. While many people will undoubtedly agree that Savile was indeed a Monster, labelling in this way sets people apart,  we reason that 'Monsters' are different to us - and it's ' those labelled people over there, who are different to us, who are not to be trusted! Without realising it, we start to believe that there is something easily recognizable about those who are considered different to us.  We inadvertently keep a look out for behaviours that we consider different - weird and creepy.

Let us not forget, Throughout the grooming process, the narcissist is 'qualifying' the victim. Reflecting the victims wants and needs, hopes and desires back at them. They know exactly what the victim considers to be 'good, acceptable behaviour, and they produce a carbon copy that they present to the victim. This is why victims of narcissistic abuse believe they have met their perfect mate in phase one of the relationship. We trust the behaviours that WE consider 'good' according to our own understanding of what 'good' behaviour looks like, and we let our guard down with those people who display 'good behaviour' - leading us straight back into the perpetrators trap!

According to figures released by the NSPCC, the charitable organisation tasked with protecting children for over 130 years; more than 90% of sexual crimes committed against children are committed by someone 'Known to the child' - less than 10% resulting from stranger danger!

Ironically, the documentary revealed how Savile himself was involved in the 'Stranger-Danger' campaigns of the time! Excuse my sarcasm,  but of-course he was! can you even think of a more cunning plan to protect your own perverse identity, than to throw people off the scent and send them down the wrong path in search of weird strangers?  While we were all paying attention to strangers in play parks offering a quarter of pick and mix or 'a sneaky peak at some puppies and while we were busy scrutinizing middle aged men sitting outside schools in beat-up old ford Cortina Estates with makeshift, metal coat hanger aerials as depicted in the stranger danger adverts, the most prominent and recognizable figures being streamed into British households, were busy abusing children as young as 5 years of age; Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris to name but a few. These are people we were convinced we knew, friendly, charitable, talented, successful people whose persona had us convinced they were trustworthy! Nobody really knew Savile or the other characters, they didn't even know themselves. But no one considered them strangers, we all believed we knew them well!

It is time to stop looking for Monsters, we are NOT dealing with Monsters - Monsters are easy to spot. We need to stop labelling people, and start paying closer attention to behaviours instead. This is just one of the reasons why we advocate for a Trauma Informed society and why we run Trauma Informed Courses.

With hindsight we can all observe and agree that Jimmy's behaviour is 'Weird' and 'Creepy' but lets not forget that his behaviour was NOT considered either Weird or Creepy for more than 50 Years! On the contrary, Savile was celebrated as a 'wonderful, charitable eccentric' by the most influential figures in the country including the Prime Minister and Members of the Royal Family.

Such behaviour is rarely considered odd at the time. Its usually only considered 'Weird or Creepy AFTER the fact when you have all the information and can piece together the bigger picture /or, as it too often the case, when somethings gone terribly wrong. Its never during the process,  when you are completely sold on an idea, otherwise there would be no unidentified perpetrators in the world! If you liken it to buying a sought after used car 'sold as,' and 'appears' to be in pristine condition - you only come to suspect you've been sold a lemon, after its broken down umpteen times and is costing you an arm and a leg!

Lets stop labelling and start paying attention!

2. Persona - We are all capable of presenting our 'Best Self'!

The second of our 5 Ps is PERSONA - Hiding the True Identity!

Throughout the documentary we witness Savile's persona. One of the 4 main architypes as described by Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung. The Key to 'Grooming a parent, a community and/or a nation is to 'Sell an idea' of the image Savile (et al.) wants people to 'believe' in.

"A Persona is a mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or environment, and not representing the inner personality of the individual. The Public Image. (C J Jung)

Let's face it, most of us have a 'persona' of sorts,  and the majority of people are capable of presenting their  'best selves' to the world whenever its needed! More now than ever since the launch of the internet and social media.

  • First Dates - you don't tell a potential mate that you bite your toenails or leave your socks strewn about the place - you tell them all the good stuff instead that is likely to secure a second and third date!
  • Job Interviews - you don't tell a potential employer you used your former employers stationery cupboard as your personal supply for the local pub quiz team, you tell them whatever secures you the job!
  • The Public Image (Actor/ Actress/Politician/Police/Civil Service) - you don't want to see a police-officer standing outside a crime scene, sucking on a vape or munching a Kebab because that isn't the image of a professional.

Many of us have been taught not to wash our dirty linen in public or embarrass ourselves with public displays of emotion.  As a result, regardless of how we may be feeling underneath, we tend to bury the emotion, smile through gritted teeth and just 'get on with it'; we might convince others they should do the same. Burying emotions is unhealthy. In counselling, I liken painful emotions to vampires; they thrive under the cover of darkness and dissipate when we bring them into the open and shine a light in a safe and non-judgement setting. Remember, emotions don't make us weak, they make us human!

Throughout the documentary we witness Savile engaging, supporting and being supported by, senior members of the royal family. If ever there was a family that put Public Image before anything else, its the Royals. Persona is a way of life for them, 'stiff upper lip' - they know nothing else. Many of us watched two little boys hold it together in front of a nation, while walking behind their Mums coffin, most adults would struggle with that. Unless you experience contrast, how can you tell the difference between someone who is being genuine and someone who is wearing a mask of persona?

How can anyone of us tell the difference you may well ask? Congruence is the answer!

All of our work at APS CIC is underpinned by Carl Rogers Core conditions of the Person-Centred approach. I use the acronym CUE in all of my workshops, (CUE the person-centred approach), Because CUE serves as a reminder of the 3 most important core conditions the first of which is Congruence.  Unconditional Positive Regard and Empathic Understanding make up the other two.

Congruence is the opposite of Persona!

Many service and organizations, profess to deliver a 'Person-Centred' approach, I often wonder how many involved truly understand the meaning of Congruence or CUE for that matter?

Congruence is the most important attribute, according to Rogers. This implies that the individual is real and/or genuine, open, honest, integrated and authentic during their interactions with others. When we are present and paying attention, Congruence can be 'Felt'. We often talk about 'Energy and Vibes' when we are discussing people. Many of us have experienced that feeling of when someone walks into the room and the whole room lights up with an invisible positive energy - creating 'good vibes' and putting people at ease. Likewise, the same can be said for bad vibes and negative energy when we suddenly feel uneasy or uncomfortable but may struggle to ascertain why.

During the documentary, former TV Presenter Selina Scott explains whilst looking back at an interview with Savile,  how she remembers feeling very differently about him, despite 'acting' as though she was enjoying flirting, even kissing Savile at one point. Selina confuses to feeling uncomfortable in his presence. At this point,  neither Savile or Scott are being 'Congruent', instead both are presenting a Persona to the world.

How do you achieve congruence?

  1. Pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking. A necessary start for achieving congruence is to notice our internal state. ...
  2. Be yourself. ...
  3. Don't hide behind facades. ...
  4. If you're wrong, own it! ...
  5. If you don't have an answer to a question, admit it.

3. Process - Grooming is a Series of Steps or Actions leading to a desired outcome!

The third of the 5 Ps is Process - Grooming is a Process, not a single action!

It can be difficult to imagine an individual capable of deliberately setting out to cheat someone, with a preplanned agenda and an end game already in mind. Most of us struggle to imagine it because we are viewing it from our own perspective as something that we just would not do,  rather than viewing from the other persons perspective. We imagine, that we all think the same way - the truth is, we don't! For a narcissist like Savile, this is a way of life. Everything he did was for personal gratification - including the charitable work passed off as acts of kindness.

Regardless of the request, Savile would have delivered the solution and he would have delivered it in much the same grand way. Nothing is by chance, everything is deliberate - showing the world what an amazing, selfless, thoughtful man he is, Savile seized every opportunity to showcase these enormous gestures.

What is experienced on the inside, is often expressed on the outside and can be observed in our behaviours.

The narcissist abuser is a 'Problem Solver', a Solutions Architect - the Saviour!

"In the middle of every difficulty, lies opportunity" - Albert Einstein

'Seek out the individual with a problem and provide them with a solution! - Dynamic Sales Training, Reg Vardy's 2000

As the documentary continues we are invited to review Savile's array of highly successful charitable campaigns. We hear one person describing how they can only ever view Savile as being a  'Good' person based on their experience of being the beneficiary of one of his charitable pursuits, and that's what Saville was banking on - his Persona bought, hook line and sinker. We heard some people defending him, one voice over stating 'why drag it up now he's gone'. Some people are fortunate enough never to be on the receiving end of vile abuse, they cannot begin to comprehend it. While others find it almost impossible to accept that someone who appears capable of doing a good deed, is equally capable of committing heinous crimes.

"It takes the heart longer to accept, what the head already knows"!

We observe Savile running, cycling and walking - at one point we hear how he raised over £10 million for the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries hospital, where he was obviously viewed as a 'Hero' a 'Saviour' 10 million was a lot of money then. We hear how Thatcher liked his 'can do attitude', again, this was not by chance - how else was shapeshifter Savile going to move up the ladder of influence to secure the highest honors in the land? By morphing into the 'kind of person' Thatcher would be prepared to support. All part of the act, an image by design.

Savile himself admits, his charitable acts were leverage, he was intent on bartering with God. A practicing Catholic, Savile was deeply concerned about not getting a place in Heaven because of his vile abusive behaviours on earth. Savile clearly recognise's how his behaviours are morally wrong,  yet at no point does Savile express any kind of concern, regret or remorse for his 400+ abused victims, on the contrary his concerns throughout  are only ever about how his behaviours might prevent him from securing a place in heaven. He is so concerned about himself, that when is body is found by the undertaker, his fingers are crossed! Right to the very end he is hoping that God will forgive him, let him 'away with it' like others have done, and allow him into heaven!

The charitable acts that we witness in the documentary, are purely acts of leverage, they are all part of the process as described in the invisible seduction. The seduction isn't set out in a pre-planned fashion like a business plan - even though we might imagine it that way in the aftermath. As the name suggests, the process is invisible - silent and seamless, it comes naturally to the perpetrator, second nature - auto-pilot. It is carried out in stealth and few people on the receiving end will see it until its already too late, as demonstrated in our grooming behaviours workshop; 'You are Being Groomed, You Just Don't Know it yet. 

This is a way of life for a narcissist who sees everyone as fair game. They approach every situation as a means to an end. This behaviour is alien to most of us, or at least it happens outside of our awareness.  We describe these behaviours as cold and calculated. Unnerving behaviours, that are judged as deceitful by those who didn't see it coming. It leaves the victim feeling violated, disturbed and stupid in the aftermath having been compromised, this gives rise for the need to separate ourselves from this awfully uncomfortable behaviour.  We prefer to label people like Savile as  'Monsters' and 'Abnormal' to put distance between 'them and us'.  In reality, we miss this kind of behaviour for three reasons;

1)  because it is so common placed in our society we no longer notice it,  2) because we are so often disconnected from ourselves in the present moment, rushing around willy-nilly with our busy lives and our attention distracted, that we are 'not living in the present' - we are oblivious to it while it is taking place in front of us - it is hidden in plain sight and 3) perception!

4. Perception - What I can make you believe!

The fourth of the 5 Ps is Perception and what I can make you believe. 

Most of us think with our eyes, and believe what we see. Despite the fact that there is more access to information now than ever before, many people do not question anything. They judge based on what the 'See' - seeing is believing,  they believe what they see to be true according to their own 'values and principles'.

I recently read a case in which a judge was incredibly lenient with a child rapist, his reasoning being that 'up until THIS incident the perpetrator had PROVEN HIMSELF to be,  an upstanding member of the community'!!

A Judge no less! An individual entrusted with the task of 'Fairness and Equality! of ensuring justice prevails for the innocent and punishment is afforded the guilty, yet in this and in many other cases, a Judge who appears to be entirely ignorant of how the 5 P's of grooming, and particularly the  'Persona' element of a perpetrator works.

If what you consider to be a good person is someone who appears to be - friendly, charitable, community spirited, helpful etc. then Savile had it sussed!

If what you consider to be 'Professional' is a tailored suit and an nice office   -  most of us can achieve 'Professionalism!

If what you consider to be 'Trustworthy' is someone wearing a nationally recognised uniform of trust - be that - Police officer, Doctor, Clergy, Politician, Judge, Paramedic or Tutor,  then everyone becomes trustworthy in your eyes. Its the White-Coat Effect on a larger scale.

"Never stop questioning - curiosity has its own reason for existing" - Albert Einstein.

Only when we look back with hindsight do we realise that all the warning signs were there all along.  We missed them, and then we beat ourselves up wondering how on earth could we not notice something so blatantly obvious.  We didn't notice because we were not paying attention and we believed without question.

The process itself consists of 6 key stages and includes an invisible seduction, a range of behaviours demonstrated in the workshop

5. Pressure - Pay attention to how you feel

The fifth of the 5 Ps is Pressure - Listen to your body, your body always knows best! 

Someone who has your best interests at heart does not make you feel awkward, obligated or guilty.

Watch Savile when he's flirting with Selina Scott - he keeps eye contact, he zones in on her and holds her gaze. Watching it you can imagine how uncomfortable that feels. Scott awkwardly attempts to discourage, giggling uncomfortably at Savile's advances, but Savile persists. If Selina pays attention to her body in this moment, she will feel that uncomfortable feeling that I refer to as pressure in the 5 Ps of Grooming,  a feeling of resistance experienced viscerally throughout the body.

In our workshops we use the STAND approach to help in this situation.

STOP - Slow the process down

THINK - pay attention to how you feel in this moment

ACT - put your own interests first - act in a way that makes you feel safe, be truthful about how you feel, SAY NO IF YOU MEAN NO

NEVER - don't people please, don't allow yourself to feel obligated,

DOUBT - never over ride or undermine yourself, don't worry if you are reading it wrong, always go with what makes you feel better

Narcissists are keen observers, intuitively picking up on a lack of confidence and self esteem in their victims. Like lions stalking their prey, they hone in on those who are too nice or too polite to challenge them. They sense weakness, which I describe in the workshop as 'White Flags' of surrender. They instinctively know which adults they can target and just as importantly, which adults they cannot. Abusers like Savile, groom the adults to win them over before they even begin to think about grooming the child. Parents are the first and often only line of defense in protecting a child! Be aware of your own vulnerabilities.

Accepting Responsibility

People were quick to distance themselves from Savile.

People are often quick to distance themselves from abusive behaviour and perpetrators, fearful for themselves rather than their first thought being for the victim. Most people don't ever want to be associated with someone who has been labelled as a paedophile or a child abuser, let alone admit to knowing them as a friend -  it's perfectly understandable. People often become so keen to protect themselves, they appear to lose sight of their duties to protect innocent children from harm, denying all knowledge, when truth could potentially save many more children from being abused.  Instead of speaking out, they attempt to justify this 'distancing behaviour' by convincing themselves and others that they didn't have a clue, still our bodies keep the score and we can't escape from ourselves.

We witness distancing behaviour throughout this documentary, from those who clearly knew or at least suspected and chose to do nothing,  to those who are still in denial.

The BBC, other celebrities, several members of the Royal family, Margaret Thatcher and other Politician's, along with Savile's closest staff members who undoubtedly witnessed the abusive behaviour and turned a blind eye, which is seen when one of them picks up a young woman, dropping her in front of Savile who announces on camera that he will 'have her later - take her away',  the female victim is then carried off! - Serving police officers, Savile's colleagues and associates who having heard the mounting rumor's about Savile and others like him,  but dismiss the rumors out of hand. Never questioning; always keen to protect their own reputations while blatantly ignoring the damage that they suspected was being done to innocent child victims. We always have a choice! We can either do the right thing, or we can move to protect ourselves - either way, we each must live with our choices.

Watching the flurry of distancing behaviours reminded me of the feedback I regularly receive following a workshop. On reflection,  professionals tasked with safeguarding children arrive at the conclusion that a workshop depicting Grooming Behaviours may be TOO uncomfortable for adults, reasoning that - 'We don't want to scare people!. In reality,  Adults are unlikely to feel nearly as uncomfortable as a child that is being raped by a grown man, or abused and betrayed by a adult - this should ALWAYS be our first and our last concern in my view and until it is we can expect to see more of the same.  Most adults can come to terms with feeling uncomfortable if it saves a child from being abused! Adults should protect children, not the other way round.

Because of his Persona - Savile secured a status of celebrity that most can only dream of. Because of this status, Savile - as is so often the case with fame and fortune, was not subject to the same checks as the rest of us would be.

High profile Services are often reluctant to add their names to the work of third sector Organisations, who are working tirelessly to protect innocent victims -  for fear of something going wrong. Yet stick a celebrity in front of these same services, and they bypass every rule in the book and through caution to the wind in order to accommodate said celebrity! Savile managed to find his way into numerous hospital wards and children's homes - putting him directly in contact with many of his vulnerable victims. Something is seriously wrong with this system; Ego appears to be running the show.

Regardless of education, knowledge, skills, understanding and lived experiences in the field, its unlikely that you or I will ever be awarded an honorary degree or be invited to sit on the Board of a secure hospital like Broadmoor, and yet Savile, an unqualified disc jockey, found his way in to both. While there is no mention of it in the Netflix Documentary, according to the book by Robin Perrie entitled, 'I'm the Yorkshire Ripper: Conversations with a killer,  Savile befriended serial murderer Peter Sutcliffe, visiting on a regular basis. Surely, this is considered questionable behaviour by anyone's standards? If you are as famous as Savile was, and can literally afford to 'buy' anyone's friendship, why would you choose to befriend a serial killer in Broadmoor? What was the purpose of Saviles visits? did anyone think to ask?

Complaints were raised about Savile's behaviour at Broadmoor but were again dismissed out of hand, despite what one might assume would be 'obvious' concerns for the health and safety of the hospitals vulnerable patients. An anonymous letter intended to bring Savile to the attention of the police, was buried by the police. We live in a society that considers fame and fortune to be more important than truth and justice.  A society where negative behaviours are given far more airtime than positive behaviours because the negative is considered more entertaining, grabs peoples attention and brings in more money.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen accused the social media giant of putting “astronomical profits before people”, while harming children and destabilizing democracies in her testimony to the US Congress. Haugen said Facebook knew it steered young users towards damaging content and that its Instagram app was “like cigarettes” for under-18s. In a wide-ranging testimony, the former Facebook employee said the company did not have enough staff to keep the platform safe and was “literally fanning” ethnic violence in developing countries.

The truth is, Facebooks behaviour is merely a continuation of the narcissistic behavioural traits that have become common placed in our culture. You can witness grooming behaviours any day of the week by visiting your local target driven car dealership. If we are serious about protecting our children, we need to change our thinking and the way we treat people, across the board.

The link to ACEs Trauma

The use of Persona to fool people into believing they are someone they are not, is considered to be a narcissistic trait - not to be confused with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) that requires a diagnosis from a trained professional.

During the documentary we heard about the 'odd' relationship that Savile had with his Mother.

The youngest of 7 children, Savile was brought up in a Religious environment as a Catholic, taught to fear the judgement of God. In a rare clip with his Mother, Savile asks why she beat him so much as a youngster,  and his unapologetic elderly Mother, coldly responses "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child"  a common belief from yesteryear. 'Spare the rod, spoil the child' - 'Children should be seen and not heard' -'Leave baby to cry itself to sleep', 'Boys don't cry, Men should be tough, Don't air your dirty laundry in public' - Asking for help is a sign of weakness' etc, etc etc.  A complete lack of understanding about human nature and the unquestioned beliefs of our Parents and Grandparents, has led to unhelpful learned behaviours being passed down from generation to generation, creating widespread complex Trauma.

We are now aware of the impact of Trauma and that when a Childs needs are not being met by it's primary caregivers, (ignoring a baby when it cries),  it often leads to ACEs Trauma (Adverse Childhood Experiences).

One of the causes of Narcissism is believed to be ACEs trauma.

Persona is a signature trait of narcissism; a mask used to protect a fragile sense of self. A lack of empathy is another trait.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another persons situation, and see life from the perspective, rather than seeing it from your own. Someone who is narcissistic is unable to empathize with others, only ever seeing their own perspective.  They are also unable to experience empathy from others.

Where one might choose a greetings card for the sentimental verse written inside that makes us feel a gush of emotions, to send to a loved one on a special occasion perhaps -  someone lacking in empathy reads only printed words on paper, the words hold no emotional meaning for them.

When Savile asked his Mother why she beat him so often,  where many of us would have felt sadness or sympathy at the thought of a child being beaten - or felt the flush of embarrassment as the parent being exposed for beating a child, note in the documentary how there is no emotional response from either Savile or his Mother, who held a smile throughout the exchange.

Communication is all we have to let others know how we are feeling. When our feelings are dismissed, ignored or minimized - or when they are met with a lack of concern and empathy, we may feel belittled, disregarded, unseen and unheard - all of which are common triggers for people suffering from complex (ACEs) trauma.

If we imagine All behaviours on a scale ranging from;

-0 people-pleasing behaviours at one end  to +0 narcissistic behaviours at the opposite end, with balance being the Congruent behaviours at 0 in the middle - as shown below in fig 1.

Persona sits at both ends of the scale. Narcissistic behaviour uses the mask of persona to hide their true identity, while people-pleasing behaviour uses the mask of persona to hide their true feelings - opposite ends of the scale - both using Persona to the same ends.

When we stop labelling people and focus our attention on behaviours or more to the point, teach them to focus on their behaviours. When we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, recognise and understand what triggers us and why. When we stop and listen to our bodies, and learn to adjust our behaviours accordingly, then and only then can we begin to heal from trauma and stop impacting others with our narcissistic and people pleasing behaviours. Change is entirely possible, if and only if the individual wants to change. 

In our current project, Self-Discovery for Recovery we use an approach called RAPPORT which focuses on recognising and adjusting our behaviours and interactions with others.

Fig.1.

 

There are those however, abusers like Jimmy Savile who do not want to change their behaviours, they enjoy outwitting victims, their only aim is to get away with it. This is why it is Vital that people learn how to recognise the signs, know how to respond and protect themselves and others.

For advice and support on any of the issues raised in this blog post - Please get in touch