Know Thy Self

Copyright© 2021. Deborah J Crozier.

The right of Deborah J Crozier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this works may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the Copyright owner.

The Beliefs We Hold

The beliefs that we hold about ourselves shape our choices and our lives.

If I believe I cannot do a thing or be a thing, the chances are, unless I am willing to challenge the belief I hold about myself, my assumption is likely to be correct - and I cannot do it or be it, because our thoughts impact how we feel and how we act.

'Beliefs are just thoughts that we keep on thinking'!

We have the choice to examine the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and challenge the beliefs that are preventing us from living the life that we would choose for ourselves alternatively, we can choose not to.

The Choices We Make

Widely accepted, but seldom applied is the understanding that each of us are responsible for our actions, and we each live with the consequences of the choices that we make. It is important to recognise that the choices we make, given the information we have available to us at the time, and to the best of our capabilities -  result as often as is possible, in outcomes that we are comfortable with or at the very least - outcomes that we can live with.

While the law recognise's that people under a certain age are not accountable for decisions influenced by others (adults), having knowledge of this fact, does not stop the negative emotions of shame and guilt that a person carries within themselves for the badly thought-out decisions that they have made as young people; Decisions that have led to outcomes, that they have later come to regret. People often carry the weight of regret, shame and guilt for bad choices way into adulthood - knocking their confidence and self esteem; informing their future choices and shaping their adult lives.

Resolving these negative emotions within ourselves is an important part of the healing process.

Consider this: If I ask you which do you prefer Tea or Coffee? Chances are, you will find it easy to answer the question with minimum effort, automatic even - because you know what you like and don't like. You may choose Coffee, because you don't like Tea, or visa versa. You may choose neither - preferring a cold drink instead, or nothing at all because you're not thirsty, or you've recently had a drink. The point I'm making is, you know what you prefer intuitively and whichever choice you make in that moment, is undoubtedly the right choice for you.

The problem which decision making arises when our judgement is clouded or our choices are influenced by another/others. Sometimes because others imagine they know what is best for us, and sometimes,  not necessarily because the other person is intentionally influencing our decisions, but because we are choosing to put another persons beliefs, opinions and  preferences before our own, maybe because we care about them and don't want to upset or offend them, maybe through fear of rejection or criticism, or for other reasons, but whatever it is, it is still a decision that 'we;, are making and that we will live with the consequences of.

To give a lived experience example;

In a previous relationship, many years ago now, my new partner initially presented as 'the perfect mate'. He appeared funny, kind, attentive,  intelligent and for want of a better word 'really cool'. All the things I thought at the time were important qualities in a partner. I was impressed, because I was anything but cool, and I couldn't really understand why someone as 'cool' as he was would be interested in someone as uncool and 'straight laced as me. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but this kind of thinking came from my own lack of self worth. I also wasn't aware at the time, that a failure to recognise and address my own lack of self-worth, meant I was likely to keep revisiting the same situations; Different faces, different places - always the same outcome!

Not long into the relationship, he came to my house and I was listening to pop music, belting out the words to one of my favourite songs; Erasers 'We'll be together again', while hoovering the living room carpet. "You're not into that shite are you?" he said, turning the volume down on the 'Ghetto Blaster'. Embarrassed by my preference, and fearful that my 'uncoolness' would be revealed,  I immediately responded with "No, not at all - it just came on, I don't usually listen to 'shite like this"!  I never listened to that song, or any kind of popular music that I had previously enjoyed, again during the relationship. However, when asked if I liked the heavy metal music that was his preference, I felt unable to say No, even though, the truth was, I absolutely detested it. It gave me a banging headache, but instead of saying what I truly felt,  I fluffed around the question so not to appear 'uncool, unintelligent or different to him. I also didn't want to offend him with my honesty, so I skated around the question with things like; I've never really listened to it - to be honest! - I don't dislike it, it's pretty good" Complete tripe! I convinced myself I was being a  'nice' person, being considerate - making compromises - rubbish, I was lying to myself, compromising myself because I was afraid of being rejected by someone I had feelings for. For the duration of the relationship, I kept up this ridiculous pretense of 'not minding' listening to the awful din that was his music choice and avoided listening to anything that he might consider 'popular'.

It began with music, but it quickly spread into every aspect of life. The clothes I wore, the food I ate, the company I kept, even my values and beliefs.

It wasn't long before I lost sight of who I was and the things I preferred. I felt as though I was disappearing behind this other person until I was completely overshadowed and no longer valid, I eventually lost sight of myself.

The guy was not cool in reality,  he was incredibly violent and abusive. I eventually left the relationship after a particularly violent attack when he knocked me to the floor, held me down, and squeezed my throat with both hands until I passed out. It is by the Grace of God that I am here today to share my experiences with you.

The Responsibility We Take

For many years I was able to confidently say 'None of it was not my fault'! He was the problem.  But after the third, ( not always violent, but always controlling and/or abusive), I had to face up and accept that I had a part to " play in the things that were happening to me. I was the common denominator, leaving me no choice but to ask of myself 'What is it about me always leads me to here?" I embarked on a journey of self discovery that would change me and my life for ever for the better. (feel free to request these self discovery exercises and I will happily email them to you)

How you Feel, matters. How you think informs how you feel and how you behave. All to often we leave ourselves out of the judging and blame others for the unhappiness in our lives.

I came to understand that I am not responsible for the violent, abusive behaviour of another. As we said in the opening sentence, 'We are each responsible for our own actions, we own our behaviour and live the consequences of our choices.

We cannot control the actions of another person no matter how much we may want to or how hard we try. We can however choose how we respond to the actions of others. We always have a choice!

We can come to understand how and when we give away our power to others. How and when we allow our choices, opinions and values to be overshadowed and over ridden by another. We can learn how not to do these things, and how to stand in our power, exercise our rights - or not!

We can learn how to challenge the beliefs we hold about ourselves, we can consider the words we use to describe ourselves, we can choose to change if we wish.  We can choose to become more assertive and learn how to exercise our rights or we can choose to always point the finger and choose to continue on the path that we are on.

If you are experiencing negative emotions, it is very likely that you are going against yourself in some way, you may be ignoring your internal sat-nav that is alerting you to a problem. You may be doubting yourself, questioning yourself, or choosing to ignore yourself because you don't want to face what listening to yourself means for you.  After 30 years of searching for answers,   I only found one way forward from this place of angst and confusion - and that is self-discovery! Looking within -  the answers are within us -  look within - know thyself!

 

 


A Lesson in Respect

Copyright© 2021. Deborah J Crozier.

The right of Deborah J Crozier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this works may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the Copyright owner.

 

I grew up in the 80s in a mining community in Yorkshire. I played the cornet in the local colliery band. I marched with the Miners when they returned to work defeated, exhausted and broken.

I remember the horrors of the miners strike; seeing grown men who I knew, from our village being dragged bruised, bloody & beaten by police without collar numbers & thrown into arrest vans.

Labelled as ‘The Enemy Within, by a Government pushing an agenda, because the Miner had made the decision to strike in a desperate attempt to save his job & livelihood, while the world looked on.

I remember the men who barricaded themselves inside their homes, living in fear for their lives.

A house near by had metal cages on the doors & windows resembling a prison.

Paint was thrown on the outside, ‘identifying’ the house and the word ‘Scab’ daubed across the walls and windows, because the Miner inside had made the decision NOT to strike in a desperate attempt to save his job & livelihood, while the world looked on.

The narrative was constantly being pushed, the media portrayed ‘the opposing sides as ‘the good & the bad’, ‘the right and the wrong’, the selfish & the brave’ the Picket & The Scab.

Emotions ran high, there was so much at stake for all concerned.

Families & communities were torn apart as a result of the prolonged fight for jobs. Both sides struggled, as they watched their starving children queuing for food outside the makeshift kitchens of the Miners Welfare Clubs.

Friends became Enemies, Brothers lost touch, and like a pebble in a pond, the ripples of anger, mistrust, hurt & betrayal smeared the generations.

Two men with differing views suffering equally – both fighting against each others view. Both fighting for their rights to choose what they believed was the right choice for them.

Neither of them wanted to fight in the first place, that was never their intention; both parties were always just trying to save their jobs & protect their families and their communities from destruction.

This brings to mind another lesson from history; The unofficial Christmas Truce of 1914, when just 5 months into World War One, Soldiers along the western front from both sides, downed their weapons, calling an unofficial truce and enjoying a game of football together on Christmas Day. It suggests to me, that these men were not really enemies. They hadn’t wanted to kill and destroy each other, real hatred doesn’t stop for a game of football. They were both fighting for what they believed in, while being force fed a narrative – and, as is always the case, both side suffer loss in the end.

During the Miners strike, both sides were fearful for the future, and both sides had good reason to be because,  both sides lost everything in the end!

The lessons we should have been learned here is Respect!

Respect for each others opinions, respect for other  peoples rights to choose – even when they make a different choice to ours.

Never to fall for the ‘Us & Them’ narrative and to always remember –

We are not enemies- We are friends,

We are family, We are neighbour’s, We are colleagues, We are community, We are human, We are connected,

May we stay this way!

For my part;

I promised to always respect you and your choices, without question or criticism, without any intent to discourage, influence or override – either overtly or covertly,  regardless of any narrative being pushed.

And I trust that you, likewise will look beyond our differences, and equally respect me and mine.

Peace and Love to you and yours – always.


The things I Ponder

I spend a lot of time pondering! I'd have to say its one of my favourite pastimes.

Pondering only becomes an issue, when I attempt to engage others in it. Whether that's because they disagree with my view point, they believe they know better (which is not to suggest they don't),  or as seems to be the case more often than not, because they genuinely don't care one iota, and don't want to have to think about it -  it's all fair enough.  I regularly sense the horror creeping into the ether, and witness my loved ones ducking for cover whenever I utter those dreaded words "Can I ask a question"?

To be fair to my loved ones,  I do tend to ask the 'can I ask you a question, question, quite a lot.  I believe I've always been the same. I'm told growing up, I was a terrible nuisance, always asking silly questions and driving people nuts. It's kid like to question, as adults we should encourage it, its how our children learn and grow. My continued curiosity seldom wins me favour, but it has certainly caused me a few issues in my time. It's considered a problem to some, especially those who consider questioning to be a personal challenge, either to them or to their authority, which is not necessarily always the intention. When I was younger and less confident, I used to promise myself that I'd stop asking questions, especially when my questioning was met with anger, annoyance, disapproval or a look of disappointment, and there was a period in my life when I did exactly that, I stopped questioning.  There are no benefits to not questioning in my experience.

In recent years I've been able to accept this is part of who I am and acknowledge, I'm not going to be to everyone's liking and that is okay. I'm curious, I believe the world needs curious people to keep asking questions whether others like it or not. My blog provides an opportunity to ponder questions that most people either don't care about, don't want to have to think about or don't want to engage with.  If you can relate to this -  maybe you should consider getting yourself a blog!

Today, like most days, I've been pondering;

If amongst all the excitement of inventing the first engines and cars back in the late 1880s & 90s, did Henry Ford or Karl Benz give any consideration to the human cost or damage that might occur in the event of car's crashing at speed, people being run over or the impact on the environment due to increasing pollution? I wonder if there was someone sat in a board meeting - considered to be 'The negative one , or the annoying one always questioning; asking these kind of questions!

I don't know the answer, I merely ponder! although someone far more clued up on the history of these men may know the answer?  My guess is, possibly not.

Given the first car is reported to have reached a top speed of just 10 MPH (16 km/h) and cars on the road were but a few, I imagine the considerations at the time will have been far less.  No one can be expected to see into the future or know the unknown.  Still, given human natures drive and ambition to push boundaries, realise the impossible, progress and evolve, exactly as Ford and Benz had themselves achieved,  I wonder if either of them ever woke up with a start at 2am,  sweating and panicking about the potential dangers that may come with evolution. I wonder if the inventors and creators of today ever do the same?

It took less than 30 years for the car to reach 100 mph - no coincidence then that the first Motor Car Act was introduced in the UK in 1903. There were those who opposed the Act, calling for No restrictions on speed limits with parliamentary debates described as 'bitter' at the time. Can you imagine if we had no speed limit restrictions on todays roads!.  It only took a further 100 years (give or take a few), for cars to reach top speeds in excess of 315 mph, the Road Traffic Act evolving in an attempt to keep up with the advancing technology.

Such Acts in Law don't actually stop all people from speeding, having or causing accidents of-course. I imagine Roger Wallace who strongly opposed speed limits back in the day, continued putting his pedal to the metal, revving the guts out of his electric car as he sped along country lanes at some 14 mph, hoping never to bump into an Officer of the Law.  We legislate for damage limitation, attempting to protect and preserve life, ensuring safety, but the fact remains we can never control everyone's behaviour and nor will we ever be able to. We can create rules, regulations, policies, laws, spending time and money trying to enforce them, but there will always be people who disagree, and it doesn't always mean those people are in the wrong.  There will always be people who disagree and break rules, and people who don't necessarily disagree,  but who break the rules anyway, maybe because they think the rules don't apply to them. Even some people who make the rules, break the rules, possibly because in their minds, they are above the law - as true today as it has always been! Why? because it's human nature to question and challenge. Not all rules or laws protect all people. Some rules put some people at a serious disadvantage and/or are an infringement of their human rights - it depends on the individual, it depends on the rules being enforced, and it depends on who is imposing the rules and why.

When we come to understand that not everyone thinks the same way as we do, not everyone experiences life in the same way we experience it - then the world starts to make much more sense.

I digress.

There are many advantages of being able to drive, and of owning a car, but at what point do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages? Again, this will be different for everyone!

If you can drive and have access to a car, your chances of Employment increase - that's a real positive.  You can travel for work and could gain employment driving; deliveries, buses, field sales, lots of possibilities.

Independence - if you have a vehicle, you can take yourself off whenever you want to, for long or short journeys, running to your own schedule, travelling far and wide. (Pre-Covid & Brexit I should probably add).

Emergencies - Having access to a vehicle in the case of an emergency is a huge advantage, when someone's sick, injured or pregnant and needs to get to a hospital or see a medic. Just a few of the benefits of driving and owning a vehicle.

The disadvantages are equally plentiful. Vehicles can be expensive, to buy and maintain, unaffordable for some.

Vehicles are said to be one of the major causes of global warming, emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causing worldwide temperatures to rise and creating major concerns for the future of our planet.

There are an estimated 1.4 billion vehicles currently driving around our planet, which is expected to increase to 2.8 billion by 2036 according to recent reports. With an increase in vehicles, it stands to reason there's also increased risk. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.35 million deaths worldwide in 2016. If these figures are correct, that means somewhere in the world in 2016 alone, one person was killed in a road traffic accident every 25 seconds. Shit, no one mentioned that - should we all stop driving our cars then?

I very much doubt Ford or Benz could have even imagined a human being would be capable of intentionally driving a car into a crowd of people with the purpose of causing harm - but it happens.

Am I suggesting we stop creating, inventing, progressing, evolving just incase bad things happen? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite of that. We should not stop living because of the fear of dying! We cannot stop evolving, even if we wanted to, we will never stop bad things from happening, we can only hope to limit them, and we can only limit them, if we are prepared to consider they exist in the first place, and to do that, we must be willing to take a balanced view.

When we convince ourselves that we only need to consider one side of any situation, and imagine that side is the positive side, the correct view and that's all that matters, thus concluding anyone who looks beyond the positive must be negative, labelling them as a negative person,  'full of doom and gloom'  a party pooper or conspiracy theorist, because they take a different view to us, we are doing ourselves a huge injustice by deliberately avoiding information that could potentially alert us to problems that at some point, we will need to consider. I'm not suggesting we focus on the 'negatives', or believe everything we are told, I am suggesting we acknowledge the existence of the alternative because we live in a duality, and duality requires balance.

By duality I mean,  Black/White, Hot/Cold, Rich/Poor, Good/Bad, Positive/Negative Right/Wrong. Up/Down, In/Out, Near/Far- you get the idea, everything has its opposite. You only know what it feels to be happy, if you know how it feels to be sad. You know what is right, because you know what is wrong. If there is duality, there has to be double-use capability (something used for good can also be used for bad), and so theres a need for balance - recognising both sides.  Yin and Yang.

We all want to focus and experience positives in our lives, of course we do,  but If we are only prepared to see one side of something, then we run the risk of inadvertently overlooking the opposite side and that will inevitably cause problems. If we only consider the positive, we run the risk of being vulnerable to the negative, because we are completely ignorant to it's existence.

I cannot being to tell you how often people have said to me;  "'Manipulative Behaviours, why would you want to educate people on something so negative when it probably won't even happen to them!" 

I am not suggesting negative behaviours will happen so therefore you should take my course, I am saying negative behaviours exist because positive behaviours exist, because all things have an opposite and a double-use capability. We can only know how to prevent the negatives, if we are aware of them and we can only be aware of them, if we are prepared to listen to alternative viewpoints. We should never dismiss other peoples viewpoints, or worse still, aim to prevent others from listening to alternative viewpoints.

If we choose to completely overlook one side, to block it out entirely, because we consider it to be something negative - that won't stop it from existing - it will still exist, it just means we are ignoring it, burying our heads. It means we are likely to miss the signs that could alert us to a problem, should the problem ever present itself. Prevention being better than cure.  We can't know what the signs are if we are not prepared to consider them, simply because we've labelled them as being negative and therefore not worthy of consideration.   If we scoff, dismiss and pigeon-hole the people who try to inform us, labelling them as 'negative people', stupid, bad. wrong - then all we have left with is hope. We have to hope we never find ourselves faced with that particular negative situation, and if we are, then we have to hope again, that we get away with it lightly.

Or we could educate ourselves with as much information as possible on any subject that impacts peoples lives.  Be prepared to listen and discuss alternative views, even if we don't agree with them. All information available, allowing us to reach a balanced view.

Consider this;

Imagine, You have been summoned to court as part of the jury in a serious case.

Having been sworn in under oath you are advised by the Judge to listen and consider, all of the evidence presented, before reaching a final decision; Innocent or Guilty!

Lives and Justice hang in the balance.

The prosecution steps up, presenting a compelling case as to why they believe the individual is guilty and why you should find in the prosecutions favor.

The defense are told by the Judge, that they will not be permitted to present their case and you are asked to make a decision based on the information that has been presented to you so far.

You can immediately see the problem here right?  How can anyone possibly make an informed decision,  if the only evidence available suggests the accused is guilty - You can't possibly come to a fair conclusion. The opposite is also true, If only the defense presented. There always has to be Balance.  If there's no balance, then there's no justice, at best, there can only be guess work. Yet so often we are choosing what we will and will not listen to. Increasingly, others who do not even know us, but assume to know what is best for us, are deciding the information that we should and should not have access to - and we should always be ready to question that, because that is an infringement of our human rights, and that cannot go by unchallenged.

We have to step back, give ourselves chance to clear our minds and think for ourselves and we have to show respect for the things we do not know.

"The important thing is to never stop questioning - Curiosity has its own reason for existing" Albert Einstein


Withholding Information

Copyright© 2021. Deborah J Crozier.

The right of Deborah J Crozier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this works may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the Copyright owner.

What do you need to know?

As mentioned in a number of my blogs, one form of coercive behaviour is; the withholding of information.

We can only make informed decisions when we are privy to all the information that is available at the time, even if the information is limited, and only allows for a prediction, or a forecast, the more information we have, the more accurate the forecast will be.

If, for whatever reason, we believe information is being withheld, it's important to understand why and uncover as much information as we possibly can.

Lets consider the following fictitious scenario;

You have been summoned to court as part of the jury in a serious case. Having been sworn in under oath you are advised by the Judge to listen and consider, all of the evidence presented, before reaching a final decision.

Lives and Justice hang in the balance.

The prosecution steps up, presenting a compelling case as to why they believe the individual is guilty and why you should find in the prosecutions favor.

The defense are told by the Judge, that they will not be permitted to present their case.

You are asked to make a decision based on the information that has been presented to you.

What questions if any, will you need to ask before you feel able to make an informed choice?

Given the Judges decision is a highly unusual one -  what do you need to know?

Lets imagine you question why the defense have not been allowed to present their case.

The explanation given by the Judge is that he is in charge, his word is final and he has decided on this occasion not to allow the defense to put their arguments forward. You are still expected to decide on the fate of the accused, based on the information that has been presented by the prosecution.

What will you do?

How are you likely to feel?

Will you be willing to deliver a verdict without questioning any further? If so, why? and what decision will you come to? What happens if you're not sure?

Would you be demanding to know why the defense have not been permitted to speak and why their viewpoint hasn't being taken into consideration? or would you accept the Judge is in charge and therefore his decision is final, just as he has said?

If you were the one in the dock, what would you be hoping the jury would do next and why?

Let's imagine for now, that you do not like the look of the individual sitting in the dock, and based on appearances alone, you can easily imagine they are guilty of whatever crime they are accused of.

Will the appearance of the accused make it easier for you to accept the Judges decision not to allow the defense to present their case.

Might you assume the accused is probably guilty and therefore it doesn't really matter? Or would you be outranged by the Judges decision and refuse to deliver a verdict?

Would you consider that if a one sided court hearing could be allowed to happen to one person, it could to anyone, including to you and those you care about?

What are your thoughts? I'm interested to hear your view.

We may blindly accept what we are told by those we trust, respect, admire, love, look up to, believe in - even when it doesn't make any sense.

We may blindly accept what we are told by those we assume know better than we do or who make us feel like we have no other option.

We always have a choice, even if we struggle to see it.

It can be really difficult to question others even when we know we should. We can feel obligated, making it easier to just accept what we are being told. We can feel silly, especially if everyone else around us appears to be going along without question. We may feel the need to conform,  just to go with flow, fall inline, rather than speaking up, incase others judge us as awkward, difficult or troublesome. There are lots of reasons why we find it easier to follow others, rather than be seen to be making waves.

It's often easier to feel protective of others, and stand up for their rights, than it is when it comes to standing up and protecting our own.

When it comes to making life changing decisions, it's important that each of us take the time and effort to gather as much information as we possibly can.

YOU and YOU alone are responsible for the outcome. Regardless of whether someone else has suggested or advised, You are the one who must forever live with the consequences of any decisions that you make.

Let's imagine in our scenario above, you are unhappy with the idea of making a decision without hearing the defense, but you don't know what to do about it so you wait to see what the other jurors do. One of the other jurors who is more vocal than the rest, has decided the accused is likely to be guilty, and that is probably why the Judge has made the decision not to allow the defense to speak. The one juror suggests to everyone that this is likely to be the case and convinces the rest of the jury.

Let's imagine, as a result, despite protesting their innocence, the accused is found guilty and sentenced accordingly.

Let's imagine, you are later informed that the accused had an water tight alibi and could not possibly be responsible for the crime they were accused of.

How would you feel? Would you feel responsible? or would you blame the Judge?

"Curiosity has it's own reason for existing, never stop questioning"- Albert Einstein.

Ask questions. Question everything. Don't take someone else's word for it, find out for yourself. Be sure of yourself. Don't discriminate, only listening to information that fits your argument or story. Actively listen to all the information that's available to you - even if you don't necessarily agree, listen anyway - you have nothing to lose by listening. Judge for yourself. Disregard the things that feel wrong to you - how you feel is very important.

Remember, it's impossible to make informed choices, based on what you do not know!

STAND a toolkit for prevention

STOP - Slow the process down, give yourself some time!

THINK - What do you think,  Is this my choice, Pay attention to how you think and feel? What is your gut telling you?

ACT - Consider your response - "I need time to think about this" or "I want to consult with........? (insert as appropriate)

NEVER - Never allow yourself to be pressured or pushed into something against your will. YOU HAVE RIGHTS PROTECTED IN LAW

DOUBT - Do not Doubt or question yourself. Often stepping back and doing nothing is the best decision in this situation. Don't over-ride yourself, don't allow others to over-ride your choices and don't just follow others blindly. 

STAND a toolkit for prevention of Grooming Behaviours, CPD Certified, online instructors course.

Become an Instructor Today!


Are White Lies, Just Lies made to Fit?

Copyright© 2021. Deborah J Crozier.

The right of Deborah J Crozier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this works may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the Copyright owner.

 

 

True story! About 25 years ago, a close friend was really excited to tell me all about the new love interest in their life. The friend had not been very lucky in love up to this point, and so it was wonderful to see her so radiant and happy.

Keen to learn more, I asked how they'd met and she was eager to tell the tale.

She explained how she had recently moved into the flat next door to this guy and for a few weeks they had simply exchanged pleasantries. Secretly, She liked the look of him, she found him quite attractive, but she wasn't sure whether he was in a relationship or not, so smiles and hello's was all it was.

Then one evening, unexpectedly he knocked on her door and asked the curious question "Can I borrow your leg?" 

She admits to being thrown by the strange request, but he smiled and went on to explain. He wasn't sure if the lights on his car were working properly, or if indeed at all and so he was asking my friend if she would sit in his car and press the pedals while he walked around and checked all the lights to check if they were working . She didn't drive, which he said wouldn't matter, and so, "Yes, Of-course!" She was keen to help. She sat in the car pressing pedals and flipping switches on and off as directed,  while the new love interest walked around the car.
Every so often he would open the door, checking various fuses, and chatting to my friend.
He asked if she was married, what did she do for a living, the usual, and my friend was happy to tell.  After about half an hour of this he thanked her for her help, and asked if he could maybe take her out for a meal at the weekend by way of a thank you, to which my friend, who thought this guy was hot, eagerly accepted.

On the evening of their date, he drove them to a fancy restaurant, where they enjoyed a delicious meal, a few drinks and completely hit it off.  According to my friend he was perfect, an absolute gent and a real romantic, everything she had been hoping for.

During the evening while they were chatting, the guy confessed that he had removed the fuses in the car to give him an excuse to knock on her door and ask for her help, it was his way of creating an opportunity to speak to her. My friend saw nothing wrong in his confession, describing it as ' just a little white lie', and describing it as 'a romantic thing to do'.

When I asked what was wrong with just asking her out directly, rather than creating this pretend situation, my friend dismissed it out of hand - I am sure many people might do the same. "It means nothing" or "he's shy"! & "He was being romantic"!

Not shy enough to worry about knocking on her door and wasting her time doing something that didn't need doing, but too shy to ask a question what he eventually asked her anyway! Not romantic enough to be entirely honest in his approach!

My friend was surprised and hurt when she eventually realized, unfortunately not before they were married, that her husband told lies. Lots of lies. He was deceitful and underhand telling lies for no apparent reason, causing doubt and mistrust in their relationship, which made my friend nervous, anxious and incredibly miserable. The marriage ended in divorce.

What she had considered to be 'a little white lie' and 'a romantic thing to do', in reality - A lie and a deceitful thing to do.

She'd missed it. She was so keen not to see anything negative because negative didn't fit with her plans. Even when it was highlighted, she dismissed the negative as being nothing important,  and then repackaged as being something positive 'a romantic thing to do'.

When we are prepared to make excuses for behaviours, re-writing and applying meanings that better fit the narrative, we probably shouldn't be surprise later down the line when those same behaviours cause us pain.


What's the difference?

My first job, many, many years ago, when I was still a naïve teenager, I was a YTS trainee Medical Receptionist in a local medical practice.

Usually, at lunchtimes I'd nip across to the local bakery to buy a sandwich for my lunch as did a number of my colleagues.

I recall a particular occasion while I was on my way back from the bakery, I bumped into someone I knew in the street, that I hadn't seen for a while. We stopped to chat for a few minutes, exchanging the usual pleasantries before going in opposite directions as I headed back to work.  I'd ended the conversation with - "I'll see you later".

The following day I was summoned into the Practice Managers office and read the riot act for an alleged breach of confidentiality. I was completely thrown as I had no idea what she was talking about, I was very aware of the importance of confidentiality and was certain she had make a terrible mistake.

My manager explained that she had received a complaint from someone I had been chatting to in the street recently,  They complainant had an appointment in the afternoon on the same day we had stopped to chat and they had assumed when I said, "I'll see you later", I was referring to seeing them later when they came to the surgery for their appointment, which in their opinion was a breach of confidentiality.

I was asked if I was aware that the complainant had an appointment the same day. Given I hadn't spoken to anyone else, it wasn't difficult to work out who had raised the complaint. The answer was Yes, I was aware they had an appointment, of-course I was, because it was my job to know. I explained the comment "I'll see you later" was just a comment which I often use in place of goodbye and wasn't in anyway related to the individual concerned.  I obviously couldn't prove that it wasn't my intention, nor could it be proved that it was, however an important Lesson was learned.

As a result of the incident I accepted that I needed to be mindful of my terminology and to choose my wording carefully in future to ensure I wasn't misinterpreted. That was the end of the matter as far as the Manager was concerned, who let me away with a stern warning but made it very clear to me that if it ever happened again it could very well cost me my job.

Currently I am seeing post after post on Social Media feed, TV and newspapers by medical practices identifying patients in the community who have received Covid 19 vaccines, and I have to ask, Why? What's changed? This is not usual practice. We don't normally see posts informing us 'Here's a photo of Mr or Mrs X,  our eldest resident in town receiving medical treatment!  Surely, if saying "I'll see you later" to someone  who has an appointment later in the day is considered a breach of confidentially, posting a photograph identifying a patient receiving any kind of treatment surely must be. If it isn't, why isn't it?  because I honestly can not see the difference.

 

Copyright© 2021. Deborah J Crozier.

The right of Deborah J Crozier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this works may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the Copyright owner.

 


Photo of person s right hand

Choice and the power of suggestion

Copyright© 2021. Deborah J Crozier.

The right of Deborah J Crozier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this works may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the Copyright owner.

I give numerous examples of coercive behaviours and what those behaviours can look like in my training; STAND a toolkit for the prevention of Grooming Behaviours, explaining how and why these behaviours are so often, easily missed. Grooming Behaviours; because I offer examples of manipulative, coercive and exploitative behaviours often overlooked because they are considered typical, everyday occurrences or they are hidden in plain sight. STAND being the prevention part of the training and is an acronym for Stop, Think, Act, Never Doubt.

Some of the examples given are quite obviously manipulative, while other examples are far more subtle, covert behaviours that even experienced professionals often fail to spot. It is imperative we understand these behaviours if we want to prevent them and teach others how to protect themselves.

During a pilot of STAND, I delivered presentations to numerous groups and organizations in England & Scotland , the feedback, always positive and yet the training, which is aimed at awareness and prevention, is not being offered  by any of them. One group, a local authority sub-committee, consisting of a group of 6 professional representatives including; Police, Social Services, NHS, Local Authority and Social Housing, all involved with the safeguarding of adults in one way or another.  After delivering an example of covert coercive behaviour, I asked the group,  "What do you think? Is this Coercive or is it simply business as usual?".

As is often the case, the question was met with silent contemplation while the members of the group considered their response. Two of them considered it an example of manipulative or coercive behaviour, while the others weren't entirely sure whether it was or not.  Those who weren't sure, admitted they had never thought of the typical behaviour being presented to them,  in this way before, and said they found the insight quite alarming, which is excellent, because that's the whole point of it, I find it quite alarming myself which is why I am driven to raise awareness of it and understand how we can prevent it. Having discussed the reasons why the example was considered coercive by some of the group, myself included, the whole group concluded it was indeed coercive behaviour.

Following the sub-committee presentation, the feedback received was again, entirely positive, which is always the case. As a result, I handed out the evaluation forms but rather than asking for feedback there and then, I requested the forms be emailed to me a week or so later, giving the group time to reflect on the information I'd provided. STAND is all about allowing people time to stop and think so they can reflect on the information and reach an informed decision.

The point of delivering these pilot presentations, for organizations to decide whether to offer the training to the public, with the intention of raising awareness of coercive and manipulative behaviours while providing a toolkit intended to protect and prevent peoples choices from being over-ridden. Sadly, not everyone believes they have a voice, not everyone is heard. Not everyone is confident enough to stand their ground even if they want to. We spend an incredible amount of time and effort paying lip-service to the ideas that everyone is equal, everyone has a right to be heard, everyone's opinion is valid, everyone has the right to choose - ideas that are widely accepted and seldomly applied.

There are 6 questions on the evaluation form, the fifth question being, would you recommend the training for prevention?

Of the 6 people who attended, all 6 answered Yes to all but one of the questions.

Five of the group answered yes to every question with one of them answering both Yes and Don't know to question 5.

One of the group answered Don't Know to question 5.

All 6 answered Yes to question 6: Can you see how the training contributes to prevention of CSA?

If it is accepted that educating people potentially prevents them from falling victim to coercive or manipulative behaviours, thus saving them from having their choices over-ridden and having to suffer the consequences of someone else's decisions, why is there uncertainty about recommending it? You either believe in it or you don't. Is the fear of alarming people greater than the problem of people being manipulated, exploited, groomed, abused?

Although the answer regarding the uncertainty remains unanswered, I can only assume it is based in fear. Concerns that some people may be alarmed or may respond negatively if they are made aware of covert techniques and practices designed to influence decisions. My belief is that everyone should be made aware so they can identify for themselves, if their decisions are being influenced, empowering people to exercise their right to choose for themselves.

Statement
I am satisfied with the quality of the presentation? Yes No Don’t know
I found the information presented in S.T.A.N.D to be of benefit?
I am satisfied with the amount of learning gained in the time available?
I am satisfied with the presenter’s knowledge on the topic?
I would recommend S.T.A.N.D training for Prevention
I can see how S.T.A.N.D contributes to the prevention of Grooming Behaviours

 

Using fictitious characters to explain, I gave another more obvious example that I refer to in the training as Buyers Remorse, as explained below.

A Manipulator having had access to a Targets social media page, looks for information that they can use to their advantage, attempting to influence the Targets decision, by manipulating their thoughts and feelings. In the example given, the Target is said to be a huge Corrie Fan. For any reader who is unfamiliar with Corrie, (short for Coronation Street), it is the UKs longest running, and most watched TV soap, attracting an estimated 8 million regular viewers. From the Targets social media posts and interactions with friends, (nothing out of the ordinary) the manipulator is able to confidently deduce that the Target is a huge fan of the soap, observing they have a particular favourite character.

During what I refer to in the training as the process of Invisible Seduction, made up of many elements, the manipulator casually throws into the conversation a question relating to the Targets favourite soap;

 

 "I've been so busy the last few weeks  -  I've even had a few celebrities' in ..................I don't suppose you're a Corrie fan are you? 

Seriously?  are you really? - how cool is that! 

You'll never guess who was sitting in that very chair this time last week! (Insert name of Targets favourite celebrity here), That's right!

 Actually, now I come to think of it - she (Targets favourite celebrity),  chose the exact same colour that I pointed out to you earlier. How spooky is that? 

I bet you'll be sharing that with your friends on social media later; Telling them all about how you and (name of Targets favourite celeb) both buy your (product) from the very same person - they'll be super jealous for sure!" 

 

In the example given, the manipulators celebrity story is said to be untrue. However, regardless of whether the manipulators story is true or not,  this is an example of coercive behaviour for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the Target is not privy to all the information. They are completely unaware that the manipulator has been observing their social media posts and is pre-armed with information about their viewing habits and interests. The manipulator deliberately withholds this information from the Target who is led to believe the story about the Corrie Celebrity is purely coincidental when in reality it was pre-planned.

The ONLY reason the Manipulator is telling the Target this story about their alleged encounter with a celebrity, is to try to influence the Target's decision making, knowing they may be impressed by this celebrity, the manipulator uses the celebrity, to appeal to the Targets ego. This is very much about intention.

The information is dropped casually into the conversation, with the intention of convincing the Target that the manipulator has recalled the event there and then in the moment, which is untrue.

To the untrained eye the conversation appears to be just that, a pleasant and interesting conversation over a cup of coffee; potentially appealing to someone who is a huge fan of the celebrity, the coercive behaviour going completely undetected by the easily impressed Target.

In the example given, the Target, having had time to reflect,  comes to suspect they may have been coerced in some way, having committed to something they cannot afford and that they otherwise would not have committed to. Impossible to prove, and immediately pigeonholed by the manipulator as buyers remorse, who points out to the Target, they are an adult, they had a choice, thus making the Target responsible or at least complicit in the transaction.

 

Subliminal advertising has been illegal in the UK, America, and Australia since 1958, but has it really ever gone away?

Celebrities have endorsed products through marketing for many years. From Doris Day, Liz Taylor & John Wayne to David Beckham, George Clooney and Keira Knightly.  Mark Twain is reported to have co-branded pens as far back in the early 1900s. Currently, popular celebrities are used on social media, aiming to influence peoples decisions in a much more subtle way.

To give a topical example, I recently followed a Facebook page called David Attenborough Fans. Like many people, I respect and admire Sir David immensely.  I've liked and shared several posts depicting interesting and curious snaps of nature uncovered by the exceptionally talented broadcaster. I've noted however, that twice this week, posts showing a photo of Sir David carry the tagline, 'David Attenborough has received his Covid Vaccine today,  slotted in between the other posts depicting scenes of nature. Is this tagline, which I consider to be none of my business. Is it there because it may be of interest to the fan group to know Sir David is one of millions currently being vaccinated or is there as a subtle attempt to influence decisions regarding an experimental vaccine? Are we being quietly persuaded to follow suit and do the same as someone we respect and admire,  in much the same way as the Target was being covertly persuaded in the previous example given? What is the intention behind it? Are other celebrity photo's carrying this same tagline? if so,  why? Are the posts  intended to calm fears by suggesting this person has had it so its safe for you to have it too. Is this what usually happens when Sir David gets a flu jab let’s say? Is there an update on Facebook letting fans know or is such information normally considered confidential? Whatever the reason, such decisions should not be interfered with in anyway, We are individuals, we each have our own views, beliefs and opinions.  Decisions, whether they concern our health and wellbeing,  the products we buy, the programmes we watch or the food that we eat,  must be left to the individual to decide for themselves without  push or persuasion, true for all situations. As individuals we are each responsible for the decisions we make. We must each live with the consequences of our decisions, and therefore we must each be allowed to reach decisions freely, without covert interference from those who stand to gain.

I'm interested to hear your views on this if you are willing to share.

As human beings we are all equal. Regardless of financial status, job title, background or the stories people tell themselves about how important they imagine they are - we are all equal as human-beings.

As such, every single one of us, regardless of age, have the right to choose freely. Our human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998.

Deliberately withholding information, deliberately employing techniques that are designed to influence a persons thoughts and feelings, with the intention of achieving results that benefit the manipulator, whether the manipulator happens to be an individual, a company, organization or a government, is an infringement of a persons basic human rights.

Choice, free will - this is extremely important, please ensure you exercise your right to choose freely.

You can find more information about the training,  STAND a toolkit for the prevention of Grooming Behaviours, a CPD certified instructor course, by following the link below.

https://apositivestart.org.uk/s-t-a-n-d-for-prevention/


A Fear of Being Heard

Talking out loud

Like many people I know, I have struggled with speaking in public for as long as I can remember. My reluctance to engage not only restricted to public speaking, but public appearances in general, photographs, interviews, anything that requires the promotion of self has been mentally filed under 'best avoided'. If avoidance wasn’t an option, reluctance showed up instead.

Its fair to say the majority of people I meet, don't enjoy speaking in public either. I come from a long line of speech-avoiders, taking comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my plight, I'm 'normal' - or at least 'the same as', which is closer to the mark. I’d love to enjoy it rather than experiencing dread and fear. I've even heard celebrities whose job it is to perform, say that they feel nervous and anxious before a performance, making it acceptable in my mind that not enjoying a thing doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't do it. Worth noting, there is a difference between feeling nervous or anxious, to experiencing fear and dread.

I have long since admired the confident, capable speaker who appear to thoroughly enjoy their skill, it’s no coincidence that they also excel at it. I have encountered a number of excellent enjoyers in my time. Their confidence flows, filling the room with positive energy, mesmerizing the audience who are left hanging on their every word, uplifted, enthused and inspired -and I've often wished I could perform 'just like them'.

With the onset of Covid and the rise of the video call, many of us are likely to have experienced the polar opposite of inspiring talks.  Death by power-point, a less than enjoyable presentation. I am guilty of inflicting a few of these in my time, but then everyone has to start somewhere.  Some of us will have encountered the odd uncomfortable wedding speech or worse still, the seemingly endless, mind-numbing tutorial delivered by someone who clearly wishes they were somewhere else instead. I often fell asleep in history lessons at school, thanks to the hypnotic low level drone of the teacher whose delivery had the same effect on the class as a tsetse fly armed with a tranquilizer gun. No one wants their performance to be recalled brutally years later in a former students blog post. No one wants to be a reluctant or poor public speaker, but in reality, many of us are.

Avoidance

I spent a number of years taking the most frequently travelled route; avoidance, circumnavigating any situation if there was mere a hint of having to stand up and address an audience. Even as a manager, being part of a team of managers meant I found no issue dodging the dreaded limelight that appealed to a number of my more gregarious colleagues, I was comfortable on the periphery.

Eventually, I was forced to confront my fear of public speaking following a change of career.  Thrust on the spot at a conference, I had to accept that avoidance was no longer an option, as my new role required I step up. My first day as a Project Manager - the only manager there,  the super confident CEO,  who no doubt figured my recruiter would have qualified that the title 'Manager, meant it was safe to assume I was reasonably adept at talking out loud. Mid conference, she unexpectedly announced my recent appointment to an audience of around 500 members, swiftly followed by the heart-stopping sentence " Would you like to come on up to the stage to introduce yourself, and tell everyone about the work you'll be doing". What? The voice in my head was screaming in panic "F*&% OFF -  NO, I absolutely would NOT like to come to the stage" (is the clean version of what popped into my head); the familiar sense of dread along with the flush of embarrassment completely consumed me.
"Quickly", she summoned gesturing with her hand for me to join her on the stage. In the meantime, the entire audience turned their heads in one synchronized movement and were now all staring directly at me. Stunned?  like a rabbit caught in headlights. I immediately resented my summoner, blaming her for making me feel so bad. A quick mental scan of my options, I realized my first choice, of dropping down dead on the spot wasn't forthcoming, leaving me nowhere to go but the stage. I considered a Gillian McKeith style floor-flop, but my brain and body were no longer communicating, which meant there was only one thing left to do.

I reluctantly, dragged my body onto the stage with all the enthusiasm of a Victorian convict heading to a public hanging. My heart pumping, palms sweaty and my mind completely blank - shell shocked and feeling awkward. I smirked at the sea of expectant faces with an expression that no doubt told them how delighted I was to be there. My mouth as dry as a stick, I attempted to say something coherent, I can't honestly say whether I achieved it or not, as I  only remember the things I wished I hadn't said. I squirmed my way through it, loathing every single second, impressing no one in the process. For days afterwards, I analyzed my performance, re-playing it in my head. My inner critic, scathing as always 'What did you look like, why did you say that, What on earth were you thinking'. I realized something had to change and that something had to be me. There was no way I could regularly handle the sense of shame and disappointment that consumed me following that performance, I could either quit or move forward. It was touch and go for a while, but moving forward was eventually the decision I made.

I enrolled in a few classes, read some self-help books, studied inspirational speakers. I was determined to improve myself to at least feel a little bit better about having to talk out loud.

Containing the Fear

I've persevered over the years, I have a couple of framed certificates on my office wall suggesting my perseverance paid off. I’ve chaired hundreds of meetings, delivered loads of presentations and workshops both big and small, I've accepted invitations to the odd podcast and the occasional interview - passing myself off as a fairly confident and capable speaker. A vast improvement - outwardly at least. In as much as I learned how to 'blag' my way through. It’s true what they say, you can fake it til you make it - however the feeling inside never changed. I still dreaded it with a passion, and avoided where I could.  I still beat myself up in the aftermath, over analyzing my performance, scolding myself with internal head-talk, "You shouldn't have said that, and You should have said this", never ever happy or comfortable with who I was. I convinced myself it was normal, aligning myself with others who said they felt the same. Logging as "it’s just one of those things we have to do, we hate it,  but we still have to do it."  Which joyful soul came up with that golden nugget of wisdom?

Its something we tend to do as humans, rather than addressing how we feel, or endeavoring to understand why we feel it, we swallow down the emotion, ignore it and just get on with it instead. Stiff upper lip and all that - no wonder we so often struggle. Hoping we'll get used to the feelings of dread and fear that are churning up our insides, by pretending that they're not! That doesn't even sound like a very good plan, but we run with it regardless. Hoping that the dread and fear that we are experiencing on the inside will some how miraculously transform itself into something else to deliver a joyful, inspiring outcome, it doesn't make any sense. We know it, we can reason that ‘what goes in, is what comes out! we just struggle to apply it is all. We conclude that lots of people feel just as bad as we do so that’s okay, then if I'm not alone, it means I'm normal, regardless of how bad I feel. In this day and age of live feeds and social media marketing, the pressure to perform, and perform well has increased dramatically. We convince ourselves, never mind if it makes me feel lousy, everyone experiences the same thing and so that makes it perfectly acceptable. The problem with that is - We are supposed to FEEL good!

Facing the Fear

As I began focusing my attention on my purpose, stating my desires and intentions for the future, invitations for promotion through connections who share my passions, started to increase. Exactly what I was working towards and hoping for. Yet, instead of feeling the joyful excitement and enthusiasm at the opportunity to promote the very thing I wanted the most, I was feeling the worst kind of dread and fear, more than I'd ever felt before. I instinctively knew something wasn't right, It needed my attention, since I understand the importance of always being true to myself.

If I wanted to realize my ambition, I had to address the fear, rather than continuing with what I was doing, which was masking the feelings with a persona I had created to carry me through. Experience has taught me that acting positive on the outside, whilst feeling negative on the inside can never really work.

Its about integrity, truth , honestly and being authentic., everything has to match up. Expressing on the outside what is being experienced on the inside is integrity - and for me, at this stage in my life, nothing less will do.

Understanding the Fear

My first encounter of public speaking was at the age of 9 at primary school. I went to a small, RC primary school and was taught by Sister Winifred who clearly didn't like children very much, she especially didn't like quiet, timid kids like me, I was petrified of her and her red stabby pen. Mass was held every day at lunch time, Sister gave me the task of standing at the alter and reading a prayer out in Church. I was so stressed leading up to it, my insides twisting and turning like a corkscrew roller-coaster,  I fainted before I could finish the first sentence. The school Christmas concert aged 10. I had been learning to play the recorder, and was due to perform in front of all the parents, including my own Mum and Dad. As my classmates prepared to go up on stage, I instead was hugging a toilet, missing the entire performance. At the age of 12, at secondary school,  a carbon copy of my first attempt. Given the task of reading in the school assembly, again, I passed out before I'd finished and had to be carried off the stage. After that, I fainted every single time I went into the assembly hall. It became such a problem that on assembly days, my form tutor Mr. Bond,  would send me directly to the sick bay rather than the assembly hall - essentially cutting himself out as the middle man, fed-up of trying to catch me before I collapsed and hit the ground.

As a teenager I joined the local colliery brass band, playing second cornet. My first remembrance Sunday parade, and much to the disappointment of my parents, proudly watching the parade, I was missing in action.  At the age of 23 my Grandad died, heartbreak and grief ensued. It is usual for me to express my emotions through rhyme, so I’d written a poem, a heartfelt, personal tribute that I intended to read out at his funeral. Even though I was determined to read it, when the time arrived I couldn't. I chickened out at the last minute, passing it to my cousin to read on my behalf. I felt every inch a coward but learned the art of easy avoidance.

Like many people of my generation, who were brought up to believe children should be seen and not heard, a crazy notion passed down through the generations by some grumpy old sod no doubt, I wasn't practiced in voicing my views, so didn't believe I had anything worth saying. Unlike today, kids were not encouraged to vocalize opinions, rather we were actively encouraged not to. Kids who did have a voice were viewed as rowdy reprobates in need of a bloody good hiding. No one wanted a good hiding, bloody or other, especially if it could be avoided.
As a young woman, barely out of my teens, I endured 5 years of domestic violence at the hands of a narcissistic sociopath, being voiceless kept me alive. I lived my life like a ghost, desperate not to have any impact on the world. I knew every piece of gum on the pavement in our village, I was so used to looking down. Neither of these experiences were the root cause of my fear of publicity, but they certainly reinforced the limiting beliefs I held about myself.

The emotions of dread, panic, shame and embarrassment, were first experienced by me at the age of 7, at the hands of a middle-aged primary school teacher. I was the New Girl in a New school, having recently arrived in a foreign country. She called me out to the front of the class and demanded I remove my cardigan to show my new classmates what a 'dirty girl' the 'new girly was. She’d noticed the stains on my dress, and she wasn’t going let me get away with it. The children stared as I stood there, gormless. I felt like such a fool. I was wearing my favourite, sleeveless light blue dress with a brown and beige checked collar that zipped all the way up the front. Over the top of the dress, I wore a thick woolly brown cardigan, which tied around my middle with a matching belt, 70’s couture, considered overdress on the equator.

Annoyed by my stubbornness and failure to remove my cardy, she yanked it from my shoulders, revealing my sponged, food stained dress. The children jeered and pointed, while the teacher shook her head in disgust, clearly very pleased with her discovery at catching the dirty girl out.  She invited Everyone to ‘ look at the dirty girl'.

Rather than just reading the words in this post, Imagine, just for a second if this was you, or your 7 year old child, consider how you’d feel. Put yourself in that position, it feels uncomfortable right?

For me, the humiliation and shame was excruciating. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.  I knew my face was crimson red, because I could feel the burning in my cheeks.  I wanted to cry, to run, to hide, I didn't dare, I just stood there for what seemed like forever, with absolutely nothing to say.

"Why are you wearing that dirty dress?

"Doesn't your Mother clean your clothes"

I felt a sharp stab in my heart, silent tears rolled down my burning cheeks,  I felt protective of my family, and I knew for sure my Mum would be devastated if she knew what was being said.
How dare this awful woman judge us, she didn't know my family, she didn't have a clue. Still, I felt responsible for causing these judgments that were being levelled at us. I'd let my family down by being such a messy eater, having spilled my supper down my dress. The entire class now knew the truth about me and were openly criticizing me and my family.
Where would I go from here?

The truth was, I didn't have any clean clothes, but I wasn’t willing to say that, because I was already ashamed and embarrassed about it.
I didn’t want to hear those words being said aloud, because that would make the situation real.

Unbeknownst to the teacher, the Airplane that was carrying all of our possessions had crashed and everything we owned was lost. All I had were the clothes I was stood up in, clothes I'd been wearing for days. The news of the crash had made my Mum ill, she was in bed for several days suffering with a migraine, she wasn't coping at all well. As the eldest, I was doing what I could, which wasn't very much.  Rather than disturbing my Mum while she was unwell, I'd attempted to clean my own dress by rubbing it with a damp sponge. I was 7, it made sense.

I was there when my Mum was told about the plane crash, I'd seen the look on her face, I'd felt sad seeing her crying on my Dads shoulder. I knew how worried she was, I wasn’t an idiot, it was obvious. Stuck in a foreign country with three young children, no clothes, no personal possessions, everything they had worked for lost. Even at the tender age of 7, it was perfectly understandable  to me why my Mum was ill, it may have been understandable to the teacher if she had taken the time to ask.

Assumption & Criticism

Whatever her issue - which as an adult I understand were hers to own, not mine, the teacher assumed the worst of me and my family. It didn't occur to her to ask why my dress was dirty, because she had assumed to know the reason why and concluded her assumptions were right. In her mind, her assumptions became the facts of the matter, giving herself permission to deal with me however she saw fit.

Her humiliation of me in front of the class, had a huge impact on my ability to make friends, to gain the respect of my peers, to belong in a foreign country, to feel comfortable in my own skin, let alone experience  confidence or happiness when  in front of a crowd.

We interpret the world through our senses, (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) we apply meaning as we process the information.

Our minds often draw on past experience, filling in the blanks as we go. i.e 'The last time this happened I felt, X, Y & Z = file under 'best avoided'. 

Her life may have been structured and organized, with everything working out exactly as it should. For me, that wasn't the case then and hasn’t been on many occasions since. Mine and my families lives, like many peoples lives, were temporarily thrown into chaos - we were doing the best we could with what we had. That’s how life tends to be. I didn’t fit into the teachers idea of how things should be, humiliating was how she thought of dealing with it. Maybe that’s all she knew!

I was so ashamed and fearful of those feelings of vulnerability, that I tried never to think about that experience again. I’d decided to never to put myself in any situation where those feelings might surface. The trouble with avoidance is, the more you try to avoid, the more likely you are to encounter it, which is essentially what kept happening.

Suppressing emotions inside and pretending all’s well on the outside isn't the answer, because there comes a point when the mask of pretense no longer works.  It takes time to process and work it out, but work it out we must.

Life Lessons

We live in a society where we constantly judge and are being judged by others. We compare ourselves to others, compare others to others, and by others we are being compared. We criticize and are criticized, we humiliate and mock, whilst leaving ourselves out of the judging. Very few people know the way out, because few people truly know themselves.

It's impossible to move forward in life unless you are willing to let yourself be vulnerable and face the fear. Being vulnerable is a scary, difficult and often painful place to be. (filed under best avoided) It seems much easier to give up, take cover or mask the pain, rather than run the risk of losing face, being shot down, mocked, rejected, judged or publicly humiliated, which is where our fears are often based, allowing no room for - what if it works out better than expected. What if actually works out!

The only thing to fear is fear itself

We live in a culture where fake it til' you make is considered sound advise and where persona replaces authenticity, preventing us from knowing each other and more importantly, from knowing ourselves.

As humans we make so many assumptions about people rather than communicating authentically. We assume people who have encountered 'similar' experiences to us, understand how we feel and imagine they are more likely to sympathize with us, which simply isn’t true. We take offence when they don't get it, even though we were wrong in assuming they would

We assume people with particular job titles will understand our perspective because we assume its their job to know.

We assume people who know us, who love us or who we believe should care about us, understand how we are feeling and should respond accordingly. We feel hurt and rejected when we realize they don't.

In my experience, assumptions are seldom correct and usually unhelpful.

Communication is all we truly have. If we asked rather than assumed, we’d all be better off.
If we learn to value ourselves and our opinions, rather than accepting other peoples opinions of us, we’d all feel much happier and healthier inside.
when we accept that other peoples opinions of us is really none of our business and understand that they are only assuming to know then treating their assumptions as facts, we’d feel better about ourselves.
Its not our job to try to change other peoples minds about us, It’s our job to mind about ourselves.

Change a mans mind against his will, and he remains of the same mind still! 

We shall overcome

When something is really important to us, when we are passionate about it. faking joy isn't enough. The difference between a speaker who inspires and a speaker who doesn't is Joy. The inspirer loves it. Genuinely enjoying what they are doing, they are passionate about it, and its that passion and joy that comes across - Joy, Love and Passion. The positive energy that flows into the room, is the joy and the passion they feel within them. Go watch an Andre Rieu concert on YouTube - experience the joy he feels.

It's entirely possible to overcome a fear and go on to enjoy it. You really can fake it til' you make it, in as much as - you can act as though you are already in possession of (confidence/happiness/abundance/ insert as required)- as long as you are feeling the relevant emotion on the inside. The Inside emotion has to match the outside experience.

How we feel matters! We are supposed to feel good. Yet we spend a huge part of our lives feeling incredibly bad about stuff and then trying our best not to think about it, or talk about it. Why? Fear!

Fear of what people think? How it might look to others? What people might say about us?  Fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood. It takes strength to confront your fears, and is undoubtedly one of the most liberating experiences you will ever have.

Sharing

I hope you found something useful in this post. If you did, My hope is that it brings you some comfort. If you wish, feel free to share with others who may find some comfort in it too. Talking about how we feel, especially the things that make us feel vulnerable is perfectly okay. Find yourself a safe, compassionate, non- judgmental environment, such as Counselling, for example, where you can explore and process your thoughts and feelings. Understanding our emotions is important for mental wellbeing. Understanding how our assumptions and behaviours impact others is important for the mental wellbeing of all concerned.

Do not hesitate to get in touch if I can be of service.

If you didn't find anything useful, thank you for dropping by, and taking the time to read my post.

I wish you joy, love, peace and passion & I hope you mostly feel good about yourself.


The focus

The person who has hurt me the most....

"Make sure you don't start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who do not value you! Know your worth, even if they don't"! (Thema Davis)

The most important lesson that I have learned on this journey we call life, was in realizing the identity of the person who has caused me the most pain.

Year after year, the very person who should have protected, supported and loved me the most,  has instead doubted, criticized, beat and abandoned me more often than I care to mention.

The realization of just how much damage this individual has caused me, knocked me for six!

I'd spent many hours apportioning blame, before the truth of the matter finally revealed itself to me, and to that person I must now say this:

"I am so very sorry, please forgive me, I love you and I will never let you down ever again"!

That person was me!

It only took for another to question my appearance; "You're not thinking of going out in that are you"? " What have you done to your hair/teeth/face/ etc" and I doubted myself. I checked myself. I scalded myself!

It only took for another to question my beliefs; "You don't believe that do you?" or "You are so easily led", and I doubted myself, I wished I'd kept quiet. I learned to be voiceless!

It only took for another to question my opinions, "Seriously? is that what you think"? "Who cares what you think" or "Your opinion counts for nothing", and I doubted myself, I criticized myself, I betrayed myself!

It only took for another to question my truths; "You read too much into stuff!" or "It wasn't meant like that, you're over-sensitive"! and I doubted myself, I questioned myself, I over-rid myself!

It only took for another to question my ability: "How hard can it be?" "You're supposed to be clever" or "Have you always been an idiot"? and I doubted myselfI beat myself for trying, I learned to give up!

It only took for another to question my integrity: "Why have you done that?",  "I bet this was you" and I doubted myself, I devalued myself! I hated myself!

It only took for another to question my judgement; "that'll teach you" or "you should know better" and I doubted myself, I blamed myself, I abandoned myself.

It only took for another to question any single part of my being, and with all the enthusiasm of a playground bully, I'd find reason to agree,  abandon my corner and support the other team. Often harsh, cruel, and unforgiving, I'd automatically wade in. Harder on myself than any bully could hope to be. Relentlessly beating myself up for hours, sometimes days on end.

Without even realizing it, I was my own worst enemy, my harshest critic and by far my sternest judge.  Unwittingly, I repeatedly knocked my own confidence, doubted my worth and recklessly stomped all over my self esteem. Each time I abandoned myself, I reinforced the negative, self-limiting beliefs, I held about me, while reaffirming the negative, limiting opinions of my critics.

Ironically, there is no way on earth that I could ever stand by and allow another to be criticized, judged, humiliated, doubted, belittled, dismissed, ignored, interrogated, ridiculed, bullied, blamed or beaten in this way. I've walked out of jobs for far less! Yet, here was I, believing the worst of me to be true, seeing myself through the eyes of the joyless!. Never affording myself the same level of concern, compassion or support that I am so keen to provide for others.

"It is never a good idea to take measure of ourselves through the eyes of the joyless" (Noah Jupe)

Its essential to reflect, to keep a check on ones own behaviour and to recognise the impact that our actions have on others. It is important we recognise the weight in the words we use, including the words we use when talking to ourselves.

It's important to treat others the way we wish to be treated, and equally as important to treat ourselves well, with compassion, with love and respect.

Believing in yourself, caring about yourself, standing up for yourself, fighting for what you believe in, knowing and standing by your truth.

Speaking up, Standing up, recognising your views and opinions are is as important and as valid as anyone else's -Self-worth is undoubtedly one of the most valuable lessons we can learn about ourselves.

My wish for you is to learn this lesson well,  learn it early and pass it on! Learn to feel good about yourself, you are supposed to feel good! Seek joy & spread joy.

#LoveYourself #BelieveInYourself #STANDUPForYourself

"A person cannot be comfortable without their own approval" (Mark Twaine)

If you would like support to improve your confidence and increase your self-esteem? Its no coincidence that you have found me! Please Get In Touch


Man wearing black pullover and white and black mask

Falling for a Narcissist. Part 1.

Falling for a Narcissist: A Victim Perspective (Pt. 1)

Introduction

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? (NPD)

NPD is a mental health condition that usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood and is characterized by;

  • Persistent Grandiosity
  • A superior sense of self/Inflated sense of self-importance/ arrogant
  • Abuse of Power & Control/ Impersonally exploitative behaviour
  • A need for Excessive admiration and praise
  • A fragile self-esteem
  • Lack of empathy/ An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs of others
  • Sense of Entitlement/Pretentious and boastful
  • A belief that they are special & unique
  • Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, Ideal love
  • Arrogant & Demanding
  • Reacts negatively/Aggressively to criticism
  • Encounter difficulties in relationships
  • Accept no responsibility for their actions

What are the causes of NPD?

While the causes of NPD are not well known, and the area requires further study, many cases are believed to be due to:

  • Childhood abuse/neglect
  • Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving by parents
  • Unrealistic expectations from parents
  • Excessive parental control
  • Excessive praise for good behaviours in childhood
  • Excessive criticism for bad behaviours in childhood
  • Cultural influences
  • Heritability

How is NPD diagnosed?

In order to qualify as symptomatic of NPD, the individuals manifested personality traits must substantially differ from the cultural norms of society. Identifying the distinctive traits of narcissism is a core element in the diagnostic process. A mental health professional must first rule out all other potential causes for symptoms (other personality disorders, accident/brain injuries, etc.

NPD is rarely the primary reason for someone seeking treatment, due to the nature of the illness, narcissists do not accept that the problems with their behaviour or the difficulties that they encounter in life, is of their own doing. Diagnosis is usually prompted by other difficulties, for example; finding themselves on the wrong side of the law due to being abusive in a relationship, losing their temper or because of substance misuse, etc.

Treatment of NPD

Counselling and psychotherapy, CBT, and transference-focused therapy are often used to treat NPD. There are mixed findings on how successful these treatments are, further study is required. It is reported, however, that psychotherapy for treating NPD has a high drop out rate. Psychiatric medications are not considered effective in treating NPD but may be given to treat co-existing symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.

What signs should I be looking for if I think I am in a relationship with a narcissist?

The biggest sign has to be; Why you are asking this question?

What is motivating you to look for answers?

What emotions are you experiencing and, if you pay attention to these emotions, what are they telling you?

Do you mostly feel good, do you mostly feel bad or are you experiencing confusion.

Healthy relationships don’t tend to move people to ask these questions in the first place, so it is worth asking yourself – “what is happening that has made me question this relationship?” “Am I truly happy with how I feel”? Be honest, given the choice, is this the relationship you would choose? Because whether you know it or now, you do have a choice!

Phase 1. Idealization

If you are in a romantic relationship, initially, it is unlikely there will be any signs – on the contrary, you will have been led to believe you have found the perfect match.

You will feel loved, respected, idolized even.  Your charming, attentive partner appears to be equally besotted with you as you are with them. Everything appears to be wonderful, you feel great – sexy, loved up, like the most important person in their lives!  For all intents and purposes, you appear to have met ‘the one’, your soul-mate – and your new romantic partner will endeavour to reinforce these beliefs, telling you how special you are and how long they have waited to meet someone like you.

Phase 2. Devaluation

Something feels wrong! You may be asking yourself, “What did I do wrong”! As your loving, attentive partner suddenly appears distant and uninterested. You may begin to wonder if there is someone else on the scene – a former partner perhaps. Even if you dare to ask, the narcissistic partner is unlikely to put your mind at ease. Instead, they revel in your misery. And so begins the push-pull of phase 2.

Phase 3. Discard

Easily bored, the narcissist moves on to their next supply as quickly as they arrived – often leaving the victim baffled and confused.

(Falling for a narcissist continues in part 2)

If you have experienced Narcissist abuse and you seeking support, please get in touch.

If you are interested in supporting others and raising awareness of behaviours that lead to Manipulation, Exploitation, Abuse and Coercive Control, check out my CPD certified online training course;

STAND, a toolkit for the prevention of Grooming Behaviours.