people are falling off the planet

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Walk any city in the evening and you will see people in shop doorways settling for the night. Huddling, or lying prostrate. Walk any side street or back alley and the stench of stale urine will rise to greet your nostrils.

Travel early in those cities and you will see, wrapped in sleeping bag cocoons or under piles of cardboard, those not yet risen. Some you will see with large bags or shopping trolleys to transport their worldly belongings. The lucky ones may have been left a coffee by a passer by or by a charitable agency.

Walk any city during the day and you will see an array of cardboard notices outlining each individual’s plight; some held, some lying by cap or cloth on the pavement. Or you will encounter those seeking some loose change or perhaps a spare cigarette.

This seems to me to be getting worse. More people with less. More living at the edge of humanity.

Yet, for the most part, we walk by. Perhaps increasing our pace or looking away to avoid eye contact. Maybe it’s shame? Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s security? Or maybe we simply can’t face what is happening around us?

What has gone wrong?

 

 

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the power over us that is evil hair

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We have a strange relationship with hair.

We coif it. We clean it. We condition it. We cut it and shave it. We brush and comb it. We put things in it to hold shape and create effect. We run our fingers through it. We twiddle it. We caress our face and lips with it. We examine its ends. We scratch it. We spend a fortune styling it. We protect it from the rain. We comment on other people’s.

Yet, find one in the bath at a friends, or on the bathroom floor at a bed and breakfast; find one in the bed at a hotel – especially a short curly one; get a strange long one caught in your toes … and we go mental.

Yuk. Human hair!

What do we imagine? What horrors are in our thoughts? What deadly harm might arise from this strand of humanity?

Funny. But real.

 

the bear, the raccoon, the duvet and the rustle

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Crisps, some hard boiled ‘sucky’ sweets for the journey. A packet of biscuits, half eaten; mini cookies actually (very nice). Some chocolate; bite size for quick application whilst driving. These were the contents I could recall were in the bag.

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

That stage between sleep and wakefulness is a curious one.

I’m in a cabin in the woods. It’s the early hours of the morning. I lie still and listen.

There’s something in the kitchen of our cabin. It sounds like it’s working its way through these contents? Delicately but confidently. An animal picking through our carrier bag with food.

I lie as still as I can. What to do? Make a noise? Scare it away? What if it’s an unscarable animal? Are there such creatures? At 4am, or whatever, there most certainly are! I do the brave, manly thing and ease the duvet closer to my chin. It’s a well known fact bears don’t like their food duvet wrapped.

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

My imagination runs riot. I could take on a squirrel, I thought. But then, what if I freak it out? I’ve been in a room with a spooked bird before and it’s frantic. What does a squirrel do when it’s scared?

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

How big is a raccoon? They have them hereabouts I think? Are they quick? I’ve never seen one up close and panicked.

I can hear my breathing and the rustle. Nothing else.

It stops.

I listen intently for the animal making it’s means of escape. But nothing. I’m hoping for a clue as to the egress point. But nothing. I listen more. But nothing.

My alarm goes off. 7:15. I awake.

Our bag is how we left it. No crumbs on the floor. No torn packets. No animal droppings.

It wasn’t a dream, but… there are leaves on the ground outside my cabin window I notice. The window between me and the kitchen.

Imagination is wonderful isn’t it? At 7:30 am it is anyhow. Less so at fourish.

a fear of focusing on the negative

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We have many words to describe fears. In fact there may well be a word for every fear or phobia. Why is that?

True, many of the names fears and phobias are a little more esoteric. Not in most people’s vocabulary. For example…
Athazagoraphobia – fear of being forgotton or ignored
Chionophobia – fear of snow
Alektorophobia – fear of chickens
Geniophobia – fear of chins
Sesquipedalophobia – fear of long words (ironically)

However there are common examples we are all familiar with; such things as…
Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces
Xenophobia – fear of foreigners
Technophobia – fear of technology
Claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces
Arachnophobia – fear of spiders

Technically we could replace phobia with philia (Greek origin) and turn these into loves or addictions, but we don’t have these in our daily lexicon. How many -philias do you know or use?

Why such rich language for negatives when we don’t have the same plethora of words to describe the love of something?

What does this say about our societal focus on the bad or negative, and how does this impact our human psyche?

That worries me.

the hidden art of hiding

hiding dyslexia
In recent months I have spoken to a number of people with dyslexia.

One common aspect of our conversations has intrigued me. The tension that is created between a need for some support, balanced with a desire not to be marked out as different. I want some help, but I don’t want to be seen to want help.

Those I have spoken to have talked of their shame. A sense that in some way they are inadequate. Unable to do things that others find straightforward. Many hide their dyslexia for this reason. Preferring to find their own coping mechanisms. Choosing roles and work where the challenges arising from their dyslexia aren’t exposed.

Whilst my dyslexic confidants have shared their fear of judgement, their desire to hide their ‘condition’, they have also shared heart wrenching stories of the efforts required to cope. To stay afloat. Many are desperate for some simple supports.

The reality here of course is that these dyslexic individuals have other strengths, other capabilities which are more developed and stronger than their non-dyslexic colleagues. Just as with any human being, we are all different. All unique.

We all hide too.

Sometimes we hide a part of ourselves from those around us. Often we hide a part of ourselves from ourselves. Yet we think that the hiding is hidden.

Honesty and truth seldom bring blame, judgement, criticism. When they do, it is those criticising, judging, blaming who are the individuals who are really hiding. Hiding behind judgement, criticism and blame.

We need to come out of the shadows.
To learn to be, in all our unique glory.
To stop hiding.

image by: Sally Green

 

the search for connection and the fear of rejection

connection
A core human need is for connection. Connection to others.  We seek it in many ways.  Soul mates, lovers, friends, family, community …

Another dimension to connection is belonging. We seek to belong, to groups of ‘like-minded’ people, to social groups, ethnic and religious groups, groups of nationality, to teams at work, family and friend groups, communities based around our hobbies and pastimes as well as those where we live. I’m seeking connection in writing this.

Sometimes connection and belonging needs can be met by something as simple as acknowledgement by another. Acknowledgement that we exist. A look, a smile. This affirms our connection to the human race. To be acknowledged by another human being is very precious.

Yet there is a dark side to this search for connection and belonging.  Fear.

Psychologists tell us that fear is adaptive. That it helps us survive. I’ve heard it said we are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud startling sounds – both in service of our survival. I don’t know if that is true.

I have seen fear though.  I have felt it myself.

The fear I see often in my work as a coach and working with the organisational system is the fear of NOT belonging. The dark side of the need for connection and belonging.

This fear stops us speaking up in that meeting for fear of being judged, for fear of being wrong. It stops us talking about our confidence dip or the worries on our mind, for fear of being judged by our boss or our peers. It stops us being who we are, because we’re a little different, unique, special; but that very uniqueness, that ‘not like others’, means we might be rejected. Rejected from the community. So we seek to conform. Because we believe conformity brings connection.

Yet.  Here’s the thing …

When someone you know, tells you their deepest concern, shows their true vulnerability, turns up as their authentic self, how often do you see pure courage?  How often do you reach out and offer support?

Show yourself some compassion and tell your story.  Share your fear. Be who you are. You might find it liberating. You might find it brings you real connection and a stronger sense of belonging than you’ve ever felt.