Treat the disease.

I’ve been thinking about people’s questions I haven’t got an answer for, and those Captain Awkward letters about creepy guys.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that some questions can’t get “good answers” because the questions are part of the problem. The questions reveal a mental attitude that is one of the underlying contributing causes of the problem. They aren’t questions that, if you answer them straight up and directly, will take you to a solution of the problem. The answers need to go a lot deeper, because that’s where the underlying cause of the problem is.

For instance, take some of those questions creeps or even a near-rapists in people’s social groups. Women (in the examples given) are being victimised or at least terrorised by known perverts; they go for help to the males in their tribe; they get no help whatsoever; so they feel even more victimised, and betrayed to boot. The “right answer” to that issue depends very much on which aspect of the problem we’re trying to solve. Are we looking on who’s to blame for the misbehaviours? Or who’s to blame for creating and maintaining the environments that facilitate those misbehaviours?

I look at the situations and how they are being framed by the women talking about them, and I’m struck by something else entirely: their lack of assumed power. Not only they don’t feel they have any power to control the behaviour of the creeps, their enemies, but they don’t even feel they have any power to affect the behaviour of their friends. Women are asking their friends or even partners to please stop forcing them to interact with potentially dangerous people… They’re asking for that, as if it was an optional extra, a boon someone may or may not grant you, rather than an essential part of any functional, healthy relationship. And they’re coming up with nothing, and they’re floundering.

Nowhere in this I see them make a stand. I don’t see them enforcing or often even having boundaries – which doesn’t mean that I think that “it’s their fault”. This has nothing to do with blame. It means that I think that their issue runs a hell of a lot deeper than the immediate creep-related problems they’re looking at, and the only answers that are really going to make these problems go away for good will have to be looking a lot deeper, too. And the practical solutions are likely to seriously upset their respective apple carts, because their entire social situation is predicated on a powerlessness that, if they ever get shot of it, will require either everyone around them to make some major adaptations or be gotten rid of. That’s unlikely to be a smooth ride.

Questions about imposed, limiting personal narratives are another example. The immediate issue is “how do you get rid of these narratives”, and that’s a relatively simple question to answer. It’s not easy work, but it’s simple. But then there’s often corollary issues, like “What do you replace these narratives with?” “How do you know who you really are?” “Where do you get validation from?” And those are infinitely deeper questions, because they suggest that the person asking it believes that they need a narrative and/or some kind of official validation in order to be worthy. That’s a problem on a whole new scale, and I personally don’t have a good answer to it. Not yet, anyway.

People are frustrated by their immediate issues, and may not have the time or energy or inclination to deconstruct and reconstruct their lives in order to find a solution. But unless the deeper problems are addressed, every other solution’s going to be little more than wallpapering over cracks.

 

 

 

 

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Wrong order.

Comments from my last blog:

“I was 24 when I needed to meet and stay in contact with someone like a hole in the head. I was taking karate at the time. It wasn’t an invisible force field…

Until I met you guys, I didn’t really know that there’s a difference between learning to fight and learning how to fight, and that you don’t want to do them in the wrong order. Like… the nasty, daily struggle where you’re forced to project, “Not today,” and “I’m not the one,” to people who seem to think the contrary.

It seems like if you don’t deem self-worthy of self-defence, but train anyway, you’re using it as a shield to convince yourself you can take care of yourself, but you’re only fooling yourself, because everyone else can see through it. In martial arts, you may manage to climb a couple of ranks because, you, like everyone else, can manage to memorize movements and terminology.

So that’s what made me think, if some of us can’t stand up to people, like you were saying, telemarketers, etc., in daily social situations, if you don’t protect yourself emotionally/psychologically when there’s minimal threat, not sure if it’ll happen in bigger things. It didn’t with me…”

 

There’s a difference between learning to fight and learning how to fight, and you don’t want to do them in the wrong order.

 

A few years back, I found the Brave Girls Club and signed up to their Soul Restoration programme. It involves making art projects with hearts and flowers and butterflies and stuff. On the surface, it didn’t precisely look like my usual kind of thing, but I felt drawn to it so I thought I’d give it a go.

It didn’t take me very long to realise that I was wrong, and my instincts were right. I wasn’t doing anything new, though I was doing it from an entirely different angle. The programme was all about self-defence. Learning to establish and maintain boundaries. Learning to say no. Learning to shield yourself from the everyday affronts, exploitations, and abuses that are often considered petty by those who know how to defend themselves from them… but are anything but for those people who still need to develop those skills, or who do not feel they have the right to self-protect.

There was a participants’ forum. I ran away from it in horror within days. The level of openness, honestly, and vulnerability most participants engaged in (in a place full of strangers!) gave me the heebie jeebies. A significant proportion of the women there were return participants keen to say that the programme hadn’t failed them – they’d failed the programme. They had not managed to finish the course in the past because they felt guilty for taking that time away from the needs of others, even though they were badly in need themselves, or because someone in their lives had stopped them. But they loved it so much that they wanted to try again, and again, and again…

The stories they told were haunting, although they didn’t involve blood and gore. They spoke of a level of self-worthlessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness that I really didn’t want to know about. They spoke of established patterns of interpersonal relationships based entirely on parasitism and/or predation, and maintained through the deliberate diminishing of the person who was, ultimately, doing all the damn work. And yes, some of them spoke of straightforward abuse.

All of these women needed to learn to defend themselves, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. And most of them would never have walked into a dojo, and the few that might would probably not have stuck with it, and any who did would probably have ended up lying to themselves about what they were actually achieving. Because there’s a difference between learning how to fight and learning to fight, and you don’t want to do them in the wrong order.

It’s not about Tony.

Imagine you own a restaurant, and things are going well. One day a man called Tony walks in, looks around, compliments your set-up, and then tells you that it’d be a damn shame if something terrible was to happen to it. Like yannow, a fire, or an explosion. Luckily he’s got friends who can help you make sure that nothing like that ever happens to you. Oh, there’ll be a modest fee, but it’s totally worth it for your peace of mind. And by the way, he just happened to see your children going to school, and they look like lovely kids.

It’s you and all your employees with all your combined ninja skillz against one dude. Kitchen knives are sharp and skillets are heavy. You could throw Tony out the door. You could even throw Tony at the wall so hard that he will make his own door on the way through. However, if you do, there will be a cost, because you’re not really just dealing with Tony. You’re dealing with Tony and all his friends and all their arsenal. Tony on his own may not be very powerful, but he is the representative of a much greater force. He can bring down a veritable river of retribution upon you and yours. So, although not all the force is present in your initial confrontation, it pays to bear in mind that it’s there, and it’s significant, before deciding how to respond.

This doesn’t just work for bad people operating at the fringe of society. Much the same applies when you’re dealing with law enforcement officers. You can run away from or even fight off a cop now, but that will mean having to deal with the entire police force later.

These are not unusual situation; they are extreme representations of a very normal aspect of the human condition. Most of us don’t stand alone, unless we make it so. If you go against the member of a family, you may find yourself dealing with the whole family. (Whether this means people tutting at you at the country club or getting down to some serious feudin’ and fightin’ will depend on your circumstances.) If you go against a gang member, you may find yourself dealing with the whole gang. If you go against an employee within an organisation, you may find yourself having problems with the entire organisation.

I find it hard to understand how some people find this hard to understand. Yet many people do; and not only this stops them using it to their advantage, but it makes it impossible for them to understand how it may impact other people self-defence decisions. This seems to be particularly significant when they are looking at situations where the aggressor was physically weaker than the attacker.

So you get people absolutely convinced that a woman can’t harass or, god forbid, sexually assault a man, because the man is “obviously” physically stronger. How could a man be intimidated or coerced by a member of the weaker sex? What’s wrong with him?

No consideration is paid to whether that particular woman has the tribal power to have that particular man stomped into the dirt. No consideration is paid to whether she has the social power to turn the tables on him and have him p̶e̶r̶s̶e̶c̶u̶t̶e̶d̶ prosecuted as the attacker. No consideration is paid to their respective social status; the current narrative doesn’t encompass the possibility of a higher-status woman using this fact to exploit or abuse a man. No consideration is paid to the fact that, ultimately, the only power any of us really has is the power they’re both able and willing to yield. If I’m willing to stab you  in the eye and you’re not willing to injure me even to fight me off, the odds are in my favour. And that’s not just about people being saint-like pacifists or pathetic weaklings; this can be simply the result of the fear that the powers that be will side with me because I’m a poor fragile petal.

Even though as a society we’ve worked very hard to ensure that most of our conflicts are not physical, we still often evaluate the balance of power in a given situation as if only the immediately present physical force counted. We discount all other factors, even though they’re the same factors we use to resolve most of our conflicts most of the time. I don’t get it.

 

 

What helps with self-defence?

Kasey just wrote a blog that I’m not going to summarise here, because I want people to read it.

The ideas he’s talking about have been floating around my head a lot since I managed to spend a week in Scotland following Rory Miller while he was teaching self-defence and Conflict Communications at various levels. Many of the students I met up there were very much unlike the people I normally hang out with. I’m used to being the smallest, weakest, most broken, and least physically skilled. Most people I know and love could dispatch me bare-handed without breaking a sweat. I’m perfectly cool with that because I know that they would only do so if I forced them to. They’re the Good Guys, not because they have to be due to lack of opportunities or skills to be bad, but because they choose to be. I find that immensely comfortable, because I’d rather rely on people’s moral strength than on their physical weakness.

What I forget is that it’s not normal – and I’m talking from a statistical point of view.

Most people are not in that position – mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. And the people who are furthest away from that position are often those who need to pick up self-defence skills the most.

The problems start when third parties start determining what those self-defence skills should be. Because when you live in a society of happy, balanced carnivores, it’s easy to forget that most people aren’t like that. It’s easy to forget that what some people need has nothing to do with what we think is effective. Some people may simply not be ready for our kind of effective. They might be starting in a completely different place, and they will need to work towards our ideal of training. Some of the skills they might need to work at to get there may look like a total joke to us, but they’re absolutely not a joke to those who don’t have them.

For someone who is completely paralysed by the thought of touching another person, let alone roughly handling them, BJJ may help with self-defence, regardless of what Royce Gracie thinks. For someone who was raised not to say “no”, ever, learning to put the phone down on telemarketers may help with self-defence. For someone who has the posture of a wilted flower, tango can help with self-defence, because it makes you stand up straight. And none of this is “effective self-defence” on its own, but all of it can be a step towards that goal. And if you don’t take that step – if you don’t take each step you need to take, however insignificant it may look to third parties –  you may never be able to move. 

One of the ladies I worked with in Scotland was about half my age, several inches taller than me, and learnt to drop step the first time she tried it. (Damn thing took me a year to pick up, so yeah, I was impressed and a fair bit jealous.) For one of the drills, she managed to get herself out of an 8-people pileup in a corner so quickly I couldn’t even see it. But then we got to practising boundary settings, and all she needed to do was say “stop” to me as I was walking towards her… and she just couldn’t. She scrunched up tighter and tighter and kept apologising and walking backwards. The woman could stomp on me and I’m confident I’d stay stomped, but she couldn’t muster words and posture to stop me advancing on her, in a completely safe place.

And if I tell most self-defence expert that learning to say a vigorous “no” to a middle-aged borderline-midget spinal injury sufferer is an important self-defence skill, they’ll laugh in my face. But if you don’t have that skill, that may be the skill you need to work at.

I understand what self-defence experts are trying to do by discrediting products they think are inferior. It’s important that we teach susceptible customers that these products are not effective self-defence tools on their own, because relying on them could get someone killed. But at the same time it would be nice if they could be acknowledged for what they do achieve. That may help encourage people to take a step, however small, in what is ultimately the right direction.

 

 

 

The secrets of your failure.

I don’t give relationship advice. It’s not that I don’t care, or that it’s beneath me. It’s just that if you want to replicate my relationship history, all you have to do is take a choo choo train and cram it with hippos. Then crash the train down a hillside, and slaughter all the survivors with a chainsaw. Setting fire to the remains is optional.

I don’t give relationship advice because I’ve been demonstrably unable to get into and maintain a functional, healthy, happy relationship. I know there are celibate priests running marriage counselling sessions, but at least they’re following official guidelines. I’ve only got the contents of my head to pass around, and they’re clearly not useful in this setting. It’s true that I can talk to people about a zillion ways to do things wrong… but I can’t tell them how to do anything right. If I knew, I’d be out there doing it.

Yet people ask me questions on this theme relatively frequently, and when I explain why I can’t help them they are even more insistent that I can and should because “I can understand the problem.” And yes, maybe I can. I can understand all kinds of problems. But if I don’t have the knowledge and skills to solve them, what good does it do?

Meanwhile, in another corner of the interwebz, a young friend of mine has just successfully kicked her social anxiety in the teeth. She kicked it so hard it’s gonna stay kicked. Her original prospects weren’t good. She could easily have become a recluse in her parents’ house; but she didn’t. She set her eyes on a goal and fought like hell towards it, regardless of how scary and hopeless and just plain awful it all felt. She’s a “ten years overnight success story,” because she worked long and hard to get where she is and for the longest time it didn’t look like she was making much progress. From the outside, her progress looked very much like “crawl, crawl, crawl, crawl,walk, walk, runJUMP!” It’s beautiful to see.

She’s still working at various bits and bobs, but her head is firmly above the water now. Everything is becoming exponentially easier. She’s doing so good, and she’s feeling so great, and she’d like to turn back to the people she met when she wasn’t doing well at all and who are still suffering. She’d like to tell them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. She’d like to tell them that the work is hard and often feels hopeless, but the more you push, the lighter the load gets. She’d like to give hope, if not practical advice – although she could give some of that, too, if only people were willing to listen. But what she’s finding is that they’re not.

The fact that she solved her problem is considered a sign that she never had it, or that she didn’t have it “bad enough.” She can’t possibly understand the problem because she’s overcome it. All of her experience is being discounted precisely because it worked.

All of this baffles me. I can’t imagine that humanity always functioned thusly. “Hi, fellow Paleolithic human! You appear to be grossly ineffectual at hunting, same as me! Please, would you be so kind as to share the secrets of your failure?” “Hey, it looks like your triangular wheel doesn’t work very well. My square one is useless, too! That jerk over there, with his round wheel…. he just doesn’t get it, d00d.” Seriously, there’s no way we got to where we are as a species by taking advice from turkeys. So what the hell happened, and why? How did we get to a place where we’d rather listen to other failures than imitate success?

 

 

Voices.

A couple of people have asked what do you do about the voices in your head, particularly the inner critic. Thus far, there have been two kinds of question.

The first and most common one is “how do you make it go away?” There’s a fair bit of info out there about various methods to erode/dismantle/gag the inner critic. A very common piece of advice is to be on the lookout for when it starts to have a go at you, and argue back at it. The critic tells you that you’re a piece of crap, and you (metaphorically) yell back that no, you’re not. Don’t take it lying down. Tell the critic what’s what!

That, for me, didn’t work. It turns out that even the imposed imaginary constructs in my head are precisely as stubborn as I am. Arguing back and forth just made the inside of my brain VERY LOUD. Not saying that the method per se can’t work, just that it didn’t work for me.

What worked for me was a kind of meditation Marc MacYoung taught me. The idea is to run your brain as a kind of debating club. One of the voices grabs the “talking stick”, and they have the right to say their piece, all the way to the end. No interrupting. No arguing. No running away from it, even if it hurts. Once they have finished, though, they have to shut up and let another voice talk. Same rules apply.

As an uber-nerd, I found it all too easy to visualise this: a variety of creatures, some monstrous and rather badly behaved, arguing about the whys and wherefores of what we should be doing? That’s practically every book I love. It turns out that the more opportunity you give the nasty voices to say all they’ve got to say, the less sense they make. They’re often doing little more than repeating vile stuff on a short loop, often badly out of synch with reality, or just so extremely negative to the point of being obviously stupid. It makes them very easy to dismiss. [“Oh, so I’m a ‘waste of space’ who ‘everyone hates’ and the only hope for me is to ‘not have been born’? Charming. Can we have this discussion later on, when I’m not busy hanging out with my incredibly cool friends and having tons of fun? Much  obliged. I’ll call you. Not.”] They’re even less able to answer questions like “why?” and “what is your ultimate goal?” in a rational fashion. When they do make sense, their advice, however vitriolic, can be actually used to make good changes. Or not. Whatever takes your fancy; it’s your brain and your life, after all. No brain parrot has the right to dictate to you.

That worked for me, anyhoo. Being a coward helped, because if you tell me that there’s something scary I move towards it; I’m not brave enough to just let it be. I’ll have no monsters under the bed or in my head, thank you. It took about a year and it wasn’t precisely pleasant, but it worked.

The other kind of question was asked by Mary (hi, Mary!). I really love Mary’s questions because they tend to highlight when I’m either not making any sense to anyone who’s not in my head (writing is a solitary occupation and can result in rectocranial inversion, or at least a tendency to talk to one’s navel), or giant blind spots.

“Why is it so freakin hard to shed the effects of the perceptions that people had of us when we were kids? Who do we become when we shed them? Is there anyone to confirm who/what we are?”

This one, for me, is a blind spot. I’ve never thought about it because I’ve never thought about it. Thinking about it now, I guess that for me the proof of who I am is in what I do, but mostly I don’t feel I have to prove anything at all. I’m not sure who I’d be proving it to. But how you take that leap, from knowing who you are because you’ve been routinely told to not knowing it anymore and being comfortable with that, that I don’t know. Maybe the leap comes first, and all the problems disappear as a consequence. Or not.

 

Fear.

I remember about a million years ago, playing at the beach. The wind was up and there were the most enormous (for an Italian 10 yr old) waves ever. Along with about a gazillion other kids, I was hanging around in the shallows waiting for the big waves to pick us up and toss us about. We all had some kind of floating device and the waves were only going to take us back to the beach just behind us anyway, so we were pretty damn safe, but it still felt epic. Much screaming was involved. We were having a ball.

My mum decided to come in, too. I don’t really know what possessed her, because a. she’s never been the playful sort and b. she can’t swim. Still, she had her floater, same as us. All she needed to do was hang on to her floater and go with it. What could go wrong, hey?

This massive wave came crashing down towards us, and what my mum did was put her feet down on the ground, drop her floater, raise her arms to the sky, and scream. So when the wave hit her, instead of being lifted up she got a mouthful of water and got knocked over backwards. I’m honestly not sure if she’d have made it if I’d not picked her out of the water by her hair. All she needed to do was stand up, given that the water she was in was less than a meter deep, but I don’t know if at that point she had it in her.

It was a silly, fun, relatively safe game to play… provided you didn’t chicken out halfway through. You had to play or not play. Fear only got in the way. Fear made you do stupid things, which made the bad things you were afraid of come true.

I find it all to easy to forget about the significance of fear. Fear has never served me, so I’ve learnt all to well to turn it into something that could: anger, energy, action, anything but fear feeding fear. It is a form of bluffing, I guess, but it’s mostly worked for me. You do it often enough and it becomes your go-to mechanism. The people I hang around with don’t tend to be fearful, either. I like to think that it’s because they’re resourceful so nothing much fazes them, but maybe they’ve learnt to convert their fears, too. Maybe we’re all bluffing together, but we do it so well that it works. It seriously makes a lot of problems not come up.

Hanging out with new people who are starting on their journey towards self-defence, it became frustratingly obvious how much their fear is reinforcing or even creating problems for them. They’re too scared that their “nos” may upset or anger someone, so they keep them inside, hoping people will guess at them, or they stutter them as if they were begging for them to be respected. They’re too frightened to set firm and clear boundaries, so their boundaries get trampled. They are so afraid of things not working that they can’t make anything work for them. Their fear is so plain and so easily accessed that it’s got to be blood in the water for predators out there, which actually makes their world scarier than mine.

I don’t have an answer to this. I don’t know how to fix it. Telling someone who is scared that all they need to do is stop being scared seems not unlike telling someone who is poor that all they need to do is get some money. The solution to the problem is not to have the problem? Cheers! That’s oh-so-very helpful!

You can try and reason them towards that direction, but it seems to me that ultimately what it takes is an act of faith: to give up the fear before they actually have proof that there’s nothing to be afraid of unless they’re scared. And demanding acts of faiths is a bit above my pay grade… The other options would be modelling: a metric fuckton of demonstrating to them that there’s another way of going through life. And even if the opportunity to do that was there, which isn’t the case when you’re interacting with people for a handful of hours, I’m not entirely sure that it wouldn’t all end up looking like a magic trick; something that “we” can do because of some mysterious quality we possess, rather than as a result of constant, conscious practice.

 

What if.

I’ve been trying to write an article about Cock Roaches – small-time creeps who get their little pervy kicks by doing stuff that never escalates to a reportable level.

Note: This kind of behaviour works in all possible gender combinations, but I have only experienced as men vs. women, so I’m going to look at that side of things. This is not me suggesting that women can’t be creeps, or that men don’t creep on men. This is me saying that I can only talk with any degree of confidence about what I know and what people talk to me about.

This sort tends to do just enough to make women deeply uncomfortable, but never push it to a level that gives us anything to work with. As tactics go, it’s brilliant: maximum benefit from minimum effort, and zero risk. Yes, it’s weaselly and despicable and frankly repugnant, but it works. For that precise reason, it’s also ubiquitous.

One of the routine complaints about this type of creep is that the men don’t do anything about them. The womenfolk go to them with a list of issues, sometimes escalating, and in return they usually get zip. Nada. Tiddlypom. Not only the men don’t go all all blood-thirsty berserker at the creeps, in fact, but they often tend to try and sweep the behaviour under the carpet. For some frankly repulsive real-life examples, check this thread. Yes, there are exceptions, but this is all too often how it goes.

This is often hailed as an example of Rape Culture – men enabling men to objectify and creep on women. I wonder if the problem isn’t somewhat simpler, though, and half as ominous though twice as depressing.

What if the ability to deal with creeps wasn’t a genetic gift? What if it didn’t reside on the Y chromosome? What if guys found it difficult to deal with this type of situation precisely for the same reason women do – because they lack the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence? What if they felt as powerless as we do to deal with this kind of underhanded, weaselly strategy? What if they were as concerned as we are about making a bad call and unnecessarily hurting someone’s feelings, and/or about being socially shamed for their actions, and/or about possible escalations or retaliations? What if they were just as scared as we are, ultimately, just not as comfortable admitting it to themselves, to the world, and particularly to the women who are asking them to step up and do their Gallant Knight thing? What if it was harder for them, in a way, because of society’s expectation that they should naturally know how to fix this shit?

I’m not saying Rape Society is or isn’t a factor, in this or any other situation. I’m purely saying that expecting someone to be able to deal with a situation I can’t deal with just because he’s got manly bits seems a bit disingenuous, unless the situation can be resolved by waving a penis at it.

“It wasn’t that bad.”

One of the least fun games anyone can play with some children of wonky families is the “why it wasn’t neglect/abuse” game. The rules are very simple: you point out that a memory/event/behaviour/statement from their childhood is less than ticketyboo, and they bend over backwards to justify why that absolutely wasn’t abuse.

  • “It wasn’t abuse because then didn’t hit me.”
  • “It wasn’t abuse, because they only hit me with their bare hands.”
  • “It wasn’t abuse, because they only hit me when I needed it.”
  • “It wasn’t abuse, because they made up for it afterwards.”

Whatever happened, it wasn’t that bad because something badder could have happened, and possibly did to some poor kid down the road.

You can go on and on watching people who are consciously struggling to deal with the scars of their childhood traumas tie themselves up in knots trying to justify why the cause of their problems is invalid. It’s like a solitary game of Brain Twister. My favourite one to date is “yes he broke my arm and my nose but he was just being a good parent trying to make me go to school,” although “my family wasn’t that bad; nobody bothered the kids until they’d started puberty” is a close runner-up. Apparently, as long as someone out there is going through anything worse, all personal experiences, however gruelling, are completely insignificant.

I completely appreciate the fact that spending formative years surrounded by adults who normalise their own far-from-normal behaviours is bound to rub off on people. I also appreciate that some people do not like to give certain experiences even greater power by allowing them to be labelled so starkly. However, from a recovery point of view, denial that the situation was absofuckinglutely not ok by any stretch of the imagination doesn’t seem a particularly helpful position either. Yeh canna fix the problems you refuse to admit exist.

Past experience suggests thus far that arguing the toss about this sort of thing is about as useful as smacking your head with a brick, but infinitely less well-received. I’ve now come up with two possible alternatives to help people reframe their childhoods in a way that lets them see how it wasn’t “not that bad”:

  1. Ask them to work out what the unspoken rules and protocols of their household were. What kind of children would they have to have been to appease the Parents-Gods? What kind of behaviour generated praise or punishment? Was there consistency? Were they allowed to be happy and/or sad? Did they feel safe? If they were “fundamentally guilty” of something, what was it, and how could they have put it right? What kind of adult were they supposed to grow into?
  2. Ask them if they’ve considered any form of inner child work.

Hint: if the mere possibility of trying to work out the basic dynamics of your childhood or revisiting how it made you feel fills you with horror, that’s what we call a SIGN. Although terrible things may happen in childhood (accidents, illnesses, wars, interpersonal violence, etc.), childhood overall and the memories thereof are not supposed to be dominated by fear, helplessness, and horror. If you think they are, you might be confusing “childhood” (or “family”) and “PTSD.”