How Do We Protect Ourselves? 

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A few days ago, while gazing lazily at our tropical fish tank, I noticed our crab (Named Princess Pinchy – Daughter, Mr Crab – Son) was not moving. Sadness gripped me as I thought “he/she has finally died, not another one!”. Our Thai Red Crab has been our favourite pet. As I reached into the tank to begin the funeral proceedings I noticed a dark shadow in the adjacent shell. On closer inspection, it had legs…he/she was alive! Princess Pinchy/Mr Crab was not dead but had shed an old out dated shell and went for a more modern, contemporary outer skin!! I should know this!

That got me thinking…

Like crabs, we have all developed an outer shell. Throughout our lives we are exposed to difficulties and hurtful experiences. We don’t like the feelings they trigger. We make unconscious decisions regarding how to prevent that from happening again or reduce its impact. We develop ways of coping, such as pushing the feelings away, telling ourselves “i don’t care, that didn’t hurt” when in fact it was agonizing. We also start to develop a ‘front’, a way of being that others see and respond to, “hopefully, if I act like this they wont hurt me/they will like me more”. Like a crab trying to protect a fragile core, we create this protective armour.

Is that the right way to live? push our feelings away, or pretend to be something we’re not?

I am not suggesting that we rid ourselves of our armoured shells, after all they are there for a very good reason. But like Mr Crab/Pinchy, maybe we should shed our shells once in a while and replace it with something less armoured, more approachable, more ‘me’. Why don’t we look at ourselves and ask “Do I need to be so defended? Those bad days are gone, why do I still feel/think/act this way, is it still needed?

Lets slowly get back to the real me/you. After all, Mr Crab/Princess Pinchy’s new self is so much more appealing!

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