February 1

Prevention is Easier

February 1, 2016

Personal Growth

I was playing with my grandchildren: Sylvie, age 5; Bruce, 4; and Bonnie, 1. Sylvie asked me to watch her do tricks on the trampoline in their playroom. The trampoline has an ingenious mesh wall that keeps kids from falling onto the floor, with a door that can be sealed with a zipper.

I agreed to her request—who could refuse?—but before she could get to the trampoline, both Bruce and Bonnie had slithered through the door and began to bounce around. Sylvie was disappointed that now she couldn’t demonstrate her skills, so she asked her siblings to get out. Ask a four-year-old and one-year-old to stop playing so you can take their toy and use it yourself? Fat chance.

So Sylvie wrinkled her brow as she thought about what to do. This is where grandfathers come in. “Why don’t you come over here,” I said, “and we’ll read a book until they get out on their own. Before long they’ll get tired and will come out. And then you’ll see that it’s much easier to KEEP them out than it would be to GET them out.”

Sylvie smiled at the thought of this experiment, and we read a book together. In a few minutes, Bruce and Bonnie exited the trampoline—a toy they had used many times before—and Sylvie dived through the door onto the bouncing surface. I then zippered the door shut and sat on a stool by the door. In that position I could watch Sylvie and easily gather Bruce and Bonnie onto my lap, playing with them but also preventing them from entering the closed trampoline door.

“You were right,” Sylvie said. “It’s easier to keep them out.”

Similarly, it’s much easier to keep out fear and its attendant protecting behaviors than it is to eradicate them once we have let them in, indulged them, and fed them. Experiencing fear initially is usually a reflex we have little control over, as we are unconsciously affected by a great number of factors, mostly from the past. This is the subject of considerable discussion in the book, Real Love and PCSD .

After the initial knee-jerk of fear, however, we have a great deal of control over what happens next, IF we have been unconditionally loved and taught. We can learn to keep out additional fear and protecting behaviors, at which point the original fear quickly dies from lack of nourishment.

PCSD

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