I have been reflecting on the next parts of this post and wondering how to frame them. because it’s really important to me not just to list ways in which to tackle problems, but to get to the real root of the problem itself.

the concept of the ugh field is that anxieties have accrued around a behaviour, like barnacles growing on the hull of a ship. so these next posts will address how we can chip away at the anxiety, rather than focusing on the behaviour.


Strategy No 1: asking ourselves: “Is this even my problem?”

the Polish proverb ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’ is justly highly popular in recovery circles.


as human beings we are often far too ready to assume responsibility for other’s actions and other’s issues. for those of us with any co-dependency issues it is almost our default setting. learning to put boundaries around my own responsibilities and those of others has been a hugely helpful tool for me. once those boundaries are established, we need to learn how to disengage ourselves from the other person’s behaviour. here’s a brilliant article about the difference between withdrawing and disengaging.

for example, in the past I have worried very much about how my children will handle alcohol in the future. but at the end of the day it is my responsibility to be a good role model for them, to give them full and age-appropriate information about alcohol and its effects, and to hold them accountable as they first encounter it. after that, it is their responsibility to make their own decisions about alcohol and whether it will be a part of their lives. and making that decision oddly gives me more energy to fulfil my own responsibilities in this area. Stephen Covey calls this The Circle of Influence vs the Circle of Concern.

another aspect of this is to ask ourselves whether this is in fact a problem we have inherited, whether specifically from our family of origin, or from our culture.

if our parents thought of exercise that something ‘other people’ did grudgingly, and saw no point in it themselves, how are we likely to perceive exercise?

similarly, if we prefer not to think about or publicly discuss sex, or death, or whether we have enough money in the bank, then we are following the cultural norms of our own society, which permit us to allow such uncomfortable topics to remain tidily behind closed doors.

realising that this is my problem, but it is not only my problem, but a wider one, enables me to reduce the anxiety associated with it, and thus to remove another barnacle… in finding photos for this post I found this fascinating article on barnacle removal. it says:

‘turns out these tiny creatures can make a ship burn up to 40 percent more fuel. Their collective mass is small compared to the overall ship, but their little bodies have an outsized effect creating drag around the ship’s otherwise smooth hull.’

so, where do your barnacles like to grow? I’d love to hear from you…

part 3 of this post coming soon! have an awesome weekend! Prim xx